Our sojourn explores life, history, culture and charm, encompassing amazing sights, where every carved stone tells a story. Southern Italy, Sicily & Malta have no less than 16 UNESCO World Heritage sites, each conveying tales of victory, failure and timeless humanity. The Amalfi Coast paints a stunning picture laced with citrus groves and pastel villas clinging precariously to dramatic cliffs, the azure sea glistening and lapping at the shore below. Discover unique towns such as Alberobello, where Trulli houses resembling beehives greet you at every turn. Sicily, seen as the crossroads of Roman, Greek, Norman and North African civilizations has a culture of its own, where we find ancient monuments entwined amongst orchards, olive groves and vineyards, and the cuisine is best described in a word – sensational! New to our itinerary is the tiny but fascinating archipelago of Malta, Here we really experience a colourful and rich blend of mediterranean cultures, expressed through stunning architecture and delectable cuisine.
16 JUNE – 9 JULY • 24 DAYS
NEW ZEALAND – SINGAPORE one night Singapore
Day 1 We depart New Zealand bound for Sorrento, Southern Italy with a transit hotel stop in Singapore en-route.
SINGAPORE – ROME – SORRENTO four nights Sorrento
Days 2–6 On arrival in Rome we’ll be joined by our friendly Italian Guide. Making our way south to Sorrento we travel the road Tiberius Caesar travelled over 2000 years before. En-route we pay homage to the New Zealand and Allied soldiers who were killed in the Battle of Monte Cassino at the Commonwealth War Cemetery. Following this we make our way to the beautiful Abbey atop the mount. In mythology the Amalfi Coast was regarded as the Land of Sirens where the songs of beautiful maidens lured unwitting mariners to their doom. Explore the beautiful towns of Sorrento, Amalfi and Positano, their allure drawing visitors to their shores for thousands of years with remnants of Greek, Roman, Phoenician and Moorish occupation. Immerse yourself in the flavours of the local cuisine, the culmination of family recipes passed down through generations, prepared with the freshest ingredients sourced from local producers. We’ll visit a small family owned farm for lunch, where they produce beautiful meats, cheeses, vegetables, wine, olive oil and a local favourite of the region, Limoncello.
SORRENTO – MATERA two nights Matera
Days 6–8 Today we cross the ankle of Italy to Matera in Southern Italy’s Baslicata region, believed to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited places in Europe and the 3rd oldest in the world. Here we find ancient cave dwellings (Sassi) carved out of the calcarenite rock some dating back 9000 years. By 1950 the town had fallen into disrepair. Today’s occupiers are hippies, artisans and business people with many caves having been converted into shops, galleries, restaurants and boutique hotels. The old town has featured in a number of international films, exposing Matera to a worldwide audience. The Passion of Christ, a Mel Gibson production, is one such movie filmed here.
MATERA – ALBEROBELLO two nights Alberobello
Days 8–10 We leave the region of Baslicata and enter Puglia, a narrow strip running down the eastern coast of Italy from the ankle to the heel, our destination Alberobello, perhaps one of the most unusual towns you’re likely to see, and a World Heritage site. Alberobello comprises around 1,500 beehive buildings or Trulli, that date back to the 1600,s constructed without the use of cement, using dry walls of limestone supporting a distinctive conical stone roof . Today some Trulli are still in use as housing, however many have been converted to shops, galleries, restaurants and cafes, adding to Alberobello’s attraction. We visit beautiful Ostuni, a medieval jumble of white-washed buildings perched strategically atop a hill with commanding views over endless olive trees to the sapphire blue Adriatic in the distance. We’ll also visit the coastal town of Polgnano A Mare whose origins date back to the 4th century. One can wander the winding streets and feast on the vistas over the Adriatic from the cliff-top viewpoints. Polgnano is also renowned for its gelato, still made from secret recipes handed down over generations, and the song Volare, composed by a local song writer Domenico Modugno, and brought to prominence by Dean Martin.
