From Naples, to the wonders of Amalfi, to the flavors of Puglia

The best of southern Italy, contradictions, joy, gastronomy and the sea, unspoiled nature, the most beautiful coasts and breathtaking views


itinerary:

  • Three days in Naples to visit the city and the islands of Ischia and Procida
  • Three days to visit the Amalfi Coast, Pompeii and Capri
  • Two days of enchantment in Matera
  • A day and a night of magic in Alberobello
  • Three days in Lecce to visit the wonders of Salento
  • Three days in Bari, the valleys of centuries-old olive trees, the Castles, the traditions
  • Three days on the Gargano, sea, forests and faith.
  • Return to Naples or Rome.

First day: Naples

Naples is a real treasure trove of art and history, all over the city there are traces of past dominations, each of which has contributed to its construction. The centre of Naples, in particular, encompasses a heritage so rich that it has been designated an UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are countless must-sees, but we will start the day in Posillipo, an elegant district that wraps around a hill south of the centre, view the fairy-tale scenery of sheer cliffs, Capri Island and Mt. Vesuvius. Our panoramic tour continues to the Park of Remembrance, through the Mergellina and Chiaia districts until we reach the Castel dell’Ovo, the oldest standing fortification in Naples. Lunch by the sea in the antique sailor’s district.

Closeby in Piazza del Plebiscito, enjoy your coffee at Caffe Gambrinus, in front of the magnificent Royal Palace designed by Domenico Fontana (now the largest library in southern Italy) and the famous San Carlo Theatre. After lunch we will walk “Spaccanapoli”, the street that divides the city in two. Breathe in the unique atmosphere of Naples’ historic centre, full of artisan shops, cafes, restaurants, chapels, churches and cathedrals.

The province of Naples has a place for everyone, from the art and history enthusiast to the nature lover. It is impossible not to love this marvellous gulf, the beautiful islands that dot the blue waters and surrounding towns, like Caserta and its magnificent Royal Palace. On our way to Sorrento, we stop to visit the ancient Roman colonial town of Pompeii. Buried under 6m of volcano ash on the afternoon of 24 August 79CE, that fateful day is now frozen in time for visitors. Departing Pompeii, we proceed via the scenic coastal road to our hotel, where we will leave our luggage before going out and discovering Sorrento’s warm atmosphere.

Day 2  – Ischia e Procida

Today dedicated to the islands of Procida and Ischia, a short ferry trip from the port of Naples. Ischia, the largest of the islands and the only one with cars, enchants for its vast and very varied territory. Among its six municipalities, Ischia, the largest, is divided into two parts: Ischia Porto, the fishing village and Ischia Ponte with its charming antique centre. There we visit the Aragon castle, built in 474 BC.  Once at the top of the fortress, we tour the Cathedral and see the frescoes from the school of Giotto in its crypts. Lunch, then all aboard the ferry to Procida at 2:30pm.    

Procida, the smallest island, has often been chosen by directors as the ideal film set. About a twenty-minute walk from the port, is the ancient fortified centre of Procida, Terra Murata. It was built on the highest point of the island, to better control sea traffic and defend itself. Walking through the streets of the old quarter we find a former Bourbon prison and the Abbey of Saint Michael the Archangel. From here you walk down the stairs to the port of Corricella, an ancient fishing village that is a cluster of colorful facades, arches, domes, windows, terraces, balconies and staircases, it’s the ideal place to stop for dinner in one of the many restaurants on the pier.

Day 3 – Naples/Caserta

Just a few kilometres from Naples is Caserta and its Reggia, or Royal Palace. This immense monumental complex and its grounds were added to the Unesco World Heritage list in 1997. The 18th century Palace, created by the Bourbon king Charles III to rival Versailles and the Estoril Palace in Madrid, is exceptional for the way in which it integrates the magnificent building with its natural setting. We take all the time needed to visit the gardens and the sumptuous halls before finishing the day at a local restaurant.

Day 4 – Sorrento.

