Puglia Culinary Vacation
Puglia Culinary Vacation
Join me, Rosetta Costantino, cookbook author and experienced guide, along with my husband Lino, to explore the stunning sights and local flavors of picturesque Puglia at the heel of southern-Italy’s boot, from the crystal-clear Adriatic Sea to the turquoise Ionian Sea.
MAY 21 - 28, 2021
8-Day Puglia Culinary Vacation with Cooking Classes
Puglia is home to a wealth of world-class historical monuments contained within its small region, so we can cover a lot of ground with ease. From our two hotel bases, both of which are handpicked for their unique Pugliese charm and hospitality, we’ll take day trips to explore the plethora of sites and flavors on this sundrenched coast. Our culinary tour gives you a wide range of the distinctive flavors that Puglia offers. You’ll enjoy tasty street foods, rustic family meals and memorable feasts at restaurants and eateries where locals go – rather than at tourist spots. You’ll meet farmers, artisan producers and winemakers who’ll share their trade secrets with you. We’ll taste a bread so unique it has its own DOP (protected designation of origin) and we’ll visit one of the oldest olive oil estates in Italy. You’ll even learn from local nonnas how to make pasta shapes specific to Puglia. Tucked in between the incredible food and wine experiences will be sojourns to Puglia’s renowned art and cultural attractions, including two UNESCO World Heritage sites: the spectacular ancient Sassi cave houses of Matera and the intriquing trulli of Alberobello.
- Risorgimento Resort, Lecce For the first three nights, we’ll stay at this elegant five-star hotel with luxurious accommodations right in the heart of beautiful Lecce, steps away from the town’s meandering alleys and amazing Baroque masterpieces, Piazza Saint Oronzo and the Duomo. A stylishly restored historic palazzo originally built in 1400s, the hotel’s spacious guest rooms blend old Pugliese traditions with all the modern conveniences, providing a welcome retreat after a busy day of exploring. If you wish, you can relax with a massage or other indulgent treatments at the resort’s SPA Salus per Aquam.
- Masseria Montenapoleone, Pezze di Greco This beautiful estate surrounded by old olive groves and spectacular views of the Adriatic Sea, is our home away from home for four nights. This 17th century fortified masseria is so rustic, so charming and so Puglia -- it takes you back to a time when masserie were country baron farmhouses. This estate is set atop an ancient cave settlement, complete with hidden gardens and secret pathways. Bask in modern comforts and amenities amidst rustic treasures and elegant furnishings. Relax by the pool on an elevated terrace with the Adriatic Sea on one side and the famous Murgia ridge on the other. Rich harvests from their vast organic farm, olive groves and vineyards welcome you with true Southern Italian hospitality.
Day 1: WELCOME TO BARI & THE SALENTO PENINSULA
We start the morning with a walking tour of the enchanting old city of “Bari Vecchia” with our private guide. We’ll visit Basilica di San Nicola, home of the 900-year-old crypt of this famous saint, a.k.a Santa Claus. We’ll walk down the famous “via delle Orecchiette” where you can chat with the matriarchs who still make this pasta by hand outside their homes. Then we’ll head to a square where locals go for Bari’s legendary street food, to enjoy a private cooking demo and lunch. You’ll taste panzerotti, focaccia barese, orecchiette, tiedda barese and more, made just for us by the local street-food maven Carmela. After lunch, we grab a gelato and stroll along Bari’s lungomare on the Adriatic Sea. In the afternoon, we drive to Lecce, an elegant town known as “Florence of the South”. We’ll spend three nights here at the elegant five-star Risorgimento Resort smack in the middle of Lecce’s world-renowned Rococo and Baroque monuments. After settling into your room, we’ll enjoy dinner at the hotel rooftop restaurant overlooking the historic center of Lecce for a dinner of delicious local specialties.
Day 2: LECCE AND ITS BAROQUE SPLENDORS and OTRANTO
This morning, we embark on a walking tour around Lecce’s historical center, an open-air museum just steps from our hotel. You’ll see sites that span 2,000 years of history as we visit churches and noble palaces, such as Piazza Sant’Oronzo, Basilica of Santa Croce and the Roman Amphitheatre. Lunch will be in the main piazza at a locanda where you’ll taste delicacies found only in Lecce: rustici, puccia (a unique flat bread filled with meats, cheeses or vegetables), and pitta di patate. We’ll cap our repast with the acclaimed pasticciotto (custard-filled tarts). After lunch, we visit workshops where master craftsmen make the delicate, intricate papier-mâché figurines for which Lecce has been famous since the 17th century. Their skills and techniques will amaze you. Then we drive to Otranto, a charming harbor town at the eastern-most tip of Italy overlooking the turquoise Adriatic Sea. We tour the town’s cathedral where you’ll see a spectacular 12th century mosaic floor that depicts stories from the Old Testament. As the sun sets over the Adriatic, we gather around a farm table at a local agriturismo, to feast on their estate-grown Pugliese specialties.
