The guest is sacred! This is part of the Southerners heritage. So become a part of my family as a guest as we together explore and discover the sights, traditions and tastes of Italy’s south. Tastes that will awaken your senses to the incredible flavours of Sicily and Calabria. Around a table surrounded by food and wine we will share stories and create new ones on this adventure.
The tour price is land only. Clients must arrive in Rome by 12noon on 24 May. We would like to recommend flying over the day prior and spending the night in Rome prior to the tour starting. We can organise your flights to/from Australia in economy or business class. Stopovers and holiday extensions are permitted.
You will be warmly welcomed at Rome Airport by Vince and Anne Garreffa. Fly to Palermo and upon arrival, you will be transferred to the hotel. Settle in prior to enjoying a stunning Welcome Dinner at Alle Terrazze. With its spectacular location on the Mondello Sea, the Alle Terrazze restaurant is one of the most exclusive places in Palermo, famous for its beauty, its landscape and its environment. The building itself was an ancient bathing establishment of Mondello.
HOTEL: Eurostars Centrale Palace, Palermo for 4 nights
Deepen your knowledge of the Mafia phenomenon beyond clichés and myths. Walk through the streets of Palermo, the city of light and shade. Along the tour you will meet shopkeepers who have said NO to paying the pizzo, who have subscribed to the ethical consumer campaign ‘Pago chi non paga’ (I pay who does not pay). The tour ends at Osteria dei Vespri our destination for lunch. In a warm and welcoming atmosphere, in the heart of old Palermo, the best traditions of conviviality are renewed. The cuisine, inspired by the enhancement of local products, is entrusted to Alberto Rizzo, whose gastronomic inspiration is characterized by a substantial “openness” in the search for techniques and combinations.
Enjoy today at your leisure. Palermo is the capital of the Italian island of Sicily. The 12th-century Palermo Cathedral houses royal tombs, while the huge neoclassical Teatro Massimo is known for opera performances. Also in the centre are the Palazzo dei Normanni, a royal palace started in the 9th century, and the Cappella Palatina, with Byzantine mosaics.
This morning we travel west to the seaside town of Trapani with its crescent shape coastline. We visit Salina Calcara; where tradition meets history. Salina Calcara was considered as the main meeting point among all the people living in the hinterland of Trapani. Discover this fascinating place and its centennial history marked by the ancient tradition of salt workers.
After a guided tour, we enjoy lunch at Cantina Siciliana. Dine amongst the hundreds of objects belonging to the tradition of Sicilian folklore including puppets with a thousand lives already experienced on stage that will interpret a new story for you.
Later we wind our way up to the charming hilltop walled town of Erice to explore. Erice is a wonderfully preserved medieval town offering the most breathtaking views and a palpable sense of history. Amongst the most visited sites are the two castles, Pepoli Castle and Venus Castle. The former was built by the Arabs while the latter was a Norman construction with imposing towers that derived its name from the fact that it was built on the site of the ancient Temple of Venus, allegedly founded by Aeneas.
Other attractions include the sixty (yes 60!) churches including the Gothic Chiesa Madre (1314) and the Medieval Church of Saint John the Baptist. Otherwise the maze of cobbled medieval streets are a pleasure to wander around and the views are stunning. If you have a sweet tooth, head for Maria Grammatico’s famous pastry shop in Via Vittorio Emanuele, 14. Opened in 1950, this shop has become legendary also thanks to the owner’s book, Bitter Almonds.
We return to the hotel with the evening at leisure.
This morning we leave Palermo and begin our journey to Ragusa. On the way, we stop at Tasca d’Almerita. The island of Sicily is home to the Tasca d’Almerita family of estates: Regaleali, Capofaro, and Whitaker. The Regaleali estate is at the heart of the family’s wine production.
Tasca d’Almerita now has almost six hundred hectares planted with vines, and exports its produce to four continents. Here we enjoy lunch and wine tasting before continuing on to Ragusa.
Ragusa is a hilltop city in southeast Sicily, Italy. Ragusa Ibla, the old town, is home to many baroque buildings, like the Duomo di San Giorgio, a grand church with paintings and stained-glass windows. There are sweeping views from the Giardino Ibleo, a public park with churches and fountains. In Ragusa Superiore, the city’s more modern part, is ornate Ragusa Cathedral, with a museum of religious art and relics.
