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Matera, Basilicata

2019 holiday hot list: Puglia & Basilicata

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17 January 2019 by David Ward

Long overlooked in favour of Italy’s big names, the regions of Puglia and Basilicata are lesser-known gems, two regions hidden away at the heel of Italy’s boot. But, with Matera (pictured above) named a European Capital of Culture for 2019, their time in the spotlight has finally arrived. Here, 7,000-year-old cave dwellings, subterranean frescoed churches and a great Romanesque cathedral form a spectacular tumble backdropped by a rugged ravine.

But, the region is so much more than Matera. Indeed, it’s an Italy in miniature, with Puglia especially offering ancient ruins, extravagantly Baroque church towns and the finest in local food and wines. It’s all wrapped up in a spectacular natural world seemingly custom-built for driving, with quiet country roads bringing you among rolling hills before coastal sweeps see you between pretty beaches.


Puglia's fertile setting has also informed a rich culinary tradition. Of course, the just-caught seafood is impossibly good, while rich cheeses, handmade pastas and an endless array of antipasti add in further favourites. That’s without even mentioning the wines, with gorgeous vineyards producing refreshing whites and full-bodied reds.

And, in terms of sights, there’s everything from walled Gallipoli’s harbour-town charm and Castellanana Caves’ ancient fossils to Bari’s 12th-century castle and Alberobello’s 19th-century trulli – unique, beehive houses. Lecce is a special highlight for its Baroque beauty, spread across gilded basilicas, restored monasteries and a 17th-century cathedral. Puglia really does have it all. Inspired? Take a look at our custom-made itinerary below.

Our top trip: Gastronomy of Puglia


This super-scenic road trip showcases the best of Puglia, visiting all of the highlights featured above. There’s a particular focus on the region’s exquisite culinary delights, with food tours, gourmet dining and a pair of sensational wine tastings all included. And throughout, you’ll be staying in luxury. Think country manors, townhouse palazzos and a restored fortress.

View our full itinerary here

Related offers

Burrata Mozzarella, Puglia

Gastronomy of Puglia

8-day tailor-made self-drive from £1,475 pp incl. flights

Discover Puglia’s rich culture, idyllic coastline and unique gastronomy on this fly-drive tour. Throughout your weeklong journey, you'll pair guided tours of the region’s heritage towns and cities with included wine tastings and indulgent gourmet experiences.

Puglia, Italy

Best of Puglia

10-day tailor-made self-drive from £1,000 pp incl. flights

Swap the crowds of Italy's headlines for Puglia's off-the-beaten-track charms. Quietly scenic coastal drives will bring you between palace stays in medieval towns and beach-side getaways in remote settings. Along the way, there's plenty of opportunity for hikes, bike rides and vineyard tastings.

Why book with Wexas Travel?

At Wexas, we specialise in bespoke travel experiences. Our itineraries are just samples of what we can arrange, and can be changed depending on your precise needs, finances and ideas by our experienced destination specialists.

Contact one of our consultants on 020 7590 0610 to discuss how we can tailor your holiday.

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