- David’s Blog
My Best of Southern Italy tour takes you to many off-the-beaten path regions still untouched by the tourist frenzy. You’ll begin by settling into Rome with an afternoon stroll and traditional dinner. Then, we’ll head cross country to the Gargano Peninsula and the Adriatic Sea. In the Puglia and Basilicata regions, enjoy unique ancient dwellings, boat cruises, fortified castles, delightful dinners and fine wine. Back across the boot, you’ll visit historic sites such as Paestum and Pompeii and then finish up on the amazing Amalfi Coast for some fun in the sun.
Your Adventure Starts Here!
Rome - 1 night
Gargano Peninsula - 2 nights
Ostuni - 2 night
Matera - 1 night
Salerno - 1 night
Sorrento - 3 nights
Naples - 1 night
Optional Single Supplement: $735
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Exploring Europe – 4036 Hidden Acre Rd. – Middleburg, FL 32068 FAX 800-570-1351
DAY 1: BUON GIORNO A ROMA! – Let’s plan to meet in our hotel lobby at 2:00 p.m. for introductions and a tour overview. Then, we will set off to explore some of Rome’s hidden neighborhoods and off-the-beaten-path destinations. Later, enjoy a grand “welcome to Italy” dinner at a favorite restaurant. Sleep 1 night in Rome. Walking: moderate. Dinner.
DAY 2: VILLA ADRIANA AND THE ADRIATIC – Leaving the busy streets of Rome, we will head west to Tivoli and Villa Adriana. It was here that Emperor Hadrian built a beautiful countryside retreat in the 1st century A.D. Then we will drive across “the boot” to the remote Gargano Peninsula, an area still unfamiliar to most Americans. We will set up for the evening at our beachside hotel and enjoy dinner in a nearby restaurant. Sleep 2 nights in Vieste. Driving: 6 hours. Walking: moderate. Dinner.
DAY 3: CRUISIN’ AND CHILLIN’ – The Gargano Peninsula is loaded with soaring cliffs, serene coves and mysterious caves. Today, you’ll get a chance to experience all this from sea level on an Adriatic cruise (weather permitting). Later, enjoy the remainder of the day in Vieste just chillin’ in a café or soaking up some sun on the beach. Cruise: 4 hours. Walking: your choice.
DAY 4: CASTEL DEL MONTE – The Norman castle of Frederick II dominates the countryside from its hilltop perch in a remote area of Puglia. The castle was built in an octagonal shape with an octagonal tower on each of the eight corners. It is one of the best-preserved medieval castles in southern Italy. Later, enjoy a walking tour in nearby Bari visiting the old town and its beautiful Basilica di San Nicola. Afterwards, we will proceed to nearby Ostuni. Sleep 2 nights in Ostuni. Driving: 3 hours. Walking: moderate. Dinner.
DAY 5: LECCE AND OTRANTO - Today’s tour takes us to Lecce, also called the “Florence of the South”. The magnificent baroque buildings, palaces, churches and the ancient amphitheater make this city truly unique. Later, enjoy a taste of the local wine in nearby cave. In Otranto, enjoy a seaside town way down in the “heel” of Puglia. Otranto’s most important attraction is the 12th-century mosaic in the town’s Romanesque cathedral. Enjoy the remainder of the evening back in Ostuni for a little exploring on your own. Driving: 3 hours. Walking: moderate.
DAY 6: TRULLI AND SASSI - Heading west enjoy a scenic ride through the Basilicata region. We’ll visit Alberobello with its unique cone-shaped “Trulli” houses made of stone. Then, assist at a typical pasta making demonstration, here we will see how the locals make the famous “orecchiette pasta” followed by lunch in a typical masseria. Later, arrive in Matera with its famous “sassi” houses. This city, considered a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, was built into the hills and ravines made of soft tufa stone. The local people carved their homes right into the “sassi” or stones, where they lived in cave-like homes. Sleep 1 night in Matera. Driving: 3 hours. Walking: moderate. Lunch.
