Sicily, Matera & Apulia
Palermo-Monreale-Marsala-Salt Road-Selinunte-Agrigento-Piazza Armerina-Ragusa-Matera-Castel del Monte-Bari-Polignano a Mare-Alberobello-Ostuni-Lecce-Gallipoli
9 days / 8 nights, Palermo/ Lecce
2019 depart Tue: Mar 26-Nov 12
Cost from: $3276 pp (s/sup $490)
Day 1 Tue Palermo
Independent arrival at the hotel in the charming city of Palermo (optional private transfer on request). Enjoy dinner in the evening where you will meet with the tour leader.
Day 2 Wed Palermo-Monreale-Marsala
After breakfast in hotel, the morning will be spent visiting the capital of Sicily Palermo, one of the richest towns in the island for its history and art. Palermo stands on a bay at the foot of Mt Pellegrino, a headland described by Goethe as the loveliest he had ever seen. While the Baroque predominates, there is a profusion of different architectural styles reflecting the city’s multicultural past, including an elegant opera house! We will visit the wonderful Arab-Norman Cathedral, the astonishing Martorana Church and the amazing Cappella Palatina, mirable example from an historical and an artistic point of view, of how different cultures, religions and way of thinking apparently incompatible can coexist. Ruggero II in fact employed both Bizantyne, Muslim and Latin workers. Continuing our walk we will admire the debated fountain in Pretoria Square, situated in the ancient Kalsa area and adorned with XVI century sculptures. Along the visiting day we will have a stop for a food surprise in the famous Antica Focacceria San Francesco. Free time for lunch. Later on we will proceed to Monreale to visit its huge Norman Cathedral, proclaimed the Eighth Wonder of the World, and its splendid Cloister in Arab-Norman style: admirable masterpiece of art, sculpture, and semi-precious stones marquetry! In the afternoon we will continue to Marsala in whose port Garibaldi landed in 1860. Visit of a prestigious wine cellar and wine tasting. Dinner and overnight in Marsala.
Day 3 Thu Marsala-Salt Road-Selinunte-Agrigento
This morning the tour will continue along the charming and well-known Salt Road: the west coast of Sicily with many salt marshes, which have given rise to one of the oldest salt-extracting industries in the world. Between Trapani and Marsala they are now protected, in part because of the interesting birdlife, and also as important sites of industrial archaelogy. On the way you will see the nice Island of Mothia (situated at the centre of a large lagoon in Marsala, known today as 'Stagnone'), and the famous Salines and windmills. Departure to Selinunte to visit the largest Archaeological Park in whole Mediterranean and World Heritage Site! Surrounded by a splendid landscape near the African Sea, we will walk among the rests of the ancient Greek city. Free time for lunch. Transfer to Agrigento and visit of the Valley of the Temples stated World Heritage Site, where among hundreds of almond trees, the rests of the ancient Akragas rise. It was defined by Pyndar “the most beautiful city of mortals”. Once one of the most prosperous of the ancient Greek cities on the island, Agrigento presents a remarkable series of Doric Temples of the 5th century. You will see the “Temple of Hera”, the “Temple of Concordia” and the “Temple of Heracles”. Dinner and overnight in Agrigento.
Day 4 Fri Piazza Armerina-Ragusa
Proceeding on we will reach Piazza Armerina where we will admire the splendid polychrome mosaics of the famous Villa Romana del Casale, World Heritage Site. The complex, which has some of the most extensive and most beautiful Roman mosaics known, is a World Heritage Site. This majestic villa, belonged to a member of the Roman Senatorial aristocracy, hosts prestigious mosaics representing mythological and historical episodes and scenes of hunting and entertainments! After free time for lunch, departure to Ragusa Ibla and visit of its historical centre cradle of Sicilian baroque, with its Cathedral, situated in the beautiful square of the Dome and the “giardino Ibleo”. Used as a location of the extremely popular Police Inspector Montalbano Tv series, it is today stated among the 44 Italian World Heritage Sites. This little precious ancient city, well known thanks to the Commissario Montalbano television series, hosts more than 50 churches and many baroque architectural treasures. We’ll conclude the visiting day with a tasting of local products. Proceed to Catania for dinner and overnight in hotel.
Day 5 Sat Catania-Bari
Breakfast in hotel, transfer to the airport and direct flight – or with a layover – to Bari.According to flights’ schedule, free time to discover Catania and its city centre, declared Unesco World Heritage, or to enjoy the stunning Bari.
