Puglian villages tour (Alberobello, Cisternino and Martina Franca)
The tour starts at your hotel, where your guide meets you to take you to your first stop in Alberobello, an hour and a half's drive from Lecce. The town is renowned for its conical limestone houses, called trulli. They’re found throughout Puglia, but Alberobello contains the highest concentration in one area. There are trullo houses, cafes, bars and churches and, as you walk, your guide will explain their origin and construction.
Heading up the slopes of Rione Aia Piccola, you'll visit a small museum dedicated to the history of the trulli. You then stop at a viewpoint to look over the higgledy-piggledy beehive-like houses of Rione Monti, across the main thoroughfare.
Coming back down the hill, you have time to explore the shops and streets of Rione Monti as well as a small church located inside a trullo. You finish your time in Alberobello with a glass of wine in one of the characteristic trullo wine bars.
From Alberobello, it's about a 30-minute drive to hilltop Cisternino, crossing the scenic Valle d’Itria, a valley of olive groves and vineyards that’s dotted with more trulli. Whitewashed Cisternino is a tangle of tiny streets that surround the town’s cathedral. Dedicated to Saint Nicholas, the cathedral has an underground crypt and a small museum.
From the church, you enter the historic part of the village, renowned as one of Italy's most beautiful with its winding lanes, little independent shops and local restaurants. As you wander, you'll get sweeping views of the surrounding countryside along with an insight into village history from your guide. While in Cisternino you have some free time for lunch.
Leaving Cisternino, you reach the last stop of the day, Martina Franca, a 20-minute drive away. A small village of winding lanes flanked by whitewashed houses with wrought-iron balconies overflowing with blooms, it's a handsome place to wander.
Entering the old town through the 17th-century Gate of Saint Stephen, you visit Piazza Roma and the town hall, which has well-preserved paintings dating back to the 17th century. You continue on to the main square, Piazza Plebiscito, the setting for the town’s Baroque Basilica di San Martino and bell tower. Once you've had time to stroll around the streets, you’ll return to your hotel with your guide at the end of the day.