Discover the unique architecture, diverse cultural sites, and outstanding culinary traditions of Italy's southeastern Apulia (or Puglia) during this one-week Cultural Stay in Polignano a Mare, a historic town overlooking the Adriatic.

Starting at: $4,590 Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 The coastal town of Polignano a Mare, Apulia
 Early morning in Polignano a Mare
 View from the Hotel Covo dei Saraceni in Polignano a Mare
 <i>Trulli</i> rooftops, Alberobello
 The trulli houses of Alberobello
 The "White Town" of Ostuni
 The cathedral and port of Trani, Apulia
 The Old Port of Bari with Margherita Theater

Italy’s Apulia: A One-Week Stay in Polignano a Mare

9 days from $4,590

Discover the unique architecture, diverse cultural sites, and outstanding culinary traditions of Italy's southeastern Apulia (or Puglia) during this one-week Cultural Stay in Polignano a Mare, a historic town overlooking the Adriatic.

or Call 855-330-1542

Overview

Activity Level 2: Moderate


Expectations: Week-long Cultural Stay featuring one region—and one hotel. Full-day excursions outside the city with some longer, extensive walking tours of villages, museums, and outdoor historic sites such as gardens. Excursions can be over uneven and hilly terrain (e.g. gardens and outdoor sites, cobblestones, city hills, stairs without handrails, the absence of elevators); some longer walks to get to city centers where coaches are prohibited. Hotel centrally located for easy access to sites and restaurants during the time at leisure.

Appropriate for: Travelers who are physically fit and comfortable with long days of touring (both walking tours and coach time).

2022 Itinerary

Days 1 & 2 – Depart the U.S. for Bari / Polignano a Mare

Depart the U.S. on your transatlantic flight to Bari, Italy.

Upon arrival at Bari’s Karol Wojtyla International Airport, transfer to the Hotel Covo dei Saraceni in Polignano a Mare. Upon arrival at the hotel, each traveler will receive a customized Welcome Kit containing general information about the Apulia region, as well as a map of of the town. Your Smithsonian Journeys Travel Director will be available this afternoon and throughout the program for suggestions regarding tours, restaurants and independent activities. This evening gather for opening remarks by your Smithsonian Journeys Expert followed by dinner. (D)

Day 3 – Bari / Polignano a Mare

A full breakfast is available each morning during your stay. Today explore Bari, a bustling seaport since ancient times and one that supports a vibrant fishing industry today. Walk the maze of medieval streets and alleyways of the city’s Old Town and admire the Basilica of St. Nicholas built in the 11th century to honor Bari’s patron saint. Stroll through the renowned Murat Quarter. This modern heart of the city is laid out in a rectangular grid and was designed by Joachim Murat, Napoleon's brother-in-law. Afterwards, a stop will be made for lunch at a local restaurant.

On your return to Polignano, a short walking tour is planned. See Lama Monachile Cala Porto, a unique pebbled beach that will lure you to swim in the clear azure sea. Walk through the Porta Vecchia to see the Matrix Church, and the monument to Domenico Modugno, a popular singer and songwriter born here in 1928. Gather this evening for a reception followed by dinner at the hotel. (B,L,R,D)

Day 4 – Locorotondo / Alberobello

Depart by motorcoach for Locorotondo, one of the most picturesque medieval villages in Italy. This tranquil, well-preserved town sits in the picturesque countryside and is known for its white-washed cummerse, narrow rectangular townhouses with pointed gable roofs. Take an introductory walking tour that includes free time. Continue for a visit to I Pastini, a vineyard and winery for finger food and a sampling of the regional wines.

