3/126 Albert Road, Warragul VIC 3820 Australia Phone: (03) 5623 5151 Email us EMERGENCY NUMBER +61 (0)419 213 274
Beautiful Mediterranean Islands of Corsica, Sardinia & Sicily
1st to 28th September, 2018
Personally escorted by Jacquey Turner
Known as 'L’Île de Beauté' (the Island of Beauty) by the French, with its sensational bays of warm, transparent waters, edged with golden-white sand, majestic mountains and verdant hillsides scented by the herbs of the maquis, CORSICA is a truly enchanting Mediterranean island. Despite its close proximity to France and Italy, this beautiful island remains distinctive in both its history and culture.
SARDINIA, or in Italian 'Sardegna', is a sophisticated Italian island, west of mainland Italy and south of Corsica. With over 1,800km of unspoilt coastline, it is renowned for beautiful beaches, turquoise sea and fascinating rock formations. Yet being the second largest Mediterranean island, it has so much more to offer with an interesting history, wild mountainous interior, vibrant towns with local traditions and colourful festivals.
SICILY is the largest island in the Mediterranean with nine provinces dividing its intensely cultivated landscape. Aside from Enna, each province is directly linked to the coast. Immersed in an exceptionally diverse history, Sicily is widely understood to be not only an island of contrasts due to its Eastern and Western archaeological divide, but a world entirely unto itself.
YOUR TOUR ESCORT
JACQUEY TURNER, your tour escort, has more than 32 years’ experience as a highly successful travel agent and tour guide. Jacquey’s attention to detail and personal care ensures that everyone travelling in her group will have a most enjoyable holiday experience.
Our tour director, the lovely Lucy, will join us in Bastia and will remain with us until our flight out of Taormina.
Lucy has over 32 years’ experience as a Tour Director and I have worked with her on many occasions. Her incredible knowledge, sense of humour and a hint of cynicism will enhance the enjoyment of the places we see and visit.
$19,399 per person twin share
Should you select to travel on flights other than the included group flights, or upgrade to business/first class, payment for the air fares will be required at the time of booking the flights.
YOUR TOUR INCLUDES:
All costs are based on the exchange rate prevailing as at 5 September 2017
Mount Etna, on the Italian island of Sicily, is not only the highest active volcano in Europe at 10,810 feet (3,295 meters), but is one of the most active in the world. Historical observations of Etna’s eruptions go back as far as 3,500 years, with geological observations reaching back hundreds of thousands of years. While recent eruptions have rarely caused serious damage to the farms or villages in the shadow of the volcano, locals remain alert to any activity.
We depart Gippsland for our flight from Melbourne to Nice via Dubai. Departures are available from other Australian cities.
We arrive in Nice in the afternoon and will be transferred to a hotel in Nice for an overnight stay and dinner.
After breakfast, we will transfer to the airport for our flight to Bastia, Corsica. We shall be met and transferred to the HOTEL DES GOUVERNERS, or similar for the next three nights. There will be time for an optional orientation walk before we get together for our Welcome Dinner at a local restaurant.
Bastia is a commercial port town (the most important on Corsica) found to the north-east of the island.
It is in an impressive location with the hills and Cap Corse behind the town. The town is now officially classified as a 'Town of Art and History' in France.
There are three sections of particular interest of Bastia: the old town, the citadel, and the old harbour. We shall spend some time on a walking tour with a local guide exploring the old town with its faded charm of narrow streets and alleys. Dominating the old harbour is the view of the Church of Saint John the Baptist. The other buildings are painted in beautiful shades of ochre, salmon and shades of gold. The walk to the citadel passes through the gardens (le Jardin Romieu) and past the once-very-posh houses of the Terra Nova district. The main 'notable' buildings within the citadel of Bastia are the grand 14th century Governor's Palace and a couple of churches: the church of Sainte-Marie de l'Assomption and the Baroque Oratoire-Sainte-Croix with its 'black Christ'. We will also have a day driving around the magnificent Cap Corse. Dinner will be included at a local restaurant on one of these evenings with one evening at your leisure.
