Highlights of sicily & southern italy

Day 1  Overnight flight

Day 2  Rome

2 Ruijs Travel - Italy - Rome - Piazza Navona

Benvenuto in Italy! Arrival at Rome airport. Meet your local driver and tour escort, who will accompany you into the city centre. Your Italian journey starts at the Piazza Navona, the largest square in Rome and definitely the one with the most grandeur. In the midst of street artists, painters and musicians , there are also three ornate fountains, a lot of restaurants and the Baroque church of Sant Agnese in Agone to see at the square. Your tour escort will accompany you to the Pantheon and the famous Trevi Fountain, where you can throw a coin and make a wish. From here it is only a short walk to the Spanish Steps and the Piazza di Spagna. Check in at the hotel and have some time to relax before dinner.

Welcome dinner and overnight in Rome.

Day 3  Rome

3 Ruijs Travel - Italy - Rome

Meet your local guide for a full day of sightseeing in Rome.  Your day starts at Vatican City, full of fascinating history and artistic masterpieces. Visit the Vatican Museums,  the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica, with its dome designed by Michelangelo, Bernini’s bronze Baldacchino and Michelangelo’s statue of the Pieta. In the afternoon you will visit The Colosseum, Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill. Remainder of the day at leisure to explore this fascinating city and its local cuisine on your own.
Overnight in Rome.

Day 4  Rome – Pompeii – Sorrento

4 Ruijs Travel - Italy - Campania - Pompeii

After breakfast depart ‘the Eternal City’ and travel south, towards the Amalfi Cost. On the way to Sorrento you will visit the excavated ruins of Pompeii with a local expert guide. Pompeii was a thriving Roman trading town, until the town was frozen in time when the Vesuvius volcano erupted. Pompeii is now a UNESCO World Heritage site and perfectly preserved due to the thick layer of ash and pumice. Walking the archeological site, will give an insight into everyday life in a Roman city. The well preserved ruins include homes, villas, Roman baths, a market square, temples and theatres. Travel onwards to Sorrento, nestled in the Bay of Naples and built on the rocky slopes of the Sorrentine Peninsula. From here you have a fantastic view over the surrounding bay and the contours of Naples, Vesuvius and Capri. Dinner and overnight in Sorrento

Day 5  Sorrento

5 Ruijs Travel - Italy - Amalfi Coast Sorrento

This morning, enjoy a walking tour of picturesque Sorrento, with its atmospheric narrow streets and piazzas (squares). Sorrento is famous for its fragrant lemons and its outstanding Limoncello. An local expert guide will show you ‘Corso Italia’, Sorrento’s main street and the atmospheric alleys, packed with shops selling souvenirs, handmade products, Limoncello, ice cream, and fashion. You will see the bustling Tasso Square, the Church of Sant’Antonino, the Sedile Dominova a 14th-century domed mansion with exquisite frescoes, the ‘deep valley of mills’ the hidden treasure of Sorrento; ancient and overgrown ruins in a green, fertile ravine, and many more. Remainder of the day at leisure. A suggestion to spend the afternoon is taking the ferry to Capri. Capri’s stunning, rocky coastline is dotted with caves, especially the Blue Cave or Grotta Azzurra is a visit worthwhile. Whatever you decide to do, don’t forget to just lean back and soak up the relaxing Mediterranean atmosphere. Overnight in Sorrento.

Day 6  Sorrento – Amalfi coast – Matera

6 Ruijs Travel - Italy - Amalfi Coast

Today you will drive along the breathtaking and winding Amalfi Coast. Drive along the glistening Tyrrhenian sea and make photo stops along the way. You will stop in Amalfi and Minori, where you will learn everything about the Limoncello making process and will have a Limoncello tasting at a family-owned Liquorificio. After a stop in Vietri sul Mare you will continue your way to UNESCO World Heritage listed Matera, where you will arrive in the late afternoon. Dinner and overnight in Matera.

Day 7  Matera

7 Ruijs Travel - Italy - Matera

This morning your local guide will show you Matera, an extraordinary and unique settlement considered the third longest continually-inhabited settlement in the world. You will visit he Sassi, the historic neighborhoods that are composed of cave dwellings hewn from the rocky slopes of the La Gravina ravine. Walk through the maze of narrow and winding streets and see Matera’s cathedral, rock churches, Piazza di Duomo, the Old Town and many more. Remainder of the day at leisure in this fascinating town. Overnight in Matera.

Day 8  Matera – Alberobello – Lecce

8 Ruijs Travel - Italy - Apulia - Alberobello Trulli

This morning you will travel to the heart of Puglia, to Alberobello, famed and UNESCO World Heritage listed for its countless enchanting Trulli, white houses with conical, tiled roofs. Stroll through the winding streets lined with the uniquely build whitewashed Trulli. Travel onwards to Lecce; ‘Florence of the South’. The city owes its name to the ‘Lecce Baroque’; ornate sandstone carving of flowers, cherubs, animals and figurines with which the city’s buildings are decorated. Enjoy a guided city tour and see Palazzo Vescovile, the lavishly decorated church of Santa Croce, and the Duomo with its lovely piazza. Remainder of the afternoon and evening free for independent activities. Overnight in Lecce.

