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Very early in the tour we saw we got much more for our dollar than anything we could have put together ourselves. The value exceeded our expectations.

Tara Malmberg
Quitman, TX
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Small Group Tour Highlights
  • Sicily’s intriguing cultural and historic heritage
  • “Valley of the Temples,” Agrigento
  • Mt. Etna excursion
  • Lunch at a working Sicilian farmhouse
  • Two Apulia UNESCO sites: Cave dwellings of Matera and Alberobello’s medieval white-washed buildings
  • Neapolitan cooking demonstration and dinner
  • Lecce, the “Florence of the South”
  • Fascinating, uncrowded Apulia region
  • Stunning Amalfi Coast
  • Tour of ancient ruins at Pompeii (UNESCO site)
  • Day trip to Isle of Capri
  • Unique, well-located small-group style hotels
  • Pleasing mix of touring and time at leisure
Day-by-Day Itinerary

Day 1: Depart U.S. for Taormina (Catania), Sicily

Day 2: Arrive Taormina We arrive today in Catania on Italy’s autonomous island of Sicily then transfer by motorcoach to Taormina and our boutique hotel overlooking the Ionian Sea. Tonight we gather for a welcome dinner at the hotel. D

Day 3: Taormina Highlights of our morning walking tour of this delightful medieval town include the spectacular ancient Greek theater dating to the 3rd century BCE, the popular 13th-century cathedral, and grand Piazza Vittorio Emanuele. This afternoon is at leisure; perhaps to relax by the hotel pool; visit a lovely Taormina beach; or stroll along Corso Umberto, lined with shops and restaurants. With lunch and dinner on our own today, perhaps a culinary adventure is in order … and thanks to Sicily’s strategic Mediterranean location that lured many invaders, Sicilian food incorporates Italian, Arabic, and African influences into a singular, and delicious, cuisine. B

Day 4: Taormina/Agrigento On today’s excursion we visit the “Valley of the Temples,” the archaeological zone of Agrigento, whose Doric temples and sanctuaries date to Greek rule in the 5th century BCE. Known in its heyday as the “most beautiful city of mortals,” Agrigento’s highlight is the stunning, well-preserved Temple of Concordia (c. 430 BCE). A visit to the museum here lends context to our explorations. Late this afternoon we return to our hotel, where we dine tonight. B,L,D

Day 5: Taormina/Mount Etna This morning’s tour ventures to Europe’s largest active volcano. The ancients believed Mt. Etna to be the forge of Vulcan, god of fire; today, modern-day Sicilians have a very personal relationship with the volcano, which frequently erupts but is seldom destructive. Centuries of lava flows have resulted in a rich, fertile landscape where citrus groves and vineyards thrive. Mid-day we enjoy a small group highlight: lunch at a family-run working farm amidst acres of lemon and kiwi. After returning to our hotel mid-afternoon, the remainder of the day is at leisure. B,L

Day 6: Taormina/Matera We leave Sicily today for the mainland region of Basilicata, a day-long transfer that includes a ferry ride from Sicily to Calabria. Late this afternoon we reach Matera, whose historic troglodyte churches and dwellings (Sassi) have been designated a UNESCO site and where our hotel is a renovated cave dwelling in the city’s historic district. B,D

Day 7: Matera Today we explore this city of art and folklore, with its unique ancient urban structure still intact. Home to more than 100 rock churches, Matera resembles ancient Jerusalem and has been used by international film directors as a stand-in for the holy city. Following a guided walking tour, the remainder of the day is at leisure to explore independently before dinner tonight at a local restaurant. B,D

Day 8: Matera/Alberobello/Lecce Departing Matera this morning, we stop in Alberobello, whose 400 or so trulli – whitewashed conical houses with greystone roofs – rank as a UNESCO World Heritage site. We take a walking tour along the pristine cobblestone alleys, stepping inside an artisan’s workshop or trullo tipico, a recreation of an inhabited home. After lunch at a local restaurant, we continue on to Lecce, one of the oldest cities in Apulia, (Italy’s “boot heel”), in time for dinner together at our hotel. B,L,D

Day 9: Lecce We discover the “Florence of the South” on this morning’s tour, so named for the unique decorative style for which Lecce is known: barocco leccese, the ornate and intricate sandstone carvings of cherubs and monsters, fruits and flowers that adorn local buildings from top to bottom. We see Palazzo Vescovile (c. 1632), the exuberantly decorated church of Santa Croce, and the Duomo with its lovely piazza. This afternoon is at leisure to explore this town of 100 churches as we wish; tonight we enjoy dinner together. B,D

