Sketching & Painting in Puglia



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Activity types:

  • Central location
  • Food & drink
  • Hills & moorland
  • Outdoors
From £959.00 - 7 nights


Prices are per person

Room 1:
Room 2:
Room 3:

Holiday overview

Be inspired by the enchanting landscapes of Puglia, an undiscovered gem of Italy. Capture the magic of the ancient olive trees, whitewashed hilltop forts, curious ‘Trulli’ houses and wild beauty of the Alta Murgia in your artwork.

Holiday highlights

  • We’ll spend most of the day outdoors seeking out the best light, colours and landscapes
  • Our professional artist leader will guide and encourage
  • Enjoy the sociable atmosphere of painting in a group
  • Small groups of up to 15 fellow-artists

Price includes 

  • Good quality en-suite accommodation in one of our European partner hotels
  • Half Board – continental breakfast and evening meal
  • Tuition from our knowledgeable HF Holidays’ leader, to ensure you get the most from your holiday
  • All transport to and from painting sites
  • ‘With flight’ holidays include return flights from the UK and hotel transfers


Hotel San Nicola in Altamura, Italy

The 4-star Hotel San Nicola dates back to 1741, it has been beautifully restored and is located in the centre of the picturesque old town of Altamura. 

Altamura is on the doorstep with easy access to its shops, picturesque streets and attractions. Sample some of Altamura is breads and its well known Focaccia de Altamura (topped with tomatoes and herbs).

HF Holidays Europe Partner Hotel Awards 2016 - Gold
HF Holidays Europe Partner Hotel Awards 2016
Gold Award for Dining 

Your room

There are 27 modern en-suite bedrooms.

All bedrooms are equipped with a:

  • Phone
  • Air condition
  • Flat screen
  • TV
  • Minibar
  • Complimentary toiletries
  • Hairdryer
Hotel San Nicola bedroom


Hotel San Nicola hall The hotel has a:
  • 24-hour reception,
  • Room service,
  • Laundry,
  • Ironing and dry cleaning service (extra charge)
  • Small TV room.


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

Continental buffet breakfast: this is served from 7am in the Cavaggio dining room on the 1st floor. 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 two restaurants that serve 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 eating at Mo E'Oesteria and experience the warm Italian hospitality and local dishes.

Both these establishments are 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.

Hotel San Nicola dining room

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.


This is the proposed programme, but our HF Holidays' leader may adjust it at their discretion, taking into account factors such as weather or local opening times or the wishes of the group.


Medieval Altamura with its Romanesque Cathedral & the Alta Murgia National Park

We will begin exploring the cobblestone streets of medieval Altamura with our sketchbooks. Highlights include the Romanesque Cathedral with its rose window and Gothic portal and a plethora of artisan bakeries producing traditional regional bread. We spend the afternoon in the Alta Murgia National Park, an area of limestone karst scenery offering a wealth of gorges, caves and sinkholes to sketch and paint. Murray will guide you through tips and techniques for scene selection, composition and a practical look at simplifying perspective.


The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Alberobello and its Trulli villages

Today we head to Alberobello, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, famed for its round ‘Trulli’ houses built with dry stone walls and conical roofs, an enchanting subject for sketching and painting. Today Murray will pay particular attention to offering tricks and techniques for describing texture and form.


The coast of the Valle d’Itria, with its charming Porta Vecchia gate and Chiesa Matrice

A shining gem on the coast of the Valle d’Itria, perched atop a 20 metre high limestone cliff above the crystal clear waters of the Adriatic Sea, the seaside town of Polignano a Mare awaits. The origins of this curious tiny old town date back to the Greek settlers of the 4th century BC. Polignano is reached through the Porta Vecchia gate, and combines charming, white-washed winding streets with beautiful old churches such as the Chiesa Matrice. We’ll head to the ocean view terraces to enjoy some seascape painting at its very best. Murray will also offer guidance on ways to convey texture and wear of old buildings and tips for enhancing some of our simpler sketches.  

Trani, the ‘Pearl of Puglia’

Dramatic waterside cathedral, Swabian castle and bustling harbour

The ancient fishing harbour of Trani, also known as the ‘Pearl of Puglia’, on the Adriatic coast boasts a dramatic waterside cathedral, Swabian castle dating back to 1233 and a harbour brimming with yachts and fishing vessels. We’ll take the opportunity to capture the boats, the sea and the harbour, all with Murray on hand to offer guidance on trickier subjects such as painting water and reflections. 


An ancient and subterranean city

We spend our final day at the ‘subterranean city’ of Matera, one of the oldest towns in the world, with continuous habitation for around 7,000 years. Simple natural caves (called the ‘sassi’) dotted the gorge and were adapted into dwellings between which an ingenious canal network has been created for water supply and sewage. In the 9th century Benedictine and Basilian monks occupied the caves and some of the world’s earliest cave paintings found are found here and date back to this era. We cannot fail to be inspired by the stories and history of this unique setting. There is a wealth of possibilities here to further sharpen up our drawing and painting skills as well as capturing some unique Puglian scenes onto paper.  


Our 7 night holidays include a free day, where you're free to relax, enjoy the hotel's facilities or explore the local area independently.

What to bring

You will need to bring the following items. Please remember that you will have to bring these on painting excursions and possibly also pay extra if you exceed your luggage allowance.