Day 9  Lecce – Tropea

9 Ruijs Travel - Italy - Calabria - Tropea

Today you will travel from Lecce, Apulia to Tropea, Calabria with an on route stop in Policoro. Policoro is surrounded by fertile valleys and bordered by the Ionian Sea. You will visit the Museo Nazionale della Sirtide where you can admire Greek and Roman artifacts that have been excavated from Ancient Heraclea. After lunch on your own in Lido Policoro you will travel onwards to Tropea, where you will arrive in the late afternoon. Evening at leisure and overnight in Tropea.

Day 10 Tropea – Taormina

Ruijs Travel - Italy - Sicily - Taormina and Etna

Your journey  through Calabria and “the boot of Italy” continues today. Before taking the ferry to Sicily, you will stop in the quaint village of Scilla, also known as “little Venice of the Tyrrhenian Sea”. The village owes its name to the small houses which, like in Venice, are built on the water. They are separated by small canals called Viuzze. Stroll through the narrow streets, past old fountains, small churches and colorful fishing boats. Once on Sicily you will travel onwards to Taormina, your base for the upcoming days. After lunch on your own, a local expert guide will take you on a walking tour through the delightful medieval town of Taormina. You will see highlights such as Corso Umberto, the Greek Theatre, the bountiful public gardens, Piazza Vittorio Emanuele and many more. Tonight you will have dinner together. Due to Sicily’s strategic location and history of invaders the Sicilian cuisine is one of a kind with Italian, Arabic and African influences. Overnight in Taormina.

Day 11 Taormina – Catania – Mount Etna – Taormina

11 Ruijs Travel - Italy - Sicily - Catania Fish Market

Spend a day discovering Catania and Mount Etna National Park. Start at La Pescheria, the famous and oldest fish market in Catania. Witness the market traders bartering for fish, which is a spectacle every morning, except on Sundays. Afterwards a local guide will show you Catania’s UNESCO World Heritage listed Baroque town. Later enjoy some free time to explore this vibrant city on your own. For those interested, do not miss the Museo dello Sbarco, the World War II Allied Landing Museum. The tour in the afternoon ventures Mount Etna, one of the most active Volcanoes on earth. From an expert guide you will learn everything about the volcano and the fertile landscape which the centuries of lava flows have created. Return to Taormina for an leisurely evening and overnight.

Day 12 Taormina – Agrigento – Palermo

12 Ruijs Travel - Italy - Sicily - Agrigento Valley of Temples

This morning you will travel through the gentle sloping hills of Sicily toward the town of Agrigento. Visit the UNESCO World Heritage listed archaeological site of Akragas, ‘the Valley of the Temples’. The Doric temples of Juno, Hercules , Olympian Zeus and Concordia tracing back to 5th century Greek rule. The onsite museum will give you an insight in the Greater Greece art and architecture. After lunch together you will travel to Palermo. Dinner and overnight in Palermo.

Day 13 Palermo

13 Ruijs Travel - Italy - Sicily - Palermo - Monreale

Just as many cities and villages on Sicily, Palermo is a melting pot of Greek, Roman, Moorish, Baroque and Neo Classical architecture. Marvel all of this during a guided city tour and see the Spanish city gates and walls, the Botanical gardens, Massimo Opera, the Norman Royal Palace with its Palatine Chapel and known for its Byzantine mosaics and wooden Arabic Muqarna-ceiling. Stroll through the narrow streets to Ballarò Market, the Giudecca, the former Jewish quarter, and Piazza Bellini. On the City Council Square, you will see the Pretoria Fountain, famous for its Carrera Marble statue. The tour ends at the baroque square Quattro Canti, right in the heart of the old city centre. Here you will have lunch on your own. In the early afternoon you will visit the stunning 12th century Cathedral in the nearby town of Monreale. The famous Duomo of Santa Maria Nuova and the several cloisters are dating back to the Arab-Norman era. The dazzling interior with varicolored mosaics, paintings and marbles will leave an unforgettable impression. Return to Palermo for a leisurely evening and overnight.

Day 14 Palermo or Cefalù

14 Ruijs Travel - Italy - Sicily - Cefalù

Enjoy a full day at leisure in Palermo or join a optional excursion to Cefalù. This seaside village is located 75 kilometres from Palermo. Explore this real gem on your own; soak up the Mediterranean atmosphere, enjoy the beautiful beaches, visit the UNESCO World Heritage listed historic old town. Wander the narrow streets covered with authentic paving stones, stroll past the many churches, the old bath house and picturesque houses. Also take time to visit the impressive Norman cathedral with its Byzantine mosaics and Christ Pantokrator. Return to Palermo. In the evening gather to have your farewell dinner at a local Sicilian restaurant. Overnight in Palermo.

Day 15 Departure

15 Ruijs Travel - Italy - Sicily - Catania

After breakfast transfer to Palermo Airport for you flights back home.