We leave Bastia today and shall catch a local train down to Ajaccio travelling through the centre of the island. On arrival, we check into the PALAZZU DOMU HOTEL, or similar, for the next two nights. We shall enjoy a walking tour of Ajaccio. Napoleon Bonaparte is Ajaccio’s favourite son. We shall visit the Chapelle Imperiale that holds the Bonaparte family tombs and then the Palais Fesch – Musee des Beaux-Arts, once home to Napoleon’s uncle, Cardinal Joseph Fesch. The palace now houses part of the cardinal’s extensive art collection. It is said to be one of the most important collections of Italian art in France, outside the Louvre.
We return to the hotel and will have time to freshen up before dinner at a local restaurant.
We make an early start today to meet our boat to travel along the beautiful western coast of Corsica. We shall make our way up past Porto and Piana to the fishing hamlet of Girolata where we shall have lunch. From here we head to the Scandola Nature Reserve whose sheer red granite cliffs, transparent waters and abundant flora, bird life and underwater fauna have earned it a place on the UNESCO World Heritage list. We return to Ajaccio and the rest of the evening is at your leisure.
This morning we leave Ajaccio and travel south to Bonifacio. On our way we shall stop at Filitosa, Corsica’s most important prehistoric site, where 4000 year old anthropomorphic menirs – extraordinary stone warriors were discovered by a local land owner in 1946. The site is still maintained by the same family. We shall have lunch at Propriano before we continue on to visit the medieval Sartene, whose architecture of grey granite walls, tall town houses and narrow alleyways make it one of Corsica’s most authentic towns. On arrival in Bonifacio, we shall check into HOTEL GENOVESE or similar, for two nights. Dinner will be at a local restaurant.
Our day begins with a mini cruise to discover the caves and famous white limestone cliffs of Bonifacio. We shall stop for lunch at a waterfront café then there will be time to explore the town and the 9th century citadel of Bonifacio, with an audio guide. The Citadel has been reconstructed and renovated many times since its construction.
Today we leave Corsica on a short ferry crossing to Santa Teresa, located in northern, Sardinia. On arrival, we shall spend some time exploring the stunning coastline of Costa Smeralda. We also visit seaside towns and the nuraghic monuments of Arzachena and Porto Cervo. Our hotel in Santa Teresa will be the RESORT VALLE DELL’ERICA , or similar, for a two night stay. We shall have dinner at the hotel.
We shall cruise the pristine waters of the Maddalena archipelago, consisting of seven main islands and many other small inlets. During our time on board we shall visit the island of Spargi, the island of Budelli to see the famous Pink Beach “Spiaggia Rosa” and enjoy seafood and local delicacies for lunch while cruising. On our return to Santa Teresa will shall have dinner at hotel.
We leave Santa Teresa and head west to Alghero with a stop at Castelsardo, an extraordinary small town which developed around the castle and is set in rock overlooking the sea. We shall have time to visit the historical town centre and have lunch at a local restaurant. On arrival in Alghero and after we check into the CATALUNYA HOTEL or similar, for two nights, we shall take an orientation walk of the striking medieval city of Alghero. Founded by Catalans when they took control of the island in the 14th century, the old city remains the most Spanish city in Sardinia.
This morning we drive a short distance to visit the Necropolis at Anghelu Ruju, the largest ancient burial ground on Sardinia, dating back to the late Neolithic age. We then travel via Capo Caccia for a cruise of Grotta di Nettuno (Neptune’s Grotto) and the striking seafront caves. (weather permitting). On our arrival back in Alghero, we shall enjoy a seafood dinner at a local restaurant.
Today we have a spectacular coastal drive to Bosa, a charming medieval town set on the Temo River valley, the only river side town in the whole of Sardinia. There will be free time for lunch before we continue our drive to Narbolia. On arrival, we check into the HOTEL-I S ARENAS, in Narbolia, or similar, for one night, and we shall have dinner at the hotel.
Our touring today will include a visit to La Giari di Gesturi, a high and steep-sided basaltic plateau famous for its wild horses and uncontaminated natural beauty. The plateau was formed some 2.7 million years ago when lava from the cones of Zepparedda and Zeppara Manna covered older sedimentary rock.
