The Puglia Culinary Tour
Small group tours of Italy
This tour combines the key sights of Puglia with a progressive exploration of the food and wine specific to the region. The cuisine of Puglia is based largely on the superb vegetables, local cheeses, and seafood from the extensive coastline. Puglia has the quintessential Mediterranean diet, and can be considered a “foodie heaven” such is the quality of the fresh produce here. During this week you go in depth into the provenance of the ingredients, the dishes that are prepared, and in a series of hands on sessions with a local chef you make the meals the same as the locals do. We have a series of gastronomic visits: to food producers, markets and wineries. We also see the key sights of Puglia, such as Alberobello, Lecce, Ostuni and Polignano a Mare.
Note that this tour has appeal for keen amateur cooks but is also suitable for those without a background in food preparation – as long as you like good food and good wine, this tour is for you.
- A progressive discovery of the regions’ cuisine, with meals showcasing the local specialities and a series of three hands-on cooking sessions with chefs
- The full range of food styles, from examples of the peasants’ “cucina povera” dishes through to finishing with dinner at a Michelin star restaurant
- The UNESCO World Heritage sites of Alberobello (with its conical trulli houses) and Matera (with its cave houses)
- Key locations such as Ostuni, Polignano A Mare, Monopoli, Locorotondo
- Explore the provenance of the foods that we enjoy; a comparative tasting of olive oils at a 7th generation family property, seeing a cheesemaker producing mozzarella, tasting from the best pasticcerias in Puglia, we buy food from the markets to cook with, winetasting at a family run vineyard
- Our tours are a balance between being informative (an examination of the local cuisine, historical details, examples of the culture and lifestyle) as well as having everything that makes for an enjoyable trip (long lunches in good restaurants, a relaxed pace, free time in places we visit)
- We stay for the week in one place, on a 17th century country estate that has been tastefully developed in to a 4 star boutique hotel
- Small groups, maximum 14 people
- This is the trip that you’d design for yourself. We are Italy... with pleasure
- This 7 day tour starts and finishes in Bari
“I am widely travelled and have never been on a tour before so went with some trepidation.It was the absolute highlight of my travels in Italy and definitely the best food I had the whole time. I cannot recommend Italy with Pleasure more highly don't even think about it just book with them you will not be disappointed I am sure.”
“Our time travelling with ‘Italy with Pleasure’ was our best experience. Believe all that they say in their brochure .. family run, hands on and very professional. Their standards are high and they are very responsive to everyone’s needs. They source excellent restaurants... way beyond our experiences with other companies we travelled with. We highly recommend this company, have mentioned it to friends and fellow travellers”
“The itinerary was well organized and done at a comfortable pace: touring in the morning followed by mouth-watering lunch featuring the specialties of the area as well as fine wines of the area. All of the restaurants were excellent as was the food. It was a wonderful week and I will have many fond memories of my stay. This tour is a gem and I highly recommend it!”
“The tour group was quite small, 8 people all delightful. We were driven to some very interesting towns and other sites, where guides introduced us to the art and history….The tour was full but not too intense so we felt we had enough time to enjoyed the excellent food and wine which were highlights of the tour for us. I wholeheartedly recommend this tour.”
“The places that we visited were fascinating and very unique, and the food and wine was delectable. I didn't know what to expect of the trip, but it more than fulfilled any hopes that I had for a great week. Everything was well organised and the atmosphere was friendly and relaxed. I can thoroughly recommend the tour.”
“The way the tours are organised is very civilised. After a morning tour, always interesting in itself, we adjourn to a local restaurant for a late lunch and to experience the range of local foods cooked superbly . . This tour stays in one place and each day we were escorted in a mini bus to our destination. A most enjoyable experience and well organised with a personal touch.”
See these and other reviews on TripAdvisor
Living the local lifestyle:
During this tour you stay in traditional ‘massseria’ accommodation. A ‘masseria’ is a large farmhouse, and previously these were fortified, largely self-contained rural centres. The masseria, where you will stay, Masseria Salamina has been tastefully renovated as a boutique accommodation provider (see www.masseriasalamina.com ).
