PUGLIA: ROADTRIP AROUND THE HIDDEN HEEL OF ITALY, 26 APR - 9 MAY, 2022

PUGLIA: ROADTRIP AROUND THE HIDDEN HEEL OF ITALY
26 APR - 6 MAY, 2022

with Jeremy Woodhouse

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Itinerary 

Pre-Tour, Apr 26 — Arrive Bari 

Your rooms are being held at the iH Hotel Bari Oriente. We will meet in the lobby at 9:00AM on May 27, 2022.

If Lecce is the south’s Florence, Bari is its Bologna, a historic but youthful town with a high percentage of students lending it a cooler and hipper edge. More urban than its neighbours Lecce and Brindisi, with grander boulevards and a more active nightlife, Bari supports a large university, a recently renovated opera house and municipal buildings that sparkle with a hint of northern grandiosity.

Some time-poor travellers skip over Bari on their way to Puglia’s big-hitter, Lecce (the towns have a long-standing rivalry, especially over soccer), but Bari doesn’t lack history or culture. The slower-paced old town contains the bones of St Nicholas (aka Santa Claus) in its Basilica di San Nicola, along with a strapping castle and plenty of unfussy trattorias that arguably plug the delicious local cuisine—cucina barese—better than anywhere else in Puglia.
The iH Hotels Bari Oriente is a 4 star hotel located in the heart of Bari, in the Murat district, a few steps from the historical Petruzzelli Theater. An elegant Liberty-style hotel a few steps from the city center, it is housed in a majestic building from 1900.

Day 1: Apr 27 — Bari/Trani
Drive to Trani a coastal town north-west of Bari, and a “slow food” city (we will try a moscato di trani, the local dessert wine) whose imposing cathedral and tall campanile dominate. Tantalizing sea views appear through the low arches below the refined beauty of immaculately carved reliefs and geometric patterns—all contending for space over the cool limestone.

Slow Food is a grassroots organization founded by Carlo Petrini in Italy in 1986. It has since spread worldwide. Promoted as an alternative to fast food, it strives to preserve traditional and regional cuisine and encourages farming of plants, seeds, and livestock characteristic of the local ecosystem.

O/N Palazzo Paciotti (B,L,D)
Located in a recently renovated building in the picturesque old town of Trani, a stone's throw from the Cathedral and the waterfront.

Day 2: Apr 28 — Trani/Castel del Monte/Matera 109 km
Visit the Port and the Cathedral. Then drive to the medieval castle "Castel del Monte" (Italian for 'Castle of the Mount’), which proudly overlooks the comune of Andria, in the Italian region Apulia. 

Castel del Monte was built by the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II in the 13th century. It is built in an octagonal shape, with each of the eight corners sporting an octagonal tower. This makes the geometric design of this fortress (Frederick II built many castles in Apulia) unique, certainly at that time. It was declared World Heritage by UNESCO in 1996, and it is one of the best preserved medieval castles in Southern Italy.

After visiting the castle take the scenic route in to the Province of Basilicata and on to the ancient city of Matera. 

Stand in the right spot at a viewpoint overlooking the huddled sassi of Matera, and it’s not difficult to imagine you’ve been teleported back to the Holy Land circa 100 BC. At once epic and cinematic, the ‘Città Sotterranea’, as it’s known, perches on the upper reaches of the steep-sided Gravina gorge and its timeless urban landscape has often been used to evoke biblical scenes in films and TV.

The Sassi of Matera originate from a prehistoric troglodyte settlement and are suspected to be among the first human settlements in Italy. There is evidence that people were living here as early as the year 7000 BC. 

The old town, is split into two sections—the Sasso Barisano and the Sasso Caveoso—separated by a ridge upon which sits Matera’s gracious duomo (cathedral). The houses’ rock-grey facades once hid grimy, filthy abodes but, since the 1980s, Matera has been a city on the rebound filled with an increasing number of cafes and restaurants, and primed for tourism. With 9000 years of continuous human habitation, the place hides layer upon layer of history.

