Calabria and Basilicata small group tour. Experience the Southern Italy lifestyle with a small group of 12/14 participants only! Distinctive and delightful, with crystalline seas, pretty countryside and endless sunshine, Basilicata is a land of natural beauty, warm hospitality and amazing food and wine. A unique, much-loved southern region.Dramatic mountains, Byzantine rock-hewn churches, sun-baked olive groves, stunning Romanesque architecture and some of Italy’s best beaches are tempting more and more visitors to the exciting little-known regions.
Basilicata has an otherworldly landscape of tremendous mountain ranges, dark forested valleys and villages so melded with the rock face that they seem to have grown there. Its extensive coastline bears the marks of many conquering invaders:the Normans, the Spanish, the Turks, the Swabians and the Greeks. Yet, despite its diverse influences, Basilicata has its own distinct and authentic identity. Calabria contains startling natural beauty and spectacular towns that seem to grow out of the craggy mountaintops.
Sun and sea, food, wine and quality of life – explore this diverse and captivating region with a Secret Italia Tour. From the peaks of the Pollino to the crystalline waters of the Tropea peninsula, this small group tour immerses you in the natural beauty of Calabria. This is where to head for an adventure into the unknown.
We have a real passion for Basilicata & Calabria regions and look forward to sharing it with you! Trust the locals…
Day 1: WELCOME TO SOUTHERN ITALY & PAESTUM
Arrive at Naples railway station where you’ll be met by your driver and local tour director at11.00 and travel to a wine cellar in the foothills of Mount Vesuvius to tour the vineyard, sip the wines and sample a tasty light lunch. Continue to the town of PAESTUM, our home for the first two nights at the family hotel “TENUTA DUCA MARIGLIANO” or similar.This evening, join your local tour director and fellow travelers for an included dinner where you’ll feel like one of the family. Overnight stay in PAESTUM
Day 2: MAJESTIC GREEK TEMPLES AT PAESTUM & MOZZARELLA WORKING FARM
After breakfast,we’ll discover the UNESCO listed PAESTUM temples which are among the best-preserved monuments of Magna Grecia, the Greek colony that once covered much of southern Italy. Our knowledgeable native guide will also introduce the stunning Museum which houses a collection of fascinating “metopes” (bas-relief friezes) from the Temple of Argiva Reva. Do not miss the 5th century BC fresco of the Tomba del Tuffatore (Tomb of the Diver) thought to represent the passage from life to death.Continue to visit a marvelous LOCAL FARM for a cheese experience with a light lunch included.We’ll have free time this afternoon for more exploration. Dinner is on your own this evening. Overnight stay in PAESTUM
Day 3: ROMAN VENOSA, AGLIANICO WINERY & MATERA
This morning tour takes you travelling to the region of Basilicata to visit the town of VENOSA, one of the most important Roman colonies around 290 BC with remains of baths and an amphitheater which still survive in the archaeological area. It was the birthplace of the Latin poet HORACE and the site where the Roman general Marcellus died at the hands of Hannibal in 2018 BC. This jewel is famed as one of the most beautiful villages in Italy and has significant cultural and historical value. We’ll visit the Trinity church, the Jewish Catacombs, the archaeological park and, from outside, the huge Castle in Piazza Umberto dating from the 16th century. After an eventful tasting of Aglianico wine in a local winery, we travel to the world’s oldest town inhabited since the Paleolithic age, MATERA for your overnight stay at the charming central hotel “LA DIMORA DI METELLO” or similar. Dinner is on your own this evening in one of the caves restaurants. Overnight stay in MATERA
Day 4: THE CAVE DWELLINGS IN MATERA & THE RUINS OF METAPONTO
MATERA is a fabulous troglodyte town of prehistoric grottoes, cave tabernacles, abandoned hovels and Renaissance houses, all excavated into the luminous limestone tufa. The rock-cut cave dwellings known as the Sassi, date back to Byzantine times. With the help of a locally-grown expert, we’ll learn the stories of old and new Matera. We’ll visit an ancient cave dwelling which tells a tale of poverty, hardship and struggle, whose history is best immortalized in writer Carlo Levi’s superb book “Christ stopped at Eboli”, comparing the Sassi to Dante’s Inferno.Following an included street food experience with local focaccia bread, we’ll be visiting the Greek colony of METAPONTO, the only ancient Mediterranean colony where archaeologists have completed mapped the urban layout. Even more evocative are the TAVOLE PALATINE, the remains of 15 standing columns from the 6th century BC Doric Temple of Hera. Spend your next three nights at the family run “HOTEL BARBIERI” located in the hill town of ALTOMONTE in the region of Calabria. Dinner is included with our Calabrian family. Overnight stay in ALTOMONTE
Day 5: THE POLLINO NATIONAL PARK, ALTOMONTE & OLIVE OIL FARM
