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heart health puglia tour

celebrating the mediterranean diet and lifestlye

The Mediterranean diet is ... (general intro, why this is important)

In many parts of the Mediterranean this traditional way of living is dying out. But it continues to thrive in Southern Italy. Come learn first hand why the Mediterranean diet and lifestyle is one of the healthiest dietary patterns and ways of living in the world. With Dietician and Heart Health Specialist Michele Blanchet, we have crafted a week-long Puglia Tour full of unique and fascinating foodie experiences, amazing excursions, delicious meals, stunning sights, and interactive and fun cooking classes, all based on heart health and the Mediterranean Diet. Because the best way to learn about the Mediterranean diet and lifestyle is to experience it first hand!

Have peace of mind by joining your dietitian in the beautiful area of Puglia. 

Hands-on opportunities to learn about how food connects the people (the foundation of the Mediterranean lifestyle) from harvest to preparation and eating together – hands-on cooking classes, choose fresh ingredients with the Chef from the local food market, and harvesting them directly from a biodynamic farm, having meals prepared by mama in the kitchen, see how the simplicity and freshness of the cuisine of this region shines ... Have the opportunity to explore .... variety of culinary experiences from street food to ... ... ... ...Experience if first hand and immerse yourself in a variety of culinary and cultural experiences.

Let your travels in Italy inspire you to change your lifestyle. What lessons can we bring back? The Med diet has undergone a progressive evolution over the last 60 years. How can you bring this traditional model back to become a sustainable dietary pattern and lifestyle for you?. A model of healthy living in which food, culture, people, environment all interact.


For our Puglia Tour we will be based in the Salento region, in the gorgeous town of Lecce, the 'Florence of the South,' renowned for its stunning architecture, warm and friendly locals, fantastic restaurants and bars, and buzzing local life. We have hand picked Lecce's best accommodation, Mantatelurè, as your home for the duration of your stay. Below you will find a detailed itinerary, dates and prices for this incredible Puglia vacation. We hope you will join us for this unforgettable week of culinary and cultural immersion.


Rates and Dates

2018 Dates: September 1 to 8, 2018


The Heart Health Puglia Tour costs $?CAN per person.


This price includes ALL of the following:

  • Two full-time professional tour leaders and a professional Dietician with you all day, every day!

  • Luxury accommodation at Mantatelurè in the heart of beautiful Lecce

  • Daily heart health sessions, Mediterreanean diet workshops

  • Group and one-on-one sessions focusing on how you can incorporate the Mediterranean lifestyle back home

  • All meals, including great local wines, water and coffee

  • All transfers - just travel to the nearest airport or train station, and we'll do the rest!

  • Excursions to the region's most fascinating destinations

  • Two hands-on Mediterranean cooking lessons and two market visits with Chef Gianna

  • Pizza Lesson in Lecce's top rated Pizzeria with Pizzaiolo Maurizio

  • Unique, authentic and fascinating foodie experiences, including:

    • Two vineyard visits with guided tours, tastings and a sumptuous castle dinner 

    • Olive oil experience

    • Gelato demonstration and tasting

    • Coffee tasting at Lecce's most beloved cafe

    • Farm experience at a historic Masseria (farm estate) - a day on the farm with Contadino Donato, harvest from the fields and learn about organic farm production, followed by an amazing farm to table lunch

  • Guided walking tours of Lecce, Otranto, Gallipoli, Polignano a Mare, Locorotondo, Alberobello and Ostuni

  • Boat trip exploring the coast and caves of Polignano a Mare

  • Refreshments scheduled in our itinerary

  • All entry fees

  • Local taxes and gratuities

  • Cultural experiences

  • Connections with local people

  • Memories for a lifetime


Not included: flights, travel insurance and personal expenses (that is, anything not included in the itinerary, such as shopping trips).


Prices are based on double occupancy. We warmly welcome single travellers. However, as our rates are based on double occupancy, there is a single supplement of €400 to cover the additional accommodation costs.

