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Hiking Tour in Italy

Discover two of Italy’s most beautiful (and uncrowded!) regions in the “heel of the boot.” Puglia offers the best of Southern Italy with white-washed villages, Baroque architecture, delicious cuisine, and the region's powerful red wines ensure a rich sensory experience. At the same time, the neighboring province of Basilicata features the dramatic cave-city of Matera and the surprising alpine scenery of the “Dolomiti Lucane.” Other highlights include Bari’s historic medieval port, the UNESCO World Heritage site of Alberobello and its “trulli” houses, and the lovely seaside village of Monopoli. Perhaps best of all is the fabulous, warm, genuine hospitality of the people you will meet. They are very proud to welcome you to their southern homeland.

Meet the instructors

Sara, Francesca, & Rachele
Read more

Highlights

  • 6 days of guided hiking
  • Guided visit of Alberobello and Matera
  • Cooking class
  • 7 nights accommodation
  • Daily meals
  • Private van transfers

Skill level

  • Beginner
  • Intermediate

7 days with instruction
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Accommodation

You will be accommodated in 4-star hotels and agriturismo (1 night 4-star in Bari, and 2 nights 4-star hotel in Locorotondo or similar in Monopoli, 2 nights 4-star hotel in Matera, and 2 nights in 3-star country hotel in Trivigno).

Program

Day 1

Independent arrival in Bari and check-in at the 4-star Dilman Boutique Hotel (or similar) near the medieval city center. Formerly the domain of smugglers and brigands, Bari’s quaint and atmospheric historic center has been revitalized during the past decade. Cafés, wine bars, and trattorias line the labyrinthine streets, eventually leading to the remarkable Romanesque architecture of the 12th-century Basilica di San Nicola. Depending on your arrival time, the afternoon and evening are open for sightseeing or relaxing after your journey. Dine independently tonight in one of the many local restaurants. All meals and transfer to Bari on your own.

  • Overnight Bari
  • Hotel included
  • Dinner is not included

Day 2

Meet your guide(s) and the other hikers at 9:00 a.m. and transfer 35 minutes by van to the stunning seaside town of Polignano a Mare. Your guide/s will lead you first to overlook the famous Lama Monachile, a narrow cove known for its shimmering turquoise water and pebble beach, flanked by rugged cliffs surmounted by whitewashed dwellings. Then, onto a new, purpose-built pedestrian pathway along the cliff edge and into the whitewashed village. You wander through tiny alleyways, from one charming piazza to another, and past 16th-century palazzi to join the ancient “Via Francigena”. Pilgrims came from the north of Europe along this route to the medieval ports of Bari, Monopoli, and Brindisi, where they embarked on boats destined for the Holy Land. You will follow in their footsteps along the coastline, dropping down to inlets and bays and passing Medieval watchtowers before arriving on the outskirts of Monopoli.

Your van meets you to save a few ugly km of walking through modern Monopoli. Instead, you are whisked directly to the charming heart of old Monopoli for lunch in an excellent fish restaurant. Afterward, you will have time to explore Monopoli’s authentic medieval and baroque architecture. You then drive to the countryside and the Masseria Grofoleo, your gorgeous lodging for the next two nights. The Masseria Grofoleo is an 18th Century Pugliese Manor house of “Truli” and “Cummerse,” the distinctive buildings peculiar to this small part of Puglia. Your hosts, the Spagnuolo family, treat you to a home-cooked meal of regional specialties prepared in their wood-fired oven.

  • The hike: 9 km / 5.6 miles
  • Elevation: negligible
  • Flat terrain
  • Overnight Masseria Grofoleo
  • Hotel, breakfast, and dinner included

Day 3

Today’s walk takes you through farmland and forests along the “l’Acquedotto Pugliese.” The aqueduct was one of the most significant infrastructure projects undertaken in 20th-century Italy. It still brings water from the mountains east of Naples to the riverless Puglia region. Twenty thousand workers started construction in 1906. It took them ten years to build the 2189 km of lines, which include hundreds of elegant arched stone bridges. At the end of the walk, you have a short transfer to the UNESCO World Heritage city of Alberobello, whose center consists of over 1,500 “trulli” houses. Trulli are unique to this area and are derived from a prehistoric dry-stone technique where a conical or domed roof surmounts round limestone dwellings.

