“Discover Puglia – Southern Italy”
Another UNIQUE Cooking Passions “Small-Group” Cuisine & Culture Experience
“Being able to identify the unspoiled destination is a useful talent – as far as it goes. The real trick is catching the unspoiled destination at just the right moment, when rumblings of interest have given rise to a comfortable infrastructure for knowing travelers, but the crowds are at least a few years off. That’s Puglia right now.”
– Travel & Leisure Magazine
TENTATIVE 2018 DATES
– 10 Days / 9 Nights –
Friday 28 September 2018 to Sunday 07 October 2018
We are currently accepting “Expressions of Interest” for those interested in receiving Pre Notification about details for our 2018 “Discover Puglia” tour.
*ALL INCLUSIVE LAND CONTENT including Luxury Accommodations; Two Meals Daily; Included Food & Wine Experiences; All Land Transportation, All Private Guided Tours, Two Private Group Escorts and Tour Photographer
Get your sense of adventure and tastebuds ready to explore one of Italy’s best kept secrets – the gastronomic travel destination of magical Puglia, in Southern Italy.
Although virtually undiscovered by overseas visitors (which is great for travelers wanting to get off of Italy’s touristy beaten track), Puglia is the destination of choice for Italian holiday-makers when taking their annual summer vacations. It is a unique landscape of magical cone-shaped trulli and thick, gnarly ancient olive groves as far as the eyes can see.
It is also the birthplace of my parents and holds a very special place in my heart! With uncles, aunts, cousins and extended family, who continue to live just outside of Bari, each time I return I immediately feel the strong connection & familiarity to the origins of my heritage.
Join Nico & Belinda of Cooking Passions Cooking School as they escort a small group of only 10 people to experience one of the finest culinary destinations in all of Italy!
Cooking Passions Cuisine & Culture Tours
Cooking Passions Cuisine & Culture Tours are designed so you can do as little or as much as you like, while allowing you plenty of free time to explore and immerse yourselves in the sights, shopping and eating that YOU want to experience (we’ll be happy to provide suggestions from our previous experiences). We’ve arranged all of the accommodations, land transfers, cooking classes, private guides and most meals, so that all you have to do is pack a bag, a sense of adventure and join us on one of our delicious & exciting culinary journeys.
Cooking Passions “Discover Puglia” Highlights
- 3 Nights Luxury Accommodation in the 5-star luxury hotel – Relais La Sommita – in the charming white-washed hill town of Ostuni
- 4 Nights Luxury Accommodation in the restored 16th century “masseria” (manor farm) – Masseria Cervarolo
- 2 Nights 5-Star Sea View Accommodation in Bari – Grande Albergo dei Nazioni
- Two meals daily (Breakfast and Lunch/Dinner)
- Puglia Dining Experiences including some of Puglia’s most famous regional restaurants.
- Michelin-starred dinner at “Cielo” restaurant in Ostuni.
- Learn the ingredients and preparation of typical Puglian dishes at two of our Puglia Cooking Classes
- Olive Oil Tasting Experience – Visit to one of Puglia’s historic olive estates.
- Wine Tasting Experience – Wine tastings of Puglia’s wines, including their famed Primitivo & Negroamaro wine varieties, and cellar tour in Puglia’s famous wine region in the Salento
- Group Visits to some of Puglia’s most beautiful villages and UNESCO World Heritage Sites
- Ostuni – “La Citta Bianca” (“The White City”) is one of Puglia’s most beautiful hilltop villages and our stunning base for the week together, with wonderful vistas and panoramic views of the surrounding countryside and Adriatic Sea.
- Martina Franca – One of Puglia’s great Baroque architectural gems.
- Alberobello – Puglia’s picture-postcard town of conical-roofed houses known as “trulli” (UNESCO World Heritage Site)
- Polignano a Mare – Stunning seaside gem of a town perched atop a 20 metre limestone cliff above the shimmering Adriatic Sea
- Altamura – home of Italy’s finest wood-fired breads & focaccias that follow a tradition dating back to the 1500’s. Pane di Altamura was the first baking product in Europe to be granted a DOC (Denomination of Controlled Origin). Click here to view Jamie Oliver’s take on Altamura’s famous bread & focaccia.
- Matera – The fascinating UNESCO World Heritage town of ancient cave-dwellings that were inhabited into the middle 20th century and site of Mel Gibson’s movie – “The Passion of the Christ”.
- Castel del Monte – The Puglian masterpiece of King Frederick II, this awe-inspiring octagonal castle of 1229 became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1996.
