Apulia…..From the spur to the tip of the Heel

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Apulia…..From the spur to the tip of the Heel

A crossroads of cultures, rich in unique artistic and natural beauties, full of history and centuries-old gastronomic traditions, cultivated with vineyards and olive groves as far as the eye can see: Ladies and Gentlemen, this is Puglia! 

Without travelling to many miles across this long and narrow region, you will be able to witness both the sunrise and sunset over the sea… and what a sea ?!

Shall we leave together? Maybe Puglia will be your next destination with SM Events.

DAY 1: VIESTE

Arrival and hotel accommodation. Departure for Vieste, lunch in a typical restaurant and visit to the town, pearl of the eastern tip of the Gargano promontory. Visit to the characteristic historical centre of the town, dotted with pretty, white houses, historic bell towers and churches in Baroque and Romanesque style and fabulous squares overlooking the sea from which you can admire breathtaking views. Afterwards, visit the wonderful beaches and coves of Vieste, with the inevitable ‘Pizzomunno’, an imposing 25 m high limestone monolith. Return to the hotel, dinner and overnight stay.

DAY 2: UMBRA FOREST – VICO DEL GARGANO

Breakfast and departure for the Umbra Forest Visitor Centre, a fascinating protected natural area located in the innermost part of the Gargano National Park. We begin the tour with a visit to the Naturalistic Museum, continuing along the Woodmen’s Path and the Deer Reserve, to the Falascone Pond. Lunch in a typical restaurant. In the afternoon, departure for Vico del Gargano, a town renowned for its characteristic village and its countless citrus groves linked to the tradition of St. Valentine’s Day. Visit to the historic centre, a real labyrinth of narrow streets and alleyways overlooked by picturesque houses and palaces. Return to the hotel, dinner and overnight stay.

DAY 3: MONTE SANT’ANGELO

After breakfast, departure for Monte Sant’Angelo, a municipality of the Gargano with numerous historical and religious testimonies. Visit to its monumental area: the Grotta Santuario di San Michele Arcangelo, a UNESCO heritage site, the tomb of Rotari, the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore, the Norman-Swabian Castle of Sant’Angelo, built in 837 A.D., and the Junno district, a fascinating quarter with a medieval urban structure.
An Italian-style aperitif awaits us before our departure towards the Itria Valley. Arrival at the hotel, accommodation, dinner and overnight stay.

DAY 4: PIANELLE WOODS – ALBEROBELLO 

After breakfast, we start the day with a guided hike in the Pianelle Woods to learn about its history of charcoal burners, lime producers, shepherds and mushroom pickers, and its rich biodiversity. We will reach panoramic viewpoints and monumental holm oaks, walk through suggestive hornbeam tunnels and learn to recognise the traces of wild animals and get to know the traditional uses of wild plants.

Route: of low difficulty, difference in altitude 10 metres, along dirt roads and woodland paths, about 5 km long, ring-shaped.

Transfer to Alberobello whose historic centre, consisting of thousands of trulli, has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Passing through the fairytale landscape of the trulli we will investigate their history and the town up to the unique trullo church of Sant’Antonio.
Lunch will be followed by an interesting experience at a local wine cellar where you will be able to taste excellent local wines.
A guided walk through the elegant historic centre of Martina Franca, with its squares, churches and rococo palaces, to learn about its history, folklore, craftsmanship and food & wine traditions.
We will visit the rooms of the sumptuous Ducal Palace, completely painted in tempera from 1775, the imposing Basilica of San Martino and the church of San Domenico with its façade richly decorated with cherubs, mermaids, acanthus leaves and garlands of pomegranates. We cross Piazza Roma with the Dolphin Fountain, a tribute to the Apulian Aqueduct, Via Vittorio Emanuele, known as the Ringo to the people of Martina, Via Cavour with its numerous stately palaces and Piazza Maria Immacolata with its spectacular Porticoes. Return to the hotel, dinner and overnight stay.

