2024 September 26 to October 5
Prices listed are per person:
Shared Room: $7,998
Private Room: $10,298
Begin your tour in the heart of Rome.
Stroll the streets of the well-preserved city of Pompeii, lost in a volcanic eruption during Roman times.
Explore the villages of the Amalfi Coast that hug the hillsides above the Mediterranean Sea.
Wander mountain paths and city lanes on the storied Isle of Capri.
Spend two nights in a Matera hotel, housed in a cave that was once a church.
Walk the rugged paths used for Jerusalem scenes of the film The Passion of the Christ.
See the conical buildings called “trulli” in the countryside around Ostuni.
Visit the grand hilltop 13th Century Castel del Monte and the Romanesque Adriatic fishing port of Trani, including a synagogue built in the 13th Century.
If you have more time to explore this region, please consider staying for a Classical Tour of Turkey, Sicily Cultural Tour or our Puglia Culinary Tour. Or consider arriving early to visit Greece. See “Extensions” for details.
Fine cuisine, world-class wine, spectacular vistas, and centuries of history
HE Travel is proud to offer you a unique journey to the Amalfi Coast, Capri and the enchanting regions of Basilicata and Puglia, which have been little affected by the tourism that dominates the more famous regions of Italy. In these towns to the south and east of Rome culture and art are in harmony with natural charm and great food.
Our tour starts at our classical hotel in the heart of the “Eternal City” of Rome, a stunning collection of classical antiquities, medieval buildings, Renaissance palaces, and Baroque churches. History lives side by side with contemporary life with incredible ease. One can walk in the footsteps of Caesar, then dance in the splendor of Italy’s most fashionable trendsetters. We can arrange additional time in Rome for anyone who wants to immerse themselves in this fascinating city.
From Rome we will travel south to see the civilization buried under volcanic ash in Pompeii. We’ll then stay at a hotel overlooking the rugged coastline of the Amalfi Coast and witness the enchanting natural beauty and the forgotten gay history of the Isle of Capri. We will then head east to discover the unique cave dwellings in the Basilicata town of Matera. We conclude our tour by visiting authentic sights in Puglia that most visitors to Italy never get to see. Savor fine Italian cuisine, drink world-class wine from the surrounding vineyards and live the slow food experience.
Day 1: Welcome to Roma!
Upon your arrival today, we will provide transfers from Rome airport to our hotel. We have selected a charming, centrally located hotel so that anyone arriving early can easily explore Rome independently. (As always, we are happy to help with travel arrangements before or after the main tour.) This evening, meet your fellow travelers for our welcome dinner and get to know each other before we embark upon our journey through southern and eastern Italy.
Day 2: Pompeii
After checking out of our hotel, we will head to the main train station to board the high-speed train to Naples. We’ll meet our driver and guide for an introductory tour of Naples and a stop for lunch in a historic pizzeria. Next, we will visit the archaeological site of Pompeii. It was a wealthy Roman city buried under ash after a cataclysmic eruption of nearby Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD. The incredibly preserved art and artifacts of this city give a window into the daily life of Romans nearly 2000 years ago. Pompeii has fascinated visitors and historians for centuries, and research continues to this day.
Later we will continue to our hotel in Sorrento’s old town. Sorrento offers an incredible food scene, breathtaking vistas, and the feeling of authentic southern Italian life. Its unique location offers an incredible view of the Bay of Naples and the Sorrentine Peninsula. We’ll spend three nights here exploring the region by day. Then we will relax over dinner with some of the most famous views in the world.
Day 3: The Isle of Capri
This morning, weather permitting, we shall walk down to the Sorrento Pier and board the fast ferry to Capri Island. Upon arrival, we will hop onto Capri Taxis for a fantastic ride to the hilltop town called ANACAPRI.
