Day 1 - Rome to Amalfi Coast +
We will meet at Rome airport in the afternoon, set our compass south and depart in our comfortable private bus! Destination: Campania. We arrive on the Amalfi Coast after an approximate 3-hour drive and enjoy a welcome dinner.
Day 2 - Wines from Irpinia and Food from the Amalfi Coast +
After breakfast at the hotel, we depart on a short drive to visit one of the best wineries of the Irpinia DOC appellation, near the town of Avellino, and sample a variety of wines: Fiano, a white variety; Falanghina, an ancient white packed with citrus blossom aromas; Greco White, featuring peach and fresh green foliage notes; and Aglianico, the red of the area that is a very unique grape variety and quite difficult to find elsewhere.
In the afternoon, anchovies. Anchovies are absolutely essential to the Southern diet. They are rich, fatty, buttery fish packed with flavour. We visit an anchovy processing plant in the town of Cetara to taste both the freshly caught and packaged product. Some people think they don’t enjoy the briny and robust flavour of the anchovy, but something tells us this is because they have never tasted freshly caught and packed anchovies. Let us know how you feel after you taste the real thing.
Day 3 - Amalfi, Lemons and Pompei +
Sunny yellow, tart and lush, the lemon is a fitting symbol of Amalfi. In the morning we will tour the town of Amalfi and discover everything about lemons and limoncello liqueur. Lunch will be in a lemon grove with a menu inspired by this regional DOP product. To finish our meal, we will enjoy limoncello, served chilled. This aromatic alcoholic drink is the best way to enjoy pure lemon flavour without the bitter bite.
Afterwards, we spend the afternoon in Pompei. This visit to the ancient city destroyed by the Vesuvio volcano 2,000 years ago is led by a local professional historian.
Day 4 - Buffalo Mozzarella: The Real Thing! +
You haven’t really tasted Mozzarella di Bufala until you’ve had it in Campania. A traditional product of the region, it is creamy, pure white, hand-cut and delicate. We will visit a Bufala farm and Mozzarella producer in the town of Capaccio on our way to the region of Basilicata. Today, the star of our lunch meal is mozzarella, of course. After lunch, we will stop in Paestum for a guided tour and then depart for the region of Basilicata where we check in at our hotel at the foot of the majestic Vulture volcano.
Day 5 - Basilicata and its Aglianico: Ancient Volcanic Wines +
We will take in the lesser known region of Basilicata, which is removed, remote, hot and dry. The food perfectly reflects its climate and features a blend of spice and simplicity. For centuries, the local people were reticent about mixing with the rest of Italy and the region has preserved a strong and distinct cultural and regional identity due to its lack of roads and physical remoteness. The region borders Calabria, Puglia and Campania and is known as the most mountainous region of Italy.
We will have the opportunity to see how this unique landscape influences the wines. We will visit one of the area’s top wineries growing the Aglianico del Vulture varietal around the extinct volcano of Monte Vulture. After lunch, we will transfer to one of the beautiful seaside towns of Puglia, our final destination for today.
Day 6 - Unforgettable Wine and Food Experiences +
There is a lot to discover on this day as we become fully immersed in the precious landscape. We are in the north part of the Puglia peninsula, in the kingdom of the Nero di Troia, a red grape that produces an intense ruby-coloured wine with elegant tannins and a rich, spicy bouquet. A morning visit and tasting at one of the prestigious Antinori wineries is followed by one of the greatest meals I have ever had! The soils here is very rich and locals eat their food right out of the garden, so why shouldn’t we do the same?
Today, after some vino tasting, we will experience food from a local family kitchen and visit their traditional “orto” – a vegetable garden full of seasonal treasures! There is time to relax at our hotel in the afternoon and evening.
Day 7 - Matera, Alberobello and Lecce +
After breakfast, we head south to visit the UNESCO village of Matera, a city truly lost in time. The homes are known as Sassi, or houses of stone, and were excavated by hand into the side of the gorge, one built on top of the other and connected by an elaborate system of staircases and alleyways.
