Precious Stones of Puglia, Italy

Updated 11/22/16

Home Listing by Date Listing by Continent Contact Us

Subscribe to our
Email Updates!

TCI Home
About Us

Photo Album

Phi Mu Foundation
League Leaders
Washington state residents, please call us directly regarding insurance

We invite you to call Sarah or Gwen at 1-800-762-4216 to request the full brochure. The brochure will include Important Traveler Information (and answers to most questions) and a Reservation Form. We can send the brochure through the Postal Service or as a PDF attachment. If you would like to receive a PDF, probably the best way to keep the message from going into a SPAM filter is to send a message to If you are already on our mailing list, no need to complete the entire brochure request form.


Bari • Brindisi • Castellana • Alberobello
Martina Franca • Taranto • Lecce • Trani • Otranto • Castel del Monte
in the Apulia (used interchangeably with Puglia) Region of Southern Italy

plus Matera, one of the most fascinating historic centers
in Italy in neighboring region of Basilicata

June 9 - 17, 2017 • 9 Days
$4490 per person double occupancy
from Bari, Italy • Airfare Additional
Single supplement $990


Day by Day Itinerary


The truth about Santa Claus
Welcome to Italy! Plan to arrive this morning at the Bari airport, or arrive a day or two early and spend some time in Bari. Our guide, Lucia, and our driver who will be with us the entire trip, will meet us this morning and we’re off on a guided tour of Bari’s Old Town.

Arriving in Bari
If you would like, we will be happy to assist with airfare departing from the U.S. Thursday June 8 and arriving late morning in Bari June 9, where our tour begins. Or (recommended) depart June 7 to arrive one day early for a day of relaxation.

If you will be in Bari, arriving by train or plane, please provide your schedule. Several hotels are conveniently located near the Bari airport. We recommend the Oriente Hotel. We can arrange hotels and transfers if you wish. Like the airfare, what’s best for you is best for us.

Bari’s origins date back at least 4,000 years and it is the second most important center in the South of Italy after Naples. The main town is divided into two areas: the Old Town called “Bari Vecchia” and the new quarter on “Murat,” cut by the most elegant Street of Via Sparano. Bari is a city that grew in stages. Up to the end of the 18th century almost the entire city was within what is now called Bari Vecchia, a triangular-shaped promontory that, first inhabited in the Bronze Age, has seen Romans, Byzantines, Lombards, Normans, Swabians and Angevins. Its old town is a monument in itself and is enclosed by high imposing walls. The city has a magnificent sea front with a wonderful view of the blue Adriatic.

We’ll stop at the massive Swabian Castle, which was built in the Swabian/Aragonese style. Then, we travel through the narrow winding roads of the old city to the Saint Nicholas Basilica. It hosts the remains of Saint Nicholas, known all over the world as ”Santa Claus,” whose relics were stolen by 62 sailors from Myra and brought to Bari. Have a pleasant walk to Piazza Mercantile, the ancient trading place, dominated by the Sedile dei Nobili (Seat of the Nobles). Alongside is the Colonna Infame (column of infamy), the medieval pillory for insolvent debtors surrounded by old palazzi turned into workshops and cafés.

Lunch will be served at Donna Gina in Polignano a Mare. The restaurant is located at the top of a terrace overlooking the sea, where we can enjoy a short walk along the panoramic seafront, and a local “gelato” before reaching Masseria Montenapoleone. All our lunches and dinners include beverages (water and one glass of wine). Please advise us of any dietary requirements.

Be warmly greeted at the unique masseria (farm estate) located in a peaceful location overlooking the sea. We’ll relax with a welcome cocktail in rustic luxury. Enjoy three nights here. Dinner is served at the masseria. (L-D)

**** Masseria Montenapoleone,
Pezze di Greco (Brindisi)


Cooking class, a lunar landscape and a forest of the tree of life
The morning is spent at the Masseria Montenapoleone.

Enjoy a Cooking Class with a focus on Sentatore Cappelli Wheat and products including pasta making and focaccia. Weather permitting, the lesson begins with a stroll in the garden in order to learn about the products which usually the staff at the Masseria use in the kitchen. The lesson duration is about two hours and guests will be provided with aprons, hats, and all the necessary tools. At the end, we will be able to enjoy our focaccia for lunch.

