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Welcome to Salento, the Southeastern-most tip of Puglia, the heel of the boot of Italy. This luxury gay Salento food and wine tour is your opportunity to explore the world-famous food in this amazing location, connecting Ionian and Adriatic seas. This tour combines the must-see sights of the area with a sophisticated exploration of the best food and wines of Southern Italy. You will be taught how to cook like a local, thanks to the support of the best local chefs. Moreover, you will also eat like kings on this tour as the gastronomy included will ensure you indulge and you will also have a day on a boat excursion looking at Puglia from another angle. Despite the exciting activities, there will be plenty of opportunities for you to relax, unwind, and shop!
You will be accommodated in a 4-star villa in Salento, Italy.
You will be collected either from Brindisi Airport (BDS), connected to many destinations in Europe and beyond, or Lecce train station. From there, you make your way to the private villa that has been reserved exclusively for your group. This is where the Luxury Gay Salento Food and Wine Tour adventure begins!
Make yourself comfortable in your room and make sure to arrive hungry: a delicious welcome aperitif dinner prepared by your hosts is the apt start to the tour. Upon arrival at the villa, you will be greeted and briefed to the activities of the week ahead. You will be provided with an assistance number you can call Italy Gay Travels at any time during your stay.
After a fresh breakfast, you have your first hands-on experience: a cooking lesson from a local chef. The lesson will focus on cooking typical Salento dishes and exploring the variety of local ingredients used. Cooking in Salento, and Puglia as a whole, is very seasonal and therefore recipes differ from one month to the next. Time to learn which vegetables grow in which month!
You will also have a ‘waste not’ attitude so don’t be surprised to see parts of vegetables used that are generally thrown away. Recipes have been handed down from generation to generation and truly represent the Mediterranean diet. The session is hands on and time is taken to ensure that everyone is happy and confident by the end of the experience. Naturally, you eat what you’ve made.
After digesting your meal, you visit one of the most beautiful towns of the region, Porto Cesareo, famous for its long sandy beaches. Get your speedos out and have a swim in the crystaline waters or explore the town in your own time. The catch of the day will be dinner, freshly served fish and seafood in one of the best spots in the area. A couple of digestives or a gelato finish off the evening in proper Italian Style.
After a hearty breakfast, the Luxury Gay Salento Food and Wine Tour departs for the Southeastern-most point of Puglia: Santa Maria di Leuca. This area is frequented by celebrities for its awe inspiring untouched landscapes and natural beauty.
After exploring the city and learning what makes it so special, you make your way to the port of the town and board a private boat to discover the magical surroundings of the area by the sea. An aperitif and a light lunch will be served on board: the rest of the afternoon is spent on the boat sunbathing, swimming, and resting.
In the afternoon, you make your way back to the villa. Some free time before returning to the dinner table: your hosts will prepare a superb dinner, inspired to the best local recipes.
After breakfast, you visit one of the local farmers’ markets. Here you discover how the locals go about their daily lives. Along with your hosts and a local chef you will experience the markets in a truly authentic way. Once you have bought the ingredients, you make your way back to the villa.
You are back in the kitchen again get to learn the tricks of this amazing cuisine with a hands-on class with a local Mamma. You also learn how to make fresh pasta from scratch. The typical homemade pasta of the area is called ‘Orecchiette’ which gets its name based on the shape that resembles ears. Give it a go and before you know it you will be a master!
Later in the afternoon, you visit Otranto, the coastal port rich in history. This is the Easternmost part of Italy and is postcard famous for its location at the very edge of Puglia. East meets West architecture and white sandy beaches await you. Spend a few hours at your own pace exploring this gem.
A culinary tour in Italy would not be complete without pizza: in the evening you make your way to one of the best pizzerias around.
Today you head to one of the best known wineries of the area, where you taste wines that are unique to the area of Salento. The traditional varieties that are grown include Primitivo and Negroamaro.
Afterwards, you head to the seaside. Just 10 kilometers away from Nardo’ are the typical villages of Santa Caterina and Santa Maria al Bagno, adjacent to the stunning Porto Selvaggio (Wild Port) Natural Reserve. You enjoy a light lunch by the sea while spending some quality time by the beach.
Later in the afternoon, you head to Lecce, the baroque capital city of Salento. After a guided walk in the center of the so-called Florence of the south, everybody is left free to enjoy the city as they wish: a couple of hours for shopping, a spritz, a gelato.
Feel free to do as you please, but make sure to join the group again for the evening meal: you will enjoy dinner in the historic center at a restaurant that showcases the local produce, including typical dishes such as ‘ciceri e tria’ (chickpea dish) and ‘fave e cicoria’ (cicory and fava beans). You will finish the evening with a few drinks in some of the best gay-friendly bars of Lecce.
