2023 “Discover Puglia – Secrets of Southern Italy” Luxury Cuisine & Culture Experience

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

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“Discover Puglia tour”
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  

“Discover Puglia – Southern Italy Tour”
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 

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 – on this small group (12 people max) culinary experience, fully escorted by Nico & Belinda Moretti of Cooking Passions Cooking School.
Home to Nico’s family of uncles, aunts, & cousins – who continue to reside just outside of its capital, Bari – Nico shares with you his hidden gems & secrets of one of Italy’s finest off the beaten track culinary regions. Although virtually undiscovered by overseas visitors, 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.
Puglia’s charms are that it has yet to see the international crowds of tourists who continue to flock to the likes of Emilia-Romagna, Toscana, Northern Italy and the Cinque Terre each time they visit Italy. But with articles continuing to be written about Puglia becoming the “next big thing“, such as published in The Financial Review – November 2017 – Puglia on a Plate (Marguerite Winter) and even Anthony Bourdain’s “Explore Parts Unknown” (Bourdain’s Field Notes: Southern Italy – Explore Parts Unknown), now is the time to experience the charms and delights of Puglia on our 2020 “Discover Puglia” Cuisine & Culture Experience, before “our little secret” gets out!


Tour Two

– 10 Days / 9 Nights –
Friday 13 October 2023 to Sunday 22 October 2023

– 2 Final Places Remaining –

Please contact us if you would like to be placed on our Waitlist should any places become available..

€5295 per person (~$AUD8250pp*)
(Double or Twin Occupancy)

Single Supplement (Own Room) + €1135 per person

*($AUD = 0.647EUR as at 25 Oct 22 – www.wise.com/au/currency-converter)

Tour One

– 10 Days / 9 Nights –
Wednesday 20 September 2023 to Friday 29 September 2023


Please contact us if you would like to be placed on our Waitlist should any places become available

*ALL INCLUSIVE LAND CONTENT including 9 nights Deluxe Accommodation; Two or more meals daily as per itinerary; Cuisine, Wine & Culture Experiences as per itinerary; Three Italian Cooking Class/Demonstrations; Airport Arrival Private Pickup (Brindisi); All Land Transportation, All Private Guided Tours; Two English-speaking Private Group Escort; and Tour Photographer

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.
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 “Discover Puglia” Highlights

Puglia – Southern Italy’s Gastronomic Gem

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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:



– Upon your arrival into Brindisi Airport*, for those flying in,  we have arranged for your Private Transfer to our hotel, The Patria Palace Hotel in Lecce, which is a 40 minute drive from Brindisi airport. (* Should you prefer to arrive at Bari Airport, a 2 hour drive from Lecce, we can organise this at an additional cost of 140Euros per car (up to 3 person).
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. From Bari, you can then continue on to Lecce by regional train.
(*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 – Check in to our Lecce hotel – The Patria Palace Hotel
Lecce – Puglia’s most beautiful city, is also known as the baroque “Florence of Southern Italy”. Lecce’s pink sandstone buildings and charming pedestrian-friendly historic center make for an excellent introduction to our stay in Puglia. Lecce is rightly acclaimed as one of the capitals of the Baroque, a style which here has acquired unrivalled originality and exuberance due to the skills with which local architects and stonemasons worked the soft, malleable pink-tinged local stone, called pietra dorata.
Patria Palace Hotel (Lecce)
The Patria Palace Hotel – The 5-star hotel is tucked away in a secluded piazza which opens onto Lecce’s famously beautiful and ornate Basilica di Santa Croce. The hotel is located in a 18 th century building, austere and linear, abode of the noble family D’Anna-Petrarolo. The building was designed by the famous architect Mauro Manieri who also designed the church of Sant’Irene and the church of Carmine, both in Lecce. After many vicissitudes, it was donated to a religious order and, for many years, had been an important orphanage of the Salento peninsula.
In 1850 the building was purchased by the family of the engineer Giacomo Gridi who opened the first inn for wanderers. It is during this Risorgimental Period, which would lead to the birth of Italy, that the Inn acquires the name of Patria. Now fully restored as a luxury hotel, its 67 rooms are characterised by a unique and elegant style, with views on the town.

