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 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.
Temporary changes due to COVID-security measures.
Last updated: 16th October 2020
At Headwater, we acknowledge our responsibility to have the most up to date information on anything that will affect our customers on holiday and to communicate this to our customers as effectively as possible.
Our general global COVID security measures are described in our Travel Safety Charter, and changes will be made to these measures as required by the global pandemic situation.
However, we also expect there to be requirements, measures and sometimes itinerary changes that apply to certain trips only, and may well be temporary measures. We have highlighted all known changes in the section below.
For all trips, having the correct documentation and visa, if required, remains the customer’s responsibility based on their own nationality. We, therefore, encourage all travellers to check entry requirements using the travel advice of their home nation for the relevant destination. For UK passport holders that is https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) currently advises against all non-essential travel to Italy. Information on local restrictions will be provided and updated in 2021, closer to the time when trips be operational again.
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 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 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 Santa Maria di 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 a day trip to the beautiful Baroque city of Lecce, known as the 'Florence of the South', and home to over 40 churches and countless palaces, as well as a Roman amphitheatre and theatre. Alternatively, you could travel to the picturesque town of Polignano a Mare on the coast of the Valle d’Itria, perched atop a 20m high limestone cliff rising from the Adriatic. Both of these destinations are reachable by train from Ostuni. In the evening we 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 of limestone once home to prehistoric settlements of cave dwellings. Today we navigate the gravel paths, fields, and groves of almonds and of olives as we pass through. Here, spring is particularly impressive with many species of butterfly, orchid and cyclamen.
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.
Here at Headwater we thrive on feedback from our customers. It's the only way we can continue to develop, and where necessary improve, our services and ensure our holidays continue to be the best they can be. As this is a relatively new holiday, we don't yet have any customer reviews available from our customers, but here are the comments that have been received from previous Exodus travellers.
This is a very non-strenuous grade 2 trip, compared with other grade 2 walking trips I have undertaken. The majority of walks are flat (walked in sandals) as stated in the trip notes and ankle support was only required for 2 of the walks. This was a part of Italy I had always wanted to visit due to its history rather than the scenery on the walks.
This holiday was an excellent trip of gentle to moderate walking through some beautiful countryside, passing through olive groves, by vineyards, along a few gentle slopes and through the area, where one can see the famous conic 'trulli' houses of the Itria valley. As well as walking there was some fascinating culture to see, notably the towns of Locorotundo, Alberobello, Ostuni, Lecce (optional) and the beautiful UNESCO city of Matera with its rock churches and many converted cave dwellings. There was a very good choice of delicious fresh, local foods throughout the trip, as well as the wines of the area!
This was an excellent holiday with a good combination berween culture , walking and relaxing
Booking efficient; follow up was not - I had to chase; maybe the late switch from Headwater to Exodus was to blame. An interesting and varied trip, with the leader Luigina Geusa contributing a lot to that plus a good group of fellow walkers. Matera hotel (Hotel Sassi) was not good, but the hotels in Ostuni (La Terra) and Alberobello (Ramapendula) were much better.
Vanessa was a wonderful guide and very aware of the needs of of all the participants. everyone got along well. The places we stayed were excellent. The overall experience was lot of fun
An exploring holiday, not a 'wow' one but full of delights. Matera was a long-desired destination, because of Carlo Levi, and spectacular. Sleeping in our massive cave in Hotel Sassi! Walking endlessly through olive groves brought home to me the privations of former Puglian peasants, but also amazement at the great age and variety of shapes of the trees. I loved the small towns, their architecture, narrow streets, the ingenuity of the construction of the Trulli. Hotel Sassi was wonderful, the masseria was beautiful, food good and choice of restaurants gave variety. I liked the multiple starters.
I chose the walking tour of Puglia & Matera because I had never seen Southern Italy. I was intrigued by the UNESCO World Heritage cities as well as the unusual architcecture such as Trulli houses. It is hard to believe the range of homes and times traveled - from Neolithic to present in just 7 days. My two favorite cities were Matera and Aberobello. The food was incredible. I ate great vegetarian dishes and seafood dishes all week!
This trip was exactly what I had hoped for - a fascinating and varied tour of a part of Italy which hasn't yet become too full of tourists. Our three centres were well chosen and close together - Matera was so interesting just to wander and get lost among the tiny winding lanes and steps, the old fortified farmhouse set in olive groves near Ostuni was so peaceful and in Alberobello we did meet tourism but worth it just to see the trulli. The walks were great - not too challenging and only took up part of the day so we had chance to explore by ourselves as well. I didn't expect to see so many wild flowers in June. We had excellent food in a wide variety of restaurants, wine-tasting and two super picnics. We used a variety of transport, including local buses and trains, and all went very smoothly.