After a hearty breakfast, the Gay Salento Tour will head to a typical ‘Frantoio’ (farm producing organic extra virgin olive oil). Here you will learn the history of the ancient olive groves planted by the Romans and their uses from then until now. Marvel at the ancient trees that dominate this landscape. This is followed by a degustation of olive oils.
You will also explore Gallipoli, a port town famous for fishing boats and fresh seafood. Meander through the little alleyways and see the locals going about their trades. This town will steal your heart!
The afternoon is spent back at the villa where you can relax and unwind and prepare for the barbecue night. A few locals will be invited to join for an unforgettable final evening around the grounds of the villa. Those willing to party can make their way back to Gallipoli, the gay capital of Southern Italy where you can enjoy a drink or two at the local gay bar or dance the night away in its gay club.
The Gay Salento Luxury Food and Wine Tour is over. It’s time to say goodbye. Italy Gay Travels will arrange drop-offs to Brindisi Airport (BDS) or Lecce train station. No tears please: it’s only goodbye until the next time!
Sun, Sea, Salento! This is the part of Puglia that is sun-kissed all year long. You will find people on the beach at Christmas, no jokes! Accompanied by excellent Mediterranean cuisine, genuine hospitality, an amazing landscape, and breathtaking stretches of beaches, it is no wonder Salento is the ideal spot for gay travelers and a select number of celebrities.
A green peninsula fringed by two seas, this is a magical stretch of land where quaint fishing villages and beautiful towns are hidden amongst the olive trees and vineyards that dominate the landscapes. Ancient Masserie (manor farms) have been transformed into sophisticated hotels or agriturismo and wine tasting estates. Take a hike and discover early Christian churches or visit the many ancient olive pressing mills. Marvel at natural wonders this area offers including sea caves at Castro and Santa Maria di Leuca.
Lecce, the largest Baroque city in the South is a must for any itinerary to Puglia. Churches and palazzos are embroidered in Tuffo (Lecce stone), and courtyards, secret gardens, and a surprising Roman amphitheater await you in the heart of the city.
Historically, many parts of Salento were fishing villages and the traditions and customs are still upheld today. Visit places like Porto Cesareo, Portoselvaggio and Gallipoli where you will still see the fishermen at work and fresh markets and restaurants serving up local dishes of fresh fish. In this area craft objects out of papier-mâché and local stone, these are used to create masks for the festivals (not quite Rio but equally impressive). Don’t leave Salento without trying at least one ‘Pasticciotto’, a pastry from this area which has a crème filling.
Aptly named ‘the Florence of the South,’ Lecce is a stunning Baroque City only 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) away from the Adriatic Sea. Marvel at the architecture with palaces and churches that line the streets inside the city’s three ancient gates: Porta Rudiae, Porta San Biagio and Porta Napoli. Visit the castle built by Charles V and designed by Gian Giacomo dell’Acaya. The Roman Amphitheatre, adjacent to the central Piazza Sant’Oronzo, offers an intriguing insight into the city’s history.
Gallipoli, meaning 'the beautiful city', is fast becoming the gay hotspot of Italy. Who can blame them, with beautiful beaches and incredible views, coupled with cafes, restaurants, beach bars, and clubs, it is no wonder people flock here in their thousands over the summer. Just 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Lecce, the old town sits perched on a limestone island.
The walls, bastions, and towers, which originally defended the town from invaders, now protect it from rough seas, while also preserving the charm of days gone by. If you want authentic charm then stay in the old city but if you are after a beach experience stay in the many apartments or hotels south of Gallipoli, a long stretch of beautiful beach with great beach clubs including Samsara and G Beach (popular with gay tourists).
Otranto’s ancient city center (‘Borgo antico di Otranto’) has been recognized by UNESCO as a ‘Culture of Peace Messenger Site.’
Stroll along the Lungomare degli Eroi at the foot of the ancient city center then make your way to the old town. Visit the Aragon Castle and the Cathedral which has a precious mosaic floor and the relics of 800 martyrs killed by the Turks in 1480. If you have time, visit the emerald green lake set amidst coral-colored hills of the Bauxite quarry, just outside the town.
Porto Cesareo is well known for its golden beaches and wonderful sea. The small village is surrounded by the beautiful small port, with the fish market and characteristic colored boats setting the mood. Porto Cesareo belongs to the Protected Marine Area and to the Regional Nature Reserve ‘Palude del Conte e Duna Costiera’. It is worth spending some time in this park to experience the unspoiled nature and visit the Research Station of Marine Biology and the Oceanography Museum. Old watchtowers known as ‘Torre’ are dotted along the landscape; among these, Torre Cesarea, Torre Chianca and Torre Lapillo, each with beautiful beaches to enjoy. Here you will also find important archeological evidence including the village of ‘Scalo di Furno’, dating back to the Bronze Age.
You can enjoy holistic massage service for 65 EUR an hour.
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