Puglia & Basilicata Walk
Discover two of Italy’s most beautiful (and uncrowded!) regions in the “heel of the boot”. Puglia (often called Apulia) offers the best of Southern Italy. White-washed villages, Baroque architecture, delicious cuisine, and the region's powerful "Primitivo" red wines ensure a rich sensory experience while the neighboring province of Basilicata features the dramatic cave-city of Matera as well as the surprising alpine scenery of the “Dolomiti Lucane.” Other highlights include Bari’s historic medieval port, the UNESCO World Heritage site of Alberobello and its “trulli” houses, and unbelievable Matera. Perhaps best of all is the fabulous, warm, genuine hospitality of the locals who are very proud to welcome you to their southern homeland.
Puglia & Basilicata Walk itinerary
Independent arrival in Bari and check-in at the Palace Hotel, located near the medieval city center. Formerly the domain of smugglers and brigands, Bari’s quaint and atmospheric historic center has been revitalized during the past decade. Cafés, wine bars, and trattorias line the labyrinthine streets, all of which eventually lead to the remarkable Romanesque architecture of the 12th century Basilica di San Nicola. Depending on your arrival time, the afternoon and evening are open for sightseeing or just relaxing after your journey. Dine independently tonight in one of the many local restaurants. All meals and transfer to Bari on your own. Hotel included. Dinner not included.
Meet your guide(s) at 9:00 a.m. and transfer 1 hour by van to the beginning of our warm-up walk: a lovely descent that offers a fabulous view over the valley below full of olive trees. It feels like a sea of green leading to a sea of blue beyond it. Our walk takes us into the olive groves, and we’ll walk among the giant centuries’ old trees that are all so unique they could be works of art. We end up Masseria Vagone – a fortified manor house that is the legacy of dangerous medieval times when corsairs raided the southern coast. Our friend Ettore welcomes us to his home which has been in his family for centuries. We will visit his olive mill, a reminder of days past when this was once an important estate. Then we will be offered a lovely lunch made of delicious local specialties. In the afternoon we have a short transfer to the National Nature Reserve of Torre Guaceto where we will have a guided walking tour along different environments: the Mediterranean Maquis, the wetlands and the beautiful coastline where we will possibly have the chance to plunge into the amazing crystal clear water. At the end of the walk we are transferred to the lovely town of Monopoli where we stay for the next two nights at the charming Hotel Palazzo Indelli. Dinner tonight is at the restaurant of the hotel. Hotel, breakfast, lunch and dinner included.
Today’s walk takes you through farmland and forests along the Pugliese aqueduct. At the end of the walk we have a short transfer to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Alberobello, famous for its 1,500 trulli houses. After a lovely lunch, you’ll have a short guided visit of Alberobello followed by free time to further explore on your own or enjoy a cafe or gelato in the piazza. Then we have a transfer back to Monopoli and free time to explore the town. Dinner tonight is at a charming restaurant located in the oldest square in town, Piazza Palmieri. Overnight in Monopoli. Hotel, breakfast, lunch and dinner included.
Today we transfer from Puglia to Basilicata and the amazing city of Matera. We arrive at the Murgia Park Visitors Center where we will be given information about the area before beginning our walk in a seemingly wild ravine, only to find it honeycombed with shelters and thousand-year-old rock-hewn churches. Inhabited since Paleolithic times, the ravines were colonized in the 8th and 9th century by monastic orders. We’ll descend into the ravine and then walk back up to arrive at the amazing town of Matera where we stop for a light lunch at one of the nice bars of the old district. In the afternoon we enjoy a couple of hours "urban trekking" to explore the famous "Sassi": another UNESCO World Heritage site, Matera’s inhabitants lived for centuries in stone dwellings partially excavated from the rock along the two steep ravines that slice through the landscape. The city is riddled with caves, churches, houses and noble homes dug out of the stone. It is said that Matera is the only place in the world where people still live in the houses of their ancestors 9,000 years ago. Our accommodation for the next two nights, the Hotel Basiliani, has been central to the revival and restoration of the old town. The owners have lovingly restored a complex of buildings to provide their guests with a unique experience. We dine tonight in a lovely restaurant nearby the hotel. Hotel, breakfast and dinner included.
