Amalfi Coast - Puglia - Palermo - West Sicily - East Sicily

Unspoiled Sicily & Southern Italy

Destination
Amalfi Coast - Puglia - Palermo - West Sicily - East Sicily
Dates From
06/05/2020
Duration
21 nights
22 days
Price From
$14,295
Book Now
Package Tour Map

BOUTIQUE SMALL GROUP TOUR

Starting and finishing in Rome, this tour captures the scenic beauty of the Amalfi Coast, takes in the best of hidden Puglia and southern Calabria and highlights in particular the rich cultural heritage of Sicily.
Long regarded as the ‘last bastion of Italy’, haunted by its reputation as poor and beholden to the mafia, Sicily insists that change has arrived. Closer to Africa than to Rome, the Mediterranean’s largest island was first colonised by the Greeks in the 8th century. Over time it attracted waves of invaders resulting in an interior enriched by the remains of ancient civilisations and the survival of many old traditions. Greek temples, Roman ruins, Norman churches and Byzantine domes are all evidence of Sicily’s rich and diverse past.
With a coastline of some thousand km, Sicily offers the visitor sandy beaches, sheer cliffs and a rich array of delicious local cuisine and full-bodied red wines.
If you like Italy, you are simply going to fall in love with Sicily, possibly still one of the best-kept secrets in Europe.

  • * Stay near Sicily’s famed Mount Etna, an active volcano
    * View important Greek temples and Roman ruins
    * See Norman churches and Arab and Byzantine domes
    * Experience the dynamic cities of Palermo, Naples and Sorrento
    * Explore the fascinating ruins of Pompeii
    * Admire the iconic Trulli houses in Puglia and the Baroque influences in Lecce
    * Sample Marsala and full-bodied reds in their regional homes

This leisurely tour is designed to give discerning travellers an authentic taste of the history, culture and cuisine of the Mediterranean. Our expert commentary will only enhance your enjoyment.

Inclusions

  • THAI Airways economy class return flights ex Australia & departure taxes
  • 1 night Bangkok airport hotel stopover incl. buffet breakfast and transfers en route to Europe
  • Meet and greet and assistance during outbound flights
  • Airport transfers and airline check-in assistance in Europe
  • One-way ferry Calabria (Southern Italy) to Sicily & one-way economy class flight from Catania (Sicily) to Rome
  • 19 nights in charming boutique/heritage accommodation
  • Daily buffet breakfast, 3 course dinner (or lunch) with beverages based on typical traditional regional cuisine where indicated
  • Luxury coach travel in Europe
  • Entry fees covering sightseeing and entertainment
  • Hotel service charges city taxes, most tipping, baggage handling (1 bag pp)
  • Services of a full-time professional tour director and local city guides

Itinerary

Day 1 & 2: DEPARTURE AUSTRALIA / STOPOVER

Meet with representatives for assistance with your airline check-in (for Brisbane passengers). Interstate passengers will meet up at our stopover hotel. Sit back and relax and enjoy a good flight followed by transfer to your airport hotel. You will enjoy an overnight stay with breakfast included and the next day
you will have access to your room all day until check-out in the early evening.
The 24 hours between outbound flights are at your leisure. On day 2, there is time to explore the local surrounds on a guided tour, do some shopping, visit the day spa at the hotel or simply relax with a
book around the pool.

Day 3: ARRIVAL ROME

Benvenuti! At Rome airport your tour director and coach will be awaiting you at the airport for transfer to your hotel on the Amalfi Coast. Upon arrival, you will enjoy a light lunch followed by hotel check-in. Many writers have written about the natural beauty of this part of the Italian coast and the islands in the Gulf of Naples, Capri, Ischia and Le Sirenuse, home of the mythical sirens, are sure to call you back long after. Famous for its breathtaking caves and subtropical vegetation the charming villages attract many visitors. The afternoon is at your leisure to rest or explore the local surroundings. Dinner
at the hotel. (L/D)

