Day 1 ARRIVE IN ROME, ITALY.
Welcome to Rome! At 5 pm, meet your Tour Director and traveling companions, and enjoy a special welcome dinner with wine at one of Rome’s lively restaurants.
Day 2 ROME–CASTEL GANDOLFO–SORRENTO COAST.
Look forward to a unique experience: [LF] enjoy a guided visit of the impressive PAPAL PALACE in Castel Gandolfo, former summer residence of the popes and since October 2016 a museum that is open to the public. Also visit the magnificent BARBERINI GARDENS, where ruins of the residence of Roman Emperor Domitian are still visible. Then, continue south on the Highway of the Sun, to your hotel.
Day 3 SORRENTO COAST. EXCURSION TO CAPRI.
Speed across the bay by JETFOIL to the Isle of Capri. Ride the FUNICULAR to Capri village for a guided visit of this pretty town. Free time to explore the little shops on the piazzetta before returning to your hotel.
Day 4 SORRENTO COAST. EXCURSION TO POMPEII.
Arrive in fascinating POMPEII, the Roman city both destroyed and preserved by an eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. Your Local Guide will walk you past patrician homes, public baths, and commercial districts strikingly recalling day-to-day life when Rome was at the apex of her power. Afternoon at leisure; you may wish to join an optional excursion to the Amalfi coast.
Day 5 SORRENTO COAST–NAPLES–BARI.
First stop is Naples, a city steeped in volcanic drama, rich archaeological treasures, and castles and churches that rival Rome! A Local Guide will get you acquainted with the many sights during your city tour. Stop in the famous Piazza Plebiscito and then, [LF] savor a slice of Neapolitan pizza. Drive to Bari for an overnight.
Day 6 BARI–LECCE–ALBEROBELLO.
Follow your Local Guide for a pleasant walk through BARI VECCHIA, the city’s oldest district. Next is Lecce, where your guided walking tour reveals why Lecce is called the “Florence of the South.” Admire its baroque buildings and squares, and [LF] taste pasticciotto with almond-flavored iced coffee. Continue to Alberobello.
Day 7 ALBEROBELLO.
In the morning, enjoy a guided walking tour of the town, and visit one of its unique trulli—whitewashed, stone, circular houses with pinnacled, conical roofs. Balance of the day is at leisure. You may wish to join an optional dinner at a traditional Apulian agriturismo.
Day 8 ALBEROBELLO–MATERA–SCILLA–REGGIO CALABRIA.
Stop in Matera, and enjoy a panoramic view of the picturesque Sassi houses. Afterwards, enjoy a spectacular drive south along the Gulf of Taranto and stop in Scilla, called the “Venice of Calabria.” Leaving the coast, arrive in Reggio Calabria and enjoy a guided visit of the MUSEUM that houses the world-famous bronze warrior sculptures, Bronzi di Riace.
Day 9 REGGIO CALABRIA–TAORMINA RIVIERA.
Cross the Strait of Messina by FERRY and start your discovery of the beautiful island of Sicily, the great melting pot of the Mediterranean world. Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Saracens, Normans, French, and Spanish have left their marks and contributed to its rich heritage. Arrive in Taormina, a charming hilltop town overlooking the Ionian Sea, and visit the ancient GREEK THEATER dating back to the 3rd century BC. Time to stroll and shop along Corso Umberto I. Don’t miss the opportunity to taste local specialties, like the Sicilian Granita (a treat similar to sorbet).
Days 10-11 AT LEISURE IN TAORMINA RIVIERA.
Two days to just relax in this beautiful resort or choose from our exciting optional excursions to Mount Etna, the largest active volcano in Europe; or to the fascinating archaeological site of Syracuse, birthplace of the mathematician Archimedes and once a powerful Greek port whose fleet was feared throughout the Mediterranean. On Tuesday evening, enjoy an included dinner at your hotel. On Wednesday evening, an included dinner has been organized at a local restaurant with breathtaking sea views. (B,D daily)
Day 12 TAORMINA RIVIERA–AGRIGENTO–PALERMO.
Head south to Agrigento and enjoy a walk with your Local Guide through the breathtaking VALLEY OF TEMPLES. Even travelers who have visited Athens and Delphi are awed by the gigantic yet graceful Greek structures that miraculously survived 24 centuries of tormented history. Arrive at your hotel in Palermo.
Day 13 PALERMO.
Guided sightseeing features the ornate Piazza Bellini, Capo Market, the baroque Church of Immacolata, and the CATHEDRAL. Drive up to Monreale for a panoramic view of the Conca d’Oro and a visit to the 12th-century NORMAN CATHEDRAL, famous for its 50,000 square feet of precious byzantine mosaics. Later, [LF] visit an original SICILIAN FARM, Antica Masseria Barone di Salvo, in Tumminia. Meet the casaro (cheese-maker), see how he prepares a fresh ricotta, and enjoy your exclusive farewell dinner with local specialties and wine, the perfect way to celebrate the success of your Italian vacation.
Day 14 PALERMO
. Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning.