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Puglia and Matera itinerary help needed for 2 weeks in early November

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I have been reading the forums on southern Italy trips for many months, and have dithered about what to do with my partner and I's two weeks in Puglia for the middle part of our 27 day journey to celebrate significant birthdays. Now it is almost time to leave and much is left un-booked. I need advice on an itinerary , and suggestions for places not-to-be-missed. Here's what my plan looks so far, and questions I still have:

After a week on the Amalfi coast and in Naples, we travel to Bari by train on October 31st.
We will pick up a car rental in Bari from Avis for 9 days (to be returned to Bari Nov 8). As November 1st is a holiday in Italy, we are heading quickly to our accommodation near Cisternino
- Aquarossa Trulli -http://www.acqua-rossa.de/en. I booked this hotel for 5 nights and so far, it is the only place that I have confirmed. I wanted to be settled for the holiday, and have a car to allow us to explore the area, and go out to fine eating places.

- November 5 - 8 my tentative plan is to go to
Matera - 2 nights
Trani - 1 night (with stop in Altamura)
then return car to Bari on November 8 and for rest of trip travel by train and bus

- November 8 train to Lecce and stay 3 nights there to November 11 to explore the heel of Italy (Otranto, Salento, Gallipolli) by bus if available. It is off-season so we may not be able to get to some locations. This is a tentative plan, nothing yet booked.

- November 11-14 are not arranged at all! We have to be in Rome for November 14, and it is possible to get an early train from Bari (7:25 am which means staying in Bari that night) to Rome. Or we could travel to Rome from another location.

Options I am considering - especially after reading ekscrunchy's report on Puglia and Matera, starting in the Minervois Murge area:
http://www.fodors.com/community/europe/puglia-and-matera-from-pane-di-altamura-to-peperoni-di-senise.cfm

- instead of going to Matera by car on Nov. 5-7; go to the Andria area (with car) and book in a masserie (time is getting short, but hopefully there's still availability)
- go to Matera by bus from Lecce on Nov 11 for two nights, then train to Bari for 1 day and then on to Rome.

Would those options be easier to navigate by car (if I can get the car rental extended - my partner is not keen to be driving for two weeks in Italy)?

I noted that several masserie's in the Salento / Otranto and Gallipolli area appear to be closed for the season after mid-October, and it may be the same in the Andria area.

Should I also be making reservations for dinners at country masseries?

A last note - neither my partner nor I are able to manage much Italian. I've been learning basic travel Italian, but conversation or telephone instructions could be challenging!

Many thanks to ekscrunchy, franco, flame123, annhig and kybourbon for your trip reports and postings on Puglia - so very helpful!

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