Discover the secrets of Italy’s vibrant south on a journey through Calabria and Sicily.

From the pristine waters of Palinuro to the stalwart fortifications of Tropea, all the way to the smoke gently floating from the volcanoes of the Aeolian Islands – Calabria is a hidden gem for those who stray off Italy’s beaten path. Discover this less-visited part of the country before delving into the spectacular sights of bustling Sicily, volcanic valleys of Mt. Etna, timeworn streets of Siracusa, the Baroque wonders of Ragusa and rich anti-mafia history of Palermo. Starring dramatic cliffside villages, clear waters and delicious seafood, this is a chance to experience the highlights of southern Italy.

20% OFF lesser-known destinations

Book a trip before 18 December 2017 (departing between 1 January 2018 and 31 December 2018), get 20% OFF and we will donate another 20% to The Intrepid Foundation.

Terms & Conditions

Start
Amalfi, Italy
Finish
Palermo, Italy
Country
Italy
Style
Original
Theme
Explorer
Code
ZMSB
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 12

Why we love this trip

  • Get up close and personal with the active volcanoes scattered across the Aeolian Islands and perhaps take a dip in one of the suplhur springs

  • Surrounded by dramatic valleys and craters set in a lunar-like landscape, towering Mt. Etna is one of the greatest natural beauties of the Mediterranean, and Europe’s largest active volcano

  • Search crumbling Greek and Roman ruins in the charming seaside town of Taormina

  • Encounter the crumbling facades of Siracusa and unearth hundreds of years of Greco-Roman history

Is this trip right for you?

  • Due to the terrain the means of transportation on this trip is a mix of local trains, private vehicles and public buses. Train travel is a fast way to traverse long distances, allowing you to avoid traffic jams and arrive right into the city centre. Trains are comfortable and all have toilets, however can often be quite busy, especially in peak summer season. Please note that you'll have to carry your own luggage on and off the train, so make sure it doesn’t exceed our weight and size recommendations. You can find this information in the 'What to Take' section of the trip notes.

  • As there are cobblestones in many Italian cities, it's recommended that you leave any wheelie bags/cases at home and bring a backpack instead. A large backpack should be enough to carry all of your belongings. A backpack also comes in handy as often there are no lifts or escalators in train stations or in the hotel, so you will have to carry your bags up and down the stairs.

  • Summer temperatures can be extreme in many of the regions visited (over 40°C), which can be uncomfortable. It’s important to use sun protection, wear layers to combat the heat and drink plenty of water. Many hotel rooms in Europe are not equipped with air-conditioning, and the cooling system on local trains can be broken on a regular basis. Note also that during peak holiday season beaches can be quite busy. Please carefully consider the time of the year you wish to travel and your suitability to that season.

  • As accommodation on this trip is multi-share, single travellers will share a room with another traveller of the same sex. This trip is a great opportunity to get to know other like-minded people, so embrace it while you can. If you’d prefer not to share, a single room supplement is available at an additional charge. Please ask your travel consultant for more details, and please note that in some hotels a single supplement exclusion applies where single rooms are not available. Hotel rooms in Europe can seem rather small by American or Australian standards and often don't have double beds, but rather two single beds that can be pushed together. Please also note that often hotels offer shared bathrooms rather than en-suite facilities.

