Italy's Adriatic Coast is calling! Let's take a road trip along the Puglia Coast and indulge in its amazing natural beauty & exquisite cuisine! This is where the foods are as varied, rich & magnificent as the landscapes!
Grab your camera and possibly your favorite elastic waist pants and join us on this 400+ mile road trip on Italy’s South Eastern Coast! We'll be soaking up the sun on the Puglia Coast with stops in Peschici, Vieste, Polignano a Mare, Monopoli, Trani, Bari, Otranto, and Lecce (to name a few). Think of traveling between the spur and boot heel of Italy. We consider this region Italy’s best-kept secret, but it's been the favorite summer retreat of Italians for decades!
Super scenic Puglia (Apulia) is nestled in the southeast corner of Italy between the Adriatic and Ionian Seas. It's a long, thin region that starts at the Gargano Promontory, the spur of the boot and continues to the Salento Peninsula, the toe of the boot. Much of the Puglia region is coastline and is well-known for its beautiful beaches, fresh seafood, and charming coastal towns.
Everything the Italy fan craves is here in abundance: ancient towns with history galore; extravagant churches dreamt up by Europe's finest architects; seas of olives; olive-green seas; and mouthwatering food that rivals anywhere in Italy. Travelers worn down by the crowds of Campania and Tuscany can find still tranqulity in the splendor of Lecce, ‘Florence of the South’, or one of many lesser (but no less beautiful) Pugliese towns.
If you're into incredible scenery and if gastronomy is your passion… this is the perfect trip for you! Get ready for a farm-to-table experience in L’Aquila; tapas in a medieval building in the impressive Appenine Mountains; fresh fish at a rustic restaurant teetering over the dramatic edge of the Adriatic; an olive farm tour including sampling the Italian Gold; and wine tasting in Scorrano at the Guarini winery dating back to the 1700’s. And this list doesn't even include the local cuisine and sites we’ll experience along the route in the beautiful, charming seaside towns of Puglia!
And don’t worry, we’ll enjoy relaxation & adventure daily including: a guided trek in Abruzzo, an exciting boat tour of the Grottos off of Vieste, a biking tour through the peaceful countryside of Alberobello, and a four-day stay in an amazing villa with ocean views and a private chef!
- Farm to table experience at Fattoria Antica Forconia in L’Aquila. Here we’ll learn about the environment, ecology and relationships between the world of production and food consumption. All of the food served is from the farm reflecting their traditions.
- Exploring in the Appenines Mountains in a fortified medieval village. Restored buildings recreate the traditions of how the villagers lived their lives, the food they ate, and crafts they practiced, which highlight the impressive skills they had.
- Trekking tour to Rocca di Calascio and picnic with a mid-mountain guide. At an elevation of 4,790 feet, Rocca Colascio is the highest fortress in the Apennines and has been the backdrop of many movies.
- Hike through the Foresta Umbra with its ancient oak and beech trees reaching the Gargano Promontory to experience the stunning natural vistas. Rising above the plains below, this mountainous haven showcases a plethora of little swimming lagoons, beaches, coves, and mountains.
- Boat tour of the Gargano Sea Caves off the coast of Vieste. We’ll have an exhilarating tour with views of the high cliffs, the natural stone arches like San Felice, and the legendary stacks such as the Pizzomunno and the Zagare.
- Visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Castel de Monte. We’ll explore the Castle which was built during the 1240s by the Emperor Frederick II and is stamped onto the one cent Euro coin.
- Outing at Polignano a Mare Beach. The bay in Polignano a Mare is flanked on either side by soaring cliffs. Locals are likely to be seen diving off them. Cliff jumping anyone? :)
- Biking tour through the Trulli of Alberobello (World UNESCO Heritage Site). These limestone dwellings are remarkable examples of a prehistoric building technique. Our biking adventure takes us along beautiful country roads to a local dairy where we can watch the production of mozzarella as well as enjoy a tasting.
