A Taste of Puglia: An Intimate Wine and Food-Focused Tour in Italy’s Culinary Paradise—October 1-7, 2017
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A Taste of Puglia:
Wine and Food in Italy's Culinary Paradise
October 1-7, 2017

Sunday, October 1
Welcome to Puglia

We begin by transporting you from the Bari, Italy airport to Masseria Lama di Luna, your luxurious home in Puglia's Alta Murgia or high, rocky plain for a few days, arriving no later than 5:00 p.m. We coordinate transfers based on your arrival times; the trip takes approximately 50 minutes.

We'll gather for a welcome aperitivo and an overview of the week to come, followed by dinner together at the masseria featuring the local, handmade ingredients for which Puglia is justifiably famous, along with local and regional wines to complement each course.

Monday, October 2 
Aglianico in the Alta Murgia

Every morning, we'll start our day together with breakfast at the masseria and an overview from Sommelier Alyssa Twelker about the appellations we'll visit and the wines we'll taste. Today we'll visit one of the Puglia's most important wineries, Tormaresca, a project started by Italy's foremost wine ambassadors, the Antinori family. We'll tour the estate and taste Tormaresca's finest, from terroir-rich aglianico to the elegant chardonnay-fiano minutolo blend, Pietrabianca. 

Next we head to one of the best, most authentic small restaurants in all of Italy for an exceptional lunch. First, we'll tour the restaurant's organic garden, then experience a traditional Pugliese meal that has been elevated to new heights through the expertise of its dedicated kitchen staff.

After the feast, we'll need a leisurely walk, so we'll make for nearby Trani. We'll see this historic port town with its famous Romanesque cathedral by the sea with an expert local guide. Dinner tonight begins with an aperitivo al aperto, followed by a light dinner of regional specialties before returning to our hotel.

Tuesday, October 3
Trulli and Terroir
Today we leave the Alta Murgia area of Puglia, traveling south to the Itria Valley and its spectacular coastline. Famous for its cone-shaped roof stone houses, olive groves and vineyards, the Itria Valley is reported to hold mystical powers and healing energy. On our way to our new accommodations just five miles from the sea, we'll stop at a vineyard renowned for its primitivo and its autochthonous white varietals minutolo and bianco d'Alessano


Before lunch at the Michelin Guide-noted Antica Locanda in Noci, we'll join a husband-and-wife, American-Italian winemaking duo in their palazzo to learn what drew them to Puglia and why their wines here are so distinctive.

After lunch, we'll head to our new masseria by the sea for some unstructured time. Once you have checked in, there will be time to explore the grounds, have a swim or take a spin on one of the masseria's vintage three-speed bicycles. Dinner tonight is in the masseria's vaulted-ceiling dining room.

Wednesday, October 4
Farm to Table in Martina Franca

We start the day with a visit to Martina Franca's weekly farmer's market, the biggest in the area. You will be dazzled by the choices on offer since Puglia provides much of Italy's (and Northern Europe's) fruits and vegetables. 

We'll also stop by an artisanal cheesemaker's kitchen to taste mozzarella and burrata fresh from its final water bath, followed by a visit to a wood-burning oven and its bakers who turn out focaccia, taralli and bread around the clock. Marketing concluded, we'll stroll through town to Terra Terra and your first cooking class.

Today's class will be conducted by a pair of delightful grandmothers and their classically-trained chef sons. Both generations are passionate advocates of a healthy Mediterranean diet as represented in the traditional foods of Puglia and they will share their extensive experience along with personal memories and traditions, focusing on the role that fresh vegetables, legumes, grains and locally made cheeses play in the genuine food of the region. You'll dive in, hands first, then join the grandmothers, their sons and an array of local friends—food artisans, vintners, butchers and more— who will drop by to meet you at lunch.

After lunch, you can wander Martina Franca's twisty, pedestrian-only alleyways with a local historian, visiting the town's Ducal Palace and its frescoes while stopping for an espresso in Martina's best-loved cafe. If you prefer, though, the afternoon can be spent on your own, discovering Martina's unique shops and local artisans.

We'll meet up later in the afternoon for a tutorial on the art of Italian craft cocktails, with a tasting of Italian amaros and other unique, handcrafted liquers that celebrate herbs, fruits and vegetables found only here.

