Begin your self-drive tour in the sun kissed lands of Puglia and Basilicata, scattered with groves of olives, medieval fortified villages and famed for its dramatic cliff edged coastline and crystal-clear sea and make your way northward to the UNESCO protected fishing villages of the Amalfi Coast.
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Day 1: After the arriving at Bari Airport, pick up your hire car at the car-rental office in the airport, and then head towards the Bari area for your first nights stay.
Bari Airport - Bari Area (approx. 60km / 1 hour)
Day 2: On your first full day we’d recommend exploring the Itria Vally admiring the beautiful landscapes and the interesting architecture that characterises its towns and villages. Explore the UNESCO World Heritage city of Alberobello. The place is famed for its Trulli, which are picturesque white washed, dry stone, circular huts topped by conical roofs especially in the old districts of Rione Monti and Rione Aja Piccola. Further down the road you’ll find the hill town of Locorotondo, one of Italy’s ‘Borghi più belli d’Italia’. The architecture here takes yet another unique turn, with the buildings reflecting Baltic traditions, tall and narrow with gabled roofs a distinct contrast to the Trulli. The beautiful pedestrianised town centre has a laid-back vibe, perfect for a leisurely stroll through its circular web of charming streets. After, make your way to Martina Franca, the elegant baroque town that still retains its original baroque and renaissance gates. Wander along the shaded tree lined street through the Porta di Santo Stefano archway into the city and enter the white washed Piazza Roma, where pretty flower boxes bring a vibrant dash of colour to the square and explore the scattering of elegant palaces, such as the 17th century Palazzo Ducale. Finally make your way to the Bari area for your overnight stay.
Bari Area - Alberobello (approx. 20km / 20 minutes) - Locorotondo (approx 10 km / 10 minutes) - Martina Franca (approx. 7km - 15 minutes) - Bari Area (approx. 17km / 30 minutes)
Day 3: After breakfast, we suggest starting todays road trip in the town of Andria where you’ll see the beautiful limestone Castel del Monte standing on the rocky outcrop (about 1h40/120km). The imposing octagonal structure was built in the 13th Century by the Emperor Frederick II today stands as a monument to medieval military architecture and has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After taking some time to learn about the history of the structure, head back to the road and on to your next stop, the sea port of Trani (about 40 minutes/35km). Often overlooked by tourists, the town is a bustling working port full of life and character. Head straight for the harbourside where you could spend hours watching the boats whilst enjoying a bite to eat from one of the local trattorias. Close to the water edge you’ll see another of Frederick II strategically located fortresses, this time Svevo Castle. Possibly even more architecturally striking, just along the promenade, is the Romanesque Cathedral of San Nicolás, with its 60-metre-tall bell tower. After exploring the cobbled streets away from the harbour begin making your way back to the Selva di Fasano area (about 1h25/110km).
Day 4: Today, head south along the heel of Italy’s boot shaped peninsula to the Salento region. First make a stop in the Baroque city of Lecce. In the heart of its historic centre, hidden amidst buildings within the web cobblestone streets, you’ll find the ancient Roman Theatre. Discovered in 1929 during building restorations, this hidden gem has been excavated, bringing to light some of its former glory. Visit the nearby museum to learn more about the city’s fascinating Roman past. Amongst these classical ruins and ancient palaces stands the 12th Century Cathedral, unique in that it has two facades. As you explore the city and its religious buildings, you my notice papier-mâché sculptures. Formed using paper and glue, the humble materials provided an affordable way for 17th century religious sculptors to create intricate and colourful offerings. In the old town you’ll still find workshops in which the 17th century tradition lives on, as well as a museum dedicated to the history of the towns famous craft. In the afternoon drive about 40 minutes/40km further south west to the coastal town of Gallipoli. Surrounded by crystal clear, turquoise water, the fortified town is perched on a limestone island, connected to the mainland by a bridge. In the historic centre of the town stands the Baroque Cathedral, ornately decorated and built in the local Lecce limestone. Head up to the city walls where you can find a spot in a café or bar and watch over the water. Once you’ve had your fix of the charming town, make your way to your new accommodation in the Salento area (about 40 minutes/40km).
Day 5: At the far southern tip of Italy’s heel lies the village of Santa Maria di Leuca. Here on the Punta Meliso a lighthouse stands 57 metres tall, protecting the bay. It marks the meeting point of the Adriatic and Ionian Sea and at its base you’ll find the Basilica of Santa Maria de Finibus Terrae. The vast piazza here is the perfect place to admire the panoramic views over the southern tip of Italy and the Mediterranean Sea beyond. Continue on your journey, driving along the beautiful Adriatic cost to Santa Cesarea Terme (45 minutes/35km). Set within the Costa Otranto National Park and home to hot springs, here you’ll find natural thermal waters bubbling from cave systems that line the rocky coast. The town has an up-market feel, stemming from the 18th Century when wealthy aristocrats began to build their ornate summer villas and palazzos here, which can still be admired today. For your final stop for the day make your way to Otranto (16 minutes/26km). The Castello Aragonese has been transformed into an art space, having exhibited the likes of Warhol, as well as local artists. A visit is worth it alone for the view. Head up to the rooftop and to one side you can gaze over the sea and the marina and to the other you’ll see the white washed town. The town boasts yet another gem, the Cathedral of Otranto. As you wander in you’ll notice the intricate mosaic, that dates back to 1103 and spans the entire floor. The imagery depicts the many influences that have played a part in the history of the city. A tree of life branches off and merges into, greek mythological depictions, Islamic influences, the signs of the zodiac to name a few. After exploring, the town make your way back to your accommodation in the Salento area (about 60 Minutes/60km).
