Massafra looks like a standard Italian town to the untrained eye, but on this tour you’ll see its quirky natural side. Rocky ravines slink around the outskirts, with time-worn caves studded into the craggy cliff faces. You’ll be able to poke around the hidden villages and churches that are polka-dotted along the San Marco and Madonna della Scala gorges. The latter of the two was originally known as the Valley of the Roses, due to its colourful vegetation, and you’ll still see pockets of greenery as you work your way past the cave entrances. When you’ve had your fill of the weather-worn caverns, you’ll have a portion of free time to stroll around the town before heading back to the coach.
This trip’s like a living history lesson, where you’ll get a first-hand look at Taranto’s relics and ruins. Despite its location, on the heel of Italy’s boot, there’s a Greek undercurrent to everything here. You’ll start at the archaeological museum, which is set in a former convent, and showcases ancient Greek and Roman artefacts. From here, your guide will lead you into the head-turning city centre. The Temple of Poseidon, which dates back to the sixth century BC, and the Gothic Church of San Domenico, are among the first stop-offs. You’ll see Romanesque and Baroque styles at Taranto Cathedral, and the tour’s capped off with a visit to the Castello Aragonese – a huge waterside fortress built in the 15th century. Before things wrap up, you’ll get a wedge of free time to explore the city under your own steam.
You’ll get off to a tasty start on this trip, as you tuck into local delicacies in Martina Franca. It’s right in the centre of Italy’s stiletto-like heel, and there’s a clear divide between the old and new neighbourhoods. Leaving the apartment-lined avenues of the main town behind, you’ll pass through the grand Porto Santo Stefano gateway into the maze-like Centro Storico. Follow the guide through these narrow alleys and you’ll reach Piazza Roma – a pretty, tree-lined square with a fountain in the centre. One side’s filled by Martina Franca’s most-prized building, the Palazzo Ducale, and the other leads further into the walled old town. Keep an eye out for the ornate Basilica di San Martino as the tour continues, before finishing with a spot of solo sightseeing.
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