On our way to Sorrento we stop to visit the ancient Roman colonial town of Pompeii. Buried under 6m of volcano ash on the afternoon of 24 August 79 CE, that fateful day is now frozen in time for visitors. Shops, homes, cafés and bars even graffiti, all is just as it was at the moment of the eruption. Departing Pompeii, we proceed via the scenic coastal road to our hotel to leave our luggage before getting out to discover warm atmosphere of the town of Sorrento.

Day 5 – Positano and the Amalfi Coast

On the fifth day we take the famous panoramic route 163, a winding road that skirts along a 50 km stretch of coastline; from Positano to Vietri sul Mare, passing through Ravello, Amalfi and Cetara. Our road trip ventures through steep landscapes and tiny villages that hide citrus gardens, secret coves, and sunkissed beaches. The entire Amalfi Coast is a Unesco World Heritage Site. Our first stop is Positano, whose name derives from Poseidon, the God of the Sea. This gorgeous town, perched on a towering cliffside, is famous worldwide for its incredible beauty and breath-taking coastline. We’ll have plenty of time to wander through the lanes, up and down the spectacular staircases, browse in the shops, and explore this village that clings to the slopes of Mount Lattari. 19km south of Positano is another pearl of the Amalfi Coast, the beautiful Praiano. Admire from above, La Praia, the inviting pebble beach at the foot an ancient Saracen watch tower. A little further on, we come to the only fjord in Italy, the Furore Fjord. The narrow bay, a popular stop for locals in the summer, was carved by cascading water over the centuries. It’s home to a romantic fishing village and also hosts the Marmeeting High Diving World Championship from a bridge suspended 30m above the sea.

One of the most magnificent attractions on the coast can be reached directly from Route 163: the Emerald Grotto. Named for the incredible colours that filter from an underground opening and light the cave, the inside is littered with stalagmites, stalactites and strange sculptures created by time and nature. Amalfi, the town that gives its name to the coast, continues to enchant visitors just like it did in the days of the Grand Tour. Situated at the mouth of the Valle dei Mulini, it was the first of the Four Maritime Republics of Italy. Among the cluster of little white houses, steep staircases and narrow alleyways is a beautiful Cathedral and the Arsenal of the Republic. One of the oldest of Amalfi’s traditions is hand-crafted paper, known as bambagina, you can learn about it in the Paper Museum. Enjoy the scent of Amalfi’s lemons, savouring a sorbet or a treat in front of one of the in the world. From Atrani we ascend the slopes of Mount Lattari for 10km to one of the most popular and beloved destinations on the Amalfi Coast. Perhaps because from here (350 meters above sea level) the view over the Gulf of Salerno is spectacular. Ravello is a must on any itinerary along the Coast! We visit Villa Cimbrone and Villa Rufolo and it’s magical gardens. It houses one of the oldest music festival in Italy, the Ravello Festival, with a new theme every year, it embraces all artistic disciplines. Evening return to Sorrento.

Day 6 – Capri.

Our fifth day starts early in the morning from port of Sorrento. Just a few minutes into our boat trip, the island appears on the horizon and you’re already wishing you could stay forever on this earthly paradise. One of the first exiles to live on Capri was the Emperor Tiberius who built a lavish villa there, where he died in 37CE. The island’s 12 Imperial Villas are testament to the fact that Capri has been popular with the rich and famous for the last 2000 years. Most of all Capri is famous for its natural beauty, mild climate and luminous landscape. Dotted along the coast and in the cobalt blue sea are a succession of caves and faraglioni (sea stacks). Don’t miss a visit to the Blue Grotto, whose name comes from the magnificent colour that is reflected throughout the cave.

All ferries dock at the port of Marina Grande. Take the funicular up to the charming Piazzetta, the heart of Capri town. The Church of Santo Stefano, Palazzo Cerio and the magnificent view over the port make this square one of the most unforgettable in Italy. Olive groves and vineyards surround Anacapri, the smaller town on the island. The church of San Michele with its spectacular tiled floor, and Villa San Michele and its glorious garden are both worth the visit. Other places not to be missed: the house of the Italian writer, Curzio Malaparte, with its spectacular panorama and Mount Solaro (589 meters), accessible by chair lift or on foot.

