20221
Italy
Puglia, Basilicata & Calabria: Southern Italy from “Heel” to “Toe”
Discover the “sole” of Southern Italy as you journey along the Italian “boot,” learning about diverse architecture, medieval villages and the vibrant culture of this ancient land.
Rating (4.9)
Program No. 20221RJ
Length
17 days
Starts at
3,799
Flights start at
625
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17 days
16 nights
39 meals
15 B 13 L 11 D
Getting There
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DAY
1
In Transit to Program
In Flight
DAY
2
Arrival Brindisi, Check-In, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Lecce
D
Patria Palace Hotel Lecce

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 12:00 noon. Drive to the hotel is about 28 miles (45 km), approximately 1 hour from the airport.

Afternoon: After checking-in at the hotel and getting your room, take some time to freshen up and relax before a light snack and our Orientation session. Orientation: The Group Leader will greet everyone with a warm welcome and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule and any changes, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer any questions you may have. Unless specified otherwise, the majority of transportation will be provided via motorcoach thereby necessitating ascending and descending a few steps. All meals include wine, coffee and water. Free time is reserved for your personal independent exploration. Please note that program activities, schedules, and personnel may need to change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. Evenings at leisure offer opportunities to make the program more meaningful and memorable through personal independent exploration, attending performances or other events, or simply relaxing and making new friends among fellow participants. The Group Leader will always be happy to offer suggestions. Before dinner, we’ll enjoy a welcome cocktail together at the hotel.

Dinner: At the hotel, we’ll have a plated and served meal with wine, coffee and water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Continue getting to know your fellow road scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the full day ahead.

DAY
3
Baroque in Lecce
Lecce
B,L
Patria Palace Hotel Lecce

Activity note: Walking about 4 miles, approximately 2 hours in both morning and afternoon; flat terrain.

Breakfast: At the hotel, the breakfast buffet’s choices include an egg dish, a variety of sliced cold cuts and cheeses, breakfast breads, jams, hot and cold cereals, and fresh fruit with coffee, tea and water.

Morning: We’ll begin with a lecture at the hotel with a local expert focused on discovering the Baroque in Lecce. Afterwards, we will embark on an expert-led walking field trip of Lecce with emphasis on finding examples of the Baroque that were discussed earlier. During the walk, we will explore the Old City and its iconic Baroque monuments, churches, and even some ancient Roman ruins including the Basilica of Santa Croce, Piazza Sant’Oronzo, the Roman Ampitheatre, Cathedral’s Square, and some Baroque Noble Palaces. The remainder of the morning will be free for independent exploration of Lecce before meeting back at the hotel at a predetermined time.

Lunch: At the hotel restaurant, we’ll have a plated and served meal with wine, coffee, and water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We will continue our expert-led walking field trip of Lecce’s Old City to explore the Roman Theatre, the Church of Saint Matthew, and some less touristy areas of the Old Town.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
Medieval Salento, Galatina, Gallipoli
Lecce
B,L
Patria Palace Hotel Lecce

Activity note: Total driving distance is about 55 miles with stops for field trips, approximately 2 hours collectively. Walking about 3 miles total, approximately 1.5 hours in both Galatina and Gallipoli on flat terrain.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will be joined by a local expert at the hotel for a lecture on medieval Salento and its relations between the East and West. Learn about the connections early Salento had with the Byzantine Empire, The Holy Land, and the Ottoman Empire. We’ll then board our motorcoach and transfer to Galatina for an expert-led field trip to the Basilica of Santa Caterina to admire its beautiful frescoes. It is regarded by many to be “The Assisi of Salento” in comparison to the Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi because of its many frescoes painted by various talents from all over Italy in the early 15th Century.

