Sunday 02 June Home – Dubai
Late this afternoon, we report to the airport and join the flight to Dubai.
Monday 03 June Dubai (D)
We arrive in Dubai early this morning and after clearing Customs and Immigration formalities, we are met and transferred to our hotel for a two-night stay. There is time to rest up after the flight until mid-afternoon when we visit the Palm Jumeirah – one of the world’s most daring developments. Jutting out into the Arabian Gulf, this man-made archipelago was built in the shape of a palm tree, with a 3-mile-long trunk and a fan of fronds lined with luxury villas and five-star hotels. From water parks and wildlife encounters to beach clubs and restaurants, there is an array of different activities on offer. One of the first things that strike you when visiting the Palm Jumeirah is its size. This giant archipelago is visible from space and the outer crescent is more than 10 miles long. Afterward, we visit the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world at 160 stories high. We travel to the observation deck which will provide you with a breath-taking unobstructed 360-degree view of the city, desert and ocean. We return to the hotel where we have dinner this evening.
Tuesday 04 June Dubai (B.D)
This morning we take a sightseeing tour of the city – a fascinating historical excursion which takes you to the magnificent Jumeirah mosque and past modern palaces sprawled along the coast. In Bastakiya, see the old wind-towered houses built by wealthy merchants and the 150-year old Al Fahidi Fort. We continue our journey coach to the gold and spice souks, where we see bustling alleys with the aromas of the numerous spices and dazzling jewellery. Next up, we visit the area of La Mer – a new area nestled between Pearl Jumeira and the upcoming Jumeira Bay. There is time to explore this artsy community and to get some lunch at one of the trendy cafes before we return to the hotel to relax. This evening, we meet for dinner at a nearby restaurant.
NB: For those who may have been to Dubai previously, there is the opportunity to join a tour to Abu Dhabi today, in place of the arrangements above. Price is available on request.
Wednesday 05 June Dubai – Bologna – Florence (B.D)
This morning we join the flight to Bologna. We step back in time as we take a short drive through the countryside to Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance. The remainder of the day is left free to rest up before we get together for dinner this evening.
Thursday 06 June Florence – San Gimignano (B.D)
We enjoy a city tour before being immersed in the history of Michelangelo’s work, the sculpture of David and paintings at the Galleria dell’Accademia. After lunch we visit the Uffizi Gallery, a real highlight as the oldest gallery in the world. There is time to stroll the Ponte Vecchio before we head to San Gimignano for 3 nights.
Friday 07 June Siena (B.D)
This morning we drive to Siena, the site of the famous Palio, a no holds barred bare back horse race, and walk through the shell shaped Piazza del Campo to view the Palazzo Publico and the Font Gaia, before visiting the unique cathedral. The remainder of the day is left free to rest up before we get together for dinner this evening.
Saturday 08 June San Gimignano (B.L)
This morning we enjoy the enchanting region of Tuscany and the hilltop town of San Gimignano. Take the opportunity to stroll along the quaint streets and visit Piazza Delia, one of Italy’s finest town squares. This afternoon we take in the art of Chianti wine and enjoy lunch at a simply stunning vineyard overlooking the Tuscany landscape.
Sunday 09 June San Gimignano – Rome (B.L.D)
This morning we drive south, and stop at the delightful town of Orvieto, one of the region’s most spectacular towns, perched high on a hill. We take shuttle buses from the coach drop off to Piazza del Duomo and enjoy a traditional lunch at a nearby restaurant. Afterwards we visit the magnificent Duomo, one of Italy’s greatest cathedrals dating back to 1200. Continuing to Rome this afternoon where we stay for 2 nights.
Monday 10 June Rome Sightseeing (B.D)
We embark on a full day sightseeing tour of Rome. We glimpse into the history and wonder of the most powerful force in the development of Western civilization. We visit the Vatican and its museums and marvel at the beauty of Michelangelo’s ceiling in the Sistine Chapel before visiting St. Peters Basilica. In the afternoon we discover Imperial Rome with a treasure trove of historical sites and monuments including the Coliseum, the Roman Forum, the Palatine Hill and Circus Maximus. This evening, we dine at a local restaurant.
