Malta & Sicily - Mediterranean Splendors

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Day 1: Welcome to Sicily

Arrive in Palermo and transfer to the hotel. Tonight we meet as a group for dinner and orientation.

Overnight in Palermo.


Day 2: Walking Tour of Palermo

This morning we enjoy a walk though of various local markets and finish our lunch with delicious coffee and gelato at a local cafe.

In the afternoon, we continue with our walking tour of Palermo which highlights the Piazza Verdi, Capo, Piazza S. Domenico, Quattro Canti, Piazza Pretoria, Piazza Bellini, Cappella Palatina Ballaro, and the Cathedral. We end the day with a visit to the archaeological museum or the Oratorio.

Dinner and overnight in Palermo.


Day 3: Monreale Cathedral, Cefalu

This morning we visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Monreale Cathedral, considered one of the most beautiful examples of Norman architecture in Sicily. Taking only three short years for the work to be completed, the Cathedral houses over 68,000 square feet (6,000 square meters) of tiny golden mosaics, virtually covering the entire interior.

After lunch, we visit the historic and picturesque seaside town of Cefalu, where we explore the charming squares, streets and churches (many of which are featured in the film Cinema Paradiso).

Dinner and overnight in Palermo.


Day 4: Erice, Selinunte, and Agrigento

Today we visit the charming medieval hill town of Erice, which is crowned by a castle, surrounded by defensive town walls, and offers sweeping views of the coastline.

This afternoon, we explore the Greek archaeological area of Selinunte, a huge park incorporating Greek temples, ancient town walls, and countryside paths. Enjoy dinner in Agrigento, that boasts stunning views of the Valley of the Temples, one of the most outstanding examples of Greek art and architecture.

Dinner and overnight in Agrigento.


Day 5: Agrigento and Siracusa

This morning, we have a guided tour of the Valley of the Temples. This splendid archaeological park consists of eight temples built between 510 BC and 430 BC. We have a picnic lunch in the Arabic garden of the Kolymbetra, which is part of the Italian Heritage Protected Sites.

After lunch, we depart for Siracusa for our guided tour of the archaeological area that includes the Greek theater, Roman Amphitheater, Latomie, and Orecchio di Dionisio.

Dinner and overnight in Siracusa.


Day 6: Ortigia and Catania

This morning we enjoy a guided walking tour of Ortigia, the old city center of Siracusa known for its narrow medieval lanes and Baroque palaces and churches.

After lunch we make our way to Catania. Founded in 1434 and noted for its history, culture and Baroque style architecture, we have a guided walking tour of the city.

Dinner and overnight in Catania.


Day 7: Mt Etna, Wine Tasting and Taormina

We begin today with a guided tour of Mt Etna, the highest active volcano in Europe, currently standing at 10,922 ft (3,329m) high. Its fertile volcanic soils support nearby agriculture, vineyards, and orchards. It became a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2013.

We enjoy wine tasting and lunch in one of the wineries on the slopes of Mt Etna before traveling to the picturesque hilltop town of Taormina. We will visit the Teatro Antico di Taormina, an ancient Greco-­Roman theater still used today. We will enjoy some free time here before traveling back to Catania.

Dinner and overnight in Catania.


Day 8: Scicli, Modica, and Transfer to Malta

This morning, we will have a city tour of Scicli, a UNESCO listed Baroque town, situated in a basin between several hills with overhanging churches and monasteries on high peaks. Afterwards we travel to the tiny town of Modica, which is home to one of the best chocolate companies in Italy. During our visit, we will be able to sample the famed chocolate. Later, we will make our way to the port for our hydrofoil crossing to Malta.

Overnight in Sliema.


Day 9: Valletta, Three Cities

For our first day in Malta, we begin with a guided tour of Valletta, the Maltese capital, which is also a designated UNESCO Heritage Site. One of our stops is St. John's Co-Cathedral, dedicated to Saint John the Baptist and built by the Order of St. John between 1572 and 1577. We then enjoy a short film called "The Malta Experience" which gives a good overview of Malta's 7,000 year old history.

After lunch, we travel across the harbor in a traditional boat called dghajsa to the Three Cities (Vittoriosa, Cospicua, and Senglea) to visit the Inquisitor's Palace, originally built in the 16th century as a courthouse and later used as the inquisitor's residence. It now serves as the National Museum of Ethnography.

Dinner and overnight in Sliema.


Day 10: Hagar Qim, Marsaxlokk, Blue Grotto

This morning, we visit Hagar Qim, a megalithic temple complex dating from the Ggantija phase (3600-3200 BC). The temples, considered "unique architectural masterpieces" are among the most ancient religious sites in the world. We then make our way to the picturesuqe fisherman's village of Marsaxlokk, with its colorful fishing boats, tranquil harbor, and daily open air market. We will have lunch in a typical fish restaurant and later visit the Ghar Dalam Caves complex, a very important site for archaeology, palaeontology, and ecology.

Making our way along the coastline, we enjoy breathtaking views, overlooking the sea and cliffs of the Blue Grotto. A cathedral in stone, with nature as its architect, the Blue Grotto is an immense cave adorned with deep blue waters inside, after which it takes its name. Given good weather conditions, a boat ride inside these mesmerizing caves is a must. We will visit the Blue Grotto by small boats. (*Pending favourable weather conditions)

Overnight in Sliema.


Day 11: Mosta, Mdina, to Rabat

We begin today with a guided tour of Mosta Dome, one of the oldest churches in Europe, built by a Maltese architect and modelled after the Pantheon in Rome. We enjoy a walking tour of Mdina, an ancient walled city also known as the Silent City, as it is lit by candlelight each evening.

After lunch, we visit Rabat, which served as a shelter from pirate attacks during the 15th century. We explore the well-known Catacombs of St. Paul, used during Roman times to bury the dead. We take a short trip to the majestic Dingli Cliffs to admire breathtaking views over the open seas, as well as of Malta.

Dinner and overnight in Sliema.


Day 12: Gozo Tour

Today we travel by ferry to the island of Gozo. We enjoy a tour of the island in 4x4 jeeps stopping at Ggigantija Temples, Inland Sea, and Ramla Bay. We stop at a local farmhouse where we enjoy a light lunch with local specialties.

After lunch, we have a walking tour of Victoria with its narrow winding streets, markets and shops, a charming place to spend the afternoon. We will also make a stop at the Citadella of Gozo before we make our way back to the harbor for our return ferry to Malta.

Overnight in Sliema.


Day 13: Hal Saflieni Hypogeum

The Hal Saflieni Hypogeum is an underground prehistoric burial site discovered in 1902 during construction work. It is a complex made up of interconnecting rock-cut chambers set on three distinct levels. Earliest remains at the site date back to about 4000 BC, and the complex was used over a span of many centuries, up to c. 2500 BC.

After lunch, we visit the archaeological museum in Valletta and then have some free time before our farewell dinner in the evening.

Dinner and overnight in Sliema.


Day 14: Depart Valletta

We bid a fond farewell to Sicily and Malta today as we head for the airport and our flight home.

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