- Excursion to Ostuni, which is described as Puglia’s culinary capital. Ostuni, also known as ‘the white city’, is one of southern Italy’s most spectacular towns. We’ll wander it’s immaculate and historic cobbled streets before a tour of Masseria Il Frantoio. We’ll see the house, gardens and underground oil mill, and finish our visit with an olive oil tasting, medieval courses and Apulian wine!
- Three-night stay in a gorgeous oceanfront villa in Marina di Andrano. The perfect place to relax and unwind. This large Greek Style home has a pool, garden, olive trees, large relaxing living room, and sea terraces with majestic views. Best of all, we’ll have a private chef catering breakfast and dinner for us! Yes, please!
- Visit to Duca Carlo Guarini Winery in Scorrano. The same family has been cultivating this wine for almost thousand years. We’ll enjoy a tour of the winery and a private tasting including their wines, extra-virgin olive oil, preserves, and marinated vegetables as well as a buffet including their homemade pastas.
- Walking tour of Lecce where we’ll enjoy the history & viticulture of Southern Puglia and visit a local fish market. Back at the kitchen, we’ll learn how to make fresh pasta from scratch, cook the fish, and hear from a nationally certified sommelier about the history of rose wine. Finally, we’ll dine on a meal produced by our own hands.
Night 1: Santostefano Sextantio. A restored fortified medieval village located in the mountains of Abruzzo in the Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga National Park. Rooms are decorated with the furniture and textiles of the region and era built. Amenities include mountain views, spa, restaurant & bar. Dinner and Breakfast included.
Night 2 - 3: The Stunning Peschici. This Bed & Breakfast offers breathtaking views of the beach which is only a short walk away and is just steps from the center of Peschici for easy siteseeing, shopping and exploring town. Spacious rooms with modern furnishings. Breakfast included.
Night 4-6: Albergo Diffuso Monopoli. Located in the beautiful historical center of the City of Monopoli and a few minutes walk to the seafront and beaches. Albergo Diffuso translates as “scattered houses” as these water view apartments are not in a single building. They are spread out, but still in close proximity (within 200 meters) to reception/front desk and the restaurant. Breakfast included.
Night 7- 9: Villa di Adrano. This greek-style ocean front villa is located in the protected area of the natural forest between Tricase - Otranto where you can enjoy wonderful sea and a countryside full of olive trees. The property has a wonderful view of the sea and offers a pool, a garden lido, large communal areas inside and out to relax, terraces, barbecue area, access to the beach, and two kitchens. A private chef will be preparing our breakfasts and dinners during our stay.
Night 10-11: And So Bed & Breakfast. Lecce is considered “The Florence of the South” for its beautiful baroque architecture. We will be staying in a restored 17th century building with classic contemporary design and artisanal woodwork. Enjoy the rooftop terrace with spectacular views across Lecce. A short walk away from the two most famous landmarks of Lecce - Piazza del Duomo and Piazza Sant’Oronzo - and many shops, bars and restaurants. Breakfast included.
