Taste of Puglia: Wine and Food Tour
Taste your way through Italy’s Puglia Region
May 5-16, 2020, Now Registering! *
*NEW TOUR* designed with Ladies in mind! Rest & Restore in Puglia , May 11-22, 2020, details coming soon!
*Early Booking Bonus, $100 off per person, for the first 10 to register, up until 5 months before departure for those on our Tour Newsletter
10 guests required for a guaranteed departure.
Experience a 12-day delectable and exclusive Italian food culture experience
We love Italy and travel there every spring at the end of our school year (we are adding a fall date next year too!). Puglia is the top travel region for Italian nationals and was recently named one of the top new travel destinations in Italy for international travelers
This 12-day delectable and exclusive Italian food culture experience includes hands-on cheese and bread making experiences, a visit to an ancient olive grove and olive oil tasting, high end accommodations, local walking tours, and visits to both must-see and off-the-beaten path destinations.
This is an exclusive tour, available to just 20 or less people, and is like traveling with friends. The tour includes most meals, private touring and the most complete Taste of Puglia! Note that moderate walking ability is required, up to 2 hours at a time.
Read on for all of the details and a full itinerary of this extraordinary tour.
-Trish Knox, 2018 Tour Participant
Ready to experience Italy like a local?
"Just returned from A Taste of Puglia Tour with Natalina. What a wonderful experience! It was obvious that our hotels, cooking experiences, meals, wines and visits to local sites of interest were carefully selected and planned. A key strength of the tour was Natalina herself. She was a knowledgeable well organized, involved and caring Tour Director. Highly recommended!"
-Susan Mills-Zorzes, 2018 Tour Participant
Tico Licence: #50018105, #50021759
(wholesale) Maxima Tours Ltd.
*This 12-day/10-night tour includes:
- Group Airport transfer only for those arriving on Day 2 at designated airport
- All accommodations in 4-star hotels, some very unique!
- Most meals (10 breakfasts, 9 lunches*, 4 dinners) * most lunches are multi course over several hours, very light dinner required in the evening on these days
- All group lunches & dinners include wine
- All taxes, meal gratuities, and gratuities for local guides and coach driver
- All guided tours outlined in the itinerary, with a local, English-speaking guide
- All entrance fees to sites as per itinerary
- Special “Culinary Surprises” throughout the tour
- This Tour is accompanied by an English-speaking, local Tour Leader and, our long-time, local English-speaking guide, Silvia. Natalina accompanies all Food Culture experiences and attends many group ,meals.
- Attractions and meals not identified in the itinerary
- Round-trip airfare and medical/travel insurance (arrangements can be made if requested)
- Transfers to and from your main departure airport in North America
- Gratuities for hotel staff
When you book a tour and travel with Natalina, you get exclusive access to her private Facebook group with travel tips, information and more on experiencing Italy’s culinary gems!
Price per person*
*$100 Early Booking Bonus for the first 10 to book up to 5 months in advance that are on the Tour Newsletter list
- Single* accommodation (one person/room): $5,689 CAD *limited singles
- Double accommodation (two people/room): $5,189 CAD
Payment & Refund Dates
A deposit of $1,500 CAD is required to secure your place on the tour.
The deposit is fully refundable up until 90 days before departure, at which time, the balance is due and payable.
Depart from your home airport for your overnight flight to Bari, Italy.
Arrive in Bari, Puglia (D).
Meet the hotel transfer at Bari Palese Airport and be transported 10 minutes away to our 4-star hotel, which is located in the quaint seaside town of Giovinazzo. Natalina will be at the airport to greet you and coordinate your included transfer to our host hotel. Check in and then take the time to enjoy the amenities of this restored Monastery or visit the charming City Centre. Giovinazzo is a small picturesque fishing village on the Adriatic Sea that boasts a 17th Century Castle and a 12 – 13th Century Romanesque cathedral. We will meet for an introductory group dinner later in the day.
Accommodations: Giovinazzo, S.Martin Hotel, for 3 nights *limited single accommodations (or equivalent 4 star hotel)
Cooking experience (B,L,A-C)
Our first full day will start with a cooking adventure at a local cooking school. After breakfast, we’ll depart our accommodations for a short drive to a Masseria, where we will cook up some local dishes with local delicacies. Our cooking instructor will guide us through the preparation of our typical Pugliese Pranzo – which is a multi-course lunch including appetizer, primo, secondo, and dessert. Oh and we cannot, of course, forget to include tastings of wines from this region. After our cooking experience, we’ll depart with recipes in hand for a short tour of Giovinazzo, where our Hotel is located.
