EXCURSIONS AND GUIDED TOURS
Apart from language courses, we offer excursions, guided tours and walks in the most beautiful and interesting sites in Puglia.
These include excursions in protected areas, nature reserves and the gorges.
Excursions: depending on the season, we can offer excursions in various nature reserves:
- The wetlands: here you can find not only rare plant species, but also migratory birds, especially in spring and autumn.
- The gorges: natural erosion in the calcareous rock has produced deep clefts where you can see both local flora and fauna and the caves which were used as living spaces thousands of years ago.
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Food tasting visits to the olive presses (Frantoio) and to the old fortified farmhouses: (Masseria).
Eating well is very important in Puglia and for this reason you’ll find a great variety of high quality local products here. You can follow the various production stages up to the finished product of some of the specialities.
- Farmhouses (Masseria): you can visit old and often fortified masseria, which are still inhabited and active today;
- Olive mills (Frantoio): in a modern frantoio, you can watch the various stages of olive oil production. Also it will be possible to visit historical underground frantoi;
- Cheese making (Caseificio): you can follow the production of mozzarella, burrata, caciocavallo, etc;
- Wineries (Cantina): you can visit the cellars where fine red Apulian wine is aged (Primitivo, Negramaro, etc);
- Wood ovens (Forni antichi): you will see the production of taralli, a locally made biscuit still made by hand, to be nibbled with wine.
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Walks through the most fascinating sites near Ostuni.
Explore towns around Ostuni, both on the coast and inland, with their individual typical atmospheres: Polignano, Monopoli, Cisternino, Locorotondo…
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Available guided visits: Bari and Trani, Castel del Monte, Lecce and Otranto, Alberobello and the Valle D´Itria, Martina Franca, Grottaglie. These activities usually take place in the afternoon, after the lesson, by private cars and they are NOT included in the cost of the course. For more information about prices, please contact the secretary. The school reserves the right to confirm or modify the program of these activities according to the availability and number of participants.
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Historical sources have demonstrated that the area around Ostuni was inhabited some 50,000 years ago. Evidence of the presence of diverse peoples are found both in the caves and in archeological remains like the dolmens and the specchias (dry stone watch-towers). One of the more interesting archaeological finds is the skeleton of a young pregnant woman, who lived 28,000 years ago. From the objects found with the woman (a shell headdress and bone ornaments), it is thought that this woman was a tribal chief. Various peoples have lived in this area: the Messapians, the Japigians, the Greeks, Romans, Ostrogoths, Byzantines, Normans, Swabian, Aragonese, French.
You can find many Eastern influences not only in architecture and in the frescoes, but also in the local dialects. These all point to a vibrant cultural exchange between East and West, in Ostuni as in all Puglia.
Around the historical town of Ostuni, parts of a defensive wall with its Normans and Aragonese towers are still visible. In Ostuni the old mixes with the new: on one side there is the charming medieval historical centre, with its whitewashed houses (hence the White City moniker), narrow alleys and stairways that form a labyrinth within the old town. On the other, there is the new town with its more modern rhythms and ways of life. You will find, especially in the old town of Ostuni, a vast array of restaurants, pizzerias, bars and bakeries (where you can taste sweets made from almonds and other local delicacies). In the wineries you can taste our excellent Apulian red wines.
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While browsing local artisan workshops in Ostuni (where they produce ceramics and stone objects), why not stop in one of the many cafes for an espresso, a cappuccino, a caffé al ghiaccio, an aperitivo or an ice cream, the gelato!
The municipality of Ostuni organizes, a good variety of cultural events: concerts, theatre shows, exhibitions, street artists festival, etc especially in the summer months.
The Valle d’Itria is a long fertile valley very close to Ostuni and it’s well known for its distinct vegetation and dwellings: the famous trulli (15th century cottages with its dry stone cone roofs). The dry stone walls are also a local characteristic used to mark property limits.
Alberobello is the capital of the trulli, with an absolutely unique historical center that consists entirely of trulli and recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage site since 1996.
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Bari, about 90km north of Ostuni, is the capital of Puglia and it’s the largest port on the Southern Adriatic sea. In September, Fiera del Levante, the largest commercial exhibition in the Eastern Mediterranean is held here. The historical town is well preserved. In Bari there is one of the most important churches in Southern Italy: the Basilica of Saint Nicholas (1087). A pilgrimage site within the Russian Orthodox Church, strongly increasing after the fall of the Iron Curtain.
Trani, about 40km north of Bari, is famous for the castle and especially for its cathedral (1097). The greatest example of the Apulian-Romanesque style.
CASTEL DEL MONTE
Near Trani, Castel del Monte is the mythical octagonal castle of Frederick II. A symbol of this much discussed and respected emperor.
Lecce, about 90km south of Ostuni, has always been one of the most culturally rich cities in Puglia. Financial resources and the famous Lecce stone led to the flowering of the Lecce Baroque style (16th-17th century). Today, many buildings are still richly adorned in its peculiar Baroque style, with the Duomo (cathedral) and the Basilica of Santa Croce considered the most impressive examples.
Otranto, south of Lecce, is a small charming town which is still redolent of its byzantine past. In its famous cathedral the mosaic floor from the 13th Century is not to be missed. It is the largest and best preserved of its kind. From there, the easternmost point of Italy, you can see the Albanian coast on clear days.
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