The Bay of Naples and Sicily

Thursday, November 23 - Thursday December 7, 2023

A two-week exploration of the most beautiful, interesting, and deservedly world-famous sights in Italy’s south, usually sunny and balmy even in late fall/early winter, including Sorrento, Pompeii, Amalfi, Capri, Palermo, the Greek temples of Agrigento, Mount Etna, and Taormina, while enjoying first-class accommodation and great Italian food plus history talks by your tour host, historian Jacques Pauwels, as well as expert local guides. 

Tour price from Toronto, based on double occupancy: $4,995 (CAD)  Single room supplement: $775.

“Land only” from/to Rome’s Fiumicino Airport, November 24 – December 7: $3,895


BOOKING INFORMATION

November 23 - December 07, 2023

$4,995 based on double occupancy

Single supplement: $775. Land only: $3,895

GUARANTEED DEPARTURE - SELLING FAST

DOWNLOAD PDF OF ITINERARY

*If the tour is SOLD OUT, please contact us to be added to the waitlist.


ITINERARY

Day 1 - Thursday, November 23: 7:30 PM departure to Rome with Air Canada from Toronto

Day 2 - Friday, November 24: Land in Rome and On to Sorrento

Arrival in Rome at 10:20 AM local time. Transfer by private coach to Sorrento, the beautiful and world-famous resort overlooking the bay of Naples. Dinner and overnight (in rooms with sea view) in the traditional first-class/four-star Grand Hotel Europa Palace. The hotel enjoys a very privileged location, on top of a cliff overlooking the magnificent Bay of Naples and the famous volcano, Mount Vesuvius,within easy walking distance of the town’s centre.

Day 3 - Saturday, November 25: Sorrento

Morning sightseeing tour of beautiful Sorrento, including lively Tasso Square, the Cathedral, the Basilica of Saint Antonino, and the picturesque shopping area. Also visit to the exquisite Correale di Terranova Museum with plenty of furniture and art objects from the 17th and 18th centuries. Lunch in the hotel, and rest of the day free to shop and/or explore Sorrento on your own. This evening you may want to try one of the town’s many excellent restaurants, such as O Parrucchiano, and will perhaps be possible to attend an optional folklore show, featuring traditional regional music and dance!
Sorrento is one of the most beautiful resorts in all of Italy, and indeed of Europe. It is spectacularly situated in a verdant setting of orange, lemon, and olive groves, on a high ridge overlooking the blue waters of the magnificent Bay of Naples and, in the distance, the mighty hulk of Mount Vesuvius... In the 1800s Sorrento became an obligatory stop on the European “Grand Tour” and welcomed famous visitors such as Byron, Keats, Scott, Dickens, Goethe, Wagner, and Nietzsche. The great Italian poet Torquato Tasso was born here in 1544. With a population of around 18,000, Sorrento is also an important centre for arts and crafts, specializing in lace and inlaid wood.

Day 4 - Sunday, November 26: Pompeii

Excursion to Pompeii, the world-famous Roman city buried under volcanic ashes during an eruption of nearby Mount Vesuvius in 79AD, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Afterwards we enjoy driving along a stretch of the Amalfi Coast, one of the most beautiful coastal drives in the world and also a UNESCO site, as we head for the picturesque little town of Amalfi, situated on the Bay of Salerno, to enjoy lunch there as well as some free time to visit the impressive Byzantine Cathedral, featuring a tomb said to contain the remains of the Apostle Saint Andrew, brought here from Constantinople in 1206, during the Fourth Crusade, when Amalfi was a prosperous and powerful maritime republic. Return to Sorrento in time for dinner in the hotel.
 

