Our trip begins in Palermo, Sicily. Palermo is a rich, historic cultural center featuring grandiose architecture. Following an orientation, we'll tour iconic monuments and landmarks, including the Politeama Garibaldi, Massimo Theatre, La Vucciria and Quattro Canti. We then transfer to the seaside village of Cefal�, nestled at the base of an 880 ft fortified cliff called La Rocca. We spend the night in Cefal�. Dinner included.
Walking: 3 miles; Van transfers: 1 hour
We visit the stunning Cathedral of Cefal�, a UNESCO site capturing the mix of Western, Islamic and Byzantine cultures of the region. We then hike on La Rocca, an 880-ft limestone bluff dotted with ancient ruins including the Temple of Diana and an archaic medieval castle. On a clear day, the panoramic views from La Rocca will reveal the Aeolian Islands. Following lunch, we arrive at the port city of Milazzo to board a hydrofoil to Lipari, the largest island in the Aeolian archipelago. We enjoy dinner and spend the night on Lipari. All meals included.
Hiking/walking: 2 miles, Elevation gain/loss: +679'/-614'. Van transfers: 2.75 hours. Ferry: 1 hour
A 10-minute ferry brings us to Vulcano island. We hike to the Caldera de La Fossa for a close-up view of the steaming fumaroles of the Gran Cratere. The La Fossa cone began to form about 11,000 years ago, and last erupted from 1888 to 1890. After a tour of the crater, we set our sights to the Tyrrhenian Sea for breathtaking views of the surrounding islands. We descend for lunch in town and free time to explore, lounge on a black sand beach, go for a swim or immerse ourselves in the island?s thermal mud baths. Returning to Lipari, we freshen up before visiting a local home to discover the art of Sicilian cooking with the island?s wild herbs. We dine on our delectable creations. We spend the night on Lipari. Breakfast and lunch included.
Hiking: 3 miles, Elevation gain/loss: 1,070'
Spend the morning with your guide on an optional 3-hour hike of Lipari?s rugged landscapes and craggy cliffs or explore the impressive 16th century Castel of Lipari on your own. In the afternoon we ferry to the cone-shaped island of Stromboli, known for its constant mild eruptions and fiery night-time lava displays. At sunset, we hike along the coastline, then begin an uphill hike to view Sciara del Fuoco, the blackened lava scar running down Stromboli's northern flank. We may catch a colorful eruption in the distance before heading back to the coast for dinner with views of Stromboli?s magnificent displays. We walk back to our hotel with headlamps for a well-deserved rest. Breakfast and dinner included.
Hiking: 3.6 miles, Elevation gain/loss: +1,250'/-1,047'. Optional hiking: 5.6 miles, Elevation gain/loss: +1,640'/-1,180'. Ferry: 1 hour
In the morning, you are free to relax on a black sand beach, visit the quaint village of San Vincenzo, or board a sightseeing boat to circumnavigate Stromboli. Late in the afternoon, we set out to hike with a certified volcano guide to reach the summit area of Stromboli. We may witness the pyrotechnical activity of the volcano, including dramatic lava fountains and spurts of molten rock. Dinner is alfresco and we descend the slopes of the volcano by headlamp to return to our hotel. We spend the night on Stromboli. All meals included.
Hiking: 7.5 miles, up to 6 hours with night-time descent by headlamp, Elevation gain/loss: 2,900', Terrain: Dirt paths, loose rock, ash/pumice dust
Note: Individuals with asthma or cardiovascular conditions are not permitted to hike on Stromboli. Optional substitute is a night-time boat tour to see volcanic eruptions from the sea.
This morning we catch a ferry to Milazzo on Sicily. Reaching Taormina, we take time to visit this lovely town located along the shores of the Ionian Sea. Perched on the side of a mountain, Taormina is home to the third century Teatro Greco. We recommend a visit to this open-air theatre with amazing views of the sea, coastline and Mount Etna. En route to Catania, we stop at a local home designed using straw bales as a building technique. We visit with the homeowner and enjoy an aperitivo. Overnight in Catania. All meals included.
Walking: up to 2.5 miles; Van transfers: 3.25 hours; Ferry 2.75 hours
With a certified mountain guide, we spend the day exploring Mount Etna, the highest active volcano in Europe (10,899 ft). A combination of cable car and 4x4 vehicles transport us to 9,100 ft, where we begin our hike to Etna's four summit craters (access dependent on weather and other conditions). Walking among the massive lava dunes, we soak in the inspiring views of the Ionian Coast before descending the mountain. Returning to Catania we gather for a celebratory dinner with a special guest?a local artist who designs and sews one-of-a-kind handbags. All meals included.
Hike: 5.5 hours; Trail varies according to the weather, starting location and group fitness; Terrain: loose rocks, scree and possibly snow; Elevation gain/loss: +1,450'/-4,600'. Cable cars/4x4 vehicle: 40?50 minutes round trip; Van transfers: 2.5 hours
Note: Individuals with asthma or cardiovascular conditions are not permitted to hike on Mount Etna.
Depart from Sicily or continue your stay to explore on your own. Breakfast included.