Three hotels are necessary for this tour, which covers quite a large area and a number of World Heritage-listed sites. Lecce has plenty of splendid baroque architecture and a major section of a Roman theatre exposed in the main square. Most guests found the city fascinating though a few were, surprisingly, unimpressed.
Bari has a maritime flavour and was worth the stop for two exceptionally interesting churches. The hundreds of cute trulli (cone-roofed) buildings at Alberobello were adored by all.
The superstar of the trip is Matera, the ancient town built upon original troglodyte dwellings set above a dramatic gorge. This easily exceeded expectations and all guests would have liked more than the one full day here, though this would be difficult to incorporate in a seven-night tour.
Calls were also made at the distinctive Castel del Monte hilltop citadel and the classic fishing harbour of Trani.
The fishing harbour of Trani
Vieste, its old town a maze of narrow alleys, proved a good base for the final three nights, especially with the option of a boat trip to – and into – the spectacular sea caves on a free day (weather permitting).
A visit to Monte Sant’Angelo, with its castle and 13th century cave sanctuary, was combined with a drive through a national park forest, providing pleasing contrasts.
Guided walks, lasting a sensible 90 minutes each, were included at Lecce, Bari and Matera. Adding a local guide at Alberobello would have given a useful…
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