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    > Sicily - Island in the Sun

Tours Begin: Palermo, Sicily -- 2:30 pm
Tours End: Catania, Sicily -- 1:30 pm

Terrain: Easy to moderate on good trails and coastal paths. An average of 2 to 3 hours of walking per day, with a mini-van usually in support.

Day 1: Palermo
We meet in sunny Palermo at our villa hotel, located in a serene oasis of quiet overlooking the sea, with magnificent gardens and a free form pool that overhangs the water. From here, we begin our trip by exploring Palermo's historical center, including the colorful piazzas and courtyards.

Later in the afternoon, we take a short drive to Monreale, a beautiful little hilltown that overlooks the Conca d'Oro and best known for its magnificent Norman cathedral. Built by William II in 1174, its interior glows with 130 murals and mosaics depicting scenes from the old and new testaments.

Monreale also offers a Romanesque cloister laced with intricate arches and mosaic-inlaid columns that represent one of the richest collection of Sicilian medieval sculpture. For our welcome dinner, a friend - Michele - prepares for us a magnificent seafood dinner overlooking the bay.

Overnight: Palermo; Meals: D

Day 2: Regaleali / cooking instruction / Agrigento
As we travel into the heart of Sicily, we stop near the Regaleali estate, known for its excellent wine. We'll visit a personal friend, who takes us into his kitchen for a special treat-an opportunity to taste some of the local wine and enjoy a cooking demonstration. Satiated from our wonderful lunch, we enjoy a spectacular walk through the rolling countryside surrounding our hosts' home.

Later in the day, we arrive in Agrigento. Here, the Valle dei Templi (Valley of the Temples) is located on a plateau outside of town.

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     April 20 - 26, 2008
     May 11 - 17, 2008
    June 15 - 21, 2008
    September 14 - 20, 2008
    October 12 - 18, 2008

7 days/6 nights

    From $3,495.00
    ($495 single supplement)

Our hotel, an 18th century villa, is the only lodging located inside the archeological zone. A beautiful benefit of staying at the villa is the opportunity (weather permitting) to dine al fresco on the terrace while the temples are illuminated against the night sky on the hill above us.

Overnight: Agrigento; Meals: B, L

Day 3: Valley of the Temples
Wake up this morning to the magnificent sight of the sun rising over the Temple of Concordia. (If you're an early riser, we have a wonderful option for you. Enjoy a leisurely walk to reach the temples and watch the light of the early morning bathe them in a golden glow.)

Following breakfast we enjoy a morning walk through the woods and along the Mediterranean Sea in the private lands of Torre Salsa that the owners open especially for our enjoyment. If you'd like, take a refreshing swim in the warm waters off the private beach, one of the few sandy beaches in Sicily. Our morning culminates with a special country style lunch at Siciliana, a few miles from Agrigento.

We have a leisurely afternoon to explore with our guide among the temples, before we enjoy a visit to the archeological museum, with many of the vases and artifacts from the site. At the temples, roam on your own or with our guide, moving from temple to temple: Concordia (best preserved and dating to 440 BC), Hercules, Dioscuri, Jupiter, Castor and Pollux. The backdrop to the temples is the sea in the distance, with footpaths through the wildflowers and almond trees in the surrounding fields. Linger at the temples as long as you'd like, as we return on a footpath through fruit trees to our villa hotel.

Overnight: Agrigento; Meals: B, D

Day 4: Taormina
Leaving behind the ancient ruins, we drive to the northeast corner of Sicily and the spectacular coastal village of Taormina. Famous like Positano on the Amalfi coast for its beautiful location along the cliffs and overlooking the Ionian Sea, Taormina is equally charming, with its fashionable boutiques and antique shops. After a light lunch on a charming terrace overlooking the sea, we arrive at our villa hotel in Castelmola perched at the top of Taormina, offering us impressive views of Mt. Etna with it's snowcapped cone etched against the blue sky in the background.

The options for your afternoon include relaxing at the hotel, enjoying an energetic walk along a scenic footpath on the mountain, or exploring around the town. If you'd like to relax at the hotel, you might want to lounge by the pool on the bougainvillea-covered terrace overlooking Mt. Etna. If you'd like to explore the town, you can ride or enjoy a beautiful walk downhill along a good path and steps from the tiny village of Castelmola to see the ruins of a medieval castle and enjoy spectacular views. In town, rummage around the Borgo Medievale (the oldest and most colorful part of town) that allows us to see what everyone from the ancient Greeks to DH Lawrence and Goethe have seen in its spectacular location. Visit the third century Greek theater set so that looking from the rows of seats your panorama includes the blue sea beyond. Or, visit the Public Gardens, with its exotic flowers and eccentric follies.

Overnight: Taormina-Castelmola; Meals: B, D

Day 5: Aeolian Islands
This morning we board the aliscafi (hydrofoil) for a beautiful one-hour ride from the port of Milazzo to the largest of the Aeolian Islands-Lipari. As we approach the island, your first impression may be that we are arriving in Greece, as whitewashed houses are scattered along the jagged green hills dropping to the beautiful sea. The Aeolians are seven volcanic, cone-shaped islands, creating a spectacular archipelago in the sea just to the north of Sicily.

Arriving on Lipari, explore the town of Lipari-the largest settlement on the island-with its twisting lanes, quaint boutiques and outdoor cafes, and visit the archeological museum and the massive 16th century castle that dominates the town. Then ride with your guide to the Geophysical Observatory, where scientists keep a record of all volcanic activity in the area and literally stare into the mouth of the active volcano on Lipari's sister island. Later, stretch your legs on a guided walk along the coastal paths and through olive tree plantations, vineyards and small hamlets back to the port.

The inhabitants of Lipari and its sister islands-Panarea, Stromboli, Salinas, Volcano-are all extremely friendly. We remember fondly one occasion when we stopped midday in a seaside trattoria only to find that while it was not open for lunch, the friendly owner was happy to prepare sandwiches in freshly baked rolls-accompanied by the family's young wine, served in a terra cotta jug.

Overnight: Taormina-Castelmola; Meals: B, D

Day 6: Mt. Etna
This morning, we'll drive a short distance to Mt. Etna, one of the world's major active volcanoes and, at 10,958 feet, the highest in Europe. From an altitude of about 7,000 feet, we walk on a scenic pathway over and along lava rivers that provide us the opportunity to see firsthand incredible volcanic formations created over the last several centuries.

Midday we are greeted with a picnic lunch of goat cheese, bruschette, sun-dried tomatoes, Italian sausages, lamb and home-made pastas, accompanied by the excellent red Etna wine. Following lunch, our downhill walk leads us through fruit orchards, olive groves and vineyards to the charming village of Linguaglossa-in the winter a busy ski resort-before we return to our villa hotel.

Overnight: Taormina-Castelmola; Meals: B, D

Day 7: Departure for Catania and return home
This morning is at leisure to relax, swim and explore the quaint streets of the colorful town with bougainvillea laced along the medieval buildings. Late morning, we drive to Catania and its international airport for flights back to mainland Italy.

Meals: B

Please note: The above itinerary is a sample of how we plan to spend our visit. The nature of adventure travel means that occasionally we adjust itineraries based on a number of factors, including weather, changes to hotels and accessibility to sites. In the event a change to an itinerary is necessary, we make every effort to keep changes to a minimum.

If you have a special interest that you would like to pursue while you're with us, please let us know and we'll be happy to try to assist. It's our goal to make your trip exceptional!

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