Southern Belles of Europe: South of France and Puglia

Southern Belles of Europe

“Travelling: it leaves you speechless and then turns you into a storyteller.”

(Ibn Battuta)

The sound of cigals, shutters the colour of artist palettes, the smell of freshly baked baguette and croissants, a glass of wine washing down lunch and a table in the sunshine offering a seat to the best show on earth, people watching, this and so much more is what has drawn artists, writers and mere mortals to the South of France. After days spent wandering her charms, we then head to the south of Italy. Here the food a feast for the eyes and the stomach. Wine to rival that of the French. Towns crammed with delightful squares where locals gather to catch up on the past few hours since they last saw each other. And then trips out to the coast to beaches reminiscent of the Caribbean. A trip which truly is for all the senses.  Bon voyage e Buon Viaggio! 

The South of France

Every man has two countries. His own and France

(Thomas Jefferson)

Provence

Day 1 Aix en Provence arrival day

Upon arrival you head to Aix en Provence, a town synonymous with Cezanne and whose beauty invites you to explore her lovely streets. Having built up an appetite, you will enjoy your first French meal. Bon app! (D)

Day 2 Wine and olive oil tasting

A day spent in the French countryside, enjoying the rolling hills, the picturesque towns and villages that scatter this part of the world and indulging in the wonderful produce this climate encourages. In the late afternoon we return to Aix for an evening at leisure. (B, L,)

Day 3 Surprise Day

No more to be said! This evening is at your leisure in Aix.

(B, L)

 

Au Revoir Provence, Buongiorno Italia

Day 4 Au revoir Marseille, Buongiorno Lecce! 

Today you will fly from Marseille to Brindisi ready for the Italian half of your adventure. This morning you head into Marseille for a walk around and final cafe creme and croissant before bidding adieu to la Belle France.

Upon arrival in Italy you will be whisked away to your hotel in Lecce and enjoy an evening spritz and your first bite of Italy’s most famous export: her food. (B, D)

You may have the universe if I may have Italy

(Verdi)

Italy is known as the boot and it is to her heel that we head on this trip, although, as you will discover, Puglia is anything but down at heel. From water to rival that of the Caribbean, to beautiful Baroque architecture, Roman amphitheatres and the Trulli houses, peeling this region’s history back reveals the true jewel in Italy’s crown. Italy’s olive garden with over sixty million trees and over fifty three varieties, Puglia is also home to some of Italy’s best wines and her food is thought by many to be the best in Italy; no mean feat in a country overflowing with delicious regional delicacies. Therefore, we invite you to kick off your shoes so that you may feel the sand and sea beneath your toes, join us for a glass or two of wine in one of the many beautiful piazzas which adorn the towns of this area and loosen your belts in preparation for some gastronomic indulgence. Buone vacanze!

 Day 5 Lecce, the Florence of the South

Wake up in stunning Lecce today, the so-called Florence of the South thanks to its beautiful baroque architecture and stunning churches and cathedrals. This morning you will be taken on a tasting tour of the city to really get to know its charms, indulging in local favourites such as its tarallisnacks.  The rest of the day and evening are free for further exploration. (B, L)

Day 6 Cooking Like & With a Local

This morning head to the beaches of Porto Cesareo to enjoy water comparable with the Caribbean. After a relaxing morning, head back to Lecce for some free time before enjoying a chance to learn to cook like a Pugliese and then, of course, eat and drink like one! Buon appetito! (B, D)

Day 7 Polignano a Mare

Today you head north up the Italian heel, passing miles of olive groves and whitewashed hilltop villages that dot this fertile region. You will check into a typical masseria for which the area is so well-known, where you could enjoy a swim and a bit of poolside relaxation. This evening, visit the stunning seaside village of Polignano a Mare, home to none other than the man who sang “Volare”, Domenico Modugno, for a wander and surprise dinner. (B, D)

 Day 8 Trulli Houses & Local Villages

Puglia’s Trulli houses are one of the region’s most iconic sights, and it is to Alberobello that you head this morning to wonder at this unique settlement created entirely of Trulli. The Trulli were set up initially as a way for the locals to avoid paying prohibitive taxes to the local landowners, as they could be put up and taken down relatively fast, hence their unique style. This is followed up with a visit to the beautiful village of Locorotonda to enjoy an aperitivo and then lunch in the lovely town of Martina Franca. The afternoon is at leisure for further exploration or a chance to relax back at the masseria. (B, L)

Day 9 Tremiti Islands & Trani

Today it’s time to take to the air once more and fly via helicopter to the gems of the Gargano region, the Tremiti Islands. Once there, you will have free time to explore and enjoy a seaside lunch. Upon your return, a stop in the lovely port town of Trani, a self-proclaimed ‘slow city’ (cittaslow), with a short guided tour to include visiting its iconic cathedral by the sea. Supper in the old town and then back to the masseria for overnight. (B, D)

Day 10 Departure

Time to say arrivederci Italia (until the next time).

Private transfers to the airports of Bari or Brindisi, dependent upon where you are flying from. (B)

INCLUDED IN THIS TRIP:

Accommodation & Services:

  • 3 nights in Aix-en-Provence, France, 3 nights in Lecce, Italy, 3 nights in the Bari province, Italy
  • Centrally located hotels/bed and breakfast/masseria.
  • Internal flight from Marseille, France to Brindisi, Italy.
  • Transfers to and from the airport.
  • Private transport, unless otherwise stated, for both France and Italy.
  • All tips. For instance, tips to local guides, restaurants and porterage (where available) are all included in the total price; one less thing to think about.
  • You will be visiting: Aix-en-Provence, Cassis, Gordes, Roussillon, Les Saintes Maries de La Mer, Lecce, Porto Cesareo beaches, Polignano a Mare, Alberobello, Locorotonda, Martina Franca, Tremiti Islands, Trani.

Food & Beverages:

  • Breakfast and either lunch or dinner (unless otherwise stated) (B Breakfast, L Lunch, D Dinner)
  • When lunch and/or dinner are included, alcohol in the form of wine and/or beer is provided, unless otherwise stated.
  • Aperitivi, coffee and snacks where stated.

 Entrances & Tickets:

  • Lecce Cathedral
  • Senanque Abbey

Guided Tours:

  • half-day guided visit of Aix-en-Provence
  • guided tour of the villages of the Luberon region
  • French vineyard and olive grove tour and tasting
  • Lecce
  • Trani

Activities:

  • half-day guided visit of Aix-en-Provence
  • lunch in the village of Cassis
  • guided tour of the villages of the Luberon region
  • French vineyard & olive grove tour and tasting
  • visit to the village of Les Saintes Maries de la Mer
  • guided tasting tour of Lecce
  • hands-on cooking class & dinner
  • helicopter ride to Tremiti Islands
  • A surprise (we are all children at heart after all)

NOT INCLUDED IN THIS TRIP:

  • Visa where required (Please note, visitors from Canada and the USA do not require visas when travelling to Europe).
  • Travel Insurance.
  • Incoming and outgoing flights not included. I suggest that you book flights into Marseille and then a flight back from Brindisi.  The internal flight between Marseille and Brindisi is included in the cost.