Day 3: GALLIPOLI, COOKING CLASS with NONNA MARIA
We head south to Gallipoli to visit Puglia’s largest fish market located in the charming old town center on the Ionian Sea.
From there, we’ll go meet a Pugliese nonna in San Cataldo who will teach you how to handroll traditional pastas of the Salento area. You’ll learn to shape sagne ncannulate, orecchiette and minchiareddhi. We’ll lunch on the pasta prepared in class along with side dishes made with homegrown vegetables from the nonnas’gardens.
We’ll have a bit of time in the late afternoon to do some shopping in the center of Lecce. On our last evening at Lecce, we’ll be special guests of a noble family at their 16th century noble palazzo. They’ve invited us to a private tour, as well as aperitivo and dinner where traditional dishes from this Baroque city will be center stage.
Day 4: WINE TASTING and TOUR OF ANCIENT OLIVE OIL ESTATE
After breakfast we pack our bags to change hotels, but before we arrive at our next resort in Monopoli we have a full day ahead of us. First, we visit one of Puglia’s most renowned wineries. We’ll stroll around their vineyards, learn about Puglia indigenous grape varietals and enjoy an insider’s guide to their winemaking process. We’ll taste their wines paired with each course of our lunch at the winery’s restaurant. Next is olive oil. Puglia is one of the largest producers of olive oil in Italy and home to some of the country’s oldest monumental olive groves. We head north after lunch to visit one of them. The olive trees here are magnificent works of sculpture, some dating back 3,000 years. We’ll visit an ancient underground mill where olive oil has been produced for thousands of years and meet the family for whom olive oil has been a way of life for generations. You’ll enjoy tasting the organic olive oils made at the estate and learn what gives them their unique flavors. We check in to our masseria Montenapoleone in Pezze di Greco . The resort’s charmingly restored farm houses will be our home for the next four nights. We unwind, lounge at the pool and when we’re ready, relax over aperitivo and dinner here.
Day 5: ALTAMURA BREAD and SASSI IN MATERA
Today after breakfast we travel inland to Altamura. Altamura is renowned for having the very best bread in all of Italy – Pane di Altamura DOP -- made of durum wheat, with a distinctive yellow crumb. We’ll see how they make this world-famous bread and, of course, taste it. Then we head across the provincial border to Matera, a UNESCO World Heritage site where a “city” of Sassi cave dwellings were dug deep inside rocky cliffs during the Paleolithic era, and lived in to this day! We’ll stop for lunch at a local restaurant, followed by a walking tour of the stunning Sassi caves. Our walk will end at an exclusive medieval tower where a sommelier will guide us in a wine tasting of Aglianico del Vulture, one of Basilicata’s famous red wine. We’ll come back to our masseria for a cooking class. You’ll learn how to cook local specialties, such as tiella di riso e patate, focaccia barese, taralli and many vegetable dishes, using what the masseria grows on their land. We’ll dine on the dishes prepared in the cooking class, paired with local wines.
Day 6: MARTINA FRANCA, UNESCO ALBEROBELLO and POLIGNANO MARE
We begin our day with a culinary treat unique to the Valle d’Itria area -- a feast at a “barbequing butcher” – in the town of Martina Franca. Our experience starts with a visit to the farm where the hogs pasture. We’ll meet the artisan producer of exceptional pork salumi cured in a typical Pugliese style. You’ll get to taste their signature cured meats, including the coveted regional specialty, Capocollo di Martina Franca DOP. Then we’ll experience a “barbequing butcher” lunch extravaganza in the gardens of the farm. We’ll walk off lunch around the charming narrow streets of Martina Franca filled with Baroque architecture. In the afternoon, we visit the UNESCO World Heritage site of Alberobello, a magical town that’s home to more than 1,000 trulli, intriguing huts with conical un-mortared stone roofs that date back to the 14th century. We’ll explore this town and learn about why and how these dwellings were built, and what the cryptic symbols painted on the roof cones mean. We’ll take a rest to sample the local liqueur rosolio on a terrace close enough for you to touch the trulli roof cones. We end our day in the picturesque fishing village of Polignano a Mare perched on top of 20-meter-high limestone cliffs above the crystal-clear waters of the Adriatic Sea. We’ll stroll around its narrow streets and enjoy the breathtaking views, and if you have room you must have a gelato or granita as this village is famous for its gelato. We’ll make our way back to our masseria for a menu of Puglia’s finest traditional dishes made from what’s grown on the farm.
Day 7: BURRATA CHEESE EXPERIENCE, FAREWELL DINNER
In the morning, we head to a local working masseria for a burrata cheesemaking demonstration. Our lunch will feature the freshly-made burrata as well as other cheeses this masseria makes. We head back to our masseria where you’ll have time to relax at the pool. We end our tour with a farewell dinner at a restaurant on a beach. As you savor a feast of the freshest seafood just caught that evening, you’ll enjoy pizzica/taranta music by local dancer and musicians. This style of music is apt accompaniment to your last wondrous flavors of this region -- it’s distinctively Pugliese, it’s exquisite and it’ll call forth fabulous memories for a long time to come.
