Join our exploration into the soul of ancient Italy as we travel to the less discovered Basilicata region. This southern mountainous region that forms the instep or arch of the boot is touched by the Ionian Sea on the east coast and Tyrrhenian on the west. This remote, craggy, rocky, green mountain piece of land has no major cities or world-famous destinations. What you will find are natural landscapes and delightful hilltop towns where time seems to have stopped, and genuine people who are proud of their longstanding traditions and culture. Narrow roads shaped like fusilli provide the opportunity for slow travel to take in all the spectacular beauty surrounding you. Authentic towns tucked into hilltops ooze pure Italian charm with their crumbling stone buildings and narrow unnavigable streets perfect for getting “lost”. It’s a place filled with true character where its essence isn’t lost to mass tourism, keeping the ancient historical soul that evokes emotion instead of fabricated pristine perfection. Longstanding isolation and remoteness helped to preserve this uniqueness providing a different experience from the more touristed Italian regions.
During our exploration, we’ll experience a timeless landscape in Matera, the city of caves hewn from rock and inhabited since before recorded history along with awe inspiring views of the crystal-clear Tyrrhenian Sea from the viewpoint of the gigantic Cristo Redentore rising up from Mount San Biagio in Maratea. Along our journey south we’ll take an island break in colorful Procida set in the Bay of Naples and visit the captivatingly quiet fishing town of Sant’Angelo on the island of Ischia. Both areas retain an untouched plethora of charm and character along their narrow streets lined with whitewashed and pastel painted buildings leading to romantic sweeping sea views.
There’s so much to see and experience, from amazing ancient frescoes to nature’s artistic creations and prehistoric etchings to serpentine roads leading to spectacular vistas along with many more unknown surprises along the way. Throughout our Italian adventure from mountains to sea, we’ll be temporary cultural inhabitants with authentic experiences that can open your mind and embrace your soul leading to a new perspective of our lives here on this amazing Earth.
Day One: Overnight Flight
Let’s hop aboard our overnight flight and grab a few winks before we wake up in Italy!
Day Two: To Procida
Welcome to Rome, the perfect stop to hop on the train that will whisk us south towards Naples where we’ll enjoy an included lunch near the station before catching the ferry to the beautifully colorful island of Procida.
This less visited spot provides a laid-back, local feel in its pastel-colored fishing villages, black sand beaches, and maze of narrow winding streets.
La Casa Sul Mer:
We’ll take a stroll from the port to our home for the next three nights at the lovely La Casa sul Mer, overlooking the sea with views of the charming Marina di Coricella.
Get comfy in your room, set out to explore the town or just relax among the soothing seaside views.
Day Three: Terra Murata
We have the day to explore this picture-perfect place! Join us as we head uphill towards Terra Murata, a fortified medieval village at the highest point in Procida. The stunning vista along the way of the marina and its glistening bay with fishing boats bobbing in the harbor, ice cream colors of the 17th century fishermen’s houses, and the lemon sherbet colored Santa Maria della Grazie Incoronata church will delight us with every step.
Once at the top more spectacular views await at Belvedere Elsa Morante set beside the brooding Palazzo d’Avalos and 16th century Abbey of San Michel Arcangelo.
Wander the quaint square with traditional houses and then make your way back down through the thick archway leading to Cascale Vascello, another quaint courtyard with 16th century characteristic architecture of Procida.
Isola di Vivara:
After a break for lunch, let’s keep exploring! Wander the winding narrow streets filled with colorful bougainvillea and fragrant jasmine as we make our way to the uninhabited Isola di Vivara nature reserve, a small oasis with protected wildlife.
Let’s get together tonight for a festive, included dinner in town.
Day Four: Sant 'Angelo
A captivating old fishing village set on a tufa rock inlet is perched on the coast of the volcanic island of Ischia. A quick ferry ride will take us to the port where we’ll make our way to explore the picturesque Sant’Angelo.
Take in all the scenic seaside surroundings as you wander the car free pedestrian area of town, find the path to Fumerole beach with its volcanic hot sand, climb upwards to the Belevdere di Serrara for glorious views, or take a stroll to the small village Succhivo with splendid citrus groves and luxurious gardens.
We’ll spend the afternoon here exploring and enjoying the delicious cuisine.