18:00pm – Aperitivi – We will enjoy pre-dinner drinks (aperitivi) on the hotel’s rooftop terrace, with stunning views over the nearby Basilica di Santa Croce..
19:00pm – Welcome Group dinner as our introduction to Pugliese cuisine which will highlight the quality, goodness and intensity of flavours from the Puglian countryside.

AccommodationThe Patria Palace Lecce

(Included Meals: D)


am – Breakfast at your leisure
10am – Nico & Belinda will take the group on a morning walking tour to visit some of Lecce’s most famous sights including:

Lunch & Afternoon at your leisure – Puglia still maintains its afternoon tradition of family lunch then “una riposa” or little rest or siesta in the afternoon. Many shops will close between 2pm to 4pm, so take the opportunity to either join in the local tradition or to enjoy having the quiet streets of Lecce all to yourself for a few hours.
16:00 – Mozzarella, Pasta & Focaccia Cooking Class –  This afternoon we will discover the wonderful art of mozzarella cheese making and the secrets to Puglia’s famous creamy burrata cheese with a cooking class led by an artisan cheesemaker (“casaro“). We will also learn to prepare two types of Puglia pasta as well as Puglia’s famous focaccia. Once the class is completed, we will enjoy all that we’ve prepared including some other typical Purlieus products including Martina Freanca’s capocollo and fresh seasonal vegetables.

pm – Remainder of the evening at your leisure. Join the locals in one of their other local traditions of the evening “passeggiata“, where families and friends go for an evening walk around the town.

AccommodationThe Patria Palace Lecce

(Included Meals: B,D)


am – Breakfast at your leisure, before checking out of our hotel at 11am.
11:00am – Group departure to Puglia’s famous Salice Salentino wine region for a visit to the 16th-century winery Castello Monaci.

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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.

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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.

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16:00pm – Group transfer to Masseria Cervarolo located in the countryside a short 15 minute drive from the charming medieval town of Ostuni.
Ostuni – Also known as “La Citta Bianca” (The White City) it is definitely one of the most stunning towns of Southern Italy. Clinging onto three hills at the edge of Le Murge, the old centre is a spiral of whitewashed houses with dramatic views towards a sea of olive trees and farther away the blue Mediterranean. 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.

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17:00pm – Check in 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

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Masseria Cervarolo

Masseria Cervarolo is one of Puglia’s fortified farm manor 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.

Masseria Cervarolo

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.

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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.
20:00pm – Group Dinner at the masseria.

Accommodation – Masseria Cervarolo

(Included Meals: B, L, D)

Day 4 – Altamura (Italy’s Finest Bread Tradition) & Matera (UNESCO World Heritage Site)

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.

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After a picnic lunch 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.

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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.
13:00-15:00pm – Guided walking tour of Matera and it’s famous “sassi“.
17:00pm – Arrival back in Ostuni
20:00pm – Dinner at Masseria Cervarolo. 

Accommodation – Masseria Cervarolo

(Included Meals: B, L, D)

Day 5 – Free Day and Ostuni “The White City” Passegiatta

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.

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13:00pm – We have arranged for a leisurely lunch at the masseria for those that are staying around the property.
16:00pm – Group departure to the nearby picturesque village of Ostuni which has been declared one of the most beautiful villages of Italy by the National Association of Italian Municipalities. Join the locals for their Sunday walk “passegiatta“, take in the tiny lanes and cafe bars scattered through the town. We will finish the day at a local pizzeria for a bite before heading back to the masseria.

Accommodation – Masseria Cervarolo

(Included Meals: B, L, D)

Day 6 – Valle D’Itria Experience – The Land of Trulli

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am – Breaksfast at your leisure
9:00am – 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.
Martina Franca – A lovely hilltop town scattered with Baroque palaces and endowed with one of the most romantic piazzas in this side of Italy. Rich in Baroque architecture, Martina Franca gained wealth during the Middle Ages when the Prince of Taranto gave tax-free status to anyone choosing to live there.


