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Puglia and Basilicata

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3.9 stars(61 reviews)
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Small Group

Immerse yourself in the culture of the unspoilt southern heel of Italy.

12 days From £2,795 £2,645 per person
Booking Offer

Save £150pp on your Europe 2023 holiday when you book between 16th November 2022 and midnight 12th December 2022, for departure dates between 1st April 2023 and 31st October 2023.

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2023 Tour code: PBS23

About the tour

A blend of culture and coastal relaxation on the unspoilt heel of Italy, exploring the sights and streets of fabulous Rome before travelling to Puglia in Italy's rich agricultural heart. Admire Baroque architecture and UNESCO-listed ancient dwellings, see through the eyes of a local on a unique guided tour and enjoy a taste of Italy, sampling delicious local produce.

Highlights

What’s included

Itinerary

Day 1 – London and Lyon

After meeting at London St Pancras, we take the Eurostar to Paris. Changing trains, we continue to Lyon, a pretty riverside city, where we spend the night at a local hotel.

Includes
  • Dinner
  • Eurostar Meal
Day 2 – Rome

Leaving Lyon, we travel to the 'Eternal City' of Rome, where we check into our hotel for the next two nights. Once the largest city in the world and the centre of the powerful Roman Empire, the city's architecture charts the passage of time through its wonderfully preserved Roman monuments and buildings with distinctive medieval, Renaissance and Baroque features. No other city boasts as many world-class sights as Rome, making it a true wonder to behold.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 3 – Rome

We discover the many famous sights of Rome on a guided tour. We pass the incredible Colosseum, Italy's most famous classical sight, and the Roman Forum, the ancient power centre of Rome, as well as Piazza Venezia and the Pantheon. Later, you're free to savour Rome's beauty at your own pace. The city is rich in world-class museums and galleries, though simply walking through the atmospheric streets is a treat. You could find an alfresco cafe and enjoy a slice of crispy pizza al tagli with a glass of local wine, or maybe take the opportunity to sample some of the diverse street food.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 4 - Santa Maria al Bagno

Leaving Rome, we travel across Italy by rail - a scenic journey which takes us along the gorgeous Italian-Adriatic coastline. We travel into Puglia, the 'heel' of Italy - a rural region with an undiscovered feel. We arrive in the town of Lecce in southern Puglia then transfer by coach to our seafront hotel in the unspoilt fishing town of Santa Maria al Bagno, our relaxing base for the next four nights. There's free time to get to know our lovely surroundings, possibly take a refreshing swim in one of the hotel pools, visit the private beach or spend some time on the sun terrace which overlooks the sea.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 5 - Lecce

We visit the town of Lecce today on a guided walking tour. With an interesting Old Town of elaborate Baroque architecture, Lecce has been dubbed 'the Florence of the South', and the city's narrow alleys are ideal for exploring on foot. We visit the Chiesa di Santa Croce, with its intricately carved rose window and grand chandeliers, and the Piazza del Duomo, the main square, in the shadow of Lecce's cathedral. Our guided tour ends in a traditional café, where we sample a Leccese coffee, made with almond milk and poured over ice and 'pasticciotto', a Southern Puglian pastry. We then have a free afternoon to explore the town. You could visit the Roman amphitheatre, an archaeological treasure excavated in 1938.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 6 – Free time in Santa Maria al Bagno

A day at leisure, to explore the town of Santa Maria al Bagno or relax at your hotel. Due to its beautiful coastline and good swimming beaches, this small town buzzes with holidaymakers at the height of summer, but it remains unspoilt. There is an attractive promenade overlooked by elegant estates and palazzos. The traditional town centre is just a short walk from the hotel, and above is the 'Tower of the Galatena River' a set of four medieval fortress towers known locally as 'the four columns'. The town was the site of a 'displaced persons camp' after World War II, and a small museum tells the moving story of refugees who were given temporary homes in Santa Maria al Bagno and how they were welcomed by the local population.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 7 - Galatina & Gallipoli

We set off for a full day of sightseeing, first to Galatina - one of the region's hidden gems, off the well-worn tourist track with an impressive domed cathedral. After some free time here we continue to the historical town of Gallipoli which we explore firstly with our local guide, then continue at our leisure before returning to our hotel in Santa Maria al Bagno.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Lunch
Day 8 – Monopoli