By staying in the masseria you will be directly experiencing Puglia’s history. Set amongst olive groves and fig trees, the buildings were constructed in the 17th century. The property was established as an agricultural enterprise even earlier, and it is still operating as a farm. Around the grounds you will see numerous aspects of times gone by, giving an insight into the lifestyle here in centuries past – you are immersed in history.
But we don’t forget the needs of the present! The masseria offers all you would expect during your time here, such as wifi and a swimming pool. And as well as our other restaurants during the week, we also dine in the masseria’s own excellent restaurant which serves food grown right on their own organic farm.
Day 1 - BUONGIORNO PUGLIA!
We meet in Bari, and from here we start our culinary discovery of Puglia.
Our first stop is at Ostuni, known as "la città bianca" (the white town). Ostuni is a cluster of whitewashed buildings perched on a hilltop overlooking the coast. Walking through the narrow streets of Ostuni is like being in a forgotten time, evocative and ancient, looking out over an expanse of olive trees. We advise keeping your camera at the ready!
Towards evening we reach the Masseria Salamina, where we stay for the week. Set amongst olive groves and fig trees, the buildings were constructed in the 17th century. The property was established as an agricultural enterprise even earlier, and it is still operating as a farm. Around the grounds you will see numerous aspects of times gone by, giving an insight into the lifestyle here in centuries past – you are immersed in history.
Tonight we dine together, having our first introduction to the cuisine of Puglia. Throughout the week meals are in restaurants designed to showcase the region's cuisine, with the specific venues all carefully selected by us. This is in order to provide a variety of food styles over the duration of the tour.
Meals: Dinner (three courses with wine included)
Day 2 - Cooking Pugliese Style
This morning, after a relaxing start, we have a special experience - taking a cooking lesson from a local chef. The focus will be on cooking typical Puglia dishes, first taking you through the types of ingredients used and their provenance.
The cuisine of Puglia is based on the produce at a very local level, so is different to the food from other Italian regions. Seasonal vegetables, as well as focaccia and other breads, dominate this cuisine. All these are based on the abundant fresh ingredients as well as the ever-present extra virgin olive oil - a simple and effective cuisine. Recipes have been handed down through the generations and are truly expressive of the Mediterranean diet. The purity of flavour expressed in this cuisine is gaining it a reputation internationally, such that you’ll now find Pugliese dishes in top international restaurants.
We start with a tour of the 400 year old fortified farm, which features a historic ‘agrumeto’ citrus garden. We find out about how this historic garden operated, including an ingenious irrigation system.
Next we will have a demonstration of mozzarella making by a ‘casaro’, a cheesemaker. In fact the cheese will be made with milk from his herd of cows that live nearby.
We move into the masseria to have a tasting of wines from Puglia. This serves as an introduction to the wines of this region, many of which may be unfamiliar varieties.
The cooking session is hands on and we are all involved in making a series of dishes. We finish off the session by dining on the lunch that we’ve prepared.
After this bucolic afternoon, we depart the masseria and make our way back to our accommodation.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch (three courses with wine included)
Day 3 – Alberobello and Polignano A Mare
We depart in the morning for our first stop, Alberobello, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Alberobello is the only town with streets lined with the unique 'trulli', in fact it is known in Italy as the "Capital of trulli". Trulli are small houses with a distinctive conical roof. They are made from limestone dry-stone walls and often have several roof cones joined to form one dwelling. By walking along its narrow streets, you will be fascinated by the magical, fairytale atmosphere of this place. Most of these trulli are 300-400 years old. We explore this town together, and learn about the history of these buildings and about the cryptic symbols painted on the roof-cones.
Before lunch you have some free time to browse the shops of Alberobello and to wander around.
We have lunch on the nearby coast in a town called Polignano a Mare, an impressive town clinging to a promontory suspended above the Adriatic's turquoise waters. With a history spanning back to the 4th century BC as a Greek settlement, Polignano a Mare is a charming town centred around the Piazza Vittorio Emanuele. The town was on the ancient Roman Trajan's Way, and you can still see the remains of this route. Polignano a Mare encircles a pebble beach, nestled in a cove between rocky cliffs. The beach is suitable for swimming.