DAY 7: CAMPANIA AND SALERNO – It is a beautiful ride through the lush green mountains and countryside down to the Campania region. Here you’ll visit an organic water buffalo farm which produces the famous mozzarella di bufala cheese and later, enjoy a lunch featuring their cheesy products. Nearby, we’ll visit Paestum, a collection of three of the best-preserved Greek temples in Europe. We’ll settle in for a relaxing evening in Vietri and an enjoyable dinner together. Sleep 1 night in Vietri. Driving: 5 hours. Walking: moderate. Lunch and Dinner.
DAY 8: THE AMALFI COAST- Today we will drive along the stunning Amalfi coast. You’ll have an opportunity to visit and walk the streets of Positano, characterized by narrow alleys and steep staircases. In Amalfi enjoy the Cathedral, the bell tower and the “Paradise Cloister”. The highlight of our day will be Ravello. The little village is located higher up in the mountains affording breathtaking views of the coast. Finally, we’ll arrive in tranquil Sorrento for a relaxing dinner. Sleep 3 nights in Sorrento. Driving: 4 hours. Walking: your choice. Dinner.
DAY 9: POMPEII – We’ll begin the day with a visit to Pompeii, the city that was destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 B.C. Our local guide will help interpret the life and times of these people before and during the volcanic eruption. Back in Sorrento, enjoy the remainder of the day and evening to poke around Sorrento on your own. Driving: 1.5 hours. Walking: strenuous.
DAY 10: SORRENTO AND CAPRI – There are no sightseeing plans for today. We’ve left it free for you to make some discoveries on your own! Your guide can help arrange an optional trip to nearby Capri Island where you can see the famous Blue Grotto, visit hilltop Anacapri and hop-nob with the rich and famous. Or simply spend the day enjoying Sorrento on your own. The choice is yours!
DAY 11: NAPLES – No trip to southern Italy is complete without a visit to Naples where you’ll visit the bustling city and experience the local way of life. Then you will see the greatest treasures of Pompeii now housed in Naples’ National Archeological Museum. Here too, see the “Farnese Bull,” the largest sculpture ever recovered from antiquity. After a bit of free time on the streets of Naples we will take part in a pizza cooking class in an authentic Napoli pizzeria. We’ll cap off our tour experience with a farewell dinner consisting of our handmade pizza! Sleep 1 night in Naples. Driving: 1 hour. Walking: strenuous. Dinner.
DAY 12: THE TOUR CONCLUDES AFTER BREAKFAST – We’ll get you to the Naples airport if needed. From there you can head home or enjoy more of Europe. Your guide will be happy to assist with your post-tour travel needs, leaving you all set and prepared for the adventures ahead. Ciao e buon viaggio!
This itinerary is subject to change.
Transportation provided by coach or minibus from your Rome hotel to the airport in Naples.
11 nights’ accommodation in centrally located hotels, guesthouses, and B&Bs. All rooms have private en-suite baths.
All tips and gratuities to guides, drivers, restaurant and hotel staff.
Guaranteed Small Group with no more than 24 travelers.
All breakfasts and seven of your dinners or lunches.
Traditional and gourmet dining experiences at some of David’s personal favorite restaurants. Eating well is a priority and you’ll enjoy fine regional fare featuring the best each locale has to offer.
Water is included with all group meals. Sodas, wine, beer and other drinks are your responsibility.
All tours and admissions at no extra cost: Guided walking tours in Rome, Bari, Ostuni, Lecce, Matera, Sorrento and Naples; Guided tour and entrance fees of the Villa Adriana in Tivoli, Castel del Monte, Pompeii, Paestum, and the Naples Archeological Museum; Gargano Peninsula cruise; wine tasting in Puglia and more!
A fulltime Exploring Europe guide and local experts dedicated to bringing to life the art, history, and culture of the tour destinations.