Today we travel by coach to Lecce then by rail to Monopoli, an old whitewashed town with a characterful harbour. After checking into our hotel for three nights we enjoy a walking tour of the town with a local guide.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 9 - Alberobello 

Our excursion today is to Alberobello, a town unlike any other. The town is packed with hundreds of 'Trulli' - cone-shaped, limestone houses built in a style that dates to prehistoric times. We meet our knowledgeable and friendly guide, Mimmo Palmisano, also known as 'Mr Alberobello'. We sit down to a delicious lunch in his family's restaurant before a guided tour, with Mimmo's unique and fascinating insights.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 10 – Matera

We visit Matera in Basilicata, which sits in a small canyon and is famous for its 'Sassi', a collection of ancient cave dwellings that have UNESCO World Heritage status. We explore the maze of winding streets and Paleolithic-era abodes, some of which date back to the 8th century and were inhabited until as recently as the 1950s. Matera has flourished in recent years and there are many boutiques, craft shops, bars and cafés to discover in your free time after our tour.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 11 – Turin

Leaving Monopoli today, we travel north through Italy to Turin, close to the French border. We spend the night here at a local hotel.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 12 – Turin and London

Our holiday comes to an end today as we take the train from Turin to Paris. In the French capital, we change trains and board the Eurostar service to London St Pancras.

Includes
  • Breakfast
  • Eurostar Meal

Additional information

Departure times

Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with our dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We write to all booked customers approximately 10 weeks prior to the start of their tour to advise the exact departure and return time for their particular group.

Mobility information

Due to the nature of our tours they are generally unsuitable for those with restricted mobility. If you’d like to discuss any particular holiday with us in this respect, then please don’t hesitate to call us.

Hotels

Palazzo Indelli, Monopoli

Palazzo Indelli, Monopoli

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Hotel Massimo D'Azeglio, Rome

Hotel Massimo D'Azeglio, Rome

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Grand Hotel Riviera, Santa Maria al Bagno

Grand Hotel Riviera, Santa Maria al Bagno

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Trains

Eurostar
TGV

Enhance your holiday

Upgrades

Inclusive Luggage Upgrade
London Hotels
UK rail connections

Reviews

3.9 stars3.9 / 5 · 61 reviews

  1. 5 stars
    (21)
  2. 4 stars
    (24)
  3. 3 stars
    (8)
  4. 2 stars
    (3)
  5. 1 star
    (5)

Joan Hoffman

3 stars

Submitted 8/Nov

Enjoyed holiday. Disapointed we did not stay in Excellent. The replacement resort was not ideal especially out of season. Nothing much there other than the coast and a few restaurants. Would have liked more time to visit the Trulli houses and the Sassi. My last comment must be the question of tipping our tour guide. The amount of money suggested by Great Rail Journeys worked out to be £100. I assume these people are paid to do their job. So do not think it is appropriate for the company to ask customers to tip their staff. Healthworkers are not tipped to do their very valuable job.

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susanna

4 stars

Submitted 23/Oct

wonderful holiday spoilt by late arrival of my luggage and change of hotel from Lecce

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R Collett

3 stars

Submitted 21/Oct

The places themselves were beautiful ,however the organisation of the tour was poor ,luggage lost and hotels not what I consider 4 star,didn’t notice much inclusivity as regards ,hearing impairment etc .

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Mrs Jean Harris

3 stars

Submitted 20/Oct

Enjoyable holiday. Not all hotels 4star really. Shame that two highlights - Matera and Alberabello rushed into one very long day, We weren’t able to stay in Lecce as originally offered/booked. I gather the itinerary for 2023 has been changed. With these tweaks the experience should be improved.

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A Williams

5 stars

Submitted 11/Oct

A great holiday. well organised and I loved the long train journeys.

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G Sturgess

3 stars

Submitted 11/Oct

This tour is significantly different (and certainly looks better!) in 2023, so there is little point in reviewing the 2022 programme. Having said that, we thoroughly enjoyed our trip. Our Tour Manager, Jacqui, was excellent

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Puglia and Basilicata

Immerse yourself in the culture of the unspoilt southern heel of Italy.

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