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Italy

Winter in Italy: Puglia’s Hidden Gems

Program No. 23004RJ
Discover the vibrant history and cuisine of Puglia — a coastal region located on Italy’s “heel” — during the winter months when the weather is mild and there are fewer crowds.
Length
8 days
Rating (4.94)
Activity Level
Starts at
2,299
Flights start at
900

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Prefer to enroll or inquire by phone? 800-454-5768
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Price will update based on selection
Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Jan 20 - Jan 27, 2023
Starting at
2,299
Feb 3 - Feb 10, 2023
Starting at
2,299
Feb 24 - Mar 3, 2023
Starting at
2,299
Nov 3 - Nov 10, 2023
Starting at
2,299
Dec 1 - Dec 8, 2023
Starting at
2,299
Jan 22 - Jan 29, 2024
Starting at
2,399
Feb 5 - Feb 12, 2024
Starting at
2,399
Feb 19 - Feb 26, 2024
Starting at
2,399
Nov 4 - Nov 11, 2024
Starting at
2,399
Dec 2 - Dec 9, 2024
Starting at
2,399
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Jan 20 - Jan 27, 2023
Starting at
2,639
Feb 3 - Feb 10, 2023
Starting at
2,639
Feb 24 - Mar 3, 2023
Starting at
2,639
Nov 3 - Nov 10, 2023
Starting at
2,639
Dec 1 - Dec 8, 2023
Starting at
2,639
Jan 22 - Jan 29, 2024
Starting at
2,749
Feb 5 - Feb 12, 2024
Starting at
2,749
Feb 19 - Feb 26, 2024
Starting at
2,749
Nov 4 - Nov 11, 2024
Starting at
2,749
Dec 2 - Dec 9, 2024
Starting at
2,749

At a Glance

Located on Italy’s “heel,” Puglia boasts the longest stretch of coastline of any other mainland region in the country. Explore Puglia’s idyllic coast from the Baroque city of Lecce to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Alberobello, all while learning about its rich history, tantalizing cuisine and local life. Brush up on your Italian during session with your Group Leader and try your hand at creating local dishes during a hands-on cooking class. You’ll experience the very best of Puglia during the mild winter months when all the tourists have gone home!
Activity Level
Keep the Pace
Walking up to a mile and a half; some uneven ground and cobblestones. Stairs without railings.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 13 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Discover the Baroque beauty of Lecce — the “Florence of the South” — on an expert-led walking exploration of the Old City.
  • Learn the vast history of the Sassi de Matera, a troglodyte settlement and one of the oldest cities in the world.
  • Marvel in the unique trulli houses of Alberobello, historic homes built during the 16th century that are now a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Featured Expert
All Experts
Profile Image
Emanuela D'Andria
Emanuela D’Andria graduated with a degree in interpreting French and English from the Higher School of Modern Languages for Interpreters and Translators at the University of Trieste. She has been creating and leading educational explorations throughout Italy and abroad since 1998, including programs in the U.S., Canada, U.K., France, Germany. and Holland. Emanuela has enjoyed leading Road Scholar programs since 2006.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image of Emanuela D'Andria
Emanuela D'Andria View biography
Emanuela D’Andria graduated with a degree in interpreting French and English from the Higher School of Modern Languages for Interpreters and Translators at the University of Trieste. She has been creating and leading educational explorations throughout Italy and abroad since 1998, including programs in the U.S., Canada, U.K., France, Germany. and Holland. Emanuela has enjoyed leading Road Scholar programs since 2006.
Profile Image of Gianluca Tonti
Gianluca Tonti View biography
Gianluca Tonti studied Middle Age history at the Università Statale di Milano with a thesis about taxation and politics during the 15th century. After graduating, he attended the Archivio di Stato in Milan. Upon returning to Apulia, he worked with historical researchers in the local archives and teaches local history. Gianluca began working as a travel leader in Puglia in 2009 and became certified in 2012. He currently works with English-speaking groups in Apulia, Basilicata, and Sicily.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Masserie: The Italian Farmhouses of Puglia, 2011
by Mark Roskams and Diane Lewis
Pan' E Pomodor - My Passage To Puglia 2011
by Ian R. McEwan
Before the Normans: Southern Italy in the Ninth and Tenth Centuries (The Middle Ages Series) 1996
by Barbara M. Kreutz
Romanesque Churches of Puglia (Italy)
by Approach Guides, David Raezer and Jennifer Raezer
Venturing in Italy: Travels in Puglia, Land between Two Seas
by Connie Burke and Barbara J. Euser
Puglia: A Culinary Memoir (Italy's Food Culture)
by Maria Pignatelli Ferrante, Natalie Danford translator, Polly Franchini and Maria Galetta consultant
Christ stopped at Eboli
by Carlo Levi
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8 days
7 nights
15 meals
6 B 5 L 4 D
DAY
1
In Transit to Program
In Flight
DAY
2
Arrival Brindisi, Check-In, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Lecce
D
Mercure Hotel Lecce President

Activity note: Hotel check-in available from 03:00 p.m. Driving to the hotel approximately 30 miles; about 1 hour.