Our walk today takes us along the valley through woods and olive groves, and past stone farmhouses to reach the hilltop village of Miglionico where we follow a walkway along its 14th century walls to the imposing castle. Then we have a transfer for lunch at a local farm where we are treated to home-cooked local specialties. In the afternoon you have free time to explore Matera’s shops and sites, or relax on the terrace of the hotel and watch the light change as the rays of the setting sun caress the honey-colored stonework. This evening we have an "aperitivo" at a local "enoteca" (wine shop) where you can taste some of the most exciting wines from the region. Tonight is a free night and your guide can recommend nice restaurants for your dinner. Hotel, breakfast, lunch included.
Today we have a couple of hours transfer out of the lowlands and head into the surprising heights of the Dolomiti Lucane, and you’ll see the landscape change dramatically as we go. Our hike takes us through the peaks and meadows of the Parco Gallipoli-Cognato along the crests of the mountain. The whole way we have wonderful views onto the surrounding hills and villages, stopping occasionally to make friends with the goats and sheep along the way. We end up in Pietrapertosa, which has a jagged spine of rock that shoots upwards while its houses sit clustered beneath. After a light lunch at a local trattoria you can opt for another hour walk to reach the neighboring village of Castelmezzano (another option is going by van). For the next two nights we are guests of Peppino and Maria Giovanna at the Foresteria di San Leo. Dinner is at the hotel. Hotel, breakfast and dinner included.
Today our walk starts and finishs at our hotel. We hike through the woods and fields of the beautiful countryside to get to the shores of a man-made lake, where we enjoy a lovely picnic lunch prepared by Maria Giovanna. Back at our hotel you have time to enjoy a swim in the pool before joining a cooking class with Grazia who will help you to prepare a sumptuous meal for our final dinner. Hotel, breakfast, picninc lunch and dinner included.
We transfer this morning to Potenza for 10:00 train departures to Naples, Rome, and beyond. We can also arrange a transfer to the Bari airport (at your own expense). Breakfast and transfer included.
Activity rating: 2 out of 5 = Easy to Moderate: This is our easiest walking tour. Flat to rolling terrain, with daily activity between two and three and half hours. Max distance 12 kms. This tour is one of our easier walking trips because it features a lot of cultural content. We take you to visit some extraordinary villages such as Monopoli, Alberobello, Matera, and Castelmezzano, plus there is a wonderful cooking lesson included in the tour, so each day features our usual country walks but also time walking in the villages. You'll still get plenty of exercise as many of the walks are relatively long, with two to two and a half hours in one stretch.
Trip Cost includes: Accommodation for 7 nights (1 night 4-star in Bari, and 2 nights 4-star hotel or equivalent in Monopoli, 2 nights 3-star hotel in Matera, and 2 nights in 3-star country hotel in Trivigno); 7 breakfasts, 4 lunches and 5 dinners; bilingual Customwalks guide(s) to accompany the tour and lead you on the walks; guided visit of Alberobello and Matera; cooking class; all van transfers and luggage transfers from pick-up in Bari on Day 2 to Saturday morning Day 8.
Booking: Contact us at email@example.com to receive a booking contract (or use the 'Contact Us' link at the top of this page), or click on the 'Book Now' button to the right.
Insurance: We highly recommend the purchase of Trip Insurance. We recommend “Travel Guard” to our North American clients, just click on the logo below. Australian, New Zealander, and British travelers, please consult your insurance brokers.
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Getting There: Make your way independently to our pre-booked hotel in downtown Bari, which is easily reached by direct flight or else by train from other cities in Italy.
