- Hike on Mount Etna's smouldering flanks
- Walking tour of Siracusa where St Paul preached
- Experience lovely Taormina and visit the Greek amphitheater
- Explore wilderness area of coastal marshlands
- View the baroque magnificence of Noto
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!
Sunday Overnight: De Stefano Palace Hotel
Monday Overnight: De Stefano Palace Hotel
This morning we walk out from the Baroque town of Ragusa. A country walk takes us down a gorge outside 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 walk through the fantastic gorge of Cava dIspica, 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.
Tuesday Overnight: Antico Hotel Roma
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 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 center on the island of Ortygia, separated from the mainland by a bridge. Dinner is in a restaurant much favored by the locals.
Wednesday Overnight: Antico Hotel Roma
We 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 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. We explore the Neapolis Archeological Park with the Greek and Roman theater, 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 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 is 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.
Thursday Overnight: Hotel Monte Tauro
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.
Friday Overnight: Hotel Monte Tauro
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.
(Single Supplement $497.50)
Departure: Catania Airport
Hotels - Where we stay
De Stefano Palace Hotel
In the historic center of Ragusa, the De Stefano Palace is an important and beautiful period residence restored to its original and refined neo-classical elegance. Care has been taken to preserve original features and the lovely 19th century frescoes, which embellish the ceilings of the rooms in the palace. All the 28 luxurious bedrooms are equipped with individually controlled air conditioning, LCD television, free Wi-Fi internet connection, direct dial telephone, free minibar, hairdryer and safe.
Antico Hotel Roma
Overlooking Piazza Minerva, the Antico Hotel Roma was founded in 1880 and is located in the heart of the historic town. The outdoor tables and chairs placed just outside in Piazza Minerva and the large indoor patio create the perfect environment to enjoy a morning coffee. The hotels unique interior has a strong Sicilian style with the same limestone used for the Greek temples and Baroque palaces. Furnished with expensive fabrics and furniture made of highly prized woods, the bedrooms are always light and spacious. Most have a small balcony overlooking Piazza Minerva, Via Roma or the interior courtyard and are equipped with an ensuite bathroom in hand-enameled volcanic rock, hair dryer, Wi-Fi connection and satellite TV. The hotel also has a fitness area with Technogym equipment and a Finnish sauna.
Hotel Monte Tauro
Just a short walk away from the town centre and the Greco-Roman theatre, this hotel overlooks the Sicilian sea and offers a view that spans all the way from the Gulf of Naxos to the Mt. Etna volcano. Following extensive restoration work this building still retains its sophisticated modern character. Its new design and the use of exclusive materials have given it a new image: exotic wood for the floors of rooms and terraces, diffuse illumination designed following ecological principles and special plaster that gives a silk effect for walls and ceilings. The swimming pool overlooks the spectacular panorama of the coast of Taormina and rooms are fully equipped with private bathroom, air conditioning, satellite TV, radio, phone, internet access, safe and minibar. The restaurant offers a spectacular view of the Gulf of Naxos and Mt. Etna and the chef prepares a Mediterranean cuisine with particular attention to the region's typical products.
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What Is Included in the Price of My Vacation
- Full-time services of two staff - a Walk Leader and Walk Manager
- A backup vehicle for resting walkers and moving luggage
- Comprehensive Travel Information Package and Reading List
- Diverse itineraries with an emphasis on history, geography, culture, peoples, flora and fauna
- Demonstrations, wine tasting, admissions to museums and historic sites
- All ground transfers (ferries, cable cars, trains, etc.)
- Maps and unique souvenirs to commemorate your trip
- First-class accommodations with cultural and historical interest
- All meals - with choices - (Special dietary requirements? No problem!)
- Wine with dinner
- On-trail snacks and refreshments
- All gratuities at hotels and restaurants