Tailormade tour Amalfi Coast, Basilicata & Puglia fly-drive tour Italy

12 nights/13 days

Amalfi • Maratea • Monopoli

This luxury fly-drive touring holiday is a leisurely exploration of the southern part of Italy, covering both the well-known beauty spots of the Amalfi Coast and the lesser-known, more southerly regions of Basilicata and the eastern coast of Puglia. This is a touring holiday of dramatic seascapes and beautiful interiors, both wild and cultivated, and is an ideal way to combine multiple regions and explore the south.
Holiday price guide

Available year round subject to the opening period of the hotels, from about £2,320 per person.

Luxury fly-drive tailormade touring holiday to the Amalfi Coast, Basilicata and Puglia

Highlights

Drive from Naples to Amalfi • Stay in Amalfi • Coastal drive to Maratea • Stay in Maratea • Mountainous drive to Puglia • Stay at Monpoli in Puglia

Day by day

Upon your arrival in Naples, pick up your hire-car and begin this touring holiday with a short drive to the Amalfi coast. Exchange the uproarious noise and lively activity of the anarchic Naples for the peaceful serenity of the colourful towns of the Amalfi Coast, often built high onto the rocky coastline. Your hotel in the white seaside town of Amalfi, the Hotel Santa Caterina, is situated conveniently near to the centre of town. Enjoy this enviable location by taking a wander to explore all Amalfi has to offer, or merely spend your days poolside, soaking up the rays in fragrant and beautiful surroundings. At the centre of town lies the Piazza Duomo, so called because at the top of the 57 stone steps that dominate the piazza is the Duomo di Sant’ Andrea Apostolo. The exterior of Amalfi’s cathedral is in the Italian Byzantine style, but the interior is predominantly Baroque. Venture down into the crypt to see where the bones of Saint Andrew are kept, before wandering around the tranquil Chiostro del Paradiso and looking around the museum. Take in the magnificent views across Amalfi from the atrium before heading back down into the town. Walk from Amalfi to nearby Ravello via the trail through the Valle delle Ferriere nature reserve. You will pass waterfalls, climb old stone steps, cross bridges, wander through forests, and observe serene abandoned buildings, before you reach the small picturesque village of Ravello. Alternatively, appreciate the nature within the town of Amalfi itself by walking along the river on the Valle dei Mulini Amalfi. For a taste of the Amalfi history, visit the Paper Museum, which houses the last paper mill used in the area, or walk around the Piazza dei Dogi, formerly known as the Piazza dei Ferrari due to the abundance of blacksmiths that used to line the square. Visit the Antichi Arsenali, the old shipyards, for a tour of Amalfi maritime history, and in the evening view the Amalfi Musical under the arched stone ceiling of one of the shipyards. Wander up between the towering white houses of the Vagliendola, or learn the history of the famous Amalfi lemons at the Museo dell’ Agricoltura. Nearby Conca dei Marini, built on a promontory, is the site of the famous and beautiful Emerald Grotto, a half-submerged cave, accessible by boat, in which the waters glow green. Experience the Amalfi Coast’s Saracen history in the Church of Santa Maria Maddalena in Atrani, or visit Cetara to try some of the local tuna and anchovies. From Positano, the home of original and colourful boutique dresses, take a boat trip to the Isles of li Galli to see the tall towers that defended against the Saracens. Other excursion and sightseeing possibilities include the islands of Capri and Ischia, and the Roman towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Spend your evenings on one of the natural terraces back at the Hotel Santa Caterina, overlooking the deep blue waters.

