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Enjoy a week-long Puglia vacation full of unique and fascinating foodie experiences, amazing excursions, delicious meals, stunning sights and interactive and fun cooking classes, incorporating the very best that this incredible region has to offer. Wake up every day to a delicious breakfast, including local pastries freshly baked in-house, served al fresco in the lovely courtyard, as you prepare for the exciting adventure that await you throughout the day.
Down a quiet cobbled street in the north of Lecce's Centro Storico is a gorgeous carved stone entryway. Behind the gate is a serene oasis in the heart of Lecce: a beautiful courtyard garden of blooming flowers and fragrant orange trees. This is Mantatelur, an exclusive guesthouse in a graceful palazzo dating from 1550. In 2013, the guesthouse opened to rave reviews, and the praise just keeps on coming. Mantatelur has been featured in Elle, Elle Decor, Marie Claire, Vanity Fair, MarcoPolo, Donna Moderna, Bravacasa, Diva Magazine, Apulia Magazine, Myself, and a host of others, and voted amongst the top Puglia Hotels and Inns on TripAdvisor.
Mantatelur features just seven immaculate, stylish rooms, all designed with guests' comfort in mind. The Palazzo's conversion is stunning and tasteful, the style elegant yet chic, the attention to detail incredible. It retains all its original historical charm yet offers guests the best modern amenities. Marco, the owner, not only welcomes you with a smile but bakes your delicious breakfast himself each morning. Marta, the gracious and kind hotel manager, will ensure that your every need is taken care of. Mantatelur means, in Leccese dialect, "cover of the king", and each guest is treated like royalty from the moment they step through the doors.
Espressino Travel chose Mantatelur because they reflect their own Italian holiday philosophy: come as guests, leave as friends. All of the rooms at Mantatelur are exceptional. Each unique room is stylishly decorated, with comfortable beds, air-conditioning, TV with Sky channels, specially programmed radio, a pillow menu, and all the amenities you can count on from an exclusive guest house. Besides the regular rooms, there are also three possible upgrades:
This is the largest of the suites, with a Spa Bath and four-poster bed, while the Apartment is a beautiful, large space with a private terrace, separate kitchen and bathroom.
The lovely suite has an in-room jacuzzi as well as a deluxe shower and separate seating area.
The Junior Suites are larger rooms, with relaxing corners, sofas and king showers.
In the shade of the Duomo, hidden in an ancient courtyard where a river once flowed, is a gorgeous palazzo. Down the steps, you will step into a world of culinary treasures. As fresh espresso cooks on the stove, walk under the drying tomatoes and herbs suspended from the ceiling, and join Gianna and her team in the kitchen. Gianna Greco, chef-sommelier-owner, presides proudly over her beautiful cookery school in Lecce's Centro Storico.
She will give you the warmest welcome and share her culinary secrets, handed down over generations from her Salentine family. Here, you will learn how to cook authentic recipes from the Salento region. Gianna's cooking classes are truly hands-on, meaning that every student will create a series of recipes from scratch, under Gianna's guidance. After cooking your multi-course Salentina meal, you will relax in the school's beautiful private courtyard, bursting with bougainvillea, as the scents of fresh herbs fill the air.
You will then dine together on your freshly made dishes, accompanied by local wines handpicked by Gianna. Cooking with new friends and dining al fresco are rich rewards, but perhaps the most amazing part of these cooking lessons is witnessing Gianna's infectious passion for her territorio. She lives and breathes the Salento, and that makes her the perfect chef to teach you about Pugliese culture and cuisine.
Upon arrival, you will have the chance to settle into your room before a stylish welcome with an Italian aperitivo of cocktails and local wines in the stunning courtyard, where you and your fellow guests along with your hosts will gather to discuss the week ahead. Afterwards, the Italian adventure begins with a guided tour of Lecce's historic center, admiring the dazzling detail of the baroque architecture, which is unique to this region.
You will sit down and relax at a lovely local restaurant, run by a friendly family, where you will feast on a traditional Salentine dinner with local wines. After dinner, for those who still have the energy, you can partake in the evening passeggiata, a Leccese tradition, to admire the city aglow in golden light as locals fill the cobblestone streets. Continue on for an optional nightcap at a fantastic local wine bar or head back to Mantatelure for a well-earned rest.
After breakfast in the courtyard, you will then head to the stunning town of Gallipoli, with its Greek-inspired, fortified Centro Storico perched like a pearl on the turquoise Ionian Sea. There, you will visit its famous fish market and explore the old town before settling down for a delicious meal at an elegant seafood restaurant overlooking the sea.
