In the heart of the Mediterranean lie Puglia and Basilicata, two unique and still largely undiscovered regions of Italy nestled between the emerald waters of the Adriatic and Ionian seas. This trip gives us the chance to explore the very best that these Italian gems have to offer, from the conic Trulli houses of the lush Itria valley and the white hilltop town of Ostuni to the rock churches and UNESCO Sassi district of the beautiful city of Matera. Aside from the perfect mix of cultural discovery and gentle walking, we will have the chance to sample the legendary local cuisine and delicious wines that make this region a true food lovers’ paradise.
This holiday is operated by our sister company, Exodus. Click here for their detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.
The trip starts in Alberobello, home to 1500 Trulli (conical roofed houses) that have made its historical centre a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The origin of these funny-looking stone dwellings is obscure, however, local farmers claim they were originally built in an effort to evade taxes. When the tax inspectors were in the area, the dry stone walls could easily be dismantled by simply removing the key stone above the door and quickly rebuilt after the inspection. Our hotel is located in proximity of the historic centre. In the afternoon after the group's arrival there is usually time to wander through the narrow alleys of the town’s centre and enjoy the unique atmosphere of this enchanting town at night.
We start the week with a walk to the lovely town of Locorotondo. Sitting on the top of a hill, it is considered to be one of the most beautiful villages in Italy and is renowned for its white wine and Cantina Sociale, the local winery. Following narrow country lanes, we walk over the rolling hills of the idyllic Itria Valley, dotted with olive trees, vineyards and trulli. At the end of the day, we take a short train ride back to Alberobello where we stay overnight.
In the morning we take a private transfer to the white city of Ostuni, famous for the dazzling effect of its whitewashed houses. After some free time spent discovering this elegant hilltop town at our own pace, we explore the beautiful surrounding countryside on foot, walking through ancient olive groves and vineyards overlooking the Adriatic coast. Along the route we stop for a visit at the archaeological park of S. M. Agnano. This evening we have a delicious dinner and overnight in a beautiful Masseria – a renovated farmhouse typical of the Apulian region
**Please note that on selected departures the group will stay overnight in a 4-star hotel in the historic centre of Ostuni instead of the masseria. See the Accommodation section in the Trip Notes for more information**.
Today is free to discover the many jewels of this beautiful region. We recommend to take a day trip to the beautiful Baroque city of Lecce, known as the 'Florence of the South', and home to over 40 churches, countless palaces, as well as a Roman amphitheatre and theatre. Alternatively, you could travel to the picturesque town of Polignano a Mare, a shining gem on the coast of the Valle d’Itria, perched atop a 20m high limestone cliff above the crystal clear waters of the Adriatic. Both of these destinations are reachable by train from Ostuni. In the evening we will regroup to enjoy a delicious dinner in Ostuni or at the masseria.
This morning we walk from the masseria to the coast, where we have time to relax on a beach or swim in the mild waters of the Adriatic sea (depending on the season). In the afternoon we make our way to Matera, one of the most unusual and memorable tourist destinations in Italy famous for its extensive cave-dwelling districts, the sassi. Our hotel is located in the heart of Matera Sassi UNESCO site, just a few steps from the town's most famous attractions, and offers a terrace with panoramic views across the town. After checking in we enjoy a first glimpse of Matera's enchanting alleys and unique architecture.
Today we enjoy a short hike to the Murgia plateau, a vast protected area home to over 150 rupestrian churches dating back to the 8th century, once inhabited by hermits and adorned with Byzantine frescoes. We descend down the Matera's canyon until we reach a suspension bridge which allows us to cross to the other side of the valley. We then hike to the top of the ravine following a pathway which ends with a spectacular viewpoint of Matera's Sassi district. In the afternoon we walk back to Matera for a guided tour: accompanied by a knowledgeable local guide, we wander through the narrow alleys of the town’s famous UNESCO cave-dwelling district and learn of the history of this fascinating place. Back in Matera we enjoy a delicious produce and wine tasting in the historic centre and the rest of the day is free to discover the city at our own pace. Overnight in Matera.
