Journey through the history, art, and natural beauty of Puglia
Our journey will begin in an area known as Gargano – almost a region of its own within the greater region. It’s an area rich in natural beauty, such as the Gargano National Park, which spans an area of almost 30,000 acres. This park is home to several different biomes which it’s designed to protect. There are other nature preserves, such as the Riserva Marina delle Isole Tremiti (Tremiti Islands Marine Preserve), known for the exceptional beauty of its seafloor and its caves. Farther inland on the Gargano promontory, the thick Umbria Forest stretches for miles. It is an expansive ecosystem that has existed since prehistoric times.
There are many opportunities to explore the park either on foot or by bike, thanks to options provided by the visitor’s centers, outfitters, and local government organizations. You can choose itineraries or outings that are designed for people who are active, for those seeking an experience in nature, for people who want to enjoy the local cuisine, for those who are interested in art and history, and even for people seeking a religious experience.
We’ll also visit the Itria Valley, a land characterized by hand-stacked stone walls, small villages awash in white, lime paint, and ancient culinary recipes to enjoy. Finally, we’ll head down to Salento, the southernmost point of the region, where you can see Punta Palascia, the easternmost point of Italy. It’s only 80km (50mi) from Albania. The Puglia region is also famous for its 800km (500mi) of pristine beaches of fine, golden sand, interspersed by cliffs and caves.
This enchanting land will welcome you with open arms, inviting you to explore its sights, art, history, and folklore. It’s sure to leave, in your heart and mind, a one-of-a-kind impression. Our Puglia Grand Tour has been designed to combine with the most well-known cultural attractions with the least well-known natural points of interest. There will be no shortage of small villages to explore – towns that breathe tradition – with their incredible local cuisine and timeless craftsmanship.
Best season : From June to September
Included / Not Included
Assistance upon arrival at the airport or the train station in Bari
Car rental with insurance
Guided tour of the city of Taranto
Guided tour of the city of Lecce
You can also book a guide for any of the locations included in the itinerary
Directions and suggestions for best beaches
Travel accessories and telephone with Italian SIM
Directions and suggestions for best bars and restaurants
Telephone assistance in Italian, English, Spanish and French
Flights to/from your home city
Meals where not mentioned
Travel Insurance (strongly recommended)
You’ll arrive at the Bari Airport (or train station), where you’ll be met by a representative from Italy Trails. The representative will give you a warm welcome, provide you with your tour documents, and will take you to get your rental vehicle. From there, you’ll travel towards an area in northern Puglia, known as Gargano. This area is known for the unsurpassed beauty of its nature and landscapes. Depending on your arrival time, you may be able to tour the city center of Vieste, a town which sits on the easternmost point of Gargano. The city has preserved its original medieval center that extends out on a rocky point called San Francesco. Here there are four points of interest which truly stand out: a castle of Swabian-Aragonese origins, the Cathedral from the 8th century that has been rebuilt several times, the seat of the archbishop, and the Chianga Amara (bitter stone). The Chianga Amara is so called as it is the site of a Turkish invasion, led by Dragut Rais, which led to the decapitation of around 3,000 of Vieste’s inhabitants. The Pizzomunno is a must-see; it’s a rocky mass that’s located right on the beach, just south of the city. This commanding limestone monolith is 25 meters (82 feet) high, and the source of a local legend. Spend the night at a hotel in Vieste.
In the morning, after breakfast in your hotel, head to the port to take the ferry for a tour of the captivating Tremiti Islands. It’s the only Italian archipelago in the Adriatic Sea, and is only about 12 miles offshore from Gargano.
The Tremiti Islands, also known as the Diomedee, are like a little corner of paradise, attracting thousands of tourists each year with their clear waters, uncontaminated sea floor, pleasant climate, and nature still in its wild and unpolluted state. In less than an hour and a half by boat, you’ll arrive at St. Nicola Island, where you can admire its bays and promontories, its low-lying and sandy coastline, as well as its sheer cliffs that drop into the crystal-clear, turquoise waters below. You should expect to return to Vieste in the late afternoon.
Spend the night at a hotel in Vieste.
In the morning, after breakfast, travel along yet another incredible stretch of road that runs alongside the sea as you head towards Peschici, one of the most precious gems in the Gargano area. The town is spread along a high, rocky outcropping and offers unforgettable views from the rim of its tall, majestic walls which alternate with its golden beaches, which gently slope towards the sea. In the heart of Peschici stands an impressive Norman castle as well as the Torre del Ponte (Tower of the Bridge).
This is the main entrance into this stone maze of a city, with its stairways carved from stone, and its traditional houses with their white facades. From a lookout point in the ancient city center, you can gaze out over the Aleppo Pines which trace the coastline. Scattered among the trees, you’ll spot some of Italy’s most ancient and beautiful watchtowers standing guard over the coastlines. If you look towards Vieste, you’ll also be able to see the trabucchi. These are wooden structures which jut out over the sea, once important for fishermen, but which now serve as quaint restaurants offering scenic views.
That afternoon, you’ll move on towards Martina Franca, a captivating Baroque city. If you’d like, you can book a roughly two hour guided tour of the city.
The name, “Martina,” comes from the devotion of the town’s inhabitants to Saint Martin of Tours, as well as from the first inhabited area of the town, constructed on a hill named San Martino. The adjective, “Franca,” was added by Phillip I of Angiò, who granted special privileges to the town in 1310. From that point on, the city was named Martina Franca.
Spend the night at a hotel in Martina Franca.
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itinerary for this trip to Italy
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