Leave Amalfi after breakfast and drive southeast to the next stop on this touring holiday. On the way south you can visit the Greco-Roman remains at Paestum. Enter the Basilicata region of southern Italy and arrive in the small hilltop village of Maratea; a rural, traditional Italian village, it is protected from mass-tourism by its size and location. On the Costa di Maratea, this village is another excellent point from which to appreciate the Italian coast. Your hotel, the Locanda delle Donne Monache, was once the home of the Visitandine nuns. The building’s religious heritage can still be read on the shape and design of its exterior. With it central location and elevated position, guests can enjoy an excellent perspective of this traditional town with its winding streets and terracotta roofs. The real charm of Maratea comes with being acquainted with the flow of its little streets and lanes, its dilapidated archways, and hidden grottoes, or by dining in one of the small outdoor cafés that line the edges of the Piazza Buraglia. Dotted along these winding streets are a total of 44 churches, all of which offer valuable insight into the town’s religious history. The most striking of these churches, however, is the Chiesetta del Calvario, with its many attractive frescoes and depiction of the Virgin Mary. Avid explorers will uncover the crumbling houses and overgrown lanes that hark back to an older Maratea, thus far untouched by any form of modernisation. Drive closer to the shore to Maratea Porto to have dinner in a harbourside café or restaurant, before observing the art displayed on the harbour streets. Further along a coastline dotted with ruined defensive castles, you will find the smaller beaches of Fiumicello and Castrocucco, perfect for a relaxed afternoon’s excursion on one of your three days in Maratea. Head to Santa Caterina to go scuba-diving with the local Centro Sub Maratea, or trek up the Mt. San Biagio in the Cliento National Park to reach the statue of the Redeemer. This statue, reaching 22m high, is reminiscent of the Redeemer on Mt. Corcavado in Rio de Janeiro, but the Maratea depiction is distinctly more joyful, youthful, and appears to be more dynamic in stance. Maratea hosts a festival in the month of May dedicated to San Biagio, while the summer months bring with them a wide range of events: from Jazz concerts and food tastings. You may, therefore, want to plan your trip to make the most of these unique, local traditions. Other possible day trips include excursions to the beautiful hilltop village of Rivello or to the remains of the Roman town of Grumentum, with its still discernible amphitheatre and temples.

Before leaving Basilicata and entering Puglia, stop off at Matera on your way across inland Southern Italy. Famous for being a cave-settlement with a scandalous past involving disease and poverty, Matera has now been reclaimed by its former residents and its cave-houses nurtured into habitability. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it remains one of the most perfectly preserved troglodyte settlements in Europe. Your third destination on this touring holiday, however, is Il Melograno, a charming hotel just outside the town of Monopoli, located in the heart of the country-side about five kilometres from the sea. Combining modernity with rustic simplicity, this hotel blends in perfectly with the picturesque surroundings of olive groves, fig trees and traditional farms. Once a traditional Italian masseria, this building has been lovingly restored to its former glory, with the addition of a luxurious spa hidden behind a citrus grove. The diverse and fragrant flora at this hotel cast a colourful light onto the pastel tones of each of the rooms. Ascend the local stone staircase to reach the quaint restaurant which overlooks the pool terrace through wide open arches. Guests can spend time relaxing at the hotel or on their seasonal beach club or explore the Puglian countryside where typical sights include mediaeval castles and small villages of white-washed houses. A 15-minute drive along the coast will bring you to the fishing village of Savelletri di Fasano. The main attraction of Savelletri is its harbour and promenade, on which you will find the rustic beach club, Lido Ottagono. This is the perfect point from which to enjoy the sea and explore the coves. We highly recommend taking the time to sit in one of the harbourside cafés and sample the Italian gelato. On a more sombre note, the village’s Archeolido is worth a visit, comprised of a sprawling necropolis, a museum, and various archaeological sites around the town that are still being investigated. For a taste of the local produce and cuisine, seek out the many local cheese farms and olive oil mills, or go Soul Running through the Trulli Hills and try the Primitivo wines. The town of Selva di Fasano is only a short drive away and offers a chance to connect with the Puglian landscape and tradition. Within the town the buildings are built in the Trulli architectural style, with pointed roofs. Its streets are lined with olive, carob, almond, and oak trees, as well as vines, arbutus, and mastics. It is also home to the largest wild animal zoological park in Europe. Surrounded by a varied and beautiful landscape, seek out the natural caves that punctuate the mountainsides, especially the S. Elia cave and its magnificent stalactites. From high up on the hillside you get a fantastic view across the Fasano Valley, and the small nearby villages. The hot springs of Torre Canne are very close by, as is the village of Alberobello, a somewhat fantastical image with its low white houses with circular pointed roofs, and narrow winding paved streets. In the evenings, return to your hotel to dine at the traditional restaurant.