Day 4: POMPEII

Buon giorno! In the shadow of Mt. Vesuvius lie the Roman ruins of Pompeii, buried by the eruption in 79 AD. Old Pompeii, so well preserved for posterity, was founded in the 7th c. BC. Today you
will explore this famous site, one of Italy’s most popular tourist destinations, offering a great insight into the daily life of the Romans including many impressive temples, villas and bathhouses, a forum and one of the largest existing Roman amphitheatres. The afternoon is at your leisure. Dinner (in Italian ‘cena’) is planned again at our charming hotel. (B/D)

Day 5: RAVELLO - AMALFI

Today you will enjoy a panoramic tour of the scenic coastline of the Amalfi Coast partly by bus and partly by foot, offering a relaxing day out. At its peak in the 11th c. Amalfi was a supreme naval power
and a bitter enemy of the north. The town flourished in the 9th c. through its connections with the Orient. The city claims it introduced to Italy such modern wonders as paper, coffee and carpets. This 50 km stretch of coastline running from Sorrento to Salerno is one of Europe’s most beautiful. Today we will spend time in Ravello, high above the sea, and have lunch in Amalfi. We will also view the town
of Positano with its hillside houses during a brief photo stop. Dinner again at the tables of our hotel. (B/D)

Day 6: CASTEL DEL MONTE

After a good rest and a leisurely breakfast (in Italian ‘colazione’), this morning we venture further south to enter the heartland of Puglia, the region that is probably best known for its typically shaped ‘Trulli’ houses and strong Baroque influences. It is also one of the nation’s largest wine regions and producer of olives, citrus fruits and vegetables. This ancient land, the heel of Italy’s boot, has some of the country’s most unspoiled scenery, fascinating artistic and historical sites and sandy beaches. On sea voyages to their colonies and trading posts in the west, the ancient Greeks invariably headed to Apulia first, it was the shortest crossing, before filtering southward into Sicily. En route we will enjoy a guided tour of the enigmatic, octagonal Castel del Monte. A unique piece of medieval military architecture, the castle is a successful blend of elements from classical antiquity, the Orient and north European Cistercian Gothic. Dinner at our hotel. (B/D)

Day 7: ALBEROBELLO - POLIGNANO A MARE

Alberobello is the town with the greatest concentration of the beehive shaped ‘Trulli’. The origins go back to the 13th c. and possibly further. They are built on local limestone, without mortar, with a hole in the top for escaping smoke. Some are painted with mystical or religious symbols, some are isolated, others are joined together with roofs on various levels. In the afternoon, we visit the town of Polignano a Mare and enjoy free time for lunch. Overlooking the Adriatic Sea, the town is perched on impressive cliffs and the well-preserved old centre is well worth a visit. Dinner at our hotel. (B/D)

Day 8: MATERA

One of southern Italy’s most iconic towns and a World Heritage Site since 1993, Matera is known for its elegant Baroque churches, palaces and wide squares filled to capacity during the evening’s  ‘passeggiata’ when the locals turn out en masse to stroll the streets. What really sets this town apart however is the ‘sassi’, rock hewn cave dwellings piled atop of one another and straggling along the sides of a steep ravine. Dinner at the hotel. (B/D)

Day 9: LECCE

Sometimes described as the ‘Florence of the South’, Lecce has a charming historic centre, it is a minor Baroque masterpiece and we will enjoy the best on offer during a guided visit. Its history goes back a long way, you can still see ruins of a Roman theatre and amphitheatre, but the period which led to the town’s current fame was during the 17th century.
This time of prosperity started grand developments and the construction of palaces and churches. These buildings adapted the fashionable Baroque style to the soft local limestone, with decorations and cherubs extravagantly covering facades and doorways. These days, the production and sale of olive oil, wine and ceramics continues to be the mainstay of the local economy. Dinner at the hotel. (B/D)

Day 10: TRANSFER TO CALABRIA - SICILY

Slowly arriving in the most southern part of Italy, we enter the region of Calabria known for its warm climate, rocky coastline and sandy beaches not to mention the strong and traditional flavours of its
local cuisine. This is the region where seafood really shines, calamari, bream, sea bass and swordfish will be present on the menu, just to name a few. Unbeknown to many, the south was also a major  crossroads for ancient Greek colonies and is heavily influenced by its former Norman and Spanish occupations.
Today we sail the waters and take a 20 min ferry to Sicily for our overnight near Messina. Dinner at our hotel. (B/D)

