Southern Italy and Sicily with Giovanni Tempesta

TOUR FALL 2013___

Tuesday, August 27:  SAN FRANCISCO/ROMA

Depart San Francisco to Roma, Italy. Enjoy your meals and refreshments aloft.

Wednesday, August 28: ROMA

Arrive Leonardo Da Vinci airport and transfer on your own to your hotel located five minutes from Piazza San Pietro. The group will meet in the hotel’s lobby at around 6:00 to get acquainted. Dinner this evening in a typical Roman restaurant to try some local specialties like Penne alla Matriciana and the wines from the surrounding hills of Rome.

Thursday, August 29: ROMA/POMPEI/AMALFI

This morning, after breakfast we’ll leave for Amalfi. A long ride, but what is expecting us is worth waiting for. Before arriving in Amalfi, we’ll stop in Pompei where on a fateful day in 79 AD, Mt Vesuvius unleashed its fury on the 20,000 inhabitants of this thriving Roman city. Everyone was buried alive, however not only are the body forms preserved, but the artwork, mosaics, and buildings are in very good condition. Pompei, no matter how long ago the disaster happened, still grabs you. After visiting Pompei, we’ll be riding on the spectacular Amalfi coast. Amalfi, originally Roman, was the first Sea Republic of Italy. Of great historical and architectural value is its cathedral, built in the ninth century. Its bronze doors, the first to appear in Italy, were melted in Constantinople in 1066. Set in a wide inlet in the mountain, Amalfi is made of narrow streets, alleys and labyrinthine stairway in which the typical whitewashed houses are embedded. Our hotel Luna Convento, is beautifully situated near the center, on Tonight dinner in Amalfi is on your own to enjoy the good fish-based cuisine of this area. The Hotel Luna Convento has a wonderful restaurant and we suggest you make reservations for dinner as soon as we arrive, to get a special table overlooking the Tirrenian sea.

Friday, August 30AMALFI

This morning we’ll go on a guided tour of Amalfi and visit a small local Limoncello store where we’ll see how they make this liqueur made with the skin of beautiful home grown lemons and get a chance to taste it freshly made. We will also visit Amalfi’s paper museum and we’ll have the rest of the morning free to discover on your own this jewel on the Tirrenian coast. Special lunch in Amalfi and rest of the afternoon at leisure to rest or to discover the Amalfi Coast, visiting, for example, Positano, another marvelous town that can be visited by bus or a local boat, or Ravello that you can easily reach by bus.

Saturday, August 31: AMALFI

 Today, after breakfast, you can choose to either stay in Amalfi and enjoy the swimming pool at the hotel or swim in the sea right below the hotel, or discover special shops and little secrets of Amalfi or for a nice passeggiata, or, weather permitting, you can board a boat to the island of Capri, also known as the Island of Dreams. It lies off the coast of Naples.

Its beautiful rugged landscape, mild climate and rich vegetation, along with its characteristic small white cottages, has enchanted many people over the centuries.

If you go to Capri, you’ll be back by 5:30 PM.

HOTEL ITALIA                                                                          B.D.

After breakfast. we’ll depart for  Matera, an ancient city that dates to the paleolithic times. The town became known last year because the movie “Passion of The Christ” was filmed there.

Our hotel is not far from the Sassi” (stones), the old city that occupies an unusually picturesque location on the rocks above a deep gorge. Sassi is composed of two agglomeration of houses and cottages- one on top of the other- carved out of the Tufo rock. After arrival in Matera we’ll go on a guided tour around the Sassi and we’ll visit a typical house. The tour will end with a taste of some typical appetizers and wines of the area. Some time at leisure to discover the Sassi on your own. Dinner in one of the nicest restaurants in Matera, overlooking the Sassi, to try some local cuisine and wines.

HOTEL EXCELSIOR                                                                          B.D.

 Today we’ll begin our long journey South, toward beautiful Sicily. We’ll cross the entire Calabria region and we’ll stop in the capital, REGGIO CALABRIA and visit the MUSEO NAZIONALE DELLA MAGNA GRAECIA (if it is open!! They have been having problems, lately!), one of Southern Italy’s most important archaeological museums, where we’ll see the two famous statues, BRONZI DI RIACE, found off Calabria’s Ionian coast in 1972. The statues date from the 5th century BC.

After this exciting visit we’ll transfer by boat to Messina in Sicily and from there continue on to TAORMINA, world-famous holiday resort, renowned for its warm climate and lush vegetation, but most of all for its glorious position spread over a terrace on Monte Tauro at 200 meters. above sea level and with a view of Mount Etna.

Tonight you should take a nice “Passeggiata” on Taormina main street to enjoy some of the best views.

Dinner in Taormina.

Tuesday, September 3                                                      TAORMINA
HOTEL EXCELSIOR                                                                             B.

After breakfast, we’ll visit the Greek-Roman Theater, one of the most beautifully positioned in the world, built in the middle of the 3rd century B.C. Afternoon at leisure to relax, at the splendid swimming pool or to discover special sites of Taormina or to go to the beach and swim in the Ionian Sea. Ask Giovanni for recommendations for lunch or dinner.

