SICILY - ROME & THE VATICAN

 

“Bella Italia” – Beautiful Italy

27 September - 22 October 2019

Duration 26 Days

 

  Dream Destination encompassing The Vatican City which is a separate state all on it’s own.  Rome is the capital of Italy and

is the centre of Italian politics and the centre of the Catholic Church worldwide. Known as the eternal city,

Rome is over 3,000 years old and is filled with stunning buildings and shops. On this tour we will also be visiting Sorrento,

Pompei, Capri, also the stunning Amalfi Coast.  Puglia on the Adriatic Coast, Taorimina and south east Italy, and

the world renowned Palermo. Too much to include here contact us for a full itinerary.  

Highlights

Private Guided tour of the Vatican

Guided Colosseum Tour

4 nights on the stunning Amalfi Coast

Walking tour of famous Tulli of Alberobello

Guided tour of Valley of The Temples UNESCO site

Pompei -Vesuvius

Isle of Capri

Day 1:  Travel from NZ for our overnight stay in Singapore

 

Day 2:  Singapore – Rome

 

Day 3:  Rome - 3 nights

As the capital of Italy, Roma is the centre of Italian Politics as well as the centre of the Catholic Church

worldwide,  encompassing Vatican City, as a separate state all on its own so there is always an incredible mix of

people of all religions visiting the city.  Rome is without a doubt one of the most interesting cities in the world. 

Roma è sempre Roma! Rome is always Rome – a city that never changes! If you have ever thrown a coin

in the Trevi Fountain you will know that when you return the city will still be the same.

Known as The Eternal City, Roma is over 3,000 years old and filled with stunning buildings

constructed in marble, tufa and sandstone.

 

Day 4:  Rome Colosseum & Roman Forum Tour

Tour of Ancient Rome which includes Colosseum, Forum and Palatine Hill. Qualified guide with Archaeology degree

and fluent English speaker.

 

Day 5:  Rome Vatican Museum & St Peters Basilica Tour

Morning Vatican Tour will include Highlights of the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, Basilica of Saint Peter’s. 

Qualified guide with Art History degree and fluent English speaker.

 

Day 6:  Pompei  Archaeological Park Tour  Almalfi Coast  - 4 nights

The beautiful Amalfi Coast is one of the most magnificent areas of coastline in Italy. The views out over the sea are

simply breath taking. We have 4 days in this beautiful part of the world with breath taking views out

over the Tirrenian Sea. Towns to visit are Positano, Amalfi and the spectacular Ravello. Catch the ferry to the craggy

island of Capri which has always been a mecca for the rich and famous. This is the place to eat with a sea view in Italy.

Try the Spaghetti al Vongole the specialty dish of the area. The city of Pompeii was an ancient Roman town-city near modern

Naples in the Italian region of Campania, in the territory of the commune of Pompei. Pompeii, along with Herculaneum

and many villas in the surrounding area, was mostly destroyed and buried under 4 to 6 m (13 to 20 ft) of ash and pumice

in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. Researchers believe that the town was founded in the seventh or sixth century

BC by the Osci or Oscans. It came under the domination of Rome in the 4th century BC, and was conquered and

became a Roman colony in 80 BC after it joined an unsuccessful rebellion against the Roman Republic. By the time of its

destruction, 160 years later, its population was approximately 11,000 people, and the city had a complex water system,

an amphitheatre, gymnasium and a port. The eruption destroyed the city, killing its inhabitants and burying it

under tons of ash. Evidence for the destruction originally came from a surviving letter by Pliny the Younger, who saw

the eruption from a distance and described the death of his uncle Pliny the Elder, an admiral of the Roman fleet,

who tried to rescue citizens. The site was lost for about 1,500 years until its initial rediscovery in 1599 and broader

rediscovery almost 150 years later by Spanish engineer Rocque Joaquin de Alcubierre in 1748.

The objects that lay beneath the city have been well-preserved for centuries because of the lack of air and moisture.

These artefacts provide an extraordinarily detailed insight into the life of a city during the Pax Romana.

During the excavation, plaster was used to fill in the voids in the ash layers that once held human bodies.