Day 5 - Monday, November 27: Capri

Full-day excursion by boat to Capri, arguably the most beautiful island in the Mediterranean and home of the international jet-set. Arriving in the port of Marina Grande, we motor by minibus to the picturesque hilltop community of Anacapri, offering amazing views of the island and the surrounding sea! After a visit to the Villa San Michele, the wonderful home and garden of Swedish doctor and writer Axel Munthe, with stupendous views of the island, the Sorrento Peninsula, Mount Vesuvius, and the entire Bay of Naples! Some free time to shop or enjoy an optional breathtaking chairlift ride up to Monte Solaro, nearly 600m above sea level, where the panorama also includes the Bay of Salerno and the Amalfi Coast. On to the town of Capri for a leisurely walking tour, including the Gardens of Augustus. After the lunch break, free time to explore the town on your own or, if weather conditions permit, enjoy an optional boat tour, either to the famous Blue Grotto or around the island. Return to Sorrento in late afternoon. Dinner in the hotel. (Please note that the Capri excursion is subject to favourable weather conditions.)

Day 6 - Tuesday, November 28: Naples and on to Sicily

Transfer to Naples for a tour of the historical city centre, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with the former Royal Palace, the famous San Carlo Theatre, and of
course the superb National Archaeological Museum, one of the
best of its kind in the entire world, if only because it features all
or most of the artifacts found during the excavations in Pompeii!
Evening departure on the overnight ferry to Palermo, Sicily.
Accommodation in cabins with private facilities. Dinner in
Naples before departure OR dinner on board.

Day 7 - Wednesday, November 29: Palermo

Morning arrival in Palermo and panoramic tour of Sicily’s capital, including the famous Byzantine-Arab-Norman churches with their fabulous mosaics, yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Afternoon free. Dinner and overnight in the centrally located first-class Hotel Mercure Centro or similar.

Day 8 - Thursday, November 30: Palermo

Morning visit to Palermo’s fine Archaeological Museum, famous for its Phoenician and Greek antiquities. On to the nearby seaside resort of Mondello, which we reach via the scenic road up to Monte Pellegrino, with superb views of the city and the coast and a visit to the impressive sanctuary of Palermo’s patron saint, Santa Rosalia. After a lunch break in Mondello, return to Palermo and free time for shopping or exploring the city on your own. No group dinner this evening, but there will be an opportunity to enjoy an optional gourmet dinner in one of the city’s finest restaurants.

Day 9 - Friday, December 01: Segesta, Erice and Trapani

Departure from Palermo after breakfast. We motor to the well-preserved and very impressive Greek temple of Segesta, then continue to the picturesque hilltop town of Erice overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Here we will sample delicious Sicilian pastries produced in the shop established by the quasi-legendary Maria Grammatico. In the afternoon we reach the seaport of Trapani, situated on a long and narrow strip of land jutting out into the sea, where we will stay in the Residence La Gancia, a highly rated four-star boutique hotel located on the waterfront. Dinner of regional specialties, such as Couscous, in a typical ristorante.

Day 10 - Saturday, December 02: Agrigento

Leaving Trapani, we explore the picturesque salt flats, dotted with windmills, that characterize Sicily’s west coast. Visit to Marsala, a historically important town, founded by the Phoenicians, and the site where Garibaldi and his army of 1,000 “redshirts” landed in 1860 to launch the liberation of Sicily and complete the unification of Italy. Visit to a winery such as Florio to taste the most famous local specialty, a high-quality fortified blended wine similar to Port. After lunch, we continue along Sicily’s southern coast, only a few hundred kilometers away from North Africa, to Agrigento, a town famous for its fabulous collection of Greek temples and of course also ranked as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Dinner and overnight in the first-class Hotel Delle Valle.

Day 11 - Sunday, December 03: Taormina

After breakfast, guided tour of Agrigento’s spectacular collection of Greek temples. Then we motor inland to visit the Roman Villa del Casale, famous for its mosaics, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as you would expect. Continue in the afternoon to the west coast of Sicily and the seaside resort of Giardini Naxos, also historically important because it was the first Greek colony in Sicily. Dinner and overnight in the Hotel Hellenia Yachting, featuring very comfortable 4-star accommodations and great views of the Ionian Sea and the nearby hilltop town of Taormina. 