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10:00am – Visit to a “frantoio“, an traditional olive oil estate to learn about extra virgin olive oil production followed by a tasting.
11:30am – 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.
Alberobello – Alberobello is the best known village of the Valle d’Itria because the buildings are mostly trulli, 1500 of them. The trulli of Alberobello in particular have been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is very touristy, dotted with souvenir shops and signs in Japanese. It is worth going to only because the drive through the area is fantastic. A trullo is a unique type of building characteristic of this region, consisting of a cylinder topped by a large cone of local stones put together without any mortar. It is believed that trulli originated as storage sheds built for agricultural implements, then much later became dwelling places, with adjoining buildings added as the families living in them grew. Many trulli are still used and inhabited today, and some of their roofs show big mysterious chalk marks, either to ward off the evil eye or to bless the house.

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12:30pm – Group Departure to the stunningly beautiful cliffside village of Polignano a Mare and its famous 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.

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13:00pm – Lunch at your leisure as you enjoy the beautiful village of Polignano a Mare.
15:00pm – Group departure and 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.

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20:00pm – Group Dinner at Masseria Cervarolo

Accommodation – Masseria Cervarolo

(Included Meals: B, D)

Day 7 – Pugliese Cooking Class and Ostuni (The White City)

am – Breakfast at your leisure
10am – Group departure for Ostuni.
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.

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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.

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14:00pm – Group transfer back to Masseria Cervarolo after our cooking class and lunch, or spend a little more  time exploring the whitewash laneways of Ostuni before returning back to the masseria.
pm – Remainder of the afternoon at your leisure. 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.
16:00pm – Wine Tasting at Masseria Cervarolo

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20:00pm – Dinner at Masseria Cervarolo

Accommodation – Masseria Cervarolo

(Included Meals: B, D)

Day 8 – Castel del Monte – King Frederick II Masterpiece

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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 landmarks, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Castel del Monte, dating back to Puglia’s 13th century 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.

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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.

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Antichi Orecchiete 250x166 Antichi Limoncello Almonds 250x166

17:00pm – Arrival in Bari and check in to our hotel – Dilman Boutique Hotel Bari
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.
pm – Evening at your leisure. Join us for a pizza at local pizzeria or try one of Puglia’s famous fast foods, the panzerotti.

AccommodationDilman Boutique Hotel Bari or iH Bari Oriente

(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 family gatherings.



pm – Afternoon at your leisure. Go for a walk 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.
19:00pm – Final Group dinner at one of Bari’s traditional Pugliese restaurant.

Bari Night Square

AccommodationDilman Boutique Hotel Bari or iH Bari Oriente

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 Bari Airport or for your onward air travel. For those continuing their journey by rail, the Bari Train Station is only a short 5 minute taxi ride away from the hotel.
To secure your places, please contact Nico Moretti at urbanprovider@icloud.com or +61 402 154 358, and we will forward you a “2023 Discover Puglia – Secrets of Southern Italy” Booking Form. 
Booking Deadline : 01 February 2023 (or until places remain available)
Booking Deposit : An $AUD1300 non-refundable BOOKING DEPOSIT is required to hold a booking for the tour, at the time of your reservation. We are able to refund your Booking Deposit should a replacement be found for any cancelled places.
Final Payment : Payment in full is required at least 90 days prior to departure (Payment Due: 20 June 2023)
Flight ArrangementsShould you require assistance with arranging your own international flights, our Agent – Globetrotter – would be happy to assist in booking your international flights, travel insurance and any pre-tour and post-tour requirements. Please contact Lori Burns of Globetrotter directly on 08 9442 0164 or email  lifestyle@globetrotter.com.au  website  https://globetrotterlife.com.au/
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.
Grazie e buon viaggio,
Nico & Belinda Moretti

Bari Lungomare Night