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• Two private hands-on cooking lessons: 1 in Rome and 1 in Puglia
• Private guided "foodie" walking tours in both Rome and Lecce
• Private guided tours of the Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome; and the historic centers of Lecce, Otranto and Alberobello in Puglia
• A visit to a local farm famous for the production of Apulian organic cheese
Details of the Trip
The following are included in the trip price:
Day 1: B
We start our journey in Rome, where our hotel is within walking distance to many of the city's architectural and historical treasures. For those who are not too jet-lagged, we will have a leisurely walk in the afternoon after check-in and time to rest to simply to acquaint ourselves with neighborhood. Tonight will be a free evening, in order to catch up on our sleep!
Day 2: B, L
This morning, we'll head to the quaint section of Rome called Trastevere for a hands-on cooking lesson with a local chef. This neighborhood lies on the west bank of the Tiber, just south of Vatican City, and is well-known for being a diner's destination. Together with our local chef and restaurateur, we'll prepare a four-course meal, including appetizer, fresh pasta, second course and dessert, after which we'll dine on the fruits of our labor accompanied by local wine! We'll then have a free afternoon and evening to explore Trastevere and Rome on our own.
Day 3: B, D
After a leisurely breakfast, we'll head to the Castel Sant'Angelo with ourwonderful local guide and friend. Built in 135 AD as the tomb of the emperor Hadrian and his family, the Castel Sant'Angelo has seen many different transformations: In 403 AD, it lost its native function and became a fortified military outpost in order to defend Rome; at the beginning of the XI century, it took on the role of the state prison;then in the XIV century, after being home to various noble roman families, the Castel Sant’Angelo became tied to the Vatican: Pope Nicholas III constructed the Passetto di Borgo, a "secret" passageway connecting the Vatican to the Castel in order to allow the clergy a chance to escape in times of danger. After touring the now-museum, we'll break for free time and lunch. In the early evening, we'll head to the neighborhood of Testaccio for a food-and-wine walking tour. During this leisurely 3-hour tour, we'll stroll the streets with our guide, stopping along the way to sample the true "cucina Romana," or Roman cuisine, accompanied by craft beer and wine.
Day 4: B, D
Bright and early this morning we'll depart Rome our next destination: the region of Puglia!We'll land at the Brindisi airport and go straight to our hotel in the gorgeous Baroque town of Lecce, known as the “Florence of the South” for its rich collection of Baroque palaces and churches, intricately sculpted from the soft and fine-grained local golden sandstone. We'll have a free afternoon to settle in and explore the town at leisure before reconvening in the evening for a multi-course group dinner in town. Overnight Lecce.
Day 5: B, L
After a leisurely breakfast, we'll embark upon a cultural/foodie walking tour of Lecce with our local guide. It's hard to discuss the history of Italy without also addressing the food and wine of each region, as these things are so closely tied to each region's identity. So while we're learning about the history of Lecce and Puglia, we'll also learn about the region's wine: Primitivo being the most well-known. Primitivo can trace its lineage from the ancient Phoenicians who settled in the province of Puglia. Many legends surround this grape. They range from the hard to prove (the wine served at the Last Supper is said to be Primitivo) to the hard to believe (it is called Primitivo because it is thought to be the first, or "primi" grape). The truth may lie somewhere in between, but we do know that it is called Primitivo for its propensity to ripen before all other varietals. We'll also learn about and sample various traditional foods from the area. Free afternoon and evening to enjoy Lecce.
Day 6: B, L
Today we go to Otranto, a gorgeous Greek town on the Adriatic, Italy’s main port to the East for 1,000 years and also the highest point in eastern Italy. It is perhaps best known in history for the battle in 1480, when the Turks laid waste to the town. Today, Otranto is a gorgeous seaside town awash in white.We will have a private guided walking tour of the historical center and also along the seafront. For lunch, we head out of town to a slow-food restaurant serving local specialities. Free evening in Lecce.
Day 7: B, D
Our adventure continues as we depart Lecce this morning and head to our next destination, a beautiful masseria in the countryside. En route, we'll visit a local farm famous for the production of Apulian organic cheese. We'll taste freshly made mozzarella, burrata and other local cheeses. We'll continue on to our masseria ("masserie" are old farmhouses that today are restored and transformed in beautiful hotels with restaurants). Welcome dinner at the masseria based on traditional Pugliese dishes and wine. Who knows, maybe a dip in the pool after dinner will be in order?
Day 8: B, D
After breakfast, head to the town of Alberobello, a UNESCO World Heritage site for its unusual districts of trulli, the characteristic white-washed conical-roofed houses of the area. The story behind Alberobello is a typically Italian one: its design was to evade taxes. In the 1600s, the local feudal lord moved his peasant workers here to clear woodland and cultivate the land. To avoid paying taxes, the lord had his subjects live in trulli, which could be dismantled in a hurry when necessary, showing that it was not a permanent settlement. In 1797,Ferdinand IV of Naples intervened and freed the town from feudal status. We'll have a guided walking tour of town and then will break for free time to shop, explore and have lunch on our own. We'll return to our masseria where we'll have a hands-on cooking lesson followed by dinner of our own creation.
Day 9: B, D
We have a leisurely breakfast at our inn, and then we'll visit the beautiful Caves of Castellana, incredible underground "karst" caves formed by rainwater over the course of90 million years! The cave, which reaches 70 meters in depth, offers spectacular views of stalactites, stalagmites, fossils and cavities. We'll return to our masseria to relax before reconvening as a group for a grand farewell dinner!
Day 10: B
Morning departure for the Bari Airport.