Wednesday, September 4   TAORMINA-MOUNT ETNA – SIRACUSA
Hotel Des Etrangers et Miramare                                                         B.D.

After breakfast early departure for SIRACUSA, a magnificent city on the east coast of Sicily, stretching with the island of Ortigia towards the sea, is one of the most important archeological centers of Magna Graecia. On our way to Siracusa will stop at the lower craters (CRATERI SILVESTRI) of Mount Etna, one of two active volcanoes in Italy. Because the funicular to the top was destroyed in last year’s eruption, trip to the top is not as easy but possible. We’ll leave it optional. After this visit we’ll leave for charming Siracusa, where before dinner we’ll visit the Greek Theater, the Roman Amphitheater, the Latomia of Paradise, huge quarries of calcareous rock with which the city was built. The Latomia of Paradise is a huge 20-30 meter-deep limestone cave consisting of the “Ear of Dionysius”. The great painter Caravaggio gave it its name because of its odd shape and amazing acoustics, that amplifies even the very fainted of sounds. Dinner at a local restaurant to try the specialties of the area.

Thursday, September 5: SIRACUSA
Hotel Des Etrangers et Miramare                                                  B.

Today we will visit the small and charming town of Noto, southwest of the city of Syracuse.

Noto is famous for its fine buildings of the early 18th century, considered among the main masterpieces in the Sicilian baroque style. It is a place of many religious buildings, there are several palaces, and many others. The old has mixed with the new, and a view from the top of a building on the hill will show the older Noto. In 2002 Noto and its church were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Back to Siracusa in the late afternoon afternoon.

HOTEL BAGLIO DELLA LUNA                                                     B.D.

Departure for AGRIGENTO and the valley of the Temples.

On our way we’ll stop in Piazza Armerina, a town that is a famous health resort in a pleasant position, surrounded by pine and eucalyptus forests. We’ll visit the Roman Villa Del Casale, renowned throughout the world for its splendid floor mosaics, dating back to the 4th century AD.

Afternoon arrival to Agrigento. Our HOTEL BAGLIO DELLA LUNA is an extraordinary piece of Paradise, set among courtyards, wall fortifications, a watch tower and a terrace overlooking the breathtaking Valley of the Temples. Tonight we’ll be treated to a special dinner to taste what the area has to offer.

Saturday, September 7: AGRIGENTO
HOTEL BAGLIO DELLA LUNA                                                       B.D.

 Morning visit to the celebrated Valley of the Temples, which are of calcareous tuff, a golden yellow of a beautiful chromatic effect. The Temple of Hercules is the most ancient Doric monument in Agrigento but the Temple of the Concordia is far better preserved.

Afternoon spent relaxing in the courtyard of HOTEL BAGLIO DELLA LUNA.

Great dinner with the special view of the valley of the Temples.

Sunday, September 8         AGRIGENTO- MARSALA- PALERMO
GRAND HOTEL ET DES PALMES                                                B.L.

Departure for PALERMO, the capital of Sicily On our way to Palermo we’ll stop in beautiful Marsala, town world known for its liqueur, with a visit to the PELLEGRINO’s CANTINE(winery) where we’ll have a chance to taste some good Sicilian wines and the famous Marsala. We will have a nice lunch in Marsala, then continue on to Palermo, where we’ll arrive at around 4:00 PM. Our Grand Hotel Et Des Palmes is centrally located. We will have time for a passeggiata in the beautiful Sicilian capital.

Monday, September 9                 PALERMO-MONREALE-PALERMO
GRAND HOTEL ET DES PALMES                                                                               B.D.

A morning orientation tour of the Sicilian capital to see the Cathedral dedicated to the Assunta, which rises beyond the wide garden level , surrounded by a magnificent marble enclosure decorated with a series of baroque statuary. The Church was built in the 12th century over a preexisting church. Will also visit the Palazzo Dei Normanni, built by the Arabs, extended by the Norman and restructured at the time of the Swabians. Inside we’ll see the splendid Palatine Chapel, rich in wonderful mosaics. We’ll also visit San Giovanni Degli Eremiti , certainly the most picturesque of Palermo’s Churches. The 12th century structure was built by the Norman on the site of an earlier mosque – one of two hundred that once stood in Palermo for almost two centuries before they were conquered by the Norman, and they brought to the city their passion for lush gardens and cool fountains, Islamic influences are everywhere in old Palermo, especially in san Giovanni’s delightful cloister of slender paired columns surrounded by palm trees, flowering jasmine, oleander and citrus trees.

In the afternoon, we will also visit Monreale, home of Sicily’s most extraordinary medieval mosaics in the cathedral. This small hill-town, 8km southwest of Palermo, commands unsurpassed views down the Conca d’Oro Valley, with the capital shimmering lights in the distant bay, famous for its Cathedral, with beautiful mosaics.

Farewell dinner” at a restaurant in Palermo.

Tuesday, September 10             PALERMO – SAN FRANCISCO

Early departure from Palermo airport for your return flight home!