You journey the Southern Italy to experience the real Mediterranean ways, the stunning fresh food as the dazzling sun, the intense sweet desserts as the rich pitch black wines. And, of course, to plunge in the old southern lifestyle, in its gestures, voices and natural hospitality. Puglia, the heel of the boot if you like, is one of those quintessential southern places, crossed by the Appian road, it stands as the bridge between Rome and Greece. It shares with Greece the same azure Ionian sea, the white rocks and the stunning red soils, the old whitewashed towns, and the clear, numinous, Apollonian light, that floods everything in summertime.
• Matera. Old rock dug city, and canyon. Aglianico and Moscato wines
• Murgia. Alberobello, Monopoli, Martina. Primitivo and Locorotondo
• Taranto & Manduria. Greek and Spanish heritage. Primitivo di Manduria
• Gallipoli, Otranto. Romantic sea towns, top seafood. Alezio rosé
• Salento. Salice and Negroamaro wines
• Lecce. Trip end in the most beautiful, artistic city, with the best restaurants
Our trip, 8 to 10 days I would suggest, unwinds across three zones with distinct landscapes: the rocky high Murgia and Matera, actually part of Basilicata, the green and fertile central Murgia hills, and the flat, and warm Salento, almost an island, the most exotic part of this region.
What we see at first is - what is left of - the old rural lifestyle, both in the hearty, rustic cuisine, as in the barren landscape. Matera is definitely a fine city, the oldest constantly inhabited until today, with homes and churches dug in a steep canyon wall. Next, we cross endless vineyards and olive groves, famous because Puglia makes more wines and olive oil that any other region. In central Murgia, more fertile and lively, we see the more beautiful withewashed towns - Noci, Monopoli, Ostuni, Martina, Alberobello - and one or two great Romanesque cathedrals. Taranto is the gate of Salento, the final part of our journey. Its wide, natural harbour, once made it the most powerful and whealthy Greek colony, as we may see in its charming museum, nearby we stop in Manduria, new capital of the Primitivo wine. Purple, rich, and alchoolic, it has little to do with Zinfandel, it rather recalls the blac, concentrated wines that the Greeks once kept in their famous amphoras.
We are already in magic Salento, the tip of the peninsula, warmer and flat.
The fishing harbours all around, are the same landings of the Greek settlers, and recall myths, and stories of sailors, crusaders and Sarrasin sieges. Climate and nature too remind a wind-swept Greek island. The massive castles and the unique fortified farmouses, instead, witness centuries of Spanish vicekingdomship, always committed to fight Turkish attacks. Otranto, reminds a memorable, dramatic siege with its huge castle, while the majestic Cathedral and its staggering Mosaic floor, tell us about the fusion of Byzantine and Italian culture in the Crusaders age.
At the end of the tour, we land in Lecce, and indulge. a bit in the city life. We walk by stunning, elaborate Baroque churches, and mansions, take time to hang around and lok at the elegant shops. We end up, eventually, with a farewell dinner at the finest restaurant, before heading back home.
Read the next Experience →
New user ?