For those guests who would not be interested in the Cooking Lesson, an option could be The Archery Course, operated by a professional archer. Follow a route around the Masseria where hunting zones have been reproduced, and handmade wooden as well as jute animals represent the hunter’s shooting target. Cost is 35 Euro for course. Lunch additional.

Last but not least, a swimming pool, sun beds and gazebos are available for those guests who would just like to enjoy some free time at leisure. Lunch additional.

In the afternoon our driver will transport us to Castellana, the small but active town 950 feet above the sea level and situated on the edge of a close karstic depression.
Castellana Grotte is famous all over the world for its charming grottoes, which are known as the most important Italian speleological site. Their discovery dates back to 1938 by the speleologist Franco Anelli. The series of underground karst caves were formed by rainwater, which collected at the surface level and easily penetrated the crevices in the limestone layer below. The winding course of these waters cut out caves and tunnels, and formed wonderful alabaster blades of stalactites and stalagmites formed over the millennia. The lunar landscape, made up of crystalline columns and jagged points, glows and sparkles. These natural sculptures fill up the caves and wind through this enchanting underground passage for nearly two miles. We will visit Black Grotto, Angel Passage, Grottoes’ Mary, Snake Passage, Little Paradise, Altar Cave, Desert Passage, Treasure Hall, and last of all, with its breathtaking incredible beauty and incomparable reflections of white rock, the White Cave. A comfortable lift will bring us back to surface level. During this visit, awe at Mother Nature’s creativity, an experience we will remember forever.

Dinner tonight will be at the Masseria for what they call a “Meat & Veg BBQ”. A rich selection of local grilled meat and organic vegetables prepared following old recipes from the local culinary tradition plus pasta salad, cold cuts, local cheese, fruits and dessert. (B-L-D)

**** Masseria Montenapoleone,
Pezze di Greco (Brindisi)


The Itria Valley dotted by white- washed walls
Alberobello, whose name arises from SylvaArboris Belli (forest of the tree of war), an oak wood that anciently covered the entire area. It is thought that Alberobello was founded in the XV century. The town most likely became urbanized in 1635 by the agency of the Guercio di Puglia, the Count Giangirolamo II. Alberobello was declared a national monument in 1930 and in 1996 a UNESCO world heritage site. The monumental zone has the Monti and Aia Piccola quarters, entirely composed of “trulli,” ancient conical stone buildings. Aia Piccola is the more private and charming of the two, where most of the locals live among ancient buildings; Monti is more tourist-oriented, housing souvenir stands, restaurants and artisan workshops.

Alberobello is the result of the hard work of generations of people who have adapted their physical environments to their own needs. The trulli are constructed with a drywall (mortar-less) building technique still in use in this region. The skillful hands of local stonecutters make them with limestone collected from neighboring fields. This stone is called “chianca”. All traditions related to the farming civilization are kept alive as well as the secrets of traditional cooking. We’ll enjoy a stroll down Alberobello’s narrow streets and have the opportunity to see a miniature stone trulli created by a local craftsman.

In the afternoon enjoy some free time at the masseria for a swim or some journaling. Tonight we drive to Masseria Il Frantoio, where food is combined with 3 different kinds of wines (depending on the menu, but basically a white, a rosé and a red local wine), as well as olive oil. Schedule permitting the host will welcome guests and will escort them during a short visit to the farmhouse, its garden, its ancient olive oil factory. Guests will enjoy dinner all together in the same room, while the host introduces every course, its ingredients, the olive oil and the wine. Having skipped lunch we’ll save room for this wonderfully rich dinner. Return to Brindisi for overnight. (B-D)

**** Masseria Montenapoleone,
Pezze di Greco (Brindisi)


A city of two seas
After breakfast, we check out of our masseria and board the private coach for a pleasant drive to Martina Franca. We’ll step through the portals of the beautiful Baroque town, which was established in the 14thcentury by Philip d’Angio, Prince of Taranto. Martina Franca has been noted for its uniqueness and beauty. Make a leisurely walk through its old town polished streets and discover a masterpiece at each corner.

