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Hidden Treasures of Puglia & Matera

Puglia Guided Walking Holiday

Italy-Puglia-Matera-AdobeStock_79738689.jpeg
Duration: 7 nights
Type: European Centre Based
Walking Grade: 2 & 3
from £1,195pp £1,070pp without flights FLIGHTS AVAILABLE

A wonderful mix of guided walking and sightseeing to explore Puglia – a charming and relatively undiscovered part of Italy which has been home to multiple empires and cultures who have all left their architectural mark. Traditional Trulli houses with their appealing stone walls and cone-shaped roofs dot the landscape while the partially abandoned town of Matera is famed for its 'Sassi' cave dwellings, hewn out of the soft tufa cliffs. We’ll visit the unusual octagonal-shaped Castel del Monte and set foot in Alta Murgia National Park - Italy’s last example of Mediterranean steppe, rich in flora and fauna.

Holiday Highlights

  • Discover an area of Italy that is still relatively undiscovered and fringed by mountains and turquoise seas
  • Walk through the rolling landscapes of the Alta Murgia National Park, dotted with ancient towns steeped in history
  • Uncover rural charm and rich culinary heritage by its quaint trattorias and great food
  • Visit the Sassi at Matera, UNESCO listed cave dwellings lived in until the 1960s
  • Socialise in the evenings when the town comes alive, Italian-style

What’s included

  • A full programme of guided walks with two options every walking day
  • All transport to and from walks
  • The services of experienced HF Holidays' leaders
  • "With flight" holidays include return flights from the UK and hotel transfers
  • 7 nights' accommodation in en-suite rooms
  • Half Board – continental breakfast and evening meal

Trip Notes

Trip notes are detailed, downloadable PDF’s for each holiday, please click the button below to find the right trip notes for your departure date.

On our Guided Walking holidays, we believe that choice is key. Our walks descriptions will help you choose according to your interests and fitness. The walks are grouped together with care by local experts to give the best experience. While every effort will be made to adhere to the described itinerary, we may occasionally vary the sequence shown here or substitute an alternative route to suit local conditions or for other operational reasons, potentially at short notice.

Welcome to Hotel San Nicola. Unpack and settle in.


Today both groups will visit the nearby national park of Alta Murgia to see one of its most spectacular features. During both walks we will visit the ‘Pulo’ of Altamura, one of the largest dolines (sink holes) in Italy. The caves in this cliff-lined depression were once home to prehistoric man. The area is a haven for wildlife and flowers, and you may see species of butterfly, orchid, crocus and cyclamen. Both walks will finish at the the Altamura Man exhibition, where there will be time to visit it.

Option 1 - Altamura & the Pulo

Distance: 7 miles (11.5km)

Total ascent: 165 feet (50m)

In summary: We’ll start north of the Pulo and after a walk through typical Murgia scenery we will explore the rim of the Pulo with views into the depression. We will then descend through a further area of the National Park, first more steeply across the limestone, then on gravel paths before arriving at the Altamura Man Visitor Centre.

Highlight: The Pulo depression, the largest doline in southern Italy.

Option 2 - Altamura & the Pulo extended

Distance: 8½ miles (14km)

Total ascent: 230 feet (70m)

In summary: The harder walk takes a longer and more securitious route to the Pulo, walking amongst typical Murgia scenery. Along the way we visit a well with a slightly gruesome history. Arriving at the Pulo we explore the rim of the depression before walking to the Altamure Man Visitor Centre by the same route as the easier walk.

Highlight: Visit the ‘Altamura Man Visitor Centre’ to learn about the preserved Genus Homo remains found in a cave near Altamura.


Both groups will travel to the World Heritage Site of Matera, about 11 miles from our hotel. We start at the Jazzo Gattini outside the town and walk through the limestone scenery on the north of the deep Matera ravine.  The whole group will follow the same route accompanied by an experienced and knowledgeable local guide. We are likely to visit a number of ancient rock churches and other antiquities and enjoy spectacular views across the ravine to the city. We will then descend into the ravine before ascending to arrive in the town itself. In the afternoon there is an opportunity to visit a trolodyte house museum and romanesque style cathedral, or to explore the town independently and enjoy a break in a local bar.