Our meal here is in a stunning location right on the seafront. This meal is focussed on cuisine from the Adriatic, as befits our coastal location.
Meals: Breakfast and Lunch (three courses with wine included)
Day 4 – Food from the Markets
This morning we visit the local markets. The weekly market is a key feature of life in small towns here. With our chef we work our way through the market purchasing a range of produce for using in today’s lunch preparation. All fresh, local and in season – the term here for the most locally grown produce is 'kilometro zero'.
We work with the chef to develop a lunch - and as well as the ingredients sourced at the market, we also harvest vegetables and herbs from the garden that is part of the property where we are cooking today. The philosophy here is that local is best, so as well as preparing meals from their own garden, a range of jams and marmalades are made here for their guests from their small citrus orchard.
After lunch we visit a farm that produces organic extra virgin olive oil from trees that are many centuries old. This land has been worked for thousands of years - we are shown the remnants of the ancient Roman agricultural production here, along with items from habitation from the middle ages through until modern times.
After seeing the ancient trees, we enjoy a degustation of a range of olive oils. This allows us to compare the different tastes from the olive varieties grown here.
Meals: Breakfast and Lunch (three courses with wine included)
Day 5 - A step back in time
This morning we travel to the town of Matera in the neighbouring Basilicata region. Visiting Matera, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is like a step back in time. In fact this is one of the oldest continually inhabited settlements in the world. The oldest cave dwellings go back to the Bronze Age.
The town consists of houses carved out of the rock face along the side of a steep ravine. We meet with a local guide here who gives us an interesting insight into life in Matera, both now and in the past. In fact his grandparents lived in these caves.
We visit the 'sassi' cave area, and enter one of the typical houses built into the rock, showing the difficult existence in these conditions. We also visit a cave church hewn out of the rock, featuring Byzantine frescoes and with interesting histories as their usage has evolved and adapted to the conditions over the years.
Matera was used for the filming of Mel Gibson's “The Passion of the Christ” - you'll see why it is so easy to imagine Matera as being completely removed from the modern age.
Since we are in the Basilicata region, our lunch here focuses on the specialties from this inland region. We return to the masseria late afternoon.
In the evening we are joined again by our chef for a session focussed on seafood. We produce the traditional dishes made in coastal Puglia. You will be involved in the preparations of both the fish and the accompanying vegetable based dishes.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch (three courses with wine included), and Dinner (three courses with wine included)
Day 6 - Wine and the Michelin Star
This morning we visit a winery, where some of the wines we taste are unique to the Valle d’Itria subregion of Puglia. The winery is family run, focussed on making quality wines expressive of the area. The traditional varieties that are grown include fiano minutolo and susumaniello. We are taken through the vineyard. The terroir provides the basis for these excellent wines – deep limestone soils combined with cooling breezes. We taste their range of wines following our visit, and have a light lunch at the winery.
After a lazy afternoon at our home base, we head out for our final meal. This meal is at a very well respected restaurant (with a Michelin star). This restaurant focusses on taking the local Pugliese ingredients and presenting them in a modern manner. Our final meal is a fitting end to this discovery of the food, wine and lifestyle of Puglia.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner (four courses with wine included)
Day 7 - Arrivederci Puglia!
Today is our last day in Puglia. We organise transport for you to your departure point in Bari.
And while we bid you 'arrivederci', your week will have provided such richness that a piece of Puglia will always be with you.
The tour finishes in Bari at 11 a.m.
Puglia Culinary Tour Date 2020:
20 - 26 September
€2400 ( GBP£2100 / US$2650 / AUD$3850 / NZ$4000 / CAD$3600 )
* Price is denominated in Euros
* Prices listed are based on twin share
* Single supplement of €150 for solo travellers
Tour Price Includes:
* All accommodation is included
* Meals as listed in the itinerary: breakfast every morning, plus a main meal each day of 3-4 courses including wine
* All costs/entry fees for activities listed in the itinerary are included
* All transport during the tour is included
* Travel is in our van/minibus with a professional driver
* 'Italy With Pleasure' provides a tour manager for the duration of the trip
Also see our Best of Puglia Tours, with numerous departures from April to October.