Day 1: Welcome to Puglia!

Welcome Aperitivo | Introduction to The Mediterreanean Diet and Heart Healthy Travel | Lecce Walking Tour | Traditional Dinner


Welcome to Lecce! We will pick you up from the nearest airport, Brindisi International, or Lecce Train Station, and bring you to your beautiful Puglia holiday home for the week. Our exclusive guest house, Mantatelurè, is a serene oasis in the heart of this bustling baroque town. Settle into your luxurious air-conditioned room in this intimate restored Palazzo from the 16th century.


We will welcome you in style, with an Italian Aperitivo in the beautiful courtyard where we will gather to meet your fellow travellers and discuss the week ahead. Michele will introduce the Mediterranean Diet and what heart healthy travel means. Then, our Italian adventure begins with a guided tour of Lecce's historic centre, admiring the dazzling detail of the baroque architecture unique to this region.


After our stroll through Lecce's Centro Storico we will sit down and relax at our favourite local restaurant, run by a friendly family, where we will enjoy on a traditional Salentine dinner, prepared by a family steeped in the traditions of the Mediterranean diet, accompanied by delicious local wines. After a leisurely dinner, for those who have energy, we will partake in the evening Passeggiata, a Leccese tradition, to admire the city aglow in golden light as locals fill the cobblestone streets. Continue on for an optional nightcap at a fantastic local wine bar or head back to Mantatelurè for a well-earned rest.

Savouring the South: Day by Day

Day 2: Glorious Gallipoli & Cooking Class

Historic Gallipoli Tour | Seafood Lunch with a view | Cooking Class 1 & Full Dinner


Every day will start with a delicious breakfast at Mantatelurè, followed by a half-hour discussion about the Mediterranean diet and the heart healthy lifestyle.

This morning we will head to the seaside town of Gallipoli, with its Greek-inspired, fortified Centro Storico perched like a pearl on the turquoise Ionian Sea. With chef Gianna we will visit the famous fish market, the most important in the region, and learn about the different kinds of fish - a key component of the Mediterranean diet - and how to prepare them, and select fresh fish and seafood for our evening cooking class. We will explore Gallipoli's atmospheric old town before enjoying a delicious meal overlooking the sea.


Back in Lecce, we will take a break before heading to Gianna's beautiful cooking school, set in a historic palazzo just around the corner from the Duomo. Gianna and Michele will guide us through the staples of the Mediterranean diet and discuss how these can be incorporated into our regular diet. Using fresh ingredients, we will prepare a traditional meal from scratch as Gianna reveals secrets and techniques handed down through the generations of her family. Gianna, who is also a professional sommelier and incredibly passionate about wine culture, will lead a guided tasting of premium local wines. After your lesson you will sit down in the School's beautiful courtyard for a wonderful meal where you will enjoy the fruits of your labour.

Day 3: Olives, Trulli & Locorotondo

Ancient Olive Farm | UNESCO Trulli of Alberobello | Lovely Locorotondo

Today our Puglia Tour takes us into the Valle d'Itria area of Puglia and to a historic Masseria, home to a pre-Roman olive mill and some of the oldest olive trees in Europe: incredible, ancient gnarled living monuments. After an entertaining and informative tour through the trees and down to the underground mill, we will gather to taste their delicious organic oil, which will serve as the centrepiece for a discussion about the benefits of olive oil and its vital role in the Mediterranean diet. After our tasting and discussion we will enjoy an al fresco picnic of traditional local dishes prepared by the owner's family.


After lunch we will head to Alberobello and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Zona dei Trulli. These little whitewashed houses with conical roofs are unique to the Valle d'Itria region of Puglia. On our guided Alberobello tour we will learn the fascinating story of their origin and visit trulli made into shops, restaurants, and even a church. Take time on your own to explore further, shop and admire these unique creations. 

We will then head to town of Locorotondo, where we will stroll the quaint historic centre that has been voted as one of the most beautiful small towns of Italy. In the shadow of the cathedral we will enjoy a delicious dinner at a renowned local restaurant before heading back to Lecce.


