Puglia & Boot of Italy

Taxi company in Matera looks an option

After research I think I would get a taxi/pickup from Bari Airport, stay in Matera and then take taxi to Alberobello for the day or any other places. It would work OK with luggage

An Audley tour has arrival in Bari

Accommodation options Matera

Day 1. Matera - arrive

Day 2. Matera. a walking tour exploring the alluring cave town of Matera. Learn about the turbulent local history while navigating the maze-like stairs and alleyways. Finish with some local food tasting before meeting with your driver and journeying into the countryside, and onto the ghost town of Craco. You're met here by a specialist guide who will take you on an exploration of the ghost city, which was destroyed by a landslide.

Day 3 Drive Fasano

Accommodation options Fasano

Day 4 . Fasano. Travel to the port town of Bari, which is the region's capital. Explore the historic old town while sampling some local Puglian food. Afterwards, journey through seemingly endless olive groves until you reach Castel Del Monte, an elevated castle with origins that remain a mystery today.

Day 5 Fasano. This morning, meet with your private guide and driver and journey to the trulli town of Alberobello. Explore both sides of the town, filled with strange, conical trulli houses. Next, visit the seaside town of Pogliano a Mare, which seems to cling precariously onto the rocks above the sea. Explore the village before returning to your hotel.

Day 6. Fasano to Lecce. Today, your driver will take you to the village of Ostuni, where you will meet your private guide. Ostuni is a town painted in white, perched on the top of a hill overlooking the sea and expansive olive groves. Explore the narrow streets filled with painted balconies and plants before reaching the cathedral at the top. Afterwards, continue south to the Baroque town of Lecce

Accomodation options Lecce

Day 7. Lecce. This morning, you're met by a specialist cycling guide to take you on a cycling tour of the Baroque town of Lecce. Navigate the streets with your guide, while making stops at some of the most important landmarks of the city. Just before finishing the tour, indulge in a tasting of local olive oils and wines. The rest of the day is at leisure to further explore the Baroque architecture or one of the town's many museums

Day 8. Lecce to Otaranto. ou're met by your driver and transferred further south to the town of Otranto . The rest of the day is free to enjoy the hotel facilities or explore the seaside town and local beach.

Accommodation options Otaranto

Day. 9 Otaranto. his morning, you're met by your private guide and driver at the hotel. Upon arrival in Galatina, explore the 13th-century Santa Caterina church, which boasts well preserved Giotto-style frescos. After your visit here, travel back to Otranto, exploring the old town sites, including the cathedral, which contains 12th-century mosaics.

 

Matera

Matera is a city on a rocky outcrop in the region of Basilicata, in southern Italy. It includes the Sassi area, a complex of cave dwellings carved into the mountainside. Evacuated in 1952 due to poor living conditions, the Sassi now houses museums like the Casa Grotta di Vico Solitario, with period furniture and artisan tools. Nearby rock churches include St. Lucia alle Malve, with 13th-century frescoes.

As the capital of the province of Matera, its original settlement lies in two canyons carved by the Gravina River. This area, the Sassi di Matera, is a complex of cave dwellings carved into the ancient river canyon. Over the course of its history, Matera has been occupied by Greeks, Romans, Longobards, Byzantines, Saracens, Swabians, Angevins, Aragonese, and Bourbons. By the late 1800s, Matera's cave dwellings became noted for intractable poverty, poor sanitation, meager working conditions, and rampant disease. Evacuated in 1952, the population was relocated to modern housing, and the Sassi (Italian for "stones") lay abandoned until the 1980s. Renewed vision and investment led to the cave dwellings becoming a noted historic tourism destination, with hotels, small museums and restaurants – and a vibrant arts community. Known as la città sotterranea ("the underground city"), the Sassi and the park of the Rupestrian Churches were named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993.

The way to start your visit to Matera is to wander around the sassi districts, looking at the cramped town above its ravine, and the tumbling grey stone facades, which appear to be houses but turn out to be caves. If you are just passing through, with only a casual interest, this plus a visit to a reconstructed cave-dwelling will suffice for a taste of the town. But to make the most of a trip to Matera, and to understand what you're seeing, it really helps to have some context. After an initial independent exploration, we'd suggest taking a guided tour, reading a guidebook, visiting a cave-life reconstruction and one of the local museums. To 'see' Matera thoroughly, and to get an idea of the living conditions for the former cave-dwellers, you should spend at least a day in the town. For those who want to absorb more of the history and unique atmosphere, to explore the quieter spots and visit museums and churches, we'd recommend staying at least two nights in Matera.

