We will meet at Rome airport in the afternoon, set our compass south and depart in our comfortable private bus! Destination: Campania. We arrive on the Amalfi Coast after an approximate 3-hour drive and enjoy a welcome dinner.
Day 2 – Wines from Irpinia and Food from the Amalfi Coast
After breakfast at the hotel, we depart on a short drive to visit one of the best wineries of the Irpinia DOC appellation, near the town of Avellino, and sample a variety of wines: Fiano, a white variety; Falanghina, an ancient white packed with citrus blossom aromas; Greco White, featuring peach and fresh green foliage notes; and Aglianico, the red of the area that is a very unique grape variety and quite difficult to find elsewhere.
In the afternoon, anchovies. Anchovies are absolutely essential to the Southern diet. They are rich, fatty, buttery fish packed with flavour. We visit an anchovy processing plant in the town of Cetara to taste both the freshly caught and packaged product. Some people think they don’t enjoy the briny and robust flavour of the anchovy, but something tells us this is because they have never tasted freshly caught and packed anchovies. Let us know how you feel after you taste the real thing.
Day 3 – Amalfi, Lemons and Pompei
Sunny yellow, tart and lush, the lemon is a fitting symbol of Amalfi. In the morning we will tour the town of Amalfi and discover everything about lemons and limoncello liqueur. Lunch will be in a lemon grove with a menu inspired by this regional DOP product. To finish our meal, we will enjoy limoncello, served chilled. This aromatic alcoholic drink is the best way to enjoy pure lemon flavour without the bitter bite.
Afterwards, we spend the afternoon in Pompei. This visit to the ancient city destroyed by the Vesuvio volcano 2,000 years ago is led by a local professional historian.
Day 4 – Buffalo Mozzarella: The Real Thing!
You haven’t really tasted Mozzarella di Bufala until you’ve had it in Campania. A traditional product of the region, it is creamy, pure white, hand-cut and delicate. We will visit a Bufala farm and Mozzarella producer in the town of Capaccio on our way to the region of Basilicata. Today, the star of our lunch meal is mozzarella, of course. After lunch, we will stop in Paestum for a guided tour and then depart for the region of Basilicata where we check in at our hotel at the foot of the majestic Vulture volcano.
Day 5 – Basilicata and its Aglianico: Ancient Volcanic Wines
We will take in the lesser known region of Basilicata, which is removed, remote, hot and dry. The food perfectly reflects its climate and features a blend of spice and simplicity. For centuries, the local people were reticent about mixing with the rest of Italy and the region has preserved a strong and distinct cultural and regional identity due to its lack of roads and physical remoteness. The region borders Calabria, Puglia and Campania and is known as the most mountainous region of Italy.
We will have the opportunity to see how this unique landscape influences the wines. We will visit one of the area’s top wineries growing the Aglianico del Vulture varietal around the extinct volcano of Monte Vulture. After lunch, we will transfer to one of the beautiful seaside towns of Puglia, our final destination for today.
Day 6 – Unforgettable Wine and Food Experiences
There is a lot to discover on this day as we become fully immersed in the precious landscape. We are in the north part of the Puglia peninsula, in the kingdom of the Nero di Troia, a red grape that produces an intense ruby-coloured wine with elegant tannins and a rich, spicy bouquet. A morning visit and tasting at one of the prestigious Antinori wineries is followed by one of the greatest meals I have ever had! The soils here is very rich and locals eat their food right out of the garden, so why shouldn’t we do the same?
Today, after some vino tasting, we will experience food from a local family kitchen and visit their traditional “orto” – a vegetable garden full of seasonal treasures! There is time to relax at our hotel in the afternoon and evening.
Day 7 – Matera, Alberobello and Lecce
After breakfast, we head south to visit the UNESCO village of Matera, a city truly lost in time. The homes are known as Sassi, or houses of stone, and were excavated by hand into the side of the gorge, one built on top of the other and connected by an elaborate system of staircases and alleyways.
We visit a typical oven (“forno”) to discover their ancient cooking methods and sample local bread, pizza and focaccia, all fresh from the oven. Then we follow our local guide for a private tour of the “Sassi” and continue on to Alberobello, known for its characteristic Trulli houses. You will have time on your own in Alberobello and transfer to the hotel.
Day 8 – Learn the Art of Orecchiette Pasta
Are you ready for today’s challenge? The making of orecchiette – a homemade pasta typical of Puglia! Afterwards, we’ll tour the facilities and enjoy a traditional lunch. To burn the calories (no worries, Pugliese cuisine is very tasty and low in calories!), we will tour the historical city centre of the nearby city of Lecce, named “the Florence of the South” due to its ancient romantic beauty, baroque architecture and history. We will learn all about it from our local guide while savouring a true strong, dry and rustic Salento.
Day 9 – In the Primitivo di Manduria Region
The Manduria region is currently attracting international attention because of its distinct wine and food culture. This hot and dry region has an agricultural abundance of olives, wheat and grape vines, which all grow perfectly. Because this region is so fertile, there are many diverse varietals that we will taste today. Among the best local grapes are Pampanuto, Bombino Bianco, Bombino Nero and Nero di Troia. However, you cannot visit Puglia without tasting Primitivo, the king of grapes known for its powerful intensity and bouquet. The sun gifts this plant everything it needs to transform the grapes into a sumptuous wine with an opulent red colour and cherry notes on the palate.
Note in the photo: wine is sold “by-the-litre” at one of the numerous “cantine”.
Day 10 – From Puglia to Calabria
After breakfast, we check out of our hotel in Puglia and head south. The entire morning drive will bring us to the western coast of Calabria and the sea town of Amantea where we will check in to our hotel on the beach. There will be time to relax and join up with the rest of the group later for a 4-course dinner paired with Calabria wines.