This allowed one to see the exact position the person was in when he or she died. Pompeii has been a

tourist destination for over 250 years. Today it has UNESCO World Heritage Site status and is one of the most

popular tourist attractions in Italy, with approximately 2.5 million visitors every year.

 

Day 7: Excursion to the fabulous  Isle of Capri Anacapri  Villa San Michelle Tour  

Seldom do literature and reality come together so successfully as in case of San Michele. Villa San Michelle is the

former home of Axel Munthe (1857-1949) who was a Swedish-born Physician and Psychiatrist who lived most of his

life on Anacapri on the island of Capri Italy. He was an incredible Man.  His story of building his Villa San Michele is

one of the most widely published books in many languages all around the world.  Axel spoke at least five languages

fluently and wrote the novel in English being his second language which is an amazing feat in itself. He was a tireless

advocate of animal rights purchasing land to create a bird sanctuary near his home in Anacapri

to prevent the hunters from killing them all on their annual migration. Many women fell in love with him but his longest

standing relationship was with Queen Victoria of Sweden for over thirty years and was her personal physician even

though they lived in different European countries. He travelled widely and serviced the medical

needs of the poor for no charge and was a tireless philanthropist giving money and supporting many friends financially.

He flew to countries which experienced disasters to help with medical assistance and received medals for his work which he

was not inclined to accept. He helped save lives in the Cholera epidemic in Naples and the Messina earthquake in Sicily. 

Villa San Michele is now a museum cared for by the Swedish government. It contains his amazing collection of art

and sculpture collected over his lifetime from very famous artists and antiquity. He socialized with all the famous people

of his era and was widely sought after as an intellectual. As well as being an accomplished writer he was also a very

good pianist and regularly entertained his visitors on the piano. Dr Munthe excavated many treasures from the

palace of the ancient Roman emperor Tiberius, which were deep in the ground of his home –a site he chose for this

reason - the most famous is the marble sculpture of the sphinx which sits gazing out to sea over the bay of Napoli on

the ledge of the open terrace, guarding the villa.

 

Day 8: Ravello Villa Cimbrone Garden Tour - Amalfi

English speaking guided tour inside the gardens of Villa Cimbrome. The Villa Cimbrone Hotel is situated in a

magnificent secular park, 10 minutes walk from the centre of Ravello and can be reached only by walking from the

main piazza of Ravello. The Villa’s gardens are breathtakingly beautiful and contain a wealth “of the most beautiful

flowers imaginable”. The gardens were largely redesigned at the start of the 20th century, with the valuable input

of the English gardener Vita Sackville-West.

 

Day 9: Positano

Travel to Positano (a UNESCO area).   Positano is considered to be one of Italy’s most beautiful villages and

certainly is one of the pearls of the Amalfi Coast.  Here we will have some free time for lunch, shopping or a swim.

We then continue towards our fabulous ocean side hotel on the stunning Almafi coast.

 

Day 10: Matera, Basilicata

Matera is a city and a province in the region of Basilicata, in Southern Italy. It is the capital of the province of

Matera and the capital of Basilicata from 1663 to 1806. The town lies in a small canyon carved out by the Gravina.

Known as "la Città Sotterranea", Matera is well known for being one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world

Matera (a UNESCO area).  Free time in afternoon.

 

Day 11: Sassi di Matera Tour

Guided tour of the amazing caves of Matera. Located in the southern Italian region of Basilicata, The Sassi and the

Park of the Rupestrian Churches of Matera comprises a complex of houses, churches, monasteries and hermitages

built into the natural caves of the Murgia. This remarkable and intact troglodyte settlement contains more than a thousand

dwellings and a large number of shops and workshops. The caves were first occupied during the Palaeolithic period

(2–6 million years ago) and shows evidence of continuous human occupation through several millennia until the present day.

The town and park constitute an outstanding example of an architectural ensemble in a unique landscape illustrating

various modes of living throughout human history- from cave man to the present day. Matera is the only place in the

world where people can boast to be still living in the same houses of their ancestors of 9,000 years ago. Until the late

1980s this was considered an area of poverty, since many of these houses were, and in some cases still are, uninhabitable. 

It is a unique and fascinating place to visit. Free time  in afternoon.