Hotel: Hotel Dell’Orologio, Ragusa for 3 nights
Your Local Expert takes you to the central Archaeological Park Neapolis comprising of the Roman Amphitheatre, the Teatro Greco and the Orecchio di Dionisio, a limestone cave shaped like a human ear. Continue to the superb Greek theatre, carved out of solid rock, one of the largest of the ancient world. There is time to explore the atmospheric Old City, a maze of narrow streets lined with palaces, sprawling over the island of Ortygia. It was here that the famous geometrician Archimedes ran naked through the streets, crying ‘Eureka!’
Enjoy lunch at Don Camillo Restaurant; founded in 1985 by Camillo and Giovanni Guarneri. As a small family run restaurant, its continuous evolution has led it to be one of the most appreciated and quality Sicilian restaurants. After lunch, explore the town and then return to the hotel with the evening at your leisure.
Today has been left free for you to explore the town at your own leisure. Tonight you will witness a re-enactment of the martyrdom of St George followed by fireworks. This is the Festa di St George.
We depart Ragusa this morning and travel to Catania to explore the town. Catania is an ancient port city on Sicily’s east coast. It sits at the foot of Mt. Etna, an active volcano with trails leading up to the summit. The city’s wide central square, Piazza del Duomo, features the whimsical Fontana dell’Elefante statue and richly decorated Catania Cathedral.
Continue on to enjoy a Sunday lunch at Agriturismo dell’Etna Liperus (Etna farmhouse) which is located on the slopes of the volcano.
With our bellies full, we relax on the coach as we make our way to the hotel. Check-in and enjoy the evening at your leisure.
Hotel: NH Collection Taormina, for 4 nights
We travel to the hillside village of Savoca, which offers a chance to breathe deeply and see what an unspoiled Sicilian hill village can be. As you explore the panoramic lanes, the view encompasses sea, mountains, steep green valleys, cultivated terraces, sheep and distant hill towns. Savoca has plenty of charms of its own, but for tourists, the main attraction is the village’s connection with Francis Ford Coppola’s film The Godfather. Scenes for the movie were shot at Bar Vitelli, on the village’s little square, and Coppola fans – along with all Savoca’s other visitors – will inevitably spend some time relaxing outside this pleasant little bar. Lunch today is at La Pineta Restaurant where you’ll sit on the terrace and enjoy the view.
After lunch we visit the town of Forza D’Agro, a small mountain village north of Taormina. Here, more scenes from Godfather are made. We return to the hotel with the evening at your leisure.
Today you’re off to see the highest, active volcano in Europe. We take cable car to the top of Mount Etna with a competent guide. See the craters safely at the summit area and admire the stunning views below. Back at Rifugio Sapienza, you’ll have a traditional Sicilian lunch at a chalet.
Enjoy a free day and night to explore Taormina at your leisure.
We farewell Taormina and travel to Messina, a historical and artful city with its artistic paintings in ancient cathedrals and monuments. We explore Piazza del Duomo, home to Messina’s cathedral and the Messina Bell Tower. Later, we take a ferry across to Scilla, and enjoy lunch at Il Casato Restaurant. Building dating back to XVI century, topped by an oval badge depicting a rooster that sings facing the sun and a letter “R”, supposed to be the initial of surname of the owner’s family: “Family Ruffo of Calabria”. Characteristic of beachfront homes in Chianalea, the restaurant overlooking the sea. After lunch we explore this picturesque fishing village before continuing on to Tropea. Settle in to the hotel and enjoy the evening at your leisure.
Hotel: Hotel Valemare, Tropea for 3 nights
This morning we visit the lovely Carthusian Monastery of Serra San Bruno in the evocative Serre Mountains for a guided tour. With a rich collection of sculpture and frescoes, the monastery became famous thanks to the art works created by its monks. Enjoy lunch at La Cascina del Monastero then continue to Pizzo and visit Chiesetta di Piedigrotte; a cave church. We explore the little town and indulge in some of their famous ice-cream. Return to the hotel with the evening at your leisure.