Day 11: CEFALÙ

Before we head for Palermo, we break our journey for a stop in Cefalù, an attractive beachside village dominated by a large rock and the twin pyramid towers of the Cathedral offering a rare beauty inside. Cefalù, with narrow medieval streets, many good restaurants, bars and shops is well worth a visit. Today you will enjoy an organised lunch at a wine-growing estate, make the most of this great experience.
Closer to Africa than to Rome, the German poet Goethe wrote: ‘To have seen Italy without having seen Sicily is not to have seen Italy at all for Sicily is the clue to everything.’ Greeks, Romans, Normans,
Spanish, Austrians, French and the British have all left a fascinating cultural legacy on this island. Greek temples, Roman ruins, Norman churches and Byzantine domes are all strong evidence of Sicily’s rich and dynamic past.
Only half an hour from mainland Italy, but a world apart, the Mediterranean’s largest island has long been the ‘last bastion’ of Italy. Upon return at the hotel, the evening is at your leisure, a perfect
opportunity to explore the local neighbourhood. (B/L)

Day 12: PALERMO - MONDELLO - MONREALE

The ancient town of Palermo has been a major crossroad for civilisation in The Mediterranean throughout the ages. With its superb position by the sea, at the foot of Monte Pellegrino with the fertile Conce D’Oro Valley, the city was once regarded as one of the grandest cities in Europe. Enjoy a walking tour through the streets of the historical centre and visit the town’s popular street markets. Palermo certainly has many different ‘faces’. We continue with a visit to Mondello and enjoy free time for lunch.
Today we also visit nearby Monreale, the town is famous for its stunning Norman 12th c. Cathedral and is considered one of the finest examples of Norman architecture (King Roger II) in Sicily. Today should also offer free time in the large open-air ‘Ballaro’ market. At night, dinner at a nearby local restaurant. (B/D)

Day 13: CORLEONE - HINTERLAND

Today a relaxing day is planned to visit one of the most infamous of Sicilian towns, Corleone. Best known of course for its ‘connection’ to the sequel movies, ‘The Godfather’. We have no doubt all seen the fate of several generations of Italians and being so close to where it all started, a visit must be included today. Your tour director will tell you some tales and legends but rest assured, you are in good
hands today! After an organised lunch, we will return to Palermo. The evening is at your leisure. (B/L)

Day 14: ERICE - SCOPELLO

After hotel check-out we start the day in Erice, a picturesque medieval town located at the top of a mountain set 751 metres above sea level overlooking most of the western region, the Mediterranean Sea and the Egadi Islands. Today also includes a visit to Scopello, a charming hamlet still relatively untouched. This part of western Sicily feels truly different. Dinner tonight at our hotel. (B/D)

Day 15: MARSALA - SEGESTA

Today we start exploring the local area as we embark on a visit to Marsala, famous for its wine, mythology and history. It is a pleasant, lively town with many interesting historical sites, different cultural influences and a colourful open-air morning market. In the afternoon enjoy a taste of its famous export product, its sweet dessert wine. The wine was ‘discovered’ by Englishman John Woodhouse, who after landing in the city in 1773 and tasting the local product, decided it should be marketed throughout Europe. Marsala wine is well known all over the world and today will naturally include a guided tour and tasting to a local winery with Marsala wine bottled exclusively in this unspoiled part of Sicily. We also view the nearby salt pans and windmills on the way to Segesta, founded on and around Monte Barbaro. The Greek theatre and Doric temple are located high on a hill offering stunning views. In ancient times the city of Segesta spent much of its time in constant conflict with Selinunte in the south. Dinner at the hotel. (B/D)