Day 7  -Sorrento

Our last day in Sorrento is one of relaxation, a chance to slow down and enjoy Sorrento and its atmosphere. We leave from Piazza Tasso as always, but not before having an espresso and admiring the spectacular panorama and descent to the port. Through the alleys and squares, along Corso Italia and Corso degli Aranci, stopping for a romantic walk in the park, we descend to the port for an aperitif at sunset. Sorrento, a sequence of cliffs that overhang and dominate the coastline is blessed with a view of enchanting deep blue. Passable only because the Sorrentini have cut into and made terraces that are cultivated with oranges, vines, olives and, most of all, lemons, all the way to the sea. Don’t leave without trying the fruits of their labour; when life gave the Sorrentini lemons, they made Limoncello!

Day 8 – Matera

Morning departure for Matera, through the immense and beautiful Parco del Cilento, crossing the Apennines to Potenza. Late morning we arrive in the city of Matera, a UNESCO World Heritage site and in 2019 European Capital of Culture. Matera is a fascinating city of dwellings carved into a canyon of tufa rock.

The houses piled one on top of the other are actually a network of caves and have been inhabited since the Paleolithic era. Unknown to much of Italy, the city hid a society living in poverty; malaria was rife and families lived alongside their animals within the caves as a recently as the 1950s. We will check into our hotel before an afternoon walk through the “Pedras de Matera”, the oldest part of the city.

Day 9  – Matera

Second day in Matera: After breakfast, explore the two principal districts of Matera, Sasso Barisano and Sasso Caveoso. Starting from the belvedere, our local tour guide will lead down into the canyon and through the labyrinth of streets, churches and homes.

After a lunch of Lucanian specialties, homemade pasta, cheese, meat, extra virgin olive oil, bruschetta and local wines, Primitivo and Aglianico, we will leave you free to wander among the narrow alleyways of a unique city.

In the afternoon we leave you free to wander among the views of a unique city.

Day 10 – Matera – Alberobello – Itria Valley

After breakfast, we continue our journey through the plain of Fasano, an area that overlooks the sea and that extends from Fasano to Ostuni and Carovigno. We will visit a park of monumental olive trees, an imposing landscape that is as impressive as the trees that have resisted both time and man. Our next stop is to one of the pearls of Puglia, Ostuni, perched on three hills in the Itria valley, just 8 kms from the sea. Locals call Ostuni, the white city, and its historic centre, the earth.

The village is characterized by a tangle of winding streets and stairs, alleys, courts and squares, surrounded by a wall with only two entrances into the city. At lunchtime, enjoy the flavours of the local Salento cuisine before going back down to the valley to taste some wonderful extra virgin olive oil. Late afternoon, we take the coastal route to Lecce where we will check into our hotel, before taking an evening walk in the city centre.

Day 11 – Alberobello-Ostuni-Lecce

After breakfast, we continue our journey through the plain of Fasano, an area that overlooks the sea and that extends from Fasano to Ostuni and Carovigno. We will visit a park of monumental olive trees, an imposing landscape that is as impressive as the trees that have resisted both time and man. Our next stop is to one of the pearls of Puglia, Ostuni, perched on three hills in the Itria valley, just 8 kms from the sea. Locals call Ostuni, the white city, and its historic centre, the earth.

The village is characterized by a tangle of winding streets and stairs, alleys, courts and squares, surrounded by a wall with only two entrances into the city. At lunchtime, enjoy the flavours of the local Salento cuisine before going back down to the valley to taste some wonderful extra virgin olive oil. Late afternoon, we take the coastal route to Lecce where we will check into our hotel, before taking an evening walk in the city centre.

Often called the Florence of the South, much of Lecce’s charm is due to the architectural style of its palaces and churches known as Leccese Baroque.

This whimsical decorative style was developed in Puglia in the seventeenth century and was a way to reaffirm power and wealth. Wander the labyrinth of streets and marvel at the buildings’ facades bursting with strange beasts, allegories, cherubs, fantastical monsters and plants.