Today is a day at your leisure to explore the town.
We leave Tropea and head for Positano; a cliffside village on southern Italy’s Amalfi Coast. It’s a well-known holiday destination with a pebble beachfront and steep, narrow streets lined with boutiques and cafes. On the way, we stop in Maratea and explore the little lanes. This is a good spot for photographers and for lovers of the little details of Italian life: crumbling grand archways, religious icons tucked into niches and grottoes, elderly locals exchanging gossip in the piazza and lazy resident cats dozing in alleys. Enjoy lunch today at La Taverna di Zu Cicco. The food is refined, creative and modern but careful not to deny the idea of recovering the traditions of the territory that remains the founding basis of their philosophy. Zu Cicco was a southern peasant and the restaurant was dedicated to him because it represents the memory of the people who gave the fruits of their garden to the destitute during the war such as he did.
Continue on to Positano and settle in to the hotel then relax and enjoy your first evening in Positano.
Hotel: Marincato Hotel, Positano for 4 nights
Today is a free day and night to explore Positano
Leave to explore the most romantic island on the world, famous for its incredible beauty of its coastline. Wonderful pierced by caves and surrounded by rocks fantastic shapes. While browsing the island (about 90 minutes), you will appreciate the landscapes of the entire Amalfi Coast, the island of Li Galli, consecrated by the sirens of Greek mythology as the residence, and the nature reserve of Punta Campanella.
Once in Capri, the crew will take you to the most beautiful caves of the island, an exciting natural show of light and colour. You can visit the Blue Grotto famous throughout the world for its incredible cobalt blue water, Wonderful Grotto, White Grotto, Green Grotto, until you reach the port of Marina Grande, admiring the Faraglioni rocks of Capri, in the vicinity of which there is a stop for a swim. Once in the port of Marina Grande will agree the free time to spend on the island. On the way back we will stop for a last swim at one of the bays of the Amalfi Coast. On board you will be served drinks.
This morning we visit Filippo Morese Farm and go to the Taverna Penta Dairy to see the traditional Campana d.o.p. buffalo mozzarella being made and taste the dairy products (ciliegine, smoked ciliegine, buffalo ricotta), all produced exclusively from the milk of the buffaloes bred on their farm. We enjoy a light lunch before continuing on to the Cetara; a cozy fishermen’s village nested along the Amalfi Coast among verdant citrus groves. You’ll have time to explore before returning to the hotel with the evening at leisure.
It’s time to leave Positano and travel to Rome, our final destination of this magnificent tour. On our way, we stop in the world heritage listed, Caserta. The former palace is the largest in the world by volume, and its 18th- and 19th-century Royal Apartments are a breathtaking sweep of marble, frescoes, monumental paintings and period furnishings. The palace gardens are worth a visit alone, stretching over 3km in a baroque spectacle of fountains and pools. We have organised a guided tour of the palace before enjoying lunch at Restaurant Trattoria Chichibio. If you like truffles, seafood and pasta, this is your place! After lunch we continue to Rome and settle in to our hotel.
Hotel: Singer Palace Hotel, Rome for 3 nights
The Italian town of Tivoli, just east of Rome, is home to luxe residences, splendid villas, and famous UNESCO World Heritage sites such as the Renaissance palace of Villa d’Este, known for its extravagant, gardens and water fountains. A guided tour will enchant you with its artistic wonders and ancient architectural styles. You’ll love the beautiful gardens and decorated rooms. After our tour, we will enjoy lunch at Agriturismo Bel Poggio, located in the Tivoli hills. It’s a modern farm with an excellent menu. Return to Rome with the evening at your leisure.
Enjoy your final day on tour with a free day in Rome. Tonight you’ll be delighted with our Farewell Dinner at Il Convivo Troiani; a refined restaurant where you will experience cuisine that combines tradition and modernity, based on selected natural ingredients cooked with passion and experience.
You will have a relaxed morning where you can enjoy a late breakfast and get ready for your journey home or perhaps you would like to extend your stay in Europe? If not, you will be transferred to the airport to begin your journey home.