Wonderful trip in a beautiful part of Italy. The walking was not challenging, which was a good thing given the heat in mid-June, and covered some stunning and scenic routes. Great food and accommodation in all three locations.
Walking in Matera was an interesting and eye opening experience. I knew nothing of the history of this facinating 'heel of Italy' so was extremely surprised and delighted to discover it in the company of 5 other travellers and our wonderful guide Nino.
This was a fantastic trip with three very different locations to stay in and experience. The accommodation in each location was original and very comfortable. The walking, itinerary and our guide, Nino, were just excellent.
I really enjoyed our week in Puglia and Matera and getting to know southern Italy with great company and a fantastic guide.
We spent a lovely week exploring the areas round Matera and parts of the Puglia region. The holiday was a very good mix of walking, guided sight-seeing and free time to do more sight-seeing or just relax with a drink at one of the many cafes, or even better eat one of the amazing ice-creams. Staying in three very different, locations, with very different accommodation means that you get a real feel for the area and the people. The walking is very easy and pretty gentle, though I imagine that in the height of summer when it would be considerable hotter, it might feel a lot tougher. None of the walks was longer than three/four hours, which left plenty of time to do other things. This suited me, but if you are a very keen walker, you might find it a little dull. This is a great region of Italy to visit, as though there are tourists, it is not nearly so packed as the more famous areas, and you get a much better idea about Italy than you maybe would shuffling round Florence or Rome. The other reason to visit is the food. I've never eaten so well on holiday, and as a vegetarian I was spoilt for choice, something that can be rather rare. Thoroughly recommended for anyone who wants to get away and chill out for a while.
Fantastic trip and bothe the tour guide and minibus driver were very obliging
Our first holiday with Exodus went really well. We were met at the airport by our tour guide Luigina and driven to our first port of call, the Sassi District of Matera. Matera is built on a rocky outcrop, so there were lots and lots of steps. Not a good place for less able bodied people, and we thought some of the cobbled streets were a little slippy, so take a pair of sensible shoes. Our hotel room was a cave built into the rock. Very unusual, but the bathroom was a bit tired and needed a refurbish. Great local restaurants and cafes and very reasonably priced. Our guide Luigina did a great job and had excellent local knowledge. She organised 2 picnic lunches during the week and organised an extra trip on our free day to Lecce. During walks, she pointed out many places of historical interest, but also talked about the local flora. We got to try wild almonds straight off the tree, also wild rocket and strawberry fruit. We were fortunate to be in Italy during the olive harvesting and she asked a local farmer to demonstrate the harvesting method. The final evening’s meal, was at a Massiera (farmhouse). We did have to pay extra for this trip, but it was worth every penny (euro). The food was all locally sourced and Home cooked. It just kept on coming and coming, and I lost count of the number of courses. Wine was free flowing all evening too.
Matera was beyond expectations and the whole trip was one amazing sight and experience after another. Guiseppe, our guide, was knowledgeable, enthusiastic and amusing. This was an excellent first group walking trip and I will definitely book to go on others, based on this experience. The day off was excellent and I would highly recommend visiting Polignano al Mare and Monopoli. Guiseppe provided great supporting information for both sites after the initial possible options information.
Marinella was a great guide, knowledgable, patient and very fit! The walks and the restaurants she found us were outstanding for food, wine and price. Thank you
I recommend this tour of two regions of southern Italy - Basilicata and Puglia and our wonderful guide Guissepe. Relaxing walking off the beaten track together with great local food and wine. Guissepe took care of all the details including organising gluten free food. I was particularly impressed by his plant knowledge as well as history, particularly of ancient Matera. Good amicable and interesting group. Highlights included staying in the Masseria, home cooked feast of food from their garden, swimming at a beautiful sandy beach after a long hot walk followed by a memorable seafood lunch. And dinner at a farmhouse where they kept cows and made all their own cheeses.
Puglia and Matera are areas that are not well known in Canada. We booked the trip based on the interesting walks amongst olive orchards and vineyards that were advertised. What we didn't realize is all the history in the area. From the cave dwellings of the Sassi to the Trulli houses of Alberobello it is a different world. The hiking routes were quite quiet with few other walkers encountered. It was a nice break from some of the busier areas of Italy. The food and drink in the area is fantastic. Marinella took us to some amazing restaurants (and created fantastic picnics) that only a local would know. All in all it was a fantastic trip. My only regret was that it was only a week. We could have stayed longer.
