Apulia ~ Undiscovered Italy

Apulia ~ Undiscovered Italy

Experience an easy-going, languid lifestyle in Italy’s Apulia region, where Mediterranean meals are savored slowly amidst olive groves, ancient seaports and timeless villages. Spend seven nights in seaside Polignano a Mare, and venture out each day to enjoy the unique character that defines Apulia, the heel of Italy’s boot. Marvel at Alberobello’s trulli, conical-roofed limestone homes built without mortar; the ancient cave dwellings in Matera, a 2019 European Capital of Culture; the white hill town of Ostuni; and the baroque city of Lecce. Contrast the seaside lifestyle of Bari and Trani with inland life at a winery and a family-owned olive mill. An exclusive lecture series complements your excursions. Plus, enjoy ample free time to stroll down romantic cobblestone alleys, drink in soul-stirring views of a brilliant blue sea and revel in an easier easy pace of life. This small-group journey features first-class accommodations and an extensive meal plan with wine at dinner. No single supplement!

Trip Itinerary:

September 8 Depart gateway city

AHI FlexAir passengers depart for Bari, Italy. Please check your luggage from your gateway city to your arrival city. Your claim checks should have the following airport code: BRI.

Meals – Appropriate in-flight meal service

September 9 Bari, Italy | Polignano a Mare

Arrive at Bari Karol Wojtyla Airport. Proceed through immigration to the baggage claim area and retrieve your luggage. After completing customs, AHI FlexAir passengers traveling on flights that qualify for the group arrival transfer and Land Program passengers who have purchased seats on the group transfer should exit the baggage claim area and proceed to the Arrivals Hall, where an AHI Travel representative will meet you.

Transfer to the Hotel Covo dei Saraceni. Please note, if you arrive before check-in time, your room may not be immediately available.

Gather with your fellow travelers and enjoy a Welcome Dinner at the hotel this evening.

Accommodations – Hotel Covo dei Saraceni
Meals – Appropriate in-flight meal service and dinner

September 10 Bari | Polignano a Mare

Enjoy an American-style buffet breakfast at your hotel each morning.

Discovery: Beautiful Bari.
Activity level: Moderate
The ancient seaport of Bari boasts narrow lanes and a pretty harbor with colorful boats bobbing on their moors. Visit the historic port, and wander the tight tangle of medieval streets in the city’s Old Town. Admire the carved Apulian-Romanesque portal of the 11th-century Basilica di San Nicola, which houses the relics of Bari’s patron saint, St. Nicholas. Inside is a marble Episcopal throne and striking mosaic floor. Traverse the seafront promenade where exhilarating views are revealed with each turn. Stroll the renowned Murat quarter. This modern heart of the city is laid out in a rectangular grid-plan and was designed by Joachim Murat, Napoleon's brother-in-law.

Sit down and savor a lunch of local fare.

Discovery: Walking Tour of Polignano a Mare.
Activity level: Moderate
Discover why this vibrant fishing village, which rises from limestone cliffs molded by the Adriatic, makes the ideal base for exploration of the region. Pass through the Porta Vecchia gate to the stroll the cobbled streets of Old Town, fragrant with flowering plants and freshly baked goods. Along the way, peek inside the workshops of local artisans, and experience the warm hospitality of local residents.

Enrichment: The History, Agriculture and Beauty of Apulia. Apulia has been tempting travelers since the ancient Greeks first glimpsed its rugged coastal beauty. Study the enduring influence of the region’s diverse cultural inheritance on architecture, food and languages, and learn how the rocky terrain produces thriving olive groves and vineyards.

This evening, gather at the hotel and visit with your fellow travelers during a Welcome Reception, followed by dinner.

Accommodations – Hotel Covo dei Saraceni
Meals – Breakfast, lunch and dinner

September 11 Locorotondo | Alberobello

Discovery: Locorotondo.
Activity level: Moderate
Travel through the Valle d’Itria to the municipality of Locorotondo, a picturesque, tranquil village with a labyrinth of whitewashed lanes waiting to be explored. Notice the curious cummerse, Locorotondo’s narrow houses brandishing pointed gable roofs. Locorotondo’s historic center features stone staircases, balconies draped with flowers and quaint parks.

Discovery: Family Winery.
Activity level: Moderate
The family-owned vineyard of I Pàstini grows white grape varietals such as Verdeca, Bianco d’Alessano and Fiano Minutolo. Enjoy a tour of the property and learn how the Carapelli family combines traditional wine-making techniques with more modern practices. See the property’s new cellar, ancient farmhouse and vineyards. Then sample wine made from native white grapes and enjoy the peaceful ambience of this countryside retreat over a light snack.

Discovery: Trulli Fascinating Alberobello.
Activity level: Moderate
Unusual dome-shaped buildings dot the Apulian countryside, but it is in the enchanting city of Alberobello where you find the largest concentration of the mysterious dwellings known as trulli. Found nowhere else in the world, these whitewashed limestone structures are pieced together without mortar, their pointed fieldstone roofs painted with primitive Christian and pagan symbols. More than 1,000 trulli cluster Alberobello’s cobblestone streets, which are recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The origins of the trulli remain a mystery, but legends abound linking them to ancient Greece as well as theorizing their creation as a 15th-century tax dodge.

