The Land of Wine & Midday Sun
Referred to as "Il Mezzogiorno or "midday", Italy's Puglia region is a sun-drenched gem often overlooked by travelers, but a place that should not be missed by foodies and wine enthusiasts alike. From rustic to Romanesque, this is an ancient, rural land still producing more wine, olive oil and wheat than anywhere else in Italy while also boasting a unique architectural style that combines northern and eastern influences. Here at the heel of Italy's boot you will find a thousand-year-old wine culture brought by the Greeks who planted the first vines. Historically a region based on agriculture, the approach to wine was once abundance over quality and consumption was mostly local. However, over the past 20 years Puglia’s wines have seen a renaissance. Producers have embraced centuries of winemaking tradition while applying modern techniques to craft high-quality wines.
Puglia also grows its wheat like it grows grapes, with a deep understanding of and devotion to soil and seed, each part of a unique terroir. Different types of wheat are grown in different parcels, destined for different types of pasta and some given 'cru' status. The resulting flavors in their simple pasta dishes are in a league of their own.
Today you will explore all of these fascinating aspects unique to the heel of Italy's boot. Upon disembarkation you will transfer to Puglia's most renowned wine region, the Castel del Monte DOC. Named after its "castle on the hill", the area specializes in red wine made mostly from native grapes you may not know yet such as Aglianico, Nero di Troia and Negroamaro. Here you will visit Marchesi Antinori's Bocca di Lupo estate. As one of Italy's most prestigious and innovative producers, Piero Antinori recognized the enormous potential Puglia offered and invested in the Castel del Monte region with the goal of helping Puglia's grapes reach their full potential, while also including international grape varieties to create a range of both traditional and modern wines. After a visit of the winery you will enjoy an aperitivo then sit down to a traditional Puglia lunch served with estate wines.
Following your lunch your guide will bring you back to Bari for a tour of the historic Bari Vecchia. The old Bari is like stepping back in time with a labyrinth of small medieval streets originally designed to protect inhabitants from the wind as well as from invaders. Enemies were lured into narrow streets and attacked from above. Today travelers are lured into old town by delightful culinary aromas, bustling energy and stunning architecture. Your guide will literally walk you through Bari's fascinating history from the ancient Greek to the Romans and on to the Byzantines, the Normans, Emperor Fredrick ll and the Spain Bourbons. After your guided walking tour you will have some free time to explore and do some shopping before heading back to the ship.