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Italy, the Deep South and Sicily

Number of days: 18 Days

Departs from: Rome

Tour departures: April to October

Tour ends: Palermo

Avg distance travelled / day: 147 kms

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Matera

Matera

Tour Overview

New for 2014 – This amazing 18 day escorted tour fills a void by plunging deep into the south where Italy intensifies, where the food and wine is richer and more aromatic and the sights so striking and different.

Commencing in Rome and ending in Palermo in Sicily we spend 5 nights in the regions of Puglia and Matera - the heel and ankle of Italy, before crossing to the glorious island of Sicily for a further 12 days. Where we stay makes so much of a difference. Avoiding the usual run of the mill hotels, we choose to stay in the white washed, ‘Bee Hive’ Trulli cottages in Alberobello, the extraordinary luxurious ‘Sassi’ caves in Matera, Baglio ‘farmhouse’ hotels and delightful villas. Staying 4 nights in the heart of Taormina we experience a cable car ride and 4WD journey to the top of smouldering Mount Etna, before enjoying a lazy lunch in ‘Godfather country’. We also visit the gorgeous baroque island of Ortigia and see the stunning Roman mosaics at Piazza Armerina. In Agrigento we wake up to views across The Valley of the Temples and after a morning in hilltop Erice we enjoy a delightful cruise to Cape San Vito. Add special dinners, wine tastings and a host of unique highlights and extra visits and you will immediately see how Italy’s deep south and Sicily is quite extraordinary. With 6 departures in 2014, we do it justice!

 

Please note: This tour is not suitable for anyone with any mobility issues, walking difficulties or limitations

Tour Highlights

  • Spend 3 nights in Puglia in the ‘Bee Hive’ Trulli cottages of Alberobello, visit the ‘white city’ of Ostuni, Castel del Monte, Polignano a Mare, baroque Lecce, sample wine in Locorotondo and indulge in a typical ‘Italian style’ lunch in Monopoli
  • Enjoy a memorable 2 night stay in the beautifully restored ‘Sassi’ caves of ancient Matera and visit the age old  carved rock churches
  • Relax over 4 nights in romantic Taormina and visit Syracuse, take a cable car and 4WD bus to stand at the top of Mount Etna, enjoy lunch in ‘The Godfather Country’
  • See the beautiful mosaics in Piazza Armerina, and explore hilltop Enna
  • Spend 2 nights in Agrigento, visit the Valley of the Temples, enjoy a wine and local produce tasting at an olive oil farm
  • Spend 3 nights in a wonderful converted Baglio farmhouse, explore Sciacca, the ancient city of Erice and Segesta’s romantic temples
  • Enjoy a seafood feast at Vittorio’s restaurant, cruise through the Zingaro marine reserve to San Vito Lo Capo, and enjoy a Baglio wine tasting
  • Stay 2 nights in Palermo visiting the famous Duomo in Monreale and delightful Cefalu

Tour Inclusions

  • All the sightseeing, scenic drives and excursions (as per the itinerary)
  • Fully escorted by our experienced Tour Manager
  • First class air-conditioned touring coach
  • End of tour tips to Tour Manager, driver and local guides
  • 17 nights selected accommodation as described
  • Hotel porterage (1 bag per person)
  • Buffet breakfasts daily 
  • 10 dinners including welcome and farewell dinners, local restaurant dinners in Alberobello and Trattoria Luciana in Matera
  • 3 typically ‘Italian style’ lunches in Monopoli, ‘Godfather Country’ & Vittorio’s at Porto Palo
  • Local guides – Alberobello, Matera, Syracuse, Mt Etna, Piazza Armerina, Agrigento
  • Entrances: Castel del Monte, the rock churches of Madonna de Idris and San Giovanni in Monterrone, Syracuse’s ruins and ‘Ear of Dionysus’, Villa Romana del Casale in Piazza Armerina, Agrigento’s Valley of the Temples, Segesta historical ruins, Monreale
  • Experience a cable car and 4WD bus to the top of Mount Etna, a Zingaro cruise to San Vito Lo Capo 
  • Welcome drink, wine tastings in Locorotondo and a Sicilian Baglio, wine and produce tasting at the Mandranova olive oil farm

Itinerary Outline

  • Day 1: Rome
  • Day 2: Alberobello
  • Day 3: Alberobello
  • Day 4: Alberobello
  • Day 5: Matera
  • Day 6: Matera
  • Day 7: Taormina
  • Day 8: Taormina
  • Day 9: Taormina
  • Day 10: Taormina
  • Day 11: Agrigento
  • Day 12: Agrigento
  • Day 13: Near Marsala
  • Day 14: Near Marsala
  • Day 15: Near Marsala
  • Day 16: Palermo
  • Day 17: Palermo
  • Day 18: Palermo

Authentic Albatross Experiences

Meet Vittorio unloading seafood he selected earlier at Sciacca fish market. This huge character will cook our delicious seafood lunch in his authentic beachside restaurant in Porto Palo. Renowned locally, he featured in the acclaimed BBC2 series ‘Sicily Unpacked’. In this unusual, fascinating mini-series Michelin master chef Giorgio Locatelli, who nicknames him ' the wild boar', unreservedly endorses Vittorio’s simple cooking style and declares it his favourite lunch restaurant in the world. Nothing fancy, but so memorable! See Day 13.

Da Vittorio - restaurant

Mt Etna - some stop far below thinking they are ‘there’. Some take the chairlift up to the snow fields and stop. We go even higher including the guided 4WD bus tour up to where the ‘internally warmed’ earth melts most of the snow, vast horizons unfold and where, at 2900 metres, you will stand facing the steaming caldera. What an experience! What photo opportunities! What memories! (and yes, it is easy and safe!) See Day 10.

Mount Etna

The Albatross difference…

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Message from the Mo

Italy intensifies as you plunge deeper

Travel guru Rick Steves once wrote, “If you like Italy as far south as Rome, go further south. It just gets better. If Italy is getting a little overwhelming by the time you get down to Rome, think twice about going further. Italy intensifies as you plunge deeper.” Rick is so right! Sicily, of course, stands out, having absorbed a myriad of influences from a long history of invaders, empire builders and exotic sea traders. Turn one corner and find a massive Greek Temple or Roman Amphitheatre. Around the next you will find a delightful baroque square or verdant vineyards springing from the volcanic ash of mighty Mount Etna.

Puglia and Matera are just as evocative. The fresh produce is amazing and endless hills of olive groves testify to Puglia’s reputation as the food basket of Italy. When designing the tour I leapt at the opportunity for us to stay in the beautifully converted, white washed, beehive style ‘Trulli’ town houses. And then there is Matera. Italy’s oldest inhabited town where the rock faces are riddled with ancient caves or ‘sassi’. Mel Gibson even filmed ‘the Passion of Christ’ here as many reckon Matera actually looks authentically like Jerusalem would have done 2,000 years ago! Ancient? It has been said, “Matera is the only place in the world where people can boast to be still living in the same houses of their ancestors of 9,000 years ago”. What an experience!