Itinerary

Buongiorno! Welcome to Italy, where you'll first be greeted by the Amalfi peninsula's rocky coasts, azure seas and whitewashed villages. There are no activities planned before tonight's group meeting, so you can arrive any time before then. Perhaps stroll from one side of Amalfi town to the other and pay a visit to the Cattedrale di Sant'Andrea and the Chiostro del Paradiso, or laze around the beaches until the meeting starts.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
This Italian adventure will begin with a welcome meeting at 6pm tonight – check with reception to confirm the time and place. We'll be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please have these on hand. If you're going to be late, please inform hotel reception. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).
Travel by bus to Salerno, then to Centola by train, followed by a trip by taxi to Palinuro – a humble seaside town on a beautiful stretch of coastline, famous among Italian holiday makers. Palinuro is often overlooked by international travellers as it lies close to more popular locations such as the Amalfi coast to the north and Calabria to the south. In spite of this, it is still an attractive destination on its own thanks to a glistening, clean shoreline, hidden caves lying just outside of the village and scenic green hills that circle the town. You’ll have a free afternoon to explore this hidden jewel and its beaches – perhaps dip your toes in the water for a swim, relax and sunbathe, or stroll idly along the shore.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
After yesterday’s adventures across Palinuro’s local beaches, you’ll spend this morning off the beaten path with a hike to Cape Palinuro, located within Cilento National Park. Perhaps go shopping for a mozzarella picnic before setting off on the three hour walk. Your leader will have suggestions on what to buy. The cliffs, hidden bays and marine caves are quite an impressive natural sight on this stretch of Italy’s Mediterranean coastline. Return to Palinuro for a free afternoon or some more optional walks.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Hike to Cape Palinuro
Optional Activities
  • Mozzarella Picnic - EUR5
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Say goodbye to Palinuro as you head back to Centola. From here, take three local trains (approx. 4 hours) to Tropea where the Calabrian leg of your journey begins. Tropea has a striking sense of timelessness, created by the streets full of faded buildings and the iconic fortifications that line the city’s cliffs. Explore the town as you head out on an orientation walk. You may want to visit the local Norman cathedral, the Duomo, which holds an icon of the town’s celebrated protectress, the Madonna of Romania. There’s also the Museo Diocesano, a tiny museum hiding in the Palazzo Vescovile next to the Duomo, which is full of religious art and wooden statues. If you’d prefer some time by the water, feel free to head to the beach and marvel at the looming structures on the cliffs nearby.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
If the weather is fine, take an included boat trip to the Aeolian Islands of Vulcano, Lipari and Stromboli. These islands, affectionately referred to as ‘pearls of the Mediterranean’, attract all manner of adventurers and thrill seekers to their shores due to their natural beauty and volcanic activity. The trip will start on the aptly named Vulcano, where you’ll have a chance to dip in either the crystal waters or the famous sulphur springs as they sit in the foreground of an active volcano. Then, land on the isle of Lipari where you’ll have free time to visit the museum, have lunch, go shopping or stroll through the streets. Following Lipari, you’ll pass the isle of Panarea and travel to Stromboli to learn about the famous Sciara del Fuoco (street of fire) before spending free time on the island’s black sandy beaches. Afterwards, return to Tropea where you’ll spend the night.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Aeolian Islands Cruise (Vulcano, Lipari, Stromboli)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
The boat trip is subject to weather and may be cancelled at short notice if weather conditions are adverse. In this case the leader will provide you with an alternative activity. Please also note that today's trip will have you depart at around 7am, and you will return to Tropea at 7pm.
Depart from Tropea by train as you travel onward to Reggio Calabria, the gateway to Sicily. The city’s placement in a major earthquake zone has caused much destruction over the years, meaning only few historical sites remain in comparison to the rest of Italy. However, this has resulted in a charming mix of architecture - balanced between the surviving old buildings and the modern structures. Embark on an orientation walk, before visiting the widely renowned National Archaeological Museum of Reggio. This building is arguably the most important tourism destination that the region has to offer, featuring an excellent collection of exhibits from Greek influenced sites across Calabria, including the Bronzi di Riace, two large bronze statues found on the sea floor in the 70's.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Reggio Calabria Archaological Museum
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today is a free day to explore the city in depth. Alternatively, maybe head up the coast to Scilla, a village surrounded in mythological intrigue. Although previously known as the home of the monster Scylla of Homer’s Odyssey, the town is now recognised as a peaceful fishing village on the toe of Italy’s boot. Make sure you visit the famous castle, Castello Ruffo – the exposed ruins and crumbling walls give an insight to the diverse history of this location. Back in Reggio Calabria, perhaps hunt down some of the city's spectacular restaurants for grilled swordfish or pasta with cauliflower and broccoli (both are dishes typical to the area) and a glass of local wine, or wander past the city’s panoramic waterfront.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Castello Ruffo di Scilla - EUR2
  • Reggio Aragonese Castle - EUR5
  • Daytrip to Scilla - EUR6