Travel to Alberobello, a World Heritage site renowned for its trulli, conical whitewashed houses found nowhere else in the world. These ancient and unique dwellings are pieced together without mortar and are decorated with enigmatic Christian and pagan symbols. Return to the hotel in the afternoon. Gather late in the day with a local expert for a presentation on The History and Architecture of Lecce & Ostuni. (B)

Day 5 – Lecce / Ostuni

Depart on an excursion to Lecce, often called “Florence of the South,” where you will discover the 17th-century architectural style referred to as the “Barocco Leccese.” See the Piazza Sant’Oronzo, the Colonna Romana which marked the end of the Appian Way, the Roman Amphitheater, and the Basilica di Santa Croce. After the tour, there’s free time for lunch at leisure and to enjoy the town before departing for Ostuni. There, you’ll take a guided tour of the “white city” known for its whitewashed buildings set high atop a hill and spill into the Valle d’Itria below. Discover the Old Quarter to see the magnificent Cathedral and walk atop the ancient city walls. Dinner will be served at a popular local restaurant. (B,D)

Day 6 – Trani / Family Olive Mill

Enjoy a scenic drive to the city of Trani, a bustling Adriatic seaport. Gather for a tour of city highlights including the 13th-century Fort, Trani Cathedral, the historic Jewish Ghetto, and houses from the Norman period.

Afterward, take a short drive to Bisceglie and the Galantino family olive mill for a tour and lunch hosted by the owners. Learn about the unique composition of the terrain, the steps in the oil production process, suggestions for using olive oil in your cooking, and the strategy of the mill as it moves forward in today’s world. Return to Polignano after lunch. Later, join fellow travelers in the Smithsonian Journeys Travelers Corner for lively conversation. The remainder of the evening is at leisure. (B,L)

Day 7 – Matera

This morning drive to the city of Matera, located in the region of Basilicata where you’ll discover the early cave dwellings known as sassi that were carved into the limestone by prehistoric people and thought to be the first human settlers in present-day Italy. Throughout the site are more than 100 underground churches decorated with delicate frescoes painted by monks who sought safety from Byzantine armies. The caves, some decorated by lavishly carved facades, provided homes to the local people until the 1950s. The location was designated as a World Heritage site in 1993. Visit a cave-house to see its various rooms, furnishings, and original household utensils. Continue to see a crypt located in an old cave-church from the 12th-13th century. Lunch will be served at a restaurant in Matera and there’s free time to explore on your own. After returning to Polignano, join fellow travelers for a talk on Contemporary Italy. Dinner is at leisure on your own. (B,L)

Day 8 – Egnazia

Travel to Egnazia to visit some of the most significant ancient ruins in Apulia. Many antiquities date from the Bronze Age to Messapian and Roman times. Highlights of the Roman period include the tracks of the Traiàna Road, the Roman Amphitheater, the Forum, and two Christian basilicas. The Archaeological Museum of Egnazia showcases many artifacts and historical documents related to the town through the centuries. Return to Polignano for lunch at leisure and an afternoon free of planned activities. Early this evening, join fellow travelers for a farewell reception followed by dinner at the hotel. (B,R,D)

Day 9 – Return Flights to U.S. Gateway Cities

Early this morning, transfer to the Bari International Airport for your return flight to the U.S. (B)

Please note: The progression of this itinerary may change due to operational considerations.

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)

2023 Itinerary

Days 1 & 2 – Depart the U.S. for Bari / Polignano a Mare

Depart the U.S. on your transatlantic flight to Bari, Italy.

Upon arrival at Bari’s Karol Wojtyla International Airport, transfer to the Hotel Covo dei Saraceni in Polignano a Mare. Upon arrival at the hotel, each traveler will receive a customized welcome package containing general information about the Apulia region, as well as a map of of the town. Your Smithsonian Journeys Travel Director will be in residence and available this afternoon and throughout the program for suggestions regarding tours, restaurants and independent activities. This evening gather for opening remarks by your Smithsonian Journeys Expert followed by dinner. (D)

Day 3 – Bari / Polignano a Mare

A full breakfast is available each morning during your stay. Today explore Bari, a bustling seaport since ancient times and one that supports a vibrant fishing industry today. Walk the maze of medieval streets and alleyways of the city’s Old Town and admire the Basilica of St. Nicholas built in the 11th century to honor Bari’s patron saint. Stroll through the renowned Murat Quarter. This modern heart of the city is laid out in a rectangular grid and was designed by Joachim Murat, Napoleon's brother-in-law. Afterwards, a stop will be made for lunch at a local restaurant.