Depending on the time of your flight, perhaps take the time before going to the airport in Bari to explore the grander, metropolitan side of Puglia. Tour the city streets, discovering the architectural gems, such as the cathedral and Pinacoteca. Perhaps even wander up to the old town to wander around the maze-like streets. Afterwards at the airport, return your hire-car for your return flight to London.

Holiday price guide Prices from £2,320 per person in low season and £3,620 per person in high season based on two people sharing a double or twin room.

Holiday Code ITFD01

Luxury fly-drive tailormade touring holiday to the Amalfi Coast, Basilicata and Puglia

Holiday price guide Prices from £2,320 per person in low season and £3,620 per person in high season based on two people sharing a double or twin room.

Holiday Code ITFD01

Our prices include ● Scheduled flight with British Airways London to Naples, returning from Bari to London
● Hire of a Group B car for the duration of the holiday
● Four nights’ bed and breakfast at the Hotel Santa Caterina, Amalfi
● Four nights’ bed and breakfast at the Locanda delle Donne Monache, Maratea
● Four nights’ bed and breakfast at Il Melograno, near Monopoli
● Concierge service and Expressions Holidays regional helpful hints

Our prices do not include ● Early check-in or late check-out at any hotels (although we can arrange this on request at additional cost)
● Any other services not mentioned above, such as transfers and meals except breakfast at hotels
● Personal holiday insurance. This is essential and cover should be in place from when you book the holiday.
● Local tourist tax, usually between Euros 1 and 3 per person per night, and payable locally to the hotel

Additional information Driving times for this touring holiday
Naples to Amalfi 1 hour 25 minutes
Amalfi to Maratea 2 hours 40 minutes
Maratea to Monopoli 3 hours 30 minutes
Monopoli to Bari 50 minutes

Luxury fly-drive tailormade touring holiday to the Amalfi Coast, Basilicata and Puglia

Highlights of the Amalfi Coast

A drive along the Amalfi coast from Positano to Amalfi offers stunning and breath-taking scenery. Visit the Emerald Cave near Vettica Minore by boat. Enjoy the superb view of the coast from the 13th Century Gothic Villa Rufolo in Ravello (we offer garden tour holidays of the Amalfi Coast and Capri including a visit to Villa Rufolo). Spend a full day visiting the awe-inspiring site of Pompeii, visiting the remains of the villas containing both vibrant and delicate frescoes. Herculaneum is nearby and also worth visiting. The Greek site of Paestum has outstanding Doric temples. In the resort of Amalfi stroll along the Via Genova and the Via Capuano taking in the typical architecture of Campania with the flower-covered balconies, narrow alleyways leading to fountain-filled little squares. Take the chairlift on Capri to Monte Solaro or walk to the Migliara Belvedere for a view of the lighthouse. On Ischia visit the beaches of Citara and Maronti and enjoy a morning's walk to Monte Epomeo for panoramic views of the coast. Well worth visiting is the often-forgotten island of Procida between Naples and Ischia, with its vines and fishing, flat roofed white houses and atmosphere most characteristic of the region in bygone days. Visit Vietri for ceramics as well as stalls of lemons, garlic and peppers.

Cultural highlights of the Amalfi Coast

The House of the Vettii at Pompeii, the baroque Palazzo Reale at Caserta, Villa Jovis in Capri, the Doric temples of Paestum, Michelozzo`s tomb of Cardinal Rinaldo Brancaccio in the 14th Century church of Sant`Angelo, and in Naples: `Modesty` by Antonio Corradini in the Cappella Sansevero, the Gothic church of San Lorenzo Maggiore and the Majolica tiles in the cloisters of the 14th Century Santa Chiara.

Festivals on the Amalfi Coast

The Ravello music festival June to July, the festival of San Costanzo on 14 May on Capri, the festival of Sant`Antonio in Anacapri on 13 June, the festival of Madonna della Liberta in Marina Grande in September, Lo Sbarco dei Saraceni in Positano on the second Sunday in August.

