THE ALTA MURGIA GRAND TOUR
Our all-inclusive, fully escorted 7-day, 6-night package
Ready, steady, go! Board your flight to Bari International Airport (from England, board a British Airways direct flight from London Gatwick, but don’t miss to check the chance of booking a low-cost direct flight: consider Ryanair from London Stansted, or Easyjet from London Gatwick). When in Bari, be guided by our English-speaking staff to our deLuxe coach bound for the Alta Murgia plateau. Enjoy the ride and get familiar with the endless olives groves surrounding the Bari city area. Our bus driver will take you directly to a simple yet cozy masseria (farmhouse), where a warm welcome and a light buffet dinner are waiting for you. Dream your first Murgese sweet dreams and get ready to discover Alta Murgia!
Breakfast time! A continental breakfast as-you-like-it is waiting for you. When you’re done, your English-speaking guide will introduce you to the Alta Murgia during a short orientation meeting, before boarding our bus which will take you to the Alta Murgia National Park area. Be guided to relaxing sightseeing and birdwatching activities, and get ready to face your first countryside lunch in a typical masseria. After lunch, you may want to stroll to Garagnone Castle ruins or ask our bus driver to take you there. Join your group, have a seat and listen to a native expert of local history telling the story of the place, while the sun slips slowly behind the mild hills of Alta Murgia. Time has come to board our bus, bound to a mouthwatering countryside typical restaurant. Enjoy Pugliese (meaning from Puglia region) traditional food, and don’t miss to indulge yourself in a wine tasting game – wine is not an extra in our Alta Murgia vacation package!
You are now already familiar with the local breakfast (feel free to ask for your preferred customization). A short bus ride will take you to discover Ruvo di Puglia, a typical Alta Murgia small town where you’ll visit the amazing Jatta National Archeological Museum, displaying wonderful bronzes and vases which will tell you a lot about the noble history and traditions of the region, once conquered by the ancient Greeks and the Romans. Forget history, get back to the here and now, and do as the locals do – stroll in the high street, have a seat in a local cafeteria and order aperitivo – alcoholic or non-alcoholic, the choice is yours – and discover the huge quantity of appetizers the waiter will bring to your table, transforming what was supposed to be your drink into a full brunch – no need to stop again at a restaurant, lunch is done! Restored by the full aperitivo session, time has come for beauty and penance: visit Ruvo Cathedral, a gorgeous jewel of the local architectural heritage. The building is an outstanding example of late Apulian Romanesque architecture, built between the 12th and 13th centuries. Once you get back by bus to your accommodation, relax and wait for dinner time while learning to play scopa, the traditional card game (yes, your English-speaking guide will teach you!) After dinner, already mastering the game, feel free to challenge tourists and locals in a scopa tournament (betting on scopa is definitively not fair, even if the loser is usually due to offer a round of amaro - the local after-dinner herbs liquor - to all participants).
Are you done with your continental breakfast? Well, it’s time to discover the Hi-Tech side of Alta Murgia! Your bus driver will take you to visit a state-of-the-art solar park and a wind farm (can you imagine how high a wind mill tower is? Well, discover it for yourself!) A Green Energy expert will teach you a lot about renewable energy, a field in which Alta Murgia is a leading area in Europe. And, believe it or not, you’ll soon discover more and more about the Alta Murgia territory from the words of the Major of Spinazzola, who’s inviting you to a welcome reception at the City Hall! Anyway, forget boring formal speeches; the Major, on a first-name basis, will invite you to have your say about your Alta Murgia experience (you may also expect him to sing loud his favourite evergreen pop songs as Volare or O Sole Mio – no, not a traditional politician at all). In the afternoon, take our bus on a short ride which will take you to Minervino Murge, where you’ll stroll with locals along the small town’s narrow main street, awaiting for the church bell’s tolls inviting the population at sunset to the traditional short Catholic rite of Vespro (evening prayer); respectful – even if non-believer - tourists are warmly welcome to join the rite. Inspired by the sincere devotion of locals, you may be now ready to face an unforgettable culinary experience at a traditional restaurant – gourmets and families flock to Minervino Murge from all the region to taste the local food specialties based on natural products, dedicated to the discovery of the territory and the old flavours. Wine tasting is welcome – it’s your vacation, you don’t have to drive! Your bus driver will stay sober and drive you safe back to your accommodation.
