Enjoy my tour of Puglia, the Heel of Italy, with the combination of cultural visits, wine tasting, local activities plus inland and coastal walks. Part of the ‘Francigena Route’ takes you to Santa Maria di Leuce, the Southern tip of Italy and once known as the End of the World. 6 walkings days with an average of 15 km (8 miles) per day and plenty of time to enjoy Italy’s food and wine.
12 Nights in top hotels with breakfast daily
Wine tasting and Lunch
3 nights in Ostuni with a day trip to Alberobello
Ape (Tuk-Tuk) tour of Ostuni
Luggage transfers during the walk.
Local Train Ride
3 nights in Santa Maria di Leuca ‘End of the World’
All Transfers and sightseeing mentioned.
Get ready for a maze of narrow alleys and white stairs, baroque gates and small courtyards, a town within the town, which seems out of the time.
Today we journey to Alberobello, UNESCO heritage site and world capital of the Trulli house. Wine tasting and a picnic lunch is included. You will visit one of the most important areas of the Itria Valley, the “Barsentana” way connecting the Ionian sea and the Adriatic. Enjoy a walk through century- old beech woods.
Take a spin in an open-air Ape Calessino car to see the narrow streets, sights and back roads of Ostuni and the Valle d’Itria. These cute three-wheeled vehicles will drive you around the charming centro storico of Ostuni with a bit of history narrated along the way.
Experience one the most fascinating walks of the trip starting at the “Santuario di Sant’Oronzo” – Saint Oronzo Sanctuary.
This upland area is the perfect spot to admire the green expanse of olive trees, growing up from the red soil and arriving almost close to the Adriatic Sea.
3 Nights Otranto Hotel Nettuno
This walk from Frassanito takes you away from the sea for a while and you will spend the whole day walking alongside lakes. These are the Alimini lakes, two coastal lakes, one freshwater and one brackish, connected to the sea by a canal. You will walk between the lakes and then in the typical Salento countryside, where you will notice a crop that is only typical of this area: the vine shoots.
The second stage is one of the most beautiful coastal routes you can take along the Adriatic. Immediately after Otranto you enter the ‘Regional Natural Park Costa Otranto-Santa Maria di Leuca’. From now on you will continue within the boundaries of the park for almost the entire tour. The first sighting is the Torre del Serpente, a partly ruined coastal tower. Immediately afterwards you come across one of the most hidden and unusual natural gems of Puglia, the small lake of Orte. Continue along a narrow but easy path to Punta Palascìa, with a lighthouse that seems to plunge into the sea. This is the most easterly point in Italy. A few more kilometres and you will be looking down on Torre Sant’Emiliano, which dominates the coast from the top of a cliff. A few more steps to reach the end of the stage, at Badisco, a small fjord with a beautiful beach where it is said that Aeneas, the hero of Virgil’s poem, landed.
The first few kilometres are just a few metres from the water, following ancient tracks and littered with the mediaeval watchtowers. You will look down on Torre Minervino and up on Torre Specchia di Guardia. Halfway along the route you can stop in Santa Cesarea, a renowned spa town with splendid Moorish-style villas. This stretch of rocky coastline offers one of the most spectacular sea caves in the Mediterranean.
A few hundred metres after the cave, the stage ends with the arrival in Castro.
You will continue with the discovery of the many wonders that Salento has to offer: castles, villages, thousand-year-old trees, dry stone architecture. You can start your stop at the Angevin castle, which gives its name to the town and was built around the 12th century on the highest point of the promontory. The village developed around the castle, surrounded by walls to defend it from the constant assaults from the sea. Just outside Castro you will notice that the southernmost part of Salento is characterised by the presence of many small towns. After the small town of Marina di Marittima, there is a long stretch of typical Salento countryside, with a few views of the sea and the presence of numerous “pajare”, circular or square buildings, built entirely of stone over the centuries by local farmers. They were used as dwellings or as shelters for animals and tools. Just before arriving in Tricase you will come across a huge tree, a Vallonea Oak, almost 1,000 years old: an authentic plant monument.
Our last day of walking begins with a short train ride taking in the most typical Salento countryside. As you get off the train, you pass through the small town of Gagliano del Capo (Capo is Italian for “cape”) and immediately the landscape changes in an incredible way. From the quiet countryside to the blue sea, caves, rock walls. Continue along the Via Francigena on to Leuca.
Towards the end of the day there is also the monumental waterfall that marks the end of the Apulian Aqueduct, an immense work of hydraulic engineering, over a century old and still one of the largest aqueducts in the world.
Arrive in Santa Maria di Leuca and check into your hotel for 3 nights.
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