After a lovely lunch, you’ll have a short guided visit of the town followed by free time to further explore on your own or enjoy a coffee or gelato in a sunny square. Then you have a transfer back to the Masseria Grofoleo, where you might enjoy a dip in the pool. This evening you walk into Locorotondo village for a wine tasting followed by dinner.

  • Overnight Masseria Grofoleo
  • Hike: 9.2 km / 5.7 miles
  • Elevation: negligible
  • Flat terrain
  • Hotel, breakfast, and dinner included

Day 4

Transfer from Puglia to Basilicata and the “Alta Murgia” National Park this morning. The Murgia is a vast karst plateau that gives this region special features of unexpected ravines and gorges. You hike into a seemingly wild ravine, only to find it honeycombed with shelters and thousand-year-old rock-hewn churches. Indeed, this area has been inhabited since Paleolithic times, and more recently, the ravines were “colonized” in the 8 th and 9 th centuries by monastic orders.

You return to the high plateau, where you are rewarded with mesmerizing views of distant Matera. A short transfer takes you to the ancient city, where you have lunch. In the afternoon, you enjoy a couple of hours of "urban trekking" in the company of a specialist guide. She takes you through the famous "Sassi," where Matera’s inhabitants lived for centuries in stone dwellings partially excavated from the rock along the steep ravines that slice the landscape. The city is riddled with caves, churches, and houses dug from the living rock.

Your accommodation for the next two nights, the 4-star Hotel San Pietro (or similar), has been central to the revival and restoration of the old town. The owners have lovingly restored a complex of centuries-old buildings to give their guests a unique experience. You dine tonight at a local "enoteca" (wine shop), where you can taste some of the most exciting wines from the region.

  • Hike: 6 km / 4 miles
  • Elevation gain 245 m / 784 feet uphill / same downhill
  • Rocky terrain
  • Duration: About 2.5 hours
  • Additional 3 km / 2 miles of urban walking in the afternoon, up and down
  • Overnight Matera at four star Corte San Pietro
  • Hotel, breakfast, light lunch, and dinner included

Day 5

You have permission to access private land and hike to an incredible site that is hidden far from view in the tortuous landscape of the Murgia. Your destination is called the Villaggio Saraceno. It is a vast complex of around 70 cave dwellings dug into the rock on both sides of a small ravine. Amongst the caves are the rock church of San Nicola al Saraceno, the crypt of Vitisciulo, and the rock church of San Luca alla Selva. Ascending the trail to the north, the vegetation suddenly opens up, leaving room to admire numerous caves and the rock church of Cristo la Selva, which is on the opposite side of the ravine. You eventually emerge from the canyon to have lunch at a local farm, where you are treated to home-cooked local specialties.

Afterward, you return to Matera so you can have time to explore more of this incredible place. Or, you can relax on the hotel terrace and watch the rays of the setting sun caress the honey-colored stonework of the Sassi. Tonight is a free night, so you can eat when and where you like. Your guide will have recommendations for you.

  • The hike: 10 km / 6 miles
  • Elevation gain / loss: 296 m / 947 feet
  • Duration: About 3 hours
  • Overnight Matera at four star Corte San Pietro
  • Hotel, breakfast, lunch included

Day 6

After breakfast, you have a scenic two-hour transfer to the surprising landscapes of the ”Dolomiti Lucane”. You hike along the crest of a high ridge, which offers epic views over the spectacular terrain of the Parco Gallipoli-Cognato. Spikey, rocky peaks pierce the horizon, verdant forests cover the flanks of the hills, and distant honey-colored villages are sprinkled across the hills and valleys. As you hike, you occasionally stop to make friends with the goats and sheep you encounter. You end up in Pietrapertosa, whose houses sit clustered beneath a jagged spine of rock.

After lunch at a local trattoria, you can opt for another hour’s walk to reach the neighboring village of Castelmezzano or just rest the legs and make the trip by van. For the next two nights, you will be Peppino and Maria Giovanna's guests at the Foresteria di San Leo (or similar). They greet you with open arms and make you feel welcome at their family-run “Agriturismo.” Dinner is in the dining room or on the terrace if weather permits.

  • Hike: 8 to 10 km / 5 to 6 miles
  • Elevation: 150 m / 500 feet uphill 320 m / 1,024 feet gently downhill
  • Overnight Trivigno
  • Hotel, breakfast, and dinner included

Day 7

Your final walk is a loop that begins and ends at your hotel so you can forget about the van for a while. Hike through the woods and fields of the beautiful countryside to get to the shores of an artificial lake, where you enjoy a lovely picnic lunch prepared by Maria Giovanna. Back at your hotel, you have time to swim in the pool before joining a cooking class with Grazia who will help you prepare a sumptuous meal for your final dinner. The cooking “event” is a fun and instructive occasion to learn some secrets of Puglia’s superb cuisine.