O/N Hotel Fra i Sassi Residence (B,L,D)
Rooms in this hotel are located inside a “vicinato”, the typical housing unit of the Sassi excaved into the rock.The design of the rooms follows the natural shapes and forms of “vicinato”.

Day 3: Apr 29 — Matera 
Tour the "sassi" (caves) and the Baroque architecture of Matera

O/N Hotel Fra i Sassi Residence (B,L,D)

Day 4: Apr 30 — Matera 
After spending the morning photographing in Matera we will spend the afternoon in the ghost town of Craco.

Scattered throughout Italy are evocative remnants of abandoned towns, sometimes called ghost towns. One of the prettiest is Craco, in southern Italy’s Basilicata region, about an hour’s drive southwest of Matera, the town known for its cave settlements. Towns are abandoned for a combination of reasons, often a result of natural disaster or closing of factories or mines, coupled with isolation and even modernization.

Craco is in a beautiful but isolated position on a hill. When the newer part of the town suffered from a landslide, at least partially caused by building a modern road and adding individual cisterns, the older part that was still intact suffered from a lack of services and was eventually abandoned. Today it’s been revived as a tourist attraction, although it is in a pretty off-the-beaten-track location, and the only residents we are likely to see are cats, dogs. To visit Craco, we will buy tickets at the visitor office. We will need to be accompanied by a local guide. The tour starts with a video and short explanation about the town after which we will need to sign some forms and be issued with hard hats.


O/N Hotel Fra i Sassi Residence (B,L,D)

Day 5: May 1 — Matera/Locorotondo 77km
Locorotondo is a small town in the region of Puglia in southern Italy. It is situated between Martina Franca and Alberobello in the Valle d'Itria, a green stretch of countryside dotted with the famous whitewashed cone-roofed trulli houses. It is officially one of the Borghi più belli d'Italia, the most beautiful villages in Italy. As well as its picturesque appearance the town is also known for its wine production.

Spend the next 3 days visiting towns in the area. Alberobello, Martina Franca, Cisternino, Ostuni, and photograph the local landscapes

O/N Hotel Sotto le Cummerse (B,L,D)
The Sotto le Cummerse hotel, with its skillfully refurbished apartments, are scattered throughout the historic centre of Locorotondo, a round town overlooking Valle d’Itria. The hotel was born out of an idea of Angelo Sisto and his wife Teresa Salerno, who have always been in love with the village that is their birthplace.

Day 6: May 2 — Locorotondo
Explore the hill towns and landscapes of the surrounding area:

Alberobello 
Unesco World Heritage Site Alberobello resembles an urban sprawl—for gnomes. The Zona dei Trulli on the western hill of town is a dense mass of 1500 beehive-shaped houses, white-tipped as if dusted by snow. These dry-stone buildings are made from local limestone; none are older than the 14th century. Inhabitants do not wear pointy hats, but they do sell anything a visitor might want, from miniature trulli to woollen shawls.

The town is named after the primitive oak forest Arboris Belli (beautiful trees) that once covered this area. It's an amazing place, but also something of a tourist trap – from May to October busloads of tourists pile into trullo homes, drink in trullo bars and shop in trullo shops.

Stop in Lago Martellotta, and follow the steps up to Piazza del Popolo, where the Belvedere Trulli lookout offers fabulous views over the whole higgledy-piggledy picture.

Martina Franca
The old quarter of this town is a picturesque scene of winding alleys, blinding white houses and blood-red geraniums. There are graceful baroque and rococo buildings here too, plus airy piazzas and curlicue ironwork balconies that almost touch above the narrow streets.

This town is the highest in the Murgia, and was founded in the 10th century by refugees fleeing the Arab invasion of Taranto. It only started to flourish in the 14th century when Philip of Anjou granted tax exemptions (franchigie, hence Franca); the town became so wealthy that a castle and defensive walls complete with 24 solid bastions were built.