Before leaving Ischia, we must discover the island within the island at Castello Aragonese with 25 centuries of history between churches, convents, prisons, luxuriant gardens, and breathtaking viewpoints suspended sky and sea in a timeless atmosphere.
Feel free to spend the rest of your evening as you please during our last night on Procida.
Day Five: Venosa
We wave goodbye to lovely Procida as we make our way south to discover the amazing region of Basilicata.
Our first stop is the architectural and historical gem of Venosa where we’ll stop for an included lunch before exploring the town’s ancient origins as a Roman colony in 291 B.C.
Wander the archeological ruins of baths, amphitheater, Norman churches, and Jewish catacombs to connect with past ways of life.
We’ll continue our ancient quest as we make our way to Matera, one of the oldest continuously inhabited settlements in history dating back to the Paleolithic Period. This remarkable city of caves has an amazing history, going from ancient civilization to abandoned slum to Italy’s hidden gem.
This amazing rebirth, luckily, is not meant to cater purely to tourists but is aimed at preserving its legacies. Here among the Sassi district filled with an intricate network of caves and buildings sprawling along the folds of a deep ravine that is especially magical at night will be home for the next four nights, a fascinating place to wander and explore.
Let’s get out among the ancient streets and feel the history beneath our feet.
Day Six: Matera Exploration
We have the entire day to explore! Clambering up and down the winding streets of the Sassi is the most enjoyable thing to do. Roam through the labyrinth of narrow alleyways, up and down uneven stone staircases, discovering dead ends and tiny courtyards adorned with flower pots, and unexpected views that give “breathtaking” a new meaning.
On your wanders, discover the story of Matera at Casa Noha, a traditional residence offering a film on the city’s history, visit the Rupestrian Churches with eroded frescoes that evoke Matera’s ancient spirit or the Romanesque cathedral and eerie Chiesa del Purgatorio.
Go underground to Palombaro Lungo, a giant cistern carved into the rock as magnificent as a subterranean cathedral, seek out all the magnificent viewpoints, visit the eerily beautiful uninhabited caves, or hike down into the ravine to cross the suspension Tibetan Bridge with trails upwards towards spectacular scenic overlooks.
See an old olive press at the Matera Olive Oil Museum and taste its result or admire sculptures scattered in the nooks and crannies of a 17th century cave palace or in an abandoned quarry hidden from plain sight beneath a ceiling of open sky.
Day Seven: Castelmezzano
It’s time for an escape to the jagged Lucanian Dolomites where the villages of Castelmezzano and Pietrapertosa are nestled into its rocky peaks. We begin in Castelmezzano, a medieval jewel made of rock stairs, narrow alleys, and houses climbing on rock. Take a peek inside the Church of Santa Maria Dell’ Olmo with its 14th century wooden statue of Madonna and child and gaze at amazing views in Caizzo Square.
Path of Seven Stones:
Let’s fuel up on an included lunch before our stroll along the ancient peasant Path of Seven Stones leading to the lovely Pietrapertosa. The path is inspired by an ancient legend divided into seven stages, each depicted by a huge stone sculpture that provides a magical atmosphere of ancient and mysterious Lucania. No need to rush, take in the landscape as you’re carried away by the legend.
Once in Pietrapertosa, wander to Madre di San Giacomo for incredible 14th-15th century frescos or take a steep climb to the 11th century castle for unimaginable views over the valley.
Once back home in Matera, the evening is yours to spend as you please.
Day Eight: Crypt of Original Sin
The most fascinating of all rock churches lies hidden just outside the Sassi in the Murgia plateau so let’s check it out! The Crypt of Original Sin dates from about 849 AD and has remained untouched leaving behind frescoes so amazing it’s also known as the Sistine Chapel of rupestrian art.
Ghost Town Craco:
We’ll be further wowed by our afternoon visit to the crumbling ghost town of Craco after navigating a long extremely winding road through a rugged landscape. Built on the summit of a steep cliff, Craco has a striking appearance of buildings dating back to 1060 AD appear to have become one with the mountain.
The town is under lock and key due to mandatory evacuation created by devastating landslides, but our guided tour will take us carefully through this hauntingly beautiful town, learning its compelling and emotional history as we walk from spectacular viewpoint to the next.
Spend our last night in Matera taking in all the fabulousness it offers with an included dinner.
Day Nine: Arcomagno Beach
We may have to leave the soulful Matera, but more beauty awaits further south along the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea. Our first stop is an included lunch in the small beach town of San Nicola Arcella.