After lunch in at local restaurant, continue from the Itria Valley to Taranto. Also known as the “city of the two seas,” Taranto seems to be split in two. The Old Town, with its medieval buildings, stands on an island between the Mar Grande (the open sea) and the Mar Piccolo (the internal lagoon). There, we will venture over a revolving bridge that has been in operation since 1887. Spartan colonizers founded Taranto in the VIII century B.C. on the remains of a Messapian town. It is mainly in the local National Archaeological Museum of Pantaleo Palace that one can find evidence of the glorious history of Taranto, colony of Sparta and capital of Magna Graecia.

The city’s location and its strategic point made it first prosperous and then caused it to suffer from the invasion of Byzantine, Ostrogoths, Saracens, Normans, Swabians, Angevins and Aragonese. After Napoleon, Taranto went into decline until it was liberated by Garibaldi’s troops in 1860. In 1866 the Italian government turned the town into the biggest Italian naval base. Due to the presence of the ILVA iron and steelworks, the city represents one of the most important Apulian industries.

We will visit MARTA where part of the National Magna Greece Museum artistic collections are exhibited. It is located in a former convent.

Continue to Lecce, where we check into our five-star hotel and have dinner. The location is excellent, and you will be able to explore on your own a bit during our two-night stay. (B-L-D)

***** Risorgimento Resort in Lecce

Tuesday LECCE

Precious Lace of Calcareous Stone
Awaken in Lecce, the capital of the Salento Peninsula. Of Messapian origin, according to tradition, Lecce was founded in the 5th century B.C. From the second half of the 16th century, Lecce experienced a period of particular good fortune that was destined to last for two centuries. The city, called “Athens in Apulia” as well as “Florence of the South,” attracted the nobility and aristocrats who decorated luxurious facades of their palazzi, chapels and churches with exuberant architecture and Baroque-style solutions. We find a bizarre and endless fantasy of spiral columns, sumptuous cornices, ornate balustrades, curved pediments, vases of flowers and fruit, fluttering ribbons, putti and grotesque heads all carved with the unique enchantment of the soft Lecce stone. We will visit the historical center, Piazza S. Oronzo, with the remains of a Roman Arena and Theatre.

In the afternoon we drive to Otranto.
Otranto, the ancient city of Hydruntum, has for millennia stood at the crossroads between different civilizations. It was a Greek town and, for its position between Italy and Greece, became an important port in the Roman age. In the middle ages, it was one of the most important centers of the Byzantine dominion. The Normans, Angevin and Aragonese then occupied it. In the XI and XII century it had a florid life thanks to the Venetian, Dalmatian and Levantine merchants who traded in its port. In 1480, the Turks attacked Otranto, and a year later Alfonso D’Aragona freed the city. First, we’ll visit the Cappella dei Martiri (Chapel of Martyrs), which still preserves the bones of 800 martyrs who died in the battle.

The Chapel is located inside the Apulian-Romanesque Cathedral, a solemn temple rich in silence. We will admire its magnificent 12th-century mosaic floor representing the “Tree of Life.” Marked by rich, vibrant colors and extraordinarily expressive biblical figures, this stunning masterpiece is sure to leave a lasting impression. Otranto is known also for its very beautiful coast, which attracts tourists for its always-pleasant summer climate and crystal-clear waters.

Return to Lecce. Tonight dinner is at a private aristocratic palace of Lecce’s old town, whose name is Palazzo Morisco. It is located about 5 minutes walking distance from the hotel. Guests will be welcomed by the host, who will be glad to introduce the history of the palace, and escorted through part of his home. (B-D)

***** Risorgimento Resort in Lecce


The Florence of the South
We have a lovely morning at leisure in the Florence of the South (enjoy Italian “passeggiata” or “gelato”). Enjoy some souvenir shopping. Lunch will be served at Vico del Gusta. In the afternoon, we depart for Trani, located just north of Bari on the coast.

