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Islands at the tip of Italy’s boot... They’ve been conquered in turn by different invaders, with some, like Malta and Sicily, boasting a history of occupation that dates back thousands of years. Once you see the sensational seaside views from the cliff-top, Maltese city of Mdina, walled since medieval times, you’ll discover why so many visitors were eager to claim this island gem for their own. Sicily, inhabited since the Ice Age, was a favorite trophy for the Greeks in the 5th and 6th centuries BC, followed in turn by a succession of rulers, including the Romans, the Vandals, the Arabs, the Normans, the Swabians, the House of Aragon and the Bourbons. The landscapes on this large Mediterranean island have proven to be fertile ground for vineyards, citrus groves, almond and cherry trees - and beaches. While its conquerors had their own reasons for turning Sicily into one of their colonies, travelers today revel in the archaeological treasures they left behind. You’ll see an ancient Greek theatre and temple in Siracusa, a Roman renovation in Taormina, an open-air Arab casbah in Palermo, and Punic and Norman fortifications in medieval Erice - mingling with magnificent frescoed duomos, grand piazzas, Baroque balconies and terraced towns that speak volumes about Sicilian life, past and present.
Day 1: Arrive Malta
Tour begins: 6:30 PM, Phoenicia Hotel Malta. A transfer is included from Malta International Airport to Phoenicia Hotel Malta. Your landmark hotel boasts an excellent location and gracious service. Join us this evening for a welcome cocktail reception and dinner to meet your fellow cruisers.
Day 2: Explore Malta and embark Le Ponant
A guided tour of Malta includes the medieval walled city of Mdina, perched atop a cliff, and a drive around St. Julian’s Bay, a favorite setting for the colorful Maltese boats that are often photographed here for worldwide enjoyment. Return to Valletta for a walking tour; this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a virtual open-air museum of Baroque architecture. Go inside the splendid Grandmaster’s Palace, the Maltese house of government first occupied in the 16th century by the Knights of St. John, then the British and today - the President’s office. Le Ponant will await in the Grand Harbour. Dine aboard ship tonight. E
Meals: B, L, D
Day 3: Savor a day among Siracusa's antiquities
Le Ponant docks at Ortigia Island this morning, lined with 18th- and 19th-century townhouses, for a visit to Siracusa on the Sicilian mainland. Drive to Neapolis Parco Archeologico to see the Teatro Greco, an ancient 15,000 seat theatre hewn out of rock, and Latomia del Paradiso featuring the Ear of Dionysius. Crossing back to the Island of Ortigia, your walking tour will include the 6th-century Temple of Apollo - transformed over the centuries as a Byzantine church, a Muslim mosque and then a Norman church - and the Baroque Duomo. Enjoy a sweet taste of granita, a refreshing Sicilian speciality, before spending time at leisure in Ortigia but leave time to experience the Piazza del Duomo, one of the most elegant squares in Sicily.
Meals: B, L, D
Day 4: Explore Historic Taormina, Sicily
The views of mighty Mt. Etna astound as Le Ponant approaches the terraced town of Taormina, built on a cliff overlooking the Ionian Sea. Ride a Zodiac to shore for a guided visit to the Teatro Greco, built by the Greeks and remodeled by the Romans, and a stroll along Taormina’s main street, Corso Umberto.
Meals: B, L, D
Day 5: A morning's cruise to historic Palermo, Sicily
Spend a morning at sea en route to Palermo, the capital of Sicily. In 1768, the Romantic poet Goethe remarked that the best way to appreciate Palermo was to arrive by sea; we think you’ll agree. Set at the foot of Monte Pellegrino, Palermo was once Europe’s grandest city. City sightseeing includes the Palermo cathedral, the treasure-trove of the Palazzo dei Normani with its impressive mosaic-filled Cappella Palatina, and Fontana Pretoria - an elaborately sculpted fountain, at the center of one of Palermo’s squares, that caused outrage when unveiled in 1575. The ship overnights conveniently near the pedestrian area.
Meals: B, L, D
Day 6: Antiquities and Artifacts of Segesta and Erice
Wake up in Castellammare for a drive to Segesta. This ancient Sicilian stronghold was the site of many conflicts between conquering powers of the earliest centuries. Few ancient vestiges remain intact, with the exception of the Tempio of Segesta. Dating back to 426 BC, the temple boasts 36 preserved Doric columns which still support the structure; the interior was never completed presumably because of the almost constant conflicts endured by the town. Continue on to the medieval city of Erice, suspended above the sea and surrounded by Punic and Norman fortifications - Baroque balconies and flowering vines line its narrow streets. Travel to nearby Trapani as you make your way back to Le Ponant.
Meals: B, L, D
Day 7: Lipari by day and a night sail by fiery Stromboli
The largest of the Aeolian Islands, Lipari sits on red volcanic rock and looks like “a wall of bronze” according to the Greek poet Homer. Archaeological remains found have yielded clues to civilizations which date to 1700 BC, including the Neolithic stones that sit alongside ancient tombstones, and ruins of Greek walls and Roman villas. The Spaniards found their way here in the 16th century, building the castello (castle) and the 17th-century cathedral that is perched above the harbor; see them on a sightseeing excursion. Back aboard ship, experience a different view of these volcanic islands when you sail by the island of Stromboli tonight, home to one of the world’s few constantly active volcanoes - it has continuously erupted for 2,000 years. The view is unforgettable!