 


Today we visit our second World Heritage Site of the week. Castel del Monte stands as a beacon to beckon us forwards.

Option 1 - Castel del Monte

Distance: 5 miles (8km)

Total ascent: 600 feet (180m)

In summary: This walk starts to the east of the castle and wanders on good tracks through olive groves and past many whitewashed ‘Trulli’ houses. Hopefully there will be an opportunity for lunch and drinks to be enjoyed at a remote farmhouse, before ascending to the castle itself, where there will be some time to visit the inside of the castle (payable locally) to speculate on the many oddities of its construction.

Highlight: View Castel del Monte - a World Heritage Site that was completed in 1250

Option 2 - Alta Murgia and Castel del Monte

Distance: 10 miles (17km)

Total Ascent: 1000 feet (300m)

In summary: The Harder walk begins near the small hamlet of San Magno, southeast of the castle and takes a longer route on good tracks throughout to reach Castel del Monte. This route crosses the heart of the park and offers a chance to see the characteristic vegetation and agriculture of the limestone soils, before joining the route of the easier group. After lunch there may be time for an early afternoon drink at a farm. We can enjoy the panoramic views from the castle, before descending to our end point where we can enjoy a drink with the Easier group.

Highlight: Our route to the castle takes us through beautiful scenery - enhanced in the spring by wonderful wildflowers.


Each week there is a free day when no guided walks are offered. This is an ideal opportunity to relax around the hotel, walk independently or visit local places of interest. Some options for your free day may include:

Altamura: You may like to explore the historic town of Altamura, with its spectacular cathedral, archaeological museum, market, shops and ancient walls.

Alberobello: Alternatively, you may like to join an organised visit to the pretty World Heritage town and tourist hotspot of Alberobello, with its whitewashed ‘Trulli’ houses.

Bari: Easily reached by public transport, this old town and port contains many buildings of historical interest. Puglia’s capital contains many churches but the most well known is the 11th century Romanesque Basilica de San Nicola, dedicated to St Nicholas, also known as Santa Claus. There are also many art galleries and, more recently, the futuristic football stadium was a venue for the 1990 World Cup.

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Today both groups will enjoy a circular walk from the town of Gravina in Puglia. We walk through archaeological areas occupied from the 5th century BC, amongst olive groves, fruit orchards and pastures used by grazing goats. We can also enjoy far reaching views across the town and beyond. On our return we will cross the ravine using the very substantial beautiful old stone aqueduct and enjoy the medieval town centre before visiting the amazing 'old underground town' complexes; rock cut basements used for living and working, the stone having also been used to built the houses above ground accompanied by a guide.

Option 1 - Gravina in Puglia & Botromagno Hill

Distance: 7 miles (11km)

Total ascent: 800 feet (240m)

In summary: From the centre of Gravina we make our way across an ancient aqueduct to the far side of the ravine. We ascend Botromagno Hill, site of an Iron Age hill fort, to a plateau where we can explore several archaeological sites. Our walk takes us along tracks and paths with lovely views. On our return to Gravina, we visit the amazing Sotteranea archaeological complex before exploring the town and perhaps enjoying refreshments.

Highlight: We'll use an English-speaking guide to tour the Sotteranea - a fascinating underground complex.

Option 2 - Gravina in Puglia, Serra Pendino and Botromagno Hill

Distance: 7½ miles (12km)

Total ascent: 1,100 feet (330m)

In summary: The harder walk starts to the south of Gravina and follows tracks and quiet lanes, traversing the flanks of the Serra Pendino and walking gently uphill to reach the plateau of Botromagno, where it joins part of the route of the easier walk. There are opportunities to visit some of the archaeological remains on the plateau before descending to Gravina and joining the easier party to visit the Sottoranea complex and maybe have refreshments.

