Italy, the Deep South & Sicily Tour
17 days only $7,349 pp twin share
- Leisurely 2, 3 and 4 night stays
- Small group size with a maximum of 28 travellers
- Genuinely inclusive, no additional on tour costs
- Character hotels in superb locations
- Designed for Australians & New Zealanders
- Guaranteed group departures
Sleep in the ancient Sassi of Matera and the delightful Trulli cottages of Alberobello. Stand on the highest active volcano in Europe, feast in Mafia country, see Piazza Armerina’s mosaics and cruise to San Vito Lo Capo… ‘va bene’! This amazing 17 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 11 nights. 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’. See the stunning Roman mosaics at Piazza Armerina and in Agrigento we wake up to views across The Valley of the Temples. 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.
Please note: This tour is not suitable for anyone with any mobility issues, walking difficulties or limitations
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- Spend 3 nights in Puglia in the ‘Bee Hive’ Trulli cottages of Alberobello, visit the ‘white city’ of Ostuni, Polignano a Mare, baroque Lecce and sample local wines
- 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 mosaics in Piazza Armerina
- Spend 2 nights in Agrigento, visit the Valley of the Temples, enjoy a tasting and light lunch at an olive oil farm
- Spend 3 nights in a 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 1 night in Palermo in a sumptuous Villa and visit the famous Duomo in Monreale
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!
Day 1: Rome
Day 2: Alberobello
Day 3: Alberobello
Day 4: Alberobello
Day 5: Matera
Passing hamlets and typical Pugliese ‘masserie’, fortified large estate-farms we reach the port of Monopoli. Later we continue to the nearby coastal town of Polignano a Mare. Built directly on the cliffs over the sea, Polignano is famous for its gelato and ice cream parlours and makes a perfect lunch stop. Crossing to the ‘ankle’ of Italy we reach the extraordinary city of Matera. On arrival we visit the Murgia Timone, a huge rock plateau riddled with ancient man made stone caves or ‘Sassi’, to take in the views directly over the ‘la Gravina’ ravine to the old town. Reputed to be the oldest inhabited settlement in Italy, your view encompasses rock churches and numerous Sassi (including the cave complex hotel we will be staying in) with the more ‘modern’ baroque town on top of the hill. Your next two nights will be memorable!
Day 6: Matera
This morning we are joined by a local guide who will show us around this extraordinary town from the ancient rock hewn churches to the baroque city above. We have included entrance to view the rock wall frescoes in the church of Madonna de Idris and San Giovanni. Your afternoon is free to relax and explore. This evening we enjoy dinner in a local trattoria.
Day 7: Taormina
Day 8: Taormina
A totally free day to relax and explore the boutiques, handicraft shops and restaurants which make Taormina so famous. Make sure you visit the Greek Amphitheatre with its striking views and also wander through Villa Comunale, one of the most beautiful little gardens in all of Sicily.
Day 9: Taormina
Day 10: Taormina
What an adventure today! First we drive up the slopes of Mount Etna to Sapienza Refuge, lying at the south of the crater at an elevation of 1910 metres. Here we board a cable car up to a restaurant and museum at 2500 metres where we meet our local guide who will drive us in a large 4WD bus up to the (usually snow covered) viewing crater area at 2920 metres. You will now be standing on the highest active volcano in Europe with views across to the steaming caldera on one side and the Sicilian coastline far below. All around you will see craters, caldera and petrified lava flow. Following this magnificent experience we descend to the village of Forza d’Agro, just north of Taormina. This area was the setting for some scenes from the film ‘The Godfather’, and is the perfect location for another leisurely, typically ‘Italian style’ lunch. The rest of the day and evening is free back in beautiful Taormina.
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!
Day 11: Agrigento
Cutting through the heart of Sicily we reach Piazza Armerina where a local guide will take us through the opulent Villa Romana del Casale. UNESCO heritage listed and one of the great sites of Sicily, this massive 1700 year old Villa was covered by a mud slide in the 12th century which beautifully preserved its breathtaking mosaics. Later we arrive in Agrigento on the south coast, where we stay two nights.
Day 12: Agrigento
This morning we are joined by a local guide who will take us through the famous UNESCO heritage listed Valley of the Temples. Originally the ancient city of Akragas, and built out of sandstone tufa, the golden amber hue of the giant complex of ruins and temples blend perfectly with the natural surroundings. This afternoon we will drive east to the farm of Mandranova, to enjoy an olive oil tasting and light lunch.
Day 13: Near Marsala
First stop this morning will be in the fishing port of Sciacca. Encircled by 16th century walls, the fascinating old town is where Arab, Norman and Greek cultures co-existed. We then follow the coast to the beach at Porto Palo where we enjoy a delicious seafood lunch at Vittorio’s restaurant (specially mentioned in the acclaimed BBC2 series ‘Sicily Unpacked’). Later we continue to our hotel inland from Marsala where we stay the next three nights.
On Day 13 we visit the fishing port of Sciacca, on Sicily's south coast. Earlier that day restaurant owner Vittorio (known locally as the 'wild boar') will have been down at the fish market selecting seafood and fish for his beachside restaurant down the road in Porto Palo. And that's where we go for a leisurely lunch. Featured in the acclaimed BBC2 series ‘Sicily Unpacked’, Michelin master chef Giorgio Locatelli enthuses over Vittorio's simple cooking style - nothing fancy, but so memorable!
