Arrive into Naples, Italy by 2pm today. Naples can be reached via rail connections from Rome or by air via connecting flights from the U.S. Vibrant, chaotic, classically Italian, historic Naples invites travelers to discover its vast assortment of world-class museums, atmospheric neighborhoods and fabulous restaurants. In the late afternoon, we begin our adventure with a tour of Napoli Sotterranea (Naples Underground), followed by a dinner of local specialties. Dinner included.
A 50-minute hydrofoil across the Gulf of Naples brings us to the rugged Isle of Capri. Beginning at the lively waterfront, we walk uphill to Capri Town's central piazza. After catching our breath and taking in the wonderful views, we continue our walk past colorful villas with flower-filled gardens to the Grotta di Matermania. The Grotta is a series of hidden caves, tucked into the island's limestone crags and the site of ancient pagan worship ceremonies. Following a picnic lunch we arrive back at the Piazzetta and enjoy free time for sightseeing. In the late afternoon we return to the marina on foot, then take a hydrofoil to Naples for dinner and an overnight stay. All meals included.?
Hiking: 3.8 miles, 2 hours; elevation gain 318?/loss 285?.?
??We transfer to the village of Amalfi to begin today's hike to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ravello. Our route takes us through the Valle Mulini (Valley of the Mills), once the center of the paper industry on the Amalfi Coast. Picturesque lemon groves and the tiny villages of Pontone, Minuta, and Scala invite exploration and photos. We eat lunch in Ravello, then enjoy free time to explore the famous gardens of Villa Cimbrone and Villa Rufolo. Next, we transfer to the wide green plateau of Agerola (2,067') to visit a Limoncello factory and taste this classic Italian lemon liqueur. Surrounded by the Lattari Mountains, this pastoral upland of hamlets provides access to numerous hiking trails with magnificent panoramas. All meals included.?
Hiking: 5 miles, 3.5 hours; elevation gain 1,152'/loss 525?.?
The "Path of the Gods" is an aptly named trail built high above the shoreline, providing panoramic views of the coastline and the Isle of Capri. The trail leads us to Positano, a lovely village of white Moorish-style houses built above a sand beach melting into a small bay. We explore Positano, climbing the stairs that serve as thoroughfares between the terraced levels of the town. In the afternoon we transfer by boat (weather permitting) to Amalfi to see the town?s towering Duomo, a cathedral purportedly holding the remains of St. Andrew the Apostle, which were brought to Amalfi from Constantinople during the Crusades. Upon our return to Agerola, we take a lesson in pizza making with fresh, local ingredients. All meals included.
Day 4: Ferry: 30 minutes each way; Hiking: 6.2 miles, 4.5 hours; elevation gain 600?/loss 2,000?.
We begin our day at Pompeii, one of the world's premier archeological sites. In 79 AD, the catastrophic eruption of nearby Mount Vesuvius buried Pompeii in over 14' of volcanic debris, hiding its existence from the rest of the world for 1,700 years. Ongoing excavations have uncovered a city frozen in time, filled with well-preserved buildings, frescoes and thousands of personal artifacts. In the afternoon we visit one of the oldest wineries in the region to sample local produce and vintages. Next we head to Mount Vesuvius (4,203'), which last erupted in 1944. We hike to a panoramic viewpoint of the volcano's crater to learn about the mountain's geological and natural history. Returning to Naples, we board an overnight ferry to Sicily, where we have dinner and spend the night in double en-suite cabins. All meals included.
Pompeii: 1.8 miles, 3 hours; Hiking: 2 miles/2.4 hours; elevation gain/loss: 400?; Ferry: 10.5 hours; Transfers: 3 hours.
Disembarking the ferry in the early morning hours, we have breakfast in Palermo. A short transfer brings us to Cefal� for a sightseeing tour. Located on a rocky headland and beneath a massive crag called the Rocca, Cefal� is a picturesque historic town. Sites we may see include an imposing two-tower Norman cathedral that dates back to 1131 AD, the medieval ruins of the Osterio Magno 13th-century palace, and the town's charming port which is lined with fishing boats. Our next stop is Milazzo, where we board a hydrofoil to Vulcano, an island in the Aeolian Archipelago famous for its black sand beaches and hot springs. A wine tasting provides additional insights into the region's wonderful, complex wines. All meals included.
Hiking: 1.2 miles, 1.5 hours; Ferry: 1 hour; Transfers: 3.5 hours.
Vulcano, one of the seven major islands that make up the Aeolian archipelago, has volcanoes that are dormant but not extinct. We hike to La Fossa, the island's volcanic center, for a close-up view of the steaming fumaroles of Gran Cratere. La Fossa cone began to form about 11,000 years ago and last erupted from 1888 to 1890. In the afternoon we take a hydrofoil to Stromboli. All meals included.
Hiking: 4.9 miles, 3 hours; elevation gain/loss: 1,300'; Ferry: 1.5 hours.
The cone-shaped island of Stromboli is comprised of a single active volcano known for its constant mild eruptions and fiery nighttime lava displays. The morning is free to explore Stromboli on your own; the trip guides have lots of suggestions. In the late afternoon, we begin a hiking excursion up the flanks of the volcano, accompanied by certified volcanologist guides who assist us in choosing our route and enlighten us on the forces that have shaped this unique island chain. With luck, we have an opportunity to see the famous lava displays at twilight. A sack dinner is eaten on the mountain before descending by headlamp and returning to our hotel around 11pm. All meals included.
Hiking: 7.5 miles, up to 6 hours; elevation gain/loss: 2,900'.
Note: Individuals with asthma or cardiovascular conditions are not permitted to hike on Stromboli. Trip members not hiking on Stromboli have the option to hike around the base of the volcano to the Sciara del Fuoco, where one can still observe the explosions above. Hiking: 4 hours; elevation gain/loss: 1,300'.
We return by ferry to Sicily and transfer to the medieval town of Taormina, located along the shores of the Ionian Sea. There is free time to visit the town's Greek Theatre, which was built during the third century BC, and perhaps sample the local mulberry gelato. In the afternoon we transfer to a rifugio that is situated at 6,350', more than half-way to the summit of Mount. Etna. We have dinner and turn in early to rest up for tomorrow's excursion to the top of the volcano. All meals included.
Walking: 1-2 miles, 1 hour; Ferry: 3 hours; Transfers: 3 hours.
Located outside the Sicilian town of Catania, Mount Etna (10,899') is the most active volcano in Europe, constantly smoking and frequently erupting for thousands of years. ?A combination of cable cars and 4x4 vehicles transport us to 9,100' where we begin our hike to Etna's four summit craters (access dependent on weather and other conditions). Walking among the giant lava dunes provides fantastic views of the Ionian Coast. At the conclusion of our hike we transfer to Catania, a UNESCO World Heritage City. Tonight?s dinner celebrates a wonderful journey with new friends. All meals included.
Hiking: 9.3 miles, 5.5 hours; elevation gain 1,450'/loss 4,600'.?
Note: Individuals with asthma or cardiovascular conditions are not permitted to hike on Mount Etna. A substitute activity will be provided.
Our adventure concludes following breakfast. Transfer on your own to the Catania airport for onwards travels. Breakfast included.