Puglia: The Heel of the Boot

Puglia Group


Wednesday, 2 March 2016, Fly from USA

Day 1: Thursday, 3 March, Welcome to Rome

Arrive at Rome airport (FCO). After picking up luggage and clearing customs, look for driver holding sign saying “BARKER GROUP.” Transfer to Hotel Mediterraneo in either van or limo. (Arranged and paid for. If you don’t see your driver, or if you arrive late or on a different flight, call the hotel or me FIRST. Don’t arrange a ride personally.) After checking in, do what you need to do to begin recovering from the long flight. Meet in lobby at 7:30 for a brief orientation meeting and then walk to dinner in a nearby restaurant. (Dinners are included throughout, usually at 7:30, but be sure and pay attention to daily announcements.) Overnight in the Hotel Mediterraneo. (+39) 06 4884051

Day 2: Friday, 4 March, Day in Rome

Breakfast in the hotel dining room (Every morning in all of the hotels, usually beginning at 7:30 but here it starts earlier since there are usually a number of business travelers.) At 9:00 a,m, you have four choices:. Paul, Bill and I will lead separate walking tours. My group will visit nearby early Christian churches–Santa Maria Maggiore, Santa Prassede, and Santa Pudenziana. Paul’s group will take a bus to the Theater of Marcellus, Temples of Portunus and Hercules, the Jewish Ghetto, on to Largo Argentina, ending at the Pantheon. Bill’s group will start by taking a bus to Largo Argentina, go to Campo Dei Fiori, Piazza Navona, Column of Marcus Aurelius, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, and perhaps the Spanish Steps. Your fourth choice will be stroll around on your own. If you plan to go to the Vatican and St. Peter’s, make reservations online before the tour. Otherwise you will spend an inordinate amount of time standing in line. We will all meet back at the hotel at 7:30 to walk to dinner. Overnight in the Hotel Mediterraneo.

Day 3: Saturday 5 March – Transfer to the Gargano

Have bags down to the lobby by 8:45AM to load on to the coach in time for 9:00AM departure for the Gargano. En route stop at Benevento where we will view the Triumphal Arch of Trajan (98-117 AD). Opportunity for lunch (all lunches are independent) before continuing on to Mattinata in the Gargano. Check into hotel with some free time to explore the area. The hotel does not have an elevator so luggage handling is included. Dinner and overnight in the Hotel Apeneste, (+39) 0884.550743

Day 4: Sunday, 6 March, Castle visit and excursion to Monte Sant’ Angelo

9:00AM departure for excursion to the charming hill town of Monte Sant’ Angelo. As a group we will first visit the sanctuary of San Michele Archangelo. Afterwards, free time for exploration of the town and lunch. At 1:30 PM (approximately) we will drive to Manfredonia to visit the Castello Svevo-Angioino that was built by Manfred in 1256. Return to hotel with the rest of the afternoon free to explore the small village of Mattinata, dinner and overnight in the Hotel Apeneste.

Day 5: Monday, 7 March, Cannae and Savelletri

Have luggage outside your room by 8:00AM. 9:00AM departure for Savelletri with a stop in Cannae to view the famous battle site where Hannibal defeated and annihilated two Roman consular armies. We will also visit the small museum at the site after which we will continue to the Masseria Torre Maizza outside of Savelletri. 3-course dinner and overnight in the Masseria Torre Maizza. (+39) 080.482.78.38

Day 6: Tuesday, 8 March, Ostuni, Alberobello, Martina Franca

9:00AM departure for excursion with local guide to three Puglian cities, each with its own distinctive flair–the all white city of Ostuni, the Baroque city of Martina Franca, and Alborobello with its many Trulli. At some point we will work in a lunch break, probably in Alborobello, before returning to the Masseria around 3:30. The rest of the afternoon free to explore the interesting complex, maybe even taking advantage of the small spa. Dinner with local specialties and overnight in the Masseria Torre Maizza.

Day 7: Wednesday, 9 March, Egnazia & Castellana Grotte

9:00AM departure for excursion with local guide to visit the archaeological zone at Egnazia. Afterwards, we will explore the Castellana Grotte, one of the many interesting caves that were discovered in the area. After lunch we will return to the Masseria. Afternoon free. Dinner tonight will consist of a hands-on cooking lesson where we will assist in the preparation of local delicacies. Overnight in the Masseria Torre Maizza.

Day 8: Thursday, 10 March, Castel del Monte & Trani

9:00AM departure for today’s excursion which was recommended by our local guide. First we will visit the octagonal Castel del Monte and then to Trani to visit the Romanesque Cathedral. We will also visit a 19th Century oil mill for a tasting of special olive oils. Again, return to the Masseria in the afternoon. Tonight’s dinner will consist of a sampling of local wines paired with the local cuisine. Overnight in the Masseria Torre Maizza.

Day 9: Friday, 11 March, Lecce

Have luggage ready to load in time for 9:00AM coach transfer to Lecce. Upon arrival in Lecce, our bus will be met by staff from the hotel who will transport our luggage to the hotel. Our bus will then take us to a piazza nearer our hotel where we will walk about five minutes to the hotel. After checking in and finding lunch nearby we will be met by a local guide for a 3-hour walking tour of Lecce. Dinner and  overnight in the Hotel Patria Palace. (+39) 0832 245111

LAUNDRY There is a laundromat within reasonable walking distance of the hotel which will wash, dry, and fold your laundry for between 5 to 10 euro.

