This journey will take you through a crossroads of civilizations in Sicily and on to the spectacular coastlines of Southern Italy. Begin your travels in Sicily. Uncover its Moorish and Norman influences that intertwine with Greek and Roman ruins standing guard over the landscape. Explore Agrigento’s ancient Valley of the Temples. Travel to the historic hilltop town of Taormina. Continue on to fascinating Southern Italy. Make a stop at a local winery for an agriturismo experience complete with wine tasting and a dinner featuring regional specialties. Explore the ancient town of “Sassi di Matera,” known for its cave dwellings. Spend time in the mystical town of Alberobello with its unusual cone-shaped roofed homes known as “trulli.” Discover spectacular Mt. Etna Volcano National Park. Explore the stunning Amalfi Coast and Sorrento. In evocative Pompeii, walk in the footsteps of ancient Romans who perished in the foothills of Mount Vesuvius.
- Itinerary Type : Standard
- Activity Level : 3
- Number of Days:12
- Number of Meals:16
- Hotels:Hellenia Yachting Hotel (Giardini Naxos), Towers Hotel Stabiae (Sorrento), MH Matera Hotel (Matera), Donna Laura Palace Hotel (Rome), Hotel Federico II Central Palace (Palermo)
- Experiences:Be amazed by the Greek Theatre in Taormina.
Sample fine wine during a vineyard tour.
Journey to “Sassi di Matera,” the ancient town known for its cave dwellings.
- Must Sees:Marvel at the Valley of the Temples, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Venture to the breathtaking Amalfi Coast.
Experience the excavated ruins of Pompeii at the foothills of Mount Vesuvius.
- Culinaries:Wine is included with every meal.
Indulge in a delicious regional dinner inside a winery's "agriturismo" restaurant.
Sample some local specialties at a family-owned limoncello factory.
Itinerary (11 days)
Palermo, Sicily - Tour Begins
Your tour opens in Palermo, the capital of Sicily. Tonight, join your fellow travelers for a welcome dinner featuring authentic Sicilian cuisine.
Palermo - Monreale - Palermo
Acquaint yourself with Palermo on a panoramic tour and discover an exotic mix of Moorish, Norman and Spanish Baroque and Neo Classical architecture. Along the way, view the Politeama Concert Hall, the Massimo Opera House, and the medieval ruins of Castello a Mare – Palermo’s seaside fortification once protecting La Cala port. Drive by the Spanish Walls and City Gates and the University’s Botanical Gardens. Visit Palermo’s Cathedral and admire the imposing exterior of the Palace of the Normans. In the nearby town of Monreale, visit a 12th-century cathedral with its dazzling interior of multicolored marbles, paintings, mosaics and cloisters. Enjoy the remainder of your day at leisure to peruse the city’s shops and museums, or simply take some time to relax.
Palermo - Agrigento - Giardini Naxos
Travel over the countryside’s rolling hills, past peaceful farmland toward the town of Agrigento. Explore one of the most important archaeological sites in the world, the stunning Valley of the Temples (UNESCO), where you’ll get an up-close view of the temples of Juno, Concordia, Hercules and Jupiter. Continue on to Giardini Naxos – the “garden of Sicily” – for your 3-night stay.
Giardini Naxos - Catania - Mt. Etna - Giardini Naxos
Journey to vibrant Catania where it’s your choice! Join a local guide to visit the cathedral and view other iconic sights of this historic Baroque city (UNESCO); then witness the daily spectacle of bartering for fresh fish and produce at the local market -OR- explore the Museo dello Sbarco (Allied Landing Museum), an emotionally moving museum dedicated to the Allied troops who landed on the southern coast in 1943. Later, gather to discover the impressive Mt. Etna Volcano National Park where a local expert introduces you to the park’s spectacular landscapes sculpted by nature. Return to Giardini Naxos for the evening.
Giardini Naxos - Taormina - Giardini Naxos
Set out for beautiful Taormina with its charming atmosphere, historic monuments and flowering gardens. Alongside an expert local guide, see Corso Umberto, view the bountiful public gardens and marvel at the city’s well-preserved Greek Theatre. Enjoy free time to relax or independently explore.