As we will have enjoyed a rather long, multi-coursed meal at the cooking school, think “small wedding banquet”, we will enjoy a light “Aperi-Cena” experience together in a small local bar tonight. Learn about the Italian Aperitivo Culture with drinks and lite bites!
Bari touring with local guide – Castel del Monte – Burrata Cheese (B,L)
Our next adventure will bring us to Castel del Monte (Castle on the Mountain) for a tour. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a 13th Century citadel and castle located in Andria. When the Emperor Frederick II built this castle near Bari, he imbued it with symbolic significance, as reflected in the location, the extreme precision of the layout and perfect shape. Taking in the best of medieval military architecture, Castel del Monte is a blend of elements from classical antiquity, the Islamic Orient and Gothic.
Perhaps just as important with a visit to Andria – is the fact that this town is the capital of Burrata cheese. What is Burrata cheese? Well it’s a hybrid of mozzarella and cream in simple terms – a little piece of heaven. The outer shell is solid mozzarella, while the inside contains stracciatella and cream, giving it a soft texture. And it’s delicious! We will be visiting a family run “Caseificio” to see how this cheese is made and also enjoy a light lunch here.
This afternoon we will enjoy a walking tour of the historic centre of Bari – Puglia’s largest city.. Bari, the south’s second largest city, has been compared to Bologna in the north of Italy – with its more hip and urban feel due to the large student population. But Bari is much more than that. Discover the slower-paced Old Town and its Basilica which houses the bones of St. Nicholas (aka Santa Claus) and also the 12th Century Norman Castle.
Free time tonight and dinner on your own with recommendations
Check out – Altamura Bread making experience – Matera sightseeing (B,L,D)
Today after breakfast, we’ll check out of our charming hotel and travel inland to arrive at Altamura. Altamura is best known as having the very best bread in all of Italy – Pane di Altamura DOC. It is made of durum wheat and it has a distinctive yellow colored crumb. While here we will enjoy a bread-making demonstration in conjunction with some tasting, of course.
Next, we’ll travel across the provincial border to Matera, Basilicata, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Matera can be described in so many words such as interesting, unusual, memorable and believe it or not – less traveled. And that’s a big bonus for us. This gem of Basilicata boasts a number of cave-dwelling districts known as the sassi. Rich in history, this tour will require sturdy, closed-toe walking shoes and an ability to climb many stairs but it is well worth it! Matera is Europe’s Capital of Culture this year! We will enjoy a delicious Antipasto style lunch here before departing for our next stop.
Our evening will have us travelling to the unique “fairy-tale” like town of Alberobello, Puglia, also a UNESCO site. It’s a UNESCO capital due to its interesting districts of trulli, the characteristic white-washed conical-roofed houses of the area.. Our 4 star hotel is in Alberobello among the “Trulli”.
We will meet this evening for a Group Dinner.
Accommodations: Alberobello, Trulli Holiday, for 3 nights
Sightseeing in Monopoli and Polignano a Mare (B,L)
After breakfast, we’ll depart for Polignano a Mare. Perched atop a 20 metre-high limestone cliff above the crystal clear waters of the Adriatic, Polignano a Mare truly lives up to its name with breathtaking views. It is also known for being the birthplace of singer, Domenico Modugno, the vocalist famous for the song Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu (we know it as “Volare”)! We will enjoy a guided tour here and lunch. But let’s not forget about its most well known food item that everyone surely would have as a main course – Gelato… we will try some of the BEST here!
After lunch, we’ll drive to the tiny seaside town of Monopoli – not to be confused with the game, boasts 19 medieval churches and countless cobblestone alleys in the old town centre alone. Another beautiful harbour with plenty of history. A guided tour will be included here.
After a full day, we will travel back to our Hotel for dinner and evening on your own.
Martina Franca and Cisternino Sightseeing (B,L)
This morning after breakfast we’ll depart for Martina Franca for a half day of touring. This city is also in the land of Trulli and in conjunction with its Baroque architecture it is a photographer’s haven.