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Bid farewell to Reggio Calabria and travel by ferry to Messina in Sicily, where you’ll board a train to the atmospheric city of Catania. The city has a unique energy to it, an interesting blend of young and old. On one hand, there’s a gritty, attractive bar culture that fuels an exuberant nightlife, full of flavour and laughter. On the other hand, the very core of the city boasts one of the fabled “Late Baroque” towns – the UNESCO World Heritage site, Val di Noto. You’ll get the opportunity to explore both sides of this curious city by walking through its grand piazzas and wide roads. The evening is yours to enjoy, so perhaps get a gelato or a granita to cool off at the end of a busy day of exploration.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Take a day trip to the charming city of Taormina. Start things off with an orientation walk, where you’ll notice the Greek influence in the architecture. Walk through the back streets, gardens, and perhaps visit the world famous Greek theatre and the cathedral. The whole afternoon will be at your leisure, so there's plenty of time to explore at your own pace. Have a drink in the Mediterranean sun or dig into some traditional Sicilian pasta before heading back to Catania for an overnight stay.
Included Activities
  • Daytrip to Taormina
Optional Activities
  • Taormina Greek Theatre - EUR10
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Come face-to-face with Europe’s largest active volcano on a day-trip up Mt Etna. Drive up the flank of the volcano to the Sapienza refuge hut, and then travel by cable car to an altitude of 2,500m. Here you have the option to embark on a walk to the famous and dramatic Valle del Bove (Bull Valley) with a mountain guide, a valley formed when the original crater of Etna collapsed. It is Etna’s largest valley, in which many lava flows can be seen, one on top of the other. There is also the option of taking a truck ride to witness the panoramic views at Torre Filosofo, the highest outpost on Etna. Back at the mountain refuge your leader will take you to the crater series of Silvestri, a barren landscape formed by the explosion of 1892.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Funivia dell'Etna Cable Car from Rifugio Sapienza
  • Daytrip to Mt Etna
Optional Activities
  • Truck Ride to Torre del Filosofo - EUR35
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Next travel to Siracusa by private vehicle, where an orientation walk through the most interesting parts of this old town awaits. While wandering through the streets, you might find yourself enchanted as you glance up, examining the crumbling facades and balconies supported for centuries by a host of stone lions, tigers, bears, dragons, moors, satyrs, devils, angels, kings, paupers, wenches and cherubs. Passing some open doors might give you a glimpse of an ornate secret courtyard, whilst others open right on to someone's dining room where lunch is being prepared. In the afternoon perhaps take a boat trip around the island of Ortigia for a scenic view of the walled off cityscape. You may want to participate in an optional visit to the Neapolis Archaeological Site – known as one of the world’ s finest – but if not, then don’t hesitate to spend your free afternoon exploring the countless monuments or slip into a bar for a refreshing granita instead.
Optional Activities
  • Neapolis Archaeological Park - EUR10
  • Castello Maniace - EUR4
  • Siracusa Cathedral - EUR2
  • Archaeological Museum - EUR8
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Start the day by taking your private transport to Ragusa, one of the most scenic towns in all Sicily, as you travel through Noto and Avola. Noto has gained a reputation as an architectural jewel, its limestone structures dazzle on a sunlit afternoon. The town has the benefit of being slightly less known to tourists, resulting in an easier sightseeing experience. Avola keeps a similarly humble spirit – the seaside town is full of excellent regional faire at its many restaurants, sans the hustle and bustle of larger tourist towns. After departing Avola, arrive at Ragusa. The ‘new’ baroque city was completely rebuilt after the devastating earthquake of 1693, resulting in two vastly different sides to the same city. After exploring the tangled alleyways and baroque palazzi, travel back to Siracusa.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Daytrip to Ragusa, Noto & Avola
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Say goodbye to Siracusa before travelling to historic Palermo, the capital of Sicily. Get acquainted with the sights and sounds of the old heart of the city, and gaze upon some of the main monuments such as the uniquely styled cathedral. The building has undergone a number of modifications since its construction in the 12th-century – the most notable of these additions being its bronze dome. The afternoon is free for you to enjoy, so take the time to explore a labyrinth of small alleyways, buzzing colourful market squares and winding roads.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
This morning there is the option to visit nearby Monreale, situated in a panoramic position above Palermo with fantastic views over the city and the sea. Visit the stunning interior and exterior of its cathedral, described as one of the ‘wonders of the medieval world’, and climb to its roof. In the afternoon, take part in a walking tour with a local guide where you’ll uncover symbolic places of rebellion and anti-mafia racketeering. Places such as the Teatro Massimo, Cape Market, Piazza della Memoria, Beati Paoli Square and more all have a rich history in civil mobilisation – not to mention the area’s relationship with serving delicious street food. Meet shop owners who have had the courage to denounce their extortionists, and follow the ethical consumer campaign “Pago chi non paga”, a campaign promoted by Addiopizzo to support those that rebel against the Mafia. Perhaps share a bite with your group tonight, the last before the trip comes to an end.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Anti-Mafia Movement Tour
Optional Activities
  • Monreale Cathedral & Cloister - EUR4
  • Trip to Monreale - EUR20
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Your adventures come to an end today. If you’d like to stay on in Palermo we can arrange additional accommodation on request (subject to availability).
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

14 breakfasts

Transport

Train, Public bus, Private vehicle, Ferry, Cable car

Accommodation

Hotel (14 nights)

Included activities

  • Hike to Cape Palinuro
  • Aeolian Islands Cruise (Vulcano, Lipari, Stromboli)
  • Reggio Calabria Archaological Museum
  • Daytrip to Taormina
  • Funivia dell'Etna Cable Car from Rifugio Sapienza
  • Daytrip to Mt Etna
  • Daytrip to Ragusa, Noto & Avola
  • Anti-Mafia Movement Tour

Dates & availability

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Important notes

SINGLE SUPPLEMENT
A single supplement is available on this trip.

NEW TRIP
Just as a heads up before you book: this trip is new to our range this year. And while we have thoroughly researched every detail of the logistics, new destinations can sometimes throw us some unexpected surprises. More often than not, it’ll be a great surprise. But every now and again there might be a hiccup. We like to think that’s what puts the ‘adventure’ in ‘adventure travel’.

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.