We will start our visit from the main square’s Roman amphitheatre and follow the Via Appia, to Lecce’s Cathedral in Piazza del Duomo and finally to the Basilica of Santa Croce, that took over 100 years to be completed; taking the time to sample some of Lecce’s culinary specialties along the way.

Day 12 – Il Salento

In Salento, the sun shines all year round. The green peninsula’s stunning landscape is sandwiched between the Adriatic and the Ionian seas. The Salento has a spectacular coastline, excellent food and wine and a culture tinged with Greek influences, that are celebrated with frequent festivals, including the hugely popular and energetic Notte della Taranta. Visit some of the famous artisan workshops in the beautiful villages or try some of the area’s sweet specialties like the pasticciotto cake with a custard centre or the local ice-cream called spumoni. Hidden in the countryside, among the olive trees and dry stonewalls, are ancient farmhouses now transformed into charming accommodation facilities.

We start our day in the easternmost town in Italy, Otranto. Of Greek origin, during the Roman Empire it became one of Italy’s most important maritime centres and the natural point of trade with Greece. Otranto’s historical centre has been included in the list of the most beautiful towns in Italy. The imposing castle and its ramparts, built to defend the territory from Saracen attacks, dominate the town’s skyline

We will continue the tour to Castro Marina, the ancient Castrum Minervae, the port where Aeneas arrived after escaping the city of Troy. Next stop is Specchia, another beautiful old village, and then to Santa Maria di Leuca, the southernmost point of Salento, on the very tip of the heel of Italy. Past the cape where the Adriatic meets the Ionian, we arrive in Gallipoli, famous for its white sandy beaches and its Baroque and Renaissance architecture. The oldest part of Gallipoli is on a small walled island and is connected to the mainland by a 6th century bridge. Lunch will be local specialties at a farmhouse.

Day 13 – Lecce and its coastline

The Salentino coast is one of the most beautiful in Italy. Coves, cliffs, sandy beaches, crystal clear water, beautiful farms and uncontaminated nature. The fifty kilometres of dramatic coastline from San Cataldo to Otranto is a paradise for swimmers and divers. There are thousands of rocky coves, and caves to explore and two salt-water lagoons. It’s the perfect holiday destination with dreamy beaches, beautiful historic towns, delicious food and wine and an uncontaminated hinterland.

Day 14  – Lecce – Bari

Bari is an ancient port city on the Adriatic coast with a strong mercantile tradition, it has always been the nerve centre of trade, political and cultural contacts with Eastern Europe and the Middle East. It’s famous for being the place where the relics (stolen from Myra in Turkey by Barese sailors) of Saint Nicholas, aka Santa Claus, are located. The Basilica, built between 1087 and 1197, is an important religious site for both Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians. We begin our walk from the imposing Svevo Castle, built around 1132, next to the ancient quarter of the city – Bari Vecchia. Sitting on a peninsula overlooking the old harbour, this walled part of the city is a labyrinth of twisting alleys, cobbled streets and small piazzas, begging to be explored. Within the thick, stone walls you’ll find 40 churches and a cathedral as well as St Nicholas’ basilica.

In front of the Castle’s moat, begins the famous road of the orecchiette, where we find an endless series of handmade pastas, carefully laid out on drying racks. Everyday, the skillful women display their art along this street, while continuing to work and chat, and enjoy the slower pace of this antique way of life. Next a visit to one of the historic bakeries of Bari Vecchia to taste the famous local focaccia. In the afternoon, a little free time to explore; do not miss Largo delle Albicocche and Piazza Ferrarese with its wall that overlooks the sea and a the wonderful walk to Fortino Sant’Antonio where you can enjoy a wonderful aperitif at sunset, before trying some of Bari’s local specialties for dinner.

Day 15  – Trani – Castel del Monte

After breakfast we set off to Trani, a splendid coastal town, famous for the artistic and architectural treasures of its glorious past. During our visit, we will admire the Romanesque Cathedral and the Svevo Castle built to defend the port.  Our next visit is to the imposing and mysterious Castel Del Monte in Andria, a wonderful building now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Completed in 1240, the castle’s location, its perfect octagonal shape, as well as the mathematical and astronomical precision of its layout all reflect the broad education and cultural vision of its founder, Emperor Frederick II. We return to Bari in the late afternoon.

