PUGLIA | A DISCOVERY
From Olives to Cave Art | Exploring the Rich Tapestry Of Italy's Heel
MATERA | LECCE | SAVALLESTRI
Savor the food scenes from Michelin restaurants to hole-in-the-wall rosticcerias and delve into the art, architecture, culture, and history of these special towns.
Exploring the Rich Tapestry Of Italy's Heel
MATERA | LECCE | SAVALLESTRI
SEPT 27 - OCT 7 | 2023
From Me To You
This very special tour has been in the making for many years now; long before 007 made Matera a household name, long before Puglia became the new 'it' part of Italy.
We've been organizing our exclusive, annual tours for a decade now but I often joke that it's going to be really hard to 'top' this one. If you have been following our incredible journeys around the world, then you'll know that that's saying something!
We usually spend more than a year designing each of our annual group tours but this one has taken innumerable hours of work over many years to create something quite splendid so we can take a true immersive journey into the rich tapestry which is Puglia. From 8th century cave art, hidden treasures in secret courtyards, exclusive meals in private art museums, tasting bread from ancient ovens that have been burning for over 500 years to entry into private studios of world renowned stone sculptors.
This is Puglia Confidential.
Hope you'll be one of 10 persons to join us on this once-in-a-lifetime discovery...under the Apulian sun!
In 2019 Matera, Basilicata received the distinction of European Capital of Culture, UNESCO.
Located in the heel of Italy’s boot, Puglia melds the tranquility of the rustic Italian countryside with luxury and elegance in its culture and architecture and offering a coastline bathed by two crystal blue seas: the Adriatic and the Ionian.
This is Italy's agricultural heartland, a land where Italy's oldest bread has been made in these wood fired ovens since medieval times, a land so ancient that it cradles the most outstanding example of a troglodyte settlements in the Mediterranean region and first inhabited zone dates back from the Paleolithic era.
As with all memorable Italian adventures, food takes front and center. This is home to 'cucina povera' - the true birth of 'land to table' cuisine, orecchiette pasta, artisanal olive oil, Trulli stone architecture and Primitivo wine.
Its strategic position and its fertile soil made it an attractive proposition for colonization and all the usual suspects, Greeks, Spanish and Normans, all left a quirky mishmash of architectural heirlooms, from Baroque churches and Romanesque cathedrals to whitewashed villages and the traditional conical dwellings called Trulli.
This the land of 50 million olive trees....Puglia is calling!
A TASTE OF THINGS TO COME...
CAVE ROOMS | ART HOTEL | TRADITIONAL MASSERIA
We will be staying in 3 distinctive types of accommodations, each reflective of the of the region in which they are situated will therefore be unique experientially.
In Matera, the hotel is carved into the rock face. Rooms will be either cut into caves or with exposed rock walls.
In Lecce, we will stay in a 5-star luxurious Urban Art Hotel surrounded by contemporary art and sculpture.
In Savallestri, we will stay in an authentic 5-star Masseria farmhouse hotel. Rooms are spread around the whole property, opening into courtyards, gardens and some even located in towers and near the chapel.
All luxury accommodations are 4-star and 5-star.
WHAT'S A MASSERIA?
IT'S HISTORY & ORIGINS
Puglia has a long agrarian history. For many centuries, Puglia’s agriculture was dominated by extensive land grants from the ruling nobility. known as latifundi, these holdings were the equivalent of plantations often controlled by absentee landowners and worked on by local peasants and sharecroppers.
Beginning in the 16th century in Puglia, many of these latifundi began to build structures known as masserie. The masseria was sort of a cross between a castle and a farmhouse and was designed to improve the life of the farmworkers. It was typically a large stone building located in or near the fields of the latifundo with farmworkers to sleep in, storage amd as a stronghold against pirates, bandits, and marauding soldiers.
The latifundi began to be broken up during the period of Napoleonic rule in Italy at the end of the 1700s and early 1800s, and the essentially feudal system that they represented was outlawed in 1950. By that time, most of the masserias had fallen into disrepair. Many masserias have since been reconstructed as residences or luxury agritourism accommodations beginning in the 1970's and even more extensively in the last decade.
ROCK & ART | A DAY WITH AN ARTIST
We will spend the day with world renowned Sculptor & Artist in his magic world of Lecce white stone.
We will dive into a therapeutic journey of modelling a piece of stone using just our hands and some primitive tools, so to uplift ourselves into the unexpected world of Art,
He will open the doors of his home and studio, share with us some basic knowledge on sculpting and then guide us during our creative process as we create a personal & unique piece of art to take home with us.
During the art-lab we will also enjoy relaxing moments of local food and wine in the studio’s garden and visit the artist's art Gallery to better appreciate his work.
A BOTANICAL JOURNEY | BIODIVERSITY & ANCIENT FIG TREES
In the paradise of Ancient Fruit Trees: The main collection of fruit trees is dedicated to the Ficus carica species : 600 varieties between Afghan, Bosnian, French, Portuguese, Albanian, Israeli and of course Italian and Apulian figs: this is one of the most important collections in Europe and the Mediterranean basin , for quality and variety.