We were a group of 7 ladies from Iceland and went on the hiking trip to Puglia and Matera from june 3 to june 10. It was an excellent trip with beautiful landscape and the fantastic towns of Matera, Alberobello and Locorotondo. Excellent guide Giuseppe told us all there is about the region and was really nice.
I had been wanting to visit Puglia for some time and this trip did not disappoint. Very well balanced between culture, history, nature, exploration and of course, food and wine - it offered everything that I look for in both a trip to Italy and an Exodus trip. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience and early May was an ideal time to visit.
This took us first to Matera- the most amazing town to visit!!! and then on to Alberobello. Beautiful scenery, wonderful flora and fauna, interesting historic towns and villages, wonderful local food and wine...... We were lucky in being with a friendly group AND we had an outstanding guide- Giuseppe!!!
First class planning and organisation
This was an especially interesting and enjoyable trip, thanks to a well-balanced itinerary, accommodation and transport that was well above average, and superb management on the part of our Tour Leader, Giuseppe. It proved also to be an excellent time of year to visit, with the countryside at its most attractive (green & productive) and the climate relatively fresh.
Our 7th walking trip in the past 3 years with Headwater/Exodus and it was one of the best! We felt like we had the chance to experience the 'Real Italy'. While Aberobello had some foreign tourists, the rest of the places we visited/stayed we were among locals. A real treat. The walks were relatively easy. The scenery was beautiful. Picnic lunches and dinners were wonderful. Hotel Stassi in Matera was close to everything, provided unique and comfortable lodging, and a wonderful breakfast. Hotel Ramapendula was about a 5-10 min walk to the main Trulli area, was comfortable but breakfast was mediocre at best.
The holiday was all that I hoped it would be. I've learnt so much about an area of Italy where I hadn't been before. Good company with mix of ages, great accommodation, easy walking and fantastic guide.
Great guide in Marinella! Very beautiful scenery, great hikes over rolling hills and flat olive groves
This was my first time walking holiday with a group and was very pleasantly surprised How much I enjoyed it.Places we went were impressive and interesting.The food was great and ofcourse the wine.There was lots to take in,and all the walks were great.Thoroughly enjoyed them.
.A very interesting and varied trip, taking in some superb towns and villages, with fascinating histories and dramatic or unique architecture The countryside is pleasant but not that interesting as it lacks great scenery. Accommodation was excellent and food often very unusual and tasty.
A lovely gentle hiking trip in southern Italy. Walking through olive groves and along an aqueduct. Visiting the Unesco heritage town of Matera with its interesting history and hopefully positive future as a European city of culture. Also the stunningly pretty old town of Alberolbello with its trulli houses. Not to mention the delicious local food and friendly people. Marinella our leader was so enthusiastic and knowledgable about her home region. She also booked some great evening meals and a wine tasting that was also a cheese tasting, so much so that we didn't need any dinner! The visit to the local farm and cheese factory was fun and the dinner that followed there was so big we had to cancel the pasta course! Just one piece of advice would be to avoid the rooms in Matera near to reception as they can be quite noisy with fellow guests in reception and moving between reception and the lift.
A pleasant week of gentle walking, visually impressive towns. Also good food and wine (of course).
A well led and easy paced walking holiday in surprisingly varied scenery. The wild flowers were stunning. Don't expect to lose any weight as the picnics and various local food treats and tastings are irresistible.
Having never visited the heel of Italy, we had little idea of what to expect. What a delight! The combination of pleasant walking in interesting countryside, historic sites, good food and wine, and a superb guide made a perfect holiday.
If you want to see a quiet side of Italy do do this trip! You won't be disappointed with anything. After a hectic week in Rome this trip was perfect. We loved the group itself and our wonderful guide, Marinella. Everything was done professionally and went very smoothly. November is an ideal time to travel to this place because most of the tourists are gone and the weather is mild.
A most relaxing varied and informative trip. Matera and the Sassi district was a highlite, the hotel and location so unusual. It was valuable having a knowledgeable local guide with family history of the area.The good weather helped of course, but the overarching factor was the excellence of our guide.
A great place to visit with lovely picturesque villages. Great vegan Food. Lovely walks. Recommended for any fellow vegans. The accommodation was good, we stayed in a cave in Matera, which was dark. Generally a great holiday.
We had a great trip although it is not the most scenic of locations. The food was excellent and plentiful. The walks are mostly flat and very easy.
