Apulia and Sassi of Matera Mini Escorted Tour
3 Days/2 Nights
TOUR HIGHLIGHTS: Castellana Caves, Locorotondo, Alberobello (Trulli), Lecce, Gallipoli, Ostuni, Matera (Stones)
Day 1 – Wednesday: SORRENTO – CASTELLANA CAVES – LOCOROTONDO – ALBEROBELLO – NOCI
The journey to Apulia begins early, with a 7:30 a.m. pickup at a designated meeting point in Sorrento or directly at your hotel, depending on its location. This escorted tour provides beauty as well as history. The first stop is at the Castellana Caves and grottos. These have been some of the most exceptional attractions since their discovery in 1938. Their natural beauty has made them a must-see area of interest for Puglia. This complex and concretion filled cave system can reach a depth of more than 60 meters at points. Learn the difference between a stalagmite and a stalactite, as fossils, formations of stone, canyons, and other natural wonders are viewed during this 3 km tour.
After a short lunch break at leisure, there will be much more to explore.
First you will stop in Locorotondo, a lovely hilltop town with a rounded shaped center and the one of a kind buildings called cummerse. Here you will the opportunity to take part of a wine tasting in a local cellar.
You will continue on to Alberobello where you will visit the famous trulli, which are conical roofed stone huts that are specific to the region and included on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Heritage List identifies and protects areas of physical or cultural importance.
You will then travel to Noci, where the night will be spent in a local hotel. Dinner is included with the package.
Day 2 – Thursday: NOCI – LECCE – GALLIPOLI – OSTUNI – NOCI
After the hotel’s savory breakfast buffet, it’s time to head to historic Lecce. The architecture and ornate art that was honed here during the 1600s has earned the city the title “Florence of the South”. The tour showcases some of the most ornate and beautiful buildings, including the Celestini Palace, with its fantastic Baroque façade. The statue of St. Oronzo will also be seen, along with the 2nd century Roman amphitheater, and the Basilica of Santa Croce, with its beautiful Corinthian columns on either side of the main entrance.
The next stop will be Gallipoli, a lovely seaside town with a lively fisherman village and an ancient history. After taking a break for a leisurely lunch perhaps in front of the beautiful Meditarrean Sea tasting the rich local cuisine, you will depart for your last destination for the day: Ostuni.
Known as the “white town” for the pale stones of its buildings and painted walls, the village of Ostuni offers more historic Mediterranean architecture to marvel at. Sit for a coffee while watching the everyday life of this Southern part of Italy.
After a day packed with beautiful sights, the evening is spent in familiarity at the hotel back in Noci, where you will have dinner and a peaceful night’s sleep.
Day 3 – Friday: NOCI – MATERA – SORRENTO or ROME
After another satisfying buffet breakfast at the hotel, it is time to visit a town that is potentially one of the first Italian settlements. As is characteristic of the Basilicata and Apulia regions, the unique and closely nestled houses are carved directly into the rock. The stones (known as Sassi) of this early settlement in Matera have granted this area of Italy international fame. Even visitors who have never been to Italy before may find the view somewhat familiar as the Sassi are picturesque enough to become imagery in both recent and older movies, like “The Passion of the Christ” (Gibson, 2004), “Nativity story” (Hardwicke 2006), and “The Gospel according to St. Matthew” (Pasolini 1964). While visiting this part of the UNESCO World Heritage List there is time set aside for a snack before returning by route of Pompeii. A return to either Sorrento or Rome via bus marks the end of the tour.