Early morning arrival in Rome at Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino Airport (FCO) or arrival the day before. You'll be picked up and we'll head out to start our Italy adventure! First stop, exploring the Abruzzo region! Lunch will be a yummy, authentic farm to table experience in L’Aquila. We'll then head to our accomodations - the Sextantio Hotel located in a restored medieval village nestled in the Appenine Mountains. Enjoy a relaxing dinner on the patio with a panoramic overlook and breathtaking views. (L,D) Drive time: about 2.5 hours
Overnight - Santostefano Sextantio Hotel
After an early breakfast at the hotel, our hiking guide will meet us for a trek to see the beautiful scenery of Rocca di Calascio, which is a high village of Norman Origin dating back to 816 AD. The incredible views from the Appenines Mountains are surreal and staggeringly picturesque. We'll enjoy a picnic lunch in these wonderous surroundings. We'll continue on making stops in Termoli and Vasto the next set of charming coastal towns. We'll then head to Peschici, where we'll be spending the night. We arrive in Peschici and enjoy a casual meal in the town. (B, L) Drive time: about 4 hours
Overnight - The Stunning Peschici B&B
After breakfast at the hotel, we'll depart for Vieste to explore the Sea Caves of Gargano by boat. Our skilled captain will take us on a 3-hour scenic boat ride inside the beautiful Grottos off the coast of Vieste. There are about 20 sea caves in the Gargano area with endless fascinating shapes, which are the result of the continuous crashing of waves against the calcareous rocks. We'll then dine at a local old town restaurant famous for their seafood. We'll enjoy aperitivos at Al Trabucco Mimi situated on a traditional wooden fishing platform teetering over the Adriatic Sea with the sun sinking into the water. (B) Drive time: about 1 hour
Overnight - The Stunning Peschici B&B
Breakfast at the hotel. Head out to Gargano National Park where we'll take a leisurely hike into the Umbra Forest, known as the 'Forest of Shadows' with its tall, ancient trees including Aleppo pines, oaks, yews and beech trees covering a sprawling 5790 sq km. We'll enjoy a relaxing picnic, then it's off to Castel Del Monte, located on a small hill near the monastery of Santa Maria del Monte. This 13th-century citadel and castle built by Emperor Frederick II is a World Heritage UNESCO site. After touring the castle, we'll make our way to the picturesque seaside town of Polignano a Mare. Here we'll enjoy a delicious casual dinner, sunset, and people watching as locals partake in cliff jumping! Depart for our hotel in Monopoli. (B,L) Drive time: 4.5 hours
Overnight - Albergo Diffuso Monopoli
Breakfast at the hotel at your leisure and then it's a free day in Monopoli! A recommendation is to explore Monopoli by doing a self-guided walking tour in old town. Monopoli is a photographic dream - a typical Apulian gem with quaint narrow streets, pretty squares and a picturesque harbor. Stroll to the cathedral, old castle, and picturesque harbor. Relax on one of the beautiful beaches and gazing out into the crystal blue water of the Adriatic Sea. Maybe an espresso at a cafe mingling with the locals. Take time to just relax and enjoy the Italian lifestyle. (B) Drive time: none
Overnight - Albergo Diffuso Monopoli
Breakfast at the hotel and then off to enjoy a guided bike tour of the Trullis of Alberobello (World UNESCO Heritage Site). Trulli, limestone dwellings, are remarkable examples of drywall (mortarless) construction, a prehistoric building technique still in use in this region. Alberobello is home of the oldest known trulli, dating back to the 14th century. Our biking adventure takes us along beautiful country roads to a local dairy where we can watch the production of mozzarella as well as a tasting. After the tour, you'll have time for whatever interests you - perhaps some shopping, espresso, gelato in the village. Afterwards, it's a casual dinner back in Monopoli. (B,L) Drive Time: about 2 hours
Overnight - Albergo Diffuso Monopoli
After breakfast at the hotel, we'll depart early for sight seeing in the town of Ostuni. It's considered one of the most beautiful villages in the Puglia region with its whitewashed buildings set upon a hill overlooking endless olive trees and the Adriatic Sea. After exploring Ostuni, we'll visit Masseria il Frantoio, 178-acre organic farm that dates back to 1500. While there we will experience a guided tour of the house, gardens, courtyard, underground oil mill and the story of the Masseria. We'll enjoy a full course lunch and olive oil tasting. Then its back to our coastal villa to relax. There will be a light meal prepared us later in the evening. (B,L, D) Drive Time: about 2.5 hours
Overnight - Villa di Adrano
