Italy, the Deep South & Sicily Tour
17 days only $7,889 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
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.
- 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 Palatine Chapel to see the extraordinary 12th century mosaics
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
Driving across the spine of Italy – the Apennine Mountains - we continue deep into the Puglia to the remarkable city of Alberobello where we stay three nights. This is one of the most unusual towns you will ever see. The whole city centre is a mass of whitewashed ‘bee hive’ type houses called ‘Trulli’ which date back hundreds of years. Puglia is known as Italy’s bread basket and is also justifiably famous for its olive oils, wine and local produce. Dinner tonight is included in a local restaurant.
Please note: Single travellers who are paying a single supplement, can elect to share a Trulli with another single traveller for this three night stay.
Day 3: Alberobello
This morning we are joined by a local guide who will take us on a walking tour of this remarkable ‘bee hive’ town. In the afternoon we will enjoy a relaxing tasting of local wines. The rest of your afternoon and evening are at leisure.
Day 4: Alberobello
Driving down into the Salentine Peninsula – the ‘heel of Italy’ – we spend the morning exploring the city of Lecce on a walking tour with our local guide. Dating back to the early Greek empire, the city boasts numerous baroque monuments and also has a Roman amphitheatre on the central square. Later we visit ‘La Città Bianca’ (the ‘white city’) of Ostuni. Perched on a hill, with views down over the coast, we enjoy time at leisure amongst the winding streets and white washed alleys.
Day 5: Matera
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 and evening are free to relax and explore.
Day 7: Taormina
Driving across Calabria and down the toe of Italy we reach the Mediterranean, where we catch the ferry across the Straits of Messina to Sicily. Following the coast we arrive at the stunning town of Taormina where we stay the next four wonderful nights.
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
Driving past Catania we reach the city of Syracuse, where we are joined by a local guide. First stop will be at the temples and massive amphitheatre in the 2500 year old Greek and Roman ruins. We will also visit the overgrown quarries and test the amazing acoustics in the famous ‘Ear of Dionysus’ cavern. Later we cross onto Ortigia Island, the heart of ancient Syracuse, to wander through the delightful backstreets to the breathtaking architecture of the main square, Piazza del Duomo. Enjoy time to find a quiet café or trattoria for a leisurely lunch.
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.
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
This morning we visit the city of Erice. Standing on top of Mount Erice, 750 metres above sea level and overlooking the port of Trapani, the views out to San Vito Lo Capo and the Aegadian Islands are fantastic. Here you will still find the remains of the ancient Phoenician fortifications and in the old city there are still two castles. Pepoli Castle which dates from Saracen times and the Venus Castle built by the Normans. Time to relax and wander through the quaint old alleys and cobble paved streets of the old town, and find a trattoria in a peaceful courtyard to enjoy lunch. In the afternoon en route back to our Baglio we will also make a stop at the Temple ruins at Segesta. This evening before dinner we will enjoy a wine tasting.
Day 15: Near Marsala
After enjoying free time for your morning coffee at the authentic fishing port of Castellammare del Golfo, we board a boat to enjoy a scenic cruise through the Zingaro marine nature reserve, past Scopello and the faraglioni’ rocks to San Vito Lo Capo.
Day 16: Palermo
Arriving in Palermo this morning we are joined by a local guide for a panoramic tour to explore the palaces and squares of this most Sicilian of cities! Entrance is included to visit the Palatine Chapel, in the Palace of the Normans, which is adorned in extraordinary 12th century mosaics. You will also have time to shop, or sit and enjoy a leisurely lunch. Later we arrive at our superb hotel. Tonight we will enjoy our ‘Farewell to Sicily’ dinner.
Day 17: Palermo
Your tour ends today after breakfast.