David’s printed tour handouts detailing each day’s historical and cultural experiences.
Free luggage tags and David’s custom-designed drawstring backpacks.
Our Unconditional Tour Price Guarantee that once locked in will never change.
Comprehensive Travel Insurance providing full coverage for emergency medical, baggage loss, and trip delay from the moment you depart for your tour.
$50 Tour Alumni discount for each David McGuffin tour you’ve taken prior to 2018.
$100 discount if making all payments by check, cash or bank draft. The $400 initial deposit may be made by credit card and still qualify for this discount.
Walking and Physical Activity: We have planned this trip to provide maximum tour experiences by foot, boat, and vehicle. The basic nature of Europe does require some degree of physical activity to get out and see the sights, especially in the countryside. To help you plan, we’ve included a daily projection of physical activity. Here is our key for our walking activity ratings:
Light – Walking done on level surfaces with some small hills and elevation gains. In most cases, the bus will drop-off and pick-up at nearby locations. Two miles or less of required walking during the day.
Moderate – Walking done on paved and gravel paths. To enjoy the full tour experience, some up and down hill walking is to be expected. Four to five miles of walking per day.
Strenuous – Walking done on rugged and rocky paths with some steps and stairs. Up to six miles of walking per day.
Your Choice – No matter what your walking ability, we will help you find alternative ways to enjoy and experience all Europe has to offer. To get the most out of our tours you should be able to operate at the light level everyday with spurts of moderate and strenuous.
Submit your review
ESSENCE OF ITALY - There was so much to see, do, eat and be awestruck. David is so knowledgeable! He is a walking encyclopedia of fun and interesting facts about the things we saw. Our local guides were also great. Fabrizio was so interesting and knowledgeable about Rome, the history and the why's and why not's. Annie was the best in Volterra! The food was superb! Most dinners were a great experience, but I have to admit I enjoyed the breakfasts almost as much!
CUSTOM TOUR TO ITALY - The tour was well planned down to the final details. Volterra was simply beautiful. I could have spent a week in Volterra absorbing the atmosphere and culture. Al, our local guide in Rome, was full of knowledge and interesting lore. We are trying to determine where we will go next.
CUSTOM TOUR TO ITALY - Once again, we had a great time. The accommodations were perfect, the food experiences were fun, and the transportation went smoothly. David did a great job. All of the local guides were knowledgeable and informative, and the alabaster demo was awesome, too. I loved the hotel in Florence; the flat in Volterra was amazing; and the hotel in Rome was great, too. The restaurant in Volterra, Del Duca, had a beautiful atmosphere, and I enjoyed the restaurant on our last night in Rome.
TUSCANY VILLA TOUR - The Tuscan Villa Tour is advertised as a relaxing tour of the Tuscan countryside - and that's exactly what it is. With only 10 people on our tour, we were allowed to be flexible with the agenda which made for a very casual and relaxing tone for the week. The villa (or agriturismo) was beyond perfect and fulfilled my lifelong desire for a true Tuscan dream vacation. It's hard to pinpoint one "wow" moment, but the true highlight was visiting the small towns in the Tuscan countryside (Sienna, Lucca, & Volterra). Each of these quaint towns were enchanting with their own beautiful architecture and fascinating histories. Every local guide that we had on our tour was excellent. Each guide was very knowledgeable, fascinating to listen to, and truly passionate about the topic. Having these guides were imperative to truly enjoy these historical sights. Each hotel was the perfect combination of local charm with American comforts. As someone who can be picky about hotels, I was very satisfied. David knew the perfect places to eat at every location and the best things to order for our family-style dinners. It was a fabulous trip and I can't wait until my next one.
ESSENCE OF ITALY - The tour to Italy was amazing! We were able to see a lot in a week. David was very professional and knew a lot about the areas visited. I loved all that we saw, and it was planned out well.
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