Meals: B, L, D
Day 8: Travel the spectacular Amalfi Coast & visit Ravello
Few coastlines are as inspiring in scenic beauty as the vertical cliffs of the Amalfi Coast and the sparkling Mediterranean below. Venture ashore for a visit to historic Villa Rufolo, whose entrance once functioned as a watchtower for the powerful Rufolo family; it is resplendent with gardens, statuary and columned loggias. Continue to cliff-top Ravello, “a terrace over the sea,” where lunch awaits. Next, in seaside Amalfi, a guided walk shows why its location made it a natural maritime republic in ancient Roman times. Today, Amalfi’s picture-book setting brings worldwide visitors to its shores. Sail to Naples this evening. Your Captain hosts a farewell dinner tonight.
Meals: B, L, D
Day 9: Disembark in Naples, visit ancient Herculaneum and on to Rome
Disembark ship in Naples for a drive overland to Rome. Stop in Herculaneum to see the ash-covered ruins of this once-prosperous city. Like Pompeii, it was buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD, but is better preserved. Arrive in Rome in late afternoon to begin your two-night stay on the Via Veneto, featured in Fellini’s classic 1960 film “La Dolce Vita,” near the Spanish Steps, Villa Borghese and the Trevi Fountain. Due to Sunday closures affecting your special visit to the Vatican Museums, join us this evening for a farewell dinner.
Meals: B, L
Day 10: Glories of Rome & an after-hours Vatican Museums visit
Join our guide for an overview of Rome’s landmark sights, beginning with St. Peter’s Basilica. Pre-reserved tickets bypass the wait at the Colosseum, making admission to this amazing amphitheatre hassle free; keep your cameras handy. Following an afternoon at leisure, join us for Tauck’s after-hours visit to the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel, a unique opportunity to experience their treasures without the crowds.
Meals: B, D
Day 11: Journey home
Tour ends: Rome, Italy. Fly home anytime. A transfer from Hotel Majestic Roma to Leonardo da Vinci Airport in Fiumicino is included. Allow 3 hours for flight check-in.
7-night small ship cruise, 2 nights in Rome & 1 night Malta, exclusive after hours visit to the Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel, night sail past volcanic Stromboli, ruins of Herculaneum, traditional Sicilian entertainment
|Sicily, the Amalfi Coast & Rome - Southbound 2017||Tauck|
The tour guide was phenomenal and so were the first and last hotels. The third hotel had serious air conditioning concerns, which the tour guide will follow up on. Short pretour or post tour excursions are greatly needed.
The Ireland Forever trip was fantastic. I would definitely recommend it. My 12 year old granddaughter and I went and she loved every minute. it was the perfect family trip and choice for her with the Irish dancing, cooking school, farm visit, pottery/jewelry making and Dublin treasure hunt. All so much fun. We learned a lot about Ireland and its history, too. Staying at the beautiful Castlemartyr country estate and Dromoland Castle were outstanding experiences of country Ireland at its best.
We were very pleased with the added activities which were available only through Tauck. The travel exceeded our expectations.
This trip was complementary to the Central Europe tour we did two years ago. Really enjoyed getting the story of all these countries that were behind the Iron Curtain and are free today.
All of the hotels and all of the local tour guides were outstanding.
Booked with your company for the first time and agent was great. He got all my questions answered and there were many. Tauck trip to Japan was outstanding. Would recommend it highly.
Tauck is the best...again. The bar is set high and they meet it. We had a fairy tale trip that was just wonderful.
The tour was great - guide very professional. Only criticisms - didn't like hotels in Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro. I think Tauck could have done better. Also would have preferred more time in Buenos Aires and less time in Rio de Janeiro.
Our guide was outstanding. Everything was well planned and went smoothly.
The tour director was excellent. She attended to many details to make us comfortable with no stress.
At the Omni, Mt. Washington I was surprised that our room had a view of the roof one floor below us. When I mentioned this to our tour guide she said she had no control over the rooms, When I asked the Omni staff they said they weren't sure what could be done and that we may want to check with our tour guide. The problem I have with this is that on the part of our guide and the hotel staff neither party wanted to be of service - they both passed on it. There may in fact be nothing that could be done, but the more Egregious Part Is That There Was No Attempt To Resolve A Customer's Problem. I was somewhat shocked by that. It was contrary to everything I had heard and seen about Tauck prior to our trip.
Amazing trip. Wonderful. Tauck provided great services. It would be advisable for people to have a clarification of the need for yellow fever shots. Also there should be more warning on altitude sickness.
The trip was very good but too many meals were not included and when they were in some cases it was 2 in a day. Better to spread the wealth. Also there could have been more planned too much free time.
Touring with Tauck is an excellent experience. While costing a little more you get 150% more in value. Every aspect of the trip is top shelf.
Tauck trips are the best. No gimmicks, they take care of you from start to finish. And they always surprise you with a few freebies too.
It's simple: You refer your friends, family, and anyone to us and when they book you will receive an American Express gift card worth up to $200 in the mail for simply referring.Read More