Your continental breakfast is ready – enjoy it and board our bus which will take you to the historical town of Matera, the European Capital of Culture 2019. Our guide will introduce you to the Sassi area - absolutely a must-see in Italy; Matera has gained international fame for its ancient town, the "Sassi di Matera" (meaning "stones of Matera"), UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1993. The Sassi are houses dug into the volcanic rock itself, known locally as tufo, which is characteristic of Alta Murgia. It comes without saying that you’ll experience a lunch in an inside-a-cave restaurant in the Sassi area; in the afternoon expect to visit to the ancient Crypt of the Original Sin and/or MUSMA, the Museum of Modern Arts. Back to your accommodation, relax and wait for dinner time while learning to make orecchiette, the traditional pasta speciality; your hand-made orecchiette will be your dinnertime reward, since the cook will cook for you the pasta you made (don’t panic! shaping orecchiette is a pretty easy task, and consider that - admitting your performance isn’t good enough – the cook can always rely on his extensive stock of state-of-the-art orecchiette).
As soon as you’re done with your continental breakfast, our bus will take you to Castel del Monte (Italian for "Castle of the Mountain"), a 13th-century castle situated in the heart of Alta Murgia area. It stands on the top of a hill where it was constructed during the 1240s by the Emperor Frederick II, who had inherited the lands from his mother Constance of Sicily. The castle is a mystery in itself; it has neither a moat nor a drawbridge and some considered it never to have been intended as a defensive fortress. Described by the Enciclopedia Italiana as "the most fascinating castle built by Frederick II", the site is protected as UNESCO World Heritage Site. It also appears on the Italian version of the one-cent euro coin. Got familiar with Castel del Monte, you’ll be aware that the area is scattered with vineyards; ready for visiting a local vinery? You’ll learn a lot about wine making and, since it’s lunch time, you’ll possibly feel like facing an on-the-spot wine tasting session. Here you are! The lunch is served in the winery, and no doubt you’ll appreciate the local liquid and bottled products, ranging from red to white and rosé. A visit to an extra-virgin olive oil mill, where you can taste this local specialty, will definitively make your day. Will dinner be served at your accommodation? No, not tonight! Tomorrow you’re leaving Alta Murgia, it’s time for a countryside Farewell Party. Meet the locals, taste traditional street food, listen to live music and dance with the folks. Enjoy!
Pack, check out and enjoy your breakfast before riding your bus bound for Bari, the capital city of the province of Bari and of the Apulia (or, in Italian, Puglia) region, on the Adriatic Sea. Bari is the second most important economic centre of mainland Southern Italy after Naples, and is well known as a port and university city, as well as the city of Saint Nicholas. The fast-growing urban area counts 1 million inhabitants; downtown Bari city is made up of different urban sections - to the north is the closely built Old Town on the peninsula between two harbours (the new one and the old one) with the Basilica of Saint Nicholas (a.k.a. Santa Claus!), founded in 1087 to receive the relics of this saint, which were stolen in Myra (Turkey) by a bunch of reckless Barese sailors and brought to Bari, and now lie beneath the altar in the crypt. In the Old Town are also located the Cathedral of Saint Sabino (1035–1171) and the Swabian Castle built for Frederick II, which is now also a major nightlife district. To the south is the Murat quarter (erected by Joachim Murat), the modern heart of the city, which is laid out on a rectangular grid-plan with a promenade on the sea and the major shopping district (via Sparano and via Argiro). Bari city is also renowned for its excellent, traditional cuisine; expect to taste the exquisite Barese food specialties in a rustic taverna in the heart of the Old Town. In the afternoon, your bus driver will take you to Bari International Airport. Your first Alta Murgia vacation is over, yet Alta Murgia is already looking forward for you to come back!