- Private Airport Transfers (Arrival – your choice of Bari Airport or Brindisi Airport / Departure – transfer to Bari Airport)
- All land transfers
- Group Pre-Trip Briefing (Perth)
- Tour Escort & Tour Photographer during duration of tour
Puglia – Southern Italy’s Gastronomic Gem
Puglia is a region not many people outside of Italy might know about, yet on a map it is probably one of the most easily recognizable. Known commonly as “the heel” of the Italian boot, it is the easternmost point of Italy and feels more like Greece, which sits a mere 70 km east, than some of its regional Italian cousins in the north.
What Puglia lacks in recognizability, it more than compensates for as being a food lover’s heaven. Puglia’s cuisine is the quintessential “cucina povera” (peasant cooking) using locally sourced ingredients which reflect the region, prepared extremely “simply”. It’s dishes are the blueprint for the classic “Meditteranean Diet” – fresh vegetables abound in many of the classic Puglian “antipasti” served before meals; extra virgin olive oil is used abundantly; local wild greens (chicory) found mainly in Puglia are served along with legumes (fave); and fresh seafood from along Italy’s longest coastline also deserve a special mention.
The facts of Puglia’s importance for its contribution to Italy’s food culture are staggering:
- Olive Oil – Puglia is home to almost 70 million olive trees: one for every man, woman and child in Italy, and produces 40% of Italy’s extra virgin olive oil. Almost half a million of these trees are centuries old, with some trees even dating back over two thousand years.
- Wine – Puglia produces almost 20% of Italy’s total volume of wine and was once known as “Europe’s wine cellar”. Most of the region’s wines were sent further north and even to France to add “substance” to wines produced in the rest of Italy and France. Because of the Puglia’s long hot summers and sunny climate, the grapes produce very high sugar content. These grapes are perfect for cooler climate wine regions in Europe, whose climate often produces grapes of low sugar and alcohol content. Nowadays, fewer grapes are exported as Puglia wine producers are now producing wines of quality over quantity, putting Puglia wine on the map. The main types of red wine grapes are Negroamaro and Primitivo (same variety as Zinfandel) and white varieties include Bombino Bianco, Fiano, and Verdeca.
- Durum Wheat – Puglia’s “Tavoliere Plain” also known as the “Granary of Italy” produces some of the finest hard durum wheat used in much of the pasta production throughout Italy. It is from this wheat that the breads of Puglia (Pane di Altamura) are famous throughout the country, and homemade pasta including “orecchiette” reign supreme in Italy’s culinary landscape.
Day 1 – ARRIVAL
– Upon your arrival into Bari or Brindisi, we have arranged for your Private Transfer to Relais La Sommita in Ostuni, which is 90 minutes from Bari and 30 minutes from Brindisi airports.
By Plane* – Brindisi & Bari Airports are a popular hub for many European airlines including those flying out of London (Stansted); France, Spain, and Germany who all arrive and depart from Brindisi or Bari. There are also flights available from the major Italian cities of Rome and Firenze.
By Train* – The high-speed Eurostar departs from Rome several times per day for Bari, and it is about a 5 hour ride. The train journey allows you to take in the diverse landscape of southern Italy as you travel along part of the Adriatic Coast, then the vast grain fields of Northern Puglia and into the sprawling hectares of olive oil country of Southern Puglia.
(*Please Note: When securing your return flight or train, please ensure that your departure point is Bari (either Bari Airport or Bari Train Station) as the tour will end in Bari.)
14:00pm – Ostuni, the charming medieval town of Ostuni, is our starting point for our journey together through Puglia. With it’s lime-washed white buildings seemingly tumbling down from three hilltops of the village, this is one of Puglia’s most attractive towns. Traces remain from it’s first founding in 600BC, but much of what we can see today dates between the 1400s and 1700s, including the magnificent 15th century Gothic cathedral which sits proudly atop the hillside and directly beside our stunning accommodation – Relais La Sommita.
Relais La Sommita – Ostuni
Relais La Sommita – The 5-star hotel is tucked away and comprises a number of buildings housing 15 beautiful and charming suites and rooms. The interior design of Relais La Sommità, which borders between aesthetic minimalism and discreet luxury, with shades of white and cream, inspires above all meditation, making the hotel the perfect destination to get away from it all, to find peace and wellbeing in the enchanting region of Puglia. The hotel’s terrace provides it’s guests with one of Ostuni’s most spectacular views over endless stretches of olive groves down to the sea and the town’s white rooftops.
