Glorious art, classic Greek and Roman antiquities and ruins, centuries-old hilltop villages, fine wine, and great Italian food are all part of this 11-day journey exploring both the well-known and hidden treasures of Southern Italy and Sicily. Following a two-night stay in Rome, see the 2,000-year-old city of Pompeii that was frozen in time by a volcanic eruption. Your vacation highlights include southern Italy's breathtaking Amalfi Coast, Naples, Sorrento, the Calabria region, the gardens of Taormina, Mt. Etna Volcano National Park, Agrigento, and the Valley of the Temples. Your journey ends in Palermo, with its lovely squares and an eclectic mix of architectural styles. Sip Sicily's famous sweet, dark wine during a wine-tasting and tour of a local Marsala winery. Amid soft, cooling ocean breezes and almond trees, explore the ruins of ancient temples dedicated to Zeus and other mythological Greek gods and goddesses in the Valley of the Temples in the coastal city of Agrigento - one of the most important archeological sites in the world. Stories of ancient Roman life are told in the impressive collection of Roman mosaics at the Villa Casale while a local expert interprets Palermo's mix of Moorish, Norman and Spanish architecture. You'll enjoy six nights on the island of Sicily - known as the crossroads of civilization.
Day #1 Overnight Flight - Join us in exploring the hidden treasures of southern Italy and Sicily. Enjoy breathtaking scenery, historic cities, centuries old hilltop villages, and wonderful cuisine.
Day #2 Palermo, Sicily - Tour Begins - Your tour begins in Palermo, the capital of Sicily. This evening, join your fellow travelers for a welcome dinner at a local restaurant featuring traditional Sicilian cuisine.
Day #3 Palermo - Monreale - Agrigento - LANGUAGE DISCOVERY: Your Tour Manager helps you discover the origin and history of the Italian language along with key words and phrases that will help you communicate with the locals. A Palermo cultural tour features the lovely squares of Quattro Canti, Piazza Pretoria and Piazza Bellini. Note the exotic mixture of Moorish, Norman and Spanish Baroque styles that make this city special. Also see the Palace of the Normans, La Martorana Church, and the Cathedral, which houses the Imperial Crown of Constance of Aragon. In the nearby town of Monreale, visit the 12th century Cathedral with its dazzling interior of multicolored marbles, paintings, mosaics and cloisters Depart Palermo for Agrigento later this afternoon.
Day #4 Agrigento - Start your day at the stunning Valley of the Temples, one of the most important archeological sites in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage site. From ancient times to the present day, the Valley of the Temples’ ruins, landscape and colors have inspired poets, writers and painters. Here you get an up-close view of the temples of Juno, Concordia, Hercules and Jupiter. Learn about ancient Greek cultures when you visit the Archeological Museum, known for its extensive collection of Greek vases and statues.
Day #5 Agrigento - Piazza Armerina - Mt. Etna - Giardini-Naxos - Depart Agrigento and travel to the central part of Sicily, arriving in the town of Piazza Armerina. Here you pay homage to the Roman past at Villa Casale, which houses one of the most incredible collections of ancient mosaics in the world. Later, visit Mt. Etna Volcano National Park to see the spectacular landscapes sculpted by nature. Arrive in Giardini Naxos, the “garden of Sicily.”
Day #6 Giardini Naxos - Taormina - Giardini Naxos - This morning you visit beautiful Taormina, known for its charming atmosphere, significant monuments and flowering gardens. Enjoy viewing the Greek Amphitheater, Corso Umberto and the bountiful Public Gardens. Enjoy the rest of the day at leisure to further explore this delightful town.
Day #7 Giardini Naxos - Salerno - Travel to Messina where you will take a short ferry to Villa San Giovanni on Italy’s mainland. Travel through the beautiful and unspoiled region of Calabria and into Campania, arriving later this afternoon in the seaside town of Salerno, famous for its Allied landings during WWII.
Day #8 Salerno - Sorrento - Amalfi Coast - Salerno - Begin your day exploring the popular seaside resort town of Sorrento. Visit local artisans and watch them demonstrate the art of inlaid wood making. Next, travel the breathtaking Amalfi Coast, where the Mediterranean Sea and mountains meet. Upon arriving in Amalfi, you will have free time to explore the town square, ceramic shops and cafes. Enjoy a visit to one of the coast’s family-owned Limoncello factories to learn how this lemon-flavored liqueur is made and sample the delicious results. Also visit the family’s very own “pasticceria” and taste one of the area’s famed pastries.
Day #9 Salerno - Pompeii - Rome - Travel towards the Bay of Naples and experience the excavated ruins of Pompeii at the foothills of Mount Vesuvius. Soak in the history of the preserved original buildings of a typical Roman town 2,000 years ago. A local guide will provide an in-depth view of this remarkable archeological sight. Later, travel to Rome, the magnificent capital of Italy.
Day #10 Rome - Begin your day with an optional tour to the “Magnificent Treasures of the Vatican Museums.” Later, enjoy a tour of Classical Rome featuring the Piazza Venezia, the Roman Forum, the Circus Maximus, the Colosseum, and the Arch of Constantine. Contemporary Rome is also highlighted through the famous Trevi Fountain. Tonight, celebrate the end of your journey with a farewell dinner at a popular local restaurant.
Day #11 Rome - Depart for Home - Your tour ends today, leaving you with many pleasant memories of a wonderful vacation.