Day 10: Lecce/Otranto Today’s excursion takes us to the beautiful walled town of Otranto, overlooking the Adriatic. On a walking tour here we see the imposing 15th-century Aragonese castle with its traditional moat, and the Romanesque cathedral whose impressive wall-to-wall mosaic floor was created in 1166. We continue on to a local winery for a tasting and lunch then return to Lecce mid-afternoon. Dinner tonight is on our own. B,L

Day 11: Lecce/Sorrento This morning we depart by coach for Sorrento, overlooking the Bay of Naples. En route we stop for a traditional trattoria lunch in the small town of Polignano a Mare. Dinner tonight is on our own in lively seaside Sorrento. B,L

Day 12: Sorrento/Pompeii Today we visit the excavated ruins at the evocative UNESCO site of Pompeii for a guided tour of the city frozen in time by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 CE (the city was accidentally rediscovered in 1749). Late this afternoon we gather for a hands-on Neapolitan cuisine cooking lesson, followed by dinner to savor the fruits of our labors. B,D

Day 13: Sorrento/Capri Today we travel by hydrofoil to the storied Isle of Capri, a popular resort since Roman times. We explore cozy Capri town; visit the terraced Gardens of Augustus with stunning views of the azure sea; then enjoy free time for lunch and to explore on our own before we return to Sorrento early afternoon. The remainder of the day is at leisure to enjoy this city with views of Mt. Vesuvius as we wish. Dinner tonight is on our own in Sorrento. B

Day 14: Sorrento/Amalfi Coast We embark this morning on a breathtaking drive along the winding, cliff-top Amalfi Coast road between Sorrento and Amalfi above the glistening Tyrrhenian Sea – with stops for photos along the way. This afternoon is at leisure; tonight we bid “arrivederci” to Italy and our fellow travelers at a farewell dinner. B,D

Day 15: Depart for U.S. This morning we transfer to the Naples airport, where we connect with our return flight to the U.S. B

Please note: This trip involves considerable walking uphill and on uneven or cobblestone streets, and at sites of ancient ruins. You should be in good physical condition to enjoy the tour to its fullest.

B = Breakfast included L = Lunch included D = Dinner included

Tour Price Includes
  • Round-trip air transportation from listed cities
  • 13 nights’ accommodations in Superior First Class and First Class hotels
  • 26 meals: 13 breakfasts, 5 lunches, 8 dinners
  • Extensive sightseeing as described, including all entrance fees
  • Services of an Odysseys Unlimited Tour Director
  • Private motorcoach transportation throughout your trip
  • Luggage handling for one bag per person
  • Gratuities for local guides, dining room servers, airport and hotel porters, and all drivers
  • $100 frequent traveler credit towards your next Odysseys Unlimited tour ($200 after 3 tours; $300 after 10 tours)
Tour Dates & Prices

2018/2019 Tour Dates & Prices
including international airfare and all taxes, surcharges, and fees

2018
Oct 30
Nov 3
2019
Mar 21
Mar 25
2018
Oct 18
Oct 22
2019
Apr 3
Apr 7
New York$4,174$4,374$4,474$4,574
Boston, Phil$4,374$4,574$4,674$4,774
Atlanta, Charlotte,
Chi, Cinc, Cleve,
Detroit, Mia, Orl,
Tampa, Wash, DC
$4,474$4,674$4,774$4,874
Dallas, Den, Hou,
Los Angeles, Minn,
Phoenix, Port (OR),
San Fran, Seattle
$4,574$4,774$4,874$4,974

Please call if your city is not listed or for land only prices. Prices are per person based on double occupancy and include airline taxes, surcharges, and fees of $479, which are subject to change until final payment is made.

Single travelers please add $995 Nov, Mar; $1,295 all other dates. Your $375 deposit is fully refundable up to 95 days prior to departure. All 2018/2019 tour prices above (excluding airline taxes, surcharges, and fees) are guaranteed.

Airline upgrades on round-trip Trans-Atlantic flight: Business Class – $3,895 per person; Premium Economy – $895 per person

Post-Tour Rome Extension: $695 Oct, Nov; $795 all other dates. Single supplement: $295 all dates

A visa is not required for this tour.

Accommodations
    Villa Angela, Taormina / Days 2-5 / Superior First Class

    Overlooking the Mediterranean with panoramic views of the sea and Mount Etna, Villa Angela offers modern comforts and Sicilian ambience. Hotel amenities include a restaurant and bar, outdoor swimming pool, and a terrace facing Naxos Bay. Each guest room has its own terrace facing the bay, as well a private bath with hair dryer, in-room safe, mini-bar, TV, and phone. The hotel offers a shuttle service to the center of Taormina.