 Day 16 – Gargano – Vieste  

We leave Bari early in the morning crossing the second largest plain in Italy, the “Tavoliere delle Puglie” towards the Gargano peninsula. It’s the spur in the heel of Italy’s boot and is surrounded by an enchanting blue sea. From the town of Monte Sant’Angelo there’s a breathtaking view of the entire peninsula and its coast. We will visit the beautiful Norman Castle and the Sanctuary of San Michele Arcangelo, a cave where the Archangel Michael is said to have appeared here to the Bishop of Siponto in 490AD. Monte Sant’Angelo is a beautiful medieval village, its historic center is very well preserved and there are many places to sample the local cuisine.

In the afternoon, we descend towards the towns of Mattinata and Pugnochiuso and finally to our destination, Vieste.

Day 17 – Le Magie del  Gargano 

A morning visit to Vieste, an ancient fishing village, of cobbled alleyways and staircases, white houses and tiny piazzas decorated with flower boxes. Lunch in front of the imposing Swabian Castle built by Emperor Frederick II, overlooking the beautiful beach of Scialara. In the afternoon, we will cross the Umbra Forest (or shady forest), is so-called because of the density of its vegetation. The uncontaminated Mediterranean scrub, full of hills, valleys and caves, provides homes for a variety of animals and birds. We cross the entire forest to the town of San Giovanni Rotondo, famous for having its very own saint, Saint Pio of Pietrelcina. The Italian priest, still affectionately called Padre Pio in Italy was canonised in 2002 and lived most of his life in San Giovanni Rotondo at the convent Santa Maria delle Grazie.

We will visit the new sanctuary designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano and capable of accommodating thousands of pilgrims at a time. In the afternoon, we return to Vieste via the coast, stopping for an aperitif in beautiful Mattinata.

Day 18 – The Tremiti Island

The Tremiti Islands, the only Italian archipelago of the Adriatico sea, are about 19 kms off the Gargano coast in northern Puglia. Famous for its rocky coves, steep cliffs and the indescribable transparency of the sea. Legend has it that the islands grew from three pebbles, thrown into the water by the Greek king Diomedes back from the war of Troy. Only two of the five islands are inhabited: San Nicola and San Domino, with a collective population of about 300. Because of their position, the islands have often been a refuge for hermits and political dissidents: the EmpeThe Tremiti Islands, the only Italian archipelago of the Adriatico sea, are about 19 kms off the Gargano coast in northern Puglia. Famous for its rocky coves, steep cliffs and the indescribable transparency of the sea. Legend has it that the islands grew from three pebbles, thrown into the water by the Greek king Diomedes back from the war of Troy. Only two of the five islands are inhabited: San Nicola and San Domino, with a collective population of about 300.

Because of their position, the islands have often been a refuge for hermits and political dissidents: the Emperor Augustus sent his niece Julia there, Paul the Deacon was sent into exile there by Charlemagne and Ferdinand IV transformed the abbey into a penal colony that remained in operation until 1926. Since 1989 the islands have been part of the Gargano National Park and a protected marine reserve, the surrounding seabed is popular with snorkelers and divers. ror Augustus sent his niece Julia there, Paul the Deacon was sent into exile there by Charlemagne and Ferdinand IV transformed the abbey into a penal colony that remained in operation until 1926. Since 1989 the islands have been part of the Gargano National Park and a protected marine reserve, the surrounding seabed is popular with snorkelers and divers.

Day 19 – Vieste – Roma (Napoli)

In the morning departure for Naples, 4 hours or Rome, 6 hours.


What’s included:

  • Hotel accommodation with breakfast
  • All transfers
  • Tour guide for the whole period.
  • Insurance.
  • Entrance Tickets for programmed visits
  • The expected entrances

What’s not included:

  • Personal expenses.
  • Lunch and dinner
  • Anything not expressly provided for