Highlight: The summit of Botromagno Hill features the remains of an Iron Age fort.


Today’s walks in the Mercadante Forest provide a contrast to the open landscape of the limestone plateau.

Option 1 - Jazzo and Masseria

Distance: 6 miles (10km)

Total ascent: 560 feet (170m)

In summary: Our route starts in the forest taking us through the northern edge of this woodland and out to open heathland. We continue to a deserted ‘jazzo’ before our route heads back into the woods and returns us to the taverna.

Highlight: This 'artificial' forest is home to many species of birds

Option 2 - Mercadante Forest Exploration

Distance: 9½ miles (15km)

Total ascent: 850 feet (260m)

In summary: We follow the same route as the easier walk to the deserted ‘jazzo’. From here we will continue south of the forest before heading back into the woodland to join the easier party for refreshments.

Highlight: We find a peaceful and sun-dappled spot perfect for a picnic lunch.


We hope to see you again soon.


Puglia Itinerary Map

Hotel San Nicola - Puglia

The 4-star Hotel San Nicola is located in the heart of the old town of Altamura just 150 metres from Federico's Cathedral. A former palace built in 1741 as the residence of the Cagnazzi family, the hotel has 24 comfortable bedrooms, 24 hour reception, bar and restaurant and free Wi-Fi throughout. Take the opportunity to sample the local Foccacia de Altamura from a nearby bakery which has been producing bread since 1421. 

Rooms

There are 24 modern en-suite bedrooms.

All bedrooms are equipped with a:

  • Phone
  • Air conditioning
  • Flat screen
  • TV
  • Minibar
  • Complimentary toiletries
  • Hairdryer

About Your Stay

The hotel has:

  • 24-hour reception
  • Room service
  • Laundry
  • Ironing and dry cleaning service (extra charge)

Food & Drink

Holidays at Altamura are Half Board with continental breakfast and evening meals at two of Altamura's restaurants.

Breakfast

Continental buffet breakfast: this is served from 7am in the courtyard dining room. This will include cereals, fruit juices, yoghurt, fresh fruit, cheeses/meats, selection of breads and croissants, jams, tea and coffee.

Lunch (payable locally)

Packed lunches can be bought from the local shops a few minutes from the hotel and can also be purchased from the hotel.

Evening meal

One of the highlights of this holiday is that our guests dine out in Altamura at a local restaurant that serves local dishes and specialities. A 3-course dinner will be served at the Tre Archi Restaurant every evening except on Saturdays and Wednesdays when we will be dining at the newly refurbished restaurant at Hotel San Nicola. 

This restaurant is within easy walking distance of our hotel and guests can experience the "passiagata", an Italian tradition where the locals with their families and friends walk out in the evening socialising, and take in this unique atmosphere.

Your Evenings

The friendly atmosphere of our holidays continues into the evening.

Most of our socialising at Altamura is over a relaxed meal, opportunity to talk about your day with your fellow guests and sample some local wines and dishes. See the town came alive in the evening with all the local families walking out, treating their children to ice creams and just sitting over a coffee.

HOTEL SAN NICOLA - PUGLIA - DBC1545[1]

Getting to Hotel San Nicola - Puglia

Find out more about this location including travel details and room types.

More Information

Essential Information

Passport Requirements

You may need to renew your British passport if you’re travelling from 1 January 2021.

On the day you travel, you’ll need your passport to both:

  • have at least 3 months left
  • be less than 10 years old (even if it has 6 months or more left)

Use the government website to see if your passport is valid for this holiday

EHIC cards

The UK government has officially launched the Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC), which will replace the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). UK residents can now apply for one of the GHIC cards, which will gradually replace the EHIC cards as they reach their expiry dates. Every family member travelling requires a GHIC. You can make an application for yourself and on behalf of your partner and any dependent children under the age of 16. Both cards will offer equivalent protection for emergency and medically necessary healthcare needs when in the EU on a temporary stay, which includes holiday, study and business travel. Necessary healthcare includes things like

• emergency treatment and visits to A&E
• treatment for long-term or pre-existing medical conditions
• routine medical care for pre-existing conditions that need monitoring
• oxygen and kidney dialysis

The public only need to apply for their free GHIC cards when their current EHIC expires. The process is likely to take two weeks. For more information visit https://www.nhs.uk/using-the-nhs/healthcare-abroad/apply-for-a-free-uk-global-health-insurance-card-ghic/.

The GHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance. We advise all holidaymakers to also invest in travel insurance that covers healthcare, so they are covered for other issues that may arise, as well as cancellations and lost luggage.

Essential Equipment

To enjoy walking/hiking comfortably and safely, footwear, clothing and equipment needs to be suitable for the conditions. Safety and comfort are our priorities, so our advice is to come prepared for all eventualities.

  • Footwear with a good grip on the sole (e.g.Vibram sole) is the key to avoiding accidents.
  • Walking/hiking boots providing ankle support and good grip are recommended (ideally worn in), and specialist walking socks to avoid blisters.
  • Several layers of clothing, which can be added or removed, are better than a single layer (include spares).
  • Fabrics (lightweight and fast drying) designed for the outdoors are recommended.
  • Waterproof jacket and waterproof over trousers.
  • Warm hat and gloves. 
  • Denim jeans and capes are not suitable on any walks.
  • Rucksack with a waterproof liner.
  • Thermos flask for hot drink.
  • Water bottle (at least 2 litre).
  • Spare high-energy food such as a chocolate bar.
  • Small torch.
  • First aid kit – your leader’s first aid kit doesn’t contain any medication or blister kits (such as Compeed).
  • Sun hat and sunglasses
  • Sun cream.

Optional Equipment

  • Walking poles are useful, particularly for descents.
  • Insect repellent.
  • Camera.
  • Gaiters.

Guest Reviews

All holidays are subject to availability. Prices are subject to change.
Prices based on two people sharing. Supplements may apply.
Non-member fee: £30 per person.

These departure dates can be booked with flights or as land only holiday options. All packages that include flights are ATOL protected. Advertised flight prices are based on UK flights departing from London. Regional departures and/or connections to London, if available, can be requested. Cabin upgrades may also be available on request.

Date (Start - End) Itinerary Double / Twin Room Single Room Notes / Offers Trip Notes Book
2022

10 Sep - 17 Sep 2022

7 nights

Itinerary

Single Fully Booked
Double Fully Booked
Fully Booked Fully Booked Trip Notes

17 Sep - 24 Sep 2022

7 nights

Itinerary

Single from

£1,735 £1,610

Double from

£1,595 £1,470 pp

from

£1,595 £1,470 pp

from

£1,735 £1,610

Save £125 pp Trip Notes Book Now

24 Sep - 01 Oct 2022

7 nights

Itinerary

Single Fully Booked

Double from

£1,595 £1,470 pp

from

£1,595 £1,470 pp

Fully Booked Save £125 pp Trip Notes Book Now

01 Oct - 08 Oct 2022

7 nights

Itinerary

Single Fully Booked
Double Fully Booked
Fully Booked Fully Booked Trip Notes
2023