Breakfast at the Villa. We'll start the day by heading to the spectacular clifftop, coastal town of Otranto that overlooks the turquoise waters of the Adriatic Sea. We'll visit the historic promenade and discover the town’s rich history including the 15th-century Aragonese Castle and 11th-century Otranto Cathedral. A stop at the harbor and Torre Matta tower provides sweeping sea views. After exploring Otranto, our next activity is a wine experience at Duco Carlo Guarini Winery in Scorrano. We'll enjoy a guided tour along with a buffet tasting of the food products and local dishes of the region. We'll return to the Villa where you can relax and later have some light appetizers by the pool. (B,L,D) Drive Time: about 2.5 hours
Overnight - Villa di Adrano
Today we'll spend the morning relaxing and enjoying time at the Villa in Marina di Andrano. In the afternoon, we'll continue exploring this picturesque coast and taking in the natural beauty. We'll visit some of the small villages along the heel of the boot for a spontaneous day of doing and seeing whatever interests us! In the evening, we'll celebrate our last night at the Villa with a gourmet coastal meal prepared by the chef. (B, D) Drive Time: about 2 hours
Overnight - Villa di Adrano
Breakfast at the Villa. Today we head to the historic baroque city of Lecce, referred to as “The Florence of the South” known for its architectural beauty. Chefs from The Awaiting Table will take us to the local fish market to select our catch of the day. We'll experience pasta making, fresh fish cookery lesson, and rosè-tasting. During class, we'll prepare our own lunch. After checking into our boutique hotel, we can take in the lights of Lecce and find a quaint cafe for light bites and drinks to celebrate. (B,L) Drive Time: about 45 minutes
Overnight - And So Bed & Breakfast
After breakfast at the hotel,we'll take the last day of our trip to see the beautiful architecture of Lecce. There are numerous wonderous buildings to discover that show off the ancient craftsmanship from Medieval to Baroque architecture including Piazza del Duomo, the Cattedrale di Lecce, Basilica di Santa Croce, Sant’Oronzo Column, and the Roman amphitheater. We'll celebrate our evening at a wonderful L’ostruca Ubriaca Restaurant and toast to a trip filled with new memories, stories and friends. (B) Drive Time: none
Overnight - And So Bed & Breakfast
After one last Italian breakfast, its sadly, departure day. We'll be transferred to the airport for our international flight home.
All airport transfers and transportation. Transfer from Rome's Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino Airport (FCO) on arrival day and ground & rail transportation throughout the trip ending back at FCO airport.
All accommodations - 11 nights beginning on May 4, 2019
Five Culinary Experiences:
- Farm to Table in L’Aquila (Lunch Meal)
- Bike tour and mozzarella experience in Alberobello (Tasting)
- Olive Oil Farm Experience in Ostuni (Lunch Meal)
- Wine Tasting in Scorrano (Late afternoon Buffet)
- Cooking Class & Wallking Tour in Lecce (Lunch Meal)
Guided Boat Tour of Gargano Sea Caves
Two Hikes with Park Entrance Fees:
- Abruzzo Region (Guided)
- Garagano Umbra Forest (Not Guided)
Breakfast included each day of the trip except upon arrival in Rome
Two Picnic lunches:
- Hiking in the Abruzzo Region
- Hiking in The Gargano National Park
- Sextantio Hotel in Abruzzo Region
- 3 dinners prepared by private chef at the Villa di Adrano
Any meals or beverages not listed in Inclusions
Any activities on Day 5, the free day in Monopoli and any other free time activities not listed in the itinerary
Early Bird Pricing (based on double occupancy): $3,685
Early Bird Booking Deadline: October 31, 2018
Regular Pricing (double occupancy): $3,785
Regular Booking Deadline: December 31, 2018
Single Room Supplement: $850
Deposit: 30% of trip price (due at booking)
Final Balance due: February 4, 2019 (90 days before departure)
Estimated Airfare: $700-$1,100 (varies of course & depends on your departure airport)
Cancellation policy: Only 100% refundable only within two weeks of paying your deposit.
We recommend a premium Trip Insurance policy via a reputable company like TravelSafe, which can be booked easily from our trip booking website. Premium trip insurance policies include the 'cancel for any reason' benefit. These premium policies must be paid for within 10-14 days of your initial trip investment.
While a 30% deposit is due at booking, the balance can be paid over time up until departure using our self-service payment feature. You can make payments of any size at anytime by logging into your account on the Gen X Travel Club website. This is a great way to finance/budget for the cost of a trip - instead of paying a larger single lump sum payment for the balance, you can make small monthly payments over time.
Information on recommended flights will be provided.