  • Hike: 12 or 15 km / 8 to 9.5 miles
  • Elevation: uphill / negligible. 278 m / 889 feet downhill
  • Optional return hike 278 m / 889 feet uphill
  • Duration: About 3.5 hours
  • Overnight Trivigno
  • Hotel, breakfast, picnic lunch, and dinner included

Day 8

You transfer this morning to Potenza for 10:00 train departures to Naples, Rome, and beyond. They can also arrange a transfer to the Bari airport (at your own expense). Breakfast and transfer included.

Please note

Some details of the itinerary may change according to the departure date of your tour. Whenever they run a tour, they make discoveries. Sometimes they are good discoveries, like a wonderful new trattoria, and sometimes bad, like a trail has been washed away. Therefore, they sometimes change the itinerary to improve it by adding wonderful new elements or by removing something that does not work anymore. Rest assured; they always aim to provide you with the best possible experience. They will advise you of any changes to the original itinerary before departure.

  • Activity rating: 2 / 5 = Easy to moderate
  • In general: This is an easy to moderate tour for fit hikers, and will be do-able with some effort by less fit hikers
  • Terrain: Flat to gently rolling terrain with some rocky areas. Perhaps some short, relatively steep climbs and descents, but nothing longer than 20 minutes
  • Actual walking time: Between 2 - 4 hours per day, mostly in the morning but sometimes also in the afternoon
  • Distances: Usually 7 - 10 km (4.5 - 6 mi). Max distance is 12 km (7 mi).
  • Surfaces: Trails consist mainly of compact earth and/or gravel and sometimes gravel roads
  • Footing: Easy / good. Proper hiking shoes with thick soles and good treads are required. Sports sandals, running shoes, and tennis shoes are not adequate
  • Specifics: This is the easiest walking tour. Flat to rolling terrain, with daily activity between 2 - 3.5 hours. Max distance 12 km (7 mi). You also spend time walking in the beautiful villages that you visit, so you'll get plenty of exercise
  • Hiking poles: Not required, but if you habitually use hiking poles, you will find them helpful
  • Compared to the Cinque Terre: This tour is significantly easier than the hikes in the Cinque Terre
  • Other: This tour is appropriate for fit, first-time “hikers” who enjoy walking

Easy to moderate tours:

Puglia and Basilicata, Piedmont Walk. All of the boat-based tours in Turkey, Croatia, and Greece Dodecanese Islands would be “easy to moderate” if you decide to skip the one or two of the more challenging hikes. Note: on the boat-based tours they usually do a walk in the morning, return to the boat for a swim and then lunch, then cruise, and then occasionally drop off for a late afternoon hike. Your guides of course can advise you of the difficulty level and the terrain and footing of each walk.

As a point of reference, what is a 1 out of 5 Activity rating?

A 1 out of 5 rated tour is a tour without any hiking. Walks would be in towns, cities, and villages, and the countryside walks would be on paved or gravel/dirt roads, and occasionally on some packed earth trails. Elevation gain and loss would be negligible.

As a point of reference, what is a 5 out of 5 Activity rating?

A 5 out of 5 rated tour is a tour that would be physically challenging and technically difficult even for very fit and experienced hikers. The hikes would have steep ascents and descents on narrow, exposed trails with challenging footing, such as on scree fields, or through rock falls and boulders. Distances would be up to 25 km / 16 miles per day and feature ascents of over 1,000 m / 3,200 feet in a day. A 5 out of 5 tour would also mean you would carry a heavier-than-normal pack. None of the tours are rated 5 out 5. The most challenging tours are 4.5 out of 5: the Dolomites Alta Via (because of some exposed trail that requires some technical expertise) and the Republic of Georgia tour, which has some long hikes with over 1,000 meters of elevation gain.

Tour leaders

The tour leaders are fluent in Italian and English; some are Italian natives while others are expatriates living in Italy. Unlike other companies who hire young North American students to run their trips, they insist that the guides live in Europe. They are interesting and professional people with a variety of outside interests, from art and literature to history, biology, and regional food and wine. Most importantly, they all have a great sense of fun and are wonderful travel companions. Besides leading you along the roads and trails, they are there to ensure that everything runs smoothly and to heighten your travel experience. Former travelers have always praised them highly and consider them a highlight of the trip.