Check into our elegant resort and delight in a three-night stay at the former palace, Palazzo Telesio, originally built in 1761. The second floor holds the Maré Resort and its rooms. We have four sea view rooms for those who prefer them - and sign up early! (B-L-D)

****Marè Resort - Trani or similar

Thursday TRANI

A city carved of rock along a ravine
After breakfast, we make an excursion to Matera, one of the most fascinating historic centers in Italy. It is actually located in the neighboring region of Basilicata, but certainly worth the drive westward. One could describe the ancient district of Matera, the Sassi, as one gigantic sculpture that has been carved out of the rock along the side of a ravine. We will have a guided tour of the Sassi quarter. The Sassi are built along the right bank of a ravine that presents itself as a labyrinth of winding streets, neighborhoods, squares, caves and rock churches. Some parts of the stone houses are carved out of the rock, while other parts have been constructed or added. The roofs of some houses form a foot pathway while other roofs serve as floors for the home above. There are over 130 stone churches in the whole territory along the ravine, some of them underground. The Sassi were abandoned in the1950s when inhabitants were moved to the new and modern neighborhoods. In the last 15 years, the Sassi have been re-evaluated and numerous renovation projects have begun. The Passion of the Christ was filmed here and the area has been named a UNESCO world heritage site.

Lunch today will be in at the elegant “Ristorante Le 12 Lune”. Afterwards, we will continue to explore the cave houses and rock-hewn churches of the region.

Return to our palace hotel and have a glorious view of the Adriatic Sea from the rooftop terrace. (B-L-D)

****Marè Resort - Trani or similar

June 16 TRANI

In the land where the Emperor’s hawk hunted
The name Trani derives from Tirenum or Turenum. According to an old legend, Tirreno, Diomede’s son, founded it. The town was wonderful under Frederick II who supplied it with a castle. The historic center is rich in wonderful churches and noble palaces, witness of a famous past. The Cathedral is, without any doubt, one of the most beautiful churches of the Apulian Romanesque style. Dedicated to St. Nicola Pellegrino, it was founded in 12th century on the old church of St. Mary. Inside the cathedral there is a division between the upper church, recently restored, and the lower church dedicated to St. Maria della Scala with the crypt of Saint Nicholas. Under the church of St. Mary there is the hypogeum of Saint Lucio, which dates back to the beginning of Christianity.

After breakfast, we explore the nearby Castel del Monte. At 1771 feet above the sea level, isolated on a hill of the Apulian Murgia, dominates Castel del Monte, the most famous monument belonging to the age of the emperor Frederick II of Swabia. It is a UNESCO site and has been described as “a unique piece of medieval military architecture.” The building dates back to the first half of the 13th century and makes a synthesis of all the stylistic and cultural influences of the artists.

The castle has an octagonal court. At the corner of the polygon there are eight towers, octagonal too.

We’ll make a stop at an olive oil factory, Fratoria Glantino, for a tour and tasting and a light lunch.

Continue to the famous sea front Romanesque-Apulian Cathedral. Travel back to Trani and enjoy a festive farewell dinner at Ristorante Corteinfiore and recount our wonderful time in Apulia. (B-L-D)

****Marè Resort - Trani or similar

June 17 TRANI

Arrivederci Apulia
Transfer to the airport in Bari (30 miles) for our flights home. (B)

B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner



We invite you to call Sarah or Gwen at 1-800-762-4216 to request the full brochure. The brochure will include Important Traveler Information (and answers to most questions) and a Reservation Form. We can send the brochure through the Postal Service or as a PDF attachment. If you would like to receive a PDF, probably the best way to keep the message from going into a SPAM filter is to send a message to If you are already on our mailing list, no need to complete the entire brochure request form.


© 2019 Travel Concepts International, Inc. CST 2005743-40

Travel Concepts International, Inc.
Cultural Tours to Better Understand the World and Its People

5500 Bucks Bar Road • Placerville, CA 95667 U.S.A. • Voicemail/Telephone 1-530-621-3007
Secure encrypted Fax 1-833-730-7859
Voicemail/Tollfree in U.S.A. 1-800-762-4216
G • Web site