A tour in Puglia is a must do!

We often spent our family holidays in Puglia. We were attracted by its hospitality, beautiful coast, sea, food and great weather.

The peninsula of Puglia is surrounded by Adriatic Sea and Ionic Sea. The longest region of Italy and a coast extending for more than 800 Km!

Along the coast rocky stretches – such as Gargano, one of the most touristic part – alternate to cliffs in Salento and also sandy coast like along the Gulf of Taranto.
One of the best regions of Italy where to go if you like to swim, sail or just sun bathing on the beach.

By traveling throughout Puglia we discovered its unknown sides and figured out that this region is not only for beaches lovers. The internal part is so beautiful that it is impossible to describe it: magnificent olive trees, some of them dating back up to 1000 years ago!

Landscapes are a mixture of sharp contrast of colors: pale green given by olive trees, reddish soil, “dry walls” entirely white – “muretti a secco” – a  symbol of Salento’s and Itria valley, built up centuries and centuries ago for dividing properties. So unique that these walls are real masterpieces that became candidates for Unesco heritage.

Besides the beauty of the region, Puglia is the heart of the Mediterranean cuisine and the biggest producer of extra virgin olive oil.

Bari is the capital of Puglia, a beautiful city on the Adriatic sea.

The antique part of the city, known as “Bari Vecchia” is famous for the  majestic Basilica devoted to San Nicola, patron of Bari. San Nicola is venerated also by Orthodox Church and other minor confessions.

Another attraction in Bari Vecchia are the local mamas making orecchiette and other pasta shapes in the streets under the delighted eyes of travelers. Grandmother, mother and daughter work together with antique and fast movements, creating one of the most famous pastas in the world. Simply amazing!

 

However, our favorite memory is the fish market sitting by the entrance of Bari Vecchia.

A walk in the fish market is the best way to meet local people. Their dialect is impossible to be understood by any other Italian but Apulians. You will be able to see fishermen tirelessly beating octopuses on the rocks to make it more tender or shaking them in the water inside plastic bowls. That’s  an incredible show.

Fishermen offer fresh fish and seafood, but also raw fish ready to be eaten. Mussels, sea urchins, sea truffles, sea dates but also octopus, squid and several other kinds of sea food and fish are every day offered in each stand.  A fascinating tradition dating back to thousands of years ago.

One hour driving fromBari rises the unique town of Alberobello, UNESCO site known as “la città dei trulli”.

Trulli are old buildings that local farmers built as temporary shelters and warehouses or as dwellings. Typical conic roof of “trulli” characterize the town of Alberobello and the Valle d’Itria. They are spread out in the area of Valle d’Itria, punctuated by the characteristic cones that makes the landscape fairy-tale!

In Alberobello you will experience the highest concentration of “trulli”.

Trulli are masterpieces of rural art of construction: the basis and the cone shaped roofs are made with dry local stone sticked together without mortar.

Experienced hands assembled stone after stone, one over the other, in order to make a
solid building. “ Trullo” is also considered as the first example of modular buildings:
attached to the main “trullo”, if necessary, were added other smaller “trulli” connected to each other, adapting it to the needs  of the family.

The Valle d’Itria includes other beautiful, charming little towns, Locorotondo -its name is due to the circular layout of the village-, Martina Franca, considered the capital of Barocco Pugliese but also of the mouthwatering Capocollo, Cisternino -where you can eat the “bombette al  fornello” -skewer meat cooked directly by the butchers-, Noci famous for the production of the best mozzarella, burrata and stracciatella. This is one of the best areas of Puglia for the food.


On the sea we love to visit  Polignano where Domenico Modugno, the author of the song “Volare” was born, where the restaurants offer amazing fish and seafood dishes sometimes with a breathtaking view.

Matera, another unique city, another UNESCO site, located in Basilicata region, is so close to Puglia that is definitely a must see during a tour in Puglia.

Matera, Awarded European Capital of Culture 2019 is called “la città dei Sassi” because the dwellings were excavated directly in the calcareous rocks. It seems to be the first human settlement in Italy.

Because of its unicity Matera was set of several movies, one for all: Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ”.

On the way to Lecce, Ostuni -la città bianca- appears on top of the hill with its white walls.

You cannot leave Puglia without visiting Lecce, a very lively town, full of energy, considered the “Florence of the South of Italy” with its Barocco churches and buildings, full of beautiful decorations.

Walking in Lecce is pleasant, many artisan shops offer their creations like shoes, ceramics, clothes and other stuffs.

Great restaurants and trattorias offer fantastic fish dishes.

A tour in Puglia is a must do!

Marcello and Raffaella Tori invite you to come and taste Italy in an authentic, unclose, and personal way. Everything is arranged, from food and wine tastings to cooking lessons, walks in the countryside and meanders through beautiful villages. Marcello and Raffaella live in Bologna and have over 20 years of experience working with people just like you who want to taste all Italy has to offer. Their unique experiences are enduring in their simplicity and authenticity. Join us for a day trip or a 4-7 day tour and taste and see amazing Italy through the eyes of Marcello and Raffaella. What are you waiting for? Come and Taste Our Italy! Find our more at bluone.com and follow us on BluoneCookingWineToursItaly/.

Slow Travel Tours is an affiliation of small-group tour operators who offer personalized trips in Italy, France and other European countries.
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Gems of the Dordogne

Anne & Kirk Woodyard – Music and Markets Tours

Through verdant fields, rolling hills, and a shadowed forest we drive, coming out into the light of the golden village of Cadouin, famed for its abbey and cloister. Pass through the Porte Saint Louis, the only remaining gate of the walls that surrounded the Abbey centuries ago, and the bulwark of a church towers behind the market hall.