** Please note that at the time of writing the suspension bridge connecting Matera to the canyon trail is not accessible due to a landslide. In the event it does not reopen in time for your departure, complimentary transfers will be arranged to the trailhead and back. This would result in the walk being of slightly shorter duration.**
Today we will transfer by train and bus to the outskirts of Matera, where our walk starts. The trail will take us through dramatic rugged landscape made of limestone, gravel paths, fields and almond and olive groves, in an area which was once home to prehistoric men and cave dwellings. The area is very picturesque in spring when many species of butterfly, orchid and cyclamen are found.
The trip ends in Matera this morning.
During your holiday you stay at the following hotels. If you'd like to extend your time at any of these or, if you'd like to enhance your stay with an upgraded room, just let us know at the time of booking.
Our aim is to provide holidays that are unbeatable for choice and flexibility. We've listed our most popular travel options below, however you aren't limited to these - we can tailor-make virtually any holiday to suit.
Everyone who goes on a Headwater holiday will be emailed a link to our post-holiday questionnaire where they can give us an honest assessment of all aspects of their holiday - everything from how quickly we answer the phone to how clean the hotels were - plus an overall rating and comments about their holiday.
Any feedback collected is posted to our website, so that people can make an informed decision based on past experiences before heading off on holiday. We don’t edit the reviews, the only thing we do is proofread them and alter any typos, where necessary, to ensure they are easy to read for everyone. All reviews will be published (except in certain extreme circumstances), and a member of the Headwater team will respond to any constructive criticisms/comments under the reviews, at their discretion. So, for the real tales, twists and turns of our holidays, look no further than the reviews from our previous travellers.
An excellent opportunity to see the real Italy and stay in unusual places. Nothing was too much trouble for our guide who went out of her way to make everyone feel included and ensure all were able to enjoy the experience. We ate some fantastic food with our guide who sought out authentic eating places that served local dishes, many made from products grown on their own farms and all at fair prices.
The holiday was made special by our excellent guide, Giuseppe, who was very knowledgeable, interesting, amusing, and well organised.
Giuseppe our guide made this one of the most memorable holiday's we have experienced. The highlights being our three days exploring the Rock Churches of Matera and its Sassi District. Our stay in the beautiful masseria, Swimming in the Adriatic Sea, the Trulli houses at Alberobello, and not forgetting the wonderful regional food we sampled along the way.
An excellent trip to a less commercial part of Italy. Fascinating destinations, a mix of culture and history and a great group of people with a brilliant guide.
Local guide very good ..his provision of picnic lunches was really good.
It was wonderful experience with a fantastic guide and walks
A most enjoyable holiday with varied, mostly flat walking in the spring countryside, covered with beautiful flowers. Although this was an Exodus holiday and we expected the hotels to be of a lower standard than the usual Headwater type, we were pleasantly surprised. Our guide, Marinella, loves her job and it shows! Matera and Alberobello were fascinating, we ate in some delightful restaurants at Marinella's recommendation, the food was delicious and the wine tasting, dinner in a farmhouse and picnics all added to the enjoyment. We had a great group too!
An amazing holiday. We've visited Italy many times but Puglia was quite different to what we'd seen before. The colours, olive grove, vineyards, hilltop towns, architecture and the rest make this area a hidden gem.
A week of discovery! Beautiful towns and landscapes, interesting walking , a great local guide who was tireless in helping us to understand so many different aspects of Puglia - it's history, food, contemporary issues - as well as making it fun. A great group too all added up to a brilliant holiday, thank you.
A splendid holiday well organised with a great group of people, lots of laughter,good weather,good walking,good food & drink.
We recomend it.
The guided Puglia walking holiday was fabulous. We had heard about Matera before out travels and we had time to explore the town and surroundings.It was an amazing place.Luigina, our leader on this holiday, was very knowledgeable and helpful. The 3 centres and scenery on the walk were quite varied. The free day was a good idea as it gave us the opportunity to visit Lecce.The holiday was a fascinating mix of history, geoography, culture and of course, food!
A good holiday with excellent walks, but bear in mind this is run by Exodus, so hotels not up to the usual Headwater standard.
A wonderful guide lead us through a fascinating part of Italy and along the way we enjoyed superb local cuisine and wines.
An excellent holiday with a like minded group of people.
Our guide Nino went out of his way to ensure everyone got what they wanted out of the holiday. He changed arrangements to suit the weather and ensured that everyone was happy with what was happening each day.
Pleasant walking( despite slightly inclement weather at times) through lovely countryside and interesting historic sites. Unfortunately it was too cold for our swim in the Adriatic .