Day 16: SELINUNTE

This morning we explore the nearby town of Selinunte, an ancient Greek settlement founded in the 7th c. BC. Once prosperous and powerful, this city is one of the most captivating ancient sites in Sicily, the temples will impress. In the afternoon, an organised lunch has been included for your pleasure at a typical Sicilian family home, a wonderful opportunity to interact with the local community. Dinner at the hotel. (B/L/D)

Day 17: SCIACCA - MAZARA DEL VALLO

We will start the day with a visit to nearby Sciacca, a good opportunity to buy those last souvenirs including typical regional ceramics. The town of Sciacca started life as a Roman settlement but only really took off with the arrival of the Arabs. The Normans fortified this prosperous farming town and these days it is a bursting port. Today we also spend time in the charming fishing port of Mazara del Vallo to view the bronze statue of the ‘Greek dancing satyr’. At night, once again, a typical Sicilian dinner is planned at our hotel. (B/D)

Day 18: AGRIGENTO - PIAZZA ARMERINA

Transferring to the eastern side of the island, today we take in Agrigento and visit the famous ‘Valley of the Temples’, one of the most representative sites of Greek civilisation in the Mediterranean Sea. During a relaxing morning walk, we will admire some of the most beautiful and best-preserved temples of the Magna Grecia, a fascinating rich and varied combination of history, myth, architecture and nature.
En route we will stop in Piazza Armerina, a small town, to visit the Villa Romana del Casale built in the end of the 3rd c. The Villa was probably the home or hunting lodge of a Roman dignitary. Buried under mud in a 12th c. flood, it remained hidden for 700 years before its magnificent floor mosaics were uncovered revealing the influences of Africa. Dinner at the hotel. (B/D)

Day 19: CASTELMOLA - TAORMINA

In the morning we visit Castelmola, one of the most beautiful medieval villages in Sicily. In the afternoon, we head towards the picturesque town of Taormina and walk through the historical centre,
followed by lunch and free time. Taormina, truly beautiful and famous for its Greek/Roman  amphitheatre, its enchanting view of the Ionian Sea and Mount Etna, has been an exclusive Sicilian hotspot since the beginning of the 19th c. where many noble and rich families of northern Europe spent winter due to its mild climate.
Today however Taormina is famous for its ‘La Dolce Vita’ lifestyle, beautiful views and shops. Sicilian cuisine reflects the famous Mediterranean influences that have left their mark on the island, fish, vegetables, grains and couscous are very popular. Dinner at the hotel. (B/D)

Day 20: CATANIA - MOUNT ETNA

We will start our day with some free time in Catania, an ancient port settlement and the island’s second largest city after Palermo, to visit the local fish market La Pescheria. Dominating the landscape in eastern Sicily between Taormina and Catania, Mount Etna (3350 metres) is Europe’s largest live volcano. Today we depart for Rifugio Sapienza (1900 metres above sea level) where it will be possible to visit the small inactive Silvestri craters. Dinner at our hotel. (B/D)

Day 21: SIRACUSA - ORTIGIA

We set out and drive south to enjoy a guided tour of the ruins of Siracusa. Once a powerful Greek city rivalling Athens and one of the highlights of your visit to Sicily, the city was founded in 734 BC and colonised by Corinthians who established their settlement on the island of Ortigia.
Today you will visit the archaeological zone, the Greek theatre, Roman amphitheatre, the Ear of Dyonisus and the Latomie. Lunch on the Island of Ortigia. Dinner at the hotel tonight. (B/D)

Day 22: CATANIA - ROME FCO AIRPORT

All good things come to an end and after breakfast and hotel checkout we head for Catania airport to board our flight to Rome. Your tour director will join you into Rome to assist covering international
airline check-in after which he will wave goodbye.

DATES & PRICES

Starts Ends Price Status Book
06/05/202027/05/2020$14,295 p/p twin shareAvailable
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Exclusions

Single supplement (if required)
Optional excursions/sightseeing
City Tax: some City Councils may introduce a tourist tax that has to be paid directly at the hotel
Meals and beverages other than those specified
Tips/Gratuities
Everything which is not clearly specified under inclusions

* Please note, price is subject to fluctuation and availability is subject to change until booked and confirmed *