Lunch: At a local restaurant in Galatina, we’ll have a plated meal featuring regional cuisine with wine, coffee and water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Carrying on via coach, we will continue to Gallipoli for an expert-led field trip of the Old Town there. We’ll explore the Baroque noble palaces and cathedral, walk along the city walled overlooking the Ionian Sea. The term “kale polis” means “beautiful city” in Greek, which helps to elucidate the origins of the modern name, Gallipoli. We’ll then return to the hotel.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
Muro Leccese, Otranto
Lecce
B,D
Patria Palace Hotel Lecce

Activity note: Drive to Otranto is about 25 miles, approximately 1 hour. Walking about 2.5 miles total on flat terrain.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will transfer to Otranto, a town of Messapian (pre-Roman origin) which, in the wars of Pyrrhus and of Hannibal, sided against Rome. Now, Otranto is a town and commune in a fertile region in the province of Lecce (Apulia, Italy), once famous for its breed of horses. It’s situated on the east coast of the Salento peninsula and the Strait of Otranto connects the Adriatic Sea with the Ionian Sea. While in Otranto, we will go on an expert-led walking field trip through its Old Town to see its signature monuments including the Cathedral di Santa Maria Annunziata and its incredible mosaic floor depicting, among other things, The Tree of Life. Afterwards, you may wish to go for a stroll along the harbor, which is small and has little trade.

Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Afternoon: We will then board our motorcoach for an expert-led field trip to Muro Leccese where we will stroll through the historical medieval village and visit the Museum Borgo Terra at the Renaissance Palazzo del Principe. Afterwards, we will also get to see an ancient underground olive oil mill dating back to 1602 that functioned all the way until the early 1800s. It is located quite close to the Palazzo because it belonged to the prince. We’ll then return to the hotel.

Dinner: Hotel plated meal.

Evening: At leisure. Be sure to prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
6
Egnatia, Alberobello, Cooking Demonstration
Alberobello (BA)
B,L,D
Grand Hotel La Chiusa di Chietri

Activity note: Drive to Egnazia is about 55 miles; approximately 1.5 hours. Walking about 1.5 miles, approximately 2 hours; cobblestone paths; some benches on which to rest.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We’ll stop en route to Alberobello at the archeological site of Egnatia for an expert-led field trip through its museum and ancient Roman and pre-Roman ruins, complete with an on-site lecture. We will then continue our transfer to Alberobello and check into the hotel in time for lunch and a welcome drink.

Lunch: At the hotel.

Afternoon: At the hotel, we’ll have some free time before the head chef of the hotel shows us how to prepare traditional recipes of Puglia—the “heel” region of Italy’s “boot”—in a special cooking demonstration.

Dinner: At the hotel, we’ll have a plated meal featuring regional cuisine plus a glass of wine, water and coffee; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
7
Trulli Architecture, Alberobello UNESCO Site, Farmhouse
Alberobello (BA)
B,L,D
Grand Hotel La Chiusa di Chietri

Activity note: Walking about 1.5 miles, approximately 1 hour, on mostly flat terrain with some steps.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: At the hotel, we’ll receive a presentation on the Trulli architecture of Puglia given by a local expert as a way to familiarize us with what we will see throughout the day. We will then begin our expert-led field trip to the UNESCO World Heritage Site at Alberobello, which is situated on the second step of Le Murge, south of the Canale di Pirro. It was born as a farming village near an oak-forest and this is the origin of its name, which was originally “silva arboris belli.” All around Alberobello the rolling countryside is planted with vines, olives and almond trees and dotted everywhere by clusters of Trulli (dry stone huts with conical rooves). Isolated or in groups, the Trulli make up the urban fabric of the monumental area of the world-famous Alberobello. The Trulli take their name from the Greek tholos (cupola) and give the whole area a social characteristic that is unique to Italy: born following the division of landed property, they constitute the so-called phenomenon of scattered population. Each family group lives on its own land without forming urban centers; these microcosms are based on an estate averaging two hectares in size, all farmed, with a Trullo standing in at the centre and dominating the land.

Lunch: Experience the true flavors of Puglia lunching in an XVIII century farmhouse situated in the area called “Murgia dei trulli.” Enjoy a traditional plated and served meal with wine, coffee and water included.

Afternoon: We’ll return to the hotel and enjoy some free time before enjoying a lecture about Castel del Monte given by a local expert.

