A Culinary Adventure in Puglia
With more than 300 days of sun a year and 500 miles of coastline, the heel of Italy — known as Puglia — is a beautiful region known for its warm climate, full-bodied wines, and fresh seafood. The rural landscape is populated with fortified castles, olive groves, and whitewashed Trulli, distinctive conical shaped dwellings that distinguish Puglia from other parts of the country. The region may be a lesser known area of the country, but its offerings are immense.
The gastronomy in Puglia is influenced by Italy’s neighboring countries and past invaders — Greeks, French, Germans, and Arabs — as well as both the agriculture and the sea. You’ll find olives here, as well as grapes, figs, and almonds. Local cuisine specialties include seafood risotto, fava beans, orecchiette (ear-shaped pasta), as well as burrata, a creamy cheese somewhat like mozzarella.
Similar to an agriturismo, masserias are country homes that operate in Puglia both as hotels and working educational farms. To use the name a property has to have existed for over 20 years, and must offer educational activities in addition to their farming work. During this cooking adventure, your accommodations are located near Brindisi in a masseria surrounded by olive trees that were planted more than 400 years ago. The unique estate has been renovated and altered over the past few centuries; rooms that were once noble quarters are now charming rooms for guests. The masseria is a family affair, run by a brother and sister team, and the latter, Chiara, will be your cooking instructor during your Puglia adventure.
A Culinary Adventure in Puglia Itinerary
- Arrive at either Bari or Brindisi airport, and group transfer to the masseria, your accommodations for the week.
- Take some time to settle in and relax.
- Get to know the family, and enjoy an aperitivo with them before dinner.
- Following breakfast, visit an ancient oil mill in the Ostuni area to learn about this “green gold.”
- Next, visit a cheese factory for a live demonstration of how they make mozzarella and burrata, and enjoy a tasting of this wonderful cheese.
- After, take a walk through the old town’s small alleys and enjoy an apperitivo overlooking the sea.
- Return to the masseria for your first hands-on cooking class, which will focus on fresh and filled pasta and the local glory – focaccia.
- Dinner to follow based on your efforts.
- In the early morning, depart for Matera in the Basilicata region, an awe-inspiring UNESCO World Heritage Site that has become famous worldwide for its ancient town “Sassi di Matera” which translates to “stones of Matera.” This prehistoric settlement is thought to be among the first human settlements in Italy, and it’s been featured in a variety of filmmakers as the setting for ancient Jerusalem.
- Lunch on your own.
- Enjoy some free time on your own in the afternoon.
- Dinner tonight is in the masseria.
- In the morning, take part in your next cooking class to learn about traditional pizza and other local specialties like panzerotti, friselle, and taralli.
- Lunch to follow based on your efforts.
- In the afternoon, head to the capital city of Bari to explore the old town. This guided walk will take you to remarkable historical attractions — such as the beautiful St. Nicola’s Basilica, home to Saint Nicolas, a beloved saint and father of the Santa Claus legend — as well as the seaside promenade and busy pedestrian shopping area.
- Finish your day with a wonderful dinner al fornello, where you’ll be served various cuts of meats from the local butcher. This is a rustic and completely Pugliese experience!
- In the morning, visit the picturesque town of Polignano a Mare to admire the impressive panoramas from the seaside terraces. Perhaps indulge in a gelato while there.
- From there take a very picturesque drive through Itria Valley to visit Alberobello, the UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its fairytale trulli. While there, experience a guided visit of the site. Finish the tour with a stop at a local winery to taste their best wines along with some fabulous appetizers.
- Return to the masseria to participate in a cooking class that focuses on fish and classical seafood dishes, from linguine to octopus, in a Mediterranean style.
- Following breakfast, depart for an excursion to Locorotondo, a beautiful town in the Itria valley, and visit their local market, where you’ll enjoy an apertivo like the locals.
- Transfer to a renowned factory to taste the local cold cut, capocollo.
- Return to the masseria for your final cooking class, where you’ll discover the tricks of Pugliese desserts and cakes, such as biscotti, and Italian limoncello.
- Farewell dinner to follow based on your efforts, along with a certificate of attendance.
- Breakfast and check out. Group transfer to Bari or Brindisi airport.