Calabria and Sicily: from Magna Greece to the Normans;

Self Guided tour

The tour winds along the most beautiful and evocative historical places of Calabria and Sicily to introduce you to the archaeological sites, cathedrals, castles and noble palaces dating back to different eras and dominations starting from the Greek one. The historical and artistic beauties mark an enchanting territory from a naturalistic point of view and will give you the opportunity to visit beautiful coasts and villages on the sea, where, with the help of the summer, you will enjoy vast beaches and a crystal-clear sea.

Recommended period: from April to October

Tour Highlights

Itinerary

Arrival at the airport or station in Lamezia Terme, where you will find an Italy Trails representative who will welcome you and deliver the travel material. You will find the rental car and you will travel along the coastline of the gulf overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea, to reach the famous town of Pizzo Calabro. Here, you will visit the Murat Castle with the ancient prisons still intact, the Duomo, the picturesque alleys of the center and the beautiful city beach. One kilometer from the center, we recommend you visit the Church of Piedigrotta, dug into a cave on the sea. The town is also famous for the historic Tartufo di Pizzo, an exquisite homemade ice cream that we recommend you taste. After the visit of Pizzo, you will travel back to Tropea, a natural balcony overlooking the Mediterranean, set on the splendid Coast of the Gods and a place of ancient legends and millenary history. After reaching your hotel and leaving your luggage, you will begin to explore the ancient part of the city, where the suggestive Norman Cathedral and many noble palaces stand.

Optional food and wine experience: 

  • A few kilometers from Tropea, in the vineyards owned by a family-run winery, you can discover how the best Calabrian labels are produced; you will taste reds, whites and rosés accompanied by snacks, admiring a splendid sunset over the sea and the Aeolian Islands.

Night in Hotel in Tropea

In the morning after breakfast, you will visit an ancient Benedictine sanctuary that rises on a rock. Santa Maria dell’Isola is famous not only for the sanctuary but also for its white beach and turquoise sea. After the visit to the enchanting Tropea, you will continue to Scilla, an ancient fishing village dominated by the Ruffo Castle, with houses that reach the sea. In the late afternoon, you will continue towards Reggio Calabria, known as the City of the Fata Morgana (Mirage), because of a rare optical phenomenon that allows in particular climatic and light conditions, to see the city of Messina, beyond the strait, down to the smallest detail, canceling the distances of the arm of the sea that separates the two cities.

Night in Hotel in Reggio Calabria

In the morning, you will visit the National Archaeological Museum which, among the many discoveries of its rich collection, houses some of the few specimens in the world of original Greek bronze sculptures of the fifth century: the famous Riace Bronzes, found at sea in 1972. You will then walk along the elegant and long pedestrian area of Corso Garibaldi, see the monumental Cathedral and visit the Aragonese Castle. Do not miss the walk on the seafront, defined by the poet Gabriele D’Annunzio the most beautiful kilometer in Italy.

Optional food and wine experience:

  • Visit to a winery on the sea near Reggio Calabria (1 hr and 15 minutes of car journey) where, among vineyards and olive groves, you will taste typical products accompanied by wines produced on the farm (min. 2 people).

Night in hotel in Reggio Calabria.

In the morning, you will take off with your car for Sicily. Once in Messina in about half an hour, you will take advantage of this time to visit the historic center and its monuments. You will start from the Duomo, initiated under Justinian, later transformed by the Muslims into a mosque and finally reconsecrated in 1197 at the behest of Emperor Henry VI. The bell tower of the Duomo, 90 meters high, houses the largest and most complex mechanical astronomical clock in the world. At noon, the bronze mechanisms move for about 12 minutes to the sound of Schubert’s Ave Maria. Near the Duomo, you will admire the Orion fountain, dedicated to the founder of the city and built in 1547 in Carrara marble. Also in the cozy historic center is the church of the Santissima Annunziata dei Catalani, one of the oldest and most beautiful in all of Messina. The other religious building not to be missed is the church of Santa Maria degli Alemanni, founded by the Teutonic Knights, the only example of Gothic architecture in Sicily built by workers brought specifically from the North. After having refreshed yourself by tasting some typical Messina delicacies, you will drive your car to Taormina, which you will reach in about an hour along a beautiful coastal road. After arriving at the hotel and leaving your luggage, you will walk through the main street, full of shops and taste a typical local granita enjoying from above the enchanting panorama of the Bay of Giardini.