Tuesday 11 June Rome (B.L)
And now for something totally different today. The Italian’s love their food – for them it is one of the pleasures of life and a meal is an “event” and a very social occasion. This morning, we transfer to Ristorante La Carovana for a cooking class – a chance to learn about the delights of Italian food and its preparation, and afterwards enjoy a 4 course lunch.
Wednesday 12 June Rome – Pompeii – Sorrento (B.D)
We leave Rome this morning and head south towards Naples. Visit Piazza del Gesù, with the opulent baroque church of Gesù Nuovo and Piazza San Domenico.
Head out of the city in the afternoon to one of Italy’s most famous and unique archaeological sites – Pompeii. This once opulent city was ‘frozen’ in time in AD 79 when lava from Mount Vesuvius enveloped Pompeii. The ruins of Pompeii provide us with an insight into life at the time of the Roman Empire. There are theaters, thermal baths, shops and lavish dwellings that have been preserved for us to explore.
After our visit we will continue on to the beautiful coastal resort of Sorrento.
Thursday 13 June The Island of Capri (B.L)
Travel across the Tyrrhenian Sea by hydrofoil to the glamorous island of Capri today. Capri has constant sunshine and enjoys a well-deserved reputation as a Garden of Eden.
Spend the day exploring Capri by sea from our private motor yacht for a round trip of the island.
We will stop for lunch along the way at Marina Piccola, which is a delightful, picturesque inlet romantically lined with stabilimenti – elegant bathing lidos.
Travelling west, flank the beach of Marina Grande and of Bagni di Tiberio. The next stretch of coastline consists of the high calcareous cliff with fissures and grottoes covered by lush, indigenous vegetation. After passing Punta Gradola, you reach the Blue Grotto where you have the chance to visit the famous blue cave. We return to Sorrento for the evening.
Friday 14 June Sorrento – Amalfi Coast via Positano (B.L)
This morning we enjoy our journey along the stunning Amalfi Coast. No visit to the region is complete without time to explore the village of Positano, whose homes and villas cling to the rocks and narrow cobbled alleyways lead down to the sea and elegant restaurants serving the freshest catch of the day.
We head to beautiful rustic farmhouse in the nearby quaint village of Sant’Agata. We are welcomed by the owner for refreshments before taking a stroll around the grounds to admire the fresh produce. This will be a different experience from Rome, as we work on our skills and enjoy a hands-on cooking demonstration where you are shown the art of mozzarella-making, as well as creating the perfect pizza (southern style!). Lunch includes fresh farm produce.
Return to Amalfi with the chance to stop at a small limoncello producer to view the process in which it is made and have a tasting. Limoncello is a lemon liqueur made exclusively with lemons from Sorrento. Since it has become fashionable, many have tried to make limoncello, yet nobody has matched the quality of limoncello from this area, which is the genuine and inimitable version! Continue to your iconic hotel in the coastal town of Amalfi.
Saturday 15 June Ravello Sightseeing Tour (B.D)
A short drive to Ravello this morning which is situated on a mountain overlooking the coast from Maiori to Amalfi offering some of the finest viewing points in Italy. Visit Villa Rufolo and Villa Cimbrone, and stroll along the streets and alleyways of this enchanting town.
We continue to the Bartolomeo da Foggia and Barsian da Trani. In the main chapel the blood of St Pantaleone is preserved and said to liquefy on the 27th of July of every year. We also visit the church of San Giovanni del Toro, with its striking mosaic pulpit by Alfano da Termoli.
The remainder of the day is yours to relax and enjoy the stunning setting of your hotel.
Sunday 16 June Amalfi to Matera via the Ancient Site of Paestum (B.D)
Today we will leave the Amalfi Coast behind as we stop at another of the most important sights in Southern Italy: Paestum. This archaeological site whose fine yellow tone buildings were founded by the Greeks in 600 BC. Paestum was the northernmost limit of Greek civilisation in Italy, and today the most well-preserved remains have been declared an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Later we journey across the region of Basilicata to Matera, another UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site.
Monday 17 June Matera (B.D)
As a result of soft tufa rock, cave dwellings from pre-historic times over the centuries were developed into homes, largely inhabited by the poor or refugees which numbered 15,000 in the 1950s, before the caves were abandoned.
Later we head towards Murge National Park and the town of Altamura. In 1999, in a disused quarry, more than 4000 dinosaur footprints were discovered here. The prints are important because they provide information about different aspects of dinosaurs, such as the skeletal motor apparatus, posture, walk, behaviour, speed and environmental preferences.