Giardini Naxos - Matera
Venture to Messina for a short ferry ride to Villa San Giovanni on Italy’s mainland. Pass through the unspoiled, beautiful region of Calabria into the Basilicata region. Make a stop at one of the area’s local wineries where you’ll join an expert on a walk through the cellars and vineyards before sampling wines during a special tasting. Linger over regional cuisine at dinner tonight in the winery’s own “agriturismo” restaurant.
Matera - Alberobello - Matera
Explore the “Sassi di Matera,” an ancient settlement of carved cave dwellings. A local guide shares the history of the site and reasons why it has recently caught the eye of many film producers. Continue to a local shop for a chance to sample some regional produce. Enjoy free time in Matera to browse the boutiques or taste the local cuisine before heading to the mystical town of Alberobello. Marvel at some of the town’s most uniquely built homes (UNESCO) known as trulli, and their distinct, cone-shaped roofs.
Matera - Vietri Sul Mare - Sorrento Peninsula
Travel towards one of the most breathtaking areas of Italy: Campania and the Bay of Naples. Stop in Vietri Sul Mare, the “gateway to the Amalfi Coast,” for time to explore independently. Here, generations of inhabitants have been producing precious majolicas, representing stories of their daily life. Remember to take a moment to admire the 17th-century Church of St. John the Baptist with its beautiful ceramic dome. Arrive at the Sorrento Peninsula in the late afternoon, then sit back and take in the views of this magical place.
Sorrento - Amalfi Coast Drive - Amalfi - Minori - Sorrento Peninsula
Savor time this morning in the lovely seaside resort town of Sorrento. Then begin your adventure traversing the breathtaking Amalfi Coast. Stop in the charming town of Amalfi and spend time exploring its striking provincial beauty before heading to Minori. Use this opportunity to sample regional specialties at a family-owned limoncello factory. Later, sit down for a traditional Italian afternoon break at a local café and pastry shop. Enjoy an evening at leisure.
Sorrento Peninsula - Pompeii - Rome
Drive along the Bay of Naples to the excavated ruins of Pompeii, nestled at the foothills of Mount Vesuvius. A local guide gives you an in-depth view of this remarkable archaeologic site, where you’ll become immersed in history as you explore the preserved buildings of this 2,000 year-old Roman town. Later, travel to Rome to celebrate the end of your journey with a delightful farewell dinner.
Rome - Tour Ends
Your tour comes to a close today.
Palermo is the regional capital of Sicily with nearly a million inhabitants. The history of the city’s many rulers is on full display through the architecture of the monumental palaces, theaters and churches. Arabs, Normans and Spanish have all called the city home and left their mark on the people, their culture and food. The city is full of vibrant markets, lively eateries and bustling piazzas just waiting to be explored.
Monreale is famous for its Norman Cathedral that is covered with nearly 70,000 square feet of gold-leaf mosaics. The church was built in the 12th century by the Norman King William II. The mosaics depict stories of the Old Testament and the life stories of Saints Peter and Paul. The church is a national monument and highlight of any trip to Sicily.
Agrigento is a provincial capital on the southern coast of Sicily. The city is famous as a tourist destination because of the Greek archeological park called the Valley of the Temples. The Valley of the Temples is home to seven Greek temples that date back to the Golden Age of Magna Grecia, when Greek city-states dominated Sicily and Southern Italy. The site, known as Akragas in ancient Greek, was added to the UNESCO Heritage list in 1997 because of the ancient Greek temples’ high state of preservation.
Valley of the Temples
The Valley of the Temples is a Greek archeological site located on the outskirts of the Sicilian city of Agrigento. The site, known as Akragas in ancient Greek, was added to the UNESCO Heritage list in 1997 because of the Ancient Greek Temples’ high quality state of preservation. The most famous of the temples is the so-called Temple of Concordia which was utilized as a church during the medieval ages. In total the site has seven temples and covers an area of over 3000 acres.
