Puglia's Beautiful Coast and Cities
Charming countryside, beautiful coastline and the magical cave city of Matera
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At a glance
The heel of Italy’s boot is a charming mix of pretty coastal towns, whitewashed hilltop villages and endless olive groves. It has some of the country’s best food – no mean feat – and the people here really know how to live and love life to the fullest.
Your Puglian adventure starts near Fasano, a wonderful base from which to explore the nearby towns and coastline. Discover the quirky conical trulli houses of Alborabelo and cycle through the countryside to Locorotondo with its labyrinth of white alleys and the elegant town of Martina Franco. You’ll also visit a local cheesemaker and learn the secrets of making the region’s famous burrata.
You’ll also visit the white city of Ostuni, its shimmering buildings reminiscent of a Greek village. After winding your way through its charming streets, you’ll head out to an olive oil estate and learn what goes into making what is the base of practically all Italian dishes.
The beautiful baroque city of Lecce sits almost at the very bottom of the heel and is one of Puglia’s most elegant cities. From your gorgeous hotel you’ll explore a nearby winery and head out to the fishing towns of Gallipoli and Galatina where colourful boats bob on the turquoise water.
You’ll spend two days relaxing at the beautiful Palazzo Margherita near Bernalda before heading to the city of Matera in neighbouring Basilicate. Matera is made up of ancient cave dwellings stacked up on the hills and looks out over a dramatic gorge littered with intriguing Rupestrian churches.
This is a truly remarkable place. Until as late as the 50s, Matera’s caves were inhabited by huge families, including their animals, and it was branded the ‘shame of Italy’. The entire city was evacuated and the population rehoused, and the caves lay empty and forgotten.
In 1993 Matera was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and people have been slowly trickling back. Many of the caves have been turned into boutique hotels and restaurants, breathing life back into this once derelict city. As the sun goes down and the lights begin to flicker, the whole of Matera takes on a golden shimmer, and you know you are somewhere very special indeed.
Example Trip Itinerary
Private transfer to your hotel near Fasano
Accommodation in Fasano
- 36 rooms and suites
- Four restaurants and a bar
- Indoor and outdoor swimming pools
- Golf course
- Coccaro Beach Club
The Masseria Torre Coccaro is an elegant and historic fortified country house between the town of Fasano and the Adriatic Sea and surrounded by ancient olive groves. There are 36 unique rooms and suites, all elegantly furnished with period antiques and modern charm. One suite sits in the tower – built as a defence from Saracen invasions – with beautiful sea views and cosy fireplace, and another is set into the bedrock, with large dining area, private garden and Jacuzzi. There’s a wonderful spa, including a romantic indoor pool and a Turkish bath. Outside there is another swimming pool, a golf course, bar and four restaurants specialising in creative Puglian cuisine with fresh ingredients plucked from the organic farm and sea. One of the dining venues is a short distance away by the private sands of the Coccaro Beach Club, one of the best such clubs in the Mediterranean. There’s an almost endless array of activities and excursions on offer, from culinary classes, private yacht cruises, cycling tours, horse rides, diving, wine and olive tasting and trips to local fishing villages. There’s also a menu of family friendly tours, making the Masseria Torre Coccaro great for families.
- 30 rooms and two suites
- Swimming pool
- Cabana Restaurant
- Bougainvillea Bar
- Rooftop Terrace
- Access to private beach club
Masseria Torre Maizza is a beautiful boutique hotel in what was once a watchtower overlooking the sea, in anticipation of Saracen invasions. The masseria belonged to a line of defence that stretched all the way from the Gargano peninsula to Santa Maria di Leuca, right at the tip of Italy’s boot. There are 30 rooms and two suites, all with lots of traditional Italian charm. Stone floors, whitewashed walls and vaulted ceilings keep rooms wonderfully cool and most feature private terraces for when you do want to soak up the sun. Many comes with views of the sea and the olive trees, some of which are over 1,000 years old, and the larger suites also have their own private plunge pools. La Palme restaurant in located in the ancient stables and here you can enjoy traditional Pugliese cuisine – considered some of the best in Italy. The restaurant features a grand fireplace and offers great views out over the pool. In summer, guests can take a table under the pergola that looks out onto the orange garden. For a light bite or refreshing drink, head to the poolside Cabana Restaurant or take a seat at the Bougainvillea Bar which in summer is an explosion of pink and purples. On the roof of the masseria, you’ll find a Moroccan-inspired terrace, perfect for sunset drinks. 5km from the hotel is a long stretch of private sandy beach and the wonderful Coccaro Beach Club. Here you can lounge under the palms, dine on fantastic fresh seafood and for the energetic, there is beach volleyball, wind surfing and kite surfing.