18:00pm – Aperitivi – We will enjoy pre-dinner drinks (aperitivi) on the hotel’s balcony, with stunning views over the Adriatic Sea, prior to our Welcome Dinner at the hotel’s Michelin-starred Cielo Restaurant.
19:00pm – Welcome Group Michelin Dinner in the beautifully appointed “Cielo” restaurant. Our introduction to Pugliese cuisine will be explored through Cielo’s chef who stylishly combines the traditional recipes of Puglia with Michelin creativity to highlight the quality, goodness and intensity of flavours from the Puglian countryside.
(Included Meals: D)
Day 2 – Alberobello – The Land of Trulli
am – Breaksfast at your leisure
Day at your leisure – After a leisurely breakfast, explore Ostuni’s cobblestoned lanes and alleyways. Grab a light lunch at one of the many cafes or bakeries located in town.
16:00pm – Group departure to the UNESCO World Heritage village of Alberobello to experience the magical beauty of Puglia’s famous cone-shaped stone houses called “trulli” which you will see scattered across the countryside of the Itria Valley.
17:30pm – Group Departure to the stunningly beautiful cliffside village of Polignano a Mare for a pre-dinner stroll amongst the limestone cliffs with incredible views over the Adriatic Sea. As well as it’s spectacular beach and cliffside grottos, Polignano a Mare is the birthplace of Domenico Modugno who’s song “Volare” became world-famous after it’s release 50 years ago. In more recent times, it has also hosted the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series event. Click here for a look at the September 2015 event and the spectacular setting.
19:00pm – Group Dinner at one of Polignano’s most beautiful restaurants.
(Included Meals : B, D)
Day 3 – Altamura & Matera
am – Breakfast at your leisure.
10:00am – Group departure for Altamura and Matera.
11:30am – Altamura – Altamura, a lovely town in the center of Puglia, is particularly famous in Italy and the whole world for its delicious bread: Altamura bread. Pane di Altamura is made of durum wheat flour cultivated in Altamura, it has a round shape and a massive size. It is characterised by an external crust of 3mm in thickness, which guarantees its long lasting, and soft crumb. Its roots date back to the Roman times, as the Latin Poet Horace wrote about a bread made in this area of Puglia as “pane migliore del mondo” (the best bread of the world). In 2003 Pane di Altamura was granted DOP status (Protected Designation of Origin). Among about 1,000 varieties of bread produced in Italy, bread of Altamura is the only one which was given this eminent status.
For a taste of Altamura’s most famous product, Pane di Altamura, we will visit an ancient wood-fired oven dating back to 1724.
After a sampling of the famed Altamura bread and focaccia, we will continue to the town of Matera, only 20 minutes away in the Province of Basilicata, for a guided tour of one of the most fascinating towns we have ever visited.
Matera – Known as “la Citta Sotterranea” (the Subterranean City), it is one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world and the most outstanding, intact example of a troglodyte (cave-dwelling) settlements in the Mediterranean region. The ancient city is steeped in history and is home to the famous Sassi, which in 1993 was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage List dating back over 7000 years with some of the oldest inhabited parts dating back from the Palaeolithic period. The “sassi”, as they are known, amazingly continued to be inhabited through to the 1960’s until the inhabitants were forcefully relocated by the government due to the breakdown of the dwellings’ complicated ecosystems and lack of sanitary systems. Since its UNESCO classification, and Mel Gibson filmed “The Passion of the Christ” in 2004, the “sassi” are now being regenerated with many thriving as businesses, hotels and restaurants.
13:30-15:30pm – Guided walking tour of Matera and it’s famous “sassi“.
18:00pm – Arrival back in Ostuni
pm – Evening at your leisure.
(Included Meals : B, L)
Day 4 – Pugliese Cooking Class
am – Breakfast at your leisure
10am – Check out from La Sommita and then a short 100m walk to our Pugliese cooking lesson.
10:30am – Cooking demonstration at “Osteria del Tempo Perso” one of Ostuni’s most famous restaurants. Situated in the heart of the village, the restaurant is in an ancient cave-like structure dug in the rocks and once used, in the 16th century as a bakers oven. “Osteria del Tempo Perso” is both a restaurant specialising in preparing Puglia’s most-loved dishes and a museum with the walls of the eatery’s second dining room hung with old agricultural tools and everyday farming objects.
Our lesson with chef, will show us how to prepare Pugliese bread & focacce, as well as an antipasto, primo piatto, secondo piatto and dessert. After our lesson we will enjoy the dishes that have been prepared for a pleasant lunch in the restaurant.
