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Apulia, Lecce & Vieste - Undiscovered Italy Tour

Having just returned from a holiday to Apulia, Lecce and Vieste I would just like to let you know how much we enjoyed the tour.  The hotels were all of a very high standard and the food excellent - especially on the three evenings we dined out. Jeff, our tour manager, made the holiday with all his local information and his witty comments.  He was ably assisted by our driver, Franco, who coped well with the tricky roads round the Gargano peninsula. We felt perfectly safe in his hands.

Review by J. Hutchison on 20 October 2016

Many thanks to Paula who was a brilliant guide. We loved her friendly relaxed style and the care she took to ensure that everyone had the best experience possible. Organisation was faultless and she and our driver Daniello were a great team.

Review by Colin and Mary Millett on 23 October 2016

Good evening

I was a participant in the above holiday the other week.

I must tell you that I found Paula to be very efficient at her job, she paid great attention to our needs and she was also great fun.  Mariano was a very skilful and attentive driver.

It was a lovely holiday.

Kind regards.

Review by Lynn Johnson on 11 October 2016

This was our first trip with Riviera but certainly won’t be the last.It was beautifully organised with Nikki our tour manager and Mariano our driver being outstanding. Nothing was too much trouble and Nikki kept us in stitches during the quite long coach journeys. The tour was most interesting and although some of the countryside around Lecce and Matera was not the most beautiful in Italy those two places together with Alberobello were fascinating.
The hotels were good and the food was perfectly adequate although we don’t need another pasta dish for a while. Vieste was a complete change and the boat trip another highlight but for us the whole trip was made by Nikki who was the epitome of a friendly professional who loves her job.

Review by Keith and Lynda Thatcher on 20 October 2016

Just returned from another superb Riviera holiday. Highly recommend this tour. Our guide Paula definitely knew Italy and gave us a good insight with great humour.

Review by Angela Rudd on 11 October 2016

Apulia is a beautiful region of Italy and has a more rustic existence than the north. Travelling to the south always feels more exciting. The centre of Lecce is typical of what you expect, beautiful old facades, amiptheatres, narrow winding streets and a beautiful park. Excellent food and drink at good prices even at the woeful exchange rate! Matera is definitely a jaw-dropper from the balcony overlooking the town. Very photogenic. The Trulli at Alberobello are definitely another highlight.

Vieste is wonderful. Sandy beaches, a beautiful old town and a vibrant newer part. The sea was warm and inviting but I may have scared the locals with my lack of tan. Trulli white… Go on the optional boat trip if it is running. The caves and the calm Adriatic make for a change of perspective. Plenty of time after to explore Vieste.

The hotels were good. Of course, price and location to keep prices reasonable have to be taken into account. The Lecce one was only about 20 mins walk (passing gelaterie a plenty) from the centre and modern. The Matera hotel was a little in the middle of nowhere but you are only there for a couple of nights. Vieste’s hotel is perfect as it is centrally located and the staff are very helpful and good fun.

Our tour guide Sev, was excellent. The tour went without any major incident and she was always calm and assured. She always gave enough information but never too much with a good broad knowledge of the area and history. She was always easy to approach and really cared about us enjoying the holiday. Toni was a great driver too!.

Definitely up around the top of the list for Riviera holidays for us.

Review by Brian on 10 October 2016

Outstanding scenery and beautifully planned tour. It was made extra special by Nikki, who was exceptional. She was very personal, fun and accommodating. She welcomed everyone. Local tours and meals were also of a high standard.
Highly recommended! 

Review by Julia and Tamara Stanton on 17 September 2016

A most enjoyable experience.  Stacks of fascinating and interesting historic places. Comfortable hotels and superb food. Particularly enjoyed dining out in three different local underground cavern restaurants, with lovely ambience.  These were included in the tour.
Nikki , our tour manager was first class, keeping us informed, and letting us have quiet time on the coach in just the right measure.  Our driver, Danilo, was very professional, and we felt utterly safe in his care.  We have had Riviera holidays before, but feel this has been the best so far.
We also thought the idea of allocated seats being changed each day on the coach a very good and fair way of seating people.
I have been recommending this tour to all of our friends.
If you are thinking about it, go for it.  You won’t be disappointed. First Class!  Enjoy!