06 May - 13 May 2023

7 nights

Itinerary

Single from

£1,612 £1,487

Double from

£1,465 £1,340 pp

from

£1,465 £1,340 pp

from

£1,612 £1,487

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13 May - 20 May 2023

7 nights

Itinerary

Single from

£1,622 £1,497

Double from

£1,475 £1,350 pp

from

£1,475 £1,350 pp

from

£1,622 £1,497

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20 May - 27 May 2023

7 nights

Itinerary

Single from

£1,622 £1,497

Double from

£1,475 £1,350 pp

from

£1,475 £1,350 pp

from

£1,622 £1,497

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27 May - 03 Jun 2023

7 nights

Itinerary

Single from

£1,622 £1,497

Double from

£1,475 £1,350 pp

from

£1,475 £1,350 pp

from

£1,622 £1,497

Save £125 pp Trip Notes Book Now

16 Sep - 23 Sep 2023

7 nights

Itinerary

Single from

£1,622

Double from

£1,475 pp

from

£1,475 pp

from

£1,622

Trip Notes Book Now

23 Sep - 30 Sep 2023

7 nights

Itinerary

Single from

£1,622 £1,497

Double from

£1,475 £1,350 pp

from

£1,475 £1,350 pp

from

£1,622 £1,497

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30 Sep - 07 Oct 2023

7 nights

Itinerary

Single from

£1,622 £1,497

Double from

£1,475 £1,350 pp

from

£1,475 £1,350 pp

from

£1,622 £1,497

Save £125 pp Trip Notes Book Now
Date (Start - End) Itinerary Double / Twin Room Single Room Notes / Offers Trip Notes Book
2022

10 Sep - 17 Sep 2022

7 nights

Itinerary

Single Fully Booked
Double Fully Booked
Fully Booked Fully Booked Trip Notes

17 Sep - 24 Sep 2022

7 nights

Itinerary

Single from

£1,335 £1,210

Double from

£1,195 £1,070 pp

from

£1,195 £1,070 pp

from

£1,335 £1,210

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24 Sep - 01 Oct 2022

7 nights

Itinerary

Single Fully Booked

Double from

£1,195 £1,070 pp

from

£1,195 £1,070 pp

Fully Booked Save £125 pp Trip Notes Book Now

01 Oct - 08 Oct 2022

7 nights

Itinerary

Single Fully Booked
Double Fully Booked
Fully Booked Fully Booked Trip Notes
2023

06 May - 13 May 2023

7 nights

Itinerary

Single from

£1,502 £1,377

Double from

£1,355 £1,230 pp

from

£1,355 £1,230 pp

from

£1,502 £1,377

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13 May - 20 May 2023

7 nights

Itinerary

Single from

£1,512 £1,387

Double from

£1,365 £1,240 pp

from

£1,365 £1,240 pp

from

£1,512 £1,387

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20 May - 27 May 2023

7 nights

Itinerary

Single from

£1,512 £1,387

Double from

£1,365 £1,240 pp

from

£1,365 £1,240 pp

from

£1,512 £1,387

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27 May - 03 Jun 2023

7 nights

Itinerary

Single from

£1,512 £1,387

Double from

£1,365 £1,240 pp

from

£1,365 £1,240 pp

from

£1,512 £1,387

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16 Sep - 23 Sep 2023

7 nights

Itinerary

Single from

£1,512

Double from

£1,365 pp

from

£1,365 pp

from

£1,512

Trip Notes Book Now

23 Sep - 30 Sep 2023

7 nights

Itinerary

Single from

£1,512 £1,387

Double from

£1,365 £1,240 pp

from

£1,365 £1,240 pp

from

£1,512 £1,387

Save £125 pp Trip Notes Book Now

30 Sep - 07 Oct 2023

7 nights

Itinerary

Single from

£1,512 £1,387

Double from

£1,365 £1,240 pp

from

£1,365 £1,240 pp

from

£1,512 £1,387

Save £125 pp Trip Notes Book Now

Important Information

  • Single room: From £140 (complete holiday)
  • With flight holidays: Flights from London Gatwick to Bari included
  • Regional flight available from Manchester from £60pp. Other UK regional connecting flights available on request
  • Our airport taxi service operates at this resort – price per taxi: 2022= £110 one way, 2023= £130 one way.
  • Independent travellers can join our transfer from Bari Airport: 2022= £21.50 one way, 2023= £16pp one way.
Duration:
7 nights
Type:
European Centre Based
Walking Grade:
2

7 nights from £1,195pp £1,070pp
without flights

Europe: Save up to £125 pp

...or call 020 3974 8865

For group bookings of 10+ people click here

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