Spread across the heel of Italy, Puglia is like a throwback to when life was altogether more straightforward. You’ll find out how on this nine-day Puglia itinerary, where you’ll have your own driver guide to help you explore this time-frozen land.

You’ll spy ancient villages, learn traditional cooking skills and savour expertly blended wines in this most wholesome of Italian regions. For your starting point on this romantic holiday in Italy, you can’t get much more historic than Matera, considered the third-oldest continuously inhabited settlement on the planet, on the eastern fringes of the Italian province of Basilicata.

First inhabited seven thousand years ago, Matera has become a treasure trove of caves, rock-hewn churches and monasteries lived in by Byzantine and Benedictine monks, farmers and troglodytic locals over the past few centuries. Today, its biblical appearance has made it one of Italy’s most beguiling towns and you’ll wander its limestone cave dwellings with your own private guide.

You’ll then have a day to do as you please on this luxury holiday in Puglia with your driver guide, whether it’s a deeper dive in Matera or exploring the surrounding rolling hills and mountain villages. Next, your driver guide will take you to the hilltop town of Bernalda, where you’ll stay in Palazzo Margherita, a nineteenth-century building that was meticulously restored by legendary Hollywood director Francis Ford Coppola. It’s time to treat your stomach to some homemade cooking on this romantic Italy holiday with a visit to a historic masseria (organic farm estate) and the chance to fashion your own focaccia.

 Departing Bernalda, visit the UNESCO-listed town of Alberobello. On first glance, you’ll wonder if this is where gnomes and elves must live, given the fairytale quality that seems to ooze from its trulli, the conical roof-topped round stone houses that are tightly packed together like a beehive. Your Puglia itinerary continues in the quaint seaside village of Savelletri, where you’ll don your apron at Masseria Torre Coccaro’s cooking school to whip up classic Apulian dishes during your three-night stay at this historic farmhouse. It feels apt to end your slow-paced luxury holiday in Puglia among the time-honoured whitewashed lanes and cummerse architecture of Locorotondo on a guided trip, toasting your time in one of Italy’s most scenic corners with a tasting of one of Locorotondo’s finest vintages at a nearby winery.

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Experience highlights

  • Explore the rock-hewn homes and limestone caves of Matera, which has been continuously inhabited for seven thousand years. You’ll wander this ancient town with a private guide, who will unravel its history and tell you more about the troglodytic lives people have lived here over the centuries.
  • Stay at Palazzo Margherita, Francis Ford Coppola’s former nineteenth-century home he bought and restored to its former glory. It’s a real insight into the tastes of the Coppola family, with its opulent suites designed by them and its peaceful garden the setting of Francis’ daughter Sofia’s wedding.
  • Make focaccia the classic Italian way at a masseria in the Agri river valley. Spend a typical day at this traditional farmhouse as a farm hand, seeing how everything here is still homemade before getting to try yourself.
  • If living and breathing gnomes needed a home, they’d be like peas in a pod in Alberobello. Its trulli is as distinctive as it is magical, the whitewashed conical-topped houses lining lanes like whitewashed soldiers standing sentry since the fourteenth century.
  • During your stay at sixteenth-century farmhouse Masseria Torre Coccaro, you’ll learn how to cook some of the Apulia region’s most beloved dishes, using pasta, meat and fish sourced from its own farm.
  • Wander the alabaster-white lanes of hill-perched Locorotondo with your own guide, one of Puglia’s prettiest towns. Its sparkling white wine comes with a big reputation and you’ll visit a nearby winery to try it for yourself.
Plan your trip to Puglia

Experience highlights

Begin in the historic cave town of Matera
Wander its snaking alleyways and witness the troglodytic lives its inhabitants live
Your guide will take you around some of its most enigmatic sassi and rock-hewn churches
You'll get a pinch of the Matera lifestyle with a stay at Sextantio le Grotte della Civita
All of the rooms have been etched out of Matera's unmistakable honey-coloured tufa stone
Be blessed with epic views of La Gravina ravine from Sextantio le Grotte della Civita
Move on to the pretty hilltop town of Bernalda
Bed down at Palazzo Margherita, the family home of Francis Ford Coppola
Its wisteria-draped garden was the setting of Sofia Coppola's wedding
Every family member had a hand in curating the design of each room
Visit a traditional masseria (farmhouse) and fashion your own foccacia
Gawp at the fairytale-like buildings in the village of Alberobello
Finish your Puglia trip in the seaside port town of Savelletri
Stay at the historic farmhouse Masseria Torre Coccaro
Try one of its signature cooking lessons, rustling up some classic Apulian meals
Take a wander among the whitewashed architecture of Locorotondo
Try some of Locorotondo's famous white wine with a visit to a nearby winery

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    Where you’ll stay


    Sextantio le Grotte della Civita, Matera

    Transforming Matera’s medieval sassi into a boutique hotel like no other, Sextantio le Grotte della Civita is your chance to live like Matera’s inhabitants did for centuries. All of the rooms have been carved out of the honey-coloured tufa stone and left gorgeously untouched and rustic, with candles illuminating every nook and cranny. It’s a biblical setting that feels ever so romantic, one that also has an edge-of-the-world feel with its dramatic position overlooking La Gravina ravine and more of Matera’s rock-hewn dwellings on its far side.


    Palazzo Margherita, Bernalda

    If The Godfather trilogy was Francis Ford Coppola’s movie masterpiece, then Palazzo Margherita is his architectural zenith. Rescuing this nineteenth-century palace from rack and ruin, he completely restoring it to its previous pomp. All of the Coppola family have added their own sparkle to the rooms, filled with luxury furnishings, ceiling frescoes and paintings. Palazzo Margherita draws plenty of comparisons to The Godfather, being the setting for Francis’ daughter Sofia's wedding and paying homage to the Italian generations of yesteryear.


    Masseria Torre Coccaro, Savelletri

    Housed in a sixteenth-century farmstead among ancient olive groves, rustic charm has never abated here with quaint courtyards and the spa snuggled up in caves once utilised as the farm’s olive mill. It won’t come as a surprise that so much of life at Masseria Torre Coccaro revolves around food. It’s an unwritten rule that you’re not allowed to go hungry and with activities like traditional cooking classes, wine-tasting sessions and poolside snacks and cocktails on tap, it will be pretty hard to anyway.

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