From your base in seaside Polignano a Mare, set out to discover the treasures of Italy’s “heel,” from its unique trulli houses and medieval hill towns to its rich culinary traditions.  

Starting at: $4,690 * Price includes special offer Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 The coastal town of Polignano a Mare, Apulia
The coastal town of Polignano a Mare, Apulia
 Early morning in Polignano a Mare
Early morning in Polignano a Mare
 View from the Hotel Covo dei Saraceni in Polignano a Mare
View from the Hotel Covo dei Saraceni in Polignano a Mare
 <i>Trulli</i> rooftops, Alberobello
Trulli rooftops, Alberobello
 The trulli houses of Alberobello
The trulli houses of Alberobello
 The "White Town" of Ostuni
The "White Town" of Ostuni
 The cathedral and port of Trani, Apulia
The cathedral and port of Trani, Apulia
 The Old Port of Bari with Margherita Theater
The Old Port of Bari with Margherita Theater

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

9 days from $4,690

From your base in seaside Polignano a Mare, set out to discover the treasures of Italy’s “heel,” from its unique trulli houses and medieval hill towns to its rich culinary traditions.  

or Call 855-330-1542


Save $250 per person when you book by June 7, 2024!

No Single Supplement for solo travelers! (Limited availability, book early to ensure your space)

Special Air Rates & Services: As part of our special air program, FlexAir, available with this tour, you can choose from a wide variety of flight options. Visit the Tour Details tab and click on "Special Air Rates/Services" drop down. 


Italy’s southeastern Apulia region, also known as Puglia, is a magical landscape where unique architecture and customs have evolved. From your base atop the cliffs of Polignano a Mare, a historic town overlooking the Adriatic, explore this enchanting region during a one-week Cultural Stay. Encounter the conical trulli houses of Alberobello and the baroque treasures of Lecce, and take a day trip to the World Heritage site of Matera to explore its ancient sassi cave dwellings. Explore ancient Greco-Roman ruins and fortified medieval towns, and immerse yourself in the local life in Italy’s “heel” on visits to family-owned vineyards and farms.

Highlights Include

  • Unique Trulli and Sassi: In Alberobello, walk amid iconic trulli, the whitewashed limestone buildings with conical roofs found nowhere else in the world. Named European Capital of Culture in 2019, Matera (located in nearby Basilicata), is home to the rock-hewn cave dwellings known as Sassi. Experience this unique town during a walking tour, including a visit inside a cave house and rock church. Both the trulli and sassi are World Heritage sites.
  • Greek to Baroque Towns: Explore the presence of early Greeks and Romans at Egnazia, an archaeological site dating back to the 13th century B.C. Stop in the “white town” of Ostuni, with its tightly packed white homes perched on the coastline and take a tour of Trani, noted for its medieval fort, cathedral, and Jewish neighborhoods. And in Lecce, witness the town’s exuberant and minutely detailed Baroque architecture.
  • Culture and Cuisine: Savor regional specialties and learn about culinary traditions at a family olive mill and a local vineyard. Plus, hear about the rich cultural heritage, slow-paced lifestyle, and architecture of Apulia from local speakers.


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 meet your group and your Smithsonian Journeys expert for a welcome 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)

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