Afternoon: After checking in at the hotel and getting your room, take some time to freshen up and relax before our Orientation session. Orientation: The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. Unless specified otherwise, the majority of transportation will be provided via motorcoach thereby necessitating ascending and descending a few steps. All meals include wine and water. Periods in the daily schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. We’ll then enjoy a welcome cocktail together at the hotel before dinner.

Dinner: At the hotel.

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, Cooking Lesson
Lecce
B,L,D
Mercure Hotel Lecce President

Activity note: Walking about 3 miles; approximately 2 hours; flat terrain.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We’ll begin with a lecture at the hotel with our Group Leader 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. We will explore the old city and its iconic Baroque monuments. We will walk by churches, and even some ancient Roman ruins including the Basilica of Santa Croce. The remainder of the morning will be free for independent exploration of Lecce.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: We will walk to an ancient Palazzo located in the historical center of Lecce for a hands-on cooking lesson.

Dinner: At the cooking school, we’ll enjoy the dishes we’ve made during our lesson.

Evening: We will arrive back to the hotel in the late evening.

DAY
4
Otranto, Free Time
Lecce
B,L
Mercure Hotel Lecce President

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

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We’ll board our motorcoach and ride to Otranto, a town of Messapians (a pre-Roman population known for breeding horses) which, in the wars of Pyrrhus and of Hannibal, sided against Rome. Now, Otranto is a town in a fertile region situated on a rocky spur on the east coast of the Salento peninsula. 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 with our Group Leader through its old town, a maze of little alleys, to see its signature monuments including the Cathedral of Santa Maria Annunziata and its incredible mosaic floor depicting, among other things, The Tree of Life. UNESCO World Heritage has recognized the town as “Peace Messenger Site” for its melting pot culture brought by all the different populations which merged here.

Lunch: At a restaurant in Otranto.

Afternoon: Returning to the hotel, the remainder of the afternoon will be Free Time. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

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

DAY
5
Masseria Brancati, Locorotondo, Martina Franca
Martina Franca
B,L,D
Park Hotel San Michele

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach. Driving about 73 miles total throughout the day; about 2 hours total with stops for activities. Walking about 2 miles throughout the day; approximately 2 hours; cobblestone paths; some benches on which to rest.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: After checking out of the hotel, we will board our private motorcoach and begin our transfer to Martina Franca. During our ride we will stop at Masseria Brancati and walk among olive trees dating back thousands of years. The visit will start with an introduction given by an olive oil expert on how olive oil has been produced through the ages. We’ll then continue our transfer to Locorotondo and go on an expert-led field trip in the charming circular whitewashed village, which has a beautiful view over the trulli-peppered Val D'Itria. Locorotondo is widely regarded as one of the "Most Beautiful Borough of Italy" and it is a prime example of an Italian “White City.”

Lunch: At a restaurant in Locorotondo.

Afternoon: We will then complete our transfer to Martina Franca and we’ll explore the town on foot with our Group Leader. The town has a particularly conserved old town surrounded by stone walls with prominent Baroque gates leading to piazzas and narrow, winding streets. In the late afternoon, we will check into our next hotel.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
6
Alberobello, Lecture, Polignano a Mare, Italian Lesson
Martina Franca
B,L,D
Park Hotel San Michele

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach. Walking about 3.5 miles total on mostly flat terrain; approximately 3 hours total. Drive is approximately 60 miles total; about 2 hours total, with stops for field trips at various locations.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will board the motorcoach and head to Alberobello for a full morning walking field trip throughout this the UNESCO World Heritage Site at Alberobello, which is situated on the second step of Le Murge, south of the Canale di Pirro. As we explore, this fairy tale town, we soak in the sights of the iconic white limestone trulli with their conically pointed roofs. Our Group Leader will give a lecture on the Trulli architecture in Puglia. We will then ride to the picturesque small village of Polignano a Mare, with its blue sea, its white houses and little alleys.

Lunch: At a restaurant in Polignano a Mare.

Afternoon: Polignano a Mare is the native town of Domenico Modugno, world famous for his song Nel blu dipinto di blu (Volare), sang also by Frank Sinatra. Back to the hotel our Group Leader will give a lesson on particular Italian gesture.

Dinner: At a local restaurant.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
7
Matera, Sassi, Free Time
Martina Franca
B,L
Park Hotel San Michele

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach. Walking about 2.5 miles total for the day; approximately 2 hours; Sassi is very rocky; several steps and slopes; be sure to wear comfortable shoes. Drive to Matera is approximately 46 miles; about 1.5 hours.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will board our motorcoach and ride to Matera where we will embark on an expert-led walking field trip of the Sassi di Matera, the oldest part of the city. 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 that is 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 a restaurant in Matera. Share some of your favorite experiences from the program with your fellow Road Scholars.

Afternoon: Returning to the hotel, the remainder of the afternoon will be free.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like.

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

DAY
8
Program Concludes
In Flight
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out by 11:00 a.m. See your program’s travel details regarding transfers.

Breakfast: At the hotel depending on departure time. This concludes our program.

Morning: 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 another rewarding program in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!






Important registration tip:
If you want to attend the live lecture, please do not wait until the last minute to enroll.
If you enroll after a lecture is complete, we’ll send you a recording of the event.