On your return to Polignano, a short walking tour is planned. See Lama Monachile Cala Porto, a unique pebbled beach that will lure you to swim in the clear azure sea. Walk through the Porta Vecchia to see the Matrix Church, and the monument to Domenico Modugno, a popular singer and songwriter born here in 1928. Gather this evening for a welcome reception followed by dinner at the hotel. (B,L,R,D)

Day 4 – Locorotondo / Alberobello

Depart by motorcoach for Locorotondo, one of the most picturesque medieval villages in Italy. This tranquil, well-preserved town sits in the picturesque countryside and is known for its white-washed cummerse, narrow rectangular townhouses with pointed gable roofs. Take an introductory walking tour that includes free time. Continue for a visit to I Pastini, a vineyard and winery for finger food and a sampling of the regional wines.

Travel to Alberobello, a World Heritage site renowned for its trulli, conical whitewashed houses found nowhere else in the world. These ancient and unique dwellings are pieced together without mortar and are decorated with enigmatic Christian and pagan symbols. Return to the hotel in the afternoon. Later a local speaker will offer a presentation on the history and architecture of Lecce (“Florence of the South”) and the “White Town” of Ostuni. This evening, dine independently. (B)

Day 5 – Lecce / Ostuni

Depart on an excursion to Lecce, often called “Florence of the South,” where you will discover the 17th-century architectural style referred to as the “Barocco Leccese.” See the Piazza Sant’Oronzo, the Colonna Romana which marked the end of the Appian Way, the Roman Amphitheater, and the Basilica di Santa Croce. After the tour, there’s free time for lunch at leisure and to enjoy the town before departing for Ostuni. There, you’ll take a guided tour of the “white city” known for its whitewashed buildings set high atop a hill and spill into the Valle d’Itria below. Discover the Old Quarter to see the magnificent Cathedral and walk atop the ancient city walls. Dinner will be served at a popular local restaurant. (B,D)

Day 6 – Trani / Biscegli

Enjoy a scenic drive to the city of Trani, a bustling Adriatic seaport. Gather with a local guide for a tour of city highlights including the 13th-century Fort, Trani Cathedral, the historic Jewish Ghetto, and houses from the Norman period. Afterward, take a short drive to Biscegli and the Galantino family olive mill for a tour and lunch hosted by the owners. Learn about the unique composition of the terrain, the steps in the oil production process, suggestions for using olive oil in your cooking, and the strategy of the mill as it moves forward in today’s world. Return to Polignano after lunch. Join fellow travelers in the Smithsonian Journeys Travelers Corner to chat about the days highlights. Dinner is at leisure. (B,L)

Day 7 – Matera

This morning drive to the city of Matera, located in the region of Basilicata where you’ll discover the early cave dwellings known as sassi that were carved into the limestone by prehistoric people and thought to be the first human settlers in present-day Italy. Throughout the site are more than 100 underground churches decorated with delicate frescoes painted by monks who sought safety from Byzantine armies. The caves, some decorated by lavishly carved facades, provided homes to the local people until the 1950s. The location was designated as a World Heritage site in 1993. Visit a cave-house to see its various rooms, furnishings, and original household utensils. Continue to see a crypt located in an old cave-church from the 12th-13th century. Lunch will be served at a restaurant in Matera, then there’s free time to explore on your own. After returning to Polignano, join fellow travelers for a talk on Contemporary Italy. Dinner is at leisure on your own. (B,L)

Day 8 – Egnazia

Travel to the early Greek/Messapian town of Egnazia to visit what some say are the most significant ancient ruins in Apulia. Many of the earliest antiquities date from the Bronze Age. Highlights of the Roman period include the tracks of the Traiana Road, the Roman Amphitheater, the Forum, and two Christian Basilicas. The Archaeological Museum of Egnazia showcases many artifacts and historical documents related to the town through the centuries. Return to Polignano for an independent lunch and an afternoon free of planned activities. This evening gather for a farewell reception and dinner at the hotel. (B,R,D)

Day 9 – Return Flights to U.S. Gateway Cities

Early this morning, transfer to the Bari International Airport for your return flight to the U.S. (B)

Please note: The progression of this itinerary may change due to operational considerations.

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)

Related Tours