Night in Hotel in Taormina

In the morning, you will visit the beautiful archaeological park and the Roman Theater, then return to Giardini from where you will take the road that will lead you to the Alcantara Gorges. Once you arrive at the gorges, you can swim in the icy waters of the river, in the middle of a high canyon.

Optional food and wine experience:

  • As an alternative to the hiking activity planned for the day, you will meet in the center of Taormina your guide who will accompany you by Mercedes minivan to visit the two villages where The Godfather was filmed and will tell you how the mafia has historically developed in Sicily. At the end of the visit, you will have lunch in a restaurant overlooking the sea tasting the typical local cuisine.

Night in hotel in Taormina.

This morning after breakfast, you will take your luggage and, by car, you will move along the coast to reach the village of Aci Trezza. Here, an episode of the Odyssey is set; the one with the Faraglioni of the Cyclops, inhabitants of the valleys of Etna. In the Homeric tale, the stacks are the boulders thrown by Polyphemus against the ship of the fugitive Ulysses. From the port, you can leave for a boat trip to the islands of the Cyclops. Lachea Island, born of the eruption of an underwater volcano about 500,000 years ago, is the largest of the islands that make up the Cyclops archipelago. Present in classical and modern literature, it preserves traces of ancient settlements and hosts a lush vegetation rich in endemic plants. The boat will stop to allow you to take a refreshing soak offshore, where you can admire the columnlike basalts formed by the ridge on the surface of bright magmatic columns close to each other.

Night in hotel in Aci Trezza.

In the morning, you will take your luggage with you and go to Aci Castello where you will visit the Norman Castle of Aci. The basalt promontory where the castle stands was separated from the mainland by an arm of the sea, completely filled by the eruption of 1169. The castle was originally a fortification of Roman origin of 38 AD, called Castrum Jacis. In the seventh century AD, the Byzantines built a fortress on this pre-existing structure and a couple of centuries later, the castle fell into the hands of the Arabs and then passed under Norman rule. After visiting the Castle, you will observe the lava fortress on which it was built. Along the walls, you can recognize the spherical pillows, originating from the opening of a fracture in the seabed. This is a peculiarity observable only in three other places in the world. Resuming in the car, you will reach the city of Catania in about twenty minutes. Arriving at your hotel and accommodating your luggage, you will begin to explore the historic center of the city, where the Archaeological Park with the Roman Theater, the Odeon and the Terme della Rotonda are located.

Night in hotel in Catania.

This morning, you will visit the monastery of San Nicolò la Rena (by rena, we mean the red sand of volcanic origin present in the territory), an ecclesiastical complex consisting of a Benedictine building and a monumental eighteenth-century church built on the acropolis of the city in Greek and Roman times. The excavations carried out inside the monastery, in fact, have brought to light important archaeological structures.
To stay on topic, you can visit the Archaeological Museum of the University of Catania, born in 1898 from a lot consisting of ten ancient objects from the excavations of Megara Hyblaea. Today, the Museum houses precious testimonies of Greek and Roman Catania belonging to the vast private collection of Guido Libertini, first professor of Archaeology at the University of Catania (since 1923).
After the visit, you can resume your journey, or head to the airport to return the rental car and complete the boarding formalities for your return home.

Optional food and wine experience:

  • As an alternative to cultural visits, you can take a three-hour tour of the historic center, between historic markets and beautiful squares, stopping at stalls and historic bakeries to taste typical Catania products, savory and sweet, for a combined experience between food and history.

 

INCLUDED

Hotels

Tranferts

Tours/Attractions

Travel Accessories

Travel Service

Optional food and wine experiences:

NOT INCLUDED

Tour Price

Starting at Euros 2,330.00 for 2 persons
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