Day 10: Saturday, 12 March, Otranto

9:00 AM departure for excursion with local guide to Otranto where we will visit the castle made famous by the gothic novel of Horace Walpole entitled The Castle of Otranto. Afterwards, we will visit the cathedral, Santa Maria Annunziata, founded by the Normans in 1080. Afternoon return to Lecce. Dinner in Ristorante Il Rifugio della Buona Stella, overnight in the Hotel Patria Palace.

Day 11: Sunday, 13 March, Galatina, Gallipoli, Nardo’

9:00 AM departure for excursion with local guide, first to Galatina to visit the incredibly painted chiesa, Santa Caterina d’Alessandria. We will then continue to Gallipoli to view the castle and the Baroque cathedral, and end in Nardo’ to see the theatrical piazza, among other sights. This will be a longer day than the previous days, so you might want to have your laundry done already. Dinner at Trattoria Il Povero, overnight in the Hotel Patria Palace.

Day 12: Monday, 14 March, Taranto Museum, Metaponto, Pompeii

Have luggage ready to load in time for 9:00 AM transfer to Pompeii with en route stops at the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Taranto, followed by a visit to Metaponto, site of an ancient Greek colony. We should arrive in Pompeii in the late afternoon. Check into the hotel, dinner and overnight in the Hotel Forum, (+39) 081 8501170

Day 13: Tuesday, 15 March, Vesuvius, Herculaneum, Oplontis

9:00 AM departure for all day excursion to the lip of Vesuvius (assuming good weather), the ancient site of Herculaneum and the Villa of Poppea at Oplontis. Dinner at nearby Trattoria Add u Mimi. Overnight in the Hotel Forum, Pompeii.

Day 14: Wednesday, 16 March, Pompeii Site, Amalfi Coast

Today Paul will lead us through the famous ruins of Pompeii. This may be a short visit since Paul was there recently and found that many of the attractions were closed.  Originally, we were planning for a 3:00 pm departure for drive along the spectacular Amalfi Coast. This excursion may be moved up to an earlier time. Return to hotel. Dinner at another nearby trattoria. Overnight in the Hotel Forum, Pompeii.

Day 15: Thursday, 17 March, Naples Museum, Sansevero Chapel Museum, Return to Rome

Have luggage ready to load in time for 9:00AM transfer to Rome. (We may move this forward depending on local traffic regulations.)  We will first visit the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Naples which houses the rich finds of Pompeii, Herculaneum and their environs. We will then visit the nearby Sansevero Chapel Museum, one of the most highly decorated Baroque Chapels in existence. Time permitting and driver willing, we will take the coastal route and stop at Sperlonga to view the site. Arrival in Rome in late afternoon. Dinner in nearby trattoria, Overnight in Hotel Mediterraneo, Rome.

Day 16: Friday, 18 March, Return to USA

After breakfast, individual transfers to FCO in time for flights home. Airport transfers (taxis or vans, depending on numbers) have already been arranged and paid for. Airlines require checking in two hours before your flight. The transfer to the airport takes about an hour, depending on traffic.


Room Type

Arrival Flight

Departure Flight

Laurence Barker Single 2-Mar, DL 240, 9:20 18-Mar, DL 241, 11:00
Paul Alessi, William & Daniel Curtis Triple 2-Mar, DL 240, 9:20 18-Mar, DL 6587, 10:20 (W,D); DL241, 11:00 (P)
Patsy & Dale Meyers Double 3-Mar, UA744, 12:10 18-Mar, UA41, 8:55
George & Monica Auerbach Double 2-Mar, AL651, 13:00 18-Mar, AL650, 15:05
Greg & Judy Parks Double 3-Mar, BA560, 16:20 18-Mar, BA 551, 08:00
Carrol Smith, Maureen Nowotny & Gretchen Quinn Triple 3-Mar, AA718, 9:10 (GC) DL 444, 10:15 (M) 18-Mar, AA719, 10:35; DL 245, 12:50 (M)
Dale Fleishman & Ron Jenkins Twin / Double 3-Mar, DL 240, 9:20 18-Mar, DL 241, 11:00
John Blue & Gary Behnke Twin / Double 3-Mar, DL 240, 9:20 18-Mar, DL 241, 11:00
Mary Landers & Carol Boyd Twin 3-Mar, BA560, 16:20 18-Mar, BA 551, 08:00
Robert & Luisa Price Twin/ Double 3-Mar, AA718, 9:10 24-Mar, AA719, 10:35
Mark and Mary Birrittella Twin/ Double 3-Mar, DL 240, 9:20 18-Mar, DL 6587, 10:20
Jim Ernest & Sue Edwards Twin 3-Mar, BA 556, 17:55 18-Mar, BA 551, 8:00
Joe Dondero Single 3-Mar,  DL 240, 9:20 18-Mar, DL245, 11:50
Jim & Sharon Fox Twin/Double 2-Mar, AA 718, 9:10 18-Mar, AA 719, 10:35