    Locanda di San Martino, Matera / Days 6-7 / First Class

    This 32-room hostelry recalls millennia of cave dwellings – but with contemporary comforts and modern amenities. Passageways cut into the rock, external staircases, and elevators connect all four levels of the hotel. This hotel is in the heart of Matera’s Sassi historical district, close to the city center. The hotel has a bar; air-conditioned guest rooms have private bath with hair dryer, Internet access, and TV. Please note that because of the unique nature of the hotel, room sizes and views vary.

    Patria Palace Hotel, Lecce / Days 8-10 / Superior First Class

    A former palazzo, the Patria Palace Hotel is superbly located in the heart of Lecce’s historical center, opposite Santa Croce Basilica. The 63-room hotel boasts many of its original flourishes, though it has been artfully refurbished in an art deco style with Lecce stone and original frescoes. Hotel amenities include a restaurant and bar, solarium, and Internet access. Individually-styled guest rooms with decorative paintings have private bath with hair dryer, air conditioning, in-room safe, TV, and phone.

    Hotel Antiche Mura, Sorrento / Days 11-14 / First Class

    This historic hotel sits in the heart of Sorrento on Piazza Tasso, the main square, close to shops and restaurants. Amenities of the intimate 53-room hotel include an outdoor swimming pool, solarium, lovely gardens with a citrus grove (which supplies all of the oranges and lemons used by the hotel), lobby bar, outdoor snack bar, and breakfast room. Art nouveau-style guest rooms have private bath, in-room safe, mini-bar, Internet access, TV, and phone. Air conditioning is available from May through October; heat from November through April.

    Empire Palace Hotel, Rome / Extension / Superior First Class

    A well-located hotel just a two-minute walk from the Via Veneto, the 110-room Empire Palace is an actual palace, built in 1870 and completely refurbished and converted to a hotel that offers a restaurant and bar, fitness center, Internet access, and laundry service. Air-conditioned rooms feature private bath with hair dryer, in-room safe, mini-bar, TV, and phone. Please note that because of the unique nature of this hotel, room sizes vary.

Ratings are based on the Hotel & Travel Index, the travel industry standard reference.
Post-Tour Extension

Rome – On Your Own

4 days/3 nights for $695 total price
Single Supplement: $295

Explore the Eternal City at your leisure.

 

Your Tour Price Includes
  • Air transportation Naples/Rome, inclusive of airline taxes and fees
  • 3 nights’ accommodations at Empire Palace Hotel (Superior First Class)
  • 3 meals: 3 breakfasts
  • Transfer to/from airport

Please see the Accommodations tab for hotel information.

Extension not available on May 2 departure.

Tour Directors for this Journey
Sara Basile

“You are fortunate to have Sara on your staff. She is the greatest! Her energy, dedication, and professionalism are beyond anything we have seen.”
William Garro
Boonton, NJ

Andrea Fiorillo

Odysseys Unlimited Tour Director

Anna Gandolfi

“Anna was THE BEST! Unfailingly patient, friendly, helpful, knowledgeable, warm, and a joy to be around. I cannot list enough positive descriptions for her. She is a gem!”
Henry & Susan Fradkin
Dearborn, MI

Katia Girotto

“Katia was – hands down – the best tour director we have ever had! Her enthusiasm was infectious. She was sweet, funny, intelligent, efficient, knowledgeable, and really went way beyond what she had to do with handouts, talks, and arrangements for the group. It was very obvious that she loved her job – and we loved her!”
Jim & Sue Sanders
Plainwell, MI

Dania Mastacchini

“Best tour director ever! She went way above and beyond expectation.”
John & Jane Pratt
Newbury, NH

Eva Matosevic

“Her knowledge was amazing, she was fun to be with, and built a real community among the travelers. You knew that each of us was the most important person in her life for those 14 days.”
Thomas & Mary Heyman
Montclair, NJ

Daniela Mendola

“Daniela is an asset to your company. Her knowledge and love for her country are remarkable. She is simply “Magnifico” and “so Italien.”
Cary Jane Miller
Corona del Mar, CA

Gaetano Salemi

“He was the best tour director we’ve ever had and we rank him as top-notch!”
Barbara & Wayne Taylor
Rolling Meadows, IL

Mara Tiburzi

“She was wonderful!”
Layton & Marsha Carr
Sequim, WA

Destination Insight

Suggested Reading

Desmond Seward
Apulia, An Armchair Traveller’s History
Desmond Seward takes in the landscapes, cave towns, frescoed churches, Romanesque cathedrals and Gothic castles of Apulia in this history, the second book in the Armchair Traveller’s History series.

Peter Robb
Midnight in Sicily, On Art, Food, History, Travel and La Cosa Nostra
Combining interviews, research and essays on Sicilian history and culture, this vivid report by journalist Robb is a superb introduction to Italy’s glorious, corrupt and troubled south.