Enrichment: Slow Food and the Mediterranean Diet. Explore the Mediterranean tradition where meals are a communal pleasure, a time when food is savored and consumed slowly. Learn more about this mindful way of eating.

Accommodations – Hotel Covo dei Saraceni
Meals – Breakfast

September 12 Lecce | Ostuni

Discovery: Barocco Leccese and The White Town of Ostuni.
Activity level: Moderate
Witness Lecce’s florid baroque architecture carved from honey-colored stone by 17th-century architects. More fanciful than typical baroque, the voluptuous caryatids, whimsical garlands, fruit, crests and lyrical scrolls comprising Lecce baroque are a treat for the eyes. Visit the Basilica of Santa Croce and admire the elaborate façade, rose window and intricately carved capitals. Walk to the center of the Piazza Sant’ Oronzo to see the Roman Column crowned with a bronze statue of St. Oronzo, the first bishop of Lecce appointed by St. Paul in A.D. 57. Next to the column, the shallow rows of seats within the elliptical Roman amphitheater date from Emperor Hadrian’s era and once held 20,000 spectators.

Free Time: Enjoy leisure time in Lecce. Relax in the Piazza Duomo, or step into one of Lecce’s many shops, restaurants and boutiques.

Continue to Ostuni where gleaming, whitewashed buildings cascade over the side of its hilltop perch. Get lost in the labyrinthine passages of the Old Town, visit the magnificent cathedral, and walk atop the ancient city walls for wonderful vistas of olive groves and the sea.

Back in Polignano a Mare this evening, gather for dinner at a local restaurant. The regional cuisine is a tasty medley of Mediterranean flavors, where menus are crafted with homegrown flavors and family heirloom recipes. Meals may be based around homemade orecchiette, focaccia and crusty breads, sheep cheeses, and specialties made from freshly caught fish and locally sourced meat. Seasonal vegetables, such as fava beans, artichokes, tomatoes, beans, peppers, onions and courgettes, enhance the simple dishes.

Accommodations – Hotel Covo dei Saraceni
Meals – Breakfast and dinner

September 13 Polignano a Mare

Free time: Your day is free to spend at leisure. Soak up the Apulia sunshine, visit your favorite café or wander the narrow alleys in search of that perfect souvenir.

Accommodations – Hotel Covo dei Saraceni
Meals – Breakfast

September 14 Matera

Discovery: Matera — The 2019 European Capital of Culture.
Activity level: Active
Visit the Sassi districts of Matera, a 2019 European Capital of Culture, and witness its dramatic saga of rebirth. Initially gouged out by troglodytic nomads, these rock-hewn cave dwellings were carved from limestone tufa, and some showcase intricate, ornate façades. Honeycombed throughout the Sassi are more than 100 rock churches decorated with delicate frescoes carved between the 8th-13th centuries by monks seeking refuge from the Byzantine Empire. The caves provided homes to the people of Matera until the 1950s, when the population was rehoused. By the 1980s, people began returning and the Sassi became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1993.

Savor southern Italian cuisine during lunch in Matera.

Free Time: Enjoy some free time in Matera to make your own discoveries in this captivating city.

Enrichment: Contemporary Italy. In 2011, Italy celebrated the 150th anniversary of its unification as a single state. Compare the rich cultural heritage and slow-paced lifestyle of southern Apulia with its northern neighbors.

Accommodations – Hotel Covo dei Saraceni
Meals – Breakfast and lunch

September 15 Trani | Biscegli

Discovery: Trani.
Activity level: Moderate
Explore the historic seaport of Trani. Known for its Moscato di Trani wine and savory figs, this fishing town is home to a 13th-century fort and a cathedral nestled in the harbor of the Adriatic. The village’s white limestone cathedral was dedicated to Saint Nicolas the Pilgrim. Take note of the distinguishing Norman houses, a typically English Romanesque style of architecture. Medieval Trani also had one of the largest Jewish populations in southern Italy and was a Knight’s Templar site.

Discovery: Meet the People and Olive Mill Outing. Visit a family-run olive mill in Bisceglie for a guided tour and learn about the fascinating history and cultivation process of olives. Enjoy the smooth, sweet smells and buttery flavors of these regional specialties. Following lunch at the olive mill, gather with some employees or owners of the mill for an open-forum discussion about their life in Italy.

Raise a toast to your Italian adventure during a Farewell Reception and Farewell Dinner tonight.

Accommodations – Hotel Covo dei Saraceni
Meals – Breakfast, lunch and dinner

September 16 Depart for gateway city

After breakfast, bid farewell to Apulia. AHI FlexAir passengers traveling on flights that qualify for a group transfer and Land Program passengers who have purchased seats on the group transfer depart for Bari Karol Wojtyla Airport for your return flights home. Your Travel Director will provide the details.

Meals – Breakfast and appropriate in-flight meal service

NOTE: Itinerary may change due to local conditions.


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