The Heel and the Hinterland: Sights and Pleasures of Basilicata and Puglia

From Greeks to Romans to Byzantines, Saracens, and Normans, the waves of diverse peoples who settled southeastern Italy left their mark on its food and culture. Our trip spans parts of two Italian regions, Basilicata and Puglia, and highlights the various legacies of its colonists and conquerors.

Our archaeological itinerary in this part of Magna Graecia includes a stop at the newly restored world-class archaeological museum of Taranto and a visit to the site of Metapontum, both first settled by Greek colonists when Romans were still living in shepherds’ huts.

We also learn—or try to learn—how to roll pasta dough around a thin metal rod and meet a baker, an olive oil producers, and a local food historian. 

The scenery of Italy’s rugged interior is stunning, and at least three UNESCO World Heritage Sites are on the itinerary—Frederick II’s majestic octagonal Castel del Monte; the sassi, rock-cut dwellings and churches, of mysterious Matera (European Cultural Capital in 2019); and the curious conical buildings called trulli in and around Alberobello. We also visit the historic center of Lecce, a baroque gem (with a Roman amphitheater), and the cathedrals of Trani (famed among other things for its bronze doors) and Otranto (with extraordinary floor mosaic).

April 16–23, 2018
April 4–11, 2016