Review by Patrick & Jennifer Russell on 15 September 2016

The tour to Puglia, visiting Lecce, Matera and Vieste was excellent.  It was interesting and informative and well organised by our Tour Guide, Paula, who made the trip fun and friendly.  The driver, known as JP, was careful and gave his passengers a comfortable and safe journey.  A thoroughly enjoyable week in a lovely area of Italy.

Review by Joan Tomlinson on 25 August 2016

and to say how much we enjoyed the ‘Undiscovered Italy Tour’
Although we travelled many miles we saw so much of the Puglia area, gaining an insight into the culture, the countryside, the local dishes and wines guided by an excellent tour manager and coach driver with a great mix of travelling companions making it a complete package!
A couple of extra comments:
The booking and subsequent correspondence was most efficient and any problems were soon sorted.
It was a good idea to include visits to local restaurants in addition to hotel dinners, this certainly enhanced our knowledge of the Italian dining experience and gave a variation to the menus.  We understand why the extra lunch was included at Lecce but felt it was too much food on that day when the quantity was repeated in the evening.  We were ‘past-ad’ out!! 

The Italian guides were informative and knowledgeable of their subject though at times their accents were a little difficult to understand.  However it did give a contrast with our own very knowledgeable tour manager.  There was a good mix of organised trips and free time.
We all appreciated the later time of departure from the Hotel Palace Vieste on the last day.  This certainly gave us much less time to waste at the airport.  We were able to use our rooms up to 1 o’clock and 3 o’clock if we paid a little more.
Driver JP was friendly, humorous, considerate and courteous to other road users.  We felt very safe in his hands.  His experience was evident when negotiating some of the mountain roads.
Finally, Paula is an excellent tour manager, always ready to help with a cheery smile and great sense of humour.  She was obviously very knowledgeable on this corner of Italy and gave us a great insight into the customs and way of life of the local people.
All in all a very memorable trip.
Best wishes and thank you to all,

Review by Judi and Neil Cripps on 25 August 2016

Returned 2nd July from a lovely holiday in Italy.  BA let us down with luggage missing but Maritherese was wonderful, working day and night to track and return our luggage to us and even took us shopping.  She could have done no more. The weather was beautiful and all hotels and restaurants were very good.  Thank you - it will be our 10th trip next year!

Review by Hilary North on 9 July 2016

We had a bad start due to BA having problems with only 18 cases put on board the flight. Promises of next day delivery didn’t materialise so Martese, our courier, went above and beyond duty, every day, until all and the last cases arrived 5 whole days later. Almost all of the group needed changes of clothes and toiletries so Martese arranged for us to be taken to a shopping mall as many times as was needed.  All this cutting into her free time. The area itself is very beautiful, hotels welcoming and clean with lots of local specialities served. Local restaurants accommodated our party of 50 efficiently. Included in the itinerary.
We must not forget our driver Danilo who took us some 900 kilometers comfortably, safely and was very helpful. We thoroughly enjoyed our trip despite temperatures of 33 degrees most days.

Review by John/Val Allen on 3 July 2016

Thanks to our superb tour manager Stella who helped to make this such a good holiday. She looked after every single thing, and was always very kind and charming about it all.  She took special care of me and my friend Marie - we are both a bit unsteady on our feet, and she even took the trouble to escort me back to ‘safe ground’ when I felt I couldn’t continue to walk any more on the slippery cobbles during the guided tour of Matera.  Thanks again for everything Stella!

Review by Rosemary Mark on 2 July 2016

I have just returned from a wonderful eight days in Puglia.  The tour was amazing and the tour guide, Paula, was excellent.  She was organised, so well informed and so friendly and helpful as well as being entertaining and full of extra local information.  The hotels and restaurants were all superb.  I would highly recommend this tour, especially with Paula and JP, the driver.  Thinking about the next trip already!

Review by Joan Tomlinson on 18 June 2016

This was a fantastic trip with plenty of interesting places to visit, the highlight for us being Alberobello. The hotels were very good and the food even better with visits to local restaurants at each destination.  However, what made this tour such a success was our guide, Paula.  She was so knowledgeable, very amusing and always helpful and cheerful. Also the coach driver, John Piero, a very nice man, was a careful and courteous driver.