Matera

It can be hard to get one's bearings in Matera. The town centre, the oldest part of town, was built on the edge of a bare plateau where a high rocky mount looms over the spot where a valley descends to the long deep river-ravine. This is where you'll now find the town cathedral and the fairly typical Italian town centre. As time passed, the rocky valley slopes below the town were dug out to create caves, used for housing, storage and stabling. These cave areas, where the poorest local peasants lived, fill a narrow valley and run along the side of the gorge itself. The first, and smarter, of the cave districts is called the Sasso Barisano and the other the Sasso Caveoso. Small lanes, alleys and stairways wind through the districts, some still closed off and abandoned. At first glance, the slopes might seem lined merely with small shabby stone buildings. But behind the simple facades - which sometimes extend outwards like traditional houses - the dwellings go back into the rock, cut out usually to form one large room, with a kind of ante-chamber at the back for animals. These parts of Matera are strange, quiet and picturesque; the pale rock makes the scene seem faded, colourless and timeless. Overhead swoop birds of prey which have made homes among the silent sassi including the Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni).

In Matera and throughout this part of southern Italy, there are many churches cut into the rock of hillsides and ravines. These rock, or rupestrian churches - chiese rupestri - were mostly created by Basilian monks who were fleeing the iconoclastic persecutions in the Byzantine Empire during the eighth and ninth centuries. The caves often contain faded frescoes in the Byzantine style. Many in Matera are kept locked, but some can be opened by tour guides, and several are open to the public with a combined ticket organised by the Circuito urbano delle Chiese Rupestri. It is well worth visiting one or two of these atmospheric ancient places of worship. One of the nicest churches in Matera, though, is actually not a rock church. San Pietro Caveoso is built in a picturesque spot on a rocky spur above the ravine, and is a charming small building with a welcoming atmosphere, simple folk-art decorations and some friendly saints. Up in the crags above are two of the chiese rupestri, Madonna dell'Idris and San Giovanni in Monterrone, connected by a tunnel and visited with the combined ticket. They are good ones to visit, for as well as the truly cave-like feel, burrowed into a little rocky summit, there are some charming Byzantine-style wall-paintings.

The town's main historical museum, the Museo Nazionale Ridola, contains exhibits from distant eras of Basilicata's past, from prehistory to the Roman age (closed Monday mornings; a small entrance charge). Nearby, Palazzo Lanfranchi houses the Museo Nazionale d'Arte Medievale e Moderna della Regione Basilicata - an art museum incorporating the Pinacoteca D'Errico, which has lots of religous paintings by southern painters and, more interestingly, the Centro Carlo Levi, which contains a range of paintings by the twentieth-century artist and writer who is a part of this region's modern history . More recent artwork can be seen in the well-presented sculpture gallery MUSMA (Museo della Scultura Contemporanea Matera), which exhibits sculpture from the nineteenth century onwards (closed Mondays; winter afternoons). It's normal for churches and attractions to close for a few hours in the middle of the day, and winter opening hours are generally reduced, so check the latest times on the websites (see right) or on your arrival in Matera.

As tourism in Matera is becoming big business, various enterprising locals have set up tourist attractions such as cave 'reconstructions': cave-houses which have been filled with period fittings to show how life was once lived here. These include the Casa Grotta di Vico Solitario, well-signposted in the Sasso Caveoso area. You are ushered into the cave, and left to look around while listening to a recorded commentary in your chosen language. There is another similar cave in the Sasso Barisano area, the Casa Grotta del Barisano. These are fascinating opportunities to see the typical layout of an inhabited cave, as they would have been until being deserted in the 1950s. The furnishings and design are all very standard, and it is both impressive to see how families adapted to these restrictive living conditions, and shocking to think how recently people lived like this. Chickens were kept under the bed, a horse in the corner and children slept where they could .Another top sight is the Palombaro Lungo, a huge manmade water cistern dug into the rock during the 16th century. Its scale and ingenuity are certainly impressive, but it lacks the grandeur of, say, the Basilica Cistern in Istanbul.

It looks daunting but the walk down into the ravine and the return back up isn’t too difficult. It’s very quiet down there and gives another perspective of the city looming above. If we had more time we would have walked up to the other side of the ravine for views back across at Matera. You can also get there by car.

