Self guided Walking

The Via Ellenica in the Land of the Ravines

Puglia&BasilicataDifficulty path:
Moderate
Self guided · WalkingDuration: 9 daysCode: ws044
from 860 €per person

Highlights

The Via Ellenica in the Land of the Ravines is an exciting variant of the Cammino Materano which starts from the magical atmosphere of the Sassi of Matera and ends in the elegant historic centre of Martina Franca. The Via Ellenica is a new and fascinating journey to discover a vibrant strip of land on the border between Puglia and Basilicata, where time seems to have stopped between the secret tunnels of underground churches, the dirt roads connected by bridges and incredible natural landscapes that enchant pilgrims of every era.

 

  • The noble Martina Franca and the elegance of its baroque lines

  • The ancient rites of the Lands of Transhumance

  • The magic of rock villages 

  • The evocative Sassi of Matera: eternal witnesses of remote civilisations

Program

Day1

Matera

Welcome to Matera, one of the most fascinating cities in the world, a land of a thousand nuances, each of which will make you fall in love. In Matera the streets hide priceless treasures such as the cave-houses that take shape from the soft rock. The historic centre houses the Cathedral of the Madonna della Bruna, with its architecture enhanced by the Romanesque style. 

Day2

From Matera to Ginosa

28 km

From the fascinating Città dei Sassi you proceed through a passage carved into the rock which will then lead you into the majestic beauty of the Matera ravine. You will slowly   leave  the town centre to enter the Campania region plain among long expanses of wheat fields and centuries-old olive groves, to reach the wonderful territory of the Gravine. A series of paths will take you into the heart of this landscape dotted with a surprising number of cave-houses that stand on several levels, reachable by stairs and paths. They are the ancient rock villages "il Casale and Rivolta '', inhabited until the first half of the 20th century, but still very important witnesses of peasant civilization today. The first night in Puglia of this evocative walk on the Via Ellenica will be in the beautiful Ginosa Marina with its Norman castle perched on a cliff from which it overlooks the entire town as if to welcome the gaze of visitors. Ginosa still preserves an important rock environment which was heavily anthropized until the second half of the 20th century. Witnesses of this are the rock villages such as those found in Casale or Rivolta, characterised by houses arranged on several levels connected with stairs and narrow streets.

Day3

From Ginosa to Laterza

16 km

From the ancestral ravine of Ginosa you will slowly move into the lands of transhumance. It is a wild landscape, dominated by nature, in which man has been able to blend harmoniously. From here, in the footsteps of the ancient shepherds, you will continue up to the slopes of the Murgia San Pellegrino pine forest to then end the daily stop in Laterza. The ancient town of Laterza stands in the shadow of the second largest ravine in Europe whose environmental and landscape richness is protected by the LIPU oasis. Among the narrow streets of the historic centre, a stop is certainly recommended to visit the characteristic Mother Church of San Lorenzo, with its graceful horse-wheel rose window in the centre of the facade. From here you will descend along the ravine to reach the Sanctuary of Mater Domini which preserves an underground environment with precious 12th century frescoes. Shrouded in mystery is the suggestive rock church "Cantina Spagnola" whose use is still a source of debate among historians. Particularly relevant within the territory is the artisanal production of the characteristic Maiolica di Laterza, protected by the CAT - Traditional Artistic Ceramics brand. In fact, some examples are preserved within the city's Art Institute, while the majority is obviously exhibited and enhanced in the rooms of the Maiolica Museum.  

Day4

From Laterza to Castellaneta

25 km

Just outside the characteristic alleys of the town centre, you will be pleasantly surrounded by the smells and flavours of nature. In fact, a vast area of ​​Mediterranean scrub surrounds the edge of the characteristic ravine of Laterza, one of the largest canyons in Europe. A naturalistic paradise, unique in the world, because it is present only on the Murge plateau, between Puglia and Basilicata, of which the fascinating Lipu Oasis is also part: a unique and specific habitat in which it is pleasant to wander around being guided by the sound of the vegetation that here it grows luxuriant and unchallenged.
The bare rock with steep walls envelops the visitor in an embrace before returning to the path. The road  winds through panoramic ups and downs, some of which offer incredible views that make today's stage one of the most fascinating of the entire journey. Long expanses of olive trees open up on the horizon, a pleasant prelude to the Montecamplo nature reserve and the imposing ravine from which the ancient village of Castellaneta stands out. The city is famous not only for its incredible natural beauty such as the wonderful ravines, the incredible rock landscapes, but also for being the birthplace of the cinema legend Rodolfo Valentino. Here every corner remembers him and enhances his greatness, from the labels to the museum where every memorabilia from the actor's long career is preserved.
This still little-known corner of Puglia in the heart of the Terre delle Gravine Regional Park preserves a still wild environment that preserves the history of this territory, such as the Montecamplo Nature Reserve, designed by the incredible and evocative canyons, the rock blades and the gorges which contain villages and incredible rock churches in all their beauty.
Walking through the prestigious lounges of the historic centre means discovering fascinating glimpses of beauty such as the Cathedral, a true blend of styles between the baroque of the imposing facade and the interiors more specifically from the neoclassical era. 