Dinner: Hotel plated meal.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
8
Castel del Monte, Torrevento Winery, Puglia & Unification
Alberobello (BA)
B,L,D
Grand Hotel La Chiusa di Chietri

Activity note: Drive to Castel del Monte is about 62 miles, approximately 1.5 hours. Walking about 1 mile, approximately 1 hour.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: After transferring via motorcoach we’ll begin by visiting Castel del Monte, a castle well known for its octagonal shape and eight octagonal towers that are inserted at each corner built directly on a treeless, rocky bank. A local expert will lead us through this 1966 UNESCO Heritage Site inductee that was built in about the year 1240 C.E. by Frederick II of Hohenstaufen. Continuing onward, we will visit Torrevento Winery for an informative and enlightening field trip led by an expert staff member of the winery. We’ll learn about the local wine grape growing traditions of the region, see the cellars, and hear about everything in between relating to the production process all on site. Afterwards we will be treated to a wine tasting so we can sample the flavors of the region.

Lunch: At Torrevento Winery, we’ll have a light lunch enriched by local products and wines.

Afternoon: We’ll then return to hotel via motorcoach for an informative afternoon session led by a local expert analyzing the region of Puglia after the unification of Italy, which began early in the 19th century at the close of Napoleonic rule.

Dinner: At a local restaurant in Alberobello, we’ll have a plated meal of regional cuisine with a glass of wine, water and coffee; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
9
Bari, Polignano al Mare
Alberobello (BA)
B,L,D
Grand Hotel La Chiusa di Chietri

Activity note: Walking about 3.5 miles total on mostly flat terrain, approximately 3 hours total. The drive is approximately 75 miles total, about 2.5 hours total, with stops for field trips at various locations.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will board the motorcoach and head to Bari for a full morning walking field trip throughout this picturesque port city and its historical center on the shores of the Adriatic Sea. On our way around Bari led by a local expert, we will see the Basilica of San Nicola, the cathedral, the outside of the castle, and the main square of the Old City.

Lunch: At a local restaurant in Mola di Bari, we’ll have a plated and served meal with wine, coffee and water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: After transfer to the small village of Polignano a Mare, we’ll explore the old part of the village on foot and have a stroll along the waterfront before returning to the hotel.

Dinner: Hotel plated meal.

Evening: At leisure. Be sure to prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
10
Matera, Sassi,
Matera
B,L,D
Hotel San Domenico al Piano

Activity note: Drive to Matera is about 43 miles, approximately 1.5 hours. Walking about 2.5 miles, approximately 2 hours; Sassi is very rocky; several steps and slopes; be sure to wear comfortable shoes.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Via motorcoach, we will transfer to Matera. We will embark on a walking field trip to the Sassi di Matera, the oldest part of the city, led by a local expert. This area was declared a UNESCO world heritage site because it is considered to be the most outstanding, intact example of a troglodyte settlement in the Mediterranean region perfectly adapted to its terrain and ecosystem. The first settlements can be dated back to the Neolithic period, approximately 7 thousand years ago, while later settlements illustrate a number of significant stages in human history.

Lunch: At the hotel restaurant, we’ll have a plated and served meal with wine, coffee and water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Check in at the hotel. The remainder of the afternoon will be free.

Dinner: At the hotel, we’ll have a plated and served meal with wine, coffee and water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
11
Parco Murgia Materana, Metaponto
Matera
B,L
Hotel San Domenico al Piano

Activity note: Walking about 2 miles on cobblestone streets; some steps to see the underground cistern. The drive is approximately 35 miles total, about 1.5 hours with stops for field trips.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We’ll begin with a walking field trip to the Palombaro Lungo, a spectacular underground cistern dating back to the early 19th Century. It held much of the water supply for Matera and was located in the main square just a short distance from the hotel. From here, we will go on an expert-led field trip exploring the area of Parco Murgia Materana including the stunning viewpoint known as the Belvedere. The park houses an ancient environment of soft rocks that have been carved into cliffs, ravines, gorges and caves, many of them used by prehistoric humans for shelter and eventually worship, as evidenced by spectacular Rock Churches. Furthermore, a variety of unique fauna inhabit this rocky wonderland including the Lesser Kestrel Falcon (the park’s symbol), hedgehogs, a range of reptiles, and a wealth of beautiful desert flora.

Lunch: At a local restaurant, we’ll have a plated and served meal with the usual beverages.