Day 4: Pizza Perfection, Wine and a Castle 

Pizza Lesson & Lunch | Tours & tastings at two Wineries | Sumptuous Castle Dinner


Take a leisurely start to the morning with some free time to relax. Then we head to Lecce's most beloved Pizzeria for our interactive Pizza Making class. Owner Maurizio is famed in Lecce not only for his amazing pizza, but for his passion for quality ingredients and his vivacious personality. After learning about the history and process of Neapolitan Pizza, Maurizio will teach us the fine and always-fun art of pizza making. With his expert guidance we will create, from scratch, our very own Neapolitan-style pizzas, which we will enjoy at our own celebratory street party, paired with local wines and craft beers.


After a short break we'll head to the first of two fantastic local wineries, located in a beautiful historic Masseria, where we will enjoy a guided tour and taste their fabulous wines. Then we will make our way to a second, equally-amazing winery located in a historic castle, surrounded by flowering gardens, olive groves and acres of vineyards. Here we will explore the castle and grounds, learn about their winemaking process, see their historic cantinas and enjoy a tasting.


Entering the castle, we will continue our gastronomic adventure with an aperitivo paired with delicious finger food beside a renaissance fireplace. Ascending the stairs, we will savour a private four-course meal in a historic salone, served by our own waiters, with paired wines to match each dish, of course. An unforgettable evening in beautiful surroundings.

Day 5: Sailing Polignano's Coast & Ostuni

Polignano a Mare | Sailing Trip along the Coast | Ostuni, the White City

This morning we will travel to the Jewel of the Adriatic, Polignano a Mare, a famed town clinging to the cliffs over the sea. We will take a stroll around the remarkable historic centre and enjoy the sweeping views. There will be free time, shopping and a chance to try a special coffee found only in Polignano before we head to nearby Monopoli to board our sailboat.


On our beautiful wooden sail boat we will cruise the coast of Monopoli all the way back to Polignano, viewing the cliffs from the sea, where there will an opportunity to swim off the boat. We'll enjoy an aperitivo and lunch aboard the boat. Sit back, enjoy the views and relax. 

After our boat excursion we'll head to the amazing "White City," Ostuni. Perched atop its hill in the Valle d'Itria, the city looks like something out of a movie set. We begin our Ostuni tour with a gelato demonstration at one of the very best gelaterie in all Puglia, watching the process of creating a fresh batch of delicious gelato or sorbetto. We will then sit down in a picturesque piazza for a special gelato tasting of house specialities. Then we set off for our Ostuni walking tour to explore corners and passageways that hide delights at every turn. There will be time for some shopping in the town's lovely shops and boutiques or, if you prefer, savour an aperitivo at a fantastic bar while admiring the sunset. We will then sit down to a tasting dinner of amazing platters of local meats, cheeses, vegetables and salads at beloved farm to table deli in the heart of the historic centre before heading back to Lecce.

Day 6: A Day at the Farm & Lecce by Night

Farm Experience | Seasonal Feast at a Historic Masseria | Lecce by Tasting Tour


This morning we will journey to an ancient Masseria, or farmhouse, nestled in the countryside, for a day at this fascinating farm. The main building of the Masseria has been welcoming guests since the Middle Ages. The owner, Donato Fersino, is incredibly passionate about local culture and organic farming. He will share his inspiring story before taking us on a tour of the Masseria and out into the fields. We will learn about organic farm production, visit the various production areas of the Masseria, and continue our discussions on the theme of seasonality and the Mediterranean lifestyle. If time allows, we might even get our own hands dirty and join in some of the farm work! Back at the farmhouse, we will enjoy a farm-to-table feast, tasting authentic traditional recipes. Everything we eat - from the cheese to the wheat in the pasta to the meat - is grown and produced on the farm. There is no menu here - just what is fresh, seasonal and available.