Day5

From Castellaneta to Mottola

18 km

The two cities are located close to imposing ravines from which they stand out over today's route. Today you will pass by incredible expanses of olive groves and cultivated fields in the large and evocative “Terre delle Gravine” Regional Natural Park.
The area of ​​Palagianello is characterised by a characteristic rock village that deserves to be visited by crossing the panoramic stairways and the incredible paths. Certainly not to be missed is the precious rock church of San Girolamo with its characteristic trapezoidal plan, with its incredible frescoes including a valuable depiction of a Madonna with Child. The true symbol of Palagianello, however, is the Caracciolo Stella Castle with its massive quadrangular plan, the characteristic four corner towers and the central courtyard: all elements that make it a sixteenth-century fortress. In the internal rooms of the ground floor the castle now houses the municipal tourist offices while on the upper floor it is possible to admire parts of the original flooring characterised by valuable majolica tiles from nearby Laterza.
 After passing the small village of Palagianello you will cross an area full of prehistoric settlements such as the ancient rock church of San Nicola, a magnificent example of popular sacred art, and the church of Sant'Angelo, the only example of a sacred structure on two floors. An ancient path that takes shape starting from the spectacular village of Casalotto with its fascinating excavated caves, marks the entrance to the town of Mottola. From the hill from which the ancient town stands you can enjoy a wonderful view that goes from the Gulf of Taranto to the Sila Plateau, spanning the entire Ionian coast between Puglia and Calabria with the beautiful Church of San Gregorio which preserves some frescoes among the most visited in Puglia, marking the end of this intense day.

Day6

From Mottola to Massafra

23 km

You leave Mottola and its incredible views to immerse yourself once again in the timeless charm of the incredible Apulian countryside, among the shades of the cultivated fields and the Mediterranean scrub that unfolds giving refreshment to those who choose to enjoy its shade. A silent but lush countryside slowly thins out along the way, giving way to the gates of Massafra , an ancient rock village which preserves within its walls precious jewels of prehistoric art such as the incredible hypogea which represent unique evidence of how man has adapted to live in these wonderful natural cavities dug into the ravines. The symbol of the community is certainly the Castle which today houses the Archaeological Museum dedicated to peasant civilization and in particular to the production of oil and wine. The Sanctuary of the Madonna della Scala is certainly one of the most evocative places of the entire journey, nestled inside a ravine the sanctuary houses valuable paintings of extreme workmanship.

Day7

From Massafra to Crispiano

18 km

The suggestive passage from an ancient farmhouse from the 1400s surrounded by the flavours and smells of a rich vineyard, marks the passage towards the Terre delle Gravine. In fact, right here, in one of the most important naturalistic areas in Europe, you will cross fascinating paths that connect picturesque rock settlements hidden among the dense vegetation.
You will arrive in Crispiano along the imposing karst wall that overlooks the Gulf of Taranto and which acts as a natural protection for the small inhabited centres perched in the hinterland. The karst valley of the Vallone represents the ideal destination for a walk immersed in the history of this incredible territory which still retains that natural soul that distinguishes it, among incredible caves set in the rock, farms, some of which are of notable historical and architectural interest, and community churches, you will feel like you are walking back in time. 

Day8

From Crispiano to Martina Franca

28 km

A stage that winds gently through various wooded areas of naturalistic value. After passing the town centre, you will continue into the enchanting Bosco delle Pianelle, one of the largest and most important green areas in Puglia, which preserves within itself a rich floristic area dominated by imposing but graceful shrubs among which some specimens of notable scientific interest, so much so that they were considered among the most beautiful in Italy by the well-known botanist, Professor Valerio Giacomini. The passage from Masseria Gorgofreddo marks the arrival in the splendid Eastern Murge Nature Reserve and therefore the arrival in the splendid baroque pearl, Martina Franca, in the heart of the magical Valle D'Itria. 

Day9

Goodbye Martina Franca!