Matera has a rich culinary tradition. Restaurants showcase Basilicatan specialities, often called Lucanian cuisine after the region’s ancient name. Grains, pulses and vegetables dominate this cucina povera, with small amounts of meat and cheese. La Focagna, a cosy cave tavern that stays open until 2am, serves simple, affordable dishes. We ate crapiata, a delicious bean soup served with toasted Matera bread, followed by orecchiette with garlicky cime di rapa (a leafy brassica). More upmarket cave restaurants can be found on and around Via Bruno Buozzi, such as the one we chose, Morgan. A selection of starters included mashed fava beans with chicory, and was followed by pappardelle with wild boar sauce. We ordered peperoni cruschi on the side – these sun-dried red peppers from Senise are highly prized – and drank aglianico, Basilicata’s star grape.

Café-thronged Piazza del Sedile was our favourite place for an afternoon pitstop; I Due Sassi Café does a mean Campari spritz. The city’s main square is Piazza Vittorio Veneto in the 17th-century “new” town. It is the key spot for a passeggiata, and has incredible views over the Sassi skyline. Later in the evening, Mosto Osteria Della Birra is a lively bar for a beer or an amaro lucano, the local digestif. The hippest hangout is Area 8, a cocktail bar with film screenings and live music.

Like the restaurants and bars, Matera’s hotels make the most of their unique architecture. We stayed in a simple cave room in Locanda di San Martino, a terraced 40-room hotel in the heart of the Sassi. The thermal baths beneath the hotel, in passages and cisterns carved out of the rock thousands of years ago, are sensational. We also spent a night in Palazzo degli Abati, which has two rooms in caves and three in an 18th-century palace. Our room had two million-year-old fossils in the walls.

There may be something a little uncomfortable about tourists thronging to eat and sleep in peasant dwellings. After all, the previous occupants lived in caves and huts out of necessity. On the other hand, it is one way to preserve a piece of history – as well as the memory of the Senza Nidd family, and thousands like them.

There is a regular bus from Bari Airport to Madera which seems more convenient than the train

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Lecce

Piazza del Duomo is a real treat, surrounded, as it is, by some delightful buildings. The Duomo itself was built originally in 1144 but with the arrival of the Baroque zealots in the mid-17th century it was given a facelift and a 70m-high bell tower was added for good measure.

The Basilica di Santa Croce has one of the finest and most intricate Baroque facades in Italy. The level of detail is quite stunning and the evident perfectionism of its creators most probably contributed to the building's exceptionally long period of gestation: it took over 200 years to complete before it was finally opened for worship in 1695.

The Church of Saints Niccolo’ and Cataldo is a fascinating Norman church built by King Tancred of Sicily in 1180. The façade was significantly embellished with statues and other decorative art in the early 1700s, but the impressive original portal fortunately remained. The result is a fascinating mix of Norman austerity and Italianate Baroque fussiness.

The Statue of Saint Oronzo: Saint Oronzo is the beloved patron saint of Lecce. The column from which his statue surveys the old town centre of Lecce was originally one of two that signalled the end of the Roman Via Appia in Brindisi. It arrived in Lecce in the 17th century as a gift from the people of Brindisi, who believed that their neighbour's patron Saint had interceded on their behalf and save their town from the plague.

Under the gaze of Saint Oronzo's statue is Lecce's Roman amphitheatre, built at the end of the 2nd Century BC. A series of earthquakes, bombardments and unfortunate town-planning initiatives meant that it remained buried and forgotten until after the 2nd World War, when excavations began. About two thirds of the arena were uncovered and archaeologists have calculated that it would have measure some 100x80m with a capacity of around 25,000 spectators.

Il Castello di Carlo V: Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain (just two of his many titles), inherited vast swathes of Europe, including the south-east of Italy. Plagued by attacks from the bothersome Ottomans, he ordered a series of towers and fortifications to be built along the coast of Puglia. One such work was the castle in Lecce, built between 1539 and 1549 on the site of an existing Norman fortress. Its muscular ramparts belie the beauty of the interiors, which feature a delightful central courtyard and a series of halls decorated to suit the tastes of a Holy Roman Emperor. Today the castle plays host to cultural and artistic events.

A quintessentially southern Italian town, bursting with piazzas and palazzi, Lecce's old town centre is a wonderful setting for the strolling visitor. Cafés, bars and restaurants flank the streets offering refreshments and front row seats from which to observe the comings and goings of the locals as they go about their daily business.

 

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Fasano

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Alberobello

Alberobello is a small town and comune of the Metropolitan City of Bari, Apulia, southern Italy. It has 10,735 inhabitants and is famous for its unique trullo buildings. The trulli of Alberobello have been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1996

Le Alcove "Luxury Hotel nei Trulli"

Trulli Holiday - Albergo Diffuso

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CASTEL DEL MONTE

A UNESCO site north of Bari . Write up

 

 

 

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