We visit a typical oven (“forno”) to discover their ancient cooking methods and sample local bread, pizza and focaccia, all fresh from the oven. Then we follow our local guide for a private tour of the “Sassi” and continue on to Alberobello, known for its characteristic Trulli houses. You will have time on your own in Alberobello and transfer to the hotel.
Day 8 - Learn the Art of Orecchiette Pasta +
Are you ready for today’s challenge? The making of orecchiette – a homemade pasta typical of Puglia! Afterwards, we’ll tour the facilities and enjoy a traditional lunch. To burn the calories (no worries, Pugliese cuisine is very tasty and low in calories!), we will tour the historical city centre of the nearby city of Lecce, named “the Florence of the South” due to its ancient romantic beauty, baroque architecture and history. We will learn all about it from our local guide while savouring a true strong, dry and rustic Salento.
Day 9 - In the Primitivo di Manduria Region +
The Manduria region is currently attracting international attention because of its distinct wine and food culture. This hot and dry region has an agricultural abundance of olives, wheat and grape vines, which all grow perfectly. Because this region is so fertile, there are many diverse varietals that we will taste today. Among the best local grapes are Pampanuto, Bombino Bianco, Bombino Nero and Nero di Troia. However, you cannot visit Puglia without tasting Primitivo, the king of grapes known for its powerful intensity and bouquet. The sun gifts this plant everything it needs to transform the grapes into a sumptuous wine with an opulent red colour and cherry notes on the palate.
Note in the photo: wine is sold “by-the-litre” at one of the numerous “cantine”.
Day 10 - From Puglia to Calabria +
After breakfast, we check out of our hotel in Puglia and head south. The entire morning drive will bring us to the western coast of Calabria and the sea town of Amantea where we will check in to our hotel on the beach. There will be time to relax and join up with the rest of the group later for a 4-course dinner paired with Calabria wines.
Day 11 - From Calabria to Sicily +
We will check out and drive towards the Messina Strait where, along with our bus, we will ride a ferry (30 minutes) and reach the island of Sicily. We plan to arrive at our hotel in the early afternoon.
Day 12 – Taormina and ‘Volcanic’ Grapes +
Today, we follow the wine route of the volcano, Etna. We visit a quality winery and discover the full flavour profile of the region’s viticulture. We also taste many indigenous grapes such as the Carricante, a white with high acidity, citrus and green apple notes, and a nice amount of minerality, and the Nerello Mascalese, a fruity red that is best to drink when it is young and fresh. These wines are all included in the “Etna DOC” appellation where the volcanic soil has an incredible impact on the wines and notably adds minerality and structure.
On the way out of the Etna region, we stop at Taormina, a city carved out of mountains and full of Greek archaeological sites, amphitheatres and art – a true gem. From this elevation, the view of the sea and Etna is just spectacular. You will have time to tour the town and shop at your leisure in the many characteristic small “botteghe”. Also, make some time to visit the Greek amphitheatre and archaeological site (the entrance fee and English audio-guide for this site is included in the tour). We will then go back to the hotel in the evening.
Day 13 - A Taste of Ragusa & Modica: Chocolate, Olive Oil & Baroque +
On the way to Ragusa, we stop in Modica, a town famous for its traditionally-made chocolate. The technique comes from pre-Columbian Mexico and involves slow, cold processing in order to preserve the delicate, individual flavours and aromas of the cacao. Over time, other ingredients have been added to the chocolates including cinnamon, chilli, ginger and sea salt. We will visit the oldest chocolate producer in Sicily and assist in a demonstration of their traditional techniques. Of course, there will be many samples to try.
Olive groves are emblematic of Sicily and are picture perfect places to visit with their grey-green trees with gnarled bodies, expanses of rolling hills and craggy paths and traditional wooden tools mixed with new technology. This is exactly what we see today at an olive grove and mill that produces DOP Monti Iblei extra virgin olive oil. We taste what makes this DOP (Denomination of Protected Origin) unique and worth protecting as a regional Sicilian product alongside a number of other olive oils that have made this family an outstanding producer
Day 14 - The Greek Sicily: Agrigento and the Valle dei Templi +
This morning, we visit the Cerasuolo di Vitoria DOCG wine area and stop for a tasting with a small top-quality producer. Heading west, we stop in Agrigento and visit the “Valle dei Templi”, a UNESCO World Heritage site and an incredible example of preserved Greek architecture from the 4th century. This site is also one of the largest archeological sites in the world, spanning 1,300 ha. The entrance fee and English audio guide is included in the tour, and our professional historian guide Simona is one of our favourites of the tour!