Tim Jepson
National Geographic Naples and Southern Italy
This attractive, visual guidebook features photographs, maps and information on history, culture and nature. Includes Puglia, Basilicata, Campania and Calabria, along with excursions to Sicily and Sardinia.

Borch Maps
Italy Map
A convenient laminated map of Italy at a scale of 1:800,000 with excellent topographic detail, an index and large maps of Sicily and Sardinia.

Touring Club Italiano
Sicily Map
A detailed map of Sicily (1:200,000) printed on water- and tear-resistant paper.

DK Publishing, Eyewitness Guides
Eyewitness Guide Sicily
This superb guide to Sicily features color photography, dozens of excellent local maps and a synopsis of the island’s attractions. Handsome, convenient and up-to-date, this is the guide to carry.

Lonely Planet
Lonely Planet Italian Phrasebook
A handy, palm-size guide to pronunciation, basic grammar and essential vocabulary for the traveler.

Laura Morelli
Made in Italy, A Shopper’s Guide
The second edition of Morelli’s expert survey of Italian handcraft shops and products from Murano glass to ceramics, jewelry and leather.

Fioella Congedo
Puglia Holiday & Leisure
A tribute to the hospitality of Puglia featuring its history, design and style in beautiful photographs and informative text.

Luca Lorusso
Sharing Puglia, Delicious, Simple Food from Undiscovered Italy
In a sleek, modern design featuring stunning photography, this cookbook features 80 authentic Pugliese recipes such as kingfish crudo with fresh fava beans, Caciocavallo and scampi with fresh chicory and pomegranate.

John Hooper
The Italians
Italy correspondent for The Economist Hooper explores Italy – its baffling contradictions, unique character and contemporary culture – in this illuminating portrait.

Tommaso Astarita
Between Salt Water and Holy Water, A History of Southern Italy
Astarita captures the fanfare, rivalry and changing fortunes of Sicily from antiquity through Norman, Spanish and Bourbon rule to unification and the 20th century.

Beppe Severgnini
La Bella Figura, A Field Guide to the Italian Mind
Italians themselves love this guide to the Italian character, which addresses their never-ending passion for beauty, disorder and high emotion. Severgnini opens the book with a snapshot of the hubbub at Malpensa Airport, then moves on to Tuscany, Rome, Naples and Sardinia.

Harry Hearder
Italy, A Short History
Elegantly written, generous and informative, this compact book takes in the sweep of Italian history from the Roman Republic through the Renaissance, World War II and up to the present.

Daphne Phelps
A House in Sicily
An old-fashioned memoir of life at Casa Cuseni, the pensione and garden in Taormina run by the indomitable Daphne Phelps, which has been a sanctuary for such guests as Tennessee Williams, Betrand Russell and others, famous and infamous, since 1947.

Chris Harrison
Head over Heel, Seduced by Southern Italy
Harrison’s affectionate memoir takes us on the bumpy ride from Australia to Southern Italy, where he reunites with the love of his life, Daniela, while also facing the often-hilarious challenges of life in an eccentric village in Puglia.

Barbara Grizzuti Harrison
Italian Days
Grizzuti Harrison writes with warmth and depth of her journey from Milan south to Calabria in this sprightly account of Italy and the Italians.

Dianne Hales
La Bella Lingua
Inebriated with the sounds of Italian, lovesick for its phrases and enamored of its earthy idioms, Hales, “a sensible woman of sturdy Polish stock,” dives into the Italian of the piazza, literature, movies and streets in this charming memoir.

Norman Lewis
Naples ’44, A World War II Diary of Occupied Italy
A classic book by one of the 20th century’s great travel writers. Naples ’44 is funny, moving and ultimately a meditation on war and the indomitable character of the Italian people.

Shirley Hazzard
The Ancient Shore
Hazzard’s lyrical collection of essays on the history, beauty, complexities and contradictions of Naples. Includes a celebrated New Yorker essay by husband Francis Steegmuller.

Andrea Camilleri
The Shape of Water
The first of Camilleri’s wildly popular Inspector Montalbano mysteries, nicely translated and shot through (pun intended) with not just memorable characters but also with Sicilian lore and politics.

Lawrence Venuti (Editor)
Italy, A Traveler’s Literary Companion
This literary companion and anthology features a who’s who of contemporary Italian writers who capture the spirit, history and allure of the country.

Giuseppe Di Lampedusa
The Leopard
Evoking a lost world of privilege and tradition, Giuseppe Di Lampedusa’s memorable tale, set on a rural Sicilian estate during the days of independence, follows the world-weary Don Fabrizio, Prince of Salina. A classic, now in a 50th anniversary edition.

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