After breakfast, end of services.
Give yourself some time to admire the timeless charm of the ancient town of Martina Franca with its labyrinth of narrow streets and ancient alleys which still host the exhibition spaces and laboratories of the ancient artisan workshops.
But it is its historic centre with buildings, monuments and churches decorated with a particular baroque style that cannot be found in any other city, which not surprisingly later became "Martinese baroque" which welcomes every traveller with a warm welcome to the Valle D'Itria.

What's included

Our offer includes

  • 8 nights with breakfast in shared double/twin room
  • Luggage transportation hotel to hotel (1 item per person)
  • Travel App (maps, tracks, route notes)
  • Telephone assistance 8:00-20:00

Not included

  • Transfer IN and Transfer OUT
  • Other meals and drinks
  • Extra baggage
  • Entrance fees and tips
  • Insurance and what's not listed as “Included”

Departures and prices

High Season22/06/2024 => 19/07/2024
Standard940 € /p
Mid Season02/09/2024 => 26/10/2024
Standard900 € /p
Low Season 27/10/2024 => 20/11/2024
Standard860 € /p

Supplements per person

Single Room | Low Season
Standard240 € /p
Single Room | Mid Season
Standard260 € /p
Single Room | High Season
Standard270 € /p
Solo Traveller
Standard320 € /p
Transfer Bari Apt - Matera (min 2 pax)
Standard70 € /p

Other Information

Grade

The itinerary along the Via Ellenica is suitable for anyone who has excellent training in walking long distances. The length of the stages ranges from a minimum of 16 to a maximum of 28 km, with differences in altitude and routes of medium difficulty and travel times between 3 and 8 hours.
The excursions mostly wind along dirt paths, including in wooded areas and country roads, with some rare but essential passages on busy roads.
We recommend that you bring comfortable shoes suitable for trekking, trekking poles (strongly recommended), hat, water, sunscreen, swimsuit and raincoat in case of rain.

Accommodation & meals

Overnight stays in selected, central B&Bs and 3* hotels.
All rooms are ensuite

  • 1 night in Matera
  • 1 night in Ginosa
  • 1 night in Laterza
  • 1 night in Castellaneta
  • 1 night in Mottola
  • 1 night in Massafra
  • 1 night in Crispiano
  • 1 night in Martina Franca

7 breakfast included.

Support

We will take care of your luggage while you are walking.
For the whole duration of your tour, you can contact our assistance numbers.

Travel documents

A few days before departure you will receive by email the Service List with instructions for using the Travel App.

Upon your arrival, ask at reception for the infopack with:

  • updated Service List;
  • luggage Labels.

 

Arrival and Departure

Getting there
Matera  is adapting to have an increasingly efficient network of connections with the major Italian cities.

ON THE TRAIN. The railway stations served by  Trenitalia  closest to Matera are those of Bari, Gioia del Colle, Ferrandina and Metaponto. From Bari it is possible to reach Matera on board the trains or buses of the FAL - Ferrovie Appulo Lucane , while from Metaponto and Ferrandina it is possible to reach Matera only by bus (check the timetables on the SITA and FAL websites). To find out about cancellations or additions of stops, cancellations, delays, route diversions and much other useful information for those travelling by train with Trenitalia, consult  viatreno .  NB : on public holidays there are no trains but only a few buses.

BY PLANE. The closest airports to Matera are those of Bari, Brindisi and Naples.
Bari Palese airport is located approximately 60km away and is connected by shuttle services of various companies or, having reached Bari central station with the  Ferrovie del Nord Barese , you can take the  FAL train  to central Matera (about 80min).  NB : on public holidays there are no trains but only a few buses.
Brindisi Casale airport is about 150km away, from here you can reach Matera by bus passing through Bari Palese airport. Visit the Puglia Airports
website   for more detailed information. Naples Capodichino airport is about 250km away and is connected to Matera by various bus companies. BY BUS. Matera can also be reached by bus. Below are the major companies that operate the service: Marinobus, Baltour & Flixbus, Marozzi, Busmiccolis, Petruzzi bus lines.

BY CAR. The nearest motorway toll booths are those of Bari and Gioia del Colle for those travelling on the A14 Adriatica and Sicignano degli Alburni for those coming from the A3 Salerno-Reggio Calabria.  Google.maps.com  can help.

If you prefer to travel in total comfort, you can book a  private transfer  on the days of arrival and departure.

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Contacts

Slow Active Tours

Via Corrado Alvaro, 17a

73100 - Lecce, LE - Italia

VAT no. IT05328000756

Tel: +39 0832 1826868

info@slowactivetours.com