Sicily: Ragusa, Siracusa & Mt Etna
Sicily's pathways are timeless from the uplands of Ragusa, the gorge of Cava d'Ispica and the stunning Greek legacy in Siracusa, to Taormina where Roman nobility built their villas.
Walking in sight of the sea almost every day we hike Mount Etna's smoldering flanks, stroll the shore front in Siracusa, once a capital of Classical antiquity, and enjoy spectacular birdlife and coastal walking in the Vendicari Nature Reserve.
And the food! Try arancino - a meal-in-itself golden rice ball - for lunch, an unbelievable selection of the freshest seafood for dinner, and treat yourself to luscious cannoli at any time!
7 days, 6 nights
Walk Rating: Moderate. Greatly varied - modest, easy and vigorous walks, sometimes rocky trails. 5-10 miles walking per day.
US$3995.00 per person double occupancy
Walk begins near Ragusa, with arrival at Catania Airport and ends in Taormina, with departure from Catania Airport.
We meet in Catania airport and head to our stunning hotel set in countryside with views to the Mediterranean Sea, near Ragusa. There is time for a swim in the pool before an Introductory Talk and Welcome Dinner.
This morning we travel to the Baroque town of Ragusa. A country walk takes us down a gorge to enter the historic town. Here a local guide leads us up and down the narrow lanes and stairways of the ancient Ibla, with views over churches, domes, bell towers, and gorges. After lunch, we will walk through the fantastic gorge of Cava d’Ispica, with its renowned Larderia, a series of 4th/5th century catacombs lined with burial chambers. We see the Grotte Cadute, a residential complex on several levels, where holes in the ceiling and steps cut in the walls below enabled the residents to move from one level to another with the aid of poles and ropes that could be pulled up in times of danger.
Today we walk in the wilderness area of the protected Vendicari Nature Reserve, a complex of coastal marshlands, home to large populations of migratory birds. We will follow paths through the salt fields to a medieval watchtower, beside a ruined tuna fishery, with views of the whole reserve. If you have binoculars with you, today is the day to bring them! After a farmhouse lunch, home-cooked from local produce, we continue to the splendid baroque town of Noto, with its lovely golden limestone buildings. We see the famous cathedral, recently re-opened after long restoration and the Palazzo Nicolaci di Villadorata, home to a family of princes since 1700. We drive to Siracusa and our hotel situated in the historic centre on the island of Ortygia, separated from the mainland by a bridge. Dinner is in a restaurant much favoured by the locals.
We will spend today in and around Siracusa, colonized in 734 BC by the Corinthians and converted to Christianity by St. Paul himself, who preached in the quarries. To walk here is a journey through history among Greek temples, Baroque buildings and courtyards, and Arab workshops and squares. We will explore the Neapolis Archaeological Park with the Greek and Roman Theatre, the Latomie del Paradiso, once an ancient limestone quarry, now a delightful garden shaded with orange, palm, and magnolia trees, and the Orecchio di Dionisio. We will visit the huge underground burial chambers of the Catacombs of St John. After lunch, we admire the Piazza (one of the most beautiful in all Italy) in front of the great Cathedral and visit the Jewish Baths. There will be time to stroll around the peninsula past the imposing fortress, the Castello Maniace and for shopping in the bustling streets of the Old City before Dinner in our hotel facing the sea.
After breakfast, we drive to the Reserve of Pantalica situated inland in the valley of Anapo, an extraordinary succession of gorges and canyons crossed by two rivers: the Anapo and Cavagrande. Here we see Pantalica, a Bronze Age settlement and the largest Necropolis in the Mediterranean, where thousands of tombs give a beehive appearance to the cliff-face. After lunch in a local farm house, we head north to Taormina, to our hotel overlooking the Ionian Sea, with time for a swim before dinner in a typical pizzeria.
Today we walk on Mount Etna, Europe's most famous active volcano. It reaches to almost 11,000 ft and dominates the city of Catania and its surrounding sea. Around the crater is a lunar landscape but the lower slopes are extremely fertile. The flora displays itself as a Garden of Eden; the land abounds in oranges, mandarins, lemons, olives, prickly pears, bananas, eucalyptus and the vines that produce the excellent Etna wine. Pausing for a picnic lunch, we continue on to explore the national park, walking through pine woods and old lava flows. Our Farewell Dinner is in the hotel restaurant with splendid panoramic views.
Saving, perhaps, the best for the end, we have a guided tour of the ancient Greek Theatre famed both for its remarkable state of preservation and for its unsurpassed situation. We explore the lovely town, walking among beautiful villas and restored gardens displaying a huge variety of exotic plants and flowers, blessed by a mild climate. We then leave for Catania Airport and bid Farewell to Sicily.
This itinerary represents a typical Walk. We prepare itineraries well in advance of the trip and therefore we reserve the right to make changes due to weather, local events or other circumstances - but always to improve the experience of our guests.
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This hotel list is a provided as an example. We may use different hotels of the same quality and style on specific trips. The Wayfarers will notify confirmed travelers of any changes to the hotels.
Before & After:
- Follow in the footsteps of the ancient Knights of St. John and visit the nearby island of Malta and other exotic locations on the North African coast.
- Ferry over to Reggio di Calabria to explore the wild 'boot' of Italy.
Take a passeggiata (traditional evening stroll) through Taormina.
May sees temperatures warming up to an average daily maximum of about 20°C (68°F). Most days will be dry with around 8 hours of sunshine but there could still be some rain. In October temperatures are still averaging 21°C (70°F) with around 6 hours of sunshine and there is the possibility of a visit from the "Sirocco" warm wind to increase temperatures a little. You will need a sweater or light jacket in the evenings and good quality, light rain protection is recommended on all walks. The sea can be surprisingly bracing in May but is still comfortably warm to swim in October.
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Our Vacations do not include the cost of air or rail fares to and from the destination or tips for your walk leader and manager.
How large are the Groups?
Our maximum group size is 16, but groups average between 8-12 people.
Will I feel welcome as a single traveler?
Yes! Our walks are the perfect environment of comfortable camaraderie for the single traveler.
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If you are in good health and reasonably fit you will be comfortable participating in a walk.
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