Thursday, October 5
Magical Valle d'Itria and the Art of Liquori

After breakfast, we'll visit a grand old masseria and its venerable olive grove by the sea near the white city of Ostuni. Some of these olive trees are over 3,000 years old and are still producing organic extra virgin olive oil that is second to none. We'll tour the family's underground olive mill, which predates the Roman era, then conclude with a tasting of extra virgin olive oil, helping us distinguish between high quality and defective oils. 

Next, we head to Puglia's fabled coastline for a seafood luncheon unlike any you've ever tasted. Just a few feet from the water's edge, you'll dine on hyper-local shellfish, mollusks and fish pulled out of the sea only hours before by the fishing family that runs the restaurant. From stuffed mussels to spaghetti alle vongole and grilled sea bream, this seaside experience captures the essence of Puglia's bella vita.

After lunch, we make for the hills to a family-owned estate that specializes in organic extra virgin olive oil and handmade preserved fruits and vegetables. Here we'll tour the estate, gaze at the 360-degree views of the Adriatic and the olive plain below and learn to make the after-dinner liquers for which Puglia is famous. We'll taste several varieties as we enjoy an aperitivo al aperto at the estate.

Then it's on to Monopoli, another charming seaside town just minutes from our masseria home. In Monopoli, we'll tour the town's historic center and old fishing port before a light dinner in one of the town's atmospheric piazze.


Friday, October 6

Today after breakfast, we visit Polignano a Mare, perhaps Puglia's most exquisite seaside town perched high above the water on wind and wave-carved limestone bluffs. Often the spot chosen for celebrity weddings because of its picturesque alleyways and cliffside promenade, our guide will reveal all of its secrets. Oh, and since Polignano is the home of Domenico Modugno, the composer of perhaps contemporary Italy's most famous song, Volare, we'll pay homage to the man and his tune by saying hello to his larger-than-life statue that overlooks the sea. You'll have a little free time for any last minute shopping before lunch in a new, ultra-hip cafe featuring Polignano's seafood bounty.

After lunch, we'll return to the masseria for our final, hands-on cooking class with the classically-trained chef (and mom of the masseria's owner). You'll choose produce in the masseria's organic garden, then return to its teaching kitchen to transform your raw ingredients into our evening farewell feast. Roberto, the masseria's owner, and our own Alyssa, will accompany the evening's dinner with a selection of wines from Salento, Puglia's southernmost wine region known for robust reds that are taking the wine world by storm. 

Saturday, October 7
Arrivederci a Puglia

After breakfast at Masseria Garrappa and perhaps a final stroll around the grounds, a dip in the pool or a walk through the gardens it will be time to say goodbye. We'll send you home with some organic extra virgin olive oil and a compendium of some of the recipes you learned during your week in Puglia.

Additional travel in Puglia or beyond—including villa rental, excursions and recommendations—is easily arranged. Just let us know your plans and we'll be happy to help. 


Trip Details

The detailed itinerary is on your left, but for quick reference, your visit to Puglia includes:
  • an intimate, authentic introduction to the food and wine traditions of Puglia
  • 4 winery visits and tastings, 3 guided wine tastings, 2 craft cocktail, amaro and liquori tastings
  • two hands-on cooking classes with area experts
  • 6 nights in exceptional accommodations including pool, walking paths and organic fruits and vegetables with extensive Pugliese farm breakfasts each morning
  • guided walking tours of historical town centers (gratuities for tour leaders and drivers not required but much appreciated by our young, highly professional guides)
  • visits to markets, an ancient olive orchard and museum of country life, a cheese producer, a winery, an antique wood-burning oven, a cured meat and butcher shop and other artisanal food producers
  • all transportation during the program as noted in the itinerary
  • all meals, including wine as noted in the itinerary
  • all transportation upon arrival at hotel accommodation (airport transfers arranged separately)

Trip Cost

The total cost of the trip is $3,400 per person ($400 per person supplement for solo travelers), excluding airfare. All meals, beverages, excursions, classes, tastings, guided tours, transportation and snacks as detailed in the itinerary (left) are included in this price.

