Follow us on the Grand Tour Italy, in this journey through the past and the present, on the footstep of european travellers. The expression “Grand Tour” was coined by Richard Lassels, a 17th-century Roman Catholic priest and travelling tutor. Travelers, men of culture and adventurers, young English patricians that one day will lead their country, should complete their studies by observing, under the guidance of a tutor, the customs, habits and history of the Continent.
During more than three Centuries, Italy was the destinations of writers, poets, musicians, philosophers, painters. Montesquieu, Goethe, Lamartine, Stendhal, Dickens, Strutt, Lawrence, Jackson, Ramage, Ruskin, Mary Shelley, Byron, Paolina Craven & many others….
We start from Calabria, the toe of Italy’s boot. This Southern Italian region is famous for its spicy and robust cuisine, emphasizing powerful ingredients like garlic, sun-dried tomatoes and red-hot chili peppers. It was the cradle of Magna Graecia and land of ancient settlements. Is full of splendid churches, monasteries, castles, palaces and towns where old traditions still survive.
Calabria has an incredibly long coastline of beaches and rocky cliffs with access to the clear water of the Mediterranean, Tyrrhenian, and Ionian Seas. However, as magnificent as the Calabrian coast may be, the interior of the region is equally beautiful and wild. In just a few kilometers, the traveler can move from a hot and sunny seaside landscape to mountain scenery with beautiful forests and pastures.
On the way out from Calabria we’ll explore Matera, a city in the region of Basilicata, just an hour away from Bari.
Known as “la Città Sotterranea” (the Subterranean City), Matera has gained international fame for its ancient town, the “Sassi“. Matera’s Sassi and Park of Rupestrian Churches are both UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1993. Matera was also the 2019 European Capital of Culture.
Matera is on the edge with the Puglia region, where we move next.
Puglia testifies the ancient origins of this land: from prehistory to Magna Graecia, from the Imperial Age to the Renaissance, and the Baroque splendor of Lecce.
This region is full of surprises and delights: fabulous food, historic towns, beautiful beaches, and gracious residents.
- Visit three UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Alberobello, Castel del Monte, and Matera.
- Savor the flavors of Puglian cuisine and wine.
- Admire the beautiful Baroque architecture of Lecce.
- Spend two nights in a traditional “trullo” in Alberobello.
- Tour Otranto, the “heel” of Italy, and visit a cathedral renowned for its collection of mosaic scenes.
Time to start the last part of our Grand Tour of Southern Italy: the Campania region & Cilento area.
In the Southern Italy, travellers were coming to visit the ruins of Pompeii, Herculaneum, Paestum, and Velia. They discovered the whole Cilento region and Vallo di Diano (a sort of sub-region within the Campania region).
In this territory, uncontaminated areas alternate with heavily built-up ones. A unique ecosystem that has earned its inclusion in the exclusive list of UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Almost the entire territory of Cilento and Vallo di Diano (80 municipalities) is part of the Cilento and Vallo di Diano National Park. Established in 1991, with 180,000 hectares of surface, it represents the largest protected area in Italy.
Is the homeland of the famous MEDITERRANEAN DIET, described for the first time in 1954 by the American researcher Ancel Keys. He moved in the village of Pioppi, with his wife, and spent the rest of his life there.
Above all, you can see the marks left on the territory by the presence of the ancient italic races. Greeks, Samnites, Romans, Byzantines, Saracens, Lombards, Normans, Swabians, Ottomans, Angevins, Aragoneses, and Bourbons. The magnificent Doric temples of Paestum, and the excavations of the ancient city of Velia, where the footsteps of Parmenides can be still heard. For instance, you will get an unparalleled natural heritage: valleys and hills, mountains & seas, gorges, rugged cliffs, churches, monasteries, hamlets and villages, castles, farms. In conclusion, you will be transported back in time when the adventurous travelers of the Grand Tour, on horses and carriages, were discovering these untouched places.
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