ITALY Tours Details
Sicily – Amalfi Coast
May 4 and September 7, 2018
- Fully escorted 16 days
(16 Days / 15 nights)
This tour can be taken in 3 ways:
Option 1: Rome- Sicily – Amalfi – Rome
Option 2: Rome – Sicily – Rome
Option 3: Rome – Amalfi – Rome.
Day 1, Friday September 7th – ROME to SICILY
The flight is just over 1 hour and on landing in Sicily we will be transferred by minibus from the airport in Catania to our hotel in Taormina. After checking in to our hotel we will take a private guided tour of Taormina and its main sites.
Taormina is positioned on Mount Tauro and offers wonderful views of Mt Etna. The evening at your own leisure to absorb the beautiful Taormina on your first “Sicilian” evening.
Day 2, Saturday, September 8th – EOLIAN ISLANDS
After a leisurely breakfast, we will take our minibus and head north about 50 km to the port of Milazzo.
From Milazzo, we take a full-day boat tour to the Eolian Islands of Vulcano and Lipari.
Our course takes us sailing towards the Island of Vulcano and the tiny port of Gelso.
Sailing along the west coast of the island we can swim the blue waters of Venus Pool and visit the Cavallo Grotto. Lunch, and free time for visiting the village or enjoying the thermal waters and mud of the island (entrance not included).
After lunch, we travel from Vulcano to the Island of Lipari.
Upon reaching Lipari, we navigate around the Faraglioni (rock stacks standing out of the sea) and along the island’s west coast.
We can stop in Canneto for a swim and a visit to the famous pumice stone caves. Some free time to visit the small village and its archaeological and volcano museum before sailing back to Milazzo.
In the late afternoon, we return to our base, our hotel in Taormina.
Day 3, Sunday, September 9th – SIRACUSA
After breakfast, our driver will meet us at the hotel and head south to Siracusa.
Ancient Siracusa (Syracuse) was founded by colonists from Cornith in 733 B.C. and was once the most important competitor to Athens.
We explore Ortigia (the ancient part of the town of Siracusa beautifully located on the sea). A visit to the Archaeological Park with it’s Greek Theatre, Roman Amphitheatre and Paradise Quarry is optional but well worth it if you have the energy.
This afternoon we enjoy a half-day cooking class in Ortigia with dinner included.
Cooking is an art; especially Sicilian cooking and recipes from this region retain traces of many occupying civilizations including the Arabian, the Norman, the Angevin, the Aragonese, the Spanish and the Greek. They blend precious scents and flavours coming both from land and sea.
We learn from a true Sicilian the secrets of delicious dishes of this land (and sea) in an informal environment where with passion and cheerfulness she will show how to prepare some of the many
Sicilian delicacies. Our reward is the enjoyment of dining on the fruits of our labour
Dinner is served with Sicilian wine pairings and an informative overview of Sicilian wines given by a sommelier. A great introduction to the local wines we can enjoy during the tour.
Day 4, Monday, September 10th – RAGUSA and NOTO
Today is dedicated to visits of the beautiful Baroque towns of Ragusa-Ibla and Noto.
Following breakfast, our driver will arrive at our hotel and drive us to Ragusa.
Ragusa-Ibla is the oldest part of the city where most of the churches and Baroque buildings
are found including the beautiful Cathedral of San Giorgio, Church of Santa Maria dell’ Itria and
the Church of San Giuseppe.
In the afternoon we drive to Noto, the most precious example of Baroque art in Sicily.
This little town is called a “Stone Garden” because of all the incredible decorations in the
buildings. It is listed among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Our guide will take us through the town and its attractions before leaving us time to explore further at our leisure.
importantly we have time for our Sicilian ice-cream experience; both in Ragusa-Ibla and Noto we experience two of the best delicacies of Sicily: gelato and granita.
Locals eat ices all day long, often making breakfast out of dessert. It’s not so surprising, then, that some claim ice cream was born on the island, a direct descendant of sorbet/sherbet, a fruit-syrup-and-water mix brought here by Arab merchants and invaders in the eighth century, cooled with snow from Mount Etna.
Sicilians divide ice cream, or ices, into two main categories: the slushy, water-based granita, flavoured with island classics like almond or lemon; and gelato, which has a silky, creamy texture thanks to the inclusion of eggs, milk or a starchy emulsifying base, and is preferably made with Sicily’s native carob bean.