We suggest that travelers fly into Rome and arrive the day before in case of any flight issues. So fly a day early, have a free day in Rome, and recover from jet lag & be on Italian time zone time for the start of the official trip!
Visas & Passports
Visas to Italy are not required for US citizens. All passengers traveling internationally are required to have a passport. European law requires you to carry your passport with you at all times.
The official currency of Italy is the Euro.
Euro coins differ according to country, but they can be used in any Eurozone state. Bank notes are of uniform EU design.
Credit cards are accepted in most places (Visa and MasterCard) and you should have no problems using them in shops and restaurants. However, smaller shops may ask you to pay in cash or have a minimum amount required to use a credit card.
Voltage for outlets is 220V. (U.S. voltage is 110V.) Italy uses a round, 2-prong plug.
Italy is EST +6 hours
Making Phone Calls Home
The country code for Italy is 39.
Dial your international access code (011), followed by the country code, area code, and phone number.
Phone number in Italy are eight digits in length.
Meet your trip leaders for the Puglia Italy, Adriatic Coast trip!
Judy: Travel Planner / Trip Leader / SoCal Gen X Travel Club Meetup Organizer / VP of Road Trip Affairs
I consider myself fortunate as I have picked up my love of off-the-beaten-path travel from my parents. Back in the 70s my parents packed up their wood-paneled station wagon and pop-up camper for a 5-week trip from Delaware to San Francisco (no, no, Griswold is not my maiden name). Some of my favorite stops included The Badlands, Yosemite and the Redwoods.
I like to think that I've passed the love of travel onto my kids by taking them on an 8-week trip across Europe as well as other adventures. We've stayed with the locals and at Euro camps in England, Germany, France, Norway and Switzerland.
After moving from the East Coast to California, I spent the last few years learning the 10 essentials, orienteering & wilderness first aid for backpacking and hiking. A few recent fun trips include a trip on the Amtrak Coast Starlight from LA to Portland and a 4-day backpacking trip to the top of Mt. Whitney. If you’re ready for an outdoor adventure I am ready to take you…. LET’S GO!
Julie: Travel Planner / Trip Leader / SoCal Chapter Meetup organizer / VP of all-things foodie
I'm an adventurous soul and always making a plan to vel somewhere! Whether it's day trips, woofing through farms of Italy, or exploring Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland and beyond, I'm on the move or planning to be. In between, I enjoy incorporating unique foods and farm to table concepts having trained with some of the finest chefs from Castiglion Fiorentino to Monterey, California, where I've taken full advantage of camping and enjoying Big Sur and Yosemite.
When my son and daughter were pre-teens, I even spirited them away to spend summers in the Tuscany region of Italy. Making friends and learning the finer points of preparing Italian cuisine were only part of our travels. Learning to make wine, harvesting and pressing olives, making cheese, goat herding, and visiting magnificent museums of Rome and Florence rounded out the adventure.
At home in the US, my husband and Australian Shepherd named Tess, enjoy our solitude of a homestead cabin on a few acres in the high-desert of Mojave. I can mime my way through any language, laugh through wrong turns and makes friends with anyone... willing to buy me a glass of wine. :)
We always recommend trip insurance & suggest TravelSafe insurance - a reputable company with competitive pricing and great coverage options.
Here are a few reasons to get trip insurance:
● Reimbursement for cancellation penalties (which can be 100% of your investment) in the event of an unforeseeable illness, injury or death of you, your travel companion or a family member.
● Reimbursement for cancellation penalties if you are called for jury duty, your home is damaged due to fire, windstorm, flood or vandalism or military leave cancelled.
● Reimbursement for unused portion of your trip if it is interrupted.
● Medical evacuation/repatriation expenses to an appropriate medical facility or back home in the event of a serious illness or injury while traveling.
● 24-hour help line for any travel emergency, such as medical, lost tickets, lost passports, and other travel documents.
We recommend a premium Trip Insurance policy via a reputable company like TravelSafe. Premium trip insurance policies include the 'cancel for any reason' benefit. Note: The 'Cancel for Any Reason' premium policy must be purchased within two weeks of your initial trip deposit.