Lunch will be enjoyed in the nearby town of Cisternino where barbecue is king. You don’t need to go to a restaurant to eat in Cisternino, however, as the town is famous for its barbecuing butchers! All you have to do is choose your meat – maybe the local speciality, bombette, little meat parcels filled with mince, ham and cheese – and take a seat outside with a carafe of local wine. The butcher will then barbecue your chosen goodies and bring them out to you when ready. It’s truly local and delicious eating experience!
After lunch we’ll head back to Alberobello for a tour and visit with a local artisanal food shop for tastings and an opportunity to buy local products that you can take home or have shipped. Dinner is on own this evening.
Depart for Lecce – Olive Mill – Ostuni Touring (B,L,D)
This morning after breakfast, we’ll check out of our hotel and arrive just outside of Ostuni to visit a 16th century farmhouse with a Roman-period underground olive mill and ancient olive grove. Just strolling through the olive grove with your camera will be a pleasure for sure! An included lunch will be enjoyed when we arrive in Ostuni. Known as “The White City”, Ostuni with its whitewashed buildings and narrow passageways – sits atop a hill and glows with the blue sky as a backdrop.
Back on the road, we’ll make our way into Lecce – our home for the next 3 nights. Lecce is known as “the most beautiful city in the south”. It’s famous for its baroque architecture, history and outstanding food. Upon arrival we’ll check into our host hotel – a beautiful boutique hotel located centrally in the old town. We will meet for a Group Dinner this evening.
Accommodations: Lecce, Santa Chiara Hotel, for 3 nights
Lecce Sightseeing (B, L)
This morning we’ll enjoy a familiarization tour of Lecce. Rich in history and architecture, there are many sites to see including ruins, fountains, museum and churches. Well known for its Baroque style, Lecce is also famous for its papier-mâché art. This art form has been popular here since the 17th Century – with it being closely connected with its citizen’s veneration of the catholic church. You’ll see masterpieces displayed in numerous churches across Puglia but be sure to visit the Church of Santa Chiara here in Lecce to see the papier-mâché decorations that adorn its ceiling. You’ll have an opportunity to visit one of the local artisan shops as well as the museum dedicated to this art if you wish on your own time.
Lunch will be enjoyed at a lovely family run restaurant just a short walk away.
The rest of the afternoon, evening and dinner are on your own today. We have many recommended places in Lecce, just ask! And just think of all the neat food stories that we will share the next day, the conversations had with locals, and the show and tell from your shopping finds! Other activities that can be enjoyed include a late afternoon at a local beach or even a bicycle tour (at an additional cost, let us know and we will help arrange it for you)
Local Winery Tour & Taste with Annotated Lunch (B,L,)
Later this morning we will depart for to a local winery for a tour and tasting. We’ll visit a family run winery that is as beautiful as it is a fine wine producer. We will learn about the Pugliese varieties and what makes them distinctive. As we savour our lunch, our host will provide “annotation” on the history of Pugliese cuisine, the components of a typical meal, and the incredibly rich array of fresh ingredients that comprise our meal.
This afternoon we will head back to Lecce for you to enjoy some more free time on your own and your last chance to explore Lecce’s wonderful food scene. Dinner on your own.
Cooking Class Experience – Arrival in Bari (B,L,D)
After our breakfast, we’ll check out of our hotel and head back towards Bari however, we’ll make an all too important stop for our final food experience at a local cooking school. We will prepare a multi-course menu including pasta from scratch and local dishes. Our cooking and lunch experience will be complemented by local wines and other traditional flavors of Puglia such as homemade liqueurs.
We’ll continue this afternoon with our drive to Bari to check into our final hotel located near the airport. We’ll gather at the hotel for our final group dinner as we celebrate a wonderful experience in Puglia! As some guests may have early flights you can choose to retire early or stay and linger over drinks in the hotel bar. Our next adventure and challenge is to bring back home what we learned to share with family and friends!
Accommodations: Parco dei Principi , Airport in Bari for 1 night
Depart for home (B)
After breakfast, we’ll say our goodbyes and best wishes as we depart individually for our respective flights. Natalina will bid farewell in the Hotel Lobby and ensure your Airport Transfer has been arranged (Airport transfer included.)