Day 6: Continue your adventure through southern Italy, heading north in the direction of Basilicata. On route visit Altamura (about 3h/250km), the Apulian town famed for its 13th Century Cathedral, which was also built by Frederick II of Swabia. If you’re interested in the history of the region, visit the Altamura Museum which has an impressive collection of artefacts from the region that date back 2500 years. For those who’d rather just soak up the atmosphere, head for the centre of the town to explore. Altamura is known as the city of bread, famed for its course-grain oven baked loves and focaccia. Take a break for lunch and enjoy this local delicacy with mozzarella and juicy sun ripened tomatoes. Next stop, Gravina, which is about 20 minutes or 14km down the road, where you’ll find fascinating churches and buildings carved into the rock. Go underground and explore these buildings built within the calcarenite rock. As you explore learn about the local folk tales that have developed throughout the town’s long history. This afternoon, drive on to Matera – the city of caves (30 minutes/25km). Stacked on top of a rocky ravine is the UNESCO World Heritage Sassi district, which is the ancient town, one of the longest inhabited cities throughout history. You’ll find yourself amidst a beautiful web of lanes and staircases, with plenty of lookout points where you can stop to take in the views. Lastly, check into your new accommodation in the Matera area.
Day 7: Today, depart to the Campania Region (2h20/200km). Start your exploration of this beautiful part of Italy on the Tyrrhenian coast in Salerno. The buzzing port city merges the new buildings of the commercial centre and the historic town, with its Duomo that holds the relics of San Matteo, the patron saint of the city. First head up to the Lombard Castle of Arechi to take the panoramic views. Then venture to the old town to visit the Minerva Botanical Gardens of Salerno Medical School – the oldest university of medicine in the world dating back to the 14th Century. The terraced gardens and collections of rare an exotic plant species were once used to teach medical students. After, wander through the palazzo lined streets down to the Trieste Lungomare, the palm tree lined promenade that meanders beside the clear waters of the Gulf of Salerno. After grabbing a bite to eat, hop back in the car and drive further up the coast to Vietri sul Mare (about 15 minutes/6km). As you approach from Salerno youll notice he Neapolitan Renaissance Church of Saint John the Baptist sanding tall on the horizon, pin pointing the centre of the town. This part of the Amilfi Coast is still somewhat undiscovered yet is home some of the finest treasures the coastline has to offer. It marks the beginning of the Amalfi coastal road and is famed for its ceramics. The pottery production here dates back to the Roman times and today you’ll see how the craft lives on as you wander through the heart of the town, passing shopfronts bursting with colourful ceramic creations. Later enjoy the stunning sea views as you drive west along the Amalfi Coast, through lemon groves and villages to your accommodation (about 1h/25km).
Day 8: Wake up to explore the stunning fishing villages of the Amalfi Coast. The villages, with their colourful houses that cling to the cliff face are UNESCO protected. Begin in Amalfi itself, the once maritime republic and hub of trade. Make your way to the centre of town to the Piazza del Duomo, where you’ll find the striking Arab Norman Caherdral. Try the lemoncelllo paston. Back on the road towards Positano. The vertical village clings to the mountainside in a hue of peachy, pastel buildings. Find a terrace bar and watch the yachts cruise by whilst you relax, sipping Campari. Look out for the locally made linen products. The final stop, and the last of the big three of the Amalfi Coast is Ravello. Known as the jewel of the coastal crown, the tiny town take pride of place, high above sea level. This makes for spectacular views of the bay below. Visit the 11th Century Duomo di Ravello to marvel at its beautiful ceramic interior. (Unesco World Heritage Sites). (Dinner). Overnight in Costiera Amalfitana area. Over time this place has attracted and inspired, artist, poets and musicians with its spectacular views, elegant palazzi and manicured gardens, and today it will be you in their place. Once you’ve soaked up the atmosphere. Make your way back to your accommodation in the Amalfi coast area.
(ca. 80 km)
Day 9: Set out for Sorrento, the cliff top town that overlooks the bay, across to Naples and Mount Vesuvius beyond. Make your way straight to the lively hub that is Piazza Tasso. The square is lined by small cafes, which are great places to sample the fragrant Italian coffee whilst soaking up the hustle and bustle of the centre. Narrow streets fan out from the central square, dotted with shops selling trinkets and souvenirs as well as bars and cafes. Escape the crowds by making your way to the seaside village of Marina Grande, home to colourful boats and fishing nets bobbing beside the sandy shore. Next, get a feel for la dolce vita on the chic Italian island of Capri. Cross from the mainland by boat, exploring iridescent waters of blue grotto on your way. Pass through the arches of the Il Faraglioni rock formations that rise up above the water, before reaching the port in Capri. From here make your way up to Anacapri where you can take the one-man chair lift up to, Monte Solaro, the highest point on the island, to admire the awe-inspiring views. After this jam-packed day drive back to your accommodation in the Amalfi Area.