After our return to Lecce, we will gather again in early evening to take part in the passeggiata - the Italian evening stroll. This is when the city comes alive and how the locals spend their evenings - on the street, people watching, grabbing delicious street food, enjoying a gelato and socializing. The Passeggiata is an important part of the Mediterranean lifestyle. It's also our favourite time to enjoy Lecce and admire the golden stone change as the sun sets. We will be your guides as we reveal the best of Lecce by night, sampling drinks, streetfood delicacies and embracing the town's unique nighttime culture.


Day 7: Cooking & The Coast: A Grand Finale

Amazing Mosaics | Historic Seaside Otranto | Cooking Class 3 | Our Farewell Party


Today our Tour will begin with a journey to the stunning seaside town of Otranto, Italy's easternmost city, recognised by UNESCO and named as one of the "Borghi Piu Belli d'Italia" (most beautiful small towns in Italy). We will explore its winding streets and seaside promenade on our guided walking tour, including a visit to the Cathedral with its splendid mosaic floor and its macabre dedication to the town's Martyrs. We will have time for a passeggiata and some shopping in the town's quaint shops before a delicious lunch. 


Then it's back to Lecce for our final Puglian cooking class with the wonderful Gianna, where we will create our farewell feast together. We will stroll to the market to select fresh seasonal ingredients for our menu, and after a coffee break at a great local bar, we'll head to the school to create another divine dinner of traditional dishes. After our fabulous hands-on cooking lesson we will celebrate with a festive party in the courtyard garden, drinking fabulous wines, sharing our freshly-made dishes, and reminiscing about our week together.


As we celebrate our final evening in Puglia, don't be surprised if we have some special treats up our sleeves - be prepared to celebrate and have fun in true Pugliese style!

Day 8: Arrivederci!  Until we Meet Again!

Farewell Breakfast | Transfers to Airport or Train Station | Arrivederci, alla prossima!


After a final breakfast, bid goodbye to Lecce and your new community of friends. We will escort you to Brindisi airport or Lecce train station for your journey onward. The week may be over, but we hope the memories and friendships last a lifetime. We sincerely hope this is not goodbye, but rather, until next time - or as the Italians say, arrivederci, alla prossima volta!


Cooking Experience Lezioni di Cucina

Your beautiful cooking school in the heart of historic Lecce


In the shadow of the Duomo, in an ancient palazzo, is Puglia's best cooking school. Learn the secrets of Salento cuisine from Gianna Greco, chef-sommelier - owner of Cooking Experience. Gianna is extremely passionate, fun and vivacious, whose cooking classes show that her love of Pugliese cuisine is as infectious as her laughter. 


Your Home for the week: Mantatelurè

Exclusive Guest House in the Centre of Lecce


You will stay in the gorgeous exclusive guest house, Mantatelurè. The palace dates from 1550, and was gloriously converted and opened to rave reviews in 2013. The owner, Marco, has retained the building's original charm and added the best modern amenities, to create a unique and serene environment with luxurious rooms and unparalleled personal service.


Optional Upgrades


All of the rooms at Mantatelurè are exceptional. Each unique room is stylishly decorated, with comfortable beds, air-conditioning, TV with Sky channels, specially programmed radio, a pillow menu, and all the amenities you can count on from an exclusive guest house. However, for those who want something extra-extra-special, the following room upgrades are available at a small extra cost per stay:


• Deluxe suite with Jacuzzi Spa Bath and Four Poster Bed | €150 extra

Suite with Jacuzzi Spa Bath | €120 extra

Junior suite with mezzanine level and deluxe king shower | €90 extra

Heart Health Tour Dates

The Heart Health Puglia Tour will run from September 1 to 8, 2018. Please contact us for further details or to book your space.


Order of activities subject to change. Some activities are subject to weather. If weather does not permit an activity, we will do our utmost to reschedule that activity. However, as life is unexpected, changes may not be possible; therefore please note that our itinerary is subject to change due to forces beyond our control.

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