We will visit Villa San Michele, a ruined church turned into a unique home a century ago by the Swedish physician and scientist Axel Munthe. Of his home, Munthe wrote: “The soul needs more space than the body. My home shall be open for the sun and the wind and the voices of the sea – like a Greek temple – and light, light, light everywhere!”
Dr. Munthe was an advocate of LGBT causes at that time, fighting against the belief that homosexuality was to be cured. When Oscar Wilde was let out of jail for “unnatural fornication” and treated as a pariah, he and his lover Lord Alfred Douglas were welcomed at Villa San Michele. We’ll tour the villa and gardens and enjoy the outstanding view of the island in homage to this man who can still inspire us all.
Lunch will be on your own at one of the many small cafes that dot the town. Later, we will rejoin our guide to wander Capri’s main square and the public gardens. After our island sojourn, we will board our ferry back to Sorrento, then transfer to our hotel. The evening will be at leisure, perhaps to stroll through the meandering streets of old Sorrento town.
Day 4: The Dramatic Amalfi Coast
This morning, enjoy an amazing, guided tour of the Amalfi Coast. Our day will feature a stop in Positano and a luncheon overlooking the Mediterranean Sea in the town of Amalfi.
This picturesque village once boasted of being a major maritime republic, with an extensive network in Egypt and Byzantium. With a population that reached 70,000 (compared with today’s 5300) and power that competed with Pisa and Genoa, Amalfitani merchants thrived as early as the 10th century.
Enjoy the evening at leisure.
Day 5: Stones of Matera
Today we leave Positano and drive inland across Southern Italy into the inland Basilicata region and the town of Matera. Long-ago residents of Matera’s Sassi district (Sassi – from the Italian word for “stones”) dug their homes and churches from the very rock itself. Some believe the Sassi to be the oldest human settlement in Italy. Here one can see several rock-hewn churches, a reproduction of a typical cave house that is open to visitors, and refurbished caves that now host hotels and restaurants.
Until recent decades our hotel was a church carved from a large cave to serve the residents. The lobby of the hotel is the main hall of the church. Each room is unique, including some that have glass covers over archeological sites right in the room!
Day 6: Cave Dwellings of Matera
We will meet our Matera guide in the hotel lobby to explore the unique topography of this town. The town has a remarkable similarity to Jerusalem, with a large ravine and churches carved of soft limestone. Filmmakers have used the unique set to film several movies including Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ. Mel Gibson made this observation about Matera as a film location to the New York Daily News:
“Certain sections of the city are 2000 years old, and the architecture, the blocks of stone, the surrounding areas, and rocky terrain added a vista and backdrop that we [used] to create the backdrops for our lavish sets of Jerusalem. We relied heavily on the look that was there. In fact, the first time I saw it, I just went crazy, because it was so perfect.”
This evening we will dine together in Matera.
Day 7: Toward the Adriatic & Ionian Seas and Puglia
Today’s drive takes us into the Puglia region in the “high heel” of Italy’s “boot”, the Southeast Coast. As we approach the region, we will see white-washed villages and olive groves that extend to the nearby Ionian Sea that separates Italy and Greece.
Our hotel is in the coastal town of Monopoli. Its well-preserved historical old town is surrounded by the sea on one side and walls on the other. The town developed along one of the most important Roman roads, the Trajan Way.
For the next three nights we will reside in a restored historical building, one of the finest boutique hotels in the region. We’ll have the afternoon and evening to ourselves in order to independently explore the lanes and byways of the town. Our guide will be happy to provide recommendations for activities and dining experiences.
Day 8: Visiting Castel del Monte and Trani
Today we will drive to Castel del Monte, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is featured on the back of the Euro pennies distributed in Italy. Built in the 13th century this was the grandest of 200 castles built by the Swabian Emperor, Frederick II, and the only octagonal castle. Castel del Monte is perched atop a hill, overlooking all of Puglia and the Adriatic. Many myths and historical accounts feature this historic site, including the legend of the Holy Grail.
