Puglia Culinary Tour
Small Group Italy Food Tours
Our Puglia Italy food tour combines the key sights of Puglia with a progressive exploration of the food and wine specific to the southern italy region. The Puglia italian cuisine 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 Italy food tour is for you.
- A progressive discovery of the Puglia italian 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 italian cuisine, historical details, examples of the culture and lifestyle) as well as having everything that makes an enjoyable trip - relaxed long lunches in good restaurants and 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 into a 4 star boutique hotel
- Our Puglia culinary small group tour has a maximum of 14 people
- This is the Italy food tour that you’d design for yourself. We are Italy... with pleasure
- This 7 day culinary 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
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.
We meet in Bari, and from here we start our culinary discovery of Puglia.
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. 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.
The property was established as an agricultural enterprise right from the start, and it is still operating as a farm. They grow a wide range of produce, including wheat, vegetables, honey, and olive oil.
We delve into their production philosophies, which are focussed on compatibility with their land and the use of heritage varieties.
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.
The food says so much about the place you’re in, as much as any town you can visit – history, culture, geography, it’s all wrapped up in the cuisine.
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.
We travel a short distance to today's base and start with a tour of a 400 year old farm homestead. This features a historic ‘agrumeto’ citrus garden, an original defensive tower, and importantly for us, a large vegetable garden that we have access to for the ingredients that we need.
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. It is fascinating to see how a stretched curd cheese such as mozzarella is made, and how physical the process is.
We move into the masseria to have a tutored tasting of wines from Puglia presented by a sommelier. This serves as an introduction to the wines of this region, many of which may be unfamiliar varieties to you. Some of the varieties that we taste were brought into Puglia by the ancient Greeks.
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 and make our way back to Masseria Salamina.
Meals: Breakfast and Lunch
We depart in the morning for 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 and 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.
We show you around Alberobello, and then also leave you some free time to browse the shops of Alberobello and to wander around.
We continue on to a town called Polignano a Mare, an impressive town clinging to a promontory suspended above the Adriatic’s turquoise waters. 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.
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.
Meals: Breakfast and Lunch
Today we go more in depth on the culinary theme, working with our chef to develop a lunch. Our session today is focused 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. 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.
In the evening we visit to nearby town of Monopoli. This is a free evening, we give you details of the town and let you enjoy the atmosphere independently. Monopoli is situated on the coast, has great sea views, and vibrant piazzas that are perfect for people watching.
Meals: Breakfast and Lunch
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-style 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.
Meals: Breakfast and Lunch
This morning we first visit the charming town of Locorotondo, with its perfectly kept old centre, all whitewashed lanes and flowers, overlooking the Valle d’Itria. This morning is market day in Locorotondo. The weekly market is a key feature of life in small towns here. All fresh, local and in season – the term here for the most locally grown produce is ‘kilometro zero’. We then move on to 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, and 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 reach the town of 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.
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 and Dinner
Today is our last day in Puglia. We organise transport to your departure point in Bari.
Puglia Culinary Tour Dates:
This tour is run on request for groups of six or more.
Tour Price: €2400
* 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.