Puglia & Basilicata
Basilicata and Puglia offer rich histories, with outstanding monuments dating from the Neolithic period up to the modern age. Greeks planted wealthy colonies which were subsumed in the Roman empire and later incorporated into the Byzantine Catepanate of Italy. While the Greek influence in the region is unmistakable, the Norman conquest under William de Hauteville in the 11th century left an incredible mark on the area, producing some of the most splendid castles still extant in Italy. Along with the wealth of history left by the Magna Graecia, this area is a showcase for fascinating troglodytic dwellings, Byzantine churches and Norman Castles. It is the home of Horace and the land where Hannibal won his most famous victory.
- Explore the fascinating trulli of Alberobello
- Visit Castle del Monte, the most spectacular castle in southern Italy
- Discover Matera, European Capital of Culture for 2019
- Examine the magnificent National Museum of Taranto
- Immerse yourself in the wonderful Baroque city of Lecce
We arrive into Puglia from London and drive to Lecce. Time permitting, we will have an introductory stroll around the city.
We begin our day in Lecce visiting some of the churches and the amphitheatre of the Roman city of Lupiae. When Lecce became part of the Kingdom of Naples, it took on a new cultural identity, becoming the ‘Apulian Athens’. Between the 16th and 18th centuries, this fostered the development of the ‘Lecce Baroque’ style, characterised by exuberant carving. After lunch, we visit the beautiful seaside city of Otranto, which was violently besieged by Ottomans in 1480. Here we visit the Cathedral and the massive Aragonese Castle.
Today we drive to the ancient site of Egnatia, a Messapian city which was also a strategic trading centre in the Roman period. We move on to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Alberobello, before having some free time to explore this city with its unique architecture at our own pace.
We spend all day in Matera, the European Capital of Culture for 2019. Carlo Levi, author of Christ Stopped at Eboli, gave a heartbreaking account of the desperate poverty he witnessed during his years of exile in Matera in the 1940s. We begin with an exploration of the extraordinary Sassi of Matera, a network of phenomenal rock-cut cave dwellings and frescoed Byzantine churches. In the afternoon, we have some free time for independent wandering.
Today we drive to Massafra to explore this lesser known city with cave dwellings and wonderful Byzantine churches replete with frescoes. We continue to Taranto, to explore the outstanding National Archaeological Museum, one of the most important in Italy.
This morning we head to Metapontum, one of the most opulent cities in Manga Graecia. We visit the Temple of Hera before continuing on to Gioia del Colle to see the wonderful castle rebuilt by Frederick II. As well as the castle itself, we will also explore the National Archaeological Museum.
We start with a visit to Castel del Monte to see the spectacular 13th century hunting lodge of the Emperor Frederick II. We spend the afternoon at Cannae, scene of Hannibal’s greatest victory over the Romans, and then we enjoy a brief visit to Barletta’s colossal statue of a late Roman emperor, the largest surviving bronze statue from the ancient world.
We travel to Venosa to visit the 12th century abbey of the Holy Trinity, which houses the tombs of Alberada. Next, we explore the Roman site of Venusia before continuing to Melfi to visit an impressive Norman Castle. We also explore the National Archaeological Museum, home to a priceless Bronze Age statuette and the Roman sarcophagus of Rapolla.
This morning we visit the beautiful Trani Cathedral before transferring to the airport for our return flight home to London.
- Expert Guide Lecturer
- Tour Manager
- Local Travel - Private a/c coach
- Meals - Most meals included with wine at dinner
- Entries & Tips - Entry to all sites in programme; tips included
- Field Notes