After we’re all energized it’s time for a scenic walk to what may be the most beautiful beach nature could create. Shaped by the erosive of the sea on the rock, a towering stone arch frames the sea with an opening creating a small bay filled with small pebbles and crystalline waters.
The only way to reach Arcomagno beach is by a spectacular path carved into the rock offering splendid striking views along the way. Take your time and enjoy every scenic second!
Now we’re off to Maratea, a natural work of art set among rugged rocky cliffs with sandy beaches below and a historic center rich in sacred art.
After checking into our lovely hotel, lose yourself strolling through the pedestrian only, white stoned cobbled alleys of the old town past a scattering of churches all overlooked by the imposing marble statue, Christo Redentore looming from the summit of Monte San Biaggio.
If you’re up for some dazzling, heavenly views, grab the shuttle bus up the roller coaster road complete with 18 hairpin turns to visit the statue and see the amazing landscape from his perspective.
If you have some extra energy to burn off, you can also hike up or back down for more lingering memories.
Day Ten: Grotta del Romito
Let’s step into wild, untamed nature in the Pollino National Park where we’ll travel to the prehistoric site of Grotta del Romito, a natural limestone cave used as a living and burial site dating back 24,000 years.
An amazing rock carving, Boulder of the Bulls is found at the mouth of the cave along with geomorphological artwork and illustrations, with replicas of discovered skeletal figures that are now housed in museums in Florence and Reggio.
More to Come!:
Many more fun and amazing surprises in the Pollino National Park await today!
Day Eleven: Back Towards Rome
As we make our way back towards Rome, our quest for ancient Italian soul won’t end. We stop for an included lunch in Naples that you’ll remember for the rest of your life!
Our destination is the stunning medieval hill town of Anagni set among the rolling countryside. Known as the ‘city of Popes’ the village consists of abundant artistic and architectural treasures with the most impressive being the vibrant, amazing frescoes in the crypt of the town’s cathedral.
This fabulous artistic treasure, dubbed the ‘Medieval Sistine Chapel’, is a complex combination of biblical narratives, apocalyptic scenes, and philosophical reflections that provide a vivid insight into Byzantine culture.
After our tour, take in all the romance of the village as you wander the narrow alleys with stone houses whose beams and arches help one support one another and where endpoints provide sweeping panoramas of clear blue sky against green hills.
Enjoy our last evening among all this magnificence filling your senses with all the pure Italian atmosphere to lull you to sleep and to bring along our journey home.
Day Twelve: Breakfast & Flight Home
Today we say Ciao Italia and make our way back home filled with authentic Italian culture.
Pricing & Departures:
*This tour involves the ability to walk approx. 2000-2500 steps (1.5 miles) during the course of a day, including all historic sites and gardens. All other walking is optional but recommended to immerse in Ireland. Please call to discuss if you are concerned about the amount of activity.
Air transportation is provided by United Airlines. A surcharge will apply if United Airlines increases the price of its airfare. One piece of luggage per person (baggage fee by United is not included) and one small carry-on are permitted. A valid, government-issued picture ID is required to board the plane.
June: Flight # departs Newark at AM and arrives in Rome-FCO at PM
June: Flight # departs Rome-FCO at PM and arrives in Newark at PM
*Due to the changes in airline booking policies, airfare will need to be booked before the cancellation date, Once flights are booked, we cannot refund that portion of the tour unless you’d like to pay an additional cost for refundable tickets.
Upon submitting final payment you are agreeing to our new policy.
Wet Blanket Policy:
– a person who makes it difficult for other people to enjoy themselves by complaining, acting negatively, creating drama, etc.
– one that quenches or dampens enthusiasm or pleasure
- Our philosophy of travel involves getting out of the ordinary to experience other cultures and places with an open minded attitude and flexibility. Since as in daily life, anything can and will happen, let’s embrace these situations with acceptance and understanding because they will either lead to an unexpected, amazing experience or positive learning experience.
- If anyone brings along excess baggage such as incessant complaining, under the breath rude comments, outward negativity or other such behaviors that infect the entire group or individuals, we have the exclusive right to remove them from the tour at their own cost with no refunds. (yes, this means you)
- If any major concerns arise during a tour, please just come talk to us and we’ll work it out!
The Educated Wanderer
Group Tours & Travel
PO Box 632 Berwyn, PA 19312