What a lovely trip to a part of Italy is mostly as yet undiscovered. Daily you will see ancient sites and experience the countryside and the gastronomic delights of southern Italy. You will walk about 8 miles a day through mostly flat / rolling countryside. The only real day of climbing is the first day in Matera where you will explore the national park that is in the ravine behind the city. We went in September so as to avoid the high-heat of summer and that was a good decision.
The trip was fascinating. Every day of the walking tour was interesting and enjoyable. A good amount of free time, balanced with excellent walks and cultural exploration.
It was a wonderful combination of walking and sight seeing. An opportunity to see the real Italy, taste the wonderful food in this region and experience the friendliness of the locals. All meticulously organised by our incredible guide Marinella who did everything she could to make our holiday special.
A really brilliant holiday which combines leisurely walking with very interesting sight seeing. The scenery is awesome particularly with the backdrop of some beautiful Italian villages and towns. Add the Italian cuisine and it would be hard to beat this trip.
This was a very well organised and well paced walking trip with plenty of opportunities to sight-see and sample the local cuisine.
A wonderful holiday in a part of Italy I knew little about beforehand and is relatively 'untouristy'. Beautiful architecture and fascinating history in Matera. Lovely countryside and in April the best wild flowers I have ever seen
This was a brilliant walking and sight seeing holiday in the Puglia region in the South of Italy.
This was a great trip! I wanted to get away and catch some November sun, walk the olive groves, see some culture and have a relaxing time. This break was just perfect for this. Puglia and Basilicata are not on the main stream Italian tourist trail and I think the area really benefits from not being too popularised.
Very interesting to discover the real southern part of Italy.
A first class trip. Everything happened as planned. The trip notes were very accurate. Gentle walking, which is what we expected and wanted on this trip.
Beautiful scenery, fascinating history and cultural influences, great mix of touring and walking and fantastic food. This part of Southern Italy was a revelation which our guide, Nino, introduced us to with great knowledge and enthusiasm. Each day was wonderful with the big highlight being Matera at the end of the week. I would recommend this trip to anybody.
A very interesting and enjoyable walk with excellent food.
Whilst this area is not as picturesque as other areas of Italy, it is more than made up for by the architectural delights, amazing variety of local food and drink. The holiday has the balance of walking, sightseeing and comfortable travelling between locations on roads that often very straight roads.
A great holiday with lovely scenery and a lovely guide in Marinella who took us to a range of great restaurants and ensured we had delicious picnics during the day that she provided for us Marinella was very attuned to all our needs and her personal knowledge of the area added to the holiday experience
This is a gentle walking holiday introducing you to a non touristy part of Italy even in July. It is very hot in July and that was our biggest hurdle.
A wonderful trip in fantastic areas of southern Italy. Stunning landscape
Walks are quite long and it was 30c plus in June but varied and interesting. Every effort was made for us to experience local dishes and wine. Our guide provided quite elegant picnics and was very attentive in restaurants making sure we had everything we wanted.
Staying in three good hotels in varied landscapes from the Trulli town of Alberello to a remote farmhouse in the midst of olive groves and finishing in the breathtaking Matera
Wonderful holiday, great company, great walking, food and wine!
This was a great trip and wonderful introduction to a largely unspoilt area of Italy. The walks were easy and through some great agricultural and ancient landscapes. The food was lovely and very plentiful and unlike the cuisine of other areas I have visited. The hotels were very characterful especially the Hotel in Matera with stunning views of the old city.
This holiday is a fantastic introduction to the Puglia and Basilicata area of Italy. I enjoyed all of the towns that we visited and would have happily spent more time in Alberobello and Ostuni.
This holiday is a lovely mixture of easy walking, sightseeing, and superb eating and drinking. The balance was just right for me. I went in May, before it got too hot, and the countryside and wild flowers were beautiful.
An enjoyable and leisurely walking holiday in a most interesting area. The difference in the landscape between Puglia and Basilicata was most striking, the latter being more interesting for walking, but both areas have their own unique places of interest. This is definitely a holiday for a great gastronomic experience!
A very good holiday, not at all strenuous but fitted the description in the brochure, which a lot of walking holidays don't. The food was excellent and cheap, set meals wonderful, and a very friendly area.
An enjoyable trip in an area with an abundance of interesting and unusual places. Walking was initially a little disappointing but all the accomodation and food was of a very high standard.
May is a good time of the year to go to this area as its not too hot. There is plenty of interest particularly in Matera. Walks were right length and Puglia and Basilicata were very different regions.
You can be confident that our pricing includes all the standard requirements of your holiday and many additional extras. Always ensure that you are comparing like for like when booking your holiday.
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:
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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