  • Appropriate clothing, sturdy footwear (eg walking boots) and a wide-brimmed hat / plastic eye shade 
  • Rucksack or small case on wheels to transport art materials to and from painting locations – remember that you will have to carry your equipment, spare clothing, lunch, drinking water, sunscreen etc from the coach to the place where you are to paint or sketch. We strongly advise against bringing shopping bags or bags with long shoulder straps, which can swing and dangle, causing imbalance and possible trips and falls
  • A lightweight folding chair/stool if you have one, alternatively a cushion, garden kneeler or plastic seat pad

Paints - Guests are invited to bring their own preferred medium. Suggested colours might include:Cadmium Yellow Pale, Lemon Yellow, Cadmium Red Pale, Permanent Alizarin Crimson, Cobalt Blue, Ultra Marine Blue, Raw Umber, Raw Sienna and Yellow Ochre (Titanium White if you are using opaque mediums like Gouache or Acrylics). These are Murray's  everyday colours but please bring what you are used to or have been bought for you.

Brushes - Sizes 4, 6 and 8 round and a No. 0 or No.1 rigger  and of a reasonable quality will suffice e.g. Sable and synthetic blend or even just synthetic so long as they come to a nice point. 

A folding palette or palette with wells for mixing, plastic is good for its lightness.

Paper - Any reasonable size in the paper and surface of your choice, Murray uses NOT and Hot Pressed Saunders Waterford 1/8 imperial sizes

Sketchpad - Murray uses an A5 sketchpad of good quality cartridge paper for his travels. He also uses waterproof ink technical pens in sizes 0.05 and 0.3 in combination with water-soluble graphite pencils, a 'B'  grade is fine and a water brush pen either Derwent or Pentel are good in a medium size, this is a terrific way of sketching, this allows you to travel light!

Other smaller items:

  • pencils, sharpener, eraser
  • 2 small water pots (non-tip pots best) 
  • 1 water bottle (for clean water) 
  • Paper towels / rag
  • Coloured watercolour pencils (entirely optional and only if you have them, but they can be useful for quick colour reference and enhancing) 

Please note, on European holidays we are unable to provide easels or A3 painting boards for guests to borrow.

Local area

Explore the narrow streets of this historic town and you will find the interesting Romanesque-Gothic cathedral which has the most intricately carved portal in Puglia, and 14th/15th century miniature sculptures. The alleyways or “claustri”, distinctive to Altamura usually end in small courtyards. This area has prehistoric sites where you can see dinosaurs’ footprints and “Man of Alamura”, a Paleolithic skeleton.

Shops and facilities: Altamura is famous for its bread, made since the time when the town supplied ancient Rome. There is a famous bakery where they make the Pane di Dlamura and Focaccia de Altamura (topped with tomatoes and herbs). Other local specialities include cheeses, fried artichokes, braised chicory, fava beans and fresh ravioli and an array of homemade sweets.

There are many other interesting small shops and cafés.


We recognise that everyone’s travel arrangements are unique, so all our holidays to Europe can be booked ‘with flight’ or ‘without flight’, giving you more flexibility and choice.


Travel by plane


‘With flight’ holidays – the hassle free option

Book your holiday ‘with flight’ from Gatwick to Bari airport. For flight times and prices please see the Dates & Prices tab.

If you choose this option we automatically include return transfers between the airport and the hotel. The coach transfer takes approx 1 hour to the Hotel San Nicola.

Our hotel is based within the historic walled old town of Altamura, as buses are unable to access this area you will be dropped off just outside in the Plazza Unita and enter the town on foot via the archway, Porta Bari. Here you will get your first glimpse of this fascinating town on the short walk to the hotel San Nicola.

British Airways plane




Driving to us

‘Without flight’ holidays – the flexible travel option

Alternatively, tailor your journey to suit you by booking your holiday ‘without flight’ allowing you the freedom to book your own flights from your local airport.

If you choose this option, transfers are not included in the price. However, below are some suggestions to help you reach your destination:

  • We can book you a seat on the HF Holidays’ transfer coach from Bari airport. This is timed to meet the HF Holidays’ flights* (provisional flight times can be found on the dates and prices tab or you can call us on 020 8732 1220 for more information). Cost per single journey is £19.50.
  • Why not let us book you a private taxi transfer at a cost of £90 per single taxi journey?

Transfers must be pre-booked.  Please call 020 8732 1220 for more details

* Please note that HF Holidays is not responsible for your onward travel if you fail to meet the transfer coach

 Coach heading to Glen Coe


Murray Ince

Murray has many years experience of fine art tuition including various painting experiences, lecturing for the local College on the Isle of Wight and demonstrates and runs workshops for art societies and groups covering many mediums and genres in fine art. Murray is a Professional Associate with the SAA (Society for All Artists) and is a featured artist and product ambassador with Winsor and Newton and has written a book on the subject of ‘Landscape Painting In ‘Artisan’ Water Mixable Oils’.

Murray has a passion for art history especially British landscape painting and says that the beauty of working for HF Holidays is that all of their houses are in stunning parts of the British countryside which has inspired British artists for centuries and is still inspiring some of the world’s best artists today. Murray is a direct descendent of both Joseph Murray Ince R.A. (1806 – 1859), whose works can be seen in many galleries including the Fitzwilliam and Victoria and Albert, and William Ince of the Ince and Mayhew furniture making partnership.


Dates & Prices

Date Description Nights Brochure price Book
19 May 2018 PUPLA - Sketching & Painting Puglia - Without Flights 7 £959.00 Book Now
13 Oct 2018 PUPLA - Sketching & Painting Puglia - Without Flights 7 £959.00 Book Now

Prices are per person


  • Double room for sole occupancy: £9 per night
  • Non-member associate fee: £10 per person

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