Join us with our guide Paula – Italy specialist, cookbook author, and one of America’s pioneer artisanal cheesemakers – for a historical, cultural and culinary adventure to “the heel of the boot”, Italy’s least-exploited tourist destination.
The Salento Peninsula has been conquered and influenced by just about everyone, from the Byzantine Greeks to the Romans, from the the Arabs to the Bourbons. Puglia offers hundreds of miles of golden beaches with azure waters, a breathtaking combination of whitewashed hilltop villages and beautiful Baroque cities such as Lecce and Bari. This is surely one of the most fascinating, history filled destinations you can visit.
Puglia has some of simplest yet tastiest food in Italy. Bread, olive oil, vegetables and wine are the main components of the Pugliese diet. It’s the home to the so-called cucina povera (the cuisine of poverty). Pasta is made without eggs, bread is made from the local durum wheat and often combined with the fabulous vegetables of Puglia. There are no rules; recipes have long been improvised from what is available. And the wines of Puglia are varied and renowned far and wide.
This trip has been specially designed to immerse you in the local Pugliese culture. Each day, Paula will introduce you to a different part of the region for you to discover its beautiful landscape, architecture, sacred sites, characteristic historic towns, local artisans, and of course its food and wine. But you won’t just be a spectator – you’ll learn to cook in the rich Pugliese tradition! You’ll also have plenty of free time to relax and explore on your own. You’re guaranteed to leave enchanted by the history of the area, past and present as you immerse yourself in the unique Pugliese lifestyle.
Paula Lambert is not just a tour guide with vast knowledge of Italy. She’s the founder of the renowned Mozzarella Company and has been credited as one of America’s pioneering artisanal cheesemakers. Her company was founded some 40 years ago and has won numerous awards and accolades. Paula is a frequent guest on radio and tv shows and is a practiced Italian cooking professor. Her love and knowledge of Italian cuisine will inspire you – your loved ones at home will be eternally grateful you spent time with her!
Arrive in Brindisi or Bari (both cities are in Puglia) by air or train. A private transfer will take you to your fabulous hotel, Masseria Cimino, once a fortified farmhouse with tower dating back to the 18th century. The Masseria was built just meters from the sea, adjacent to the archeological site where the ruins of the ancient Roman city of Egnatia (6th century BC) were discovered. You’ll have a chance to rest, relax and unpack. Depending on your arrival time, a walk to the beach or to a nearby village can be arranged. Or you can wander through the charming white-washed resort and the nearby ancient olive groves. Meet for a welcome cocktail followed by dinner together at the Masseria.
Today, we’ll head out to visit beautiful Bari, the largest city in Puglia, located on the Adriatic Sea. We’ll tour the grand and elegant cathedral named for St. Nicolas and then stroll through ancient neighborhoods where you can watch local women making their typical regional pasta, orecchiette.
We’ll spend some time in Bari’s elegant shopping area before driving south to Polignano a Mare, a charming white-washed town located above crashing waves on edge of the Adriatic.
Lunch today will be at Meraviglioso, a pretty seafood restaurant next to the small piazza which boasts the statue of Domenico Modugno, the hometown singer who made “Volare”, one of the most popular Italian songs of all time.
After lunch, we’ll wander the twisted streets of this picturesque village, stopping to shop, sip an espresso or enjoy a gelato. On the way back to the hotel, we’ll stop in Monopoli to visit its impressive cathedral and stroll around it charming neighborhoods.
Dinner tonight will be at a simple trattoria in nearby Monopoli for a classic pasta dish.
Today we’re off to Ostuni, a gleaming, white-washed village perched high on a hill overlooking miles and miles of olive trees with the Adriatic sea beyond. We’ll explore its charming shops, admiring local ceramics and handicrafts, before enjoying our lunch with a panoramic view.
Later, we’ll visit the village of Cisternino, perched on another hill and known for its butcher shops.
Next up is perhaps the most famous architectural feature of Puglia, the Trulli of Alberobello. Trulli are the typical white conical huts with stone roofs that have made this UNESCO world heritage town known throughout the world. Some Trulli have been converted into shops and modern houses, while other Trulli remain as they originally were, simple homes. There will be time for exploring and shopping here.
Dinner tonight will be our final evening at our stunning Masseria.
We check out of Masseria Cimino this morning, and head off for a visit of the lovely town of Martina Franca as well as the charming flower-filled village of Locorotondo.
Then we’ll head inland to Li Veli, an elegant Masseria that has been converted into a boutique winery. Following a tour of the winery, we’ll sit down to a lovely luncheon of local foods each paired with their own praiseworthy Pugliese wine.
After lunch, we’ll travel to Lecce where we’ll check into our hotel Palazzo BN, located in the center of town. There will be time to explore Lecce or just to rest before cocktails. This evening we’ll walk together to enjoy a typical Pugliese dinner at a local Lecce trattoria.
Today we’ll visit a horse ranch for a cooking class with the Mame of Puglia where you will learn to make focaccia and pizza. There will be a wine-tasting, and you will feast on your efforts! It’s so much fun!
This afternoon we’ll return to the baroque jewel of Lecce for a guided walking tour of the historical center; we’ll visit the cathedral, see the beautiful palazzi of the olive oil barons, enjoy the charming streets, elegant piazzas and Roman ruins. Lecce is a baroque jewel.
This evening we’ll enjoy an elegant dinner in a historic palazzo.
Today we’ll visit the Masseria 5 Santi, a centuries-old, family-run property famous for its olive oil and artisanal cheeses, where we’ll have a guided tasting.
Later we’ll visit an agriturismo for a fabulous al fresco lunch at their organic farm. In the afternoon we’ll go to the charming fishing village of Otranto where we’ll visit the cathedral to see its ornate mosaic floors. We’ll take a stroll around the castle ramparts and sip an aperitivo overlooking the deep blue Adriatic sea.
We’ll return to Lecce in time for a pizza or plate of pasta on your own.
This morning we’ll head to Galatina to visit the magical frescos of the cathedral and to have a pasticciotto, their famous local pastry. Then we’ll explore the charming fishing port of Gallipoli where we’ll have time to stroll around the village before enjoying a sumptuous seafood feast al fresco overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea.
We’ll return to Lecce, via the charming tiny town of Nardo, crammed full of gorgeous baroque palazzi, churches and piazzas, where we’ll stop for a coffee and a gelato.
This evening, we’ll meet for cocktails and our farewell dinner together.
After breakfast and warm arrivederci’s, we’ll depart Lecce via private transport for the Lecce train station or the Brindisi airport for your trip home.
GG2P reserves the right to alter the itinerary based on weather or availability as well as exciting opportunities that might crop up!
Vegetarians & Vegans – Not to worry – will be well fed in all restaurants as well as those allergic to seafood or gluten. Options are plentiful.
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If you’d like to come, press the Reserve Now button above. You'll be prompted to complete a form with your pertinent details, put down a refundable $250 placeholder deposit, and schedule a time to speak with a GG2P representative. We like to speak with everyone before they embark on their first trip with Girls’ Guide to Paris & Beyond. This allows you to ask any questions or voice any concerns you may have. These are intimate, small group trips; a quick yet personal conversation allows you to get to know how our trips work and make sure it’s right for you. If it’s not, we’ll immediately refund your $250 deposit.
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