Back in Lecce, you will meet your wonderful chef and cooking instructor Gianna Greco, who will take you on a trip to the city's market to discover the local products, interact with friendly market traders and select the products to be used in the following cooking lesson. Supplies in hand, you will arrive back at the school for your hands-on cooking class, preparing a full Salentine meal from scratch as Gianna reveals secrets and techniques handed down through the generations of her family. After your lesson, you will sit down in the school's beautiful courtyard to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
After breakfast, you will spend the day meeting producers, tasting delicious products, and discovering what makes this region's raw ingredients so special. Starting at a family-owned, atmospheric masseria, you will walk among centuries-old olive trees and tour their onsite frantoio to learn about the process of making small-batch, premium olive oil, followed by a guided tasting of the oils. Then, you will sit down in the masseria's garden to enjoy a leisurely and delicious lunch. After lunch, the incredible gastronomic adventure will continue as you head to a beautiful winery located in a castle, surrounded by flowering gardens, olive groves and acres of vineyards.
On the guided wine tour, you will explore the castle and grounds, learn about the winemaking process, see their historic cantinas and enjoy a leisurely tasting with a professional sommelier. After a rest back in Lecce, everyone will gather again in the early evening to take part in the evening stroll. Evenings are when the city comes alive, giving you the chance to sample drinks, street food delicacies and the town's unique culture.
After breakfast, take a leisurely start to the morning with an optional tasting at a historic bar renowned for their uniquely Pugliese coffee creations, or enjoy some free time to relax. Then, you will head to Lecce's most beloved pizzeria for an interactive pizza making class. Owner Maurizio is famed in Lecce not only for his amazing pizza, but for his passion for quality ingredients and his vivacious personality. After learning about the history and process of Neapolitan pizza, Maurizio will teach you the fine and fun art of pizza making.
With his expert guidance, you will create, from scratch, your very own Neapolitan-style pizzas, which you can enjoy at your own celebratory street party, paired with local wines and craft beers. After a short rest, the Puglia tour will continue at the stunning seaside town of Otranto, Italy's easternmost city, where you will explore its winding streets and seaside promenade on a guided walking tour, which includes a visit to the Cathedral. There will be time for a passeggiata and some shopping in the town's quaint shops before enjoying the sunset over an al fresco aperitivo at a beautiful bar on the water. Afterwards, you will enjoy delicious local cuisine in an elegant and charming restaurant.
After breakfast, you will travel to Alberobello and the UNESCO world heritage site of the Zona dei Trulli. On your guided Alberobello tour, you will learn the fascinating story of their origin and visit trulli made into shops, restaurants, and even a church. There, you may take some time on your own to explore further, shop, and admire these unique creations. After your stroll, you will head further into Alberobello's historical center where a table at a local restaurant inside a trullo will be waiting for you.
Enjoy a relaxed lunch, tasting local products paired with Pugliese wines. Next, you will head to the amazing "white city," Ostuni. The Ostuni tour will begin with a gelato demonstration at one of the very best gelateries in all of Puglia, watching the process of creating a fresh batch of delicious gelato or sorbetto with at-the-moment tasting. You will then sit down in a picturesque piazza for a special gelato tasting.
Then, you will set off on the streets to explore corners and passageways that hide delights at every turn. There will be time for some shopping at the city's lovely shops and boutiques or, if you prefer, savor an aperitivo at a fantastic bar while admiring the sunset. Then, it's off for a memorable meal at a lovely, intimate restaurant perched next to the historic cathedral. After an unforgettable day, the Puglia tour returns to Lecce.
After a leisurely breakfast, take some time for yourself this morning and enjoy Mantatelure's hot tub or snooze on their sun terrace, relax at a cafe or explore Lecce's elegant shops and galleries. The group will later meet for a relaxed light lunch in the historic center before preparing for the fishing adventure ahead. You will then embark for Torre Vado, at the tip of the heel, where you will board your boat, a real working fishing vessel, and meet a family of friendly local fishermen who will guide you through their fishing process. Then it's your turn! You will get the chance to try your hand at fishing with the help and guidance of your professional fishermen friends. Spend the entire late afternoon and evening aboard the boat, fishing, chatting, laughing, and learning.
Take the opportunity to jump in the water for a swim, if you'd like, in the warm waters of the Ionian Sea, over a ship wreck teeming with sea life, or simply relax and take in the beautiful sea air. Then, you can enjoy a wine-tasting onboard with your cooking instructor, Gianna. With Gianna and the fishermen, you will learn about cleaning, preparing, and cooking fish. Onboard the boat, you will enjoy a traditional seafood feast based on the catch. Dining al fresco, you can admire the beautiful sunset with your new fishermen friends. With full bellies and happy hearts, the group will return to Lecce for a well-earned rest.