Instructors

Sara

Francesca

Rachele

Location

Enjoy this hiking holiday where you will get to explore Puglia and Basilicata in Southern Italy.

Food

All breakfasts and all but one dinner are included in the price of the trip (please refer to your trip agreement for exact details). Some lunches are included; otherwise, they usually do something casual like have a picnic or stop in a trattoria in one of the villages. Wine is not included at meals but most people partake and then divide the bill fairly as the week progresses. They suggest budgeting approximately 200 EUR for the extra meals and beverages.

If you have special dietary needs, please let them know. Vegetarian diets can be accommodated.

During the evening meals, you will usually have a choice between at least two dishes. They have gone to great lengths to work out menus that avoid duplication and highlight the best dishes that the particular restaurant and region have to offer. Your guide will keep you apprised of meal times each day but generally you eat at 8 p.m.

The following meals are included:

  • Breakfast

The following dietary requirement(s) are served and/or catered for:

  • Regular (typically includes meat and fish)
If you have special dietary requirements it's a good idea to communicate it to the organiser when making a reservation

What's included

  • 7 nights accommodation
  • 7 breakfasts, 3 lunches and 1 picnic lunch, and 5 dinners
  • Luggage: Bags are transferred starting from pick-up at Bari hotel on Day 2 to drop-off at Potenza train station on Day 8
  • Special events: Guided visit of Alberobello and Matera, and cooking class
  • Transport: Private van transfers as indicated in the itinerary
  • Active days: 6 days of guided hiking
  • Guides: At least one bilingual Customwalks guide accompanies departures of 2 - 8 people; 2 guides accompany departures of 9 to 14 people

What's not included

  • Airport transfers
  • Flights
  • Some meals

How to get there

Recommended Airports

Arriving in Italy

Most intercontinental flights land either at Rome’s “Leonardo Da Vinci” airport (also known as “Fiumicino”) or at Milan’s “Malpensa” airport. The most convenient airport to the beginning and end of the trip is Bari “Palese” Airport, which has regular flights to and from other European gateway airports such as London, Paris, and Amsterdam. Allow ample time between flights if you are connecting. They recommend at least 2 hours to take into account potential delays.

Note

There are now many low-cost airlines that fly between European cities, but they change their schedules so often that they can’t keep up! Most of them don’t show up in standard online searches (like Expedia or Orbitz), so you won’t see the many flights of Ryan Air, Easy Jet, Volotea, Transavia, etc. When searching for flights, please see your preferred airport’s website to see what options are available.

Getting to the tour

Arrival in Bari at the start of the trip – Day 1: Arrive on your own at the Dilman Boutique Hotel, located about a ten-minute taxi ride from the Central train station and a short walk to the historic city center. From the airport to the hotel a taxi costs around 27 EUR. Dinner is on your own tonight. They will send dinner recommendations in the final bulletin which you will receive about a month prior to departure.

Bari is easily accessible by train from the rest of Italy. See some sample train times below, but please check current schedules at Trenitalia.

  • Trains Rome - Bari (direct): 08:05 (arrive 12:04) or 15:08 (arr. 19:09)
  • Trains Naples - Bari: 8:13 (change Caserta, arr. 12:04), 15:13 (change Caserta, arr. 19:09)

An alternative to trains coming from Naples is Flixbus. Flixbus is a long-distance bus company that covers that Naples-Bari route in under 3 hours without any transfer.

  • Flixbus Naples-Bari (direct): 9:30 (arrive 12:35) or 18:00 (arrive 21:05)

Pick-up - Day 2: Meet your guide(s) at 9:00 after breakfast in the hotel lobby. You will have a 1-hour van ride into the countryside to the start of your first walk, so be dressed and ready to walk!

Departure from Potenza at the end of the trip - Day 8: After breakfast, you have a 40-minute van shuttle from Castelmezzano to the Potenza train station for morning departures. There is a direct train to Rome departing at 9:56 am and arriving at 14:34. Transfers to the Bari airport can also be arranged for an additional cost.

Cancellation Policy

  • A reservation requires a deposit of 14% of the total price.
  • The deposit is non-refundable, if the booking is cancelled.
  • The rest of the payment should be paid 30 days before arrival.
8 days / 7 nights
from --

Availability

Arrival: Sunday October 13, 2024
Departure: Sunday October 20, 2024

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