Afternoon: We will then head to Metaponto, once part of the Ancient Greek colonies of Magna Grecia, and go on a field trip to the ruins of the Tavole Palatine and the National Museum of Archaeology with a local expert. Afterwards, we will return to the hotel.

Dinner: On your own to sample the local fare.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
12
Castelmezzano, Free Time
Matera
B,L
Hotel San Domenico al Piano

Activity note: Drive to Castelmezzano is about 50 miles, approximately 1.5 hours. Walking about 1.5 miles, approximately 1.5 hours on cobblestone streets; hike to the mountain peak requires navigating an inclining stretch of a cobblestone path with several steps.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will travel to Castelmezzano for a walking field trip through the city nestled into mountain slopes. From the striking sight of Emilio Caizzo’s square, we’ll first learn about its history, cultural customs and curiosities from a local expert. The village is known as “the pearl of the Dolomiti Lucane” and is regarded as one of Italy’s hundred most beautiful sites with notable people hailing from it, from skyscraper architects to members of the Knights Templar. The main church of the village, Santa Maria dell’Olmo, contains some beautiful pictures and statues, dating from the Middle Ages to the 17th Century with various styles from the Byzantine to the Baroque. Il Volo dell’angelo, “The Angel flight”, although not included in program cost, is an exhilarating head-first 75 mph (120 km/h) zip-line experience between Castelmezzano and Pietrapertosa over a stunningly beautiful valley. As part of our walking field trip, we will hike to the mountain summit to overlook the town. If you do not wish to hike, you may wait below in the village and enjoy your time in the park or exploring the quaint streets.

Lunch: At a local restaurant, we’ll have a plated and served meal with the usual beverages.

Afternoon: We will return to the hotel. The remainder of the afternoon will be free in Matera.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Evening: At leisure. Be sure to prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
13
To Rende (Cosenza), Castello Normanno-Svevo, Palazzo Arnone
Rende (Cosenza)
B,L,D
Best Western Premier Villa Fabiano Palace Hotel

Activity note: Drive to Rende is about 100 miles, approximately 3.5 hours. Walking up 2.5 miles, about 1 hour; several steps and slopes during field trip.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will board our motorcoach for transfer to Cosenza and check into our hotel with time to freshen up before lunch.

Lunch: At the hotel restaurant, we’ll have a light lunch buffet with wine and water included.

Afternoon: We will then go on a field trip via motorcoach through Cosenza, first stopping for an expert-led exploration at Castello Normanno-Svevo, a hilltop castle that was partially restored by Frederick II. Next, we will visit Palazzo Arnone (Galleria Nazionale d’Arte), a noble palace turned into a prison and now exists as a national art gallery, to gaze at its wondrous collection of paintings. After transferring via coach to the main square of Old Cosenza, we will begin a walking field trip led by our Group Leader through the alleys of the Old Town, past the Teatro Rendano theater to reach the magnificent UNESCO World Heritage listed Cosenza Cathedral.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, we’ll enjoy a plated and served 4-course meal with wine, coffee, tea, water and liqueur included.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
14
Fiumefreddo, Belmonte Calabro
Rende (Cosenza)
B,L,D
Best Western Premier Villa Fabiano Palace Hotel

Activity note: Rende to Fiumefreddo is about 45 miles, approximately 1.5 hours; From Fiumefreddo to Belmonte Calabro is about 10 miles, approximately 25 minutes Walking about 4 miles, approx. 1.5 hours on mostly flat cobblestone terrain.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: At the hotel, our Group Leader will hold a talk focusing on the cuisine and cultural traditions of Calabria. We will then transfer to the medieval village of Fiumefreddo. A place that takes its name after “flumen frigidum,” meaning “river with potable water” and “cold” due to its fresh waters that stream from the rocks a few kilometers away from the sea, it clearly had a historical reputation for having the central building block to any healthy civilization. While here, a local expert will lead us on a walking field trip to Norman Castle overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea, followed by some visits to nearby historical churches. In this pleasant setting with views of the Aeolian Islands, we will enjoy a pleasant pre-lunch aperitif of prosecco, orange juice and Grispelle (Italian doughnuts)—a specialty of Calabria.