The ultimate Puglian coastal experience was saved just for this day. You will stop at beautiful spots along the Adriatic coast and relax at Torre dell'Orso, the Salento's loveliest beach. There you can take a dip in the sparkling clear turquoise water, or take a break in the shade of an umbrella and breathe in the ocean air. You will enjoy a relaxed lunch on the beach and a gelato break at one of the region's best cafs, on a terrace overlooking the entire beach.
Then, it is back to Lecce for your final Puglian cooking class. You will create another divine dinner of traditional dishes, after which, you will celebrate with a festive party in the courtyard garden along with your fellow travelers, breaking bread, drinking fabulous wines, sharing your freshly-made dishes and reminiscing about the week spent together.
After a final breakfast, you will bid goodbye to Lecce and your new community of friends, as you will be escorted to Brindisi airport (BDS) or Lecce train station for your journey onward. The week may be over, but the memories and friendships will last a lifetime!
This holiday takes place in Lecce, a historic city in southern Italy. The city is spectacular, with its rich history blending effortlessly with a modernity that somehow manages to both buzz with energy and celebrate an easy-going dolce vita, depending on the mood youre in. In Piazza SantOronzo the second century Roman Amphitheatre is still used regularly for music and dance recitals. The streets around the Piazza come alive every evening; cafes, bars, restaurants, and stores offering a myriad of delicious options, fuel for a nightly passeggiata. The aim of any stroll is to see and be seen. Meeting friends for impromptu drinks and snacks, the atmosphere is informal and the setting, spectacular.
Lecces label as The Florence of the south is misleading. The cities share a Baroque splendor, Lecces soft stone allowing architects like Zimbalo to create intricate, fascinating exteriors and playful interiors, but thats where the comparison ends. Where the center of Florence has been surrendered to tourism, the heart of Lecce still beats to the rhythm of its 100,000 residents. Big enough to support a vibrant shopping and dining scene, but small enough to have maintained its cultural and culinary heritage, its easy to become drawn into the citys sense of community.
Lecce is the biggest city in the Salento region, the southernmost third of Puglia. The Salentini are a proud bunch, celebrating a cuisine and a dialect that is separate from even the rest of Puglia. Once you try their seafood, their vegetables and their wine, its clear where the pride is coming from. Spectacular coastlines fight for attention with baroque masterpieces. Uncrowded golden beaches punctuate the roads between small towns, each hiding gems still undiscovered by mass tourism. The Salentini are glad you made the effort to visit. Which is why youre guaranteed a warm welcome wherever you go.
Food and drink isnt a part of life in Puglia. It is life. No region of Italy is more fiercely proud of its culinary heritage. From the rich bounties of the sea to the stunning treatment of vegetables to the best bread and coffee in the country, every delicious mouthful comes with its own story. For the uninitiated, Puglias cuisine can almost seem un-Italian. Youll struggle to find a lasagne or ragu sauce on a menu. In Lecce, regional specialties are everything. Pasta is inevitably orecchiette (little ears) made fresh and traditionally served with a simple tomato and cheese sauce.
Vegetables regularly replace meat at the heart of the secondo. This is not because the Pugliese are vegetarians, but because the vegetables taste so good that there is simply no need to add meat to the plate. The linking factor in everything is Puglias unparalleled olive oil, the gift from the countless, gnarled, ancient olive trees that punctuate the landscape. The snack of choice is taralli, crunchy wheat loops, perfect accompaniments to a glass of wine. Pugliese wine has rightfully seen its profile grow globally, with powerful, flavorsome local varieties like Negromaro and Primitivo now available in wine stores around the world.
Even the coffee here is different. Theres the espressino, of course, a unique midway point between an espresso and a cappuccino, delivering the punch of the former and the smooth comfort of the latter. Theres also the caffe in Ghiaccio, a shot of espresso served with ice and a splash of almond milk, perfect for hot summer days. Whether youre dining in one of the specially selected restaurants or grabbing a quick snack, youll inevitably be blown away by the respect and care that goes into every bite.
Everyone in Puglia is a foodie. Theres a connection to the producer, whether its the farmer, the fisherman, the grocer or the winemaker, that translates directly to your plate and glass. Freshness isnt a bonus, it is essential. During your classes, you will learn how to cook authentic recipes from the Salento region. The meals that you cook will encompass a wide range of dishes including an in-depth course on the art of making Italian pizza. Every meal that you will cook and eat will be made only with fresh, locally-bought ingredients.
Arrive at Brindisi - Salento Airport (BDS). Espressino Travel will pick you up from the airport. The pick-up is included in the price.
Arrive at Brindisi Railway Station. Espressino Travel will pick you up from the station. The pick-up is included in the price.