Day 6 Sun Matera-Bari
After breakfast, meeting with the guide. We will discover the stunning Matera, popular for its “Sassi”, the ancient part of the city, where buildings alternate with rock caves and labyrinths. The old town reveals a fascinating and complex history with a charming fusion between landscapes and cultures; Matera is also famous for being the movie set of great masterpieces, including Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ”. After free time for lunch, departure towards Bari, Apulia’s capital, which has always been considered an important connection with the East. Several studies have shown that the actual district of Bari Vecchia was inhabited since Prehistorical ages, thanks to the geographical location and its favorable conditions to find food and water. In the popular and lively Bari city center, travelers will admire: the wonderful Basilica of St. Nicola – with its XVIIIth century crypt – the impressive San Sabino Cathedral with remarkable rose windows, the Norman Castle, a stunning Medieval fortress dating back to 1131 and rebuilt by Federico II. Then the Murat quarter a typical XIXth century district featuring wide avenues and elegant balconies with wrought-iron decorations. Return to the hotel, dinner and overnight.
Day 7 Mon Polignano A Mare-Alberobello-Ostuni
After breakfast, the tour proceeds towards Polignano a Mare, the city of “gelato” (ice-cream) and Domenico Modugno birthplace, Italian celebrated singer, to whom a statue was dedicated. Time for a walk in the city center among streets and shops. Transfer to Alberobello, a symbol of central Apulia. Guided tour in the city centre, all made up of “trulli”. These ancient circular limestone buildings, featuring pyramidal roofs, are part of UNESCO World Heritage Site. We’ll also discover the Trullo Sovrano, National monument since 1923. Located in the northern area of Alberobello, it is the one and only Trullo with an upper floor, reachable with a masonry stair. Then the tour proceeds to Ostuni, where you can spend free time discovering the old town known as “white city”, with its exceptional landscape and architectural heritage. Transfer to Lecce with dinner and overnight at the hotel.
Day 8 Tue Lecce-Gallipoli
This morning the tour will continue to Lecce, the most important Baroque city of Apulia. It reveals stunning architectural heritage and a fabulous mix of styles and ages: the Santa Croce church, the wonderful Sant’Oronzo square, the Roman amphitheater – the heart of the city- the impressive Duomo with its particular bell tower. Along the way, you will visit a papier-mâché lab, a real pride of local craftsmanship, and enjoy a wine aperitif in the main square. After lunch, the afternoon will be dedicated to the charming Gallipoli. The ancient Kalèpolis, also called “beautiful city”, rises on an island connected to the mainland by a XVIth-century bridge. The group will visit the city center, the majestic Sant’Agata Cathedral, the Church of Santa Maria della Purità and an ancient 1600 hypogeum oil-mill located under Palazzo Granafei. Return to Lecce, dinner and overnight.
Day 9 Wed Lecce Departure
After breakfast, your tour comes to an end.
Sicily: twin share in 4 star hotels, breakfasts and dinners daily (3 main courses menu), multilingual tour leader and professional travel guide (English, Italian, Spanish), local guides or audio-guides where necessary, deluxe coach, visit of the main suggestive Unesco World Heritage Sites: Palermo, Monreale, Selinunte, Agrigento, Villa Romana del Casale in Piazza Armerina, Ragusa; tasting of Sicilian typical products: Palermo (day 2) tasting of local street food; Marsala (day 2): visit of a wine cellar and wine tasting; Ragusa (day 4) tasting of local cheese.
Matera & Apulia: twin share in 4 star hotels, breakfast & dinners daily to have a taste of Apulian and Italian cuisine, travel guide in English in the following cities: Matera, Bari, Lecce, Alberobello & Gallipoli; 1 Wine Aperitif in Lecce, One way flight Catania-Bari flight(20KL Luggage), all the transfer with private car driver, services and taxes.
Exclusions: transfers in/out, all lunches, beverages at meals, Messina/ Villa San Giovanni ferry, entrance fees at monuments/museums, city taxes (where compulsory) and tips.
Hotels: Palermo- Hotel Federico II, Marsala-Baglio Basile, Agrigento-Baia di Ulisse Wellness &Sppa, Catania-Il Principe, Matera- Hotel San Domenico Al Piano/ Sextantio Le Grotte della Civita, Bari-Hotel Palace, Lecce- Hotel President (or similar) Hotels will be definitely confirmed only 5 days prior the start of the tour.