This seven-day tour takes you on a journey through two beautiful regions of southern Italy – Calabria and Basilicata. You’ll be living in luxury with accommodations in a lavish villa on the Ionian coast and a medieval tower in Matera. You’ll share specially curated experiences, like artisan workshops, pizza night at casa mia, and a hot air balloon ride over Matera, with a very small group. But the adventure doesn’t stop there – you’ll also be rolling up your sleeves and cooking delightful dinners and apertivi with your fellow guests and our private chef, all while immersing yourself in the rich history and culture of southern Italy. This tour is very close to my heart, I’ve dreamed about it for as long as I can remember, and it’s finally coming to fruition. Pack your sense of adventure and your appetite for luxury – this is the journey of a lifetime!
During this seven-day exclusive tour, you will live in luxury, and immerse yourself in the beauty of Calabria and Basilicata as you indulge in some of these regions’ most famed food and wine. You will be spoiled as I take you to visit some of my friends who are the epitome of excellence. You will float over Matera in a hot air balloon, get tips to make delicious cocktails that you can impress your friends with back home, transition in style – via the sea – between Calabria and Basilicata… and so much more. This tour will show you why I love southern Italy so very much. E ni scialamu!
Accommodations and Transportation:
Group Excursions and Experiences:
You will arrive in Lamezia Terme Airport in time for the group transfer at 10:00AM. There, you will meet Cherrye, your bilingual travel host for the week.
We will make our way to the narrowest point in Italy, to the picturesque town of Maida. There we’ll meet with our friend, Mariangela, and her crew consisting mainly of women, young adults, and disadvantaged people to discover more about her organic farm. She will give us an in depth look into their family run business known for its olive oil production. We’ll visit the olive fields, wander the orchards, and learn what they are doing to be more sustainable. We will be her guests for a hearty lunch, complete with delicious traditional Calabrian foods made with kilometer zero ingredients.
Then, we will continue our journey to our private “villa” hotel, located on the stunning Ionian Coast. Hotel’esqu in nature, each room features a private ensuite bathroom and terrace, but the shared common spaces, pool, and designer Chef’s kitchen are exclusively ours.
You’ll have time to rest before we meet up for a very special welcome dinner prepared on-site by our group’s private chef.
Overnight near Catanzaro.
In the not-so-old days, farmers would wake up early for work and by 10 am, were ready to eat! Their snack of choice? Morzello, a spicy tripe dish served with crusty bread and homemade wine.
Adventurous eaters can try this out for themselves, while the rest of us learn about this really cool traditional food and watch you eat it. (Just kidding, we’ll have an alternative for you!)
Then, it’s on to a local cantina for an artisan beer and wine tasting with some of this southern region’s top selections. In the late afternoon, we’ll return to the villa for an evening cooking class with our chef. Overnight near Catanzaro.
This morning we are going to move our body with a yoga session at our villa, and then we’ll balance things out with a refreshing wine and cheese tasting aperitivo with a local sommelier.
Anyone interested can pitch in to help prepare a buffet of pecorino cheese from Monte Poro and Crotone, Cacciocavallo from La Sila, and my favorite local wines, including Ciro’s famous gaglioppo, the more robust magliocco, and the brilliantly dry and crisp Pecorello. We’ll follow up with a gorgeous, yet light, seafood lunch.
Back at the villa you can choose to take a dip in the pool or rest up before heading to casa mia for a delicious pizza dinner, made by one of the best pizza makers I know – my Calabrese husband, Peppe! Overnight near Catanzaro.
Today, we’ll check out of our beloved villa and drive a couple of hours north to Roseto Capo Spulico. There, we’ll board a private boat for our one-of-a-kind transfer to Basilicata. We’ll follow Pythagoras’s path to Policoro, and have time to swim and enjoy the sea. We’ll have lunch on board.
Upon arriving in Basilicata, our driver (and luggage) will meet us and we’ll drive the 45 minutes to Matera.This town is famously known for its carved cave dwellings, called “Sassi,” and it is believed to be home to some of the first human settlements in Italy going back to 15,000 BC.
Once there, we’ll check into our private hotel, located inside an antique tower that was once part of the city walls and was used to protect one of the city’s access points. This luxurious accommodation located in the heart of Matera offers a spectacular view of the Sassi and promises to make you feel like royalty!
You’ll have the evening and dinner on your own. Overnight in Matera
This morning, we’ll meet our friend, Cristian, who also happens to be a talented local artist, where you’ll make your own Cucu whistle.
These rooster-shaped whistles made of terracotta are typically found in Matera and are believed to bring good luck. We’ll paint our own good luck charm to take home – a special keepsake to remember our time in beautiful Matera.
We’ll have a light lunch of typical Lucanian products, including the famous cruschi peppers, pane di Matera, fava beans, and more. In the afternoon, we’ll visit a casa grotta, a typical cave house, and enjoy an interactive deep dive into the town’s fascinating history.
You’ll have your choice of dinner on your own or can meet the group for an evening glass of wine. Overnight in Matera.
We’re up early this morning for a once-in-a-lifetime hot air balloon flight over the Sassi of Matera. You’ll be swept off your feet with the mesmerizing views of the Murgia Materana Park and the ancient city of Matera. Enjoy the picturesque landscape of this UNESCO World Heritage Site from this unique perspective and take in the expansive landscape of this beautiful part of Basilicata.
Back on solid ground, we’ll have a “Champagne” breakfast of local products, then will head to Pisticci for a mixology class at the world-famous Lucana Amaro Factory.
We’ll return to our hotel and you’ll have time to rest before we meet up for our magical farewell dinner with amazing views of the Sassi. Overnight in Matera.
You’ll have breakfast, then you’ll have a group transfer to the Bari Airport or to post-tour add-ons. Arrivederci!
Group airport transfers are included at the scheduled times. Travelers arriving outside these times should inquire about private transfers.
It was a hard decision and we hate for anyone to feel left out, however the accommodations in this itinerary are extremely intimate. In order to keep the group together and ensure that exclusive experience, we were forced to limit the group to only 8 travelers who could stay in four rooms.
We always have a Plan B, and usually a Plan C. If rain forces us to cancel the boat, we’ll drive to Basilicata and include a great, surprise, stop en route.
We don’t know when, or if, this itinerary will be offered again, however if you have a group of at least eight travelers, reach out and we can plan this itinerary for you as a private group experience.
I don’t – but I can either coordinate with your travel agent, recommend an agent to you for group travel or tell you about the airlines I personally choose when I’m traveling.