THE HEEL OF ITALY

6th – 12th October 2016

Image : Matera, Basilicata

We are delighted to announce an exciting new Tour exploring one of Italy’s hidden masterpieces: the Region of Puglia. It is a region of stunning landscapes, inland and coastal, glorious Baroque towns and exquisite villages, UNESCO World Heritage Sites (it has FOUR, no less), all still mercifully untouched by mass-tourism.

We divide our time between two places: Matera and Lecce. Both are fascinating towns, extraordinarily beautiful in very different ways, packed with interest and history. From our bases, we explore the towns, castles and monasteries that characterise Puglia, not forgetting its scenic interior and spectacular coastline.

DAY 1: We fly to Bari and make for our home for three nights: the Montecale in Matera. Matera is a very special place indeed: perhaps the only town of any size in Europe where people have been living in the same houses for over 9000 years (really!). These are the Sassi, of course, pre-historic dwellings still habited. Matera’s astonishingly ancient appearance has made it a natural film set and was used by Passolini in his ‘Gospel According to St Matthew’ and Mel Gibson’s ‘The Passion of the Christ’. We shall find time to watch these two films.

DAYS 2&3: Our excursions from Matera take us to Alberobello, also UNESCO World Heritage because of its unique and picturesque Trulli Houses, and on to the lovely coastal town of Monopoli, where, among other sites, we shall visit the monumental Castle of Charles V. We complete our excursion driving up the stunning coast road towards Bari.

DAY 4: Moving on to Lecce; our route takes us across the ‘heel’ to Brindisi where we pause for lunch and to visit its Norman and Aragonese Castles and its interesting Romanesque churches. Our destination is the charming Grand Hotel di Lecce in the heart of this outstanding Baroque town.

DAYS 5 & 6: Lecce is a fine city. It has such a wealth of Renaissance buildings (sacred and secular) that it is known as the ‘Florence of the South’.

On Day 6 we travel out to the tip of the Peninsula where the Ionian Sea meets the Adriatic and the historic city of Otranto. DAY 7: We travel up to Bari for our return flight.

Tour details

Tour dates : 6th – 12th October  2016

Number of days : 7

Price : £1935 (per person based on 2 sharing a twin or double room)

Single supplement : £190

Fully inclusive : Flights, transfers, accommodation and meals are all included.

Number in party : 14 – 18

Tour leader : Chris Pollard and Moses Laachiri

Hotel : The Montecale in Matera and the Cattedrale in Lecce

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