The day will begin with a walk among the figs, tasting all sorts of different varieties and harvesting straight from the trees the best ones for drying purposes.
Preserving, transforming, tasting. | A unique opportunity for us to be at the botanical conservatory “ to learn ancient techniques of preparing the typical “ fico maritato”: dried figs filled with almonds and lemon zest.
ANCIENT CAVE ART | CRYPT OF THE ORIGINAL SIN
The Crypt of the Original Sin is the most iconic Rock Church in the South of Italy from the 8th century.
Commonly known as the “Sistine Chapel of Rupestrian Art”, the Crypt was discovered in 1963 by a group of local youths, who noticed the wonderful frescoes dating back to the second half of the 8th century, realized by an anonymous artist named “The Flower Painter.”
The cycle of paintings has a clear Late-Romanesque style and formal elements of Oriental inspiration, due to the arrival of Eastern Popes in Italy.
THE WORLD OF 500-YEAR OLD BREAD OVENS THAT STILL BURN & HANDMADE PASTA
Our culinary experiences are as authentic as they come!
This isn't some touristic dime-a-dozen culinary experience but a day shared with locals, Julia and Francesco as they share their daily life in Puglia.
From shopping at the local markets, picking up seasonal vegetables, cheeses, olive oil and freshly baked DOP Altamura bread and focaccia, we will make our way to the cooking studio where we will roll up our sleeves to cook a traditional, three course lunch together.
FROM ONE-MICHELIN STARRED RESTAURANTS TO STREET FOOD
What's always been that one truth we have always held onto no matter where we travel?
We go where a great meal takes us!
We've scoured the hills of Sicily to taste the greatest Farsumagru ever made to being the first outsiders ever invited to a traditional Portuguese Confraria in a village, so why stop now?
From spectacular One-Michelin strarred restaurants, to eating grilled bombette in a traditional butcher shop, our quest for the next great meal continues. Unapologetically.
FOR THE LOVE OF
OLIVE OIL & WINE
WINE SPECTATOR FEATURED WINERY & An ANCIENT MASSERIA WITH 2000 YEAR OLD OLIVE TREES
A Winery that features pure Apulian wines. Primitivo, Primitivo di Manduria, Susumaniello & Verdeca Salento are some of the featured wines made from local Pugliese grapes.
We visit the winery, learn about the vinification process followed by a vertical tasting of featured and exclusive wines.
We visit a 500-year-old Masseria, one of the oldest in Puglia whose 100 acres of olive groves have produced olive oil for centuries! We will learn to distinguish the range of flavors, blends bouquets and color qualities of different olive oils, as well as, how to pair them with various foods.
WE VISIT A 16TH CENTURY APULIAN FARMHOUSE FULLY DEDICATED TO ARTISANAL CHEESEMAKING & OLIVE OIL
This Apulian farmhouse boasts about 20 hectares of land where a flock of over 100 sheep graze. As per tradition, the milking of the sheep is done exclusively by hand every day.
Here the the milk cycle ends in a few hundred meters. and the milk collected in the stable travels less than 200 meters before reaching the cheese laboratory where the milk is entrusted to the master cheesemakers who will take care of transforming it into real delicacies.
We will learn about the cheese making process for both fresh and seasoned cheeses: mozzarella, burratta, giuncata with Arugula, smoked scamorza & Caciocavallo are just few of the cheeses we will taste.
LET'S TALK ARCHITECTURE
FROM TRULLI TO BAROQUE TOWNS
We can’t talk about Puglia without discussing the iconic (and conical) white-trulli buildings that are famous around the world.
The trulli are entirely composed of stone, including their cylindrical (sometimes square) bases and conical roofs. and unlike most brick or stone buildings, traditional trulli requires no mortar between the stones to hold the structure together (known as dry stone masonry).
The Baroque town of Lecce is built of stone that glints gold and cream in the sunlight, it is taken from the surrounding land and it is called pietra leccese (literally stone from Lecce), a light yellow, soft, compact and easily workable limestone.
TOUR BEGINS IN BARI
TOUR ENDS TRANSFERS TO BARI OR BRINDISI
Transfers between destinations in A/C Minibus.
Walking tours & historical tours with Subject-Matter-Experts.
Authentic experiences created exclusively for our group.
Market Tour & Cooking class in Altamura with lunch and wine service.
Winery visits & Masseria visits for Cheese making and olive oil tastings.
All breakfasts, 13 meals (lunches and dinners)
All taxes, fees, and gratuities.
ZOOM Meet-ups with the Group prior to departure.
Your itinerary is in real-time on your smartphones and devices on the travel app. Hauling paper copies around is the thing of the past!
Know Before You Go!
This itinerary is the current plan but is ever evolving and things may change. We will make every effort to provide the tours and experiences that are described above. However, since we are traveling off the beaten path, it means that plans may change at the last minute. You always have the option of skipping a particular excursion, but please note that we will be unable to make refunds for any missed meals or other events.
**We only have 8 rooms available at the hotel in Matera. These will be allotted first come-first served. If you are traveling with a friend we may request that you share a room in Matera or you may choose to stay at the 5-star a few minutes away - any cost difference will be communicated in advance.