Our beautiful properties in Fasano lie between the town itself and the Adriatic Sea. This part of the country is a wonderful base from which to explore Italy's 'boot' with charming countryside and coastline all within easy reach. Rows of knarled olive trees lead down to the sea, Inland there are the pretty towns of Alberobello, Locorotondo, Cisternina and Martina Franca. Further north are the seaside towns of Monopoli and Polignano del Mara and to the south, the magical white city of Ostuni.
When you're not out exploring Puglia, your masseria is the perfect place to relax and enjoy wonderful Italian food, wine and hospitality.
Enjoy a quick tour of the enchanting old city of Bari Vecchia. Here you will see local ladies who still make pasta by hand outside their homes. Their speed and precision is incredible.
Visit Puglia's famous trulli houses in Alberobello where there are over 1,000 of these unique dwellings. Trulli houses are dry stone huts with conical roofs that were originally used as field shelters and storehouses as well as permanent dwellings for agricultural workers.
Discover the secrets of cheese making and the ancient traditions of Puglia. You will meet a local cheese artisan at their farm, where they will demonstrate the art of making fresh burrata and let you try twisting a knot of mozzarella or two.
This cycling tour takes you deep into the Itria Valley, through lovely countryside and to two of Puglia's most charming towns. Locorotondo was built on a circular plan with narrow concentric streets lined with white terraced houses. This round layout is what gave the town its name. The historic centre is characterised by a labyrinth of white alleys where the houses end with unusual pitched roofs called 'cummerse', a feature typical of the town. It has also earnt itself the nickname, 'citta del vino' on account of the dry white spumante wine made from the local verdeca grapes.
Martina Franca has a wonderfully intact historic centre, beautiful baroque architecture and a stunning
Visit the magical white city of Ostuni, an imposing citadel overlooking the olive plains all the way to the Adriatic. The tiny winding streets of the oldest quarter are known by the Arabic term, the 'casbah' and look more Greek or eastern than the typical piazzas of northern Italy. You'll explore this charming city with your guide and enjoy lunch at a Pugliese restaurant.
Puglia is covered in olive groves and today you'll visit a beautiful estate filled with trees dating back to Roman times. You will see the ancient mill where olive oil has been produced for thousands of years and meet the family for whom oil is not just a way of life but a passion. Enjoy tasting the organic olive oils that are made on the estate, learning what gives them their unique and special flavour.
Private transfer to your hotel in Lecce
Accommodation in Lecce
- 16 rooms
- Swimming pool
In the heart of Old Lecce, La Fiermontina is an urban resort built around a 17th century private home known for its Baroque architecture and storied past. There are 16 unique suites and guestrooms, simply and comfortably designed with subtle modern touches letting the original features take precedent. The historic property is scattered with selections from the owner’s personal art collection, including pieces by Le Corbusier, Charlotte Perriand and Tobia Scarpa, with striking sculptures out in the garden along with olive trees, a swimming pool and striking terrace restaurant serving a modern take on traditional Pugliese cuisine. Explore the wonderful Old Town outside or discover the surrounding countryside on cycling and hiking trips, horse rides, sailing excursions and wine and olive oil experiences.
Lecce is arguably Puglia's most handsome city, with imposing baroque architecture and a grand, stately feel. Although it is one of the region's biggest cities, it still has plenty of charm and lots of hidden corners to discover.
Visit one of Puglia's most renowned wineries, Li Veli and enjoy a fascinating tour and tasting of their beautiful wines.
Lecce is the capital of the Salento province and has earned itself the title 'the Florence of the south'. The city is filled with amazing baroque architecture and your tour will reveal millennia of fascinating history.
Head south to Gallipoli and visit the famous fish market and its charming old centre on the Ionian Coast. You will also stop at Galatina to explore the Basilica di Santa Caterina d'Alessandria where you'll see frescoes depicting biblical stories including the life and passion of Christ and the martyrdom of Santa Caterina.
Learn all about the legend of the tarantella dance, renowned throughout the Salento province.
The town of Grottaglie is famous for its ceramics. You'll visit the workshops of the artisans and watch as they show you how the beautiful ceramic pieces are made, painted and decorated.