Tuesday 18 June Matera – Taormina, Sicily (B.D)
Today we sit back and relax as we head across Calabria and down the toe of Italy, reaching the Mediterranean, we join the short ferry trip over the Straits of Messina to Sicily. Shortly we arrive at the charming town of Taormina for the next four nights.
Wednesday 19 June Taormina (B)
After a big day yesterday, today is totally free to relax and explore. The Greek Amphitheatre with its striking views is definitely worth taking time for, and also stroll through Villa Comunale, one of the most beautiful little gardens in all of Sicily.
Thursday 20 June Syracuse (B.D)
A short drive this morning past Catania we reach the city of Syracuse. Here we marvel at the temples and massive amphitheatre in the 2500 year old Greek and Roman ruins. We will also visit the overgrown quarries and test the amazing acoustics in the famous ‘Ear of Dionysus’ cavern. Later we cross onto Ortigia Island, the heart of ancient Syracuse, to wander through the delightful backstreets to the breathtaking architecture of the main square, Piazza del Duomo. Enjoy time to find a quiet café or trattoria for a leisurely lunch.
Friday 21 June Mount Etna (B.L)
Something very different today! Heading up the slopes of Mount Etna to an elevation of 1910 metres before boarding a cable car up to 2500 metres and then onto a large 4WD bus up to the (usually snow covered) viewing crater area at 2920 metres.
After taking in the dramatic views we descend to the village of Forza d’Agro, where we enjoy a relaxed lunch. Later we travel back to our hotel and have a free afternoon and evening.
Saturday 22 June Taormina – Agrigento
Leaving Taormina today we travel inland, through the heart of Sicily to Piazza Armerina where a short walk will take us through the opulent Villa Romana del Casale. This is another UNESCO Heritage Listed and one of the great sites of Sicily, this massive 1700 year old Villa was covered by a mud slide in the 12th century which beautifully preserved its breathtaking mosaics. Later we arrive in Agrigento on the south coast, where we stay two nights.
Sunday 23 June Valley of the Temples (B.L)
This morning we are joined by a local guide who will take us through the famous UNESCO Heritage Listed Valley of the Temples. Originally the ancient city of Akragas, and built out of sandstone tufa, the golden amber hue of the giant complex of ruins and temples blend perfectly with the natural surroundings. This afternoon we will drive east to the farm of Mandranova, to enjoy an olive oil tasting and light lunch.
Monday 24 June Agrigento – Marsala (B.L)
First stop this morning will be in the fishing port of Sciacca. Encircled by 16th century walls, the fascinating old town is where Arab, Norman and Greek cultures co-existed. We then follow the coast to the beach at Porto Palo where we enjoy a delicious seafood lunch at Vittorio’s restaurant made famous by the acclaimed BBC2 series ‘Sicily Unpacked’. Later we continue to our hotel at Marsala where we stay the next two nights.
Tuesday 25 June Segesta and Erice (B.D)
This morning we visit the Temple ruins at Segesta before driving up to the top of Mount Erice, 750 metres above sea level and overlooking the port of Trapani. Here you will still find the remains of the ancient Phoenician fortifications and in the old city there are still two castles. Pepoli Castle which dates from Saracen times and the Venus Castle built by the Normans. Time to relax and wander through the quaint old alleys and cobblestoned streets of the old town and find a trattoria in a peaceful courtyard to enjoy lunch. This evening before dinner we will enjoy a wine tasting.
Wednesday 26 June Marsala – Palermo (B.D)
A short drive to Palermo where we are joined by a local guide for a tour to explore the palaces and squares of this most Sicilian of cities! We visit the Palatine Chapel, in the Palace of the Normans, which is adorned in extraordinary 12th century mosaics. Sadly its our last dinner together which we enjoy in a local trattoria close to the hotel.
Thursday 27 June Palermo – Dubai (B)
Sadly this morning we disembark and we are transferred to the airport in time to join our flight to Dubai. Arrival time is late evening and overnight accommodation is reserved at the airport.
Friday 28 June Dubai – Home
Time for the last leg of our journey on our flight home.
Saturday 29 June Welcome Home
Arrival time is mid-morning.