Gastronomy of the Amalfi Coast

Neapolitan cuisine is now famous the world over for its use of tomatoes, pizza, mozzarella cheese, dried pasta and lemons. Local specialities include Mozzarella in Carrozza, Panzanella alla napoletana, Pasta alla sorrentina (with scamorza cheese and tomatoes), Sartu (an elaborate rice pie stuffed with meats, sausages, mushrooms etc), Timballo di Maccheroni (also elaborate with maccheroni baked in a pie and a sauce of chicken livers, mushrooms and black truffles), Carciofi ripieni alla napoletana (baked stuffed artichokes), Coviglie (a mousse-like dessert), Sproccolati (sun-dried figs on sticks) and Sfogliatelle (breakfast pastries). The region produces a number of excellent red and white wines. The most famous white is called Lacrimi Christi, from vines grown on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius. Taurasi from Avellino is a full-bodied red. Capri, Ischia and Sorrento all produce their own local wines.

Luxury fly-drive tailormade touring holiday to the Amalfi Coast, Basilicata and Puglia

Highlights of Basilicata

In Matera, the 13th century cathedral houses the 12th century Madonna della Bruna, while Santa Maria di Idris has 13th century frescoes; also in Matera, visitors can see the “Sassi”, the typical houses and churches dug into the “tufa” crag; the May “chopping festival”, played out in villages right across the region; Sunday markets selling the region's famous ceramics, as well as traditional foods such as spicy sausage and fresh game; the Antiquarium of Metaponto; breath-taking views from the summit of Monte Biagio above Maratea, crowned by a huge statue of Christ the Redeemer; Potenza has some beautiful Romanesque churches and a wonderful 12th cathedral, and is a fascinating regional capital, at 2,687ft above sea level, Italy's highest. A visit to the region is also an opportunity to try local cuisine, with Basilicata particularly known for strong, rustic flavours, such as roast kid with potatoes, peas and artichokes and provolone from Sila.

Luxury fly-drive tailormade touring holiday to the Amalfi Coast, Basilicata and Puglia

Highlights of Puglia

Explore the Gargano peninsula with its dramatic coastline of coves and cliffs, beaches and forested interior. Take a boat trip to the Tremiti islands off the coast of the Gargano. The Salentine peninsula should be discovered for its vineyards and olive groves, megalithic remains and grottoes including the Grotte di Castellanata.

Cultural highlights of Puglia

The cultural highlights of Puglia are to be found in the quality of the Norman religious and secular architecture and the Baroque of Lecce in particular. Highlights include Lecce's church of Santa Croce begun in 1549 by Gabriele Riccardi and with a magnificent 17th Century facade, the loggia of the 15th Century Palazzo Vescovile, the Duomo rebuilt by Giuseppe Zimbalo (lo Zingarello) and the church of Santi Nicola e Cataldo (the most important Romanesque church in the Salentine). Bari possesses the Basilica di San Nicola, one of Puglia`s first great Norman churches. The 15th Century frescoes in the church of Santa Caterina d`Alessandria in Galatina are of particular merit. In Bitanto`s Romanesque cathedral is an Ambo by Maestro Nicola dating from 1229 with a bas-relief showing Frederick II and his family.

Festivals in Puglia

Martina Franca holds the Festivale della Valle d`Itria in late July/ early August. Bari holds a historical parade of St Nicholas on 7-10 May and a procession on the sea. Galatina has a curious tradition coinciding with the Feasts of Saints Peter and Paul on 28-29 June as tarantism has survived here. Lecce has a feast for the patron saints of the city on 24 to 26 August.

Gastronomy in Puglia

Olive oil is produced in enormous quantities and this together with local fruit, wine and seafood feature in the regional gastronomy of Puglia. Specialities include Focaccia bread flavoured with olives, fennel and chicory, Panzerotti (pasta with anchovies, capers and strong ricotta cheese), Tiella di Cozze (rice, potatoes and mussels), Melanzane alla campagnola (aubergines roasted and soaked in oil, garlic and basil). Dried pasta of all shapes and sizes is also a regional speciality. Puglia also is a great wine producer. A light red is produced at Cerignola and a robust red at Bari. Red Primitivo del Salento or di Manduria are well known.

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