Day 10: This morning check out from your hotel and begin your drive to the ancient Roman city of Pompeii. The volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79AD wiped out the entire city. In an instant it was frozen in time, the ash that fell preserved all that it covered. Today when you visit you’ll see the buildings, pots and even frescoes that are astonishingly well preserved. Spend your morning learning about this ancient civilisation and the regions fascinating history. In the afternoon continue on to the Mount Vesuvius National Park. If your feeling adventurous, park in the car park and take the shuttle service up to 1,050 metres, from which you can take the 4km trail (there and back) to the rim of the Volcanic Crater you’re your way you’ll enjoy stunning views across the Bay of Naples, Pompeii and the Apennine mountains beyond. Head to your accommodation in Naples to relax and enjoy the final night of your road trip through Puglia and Campania.
DAY 11: On your final morning, before your flight home, visit Naples to take in its stunning art and architecture such as the Duomo, sample the gourmet local cuisine, discover its history at the Museo Archeologico Nazionale or simply indulge in some shopping before your journey home. Say your ‘farewells’ or ‘until next time’ as you drive to Naples Airport to return your hire car and catch your flight home. (ca. 15 km)
*IN CASE OF EARLY DEPARTURE:
Day 10: On your final full day you can choose to spend the morning visiting the incredible ancient Roman city of Pompeii, preserved by the volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79 or take a trip to visit Mount Vesuvius itself. In the afternoon head into the beautiful chaos that is Naples, a city that is un-apologetically real. Start in the bustling centre where you'll be spoiled for choice when it come to delicious Neapolitan pizza, grab a slice and get exploring.
Day 11: After your adventurous journey driving through Puglia, Basilicata and the Amalfi Coast the time has come to return home. Depart towards Naples Airport to return your hire car and catch your flight home. (ca. 15 km)
- Car hire with unlimited mileage
- 10 nights’ 4* accommodation on a half board basis (optional B&B reduction)
- Detailed driving instructions, maps and suggested itineraries
- Olive oil tasting with a small gift
- Sfogliatella tasting in Naples
- Any extras, drinks and personal expenses
- Parking costs (where applicable)
- Tourist Tax
Bari Area (3 nights)
UNA Hotel Regina is located close to Bari (about 15km/20 minutes drive) and offers great base for exploring the region. Its architecture is inspired by the ancient Apulian villages that surround it. Dine in the Noha restaurant which serves traditional Mediterranean and Apulian dishes that can be enjoyed outside on the terrace in the warm weather. With ample facilities including an indoor and an outdoor swimming pool, wellness and fitness areas, this hotel is the perfect place to relax after days spent exploring the region. The rooms are fresh and airy, decorated in a rustic style typical of the region.
Salento Area (2 nights)
Hotel Montecallini is located about 8km/10 minutes drive from Santa Maria di Leuca on the far southern tip of Italy's heel. Set in a beautiful location surrounded by olive groves overlooking the sea. The hotels facilities include a swimming pool surrounded by sun loungers and a small spa area (payable locally), where you can relax and unwind after days spent exploring the region. In the evening dine at the hotels restaurant where you can enjoy traditional Salento dishes. The comfortable rooms are furnished in a traditional Salento style decorated with local ceramics and deep wood furnishings set against the white washed Mediterranean walls.
Altamura Area (1 Night)
Fuori le Mura is located in the Altamura, walking distance from the heart of the town. The comfortable guestrooms are decorated in earthy tranquil tones, creating a relaxing environment for you to rest on your journey through the region. As you walk into the hotels Hawthorn Restaurant, you'll smell the comforting fragrance of the freshly baked Altimura Bread which is served along side the delicious Apulian cuisine.
Amalfi Coast Area (3 nights)
Hotel Villa Romana is located in the heart of Minori making it the perfect place to stay when exploring the UNESCO World Heritage Villages of the Amalfi Coast. Walking distance from the centre of Minori, along the picturesque streets. The nearby beach is just a short walk from the hotel. The guest rooms are fresh and bright with cool tiled floors and a Mediterranean decor. The hotel has a swimming pool and solarium in the central courtyard, surrounded by greenery. Dine in the hotels charming restaurant where you'll be offered a selection of carefully prepared dishes from the Campania region.
Naples Area (1 night)
Hotel San Francesco al Monte is a former 16th Century Monastery that overlooks the beautiful panorama of the Gulf of Naples. Stay in this unique set high on the hillside overlooking Naples, which is about a 4km/15 minute drive away. The monks residencies have been carefully transformed into elegant and comfortable rooms decorated in soft colours, providing a tranquil space to relax. On the top floor you'll find a swimming pool and garden. From here you'll also have incredible view over Naples, as far as Vesuvius and even the island of Capri.
- Any day departure (subject to availability)