Splendors of Sicily & Southern Italy
An Ambassadair original featuring Chef Matteo Di Rosa
A sensational adventure awaits those ready to discover how the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea retains its status as a “hidden paradise” of culture and topography. Join us as we chronicle the rich history of this Sicilian melting pot amid a cross-cultural wonderland of cobblestones, customs, and cuisine. This journey begins in Palermo, stopping in medieval villages along the Mediterranean coast and indulging in authentic Sicilian fare. Unveil the Hellenic influence in architecture with an expert-led tour of the Valley of Temples. Journey east to Sicily’s Ionian Coast, affirm testimony to the impressive Mt. Etna and the landscape so beautifully sculpted by her fury. Continue to southern Italy, passing through the unspoiled region of Calabria in route to the mountainous region of Basilicata, where the Cinderella story of Matera comes to life in the gorgeous Italian hill town. Enjoy a Chef Matteo-influenced lunch and visit his boyhood town of Torre del Greco before moving on to witness a snapshot in time at the remarkably preserved city of Pompeii. This cultural journey concludes in the charming seaside town of Sorrento, drawing some of the best chefs from all over the world to its world-renowned citrus, and culinary crown jewel, shellfish!
A passport is required to travel to this destination and must be valid for at least six months after your return.
This itinerary requires extensive walking capabilities. Some of the most unique sightseeing can include multiple stairs and uneven terrains with historic areas restrictive to motorcoaches.
Fri, Oct 6
The hidden treasures of Southern Italy and Sicily are yours to explore. Depart Indianapolis, ready to discover breathtaking scenery, historic cities, centuries-old hilltop villages, and iconic cuisine.
Sat, Oct 7
Palermo, Sicily – Tour Begins
Following an overnight flight, arrive Leonardo da Vinci/Fiumicino Airport, Rome. Meet your Sicily & Southern Italy Tour Guide for the entirety of the tour. Board, a private transfer to your city centered 4-star hotel for the night. Unload luggage and skirt off on a walking tour of Piaza Popolo, known to be one of the most famous and beautiful squares in Rome. Indulge right away in the local fare with a Welcome Lunch, then embark on our first of many ‘must see’ experiences. In the afternoon enjoy a guided visit of Imperial Rome taking in the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, and the Roman Forum. The remainder of the day is yours to relax or continue exploring the antiquities of this Imperial City before embarking on your in-depth journey of Sicily and Southern Italy. (Meal: Welcome Dinner)
Sun, Oct 8
This morning, your Italian sojourn continues with a short flight to Palermo, Sicily. Discover the city’s vibrant culture, taking in picturesque harbors, cobblestone piazzas, and captivating energy, while Byzantine mosaics and bustling street markets offer an authentic taste of local life. Learn of the fascinating history of Palermo and its tumultuous past, responsible for influencing such an eclectic mix of architectural styles and cultures. Its vast diversity is directly related to its strategic position in the middle of the Mediterranean which led to a past filled with a regular succession of invaders, from Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Greeks, and Romans….to Normans, Swabians, French, Spanish and more. Tonight, join your fellow travelers for a Welcome Dinner featuring authentic Sicilian cuisine. (B,D)
Mon, Oct 9
This morning, enjoy breakfast at the hotel before departing for the province of Palermo: Monreale. An expert led excursion visits the town’s 12th-century Norman Cathedral, which sits in the hills overlooking Palermo. This is an absolute, must-see for yourself experience! Considered a treasure of Norman architecture, the Monreale Cathedral is famed for its glorious golden mosaics and known to house the world’s most magnificent Byzantine mosaics. It is one in the series of nine religious and civic structures dating from the Norman Kingdom era of Sicily and has been inscribed a UNESCO World Heritage Listing. Explore the Arabic Norman Cathedral of Palermo and further witness the unparalleled, crossroads of the Mediterranean architecture, people and land. Visit one of four Arabic-heritage Street Markets for a vast selection of Sicilian bites. Capo Market presents a carefully choreographed arrangement of fruits, vegetables, meat, and fish in the ancient tradition of the Arabs Suk. Prior to concluding today’s journey in Mazara, a city of hospitality, experience the charm of an old medieval village, Erice, animated with typical craft shops, finely decorated pottery, colorful carpets, and traditional sweets made from almonds and candied fruit. Upon arrival in Mazara, unveil the secrets of authentic Sicilian fare during an Osteria Scopari Sicilian Cooking Class. (B.D)
Tue, Oct 10
Today begins with a hearty breakfast, then departs for Motya Island, a small island with archaeological remains, also referred to as San Pataleo Island. Located just off the western coast of Sicily, here, find a landscape of salt marshes, windmills, and vineyards, creating a natural setting of
exquisite allure. A boat ride takes us to a Phoenician trading town, Mozia, within the present-day commune of Marsala, Italy. Walk through the 12th century history of Mozia, an influential colony for the development of trade in the area. Surrounded by the shallow waters of the Stagnone Lagoon, first arrive at the salt pans of Marsala, then “trek” to the island by small boat, a truly immersive experience. Dating back to 1851, the architecture of Marsala’s underground cellars is reminiscent of the Basilica Cistern of Istanbul, an ancient water filtration system. A better scene could not be found for the discovery of secrets behind the refinement of Donnafugata Marsala wines. (B,L)
Wed, Oct 11
Today, visit an enchanted valley of both man-made culture and natural landscape. Agrigento, an ancient city of Akragas, founded on a seaside plateau by ancient Greek colonists, remains largely unexcavated today. Located on the southwest coast of Sicily and outside of Agrigento, lies the Valley of the Temples, a UNESCO World Heritage site of eight Greek temples, a necropolis, and sanctuaries. Known to be the most impressive ensemble of Hellenic architecture in Sicily and, presumably, the most valuable of all archaeological sites, housing some of the best-preserved Ancient Greek ruins in the world. An expert guide will lead the way through two of the temples most untouched by time, the Temple of Juno Lacinia, goddess of Fertility, and the Temple of Concordia, named for the goddess of Harmony. Continue to Taormina, a jewel in the crown of Sicily’s east coast, and one of the island’s best loved towns. Sitting high atop a cliff, Taormina’s view of the Ionian Sea and Mount Etna are nothing short of spectacular! (B,D)
Thu, Oct 12
A remarkable day continues along the Ionian Coast, studded with magnificent Sicilian sites; the greatest of all natural sites is Mount Etna. It is also its highest mountain, celebrated for its incredible beauty; it provides evidence of the uncontrollable power of Mother Nature. Discover the cultural and educational value of Mt. Etna’s global significance, declaring it a UNESCO World Heritage site. Mt. Etna is one of the world’s most active and iconic volcanoes, and one of the most outstanding examples of ongoing geological processes. Experience this natural phenomena as a local expert narrates through Mt. Etna Volcano National Park. Later, enjoy a spectacular lunch featuring wine harvested from Mt. Etna grapes at the Gambino Winery, voted one of the best Vineyards in Sicily. Perched on the side of Mt. Etna, the unique climate and soil conditions make it the perfect setting to produce the world’s most exquisite wines. Discover how every sip tells the story of the land and history of the vineyard before returning for a free afternoon of personal exploration. (B,L)
Fri, Oct 13
Stunning beaches and rugged, inland mountains dot the landscape of the unspoiled region of Calabria, whose unparalleled scenery has only been discovered by a fraction of those that normally crowd the southern Italian hotspots of Amalfi. In route to the Basilicata region, board a ferry for a short ride to Villa San Giovanni will find a local expert defining the importance of the perfect setting, and the perfect climate, for the perfect glass of wine. Partake in an exquisite tasting set to complement a tour of the cellar as traditions unveil the secrets of perfections before a perfect paring at dinner with fresh local cuisine. (B,D)
Sat, Oct 14
Explore Italy’s unique cave town, Matera, with a history so unique it defies belief. Matera hit the world stage in 2019, becoming the European capital of culture. An interesting transformation, Matera was the “shame of Italy” only a few short centuries ago, and now, 50 years later, the pride of Italy! This Cinderella story unfolds at the ancient settlement of carved cave dwellings, Sassi di Matera, a UNESCO World Heritage site. See the history of Matera unfolding before your eyes, making very clear the fascination of many filmmakers who find this ancient settlement a perfect motion picture setting. (B)
Sun, Oct 15
Today, a special visit includes the boyhood town of Chef Matteo and his 5 siblings. Personal tales will reveal the traditions that make food run through the blood of the Di Rosa Family! Hear what drew Chef Matteo away from his home in Torre del Greco and then on to Central Indiana. What might be his next culinary adventure? You may “taste” it here first in Torre del Greco as we enjoy a Chef Matteo-influenced lunch! Known as the, Pearl of the Gulf of Naples, Torre del Greco is the land of wines and coral, with a history enriched by fascinating myths and legends. Having become the largest European center for coral processing, many artists and artisans have refined their knowledge and skill of this remarkable trade. Learn more as you visit the APA Cameos and Coral Factory. Next, “beyond believe” is a typical response to those who visit Pompeii. A local will join us to share the tragic story of this one-time, wealthy town. Be ready to experience the “snapshot” of a townspeople frozen in time, under 19 feet of Mt. Vesuvius ash. Following this moving experience, set off for the stunningly beautiful, seaside town of Sorrento. Be prepared to have your senses awakened with the bright colors and strong flavors that make her a favorite foodie’s destination. (B, L)
Mon, Oct 16
This morning take in the sights and colors of the Mediterranean Sea. Wind your way along the breathtaking Amalfi Coast, from Sorrento to Amalfi, demonstrating the topographical characteristics that award it a UNESCO World Heritage Site designation. An abundance of citrus fruits and lemon groves, celebrate the idyllic beauty of the charming coastal villages. A visit to a family-owned and operated Limoncello Liqueur Factory will speak to the importance of this valuable export and to the people themselves as their product pays tribute to Sorrento for generations to come. You’ll have personal time to discover the jewel in Sorrento’s culinary crown, shellfish, and what it is about her coast that attracts some of the best chefs in the world. This evening, celebrate the end of your journey with a taste of this world-renowned Italian fare at the farewell dinner. (B.D)
Tue, Oct 17 – Sorrento – Tour Ends
Bid arrivederci to Italy as you depart the Splendors of Sicily and Southern Italy. (B)
*Subject to change due to final published air contract and fuel surcharges. Hotels subject to change until final numbers confirmed, Similar properties will be secured with same 4-Star quality value
Deposit Per Person: $300