Your day begins with a walking tour in the historic center of ALTOMONTE, where you will discover medieval alleys and traditional life of Calabrians. The historical center is characterized by cobbled streets, stone houses, beautiful historic buildings and superb views of the valley and mountain ranges. Altomonte has several attractive Gothic-style churches and there is a Civic Museum housed in the old convent adjacent to the Duomo .The present-day construction has a beautiful portal, bell tower with mullioned window and Baroque interior modifications. You will see the main city churches and the museum that contains among other works the famous “San Ladislao” of the school of Giotto.Continue to a local FARMHOUSE near Altomonte where you’ll learn the process of olive oil pressing in Calabria with an included tasting of local products.In the evening, meet a member of the Barbieri family for a fun COOKING LESSON of a typical Calabrian dish followed by dinner with the family.Overnight stay in ALTOMONTE
Day 6: DISCOVER THE ALBANIAN VILLAGES OF CIVITA & FRASCINETO
We depart this morning for a drive to discover the enchanting Pollino National Park and its intriguing villages and towns that still preserve traces of Albanian culture more than five centuries after their ancestors fled to Calabria as Turks invaded Albania.Today, they form the largest ethnic minority in the region. They have their own language, literature, dress and their own Greek Orthodox bishop. In the small Albanian-speaking village of FRASCINETO you’ll visit the Museum of Icons and Byzantine traditions, a true reserve of artistic treasures, as well as a rather unique institution in Calabria’s cultural landscape.Coming from Russia, Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia and Greece, the icons are more than 250 date back up to the 17th century. Some of them were painted following the traditional technique (a mixture of eggs and tempera colors), whereas for others a mixed technique was employed (oil and tempera colors).Continue to nearby Albanian mountain of CIVITA, on the south western side of the Pollino mountain chain, already in existence during the middle ages. It is also known for the “Devil Bridge”, a panoramic bridge built over one of Italy’s deep gorges, the so called “Raganello Gorge”.Dinner is included with the Barbieri family. Overnight stay in ALTOMONTE
Day 7: THE DUCAL PALACE IN CORIGLIANO CALABRO & THE CARTHUSIAN MONASTERY AT SERRA SAN BRUNO
This morning drive takes you to visit CORIGLIANO CALABRO to visit its stunning DUCAL CASTLE.Originally built in the 11th century, when the Normans fought the Byzantine rulers in Southern Italy, the fortress expanded in the first half of the 1300s thanks to the powerful Sanseverino family. In the 15th century, the castle was renovated and its architecture took on the typical features of the Aragonese style; the structure was further altered in the 17th century by the Saluzzo family, and in the 19th century by the Compagna family. After an exclusive tour of the world-famous Amarelli Licorice Factory and Museum, we’ll drive to the mountain village of SERRA SAN BRUNO,the spiritual, artisan and agricultural center of Calabria, located between the Sila mountains and the Aspromonte National Park. Enjoy a walk to its miraculous lake and explore the site of the CERTOSA, the Cartusian Abbey where the Cartusian monks still live today.Spend the last three nights of your Calabria experience in PIZZO CALABRO, a picturesque fishing village staying at “PICCOLO GRANDE HOTEL“or similar. Stacked high on a sea cliff with sweeping views down to the Tropean peninsula, Pizzo has a distinct ramshackle charm. On its main squares, cafes compete to offer the town’s best tartufo, a death-by-chocolate ice-cream ball.PIZZA DINNER is included this evening in a local restaurant.Overnight stay in PIZZO CALABRO
Day 8: TIMELESS TROPEA,WINE TASTING & THE RIACE BRONZES IN REGGIO CALABRIA
One of the most picturesque towns on Calabria’s largely built up Tyrrhenian coast, TROPEAoffers superb views of the sea and beaches. The rock is topped by SANTA MARIA DELL’ISOLA, a former medieval Benedictine sanctuary. After a walking tour of the charming historical area, we will drive to nearby winery for an included WINE TASTING with light lunch. Continue to REGGIO CALABRIA to visit the National Museum which houses a fine collection of artifacts from ancient Rhegion- a Greek city on the site of the present town-and from other Greek sites. Chief among its treasures are the GREEK BRONZES, larger-than life statues of warriors dredged from the sea off Riace Marina in 1972. Dinner is on your own this evening.Overnight stay in PIZZO CALABRO
Day 9: DOLCE FAR NIENTE IN PIZZO CALABRO
Meet your tour guide this morning for a discovery of charming Pizzo Calabro, maybe visiting the intriguing CHIESETTA DI PIEDIGROTTA, an underground cave full of carved stone statues or the little 15th century ARAGONESE CASTLE. You cannot leave Pizzo without tasting the Tartufo di Pizzo – a gelato based version of the truffle. That is why we have reserved a tartufo tasting class at Bar Ercole. The rest of the day is at leisure for you to enjoy. Tonight we’ll celebrate you with a farewell dinner at one of the typical regional restaurants.Overnight stay in PIZZO CALABRO
Day 10: ARRIVEDERCI BEAUTIFUL SOUTHERN ITALY
Morning transfers to Lamezia airport and train station.Thanks for travelling Secret Italia Tours!