Giardini Naxos was the site of the first Greek settlement in the 8th century BC. After experiencing a heyday as a center of citrus production, the economy has transformed and is focused on tourism today. The city’s crescent-shaped port sits below Monte Tauro and the beautiful garden city of Taormina. The surrounding area is home to several large beachfront hotels that overlook the Ionian Sea.
Catania is the provincial capital for the eastern province of Sicily and the second largest city on the island. The city center is dominated by Spanish influenced Baroque architecture built using local stone, including volcanic stone quarried from nearby Mount Etna. The bustling fish market has been featured on TV shows like the Amazing Race, and shows off daily life as it has been lived for centuries.
Set on the top of Monte Tauro is the beautiful garden city of Taormina. The city’s mix of historic monuments trace its history from the time of the Greeks to Romans, to Arabs and beyond. The most impressive monument is the Greco-Roman theatre that overlooks the crescent-shaped port of Giardini Naxos and Mt. Etna in the distance. The town also has many lovely designer shops and a plethora of restaurants offering authentic Sicilian cuisine.
Choice on Tour
Join a local guide in Catania, an ancient port city founded in the 8th century BC. Visit its cathedral and view the iconic sights of this UNESCO World Heritage site. Along the way, watch the daily spectacle of bartering for fresh fish and produce at the local market -OR- explore the Museo dello Sbarco (Allied Landing Museum). Dedicated to the Allied troops who landed on the southern coast in 1943, this interesting museum features exhibits on all the nations involved in the conflict.
Mt. Etna Volcano
The Mt. Etna volcano dominates the eastern half of the island of Sicily. The National Park of Mt Etna protects the natural environment of Europe’s largest volcano. The volcano is nearly 11,000 ft high and capped by four summit craters. In addition to the main craters, the flanks are dotted by hundreds of smaller craters and fissures. As visitors drive up to the main visitor center (approx. 6000 ft/1828 m), the terrain changes from vineyards to forest to lava flows from as recent as the last decade. Visiting the volcano is equivalent to being transported to a foreign planet.
Matera is a community in southern Italy that is home to the unique Sassi of Matera. The Sassi of Matera are a unique urban structure of cave dwellings that are carved out of the local tufa stone ravines. The community of stone dwellings were inhabited by nearly 15,000 people until the 1950s when the Italian government forced everyone to leave for hygienic purposes. Today, the Sassi are being rehabbed into modern homes, hotels and tourist attractions. The site is also home to a number of ancient stone churches.
Alberobello is a small town in the southern Italian region of Puglia. The town is famous for its unique stone homes called trulli. The trulli of Alberobello look like something out of a cartoon. Each trullo is constructed using slabs of local stone with a conical roof made without mortar. The city center of Alberobello is home to nearly 1500 trulli and is designated as a UNESCO Heritage Site. Visitors can walk through the streets that are lined with trulli that are used as homes, B&Bs, shops and restaurants.
The rocky Sorrento Peninsula stretches into the Tyrrhenian Sea separating the Bay of Naples to the north from the Gulf of Salerno to the south. On the south of the peninsula is the famed Amalfi Coast. The Amalfi Coast features the 32-mile-long coastal drive that hugs the cliff as it passes through the picturesque fishing villages of Positano, Amalfi and Minori, among others. The coast is famed for its breathtaking views, local cuisine and drinks like limoncello.
The north side of the Sorrento peninsula is the Sorrento Coast, named after the largest city and tourist center, Sorrento. The Sorrento Coast is home to panoramic views of shear cliffs, small rocky beaches and terraced gardens of olive and lemon trees. The town of Sorrento is a tourist’s delight, complete with excellent shopping, quaint cafes and elegant restaurants.
The Roman city of Pompeii is located in the southern region of Campania, near Naples. The city was covered by volcanic material in 79 AD and forgotten for centuries. When the city was excavated, archeologists found the city to be intact as it had been prior to the eruption. Today visitors walk on the original streets, complete with chariot ruts. The city was made up of a variety of different buildings including theaters, homes, shops, thermal baths and temples — all of which can be visited today. In addition, every-day objects and precious artifacts have been preserved along with original mosaic and fresco decorations.