Sampling Italy's Stunning South
In April 2014, I set out on Albatross Tours’ Italy, the Deep South & Sicily Tour to fulfill a long-standing dream of sightseeing and sampling some of Italy’s most rich food and wine territory. Having visited (and thoroughly enjoyed) the north of Italy, I’d been looking forward to experiencing something new and off the beaten track. I couldn't have asked for more. The 17-day long tour plates up some of Southern Italy and Sicily’s finest experiences, leaving you with precious memories of the rich cultural history, decadent food, coastal landscapes and amazing accommodation choices.
Accommodation that’s Hard to Leave
What really stood out for me as the ‘wow’ factor was the truly unique and varied range of accommodation options we enjoyed on our travels. We soaked it all up; from the whitewashed Trulli houses in Alberobello (traditional stone huts with conical roofs) to a 500-year-old farmhouse near Marsala, I felt as though I was experiencing Italy in its rawest form. The most surprising experience of all was our 2-night stay in the beautifully restored Albergo Diffuso Le Grotte delle Civita, which is part of the stunning Sassi Caves. This stone house hotel has been carved out of cliffs and redesigned to provide a 5-star luxury experience. It even has a ‘breakfast room’ in a restored rock church, lit entirely by candlelight!
Dine on an Empty Stomach
My tip for those looking at booking this tour is to make sure you come with an appetite! Wherever we went, we were greeted with sumptuous 4-course lunches and dinners, which boasted the local, fresh produce of whichever region we were visiting. Everyone on my tour agreed a standout was the Mandranova Olive Oil Estate in the countryside of Agrigento, which is a working olive oil farm and restaurant. Our gracious host Silvia made an authentic cannoli I’ll never forget!
It was important to me to see the sights as well as soak up the Italian spirit with the locals and try to eat where the locals themselves eat. We experienced this firsthand when dining at the Forza d’Agro restaurant near Taormina – packed with groups of local families and friends, we all enjoyed the ‘menu of the day’ together. The beauty of this tour was that we got to experience the best of both worlds – all the sights as tourists, and all the food and wine as locals.
Pack Your Walking Shoes
From walking along the ancient cobblestone streets of Matera, exploring the towns of Puglia and hiking the trail to Mt Etna, the Italy, the Deep South & Sicily Tour allows its guests to get up close and personal with the sights and sounds of the culture, instead of seeing them through a coach window.
Like all Albatross Tours I’ve had the pleasure of being on, this one did not disappoint. The great company, sights and ‘behind the scenes’ glimpse at southern Italy made this tour the perfect balance of sightseeing and time at leisure to explore at your own pace.
Italy, the Deep South & Sicily tours run through to September 2015. To learn more, please get in touch with our friendly reservations team.