Day 8: ARRIVEDERCI PUGLIA!
After breakfast we’ll have a group transfer to the Bari airport.
The price for the Puglia CUlinary Vacation is $5,400 USD per person based on double occupancy. A limited number of single rooms are available for a supplement of $1000. Tour is limited to 18 guests. Reservations are secured by deposit on a first-come, first-served basis.
- Fully guided tour, 8 days/7 nights luxury accommodations
- All meals: breakfasts each morning, lunches and dinners paired with local wines
- Visit to winery with wine tasting and lunch
- Visit to cheese producer making burrata, mozzarella and caciocavallo with tasting
- Altamura DOC bread experience and tasting
- Visit to an olive oil estate with ancient groves, underground mill
- Two cooking classes with local chef and nonnas
- Dinner in a 16th century noble palace in Lecce
- All transportation to all our excursions during the tour
- Pick up/drop off at Bari airport (BRI – airport code) at specified time
- Guided walking tours of Bari, Lecce, Martina Franca, Polignano a Mare, Otranto and Gallipoli
- Visit two popular UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Matera and Alberobello
Airfare to and from Palermo International Airport
Shopping and personal expenses
Drinks or other cocktails not included in the itinerary
Tips for the bus driver (it is customary to tip the bus driver after the tour if you have been happy with the service)
All other expenses incurred during free time
“This trip was an emotional journey back to "Il paese del mio padre." The sights, smells, tastes all brought back the memories of my Calabrese family: those passed and those yet in Bisignano. Rosetta, Lino and Fernando were superb organizers and congenial hosts. They would be welcome in my home at any time. The bus driver, Paolo, was an artist also. This is a trip NOT TO BE MISSED!” Laurance J. Guido, MD, FACS
"Imagine yourself surrounded by beauty for eight days, with exquisite food, lovely people, extraordinary hosts, and grand accommodations, and you might be able to conjure up the Calabria Tour with Rosetta. She is an amazing and gracious host, and I learned so much about this gorgeous area. The history of Calabria is remarkable, the people are welcoming, and the food is sublime. Many thanks!" Maureen, Oakland, California
"We felt as if we were hosted by locals and entertained in their homes. What a wonderful adventure and real food experience. Plus, Rosetta's trip attracts the fabulous fellow travelers." Diane and Scott, Oakland, California
"I will always remember this trip as being not only fun but interesting, educational and truly a worthwhile experience. Having the opportunity to not only taste the magnificent flavors of Calabria but to be able to experience the history and beauty of the region at the same time was phenomenal.” Tony, Novato, California
"Rosetta did a fantastic job introducing us to the food of Calabria. It was a wonderful experience; we all gained a deeper insight and appreciation for this culture." Linda, California
"Amazing to have an inside look at a country that is so rarely thought of as a vacation spot. Rosetta did a fabulous job with everything food, wine, cooking, accommodations, tours, etc. if we did not do this tour with Rosetta we would of not seen and experienced the true Calabria." Tony & Anita, Los Angeles, California
"We loved the special tour of Calabria with real insiders and saw things that we would have never seen on another tour. We highly recommend touring and cooking with Rosetta and Lino." Andrea and Joe, San Jose, California
"The trip to Calabria was all about the food. If you love food and love Italy, then this is an experience you will treasure. Rosetta is a master at connecting you to the food experience and to her love for Calabria." Ben and Kathie, San Jose, California
"We left Calabria with the sense that we had experienced the best that the area had to offer. Rosetta's knowledge and enthusiasm for the food and culture of her homeland is contagious. We had a fabulous experience!" Susan and Steve, Walnut Creek, California
"Whether you are of Italian descent or are just interested in a great food and wine experience this is a great trip. True Farm to Table insights into a region of Italy not often visited, led by someone who's passion and caring are contagious. Grazie mille di cuore for a fantastic experience."
"An adventure into the Region's culinary traditions that you don't want to miss! Rosetta's passion for Calabria, its food, people & traditions is contagious."
"The trip was incredible. Rosetta's warmth, knowledge and excitement brought Calabria, Calabrian foods and cooking to life for all of us. We learned a lot, got to know the other wonderful people on the tour and had an amazing time."
"I thoroughly enjoyed my travels through Calabria with Rosetta. This trip should be called: Eat with Rosetta, Pray your clothes still fit, Love Calabria."
It was a lovely visit at an area of Italy that is not on the usual Italian tour; the people are gracious, the scenery is breathtaking and what more can I say about the food, if you are in to local and slow food...this is a good trip."
State of California Seller of Travel # 2125765-40