We stop in two of the best Gelateria (ice-cream shops) in the whole of Sicily, one in Ragusa-Ibla and one in Noto so that we can try both gelato and granite. Explore the different tastes and compare the different products in order to accomplish the impossible … deciding which one is the best ……….. they are all buonissime!!
Day 5, Tuesday, September 11th – PIAZZA ARMERINA
This morning we drive west through the interior of Sicily to reach Piazza Armerina where we visit the archaeological site of the Villa Romana del Casale. The amazing mosaics discovered here have been recognized as a Unesco Human Heritage site and literally leave you breathless.
We see evidence of many of the invaders and rulers of Sicily during our tour, including the Romans; and this Roman Villa and its mosaics stand out as not only the best in Italy but in the whole world.
Following our visit of the villa we make our way back to Siracusa.
Perhaps a stop along the way for a light lunch in a typical Sicilian restaurant.
Day 6, Wednesday, September 12th – AGRIGENTO
Today we travel to Marsala on the western tip of Sicily.
We say goodbye to Siracusa and travel to the incredible Agrigento and the Valle Dei Templi (Valley of the temples) with the finest of all ancient Greek sites.
Our specialist local guide will explain the region’s rich history from its ancient Greek heyday, its wars with Carthage and Rome, its Olympic successes and its many magnificent temples.
Day 7, Thursday September 13th – MARSALA
Today we explore Marsala.
Marsala is the most famous wine region in Sicily and a name that even non-wine drinkers know.
We visit a local winery’s cellar and taste Sicilian wines. Afterwards, we travel between Trapani and Marsala on the western reaches of Sicily, known as the Salt Way Road. A visit to the historic salt pan works to explain the ancient tradition of harvesting salt from the sea, a practice which although ancient is still employed today.
This afternoon is free for individual adventures. Maybe further wine tastings in different wineries or discovering the town of Marsala on your own.
We enjoy a special experience for dinner tonight as we sample the typical local dish Cous-cous. This is a food heritage clearly left by the Arab dominators of the island. The dish is now so deeply rooted in the Sicilian food culture that every year they even dedicate to it a festival in San Vito Lo Capo not far from Marsala.
Day 8, Friday, September 14th – ERICE and SEGESTA
This morning we leave our Marsala Hotel and travel east towards Palermo.
On route to Palermo (the capital of Sicily), we will visit the wonderful medieval town of Erice and the ancient town of Segesta. Both are on hilltops and both have their own old and new attractions. Specialist guides share with us the treasures of both sites.
The medieval town of Erice was settled as an important religious site associated with the goddess Venus. We wander through its ancient streets and visit some of the famous homemade pastry shops—world-famous for marzipan candies and other delicacies like almond and pistachio pastries.
And after a lovely Sicilian lunch, we visit Segesta and one of the most beautiful Greek temples still existing. The temple is located on a hill surrounded by colourful and the richly perfumed, fragrant vegetation of Sicily.
In the afternoon we arrive at our beautiful Palermo hotel and enjoy an evening at leisure.
Day 9, Saturday September 15th – PALERMO
During the morning we explore “Hidden Palermo” and discover the real heart of this amazing city including a visit to the colourful and picturesque open-air food market of “la vucciria”, “ballarò”
or “capo”. Let’s try the delicious typical Sicilian finger food: arancini, pane con panelle, etc.
Day 10, Sunday, September 16th – PALERMO and MONREALE
Our day begins with a short drive to Monreale to admire its famous Duomo. This Cathedral started construction in 1174 by William II, where the Arab-Norman art and architecture reached the pinnacle of its glory. William II was a Norman King of Sicily from 1166 (100 years after the Norman conquest of Britain) to 1189 and he continued the ambitions in the east through campaigns, assimilation and construction of great building such as the duomo.
The interior represents scenes from the Old and New Testaments all in golden mosaics.
Palermo is a wondrous city and we have time this afternoon to explore it further at our leisure. Or sit in a café and watch others doing the same.
Day 11, Monday, September 17th – PALERMO to AMALFI COAST
Today we leave our Palermo home and make our way to the Palermo airport for the transfer to Naples and our Amalfi experience.
Sicily has been a wonderous experience and although it is sad to say goodbye we are richer for our time here and looking forward to new adventures.
At Naples we are taken by private minibus from the airport to our home for the next 5 days, Positano.
On arrival in our beautiful well-positioned hotel we have the afternoon at leisure to relax or start exploring the village of Positano with its pink and fuchsia houses, flowering bougainvillea and picturesque squares. It is love at first sight as we stroll along the lively streets, visiting local shops, amongst the colours and scents of this incredible land.