DAY 5: MONOPOLI – POLIGNANO A MARE 

Breakfast and departure for the south-Bari coast. Excursion along the rocky coast from Cala Incina di Monopoli to Polignano a Mare to get to know its karst, landscape and naturalistic aspects. From above we will be able to admire the Scoglio dell’Eremita (Rock of the Hermit) and the Sella cave and pass through the suggestive Port’Alga cove.  Once in Polignano a Mare, we will lose ourselves in its narrow streets up to the suggestive terraces overlooking the sea, before heading to an authentic Apulian Masseria, where a special cooking class on Orecchiette pasta will take place, followed by a rich lunch.

Route: low-medium difficulty, due to the presence of rocky outcrops, difference in altitude 10 metres, along coastal paths, about 5 km long, one way.
As an alternative to the trekking excursion you can make a 2h-boat trip to Polignano a Mare. The boat excursion will give access to the sea caves along the coast between Polignano and Monopoli. Possibility of swimming.
Guided walk through the historic centre of Monopoli, a seaside village, where you can savour the sober charm of its history and traditions, and where you will be caught up in the frenetic bustle of trade and fishing. An important symbol of the city’s history, art and religious and civic tradition is undoubtedly the Cathedral, also known for housing the painting of the Madonna della Madia, the patron saint of Monopoli. Return, dinner and overnight stay.

DAY 6: PARCO DELLE DUNE COSTIERE – OSTUNI 

After breakfast, we depart for the Regional Park of the Coastal Dunes. An excursion on foot will take us through the monumental olive trees, which tell the thousand-year history of olive oil production in this part of Apulia, to the sea, with its fine sand dunes, junipers and the small wetland of river Morelli. Along the way we will get to know a fossil river of karstic origin, called Lama Torre Bianca, which will amaze us with the richness of the Mediterranean scrub and the fragrant bushes of thyme and Apulian savory.
Along a stretch of coastline, we will return in a loop to the starting point among fields of wheat and centuries-old olive trees.
Afterwards we will visit a splendid 17th century Masseria where a visit and extra virgin olive oil tasting will take place.

Route: of low difficulty, difference in altitude 5 metres, along gravel roads, paths and beach, 6 km, loop.

Visit to the cave of Santa Maria di Agnano, within the same Archaeological Park, where, in 1991, one of the oldest mummies, dating back some 30,000 years, was discovered. Next, a guided walk through the alleys of Ostuni, a medieval village in a suggestive panoramic position on the plain of monumental olive trees. Of notice, its Cathedral, with its magnificent façade and late Romanesque rose window. In the former church of San Vito, we will visit the Museum of Preclassical civilisations of the southern Murge, which houses the skeleton of the oldest mother in the world and the child she was carrying in her womb. Return, dinner and overnight stay.

DAY 7 : CISTERNINO – THE APULIAN AQUEDUCT – BOTANICAL GARDENS – LOCOROTONDO

Breakfast and departure for Cisternino. Guided walk through the historic centre of the town, passing by the mother church of San Nicola with its beautiful Renaissance statue of the Madonna del Cardellino (Madonna of the Goldfinch). Transfer to Valle d’Itria and guided excursion along the main channel of the Apulian Aqueduct cycle path, built in the early decades of the 20th century, during the Fascist period. During a leisure walk, we will discover the rural know-how of the Itria Valley, the goodness and generosity of its people, in a mosaic of wheat fields, vineyards, small woods, orchards, family vegetable gardens, olive groves and gardens, among trulli and ancient dry stone walls, the latter recently declared a UNESCO heritage site in the entire Mediterranean area.

Route: low difficulty, 6 km, one way, along gravel roads and paved country roads with low traffic.

Lunch in a typical local restaurant.
After lunch, we will visit the Botanical Gardens of the area, which constitute the largest reserve of Fig trees in Europe. Afterwards, a visit to Locorotondo; houses painted with lime milk, double-pitched roofs covered with “chiancarelle” known as “cummerse”, delightful narrow streets around the mother church dedicated to Saint George and balconies full of flowers make Locorotondo, perched on a hill 410 metres above sea level, one of the most beautiful villages in Italy.
The panoramic view of the Itria Valley and the terraced vineyards with native vines and trulli scattered across the countryside will accompany a delightful postprandial walk to the 17th-century church of San Nicola and that of the Madonna della Greca. Return, dinner and overnight stay.

DAY 8: HOME JOURNEY

Breakfast and departure.

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