Day 1, Saturday: Independent arrival at Bari and check into our pre-booked hotel. Formerly the domain of smugglers and brigands, Bari's quaint and atmospheric historic center has been revitalized during the past ten years. Cafés, wine bars and trattorias line the labyrinthine medieval streets, all of which eventually lead 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 just relaxing after your journey. Dine independently tonight in one of the many local restaurants. All meals and transfer to Bari on your own. Overnight in the hotel.
Day 2, Sunday: Meet your guide in the hotel lobby this morning for introductions before transferring by van to the village of Conversano. Our hotel for the next two nights is a converted medieval convent in the center of town. Upon arrival, your guide will conduct a safety talk and then get you set on your Vespa. Our first ride is through the ancient olive groves and whitewashed cottages that dot the Pugliese countryside. After returning from our ride this afternoon, we'll enjoy an aperitivo on a terrace overlooking the tiled roofs of the village while your guide conducts a more formal orientation and description of what to expect during the week ahead. Dinner tonight in the courtyard of a 15th-century Spanish fort. Overnight in Conversano. Includes: (B), (D).
Day 3, Monday: Today begins with a gently sloping downhill ride to the fantastic cliffside town of Polignano a Mare. Here, the vertical cliffs surmounted by 16th-century palazzi plunge dramatically into the Adriatic. Time for a mid-morning cappuccino overlooking the Adriatic before continuing on to the Selva di Fasano for a fantastic view over the vast sea of olive groves. We then drop in on our friend Ettore, who welcomes us into his masseria (fortified farm), which has been in his family for centuries. Ettore will show us around his lovingly maintained property and take us on a visit of his olive mill.
The mill's huge, 19th-century olive presses stand as silent testament to the former function of this once important estate. We will then have lunch in the cobbled courtyard. Our afternoon ride takes us back up to Conversano, past whitewashed masseria -- the imposing fortified manor houses that are the legacy of dangerous medieval times when corsairs raided the Pugliese coast. Free time this afternoon to wander through Conversano's maze of alleyways and cobbled streets and shop or simply enjoy a chilled glass of wine in the piazza. Speaking of wine, we will have an introductory wine tasting of the excellent regional wines of Puglia. Dinner tonight at Café Pasha, one of the region's top restaurants. Includes: (B), (D).
Day 4, Tuesday: After breakfast, we begin our ride towards the famous village of Alberobello. It was recently granted UNESCO "World Heritage" status, and is famous for its trulli houses (almost 1500 of them!). These squat, stone buildings with conical stone roofs are found only in Puglia, and are a testament to man's ability to adapt to his environment. We visit the village and walk amongst the trulli, then scoot out of town for a picnic lunch. This afternoon we head southwest through the vineyards and orchards of Gioia del Colle to the stunning village of Matera. Matera is another UNESCO World Heritage site and is truly a spectacular sight. Until the late 1950's the population of Matera lived in stone dwellings partially excavated from the rock face of the two steep ravines that slice through Matera. Our hotel for the next two nights is the four-star Hotel Sant'Angelo. We'll enjoy an aperitivo on the hotel terrace and watch the last rays of the sun play on the opposite wall of the gorge before walking to dinner. Includes: (B), (D).
Day 5, Wednesday: This morning we have a guided visit of Matera, giving us a fascinating glimpse into the ancient peasant and Christian/pagan culture of the area. We can visit centuries' old frescoed rock chapels and monasteries, as well as some of the previously inhabited cave-houses. We then set out for a ride that takes into the heart of the province of Basilicata, one of Italy's most beautiful and least populated regions. Our route takes as across wide open plains to perched hilltop villages. You will get a glimpse of authentic Italy as we explore the rustic villages of Montescaglioso and Miglionico before returning to Matera. We end with one last fantastic dinner a short walk from the hotel. Includes: (B), (D).
Day 6, Thursday: Today the trip ends. There are flights throughout the day from Bari airport, or you may want to take a train to Rome or other destinations. We leave the departure open to allow you to best schedule your onward journey. You may choose to scoot back to Monopoli with your guide and connect with the 3:00 pm Eurostar train from Bari to Rome (arriving in Rome at 8:22 pm). We ride the scooters to Monopoli, which is a leisurely three hour ride with a few stops, while a van transports your luggage from Matera to the Monopoli train station. This is all included in the trip price. Should you wish to leave directly from Matera for Bari airport or train station then we can arrange transfers for you, but they are not included in the trip price (a transfer for two people costs 80 Euro). Includes: (B).
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