Day 14: Near Marsala
Day 15: Near Marsala
Day 16: Palermo
Day 17: Palermo
Incredible Value Inclusions
- All the sightseeing, scenic drives and excursions (as per the itinerary)
- Fully escorted by our experienced Tour Manager
- Travel in a first class air-conditioned touring coach
- End of tour tips to Tour Manager and Driver, tips for local guides
- 16 nights authentic, specially selected hotel accommodation
- Hotel porterage (1 bag per person)
- Breakfast daily
- 10 dinners including welcome and farewell dinners, local restaurant dinners in Alberobello and Matera
- 2 typically ‘Italian style’ lunches in ‘Godfather Country’ & Vittorio’s at Porto Palo, light lunch & olive oil tasting at Mandranova Olive Oil farm
- Local guides – Alberobello, Lecce, Matera, Syracuse, Mt Etna, Piazza Armerina, Agrigento and Palermo
- Entrances: the rock churches of Madonna de Idris and San Giovanni in Matera, Syracuse’s ruins and ‘Ear of Dionysus’, Ortigia Duomo, Villa Romana del Casale in Piazza Armerina, Agrigento’s Valley of the Temples, Segesta historical ruins, Monreale Duomo
- Experience a cable car and 4WD bus to the top of Mount Etna, a Zingaro cruise to San Vito Lo Capo, shuttle bus to/from Segesta ruins
- Welcome drink in Rome, wine tastings in Alberobello and in a Sicilian Baglio
- Free WIFI available on most coaches and at hotels
Trulli Cottages, Alberobello – 3 Nights
Picturesque Trulli dot the Alberobello landscape and provide an amazing unique stay for guests. We have selected to stay in a number of beautifully renovated Trulli set amongst the winding backstreets of this UNESCO heritage listed town. Bursting with character each Trulli is unique and varies in size, shape, layout and decor. No two are the same.
Le Grotte Della Civita, Matera – 2 Nights
A hotel experience you will never forget. With rooms set out in a series of ‘Sassi’ or caves, dating back into pre-history, each are beautifully renovated and offer exceptional appeal. Each Sassi is large in size and feature all modern conveniences amongst luxury. Breakfast is served in a converted rock church featuring classical music.
Hotel Excelsior Palace, Taormina – 4 NightsPerched on a headland and built with a Moorish style, the sweeping views along the Taormina coast from this first class hotel and gardens are spectacular. To one side is the coastline of the Ionian Sea, and on the other you are greeted with panoramic views of Mount Etna and the hillside village of Castelmola.
Colleverde Park Hotel, Agrigento – 2 NightsOffering spectacular views (as pictured) directly over the Valley of the Temples and the Mediterranean Sea, the Colleverde Park Hotel is located near the city centre of Agrigento. This elegant hotel is set amongst beautiful gardens and offers classic style hotel rooms.
Baglio Oneto, Near Marsala – 3 NightsSet on a hill amongst vineyards, with views across to the Egadi Islands, this was originally a feudal dwelling and later a notable farmhouse estate built in the late 18th century. The hotel section has been designed to maintain the architectural integrity of the ancient Baglio. The ‘La Calandra Restaurant’ serves excellent local food accompanied by local wines.
Grand Hotel Villa Igiea, Palermo – 1 NightOffering panoramic views across the Bay of Palermo, the 5 star Grand Hotel Villa Igiea allows you to immerse yourself in Palermo’s rich cultural heritage and absorb in the beauty of Sicily’s coastline. With rooms that feature all the modern conveniences and an authentic dining room and seaside terrace this is the perfect way to end your tour!
We had 27 on our tour and never felt crowded on the bus. The quality of the accommodation was excellent overall. I loved the experience of staying in the cave in Matera and had the added thrill of waking up to see "Roman soldiers" donkeys ,camels and a bullock drawn cart just outside .There was a film crew shooting a movie about the life of Christ. The pace of the tour was just right and the Sicilian countryside is stunning and rugged. The food was of a very high standard and there was so much of it.The wine flowed freely too!
I have previously done 5 Trafalgar tours and Albatross Tours is far superior
I am gluten free and the food which was provided for me was excellent. The tour was absolutely brilliant and I will definitely travel with Albatross Tours again.
Judy & Andy
I have just returned from Italy doing "The Deep South and Sicily” and would like you to know how much I enjoyed it. This is my second tour with Albatross Tours and I was not disappointed, again having a wonderful time, especially the longer stays, small group sizes and a very knowledgeable tour manager and a lovely driver. I have met really lovely people who I feel will become life long friends,
Staying in the Trulli’s in Alberobello was very unique, and one of the highlights for me was staying in the caves in Matera. They were just amazing, we all met on one of the terraces to have drinks looking out to the magnificent views across from us. It was a great night.
Another highlight was walking around one of the craters of Mt Etna…magnificent.
The south is so different to the north, and I am so glad I’ve experienced both. The food and the wines were delicious and I especially loved all the seafood we were treated to, and a special mention to Vittorio at his fabulous ristorante on the beach…Belissimo!! The countryside is so very scenic and I never tired of looking out the window.
I would like to say that our Tour Manager was tested on this tour with three people falling and two being taken to hospital…this was handled wonderfully, even organising a wheelchair for one of our fellow travellers.
I am now looking forward to going through the brochures again to decide what my next tour will be and you can be guaranteed that it will most certainly be with Albertross.
Dates and Prices
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No Additional ‘On Tour’ Costs
Over $100 value of extras per day are already included. There are no additional ‘on tour’ costs—even your end of tour tips are included!
|Start Date||End Date||Twin Share PP Price (AUD)||Single Supplement (AUD)||Availability|
|30 Apr 2016||16 May 2016||$7,349||$1,649||Space Available|
|18 May 2016||3 Jun 2016||$7,349||$1,649||Space Available|
|4 Jun 2016||20 Jun 2016||$7,349||$1,649||Space Available|
|2 Sep 2016||18 Sep 2016||$7,349||$1,649||Space Available|
|17 Sep 2016||3 Oct 2016||$7,349||$1,649||Space Available|
|8 Oct 2016||24 Oct 2016||$7,349||$1,649||Space Available|