We start with a guided walking tour in the old town which includes the castle, city gates, fortifications, bastions, towers, narrow streets and a warren of arched passageways and we shall also visit the Citadel area. After lunch at a local restaurant along the coast, the afternoon and evening are free to relax.
We check out and transfer to the airport for our flight to Palermo via Rome. On arrival, we shall be transferred to the VILLA IGIEA, or similar, for a three-night stay. Palermo is a colourful city, with the atmosphere of North Africa or Asia rather than of Europe. Its heritage as a meeting point between European civilisation and the Arab and Byzantine worlds is borne out in the splendid mediaeval buildings of the Norman kingdoms. Dinner tonight will be at the hotel.
During our time in Palermo, we shall take a tour of the city to see some of the main historic sites of the old city, including the Cathedral and Palermo’s’ Norman Palace with the Palatine Chapel with its gold mosaics.
We shall also travel inland and visit Monreale, for a guided tour of this small hilltop town with wonderful panoramic views over Palermo. Monreale’s splendid Cathedral and Abbey are lavishly decorated with colourful mosaics. Another highlight will be a visit to the 12th century retreat of La Zisa, inspired by Moorish pleasure palaces.
There will also be time to stroll through some of the markets and the characteristic streets of the old city and see an authentic Sicilian puppet show. Puppet opera is a particular type of puppet theatre, which emerged in southern Italy and particularly in Sicily in the early 1800s. Traditionally the Opera of the Puppets consisted of the performance of medieval clashes between knights and the Moors: the puppets were taken as symbols of the desire for revenge and justice of a social class.
We travel south to Agrigento, ancient ‘Akragas’, founded in the 6th century BC. The town enjoyed a reputation of being one of the wealthiest colonies of the Greek world. We shall visit the Valley of the Temples, an extensive and well preserved sacred area, testament to its riches, and comprising of four major temples as well as a number of smaller structures. During the day, we shall stop for a light lunch. We shall overnight in Agrigento at the VILLA ATHENA, or similar, and have dinner at the hotel.
We leave Agrigento and drive to The Villa Romana del Casale, a large and elaborate Roman villa or palace located about 3 km from the town of Piazza Armerina. Excavations have revealed one of the richest, largest and varied collections of Roman mosaics in the world, for which the site has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Syracuse, or “Siracusa” in Italian, was one of the most important colonies of the Greek empire. And so, even today, it has some spectacular ancient ruins! Its most famous is the Greek theater, the largest in Sicily, built in the 5th century B.C.
While parts of it were dismantled to be used as building material in the 16th century—common practice for the time!—it’s still stunning. We shall also visit the imposing ruin of the Temple of Apollo, the oldest peripteral Doric temple in Sicily, dating to the 6th century B.C. After our morning tour, lunch and the afternoon will be at your leisure before we get together for dinner.
We have another spectacular drive this morning, to Misterbianco, meaning White Monastery or White Minster. The settlement's name derives from a former local monastery, whose monks, likely Dominicans, wore a white dress. However, both the monastery and the settlement were destroyed by an eruption of the nearby Mount Etna in 1669. Lunch will be included at a local restaurant before we continue on to Taormina.
Taormina is known as the ‘pearl’ of the Mediterranean Sea. Today we will have a guided walking tour which will take us past quaint buildings, the town gates and along cobbled lanes to the ruins of the Greek-Roman amphitheatre.
This morning we will head to Mount Etna, not only the highest active volcano in Europe at 10,810 feet (3,295 meters), but one of the most active in the world. Historical observations of Etna’s eruptions go back as far as 3,500 years, with geological observations reaching back hundreds of thousands of years. When we return to Taormina, lunch will be at your own arrangements and the afternoon free for last minute shopping. Tonight, we will get together for Farewell Cocktails and dinner at the hotel.
We leave these beautiful Mediterranean islands and transfer to the Catania Airport for our flight to Dubai via Rome. We shall overnight at the hotel within Dubai Airport.
Morning departure from Dubai to Australia
Arrive Australia in the morning. Those arriving in Melbourne and travelling to Gippsland, will be met and transferred by coach back to Warragul.