Welcome to Puglia! From the airport, it's about an hour to the Alberobello town center. Depending on your arrival time, check in to your hotel.
The city of Alberobello is most well-known for its Trulli, circular 14th-century limestone building with a characteristic conical roof. Thanks to the 1,500 Trulli located inside the city, the 'Capital of the Trulli' is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. Some of the fairytale-like homes are used for shops, restaurants, or lodging for tourists, while others are privately owned homes.
Along with the Trulli, notable sites include the Basilica. Alberobello hosts many festivals during the summer, from an international folk festival to jazz, theater, and children's events. The city also hosts religious festivals with music and fireworks. Most of these performances are free and open air, making it a popular destination with both Italian and international visitors.
In the summer, the city's culture of passeggiata—long, leisurely evening strolls—continues well past midnight as pedestrians enjoy the warm summer nights.
This evening, head out for a mellow evening of sitting in cafes, strolling around town, and people watching—age-old Italian traditions.
Overnight in Alberobello
After breakfast, a 3-hour walking tour of the ancient city of Matera is scheduled. The town is famous for the Sassi di Matera, well-preserved cave homes cut into the soft rock. These unique homes are considered to be some of Italy's first human settlements and are a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The city of Matera also has many beautiful winding stairways, as well as incredible churches carved into the side of the volcanic rock. You'll tour the city as well as the unique cave dwellings and rock churches as you learn about the city's history from your guide. See the cathedral of Sasso Barisano, as well as some of the filming locations for Mel Gibson's film 'The Passion of the Christ'.
The rest of the day is free. Browse for snacks at the Central Market, where you can sample delicious cheese, salty cold cuts, fresh fruit and vegetables, and fresh-caught seafood
Overnight in Alberobello
After breakfast check out of your hotel and hit the road for the 1.5-hour trip to Lecce, a historic city on the coast of the Ionian Sea. It's the central city of the Salentine Peninsula and is over 2,000 years old. Thanks to its Baroque architectural monuments commonly found in the city, Lecce is nicknamed the "Florence of the Baroque" or "Rome of the South."
Lecce has a distinctly Greek culture, stemming back to its foundation by the Messapii, a lapygian tribe said to have been from Crete. The city's main attractions include Piazza San Oronzo, the 17th-century Duomo, Porta Napoli (the original gate to the old town), the Obelisk (erected in the 19th century to honor Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies), and the beautiful Paisiello Theatre.
Check into your hotel.
This afternoon get a taste of authentic local cuisine during a 3-hour cooking class at an expansive Lecce estate. You'll join the estate's owners, both professional sommeliers, in creating a full dinner of Pugliese specialties. Sit down to enjoy your meal, paired with a selection of fine wine.
Overnight in Lecce.
Enjoy a delicious breakfast in your hotel and then explore Lecce's city center on today's half-day walking tour. Your guide will lead you through the historic buildings and explain the traditions behind the local crafts—papier-mâché, wrought iron, ceramics, and inlaid olive wood.
Walk down the main shopping street, Via Vittorio Emanuele, see the 2nd-century Roman Amphitheater, which once held 25,000 spectators and much more.
Spend the afternoon enjoying nature in Lecce's public gardens and beaches. If you've got some extra time, head out of town to La Cutura Giardino Botanico, a wonderful botanic garden located in Giugianello, a half-hour drive south of Lecce.
Puglia's beaches are renowned for their rock formations and turquoise sea. Gallipoli Beach is one of the area's most popular, and Santa Cesarea Terme is a great place to explore small rocky pools. Spiaggia di Alimini is a 35-minute drive to the southeast of the city and is considered the area's finest beach for its white sand dunes and diverse ecology.
Overnight in Lecce
After a relaxed breakfast check out and drive north to Bari, just 2 hours away, situated on the Adriatic Coast. The city is famous for its port and university, and is southern Italy's second-most important economic center, after Naples.
Bari's old town district, known as Barivecchia, was the city's center during Roman times and is now a popular meeting place with many restaurants and bars. This neighborhood retains its Medieval city plan and houses many historic buildings and sites. When the weather is nice, the Orto Botanico di Bari (botanical gardens) is the perfect place for a stroll or an afternoon picnic.
Later this afternoon, meet up with a guide for a walking street food of Bari. You'll go off the beaten path in the city center, as well as the medieval city streets, to discover hole-in-the-wall cafes and family-owned joints. Try local specialties, such as focaccia barese, the local take on an Italian classic and panzerotto, a sort of fried pizza calzone with a legendary following.
Overnight in Bari.
Enjoy a relaxed breakfast in your hotel and the morning is free for you to explore the city on your own.
This afternoon, explore the Grotte di Castellana, a sprawling cave system located in the countryside outside Bari. This adventurous half-day tour includes transportation from Bari, entrance to the caves, and a guided tour of the cave system. Learn about the 90-million-year-old history of the caves, from their origin in the Cretaceous period to the modern day.
Overnight in Bari.
This morning, after breakfast, check out and transfer to the airport as its time to bid farewell to the country of love and passion! Fly back home with wonderful memories of your Italian Vacation with Airtours Holidays!
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