14:00pm – Group transfer to Masseria Cervarolo. Settle into your room and then relax by the swimming pool (a natural karst sinkhole) which is surrounded by rocks and terraces. Enjoy an aperitivo at the the pool bar or on the grounds of the property before dinner.
Masseria Cervarolo is one of Puglia’s fortified farm estates (masserie) that dates back to the 16th century. The term “masseria” is the local name for these types of properties, which were fortified due to the continual invasions along the coast by the Saracens and other invading nations. As soon as one of the many coastal castles (“torre“) raised the alarm of a potential invasion, all the farmers and livestock would move within the walls of the masseria and they would remain for months at a time, relying on produce grown on the property, as well as huge underground storerooms holding reserves of food. As families may be within the walls for many months, the masserie had their own church; olive oil mill; wood-fired ovens; stables; farming equipment and livestock, to carry on a simple agricultural life.
Masseria Cervarolo dates back to the 16th century; it includes the main building, some trulli and a small church built in 1798 and dedicated to Our Lady of Dolours with a baroque altar and various frescoes.
The farmhouse is located on a hill 250m above sea level and 6 km from Ostuni, so that you can enjoy magnificent views over the Itria Valley. The name Cervarolo comes from the Italian “cervo” (deer), as the area was once covered by forests and inhabited by deers.
The restoration has carefully preserved the original architectural features and materials of the property, which now combines past and present through the use of modern techniques for energy saving and environmental protection: photovoltaic system, recycling, reduction of air, water and soil pollution, protection of biodiversity in the property areas, local and healthy food.
Food plays an integral role with any stay at a masseria, and we will have the pleasure of not only enjoying delicious Puglia dishes for our evening meals within the masseria’s restaurant, catering exclusively for hotel guests, but will also experience a cooking class with the masseria’s resident chef.
19:30pm – Group Dinner at the masseria.
(Included meals : B,L,D)
Day 5 – Free Day
am – Breakfast at your leisure
Free Day – Today has been set aside as an opportunity for you to recharge and enjoy the amenities of the wonderfully peaceful masseria. Enjoy some downtime around the masseria’s stunning pool, book a massage, or if you would like to venture out, we can arrange for a chauffeur for you to visit some nearby sights.
(Included meals : B)
Day 6 – Thursday 29 September 2016 – Winery Visit & Cellar Lunch
am – Breakfast at your leisure
11:00am – Group departure to Puglia’s famous Salice Salentino wine region for a visit to the 16th-century winery Castello Monaci.
Castello Monaci dates back to the 16th century when it was established by Basilian monks who used it as a place to worship, meditate and give refuge to those who need it. Noble families through the centuries chose it as their residence and the castle and winery is still privately owned.
12 noon – Winery visit as well as a tour of the beautiful castle and grounds. We will then indulge in a Private Wine Tasting Lunch within the winery’s cellar and winemaking museum.
15:30pm – Return to Masseria Cervarolo
16:00pm – Pugliese Cooking Class with Masseria Cervarolo’s resident chef.The lesson will teach us some authentic Pugliese recipes that the locals cook at their homes…simple, healthy and delicious! The food of Puglia is one of simplicity, where the produce is of such a high quality that it needs very little embellishment.
pm – Remainder of the evening at your leisure.
(Included meals : B, L)
Day 7 – Friday 30 September 2016 – Valle d’Itria
am – Breaksfast at your leisure
10:00am – Group departure for a visit to Puglia’s famed Valle d’Itria. This picturesque part of the region is filled with wooded slopes, vineyards and endless olive groves and the peculiar coned farmhouses of trull scattered across the landscape. We will visit an olive oil estate to sample some of Puglia’s famous oils as well as visiting the picturesque Baroque village of Martina Franca.
12noon – Visit to a “frantoio“, an traditional olive oil estate to learn about extra virgin olive oil production followed by a tasting.
16:00pm – Wine Tasting at Masseria Cervarolo
20:00pm – Group Dinner at Masseria Cervarolo
(Included Meals : B, D)
(Included meals : B, D)
Day 8 – Castel del Monte – King Frederick II Masterpiece
am – Breakfast at your leisure.
09:00am – Check out from Masseria Cervarolo then departure for one of Southern Italy’s most prominent and talked-about landmark, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Castel del Monte, dating back to Puglia’s 13th cnetury King Frederick II. Castel del Monte is a unique masterpiece of medieval architecture. The octagonal form is perfect, its design a harmonious blend of cultural elements from Classical antiquity, Muslim architecture and the Cistercian Gothic of northern Europe.
13:00pm – Group Lunch is in the small village of Montegrosso, only a few minutes from Castel del Monte, where one of Puglia’s most acclaimed and awarded chefs, Peitro Zito will prepare us a degustation of some of Puglia’s most typical dishes.
