ARRIVE PALERMO, ITALY
Arrive in Palermo, Sicily’s lively capital, and transfer to your hotel located in the city’s historic center. Join your Resident Tour Director tonight for a welcome dinner. The next morning, set off on a guided tour of ancient Palermo, including the Cathedral and the ninth-century Norman Royal Palace with its glittering, mosaic-laden chapel. Journey to the hillside town of Monreale and enter its extravagant cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The rest of your day is at leisure to explore more of this unique port city.
Today, travel across Sicily’s rugged mountainous countryside to the south coast. Stop in the small village of Corleone, birthplace of several Mafia bosses (including fictional characters in The Godfather), and hear from a local expert about this more troubled aspect of Sicily’s past. In coastal Agrigento, discover the ancient Valley of the Temples that includes the Temple of Concord, a superb example of sacred classical architecture. Explore the ruins and archaeological museum before checking in to your 27-room villa hotel, set within the grounds of the temple site.
Journey east to Piazza Armerina, a graceful countryside town, where you visit the incomparable Roman Villa del Casale. A luxurious example of an ancient Italian villa, this UNESCO World Heritage Site houses breathtaking mosaics originally laid in the fourth century. Continue to the east coast of Sicily and up to the 6,000-foot-plus heights of smoldering Mount Etna, taking in panoramic views of the landscape and coast. Later, arrive in charming Taormina. The next day, a local expert introduces you to the town’s spectacular Greek amphitheater, set high above the ocean. Later, relax or catch up on shopping with time at leisure.
Rise early for the journey to Messina, where you board a ferry to cross the strait separating Sicily from the “toe” of the Italian mainland. Disembark in Villa San Giovanni in Calabria, and drive into Puglia and to Matera, the ancient Città Sotterranea (Underground City), carved right into the Appenine Mountains. Look forward to your incredible hotel, set within Sassi cave dwellings and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The next day, take a walking tour of Matera before joining a local chef for a Puglian cooking class. Prepare and eat an unforgettable lunch, with time to explore the town at leisure.
Journey to nearby Locorotondo, one of Italy’s most beautiful towns, for a walking tour. Meet a nearby cheese producer for a private tasting and buffet lunch featuring local products. Later, visit Alberobello and its rows of fantastic trulli houses, conical limestone dwellings unique to this province of Bari.
This morning, depart for the sparkling Amalfi Coast area. Stop en route in Paestum, an ancient Greek city known for its well-preserved Greek temples; see them after a tour and lunch at a mozzarella-making farm. Arrive in Naples, then taste its original Italian pizza for dinner. The next day, cruise by boat across the deep blue Bay of Naples to the sun-kissed island of Capri. Visit Anacapri and charming Capri town, where cool cafés, designer boutiques and grand villas have lured everyone from emperors to celebrities. Tonight, cap off your journey with a special farewell dinner.
Transfer to the airport the next day for your flight home.