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Day 1: Welcome to Sicily
Arrive in Palermo and transfer to our hotel. Tonight we meet as a group for dinner and orientation.
Day 2: Walking Tour of Palermo
Today we will have a walking tour of Palermo where the highlights include visits to Piazza Verdi, Capo, Piazza S. Domenico, Vucciria, Quattro Canti, Piazza Pretoria, Piazza Bellini, Ballaro, and the Cathedral. Lunch will include a variety of different local specialties.
Day 3: Porticello, Cefalu
Today we participate in a cooking class making typical Sicilian dishes which we will then enjoy for lunch.
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. We continue to Marsala stopping for wine tasting and lunch at one of the oldest wineries in Sicily. 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.
Day 5: Agrigento and Siracusa
Today, 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 and have the opportunity to spend some free time in the old city center of Ortigia, known for its narrow medieval lanes and Baroque palaces and churches.
Day 6: Siracusa and Catania
We have a guided tour of the archaeological area of Siracusa that includes the Greek theatre, Roman Amphitheatre, Latomie, and Orecchio di Dionisio. Lunch will be served in a typical farmhouse just outside Siracusa. After lunch we make our way to Catania and enjoy a guided walking tour of the city. Catania was founded in 1434 and is noted for its history, culture and Baroque style architecture.
Day 7: Catania
We begin today with a guided tour of Mt Etna, the highest active volcano in Europe, currently standing at 3,329 m (10,922 ft) high. Its fertile volcanic soils support nearby agriculture, vineyards, and orchards. It became a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2013. Later we enjoy wine tasting and lunch in one of the wineries on the slopes of Mt Etna, followed by some free time 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.
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.
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.
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. We enjoy lunch in a charming trattoria. Just outside Mdina, 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.
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.
Day 13: Hal Saflieni Hypogeum
The Hal Saflieni Hypogeum is an underground prehistoric burial site discovered in 1902 during construction works. The Hal Saflieni Hypogeum is a complex made up of interconnecting rock-cut chambers set on three distinct levels. Earliest remains at the site date back to about 4000BC, and the complex was used over a span of many centuries, up to c. 2500 BC.
Day 14: Depart Valletta
We bid a fond farewell to Sicilly and Malta today as we head for the airport and our flight home.
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