Incredible Value Inclusions
- Fully escorted by our experienced Tour Manager
- Travel in a first class air-conditioned touring coach
- 16 nights specially selected hotel accommodation
- Hotel porterage (1 bag per person)
- Breakfast daily
- 2 typically ‘Italian style’ lunches in ‘Godfather Country’ & Vittorio’s at Porto Palo, light lunch & olive oil tasting at Mandranova Olive Oil farm
- 10 dinners including welcome and farewell dinners, local restaurant dinners in Alberobello and Matera
- Welcome drink in Rome, wine tastings in Alberobello and in a Sicilian Baglio
- All excursions, scenic drives, sightseeing and entrances as described
- Special Highlights - cable car and 4WD bus Mount Etna, Zingaro cruise
- Local guides as described in the itinerary
- Personal audio system whilst on tour
- Free WiFi available on most coaches and at hotels
- End of tour tips to Tour Manager and Driver, tips for local guides
Trulli Cottages, Alberobello – 3 Nights
Shunning conventional hotel accommodation we have leapt at the chance of offering an amazing touring experience. We have selected to stay in a number of beautifully renovated Trulli set amongst the winding backstreets of this UNESCO Heritage Listed old town. Bursting with character each one offers all the amenities you would expect of a high quality, self-contained studio or town house. Each Trulli is unique and varies in size, shape and layout. No two Trulli has the same furnishings or décor. Porterage is naturally all taken care of and breakfasts are all taken together in a centrally located restaurant.
Le Grotte della Civita, Matera – 2 Nights
Le Grotte della Civita A hotel experience you will never forget. Translated, ‘Albergo Diffuso’ means a ‘Hotel Diffused’. Meaning diffused with history. Your rooms are a series of ‘Sassi’ or caves, dating back into pre-history, beautifully renovated and with exceptional appeal. Each are large in size and reminiscent of the ‘Flintstones’, but with luxury and all modern conveniences. Your breakfast is served in a converted rock church featuring classical music. It is impossible to paint the full picture of this truly unique experience. You'll just have to experience it for yourself.
The Hotel Excelsior Palace , Taormina – 4 Nights
Perched 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.
The Colleverde Park Hotel , Agrigento – 2 Nights
The Colleverde Park Hotel Offering spectacular views 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 Nights
Set 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.
The Grand Hotel Villa Igiea, Palermo – 1 Night
We had an amazing time and would thoroughly recommend the tour to those of you contemplating going on the 17 day journey. We had an extraordinary tour manager and a fantastic coach driver. Our Tour Manager had a wonderful and caring personality. She displayed an excellent knowledge of the deep south and Sicily, possessed good humour and subtlety depending on the given situation and, like our previous tour manager she was ‘a real gem’.
Our coach driver greeted our group everyday with a wonderful smile. He was ‘simply the best’ at handling the coach on Italian roads and in unpredictable traffic. You are in very safe hands with him at the ‘wheel’.
Highlights of the trip were many and varied. They included the people and the trulli cottages of Alberobello, the sassi caves of Matera, the Greek amphitheatre and ‘retail therapy’ of Taormina, climbing part of Mt Etna, the Greek and Roman ruins of Syracuse, Piazza del Duomo in Ortigia, the ‘bikini girls’ at the Villa Romana del Casale, the Valley of Temples, Sciacca, Erice, a scenic cruise to San Vito and Monreale in Palermo. The food was delicious and overwhelming as you will find out for yourself.
We were very fortunate that we had a mostly good natured, humorous and an easy going group that blended well. There would be some things that we would change but we suggest that you give Italy, the Deep South and Sicily a go and see what you think... you will be pleasantly surprised and also discover the Albatross difference.
Jo & Rob
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 Albatross.
We loved the multi night stays, we were fortunate to travel with Gilberto as our Tour Manager for a second time, he has such a passion for his country and truely cares about all of his guests. There are so many memories I will cherish, such a divine experience to stay in the Sassi caves, the fact that it was raining only added to the experience, or was it staying in a Trulli in Alberobello, or meeting the "Wild Boar" himself, Vittorio. Perhaps it was the fact that my wife caught her first fish in the Mediterranean with the help of our Captain, or to stand on Mt Etna amongst the ash and snow, rugged up against the 3 degree's temperature and to bend down and fell the warmth beneath our feet.
Thank you Albatross.
- Paul, travelled May 2016
Dates and Prices
|Start Date||End Date||Price Per Person||Guaranteed to Depart||Availability|
|8 Oct 2016||24 Oct 2016||AUD $7,349||Space Limited - Call Now|
|29 Apr 2017||15 May 2017||AUD $7,889||Space Available|
|17 May 2017||2 Jun 2017||AUD $7,889||Space Limited - Call Now|
|3 Jun 2017||19 Jun 2017||AUD $7,889||Space Available|
|19 Jul 2017||4 Aug 2017||AUD $7,889||Space Available|
|1 Sep 2017||17 Sep 2017||AUD $7,889||Space Available|
|16 Sep 2017||2 Oct 2017||AUD $7,889||Space Available|
|4 Oct 2017||20 Oct 2017||AUD $7,889||Space Available|
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