17:00pm – Arrival in Bari and check in to our hotel – Grande Albergo delle Nazioni
Bari is the capital of Puglia and a large port city on the Adriatic coast. It’s medieval historic centre known as “Bari Vecchia” (Old Bari) is a wonderfully atmospheric labyrinth of tiny streets and alleyways resembling a North African medina, and is famous throughout Italy for its mazelike effect.
Hotel Grande Albergo delle Nazione
Designed in 1932 as a representative palace and opened in1935, the Grande Albergo delle Nazioni has been declared historical heritage by the Ministry for Cultural Heritage. The ‘Transatlantic’, so dubbed by the people of Bari, is an institution in the city. Bari’s only five-star luxury waterfront hotel underwent it’s most recent renovation in 2012 and continues to be the premier 5-star hotel of Bari.
Evening at your leisure – Visit Bari’s “high street”, Via Sparano, and enjoy an evening passegiata and a spot of shopping with the locals. Once the shops close, enjoy a seaside walk along Bari’s “lungomare” esplanade and maybe a pizza with the locals at one of the many pizzerias in town.
(Included Meals : B, L)
Day 9 – Bari Vecchia
am – Breakfast at your leisure
10:00am – We will tour the historic centre of Bari (Bari Vecchio) with it’s maze of “medina-like” alleyways that date back to the middle ages. Life continues in the old part of Bari and we will also witness the famous little corner of the area (“La via delle orechiette”) where women continue to hand make orecchiette, out on the street, to be sold for Sunday family gatherings.
13:00pm – Final Group “Sunday Lunch” at a traditional Pugliese restaurant.
Evening at your leisure – Go for that final “passegiatta” with the locals around Bari’s high street or old quarter, stopping for aperitivi at some of the many small bars hidden down the back lanes and piazzas of this magical town.
Day 10 – Departure – Arrivederci
am – Breakfast at your leisure
10:00am – Following breakfast and checkout, we will say our final “arrivederci” and wish everyone well on the next part of their journeys. Private Airport transfers will return you to either Bari Airport or Bari’s Central Train Station for your onward travels.
BOOKINGS & BOOKING DEADLINE
To secure your places, please contact Nico Moretti at email@example.com or 08 9228 0507, and we will forward you a 2018 “Discover Puglia” Booking Form 2016 Cooking Passions Discover Puglia Booking Form.
Booking Deadline : (Seven months prior to tour commencement) – As the unique Luxury Boutique Hotel and Masseria accommodations that we have selected for our tours are smaller properties with limited rooms.
Booking Deposit : A $AUD800 non-refundable BOOKING DEPOSIT is required to hold a booking for the tour, at the time of your reservation. Booking Deposits are used to confirm our accommodations and specialist tour provider services, at the time of our booking.
Final Payment : Payment in full is required at least 90 days prior to departure.
We look forward to hosting you on this very special Puglia, Southern Italy experience. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate in contacting us.
Nico & Belinda Moretti
“Discover Puglia 2014 tour”
Reviewed 24 December 2014 – Tripadvisor.com.au
This was our second tour with Nico and Belinda, and met all our expectations. Our last tour in 2013 was in Vietnam – a fantastic experience. Puglia is not usually part of the Grand Tour of Italy, and we jumped at the chance of seeing this region in the company of Nico, who has family there. Fascinating country, cuisine and sights with a small friendly like minded group and with Nico to save us attempting phrase book Italian! Remarkable restaurants and food (and wine!), but also plenty of time to do your own thing too. Highly recommended…Steve & Marina – Visited October 2014
“Discover Puglia – Southern Italy Tour”
Reviewed 5 November 2014 – Tripadvisor.com.au
It’s hard to wipe the smile off your face when you think about this tour. To escape the tourist track that you may find yourself on with larger companies, Nico takes you to his forefathers part of Italy and away from the crowds. The accommodation at Masseria Cervarolo was sublime and then off to Ostuni Brindisi for another visual feast. Include these two wonderful places to stay with sojourns to an ancient olive oil estate, an amazing winery, castles, caves….. oh and the cooking classes. There are a couple of inclusive meals that you will definitely enjoy should you decide to take this tour. This was my 4th tour with Nico and Belinda and my wife’s 5th. All are exceptional private affairs where you are among like minded people. There is no expectation to perform with Nico’s tours, if you wish to kick back and have time to yourself, then you do so. Otherwise it’s fun and adventure all the way…Ric & Jill – Visited October 2014