Alberobello is a very pretty town with its large concentration of Trulli. Matera is a fascinating city with its ancient settlements and interesting history.
A brilliant holiday, our guide Antonino was excellent, he looked after us very well and went out of his way to make sure we were always well looked after and very well fed. Transfers during the walk went like clockwork.
An incredibly interesting part of Italy; as it was cold and wet we all agreed to visit local caves instead of the beach and they were magnificent.
One boot was the right classification, there was some 'scrambling' over rocks and through vegetation, the rest mainly rocky/stony tracks with minor ascents and descents.
This is an excellent and very relaxing holiday. The walks were well planned and very well led - picnics were wonderful! Unsurprisingly, in early July, it was hot but setting off early made the most of the cooler hours and enabled us to explore the towns and villages at leisure. Our guide, Salvitore, was really excellent - attentive, charming, efficient and knowledgeable.
Our guide, Angelo, really lived up to his name. He went more than the extra mile for us: organising picnic feasts which were inexpensive, and negotiating terrific and generous group meals at bargain prices with a huge range of antipasti. He is a wonderful standard setter for other guides. I particularly liked our stay in Matera which is fascinating. A swim in the Adriatic en route was a treat too and I found the archaeological site near Ostuni very interesting. Overall the walking on this holiday was just the right level for my expectations, as advertised, and the weather was good for walking, despite the forecasts.
I did enjoy the holiday as that particular area of Italy is very interesting also our guide Adrianne did his utmost to make it so. I felt it should be described more as a sightseeing holiday as the walking was not very challenging or exciting. I was disappointed that a lot of the walking was on minor roads rather than paths.
Very good holiday, lots to see and well guided. Good value for money and very companiable group of people on walks.
Headwater were very poor on administration I had to request both confirmation invoices and twice request travel documents which had to be courried to us 9 days before we left which was poor considering we had to book our seats with Easyjet.
The hotels were not as comfortable as they should have been as we were cold in them.
Puglia and Basilicata a truly inspiring choice. We were inspired by Andrew Graham-Dixon and Giorgio Locatelli in 'Italy Unpacked' and this holiday fully met our expectations...........though the food not always quite so great- needed more green vegetables! Our Guide was delightful and charming. We learned that living in a cave has draw backs - high humidity - but still worth staying in the Sassi ! We also loved walking around hill top towns.......delightful!
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This 7 night guided walking holiday includes:
All breakfasts, 2 dinners and 1 wine and produce tasting
Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)
Transfers for group flights
How to book:
|28th Mar||US$1649||Check availability|
|11th Apr||US$1749||Check availability|
|18th Apr||US$1879||Check availability|
|25th Apr||US$1749||Check availability|
|2nd May||US$1799||Check availability|
|9th May||US$1749||Check availability|
|16th May||US$1749||Check availability|
|23rd May||US$1749||Check availability|
|6th Jun||US$1749||Check availability|
|13th Jun||US$1749||Check availability|
|20th Jun||US$1749||Check availability|
|11th Jul||US$1749||Check availability|
|29th Aug||US$1749||Check availability|
|5th Sep||US$1749||Check availability|
|12th Sep||US$1749||Check availability|
|19th Sep||US$1799||Check availability|
|26th Sep||US$1749||Check availability|
|3rd Oct||US$1749||Check availability|
|10th Oct||US$1949||Check availability|
|17th Oct||US$1749||Check availability|
|24th Oct||US$1749||Check availability|
|7th Nov||US$1649||Check availability|
|14th Nov||US$1649||Check availability|
This holiday is operated by our sister company, Exodus
5 nights 3-star hotels and 2 nights converted farmhouse or 4-star hotel depending on departure dates (see accommodation section for more info)
5 days guided gentle walking; 1 free day
Group normally 4 to 16, plus local leader. Min age 16 yrs
Low altitude throughout
Travel by private minivan, bus and train
Due to the tailor-made nature of our holidays, we need a little more information in order for us to check availability for Walks in Puglia and Matera. Simply complete the form below (fields marked * are mandatory) and a member of our sales team will contact you (when it's most convenient for you) to provide availability information, travel options and an accurate price. Of course there's no obligation, but if you do wish to proceed with a booking they will be on-hand to assist you throughout the process.
Alternatively, you can call our sales team on 1-800-267-3347 to discuss your requirements in more detail.