Lunch: We’ll then transfer via coach to a small nearby farmhouse where we will be treated to a plated and served lunch including a mix of appetizers, a first course, a main, fruit and dessert. Wine, coffee, water and liqueur are included.

Afternoon: We will travel to Belmonte Calabro to visit the Colavolpe firm, a centenary manufacturer of dried figs. We will then return to the hotel.

Dinner: At the hotel, we’ll have a buffet meal with wine and water included.

Evening: At leisure. Be sure to prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning..

DAY
15
Scilla, Reggio Calabria, Museo Nazionale della Magna Grecia
Catanzaro
B,L,D
Hotel Palace

Activity note: The ride from Rende to Scilla is about 105 miles, approximately 2 hours and the ride from Scilla to Reggio Calabria is about 30 minutes. The ride from Reggio to Catanzaro is about 97 miles, approximately 2 hours. Walking about 3 miles, approximately 2 hours total; some steps and inclines.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We’ll check out of the hotel and begin our transfer by motor coach to visit the fishing village of Scilla and the old district of Chianalea where a local expert will lead us on a field trip through Castello Ruffo and its Museum of the Swordfish, as these animals are the specialty of this area. We’ll then begin a walking field trip with our Group Leader through the alleyways of the Chianalea District, the old fisherman district, also referred to warmly as the “small Venice.”

Lunch: At a local restaurant, we’ll have a plated and lunch including a mix of appetizers, a main course and dessert with wine, coffee, cappuccinos and water included.

Afternoon: We’ll then transfer via coach to Reggio Calabria and we’ll visit the Museo Nazionale della Magna Grecia, or National Museum of Reggio, home to the famed Riace Bronzes, which are among very few surviving examples of Classic Greek bronze statuary. Reggio Calabria is the regional capital city of Calabria standing at the foot of the Aspromonte, a wild mountainous region, for centuries isolated from the rest of the world. In some villages, the dialect spoken is still based on ancient Greek. The Museum houses an extraordinary collection of prehistoric Graeco-Roman and medieval antiquities, including beautiful terra cottas, marbles and small bronzes of fine workmanship from Sibari, Locri, Medma and other sites throughout Calabria. While here, a local expert will provide background information as pertaining to the history and importance of myth in Reggio Calabria. We will then transfer to Catanzaro and check into the hotel with time to freshen up before dinner.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
16
Calabria’s Art, Santa Severina, Battistero Bizantino
Catanzaro
B,L,D
Hotel Palace

Activity note: Drive to Santa Severina is about 40 miles, approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes. Walking about 3 miles, approximately 2 hours; flat terrain.

Breakfast: At the hotel, the breakfast buffet includes a variety of breads, pastries, cold cuts, cheese, fresh fruit, and cereals with juice, milk, coffee, cappuccinos, tea and water.

Morning: Santa Severina, a town with a long and rich history, is located on a rocky hill that only has a single access point: through the village square where a massive and beautifully preserved castle dominates with its presence. On a walking field trip led by our Group Leader, we will visit the Diocesan Museum where we will see some of the most important and precious religious vestments, tools and statues from the surrounding area while learning about the symbolic meanings inherent to these ancient legacies. As we continue we will stop at the Baptistery, which is considered to be one of the most iconic and, up until recently, characteristic ancient Byzantine churches in all of Italy. br>Last but not least for the morning, we will enter the prominent castle in the square built of sandstone and fossil shell conglomerate rock. The interior hosts an archaeological museum and is decorated with countless stuccos and paintings.

Lunch: At a local restaurant, we’ll have a plated and served 4-course meal with wine, coffee, tea and water.

Afternoon: We will return to the hotel. At leisure.

Dinner: At the hotel, we’ll have a plated and served 3-course farewell dinner including wine, prosecco and water to toast new Road Scholar friendships while recounting our favorite experiences from the program.

Evening: At leisure. Be sure to prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.

DAY
17
Program Concludes
In Flight
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out by 9:30 a.m. See your program’s travel details regarding transfers.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet depending on departure time.

Morning: This concludes our program. If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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