Italy, the Deep South & Sicily Tour
17 days only $7,999 pp twin share
- Leisurely 2, 3 and 4 night stays
- Small group size from 10 to 28
- Genuinely inclusive, no additional on tour costs
- Character hotels in superb locations
- Designed for Australians & New Zealanders
- 'My Time' guaranteed
This tour requires a moderate level of fitness due to the unique places we visit and stay. This tour is not suited to anyone who has mobility issues.
Stay 3 nights in the ‘Bee Hive’ Trulli cottages of Alberobello
Explore the baroque city of Lecce and relax in the ‘white city’ of Ostuni
Stay 2 nights in the beautifully restored ‘Sassi’ caves of ancient Matera – a truly remarkable experience
Visit the coastal towns of Monopoli and Polignano a Mare, famous for its gelato
Stay 4 nights in the stunning town of Taormina
Explore the ancient Greek and Roman ruins of Syracuse
Visit beautiful Ortigia Island, the historical heart of ancient Syracuse
Take a dramatic cable car and 4WD bus to stand at the top of Mount Etna
Enjoy a sumptuous lunch in ‘The Godfather Country’
Stay 2 nights in Agrigento, with spectacular views over the Valley of the Temples
See the extraordinary mosaics in Villa Romana del Casale, Piazza Armerina
Enjoy an olive oil tasting and light lunch at Mandranova Estate
Stay 3 nights near Marsala in a converted Baglio farmhouse
Explore the fishing port of Sciacca
Enjoy a lunchtime seafood feast at Vittorio’s famous beachside restaurant
Visit the ancient city of Erice and Segesta’s romantic temples
Cruise through the Zingaro marine reserve to San Vito Lo Capo
Enjoy a Baglio wine tasting
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 welcome
Day 2: To Alberobello in the Puglia region
Day 3: Alberobello sightseeing and wine tasting
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: Ancient Lecce and the white city of Ostuni
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: Polignano a Mare and ancient Matera
Day 6: Matera sightseeing and 'My Time'
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: Cross the Straits of Messina to Sicily
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.
*3 October departure stay at Ariston Hotel Taormina
Day 8: 'My Time' in 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: Ancient ruins of Syracuse and Ortigia Island
Day 10: Mt Etna adventure followed by a leisurely lunch
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.
Hand Selected Experience
Stand on Europe's highest active volcano
Day 11: Piazza Armerina and 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: Valley of the Temples and lunch at Mandranova
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: Sciacca and lunch at the famous Vittorio's restaurant
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.
Hand Selected Experiences
Vittorio's, so memorable!
Today 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: Erice and temple ruins at Segesta
Day 15: Zingaro marine nature reserve cruise
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 sightseeing and 'Farewell to Sicily' dinner
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
Over $1,700 extras already included
- ALL excursions, scenic drives, sightseeing and entrances as described
- 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)
- 29 Meals – including breakfast daily (B), 2 typically ‘Italian style’ lunches in ‘Godfather Country’ and Vittorio’s at Porto Palo, light lunch & olive oil tasting at Mandranova Olive Oil farm (L), plus 10 dinners (D)
- Tea, coffee and a complimentary beverage with all included dinners
- Welcome drink in Rome, wine tastings in Alberobello and in a Sicilian Baglio
- Hand Selected Albatross Experiences - cable car and 4WD bus Mount Etna, Zingaro cruise
- Local guides as described in the itinerary
- ALL tips to your Tour Manager, Driver and Local Guides
- Personal audio system whilst on tour
- Free WiFi on most coaches and at hotels
- Albatross Travel App and ‘On Tour’ Travel Map
- Albatross Memories Photobook
No additional 'on tour' costs!
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
The tour was very relaxed not rushed in any way, I had been to many of the places before but this tour was outstanding, the Albatross guides were much better and had more information.
Our guide was very understanding, as a few people were ill he made sure that they were looked after by Doctor or chemist.
I will most certainly travel with Albatross again.
Tour was well paced and extremley well organised. Accomodation was varied and unique. Gilberto our Tour Manager made the difference from a well organised tour to a great and memorable experience. I enjoyed the tour and will travel with Albatross again without hesistation.
This was my first overseas organised tour and it exceeded my expectations. It was well organised, very informative and enjoyable. I had a wonderful time.
Thank you to everyone involved.
I have finally arrived home after another incredibly amazing Albatross Tour! We are totally sold on Albatross and so thrilled we found you in 2014.I recall you telling the afternoon tea crowd at Moore Park, Sydney, earlier this year how different and special the South of Italy and Sicily are.You hit the nail right on the head! Mind blowing actually.
We loved the magnificence of the landscapes of the northern tour we did in 2014 and could not see how that could be surpassed. However this tour has touched us, more emotionally I think, in ways we never imagined and it is hard to express how. But the south is simply special, raw perhaps and less sophisticated possibly but so very genuine.
Gilberto, our wonderful tour director, ensured the party of 20 travellers simply had the best time, the best opportunities for absolutely everything one could wish for!
As you already know he is a true gentleman, and one who can balance professionalism with just the right amount of personal interaction. We totally understand why you value his personal friendship so much too. Gilberto is an absolute treasure and he certainly made us feel special. Hopefully we will be fortunate enough to meet him on our travels in the future.
Just couldn’t resist snapping these pics in Erice but no doubt many Albatross devotees have done the same thing many times over and sent them to you too!
Thank you Euan, and your amazing team for creating these amazing tours and exciting us with your great passion of travel.
The tours allow those who take up your opportunities, to share the history and often uniqueness of so many places many of us would either miss or never dare to visit.
Keep creating please.
The way Albatross arranging the tour, from the sights, scenes and hotels, was memorable. What stood out for me the most were:
- The sequence of the places we visited were like a well scripted movie. A spectacular opening (Alberobello and Matera), followed by journey through sometimes start and other time beautiful country sides to places incredible and different, finishing with a spectacular dinner (evening) in a luxurious hotel (as we watch the sun setting on our journey) over a picturesque marina and bay.
- Each place we visited had its own special charm and beauty.
- The Tour Manager made everything easy for all the group and managed to fulfil every persons individual request without any seeming effort.
- The Tour Driver negotiated street and hills not made for big busses with impossible and ensured the bus was always parked in the best possible position for us passengers.
- The tastes of the places visited were enjoyed immensely.
- The quality of the fellow travellers was outstanding. Every person was friendly, cooperative and very interesting.
Dates and Prices
|Start Date||End Date||Price Per Person||Guaranteed to Depart||Availability|
|28 Apr 2018||14 May 2018||AUD $7,999||Space Limited - Call Now|
|17 May 2018||2 Jun 2018||AUD $7,999||Space Limited - Call Now|
|1 Jun 2018||17 Jun 2018||AUD $7,999||Space Limited - Call Now|
|18 Jul 2018||3 Aug 2018||AUD $7,999||Space Available|
|31 Aug 2018||16 Sep 2018||AUD $7,999||Space Available|
|15 Sep 2018||1 Oct 2018||AUD $7,999||Space Limited - Call Now|
|3 Oct 2018||19 Oct 2018||AUD $7,999||Space Available|
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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!