Cisternino
An appealing, whitewashed hilltop town, slow-paced Cisternino has a charming centro storico beyond its bland modern outskirts; with its kasbah-like knot of streets, it has been designated as one of the country's borghi più belli (most beautiful towns). Beside its 13th-century Chiesa Matrice and Torre Civica there's a pretty communal garden with rural views. If you take Via Basilioni next to the tower you can amble along an elegant route right to the central piazza, Vittorio Emanuele.

Cisternino has a grand tradition of fornello pronto (ready-to-go roast or grilled meat) and in numerous butchers' shops and trattorias you can select a cut of meat, which is then promptly cooked on the spot. Try it under the whitewashed arches at no-frills but hugely popular Rosticceria L'Antico Borgo.

Ostuni
Chic Ostuni shines like a pearly white tiara, extending across three hills with the magnificent gem of a cathedral as its sparkling centrepiece. It's the end of the trulli region and the beginning of the hot, dry Salento. With some excellent restaurants, stylish bars and swish yet intimate places to stay, it's packed in summer

O/N Hotel Sotto le Cummerse (B,L,D)
Day 7: May 3 — Locorotondo/Lecce 100km
Drive to Lecce through the country stopping off to photograph in the towns of Francavilla Fontana, and San Pancrazio Salentino

Francavilla Fontana
Francavilla Fontana is also called the "Imperiali town" after the feudal lords that ruled the town from the end of the 16th to 18th century. The Imperiali Castle is the crown of the historic centre. It has recently been renovated and now houses the tourist information office and has large rooms available for community events and art exhibitions. It was built in 1450, but it was the Imperiali Princes that changed it to today's appearance in the early 18th century with it's beautifully carved stone loggia balcony. 

A stroll around the historic centre reveals many churches and Palazzos with large carved stone doorways. The heart of the town is Piazza Umberto I with it's fountain and clock tower. This is where local people gather to drink coffee and eat ice-cream with their friends and family. During the festival week around the 14th September this piazza is decorated with lights and a band stand.

Arrive in Lecce

O/N Hotel Arco Vecchio (B,L,D)
Arco Vecchio Residence B & B, located in one of the most beautiful neighborhoods of Lecce​, is in a recently-renovated building from the early 900s

Day 8: May 4 — Lecce
Spend the day in Lecce, the Salentine capital, home to the florid Santa Croce basilica, with its menagerie of beasts cavorting around a huge rose window, and the vast Piazza del Duomo bounded by the cathedral, the bishop's palace, a seminary and a five-storey campanile—sunglasses are essential on a sunny day to protect against the dazzle of the white stone. Best of all, there are few tourists sharing these sights—the jostling hordes have yet to arrive from Florence and Rome. It can only be a matter of time.

O/N Hotel Arco Vecchio (B,L,D)

Day 9: May 5 — Lecce/Bari
Leisurely return to Bari on the country roads. Farewell dinner
If Lecce is the south’s Florence, Bari is its Bologna, a historic but youthful town with a high percentage of students lending it a cooler and hipper edge. More urban than its neighbours Lecce and Brindisi, with grander boulevards and a more active nightlife, Bari supports a large university, a recently renovated opera house and municipal buildings that sparkle with a hint of northern grandiosity.

Some time-poor travellers skip over Bari on their way to Puglia’s big-hitter, Lecce (the towns have a long-standing rivalry, especially over soccer), but Bari doesn’t lack history or culture. The slower-paced old town contains the bones of St Nicholas (aka Santa Claus) in its Basilica di San Nicola, along with a strapping castle and plenty of unfussy trattorias that arguably plug the delicious local cuisine--cucina barese—better than anywhere else in Puglia.

O/N Palace Hotel (B,L,D)

Day 10: May 6 — Bari/Catch flights back home or leave for the Gargano Peninsula (B)


TRIP EXTENSION

DISCOVERING THE GARGANO PENINSULA IN PUGLIA,

MAY 6 - 9, 2022

Gargano

The Gargano Peninsula, with its steep forested hills and beautiful coastline, is irresistible for holiday makers who relish its gorgeous weather and its unhurried, unspoilt way of life. The coast surrounding this expansive promontory seems permanently bathed in a pink-hued, pearly light, providing a painterly contrast to the sea, which softens from intense to powder blue as the evening draws in. It's one of Italy's most beautiful corners, encompassing white limestone cliffs, fairy-tale grottoes, sparkling sea, ancient forests, rare orchids and tangled, fragrant maquis (dense scrub vegetation).

