Highlights of Calabria & Sicily

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    Discover the secrets of Italy’s vibrant south on a journey through Calabria and Sicily.

    From the pristine waters of Palinuro to the stalwart fortifications of Tropea, all the way to the smoke gently floating from the volcanoes of the Aeolian Islands – Calabria is a hidden gem for those who stray off Italy’s beaten path. Discover this less-visited part of the country before delving into the spectacular sights of bustling Sicily, volcanic valleys of Mt. Etna, timeworn streets of Siracusa, the Baroque wonders of Ragusa and rich anti-mafia history of Palermo. Starring dramatic cliffside villages, clear waters and delicious seafood, this is a chance to experience the highlights of southern Italy.


    Day 1: Amalfi
    Buongiorno! Welcome to Italy, where you’ll first be greeted by the Amalfi peninsula’s rocky coasts, azure seas and whitewashed villages.  Perhaps stroll from one side of Amalfi town to the other and pay a visit to the Cattedrale di Sant’Andrea and the Chiostro del Paradiso, or laze around the beaches until the meeting starts.

    Day 2: Palinuro
    Travel by bus to Salerno, then to Centola by train, followed by a trip by taxi to Palinuro – a humble seaside town on a beautiful stretch of coastline, famous among Italian holiday makers. You’ll have a free afternoon to explore this hidden jewel and its beaches – perhaps dip your toes in the water for a swim, relax and sunbathe, or stroll idly along the shore. (B)

    Day 3: Cilento National Park / Palinuro
    After yesterday’s adventures across Palinuro’s local beaches, you’ll spend this morning off the beaten path with a hike to Cape Palinuro, located within Cilento National Park. Perhaps go shopping for a mozzarella picnic before setting off on the three hour walk. Your leader will have suggestions on what to buy. The cliffs, hidden bays and marine caves are quite an impressive natural sight on this stretch of Italy’s Mediterranean coastline. Return to Palinuro for a free afternoon or some more optional walks. (B)

    Day 4: Tropea
    Say goodbye to Palinuro as you head back to Centola. From here, take three local trains to Tropea where the Calabrian leg of your journey begins. Explore the town as you head out on an orientation walk. You may want to visit the local Norman cathedral, the Duomo, which holds an icon of the town’s celebrated protectress, the Madonna of Romania. There’s also the Museo Diocesano, a tiny museum hiding in the Palazzo Vescovile next to the Duomo, which is full of religious art and wooden statues. If you’d prefer some time by the water, feel free to head to the beach and marvel at the looming structures on the cliffs nearby. (B)

    Day 5: Aeolian Islands / Tropea
    If the weather is fine, take an included boat trip to the Aeolian Islands of Vulcano, Lipari and Stromboli. These islands, affectionately referred to as ‘pearls of the Mediterranean’, attract all manner of adventurers and thrill seekers to their shores due to their natural beauty and volcanic activity. The trip will start on the aptly named Vulcano, where you’ll have a chance to dip in either the crystal waters or the famous sulphur springs as they sit in the foreground of an active volcano. Then, land on the isle of Lipari where you’ll have free time to visit the museum, have lunch, go shopping or stroll through the streets. Following Lipari, you’ll pass the isle of Panarea and travel to Stromboli to learn about the famous Sciara del Fuoco (street of fire) before spending free time on the island’s black sandy beaches. Afterwards, return to Tropea where you’ll spend the night. (B)

    Day 6: Reggio Calabria
    Depart from Tropea by train as you travel onward to Reggio Calabria, the gateway to Sicily. Embark on an orientation walk, before visiting the widely renowned National Archaeological Museum of Reggio. This building is arguably the most important tourism destination that the region has to offer, featuring an excellent collection of exhibits from Greek influenced sites across Calabria, including the Bronzi di Riace, two large bronze statues found on the sea floor in the 70’s. (B)

    Day 7: Reggio Calabria
    Today is a free day to explore the city in depth. Alternatively, maybe head up the coast to Scilla, a village surrounded in mythological intrigue. Back in Reggio Calabria, perhaps hunt down some of the city’s spectacular restaurants for grilled swordfish or pasta with cauliflower and broccoli (both are dishes typical to the area) and a glass of local wine, or wander past the city’s panoramic waterfront. (B)

    Day 8: Catania
    Bid farewell to Reggio Calabria and travel by ferry to Messina in Sicily, where you’ll board a train to the atmospheric city of Catania.  You’ll get the opportunity to explore both sides of this curious city by walking through its grand piazzas and wide roads. The evening is yours to enjoy, so perhaps get a gelato or a granita to cool off at the end of a busy day of exploration. (B)

    Day 9: Taormina / Catania
    Take a day trip to the charming city of Taormina. Start things off with an orientation walk, where you’ll notice the Greek influence in the architecture. The whole afternoon will be at your leisure, so there’s plenty of time to explore at your own pace. Have a drink in the Mediterranean sun or dig into some traditional Sicilian pasta before heading back to Catania for an overnight stay. (B)

    Day 10: Mt Etna / Catania
    Come face-to-face with Europe’s largest active volcano on a day-trip up Mt Etna. Drive up the flank of the volcano to the Sapienza refuge hut, and then travel by cable car to an altitude of 2,500m. Here you have the option to join a guide on a walk to the famous and dramatic Valle del Bove (Bull Valley), a valley formed when the original crater of Etna collapsed. It is Etna’s largest valley, in which many lava flows can be seen, one on top of the other. There is also the option of taking a truck ride to witness the panoramic views at Torre Filosofo, the highest outpost on Etna. Back at the mountain refuge your leader will take you to the crater series of Silvestri, a barren landscape formed by the explosion of 1892. (B)

    Day 11: Siracusa
    Next travel to Siracusa by private vehicle, where an orientation walk through the most interesting parts of this old town awaits.  In the afternoon perhaps take a boat trip around the island of Ortigia for a scenic view of the walled off cityscape. You may want to participate in an optional visit to the Neapolis Archaeological Site – known as one of the world’ s finest – but if not, then don’t hesitate to spend your free afternoon exploring the countless monuments or slip into a bar for a refreshing granita instead. (B)

    Day 12: Ragusa / Siracusa
    Start the day by taking your private transport to Ragusa, one of the most scenic towns in all Sicily, as you travel through Noto and Avola.  After departing Avola, arrive at Ragusa. The ‘new’ baroque city was completely rebuilt after the devastating earthquake of 1693, resulting in two vastly different sides to the same city. After exploring the tangled alleyways and baroque palazzi, travel back to Siracusa. (B)

    Day 13: Palermo
    Say goodbye to Siracusa before travelling to historic Palermo, the capital of Sicily. Get acquainted with the sights and sounds of the old heart of the city, and gaze upon some of the main monuments such as the uniquely styled cathedral. The afternoon is free for you to enjoy, so take the time to explore a labyrinth of small alleyways, buzzing colourful market squares and winding roads. (B)

    Day 14: Palermo
    This morning there is the option to visit nearby Monreale, situated in a panoramic position above Palermo with fantastic views over the city and the sea.  In the afternoon, take part in a walking tour with a local guide where you’ll uncover symbolic places of rebellion and anti-mafia racketeering. Meet shop owners who have had the courage to denounce their extortionists, and follow the ethical consumer campaign “Pago chi non paga”, a campaign promoted by Addiopizzo to support those that rebel against the Mafia. Perhaps share a bite with your group tonight, the last before the trip comes to an end. (B)

    Day 15: Palermo
    Your adventures come to an end today after breakfast. (B)


    Images courtesy of IntrepidGroup