 

Day 12:  Alberobello  Puglia  Alberobello Tour Lecce - 3 nights

Puglia is the region in the heel of the boot of Italy. It is now being discovered for its beautiful beaches with white sand

on the Adriatic coast. The crystal clear, aqua waters and simple way of life are being sought out by the tourists who want

to escape the crowds in summer elsewhere. Most of the beaches are wide and sandy, giving way to attractive rocky

coves, some with magnificent sea caves, in parts of Gargano and the Salentino peninsula. The old towns of the Salento

coast are gems teeming with Baroque architecture, deconsecrated chapels and piazza that have fallen into disrepair.

These are is a veritable treasure trove for those in search of character, space and beauty. Towns such as Nardo, Galatina

and Gallipoli are divine finds. Winding cobbled streets, lapped by septuagenarians on scooters, hide themselves away from

the outside world. Walking tour around Alberobello.  Time for lunch then we move on to Lecce.

 

Day 13:  Lecce City Tour - Free time afternoon

Discover a city that since the renaissance, is literally covered with art. It was the religious fervour of the counter

reformation that transformed the face of Lecce, the seat of the most powerful religious orders who engage generations of

stonemasons for centuries to glorify themselves and the Church triumphant through redundant architecture and

excessive authentic ephemeral glory. In Piazza del Duomo, the square forms an authentic backdrop born to amaze the

visitor where the eye is deceived by an abundant decoration. In the same piazza, there is the majestic facades of the

Cathedral, the Bishop’s Palace and the seminary and at the end - the high bell tower which  dominates all, the square

and the city. Continue to the Church of St. Irene, first patron of Lecce, then arrive in Piazza Sant’Oronzo, the ancient

heart of the city centre, under which in ’900 was unearthed a Roman amphitheatre dating from the second century BC.

 

Day 14:  Otranto Tour - Lecce

Otranto a fishing port is a beautiful white city on the heel of Puglia on the Adriatic Sea and has retained many traces of

its glorious past. The tour starts from the ancient and imposing porta - Gateway to the East of Europe; from which you

can reach the Holy Land. Continue to the church of San Pietro, a fine example of a Byzantine church. A pleasant walk

through the old town then to the 11th Century Norman Cathedral to admire the fantastic mosaics that cover the floor –

masterpieces of great artistic and religious value with interesting representations of the tree of life, months, Old Testament

subjects and others. You will see the Chapel containing the bones Martyrs of Otranto - an eternal reminder of the brave

Otrantini refused to convert to Islam and who lost their lives during the conquest of the city by the Ottoman armies in 1480.

The tour ends then ends with a visit of the Crypt. After the tour we will visit the port for lunch and after lunch a climb

to top of the Castello Aragonese, which was once a mighty fortress which has amazing views out over

the sea and the historical port.

 

Day 15:  Calabria

Calabria is at the toe of the boot, the extreme south of Italy - lapped by the splendid crystal blue Ionian and

Tyrrhenian Seas and separated from Sicily by the Strait of Messina. The warm climate, the beautiful colours of the sea,

rocky coasts that alternate with sandy beaches, a nature that is wild and mysterious, the strong and genuine

flavours of local food and the vestiges of its ancient origins make Calabria a unique place that vacationers can

enjoy in both winter and summer. Those who prefer to learn about the region's past, Calabria, the cradle of Magna

Graecia and land of ancient settlements, is full of splendid churches, monasteries, castles, palaces and towns

where age-old traditions still survive. The provinces of Calabria are: Catanzaro (regional capital), Reggio

Calabria, Cosenza, Crotone and Vibo Valentia.

 

Day 16:  Welcome to Sicily  - Catania  - 3 nights

Time to explore the fascinating island of Sicily.  A melting pot of culture which dates back to the Bronze Age. Most of

Catania's wide streets and majestic palaces were built during the eighteenth century, coincidental to the Bourbon's

development of Naples, and the architectural similarity between the two cities is striking. That both were continually

menaced by volcanic eruptions is a further similarity, though Etna is larger and more active than Vesuvius. An

bvious difference will be seen in the gray volcanic stone used to construct the Catanian buildings.  This is our base

for our 3 night stay.