Air: The Bari Airport is well connected with other Italian cities and there are a bunch of low-cost flights from European hubs such as London, Paris, Brussels, Barcelona, Frankfurt and Munich with carriers such as EasyJet, RyanAir and Vueling. For a complete list of Italian airports and a selection of low-cost airlines, see our "Transport Info" page. Taxi ride from the airport to our hotel is about €25.
Train: There are several trains a day to Bari from other Italian cities. Travel time from Rome and Milan by Eurostar train is about 5 hours and 8 hours respectively. The hotel is a 5-minute cab ride from the train station (a taxi is advised), and should cost no more than €10. See the Trenitalia website (in English) at this link. For alternative high-speed rail travel, see the Italo website.
For complete information on using the Italian train system, see our blog post.
Getting away at the end of the trip: The trip ends on Saturday morning with a shuttle to the Potenza train station. You can get the 10:00 train departures to Naples, Rome (arrives 14:10) and beyond. We can also arrange a transfer to Bari airport (at your expense).
If you should book a trip with us you will receive detailed information about how to get to the start of your trip. Please e-mail us with any specific travel questions.
What an amazing part of Italy to experience!! Without the tourist crowds that visit the better known regions, it equals and in some ways surpasses it's better known rivals. Rich in history, scenery and amazing & unique areas to visit. We were blessed with Sara as our guide who took us on a memorable series of walks. The whole itinerary was amazing along with great accommodation and fantastic food. We especially loved Matera and Monopoli along with the unique Trulli houses.
We could not have been more pleased or had more fun! Sara and Claire, our guides, were outstanding in every aspect. They educated us, encouraged us, and became an integral part of our group of friends. Puglia was special for all of us and we were surprised and fascinated with Matera. Accomodations, food and venues for hiking were all very well chosen. We are all planning where to go next year with our group AND Sara and Claire!
Southern Italy â my second walk with Customwalks covered a unique part of Italy. In Matera, people lived in caves as far back as 9,000 years ago, and when early morning mists crept in and swathed the rock walls and labyrinth of narrow alleys, it was magical. Some of the caves have frescoed walls depicting visual tales of Christian folklore, and many people still lived in converted caves, making it like no other place in Italy. Alberobelloâs Trulli houses with their distinctive conical roofs was also fascinating. The walk from Pietropertosa to Castelmezzano â a town where houses perch one above the other below the Lucanian Mountains, was a particularly good walk climbing down into a valley and then up to heights giving fabulous views. The accommodation was different, but very good - as was the food and wine. Claudia and Michele knew the area well and guided us well. An excellent walk experiencing a part of Italy with amazing history and geography.
A great experience. Excellent guides, including having the area guides for particular cultural and historical perspective and their specific knowledge. Great opportunities to enjoy local food and wine - some memorable meals. Being welcomed as part of the CW family by local people was a privilege. Enjoyed the variety of walking terrain each day.
Highlights of the trip were our guided tours of Alberobello and especially Matera with its ancient cisterns, former primitive cave dwellings, and visiting the regional park near Matera for lunch prepared by the manager's wife. Another highlight was seeing the frescos in the 9th century Cave Church of the Original Sin which was abandoned in the mid 800's. We also enjoyed the the cooking lesson on our hike when visiting the âDolomiti Lucaneâ area
I would have preferred more walking and less eating- there were a lot of long lunches as well as the group dinners in the evening. Matera was amazing and it was wonderful to stay in a hotel right in the old town. I loved the walks in the Dolomiti Lucane, a beautiful area and a wonderful way to end the trip.
What an amazing part of Italy to experience!!
Without the tourist crowds that visit the better known regions, it equals and in some ways surpasses it's better known rivals.
Rich in history, scenery and amazing & unique areas to visit. We were blessed with Sara as our guide who took us on a memorable series of walks. The whole itinerary was amazing along with great accommodation and fantastic food.
We especially loved Matera and Monopoli along with the unique Trulli houses.
by D & K McKenzie from Australia, Sydney