Review by Erica Latchem on 15 June 2016

Returned yesterday after a wonderful tour of wonderful places.Sergio, our tour manager is one of the best, humerous, considerate, and extremely knowledgeable. His introduction to Italian sign languagè has to be seen to be believed. Nicola is some driver it must be said. Altogether an unforgettable holiday, and this is our 7th Riviera.

Review by Alan Houghton on 7 June 2016

Jeffrey, our tour guide, said that you like to receive feedback regarding the tour - so here it is!
First of all, both my wife and I had a very enjoyable if somewhat exhausting tour. A great deal was packed into the week.  We joined the tour because we wanted to see a part of Italy we had never been to before.  We knew, because we had read the itinerary (unlike some of the members of the group who admitted they hadn’t!), that, because of the distances between the various locations, the tour would involve quite a lot of time on the coach.  We did not wish to drive such long distances ourselves and going by coach removed this problem.
The locations were all worth visiting and we much enjoyed the time that we spent in each.  The guides, particularly Titiana, were very good and what was excellent was that the commentary headphones/system worked extremely well.
The hotels were all fine although it is a shame that the hotel in Matera was so far out of the town that it prevented us from being able to go for an evening walk and experience the town at that time of day. The food in the hotels, while not being of brilliant quality was probably as good as one could expect bearing in mind the numbers that were being catered for at the same time.  It was hot and it was delivered efficiently.
The two restaurant meals that we had away from the hotels were excellent especially in Vieste.
PJ, our coach driver, was very good.  He drove with great care and at no stage throughout the week did we experience any anxiety even when the roads were narrow and the drop on one side steep!
Our tour guide, Jeff, proved to be a great escort.  He was a little reticent at the start of the tour but warmed to the unenviable task of looking after 50 “old greys”!  He was very knowledgable about the places we visited and gave much additional information about various aspects of Italian politics, education, health service, mafia etc which helped pass the time during the long hours on the coach.
Our only reservation is regarding the size of the group.  This is the fourth time we have travelled with Riviera and the best size of group we have experienced is about 25-30 and no more.  Having 50 means that we were still meeting people at the airport as we left that we hadn’t met on the trip.  It meant that managing that size of group with different physical abilities was problematic - although Jeff never made any reference to this!
All in all a great holiday and one that we are delighted we took part in. Many thanks and please pass on our thanks to Jeff.

Review by Alasdair Goulden on 7 June 2016

During the trip to Apulia/Italy in April, Christine McCabe was our tour manager. She speaks fluent Italian, has excellent local knowledge and contacts; she also has a pleasant, efficient, and effective way of “guiding” us throughout the whole tour.
Due to my health conditions, I have to stick to a very strict diet; and Christine has made it possible that I could fully enjoy the trip without worrying about my dietary problems -  Christine took the time and trouble, in cooperation and coordination with the local hotel/restaurant chefs, in creating/composing a special menu for me every evening -  a big special thank to her!
Would it be possible for you to pass on this message to Christine? Many thanks!

Review by Hermin Susanti Schwendt on 3 June 2016

Our tour to Puglia was absolutely wonderful.  There were so many highlights and it more than came up to our expectations.  Our group all got on very well and it made the trip very pleasurable.  The hotels were good but especially the Palace Hotel in Vieste which was family run and Mama served some excellent local food.  The meals in the three restaurants were very special.  The optional boat trip to the caves at Vieste is a must.  Particular thanks must go to our superb driver, Niccola, who ferried us around safely and was always smiling.  Also to our amazing tour guide, Sergio.  He was simply the best - nothing was too much trouble and he even arranged a surprise dancer to dance the tarantella in the restaurant in Lecce, which we had always wanted to see.  His in depth knowledge of the area and his infectious humour just made the holiday.  They made a perfect team and a great asset to Riviera.  All in all, a truly memorable holiday in what is a beautiful unspoilt corner of Italy and we thoroughly recommend this tour.

Review by Peter and Tessa Bourne on 1 June 2016

It is our first holiday with Riviera Travel and we had a most enjoyable week. Luigi our Guide was excellent and could not have been more informative and helpful. We enjoyed all three centres visited and the tour we felt was very well balanced. We shall certainly be traveling with Riviera in the future.

Review by Paul and Ann Gray on 31 May 2016

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