From Castel del Monte we will head to the charming Romanesque fishing port of Trani. This Adriatic port was both a thriving commercial port and the departing point for some of the Crusades. Historically Trani was also home to southern Italy’s largest Jewish community, for which the impressive Scolanova synagogue was built. The first Jews of Trani likely fled persecution at the hands of Spanish rulers around 1144 A.D. The synagogue was converted to a church in 1380 but reverted to its original role in 2006. A protected fresco of the Virgin Mary remains in the area that originally held the Torah, but the portrait is now discreetly covered by a menorah.
We will conclude our touring today with a late lunch at a unique venue, then return to our hotel for the evening.
Day 9: Trulli Touring
Today we will visit nearby villages such as Alberobello that feature buildings designed in the iconic trulli (trullo) style. They are shaped like a cylinder with a cone-shaped limestone-tiled roof, which is often painted with a cross or another symbol. The walls are very thick which keeps the interiors cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. Residents of this region built the first trulli many centuries ago, but the oldest ones still intact date to the 1500s (recent in Italian terms!). We’ll enjoy lunch together in a typical farmhouse in the region. Tonight we have a special farewell dinner featuring regional cuisine in an authentic setting.
Day 10: Farewell to Puglia!
Say Arrivederci to Italy as we provide a transfer to Bari Airport and you board your plane back home.
Price includes: Group transportation from Rome to the Amalfi Coast to Basilicata and to Puglia, and for local sightseeing; Accommodations each night in accordance with the tour itinerary, mostly in one-of-a-kind boutique hotels in classical buildings; Breakfast each day, 4 lunches and 5 dinners; Entrance fees for sightseeing, accompanied by knowledgeable guides; Transfer from Rome airport to our Rome hotel for those arriving on the first tour day, or earlier if lodging is reserved through HE Travel; One group transfer from our Puglia hotel to Bari airport on the final tour day; All hotel service charges, government taxes, porterage, and gratuities included meals. HE Travel provides complimentary Medical & Evacuation Insurance for every US Resident on our group tours who does not have other coverage.
Not included: Transportation to Rome and from Bari; Meals not shown as being included; Gratuities for guides, drivers and HE Travel tour director; Personal items including alcoholic beverages, snacks, laundry, and telephone calls.
We strongly recommend the purchase of Trip Cancellation and Interruption insurance to protect your vacation investment in case of unforeseen circumstances such as flight delay, illness, or injury. Click Here to learn more about our Insurance partner.
When you travel “Back-to-Back” on two or more of our tours, you are eligible for a discount! Contact us for details about Visiting Italy plus Greece, Sicily or for a week-long culinary tour in Puglia!
Stay Longer and visit Greece for a Cultural Tour – October 9-19, 2024
Visit classic landmarks of Greece’s Golden Age in Athens, Sparta, Olympia and Delphi, and wander the lanes of ancient coastal villages of the Peloponnese Peninsula. Conclude your time in Greece with our relaxing 3-day optional extension to the picturesque (and very gay-friendly) island of Crete.
- What if I am traveling alone?
- Most of our trips draw more single travelers than couples. When couples do join us, it’s usually because they’re looking forward to interacting with a gay group; if they wanted a holiday by themselves, they wouldn’t have signed up to travel with us. Furthermore, the activities included with our trips serve as natural ice-breakers. Within a day, you’ll be traveling with friends. You don’t need to pay the single supplement if you’re traveling alone. We’ll be happy to match you with a roommate. Pay the single supplement only if you want a bedroom to yourself. For selected trips, including cruises, we will charge half the single supplement if you request a roommate but we can’t match you with someone.
- What is the physical activity level of this tour?
Physical Activity Level
To fully enjoy this tour you should feel comfortable walking on hills, steps, and uneven surfaces.
- Where does the tour start and end?
- This tour starts in Rome and ends with a transfer from our hotel in the Puglia region to Bari Airport.
- Additional Questions
- For answers to your additional questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 305-294-8174