Private transfer to your hotel in Bernalda
Accommodation in Bernalda
- Nine room and suites
- Swimming pool
- Screening room and a movie library
- Private beach club
- Three bars and a choice of dining options
- Bicycles to borrow
The Palazzo Margherita, built in 1892 in the hilltop town of Bernalda, is a true 19th century palazzo. The town was the birthplace and home to Agostino Coppola, Francis Ford Coppola’s grandfather, who set about restoring the grand building into a small, luxurious Italian boutique hotel so that he could introduce visitors to this stunning and still undiscovered region. The palazzo has been completely restored with the help of acclaimed French designer Jacques Grange, creating an authentically Italian experience that ushers guests into a private world of sheer comfort, surrounded by baroque gardens and a courtyard, all just steps from a small, bustling town where tourists are a rarity and welcomed as friends. Restored frescos, original marble floors and countless historic details retain their patina and compliment tasteful new additions such as a cinema and swimming pool. There are just nine unique suites, including one designed Sofia Coppola with a spacious bathroom with a hammam and chromatherapy shower, while others enjoy terraces, balconies or doors opening into the gardens. All are spacious with a full range of modern amenities – such as a gratis bar and modern entertainment system with a digital movie collection specializing in Italian Cinema. While there is no formal restaurant here, guests can dine at the eat-in kitchen, in the courtyard, garden or in any of the bars. Naturally, food is locally sourced, simply and incredible. There’s also the Cinecittà Bar, a traditional café and pizzeria that spills out onto Bernalda’s main street and looks onto the town square. There’s plenty to do here, whether borrowing a bike to explore the local area, taking culinary classes or taking the complimentary shuttle to the Palazzo Margherita’s private beach club on the cobalt-blue shores of the Ionian Sea. Local historic sites abound, wine tastings are a delight and visits to local artisans can be arranged.
Palazzo Margherita is the perfect spot from which to explore the hilltop town of Bernalda. Whether you choose to hop on a bike and explore the pretty streets, relax at the private beach club, take a cooking class or simply sit back and enjoy delicious Italian food and aperativo in the garden, you'll be utterly charmed by this historic property.
Private transfer to your hotel in Matera
Accommodation in Matera
- 18 rooms and suites
- Restaurant in 13th-century church
- Spa treatments in your room
Buried deep into the oldest part of the Sassi is the Sextantio Le Grotte della Civita, an ancient cave dwelling that has been turned into a wonderfully atmospheric boutique hotel. Little was changed during the renovation of the caves and the original shape and materials remain intact. All 18 rooms feature stone floors and walls, each one a different shape depending on the natural curves of the rock. Underfloor heating keeps them cosy in winter while the thick walls ensure they are cool in the hot Italian summers. Decor is simple so as not to detract from the natural features of the cave; crisp white linen, hand-made pottery and the flicker of candles is all they need to shine. Some of the rooms feature freestanding bath tubs and old troughs that have been turned into sinks. Breakfast is served in a de-consecrated church from the 13th century and the room is available for private dinners. A chef will prepare a selection of local dishes in this magical setting lit solely by candles. Food all over Italy is a matter of national pride, and produce is sourced from local organic farms. There is an outdoor courtyard and guests can enjoy a coffee or glass of wine while looking out over the dramatic gorge. When you want to simply relax and unwind, enjoy a spa treatment in the privacy of your own room. You are ideally placed to explore the city, with the Murgia Park and its rock-hewn churches just opposite the hotel.
Matera is a UNESCO World Heritage site, perched high on a beautiful hillside and characterised by cave dwellings. The town is divided into two sections, Sasso Barisano and Sasso Caveoso; sassi means stone in Italian and refers to these clusters of stone dwellings. At first sight, the town looks like a jumble of faded stone huts but behind the facades are simple caves, inhabited since Paleolithic times. You'll also come across lots of churches, known as rupestrian churches, carved into the rock face and used by Basilian monks fleeing persecution during the reign of the Byzantine Empire.
Enjoy a trek through the wild and stunning gorges surrounding Matera. Your guide will bring the landscape to life as you explore ravines and old cave dwellings .
Matera is particularly magical at night, when the stones of the sassi take on a soft golden hue. Wandering through the winding lanes on your last night is the perfect way to end your trip.
Private transfer to Bari airport
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Puglia's Beautiful Coast and Cities
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We create fully personalised trips from start to finish, working with you to pick locations, accommodation and guides that suit you.
Each time you travel with us, you preserve an acre of precious rainforest through our partnerships.
From in-depth private tours to restaurant reservations, we take care of every detail so you can make the most of your journey.