Once connected to what is now Dalmatia (in Croatia), the 'spur' of the Italian boot has more in common with the land mass across the sea than with the rest of Italy. Creeping urbanisation was halted in 1991 by the creation of the Parco Nazionale del Gargano. Aside from its magnificent national park, the Gargano is home to pilgrimage sites and the lovely seaside towns of Vieste and Peschici.

Daily Itinerary

Day 1: May 6 — Bari/Vieste (179km)
Leaving Bari after breakfast we will make the leisurely drive north up the coast stopping off to see the sights along the way. Arriving at the Gargano from the south we will begin our coastline tour. We will first pass through the pleasant town of Mattinata, full of hotels and places to eat—perhaps we will stop here for lunch.

A little further up the coast to the north east, we arrive at Vieste, an attractive town that has become the holiday capital of the Gargano and which has an extensive market on Monday mornings. This is where we will stay for the next three nights using our hotel as a base to explore what the Gargano has to offer.

Vieste
Vieste clings modestly to a spectacular promontory on the Gargano Promontory. It resembles nothing so much as a cross between Naples and Dubrovnik, with a bit of Puglian magic mixed in. The narrow alleys of the old town, draped with lines of drying clothes and patrolled by slinking cats and the odd friendly dog, are atmospheric day or night, high or off-season. Wedged up against the old town is the equally unpretentious new town, ghostly in winter, but packed with holidaying humanity in summer, especially during the passeggiata (evening stroll).

Vieste is strategically placed atop the steep Pizzomunno cliffs between two sweeping sandy beaches. The gritty harbour offers water sports, while the surrounding Parco Nazionale del Gargano is perfect for cycling and hiking. All things considered, it's one of the south’s most complete all-in-one destinations.

Just 350 feet from the sea, Relais La Pretura is set in a renovated historic building in Vieste’s centre. It offers a furnished terrace with hot tub and views of the city and the sea, plus free WiFi throughout the property.

Day 2: May 7 — Vieste
We will spend the early part of the morning at the weekly Monday Market and exploring the winding alleyways of the town of Vieste.

Later in the afternoon, we will travel westwards towards Rodi Garganico. The first town we will come across is Peschici, a popular holiday destination, with an old Greek centre. After a bit of time wandering around the town and a coffee or two, we could take a short drive inland to Vico del Gargano, a fascinating place where the centro storico area has large fortified walls and towers into which houses have been gradually incorporated over the centuries. Here, we will see that nothing much has changed during the last hundred years or more as we sample traditional rustic scenes: herbs and tomatoes drying in the sun, and working mules tethered up outside homes or even kept in next-door houses that have evolved into en-suite barns.

As we wind our way up the coastline on route 89 we will have wonderful views of the Adriatic’s clear, turquoise waters and beautiful beaches of white sand and the harbourside where boats leave for the nearby Tremeti Islands. We will pass numerous groves of olive and carob trees before arriving in the the small town of Rodi Garganico.

Rodi Garganico is a town in the province of Foggia, Apulia, south-eastern Italy. Located on a promontory east of the Lago di Varano, it is part of the Gargano National Park and of the Mountain Community of Gargano. Rodi is the center for the production of citrus fruits, such as Arance del Gargano (Gargano Oranges) and Lemon "Femminiello" of Gargano, both DOP products cultivated since the Middle Ages. It is a seaside resort with several long beaches located both west and east to the town.

After spending some time here we may decide to photograph the sunset here followed by dinner, or we will head back to Viesti for dinner

O/N Relais La Pretura

Day 3: May 8 — Vieste
Today we go further inland to visit Monte Sant’Angelo. Situated in a very elevated position, this town is built upon the cult of Archangel Michael who is supposed to have appeared inside a grotto.