How to Reserve

To reserve your place, visit the Pascarosa website to make your initial deposit. Choose the fifth item on the list of Pascarosa store offerings ($500 deposit). The total trip cost must be paid no later than July 30, 2017, but you can spread your payments out through that date. Additional information, terms and conditions may be found here. Questions about the trip? Connect with Pascarosa via email:

Trip Leaders
Catherine and Brian Faris—Pascarosa Insiders' Tours
Catherine and Brian have deep roots in Puglia. For over 20 years, they have owned an olive grove and part of an old palazzo in a charming, walled town in the Itria Valley of Puglia. Catherine studied Italian language and literature in Florence and Rome and is a fluent Italian speaker. Brian manages the family's olive grove, overseeing olive tree pruning and harvesting along with their production of organic extra virgin olive oil.

Both Catherine and Brian are passionate about Pugliese food and wine culture. Over the years, they have developed strong ties to the land its people, developing lasting relationships with the farmers, chefs, food artisans and winemakers, many of whom you will meet when you join them in Puglia. They even appeared in a 2014 national pasta ad on television and billboards throughout Italy.

After hosting many small groups from all of over the world, Catherine and Brian have developed personalized itineraries that connect their guests with the very best this magical region has to offer. Read what participants have to say here and here.

Alyssa Twelker
Soif Wine
Alyssa started her professional life in food and wine with a stint at culinary school to learn the classics, studying under some of the best chefs in the United States. She represented the U.S. in an international culinary competition for young chefs in Scotland and along with her teammates, won the world title. While working as a private chef in Carmel, CA, she developed an interest in wine, which led to her pursuit of the sommelier certification through the Guild of Sommeliers.

A bit of luck landed her a job at Soif Wine Bar in Santa Cruz, where she has worked for the last six years. In that role, Alyssa has traveled to many wine regions throughout Europe (including Puglia!) to better her understanding of these legendary places. She now oversees the wine program at Soif and its sister restaurant, La Posta, and continues to highlight exceptional wines from all over the world in the restaurants and the adjacent wine store. Alyssa is passionate and knowledgeable about great food and wine and loves to encourage the same excitement in others. 

Wine in Puglia

If Italy is the largest producer of wine in the world, it is largely thanks to Puglia, which produces more than any other Italian region, about 17% of the total! Puglia now boasts 32 different DOC; only Tuscany and Piedmont have more.

Graphic credit:

The most widely grown grape variety is negroamaro (literally ‘black bitter’). Almost exclusively cultivated in Puglia, negroamaro is used to produce some of the region’s best wines, including Salice Salentino. The epithet of most famous grape, however, goes to primitivo, whose wines, including the Primitivo di Manduria, are generally high in alcohol content and full in body. Curiously, the primitivo grape shares its genetic make-up with California’s zinfandel varietal.

White wines in Puglia count for less than 20% of the overall production but are gradually growing in importance. Local grapes such as bombino bianco, bianco d’Alessano and verdeca rub shoulders with international varieties including chardonnay and sauvignon to produce some excellent results.

And Pugliese winemakers are now turning their attention to autochthonous varietals like susumaniello ("little donkey"), fiano minutolo and uva di troia (grape from Troy) to new levels, bringing these local varietals back from the brink of extinction. The results have been outstanding: these wines are considered elegant, refined accompaniments to Puglia's increasingly sophisticated cuisine.

Pugliese wine pairs beautifully with traditional Pugliese dishes. Both are deeply connected to the land here, with a persistent minerality contributed by Puglia's calcareous soil and iron deposits. From aromatic fiano minutolo to rich, ruby red primitivo, Puglia's vegetables, cured meats, cheeses and, of course, pastas form platonic taste profiles, with infinite variety to choose from among wine and food.

Weather in Puglia

Puglia is blessed with a temperate Mediterranean climate, with sunny summers and only slightly cooler temperatures in the Itria Valley, where we will spend the majority of our time during your visit to Puglia. In early October last year, temperatures were a moderate 70 degrees Fahrenheit, with evening temperatures in the low to middle 60s. The summer before last, though, temperatures were unseasonably warm, with 85 degree days and balmy nights. Rainfall is always a possibility, but warm, sunny days are the norm. It is too soon to predict what will happen during your visit, so here is a great weather website to bookmark so you can check the weather in the weeks before you arrive.

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