 

Day 17:  Mount Etna Volcano tour & Taormina

We head to the southern access point of Etna volcano. Mount Etna is the second most active volcano on earth.

Standing 3,350 meters high (10,000 feet), it dominates the skyline of Catania and its peak is visible from anywhere

on Sicily’s east side. Once reached the tourist area called Rifugio Sapienza, at 1900 m of height

and equipped with numerous tourist facilities we have a guided visit of the Silvestri Craters, a group of inactive craters

with breath-taking views on the valley below and Ionian Sea. There's also time to go shopping nearby. 

Next we move to the restaurant, located on Mount Etna area on the way to Taormina. After lunch we do a tour of Taormina. 

Taormina is one of the most beautiful villages one could ever wish to see and a must see on your visit to Sicily

 

Day 18: Ortigia - Catania

Once in Siracusa, you meet a local and expert tourist guide who will lead you, first to the world famous Neapolis

Archaeological Park and then to the ancient town, on the isle of Ortigia. The visit at the Neapolis Archaeological Park

includes the Greek Theatre (5th century BC), where nowadays the ancient Greek tragedies are acted; the Roman

Amphitheatre, where combats among gladiators were held and the Latomie of the Stone Paradise,

ancient hollows which provided the stone for many of the Greek monuments. The most famous, is the Orecchio of Dionisio.

Some of the ancient sights to see in Syracuse are located on the isle of Ortigia. The two most important are the

Arethusa Fountain, a place linked to Greek mythology and the Cathedral: the set of a Doric Temple built on an

ancient Sicilian settlement, a Byzantine basilica and a Norman church, with late Renaissance and Baroque elements.

After the tour you have some time at leisure before returning to Catania.

 

Day 19:  Villa Romana Tour – Agrigento - 2 nights

Piazza Armerina - Villa Romana del Casale Private Tour

Leaving Catania, you are transferred to Agrigento stopping in Piazza Armerina for a couple of hours. Here, you

meet a local guide and explore Villa Romana del Casale which was built between 330 and 360 AD. Villa Romana

del Casale is one of the largest Roman dwellings of its kind to have survived antiquity and one of the most

important archaeological discoveries with its decorative and figurative mosaics which cover a floor surface of 3.500 square metres.

In fact, the villa contains the richest, largest and most complex collection of Roman mosaics in the world.

 

Day 20:  Valley Temples/ Arch - Museum Tour

Agrigento is known as the site of the ancient Greek city of Akragas, one of the leading cities of Magna Grecia.  Akragas was

named after the nearby river, and was described by Pindaro as the most beautiful city  inhabited by mortals. The guided visit

leads you to the Valley of the Temples which UNESCO included in the list of the World’s Heritage sites. In Agrigento, you

will take a walk through ruins of numerous temples, necropolis, houses and streets of the ancient city. Among those, the

Temple of Concordia was built around 440 BC and is considered one of the most notable examples of Ancient Greek

architecture on account of its state of preservation.

 

Day 21:  Agrigento – Palermo -  2 nights

 We visit  the  amazing historic Monreale Cathedral.

Some free time for lunch and browsing then on to Palermo.

 

Day 22: Palermo

Breakfast then a guided city tour of Palermo. Crossroads of Mediterranean and northern European civilization,

Palermo is both an essay in chaos, and a sensuous spice box of a city. Elsewhere in the historical centre is a mix of historical

remains. You will take a guided tour of the Arab-Norman style Cathedral, the Quattro Canti (Four Corners) and Piazza

Pretoria with its beautiful mannerist fountain. A must is The Royal Chapel , inside the Royal Norman Palace designed

by Roger II in the XII century and representing the fusion of Byzantine, Arabs, Norman and Sicilian civilization.

 

Day 23:  Palermo - Rome

Transfer to Palermo airport for our flight into Rome with free time for last chance to shop or just enjoy browsing

and a good cup of coffee in the afternoon.

 

Day 24: 

Reluctantly our amazing tour of this stunning part of Italy has come to an end.  We will have  wonderful memories

to take home with us. We’ll say “Arrivederci  Roma” Transfer to Rome airport for our flight return to NZ

 

Day 25:   

In transit

 

Day 26:    

Arrive back in back in our own beautiful country  New Zealand

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