ALBEROBELLO – TAORMINA (Sicily) three nights Taormina
Days 10–13 Crossing from the ankle to the toe of Italy we skirt the Violet Coast to Reggio Calabria, where we board a ferry and cross the Straits of Messina to Sicily, reaching fabulous Taormina late afternoon. Over the next few days we’ll take you on guided outings including a visit to see an attractive example of a Greco-Roman Theatre, located in a wonderful setting overlooking Taormina, with spectacular views along the Ionian Coast, and on to Mt Etna in the distance. Soak-up the atmosphere along the waterfront and gardens as you wander at leisure. We’ll visit the ancient town of Syracuse, birthplace of the Greek mathematician Archimedes where we find Greek and Roman structures at the Neopolis dating back over two thousand years. We’ll take you to ancient quarries where most of the materials for the Neopolis were mined. Here you can test the acoustics in the Ear of Dionysus Cavern. We’ll visit Otigia Island and explore the backstreets and feel the market atmosphere going-on around you.
TAORMINA – AGRIGENTO two nights Agrigento
Days 13–15 Travelling south-west this morning we’re bound for Agrigento founded in the 5th century BC. We visit Piazza Armerina where we find the excavations of Villa Romana del Casale a hunting lodge and villa constructed in the 3rd century AD. The excavations have unearthed magnificently preserved floor mosaics depicting hunting scenes among others, deemed to be the richest, largest and most complex of Roman mosaics in the world. In Agrigento we explore the remains of golden, amber toned Doric Temples, the largest and most exquisite found outside of Greece, giving the Valley of Temples site World Heritage status. Much of the site is awaiting excavation, still buried beneath citrus and olive plantations creating one of the most important archeological sites in Italy.
AGRIGENTO – MARSALA two nights Marsala
Days 15–17 Our first stop this morning is the ancient fishing port of Sciacca. Behind the 16th century walls we find a blend of Arab, Norman and Greek cultures co-existing in what is a fascinating old town. We continue along the coast to Porto Palo, for centuries an important industrial centre and one-time hub of the Mediterranean tuna fishing industry. As with the previous towns visited we enjoy the local fare from the region. We’ll visit the town of Trapani an important supply and staging port during the crusades. Above the port the hilltop fortress of Erice, accessible by cable-car, affords panoramic views over Trapani and along the crescent-shaped coastline to Aegadian and San Vito Capo Islands. The fortress was founded by the ancient Greeks, followed by Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Moors and Normans, their occupation evident in the differing facets of its design.
MARSALA – PALERMO one night Palermo
Days 17–18 Mid-morning we bid farewell to Marsala and travel northeast to the Islands capital Palermo. Caught in the crossroads of civilisation, here you find souk-like markets standing beside with baroque churches; gothic palaces that are framed by date palms and fair blue-eyed folk with bronze, brown-eyed cousins. Palermo is Sicily’s largest city, and behind the crumbling façade lie gilded ballrooms, citrus filled cloisters and vintage shops filled with fragments from a more affluent time in its history. We’ll take you on a guided orientation tour of the city, for tomorrow you’re free to explore Palermo at your leisure.
PALERMO – MALTA three nights Malta
Days 18–21 This morning we transfer to Catania Airport to connect with our flight to the Island nation of Malta. First settled by the Sicilians around 5200 B.C, Malta’s location has historically given it strategic importance as a naval base, lying off the coast of Sicily and North Africa. This tiny nation has been ruled by a succession of powers with the most recent prior to independence being the British. We’ll explore Valetta, Malta’s capital including the Upper Barracca Gardens for spectacular views over Malta harbour. We’ll explore the Crusader’s Palace of the Masters and the War Museum exhibiting relics and memorabilia from Malta’s famous siege during WWII. Have lunch at the colourful coastal fishing village of Marsaxlokk followed by a visit to the fortified town of Mdina, one time capital up until medieval times. We can help you to explore the island further on your leisure day if there is something of specific interest you want to see. With our journey coming to an end what better way to celebrate our adventure than with a farewell dinner together with new found friends
MALTA – SINGAPORE one night Singapore
Days 21–23 Early afternoon we depart Valetta for the start of our journey home. Included is a comfortable overnight stay in Singapore, where we have a little time to catch our breath before commencing our final leg home.
SINGAPORE – NEW ZEALAND
Days 23–24 After a good night’s sleep and leisurely breakfast the rest of the day is yours to do with as you please. Sightseeing, last minute shopping or just relaxing around the pool until our departure for the airport late afternoon.