Day 12 - Monday, December 04: Mt. Etna and the Coast

After a look at Giardini Naxos with its memories of the Ancient Greeks’ presence in Sicily, we motor a short distance to wonderful Taormina, arguably the most picturesque and romantic old town in all of Sicily! Our walking tour will first focus on the major historical monument, the superb hilltop Greco-Roman theatre, with spectacular views of Mt Etna and the coast. Then we explore the rest of picturesque old town, featuring remains of Roman and Byzantine monuments, such as the Naumachia, a Roman cistern, the medieval Duomo (Cathedral), other old churches, historic palaces, and the fine shops and lively cafés along Corso Umberto, the vibrant pedestrian main street. Also, plenty of free time for shopping and individual exploring before we return to our hotel in Giardini Naxos in late afternoon. No group dinner today.

Day 13 - Tuesday, December 05: Catania

After breakfast, short visit to the old town of Catania, birthplace of composer Vincenzo Bellini, with its colourful fish market, fine Cathedral, and elegant main street, Via Etna, named after nearby Mount Etna. Then we explore the slopes of that massive, 3,330-meter-high volcano – Europe’s highest! – that dominates the entire island of Sicily; this is yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site. The mountain features desolate lunar landscapes of molten lava sprinkled with ruins of homes abandoned during recent eruptions, but also prosperous villages whose inhabitants rely on the rich volcanic soil to produce wonderful products such as wine, honey, cheese, and fruit. We also pause at the Sapienza Research Station, situated at an altitude of almost 2,000 meters, to inspect the Monti Silvestri, cones formed by eruptions during the 1980s. Our final group meal will be a traditional lunch of delicious Sicilian specialties in a winery on the slopes of Mount Etna, with great views (weather permitting) of the coast and the Ionian Sea below! Return to the hotel in late afternoon.

Day 14 - Wednesday, December 06: Syracuse and flight to Rome.

Departure from the hotel after breakfast. We head for the magnificent historical seaport of Syracuse, the final UNESCO World Heritage Site on the tour. The city was founded by the ancient Greeks, who turned it into their metropolis on Sicily, rivalling even Athens. Visits to the wonderful Archaeological Zone, featuring a Greek theatre, a Roman amphitheatre, and the “Ear of Dionysios,” a cave set in a lush garden known as the Latomia of Paradise, and to Ortygia, the original Greek settlement, with as highlights the ruins of the Temple of Apollo, the romantic Fountain of Arethusa, featuring papyrus reeds, and the Cathedral, a fascinating former temple dedicated to the goddess Athena. In the afternoon, transfer to Catania Airport in time for the departure of a short domestic flight to Rome’s Fiumicino Airport. Upon arrival, short transfer to the Hotel Mercure or a similar airport hotel and free evening. 

Day 15 - Thursday, December 07: Flight to Toronto

After breakfast, short transfer to Fiumicino Airport in time for the 12:55PM departure of our direct return flight to Toronto.

ITINERARY PDF

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INCLUDED

- Direct flight from Toronto to Rome with Air Canada - Accommodation based on double occupancy, in 4-star/first-class hotels; the supplement for a single room (usually a “double room for single use”) is $775; - Breakfast daily and ten dinners (or full lunches); - Overland transportation by private coach; - Ferry boat crossing from Naples to Palermo, with accommodation in cabins with private facilities; - All visits and sightseeing as outlined in the itinerary, including admission to museums and monuments mentioned in the itinerary; - Escort and guide services by Jacques Pauwels and local guides in Pompeii and similar sites.

NOT INCLUDED

- All items of a personal nature; - Beverages with dinners, and meals other than those outlined above; - A gratuity for the drivers, for a total of 30 Euros (approximately $45); - Travel Insurance, available upon request.

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