The Santuario di San Michele was built on this spot, and the site of this miracle became a centre of pilgrimage and devotion, originally for pilgrims and Crusaders on their way to the Holy Land but today swarming with visitors from far afield. The Sanctuary of San Michele is approached through a large, elaborate Gothic portico. Passing through the massive bronze doors from Constantinople, you nearly always have to jostle with crowds to see the interior, hewn out of solid rock and containing an 11th-century bishops’ throne and other precious works of art. Next door stands an unusual 13th-century octagonal bell tower, and below this, steps lead down to the Tomba di Rotari, believed to be the tomb of an early Lombard ruler.

Still further inland, you come to San Giovanni Rotondo, the birthplace of the miracle-working Padre Pio, whose likeness is seen everywhere in the town. The place is mainly associated with the Santa Maria delle Grazie church and convent and, at present, with a huge modern church behind it. 

O/N Relais La Pretura

Day 4: May 9 — Vieste to Bari (179km – 2 hrs)
We return to Bari to make our connections back home to the US.​


Arrival, Departure & Visa

​Arrival & Meeting Place 

The number of flights to Puglia (Apulia) is increasing all the time and it is now served by British Airways, Iberia, Alitalia, Easyjet, Lufthansa, Ryanair and many others. You should fly in to Bari—it is about a 20-30 minute ride by taxi from Bari International Airport–Karol Wojtyla

We will meet at 9:00AM in the lobby of the Palace Hotel on 27 Apr, 2022 to begin our journey.​

Departure 
You will leave from the Palace Hotel at the end of the tour on 6 May, 2022 if you are returning to the USA. If you are planning on doing the Gargano Peninsula extension, we will leave the hotel for Vieste by mid-morning. We will return to Bari on 9 May, 2022 to make your connections back home.

Visa

U.S. citizens may enter and remain in Romania without a visa for up to 90 days total in any 180-day period.


Weather 

Evenings and nights are comfortable, with an average low temperature of 55°F. In the afternoons, the average high is around 72°F. These lows and highs increase significantly throughout the month, respectively from 52°F to 59°F and from 68°F to 75°F

4 SPOTS OPEN

TOUR COST: $5,400

TOUR EXTENSION: $1,400

Group size: 4


Tour Price Includes

  • Double room accommodation in well-appointed hotels
  • All meals (from dinner on day 1 to breakfast on day 15) with house wine or soft drinks
  • Transport

Tour Price Excludes

  • Arrival/departure flights
  • Pre-tour and post-tour hotel
  • Entry fee to Castel del Monte
  • Entry fees to the ghost town of Craco, Basilicata. I will provide more details on how to access Craco.
  • Airport Transfers
  • Travel insurance
  • Pre- and post-tour accommodation

Paying by check

If you would like to pay your deposit and/or balance with a check, please make the check payable to: Pixelchrome, Inc and mail it to:

Nicole Woodhouse
Pixelchrome, Inc, 
605 Rouen Drive, 
McKinney TX 75072

Paying by Wire Transfer

If you would like to pay by Wire Transfer please contact nicole@pixelchrome.com for bank account details.


Dress for the Weather

Important note on weather and clothing: In November, weather can be rather cold in the mountains, so hats and gloves are recommended to ensure your comfort. We may/hope to get some snow, especially in the mountains so warm clothes are recommended.


Equipment Checklist

  • Bring you own laptop computer and storage media
  • Camera body(s)
  • Lenses, 16-35mm, 24-70mm zoom and 70-200mm zoom or similar lenses are very good
  • Light bag for easy hiking with camera bodies and accessories
  • Cleaning kit for cameras and lenses
  • Rain/dust covers for cameras and lenses
  • Charger for batteries
  • Spare batteries
  • Spare Memory cards
  • Memory card reader
  • USB key to exchange images

Also good to have

  • Tripod
  • Good quality polarizing filter