Founded in the 11th century, the somber Cistercian Abbey became a pilgrimage site due to a piece of cloth (brought back from the Crusades) said to be part of the burial shroud of Christ…bringing famed visitors such as Eleanor of Aquitaine and Richard the Lionhearted to this tiny town.
It was not until the 1930s that the piece of cloth was found to be from Egypt (that Arabic writing on the edges gave it away!), and the town lost its pilgrimage status. Today the main attraction of this Unesco World Heritage Site is the glorious gothic cloister dating from the 15th century (long after the simple bulk of the church itself), with intricately carved capitals, keystones above (with a surprising abundance of curly kale!), and traces of medieval frescoes beside the bishop’s chair.

Not far from Cadouin another ancient gem hides in yet another tiny hamlet …. the communal oven of Urval. Tucked behind houses and beside the village church, this is where the town baked their bread – can you imagine bringing your loaf (did each family have a particular emblem to identify their bread, I wonder?), then sitting in the square while it baked, chatting with your friends awaiting their loaves?
Departing the quiet village (didn’t see a soul!) we wind our way to the hilltop Farm Inn Le Tilleuils for a fresh-as-can-be lunch. In addition to lunch, friendly Nadine offers every imaginable duck product for sale, all from their own farm. Such a peaceful place, as is much of this lush region of France.
Snaking along the curvy Dordogne, we arrive at Limeuil, another Plus Beaux Village, where the Vezere river meets the Dordogne. Not far from the town hall, with its pretty promenade overlooking the rivers, a glassblower is at work on his special designs. We watch for a while, then tackle the steep lane leading to the top of town. From hilltop to riverside Limeuil’s a charmer – as is practically every village we pause in in the lovely Dordogne region!

************************************************************************************The best way to describe us (Kirk and Anne Woodyard) is that we’re interested in the stories that make the places we visit come alive.
We’ve visited Europe more times than we can count, learned some entertaining stories there, and met some warm and helpful people who also enjoy the wonders of music and life in Europe. We look forward to sharing these stories and friends and experiences with our Music and Markets guests.
Between our music-related travels, we split our time between our homes near Washington DC and the south of France.
While both of us have experience in organizing travel and music groups Kirk’s background is in project management and competitive writing, and Anne is an accomplished pianist with over thirty ye

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The Sud Tirol

One of the things we enjoy most about our Arts Sojourns is introducing others to the country we’ve come to love. Barbara and I remember our first visit more than twenty years ago and how it impacted our lives for the good.

What we didn’t discover on our first trip was this country’s amazing diversity, from landscape, to culture, customs, and cuisine. In 1996, when we first visited the Sud Tirol, Italy’s northernmost region bordering Austria, we were disappointed. The strong Germanic flavor did not fit the naive vision we had of the country at the time.

Via Portici in the heart of the medieval center

We spent three weeks in Bressanone, also known as Brixen, far to the north. The region is bilingual, and in Bressanone, German is generally preferred. We made a day trip south to Bolzano, AKA Bozen, larger, more cosmopolitan, and a bit more “Italian.” The city impressed us then and we wanted to visit again.

The entrance to Castel Roncolo

Castel Roncolo – a very pleasant 30 minute walk from Bolzano center

Barbara and I usually try and spend some time exploring new areas before we meet up with our Sojourn groups. We approach these as “dry runs” for possible future Sojourns, trying to gain as much expertise as we can.

Last June we returned to the Sud Tirol and based in Bolzano. We loved it!! The Dolomite alps, the fascinating blend of cultures, the great variety of cuisine, our fantastic hotel, all left us longing to return to Bolzano with a group.

Looking down on Bolzano from the Renon cable car

It’s difficult to choose only one favorite experience in Bolzano, but I would have to say it was the day we took the Renon cable car up to Soprabolzano, and then the old-time railroad along the high plateau to Klobenstein (or Collalbo depending upon whether you’re feeling German or Italian.

Dolomite Alps from the Renon cable car

A beautiful view from the Renon Railway outside of Soprabolzano

Piramidi

From there we made the easy hike to the piramidi (pronounced pee RAM eh dee), rare and amazing natural earth formations. Along the way we heard live cuckoos for the first time, and yes, they sound just like the clocks. We followed that with a delicious lunch back in Soprabolzano, with a killer view of the dolomites.

San Genesio – Another cable car ride from Bolzano.

We took more hikes, rode other cable cars, visited castles and the Archeological Museum to see the amazing “Iceman,” the mummified copper age man discovered by hikers in a melting glacier in 1991.

“Otzi” – The “Iceman” in Bolzano’s Archeological Museum. This is actually a lifelike full-size replica. The real “Otsi” is in a refrigerated box and does not look quite this good.

We crammed a tremendous amount of “research” into a fairly short time, but feel as if we’ve only scratched the surface. We can’t wait to share this wonderful and unique part of Italy with our Sojourners in June of 2019.

Matthew Daub is a professional artist and university professor with works in major public and private collections throughout the United States and Europe. He has been leading plein air painting workshops in Italy since 1994. In 1999, Matthew and his wife Barbara formed Arts Sojourn as “a vacation for artists and their friends.” The program is designed to appeal to artists of all levels as well as non-artists who enjoy the company of creative people in a slow travel format.

Slow Travel Tours is an affiliation of small-group tour operators who offer personalized trips in Italy, France and other European countries.

 

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