Day 12, Tuesday, September 18th – AMALFI COAST
Following a relaxing evening, we are ready for a full day exploring the marvels of the Amalfi Coast.
Our private excursion of the Coast in our minibus takes us along the breathtaking scenic Amalfi Drive. We visit Amalfi, its lively and colourful alleyways, its lemon trees, and its gorgeous Cathedral. We stroll through vibrant streets, local shops, among the colours and scents of this incredible land.
We may want to enjoy lunch in Amalfi, where the local restaurants serve amazing Fish Pasta! We can visit Ravello, with its breathtaking view of the whole Gulf (from the famous “infinity Terrace”), its elegant villas and gardens.
We will visit a producer of the famous Limoncello liqueur: walking through a lemon tree plantation, visiting the workshop where the liqueur is produced (from those very same lemons), and of course .. tasting this sweet and delicious liqueur.
Day 13, Wednesday September 19th – POMPEII & HERCULANEUM
This morning we visit Pompeii and Herculaneum; two famous Archaeological sites.
The city of Pompeii, before the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D., was an important commercial centre. The fury of Mount Vesuvius buried the entire city under a layer of burning ashes: thus, today, almost 2000 years later, we can rediscover the undisturbed city and life in those times.
Departing from the Piazza del Foro, formerly the thriving centre of the life of Pompeii, our expert guide takes us through the ancient Temples, Thermal baths, the Market and the majestic Theatre.
We can admire some of the most outstanding houses of the Roman aristocrats and their beautiful frescos.
Perhaps lunch in a typical restaurant on Mount Vesuvius?
Herculaneum was founded by Hercules. It was located in a site which ensured that it overlooked one of the most unique panoramas in the world, a grandiose natural arc.
We visit the archaeological digs the new Virtual Archaeological Museum (MAV) which has only recently opened. Via the virtual installations we will be able to relive the life and culture of the archaeological remains of the first Neapolitans and after the great eruption of Vesuvius in 79 A.D.
Day 14, Thursday, September 20th – CAPRI
Another wonderful day is planned for today with a full-day boat excursion to Capri.
Capri is the island in the Gulf of Naples much loved by intellectuals, artists and writers, all captured by its magical beauty. Our private boat will pick us up at the harbour of Positano, heading out along the peninsula and then to Capri. This is a private full-day excursion with a private boat with captain and guide.
After a pleasant 30 minute cruise, we reach the beautiful Island of Capri: it is time for a tour of the island by water. We will visit several of the grottoes and stunning rock formations that dot the coastline, including the famed “Blue Grotto”, the former pleasure pool of the Roman Emperor Tiberius.
We may have time for a swim in one of the island’s many inlets before our short guided visit.
Onboard we enjoy a light lunch and on to the island’s port at Marina Grande where we have a few hours of exploration at leisure. Our captain will provide maps of the island, as well as information about the “must-see” stops to visit (the famous via Krupp, the Fortini (little forts) trails. Maybe we can have an ice cream or coffee at the famous “Piazzetta” or some shopping and relaxation before heading back by boat to Sorrento.
Day 16, Saturday, September 22th – AMALFI COAST to ROME: ROYAL PALACE OF CASERTA
Today we will say farewell to the Amalfi coast and drive north towards Rome. On our way, we will stop for a private guided tour at the intriguing and magnificent Royal Palace in Caserta.
As in the 18th century during the rule of the King of Naples, we will be astonished by the beauty and size of Caserta. In 1750, King Carlo di Borbone decided to provide a respectable seat to represent
the government of the capital, Naples and his kingdom, and ordered the construction of a
Royal Palace in order to rival the greatest European cities.
The complex was entrusted to the great architect Vanvitelli, who designed a majestic palace, externally austere but internally beautiful, surrounded by a garden with its scenographic fountains.
We will have a couple of hours to visit the Palace and its Italian Style Gardens. At the magnificent Scalone d’Onore staircase, the guide takes us through the most beautiful rooms of the palace, richly frescoed and decorated. Outside, we can admire a succession of magnificent fountains, adorned with sculptures and mythological characters, arranged along terraces descending with a wonderful perspective setting which continues up until the “great waterfall”. (Trivia fans will understand why this palace with its opulence was used in two of the Star Wars movies).
Once our visit to the Royal Palace is over there is time to enjoy our last lunch together before our drive back to Rome and goodbyes.
Time to discuss our adventures together as we each move on to new adventures.