In the early evening, we arrive at Marsala, our most western destination and base home base for the next two days. The sunsets that are visible on the coast in this part of Sicily are breathtaking! Anyone care for a walk on the beach at sunset?
Day 15 – Wine and Salt: A Winning Combination! +
Just as the volcanic soil influenced the terroir of the wine at the beginning of our tour, so too does the sea salt. We visit the salt flats (“saline”) to understand the traditional production and history of this product and then taste the local grape varietals and learn about the influence of air salinity on wine production. This is a densely cultivated wine region, so there are many varieties to try. Since we’re in Marsala, we will also enjoy the world-renowned fortified wine made with the native Grillo and Insolia grapes.
Perhaps when you hear Marsala you conjure up an image of a sickly sweet and syrupy after-dinner drink, or a creamy sauce to save dry chicken, but Marsala is so much more complex depending on the aging, coloration, and grape varietal. It can range from dry to sweet, trust me!
Arrivederci dinner in Marsala.
Day 16 – Marsala to Palermo: End of Tour +
After breakfast, we depart for the Palermo airport where our tour ends.
Participants can also choose from a number of possible trip extensions:
In the city of Palermo
At the famous beaches of Mondello or Capo San Vito
In the islands of Fayignana (Egadi Archipelago) or Vulcano/Lipari (Eolian Archipelago)
INCLUDED IN THIS TOUR +
- Private winery tours and tastings in the prestigious DOC and DOCG wine appellation areas (Fiano, Falanghina, Greco, Taurasi, Vulture, Primitivo di Manduria, Negroamaro, Nero di Troia, Cerasuolo di Vittoria, Marsala, etc.).
- A chance to sample and learn about limoncello in Amalfi and a visit to a typical "limoneto" with lunch al fresco under the pergola.
- Tasting and comparison of Puglia and Sicily extra-virgin olive oils.
- Visit to the town of Cetara on the Amalfi Coast and a tasting of 'colatura di alici', a protected Slow Food gourmet delicacy.
- An opportunity to learn about and sample Mozzarella di Bufala DOP.
- Visit to the world-famous archeological sites and ruins of Pompei, Paestum, Taormina and the Greek temples of Agrigento.
- Visit to the famous UNESCO site of "I Sassi di Matera" with an expert local guide.
- Hands-on pasta making: orecchiette pugliesi.
- Walking tour of the city of Lecce with a local guide.
- Visit to Alberobello and the unique Trulli homes.
- Walk on the lava and side craters of the Etna volcano.
- Stroll through the small streets of the Baroque towns of Ragusa Ibla and Modica (UNESCO).
- Many memorable meals in typical trattorie and ristoranti where you will fully absorb the traditional cuisine, customs and lifestyle.
- Handpicked hotels with every effort made to choose the best-rated available in tour travel areas.
- Breakfasts, plus a variety of lunches or dinners as per tour itinerary, including two glasses of wine.
- Comfortable private deluxe mini-coach with a professional licensed driver from tour origination to the final drop-off point.
- Use of professional local guides when touring areas of significant historical / artistic / cultural importance.
- The best tour director! -- your friendly guide who’s at your side for the entire tour and available to answer all your questions.
- Included are all entrance fees, applicable taxes (including hotel city taxes) as well as some of the gratuities associated with the tour.
WHAT YOU DON'T GET ANYWHERE ELSE! +
- Visits to carefully selected wineries of different sizes and a chance to talk to the owners who make the wines you enjoy!
- For “foodies”: In-depth discussions on regional cuisine and how it pairs local wines while enjoying ‘garden to table’ meals.
- A perfect mix of wine and non-wine related activities.
- Immersion in Italy’s culture and heritage up close and often, off the beaten track.
- Group sizes typically consisting of 12 to 16 participants.
WHAT'S NOT INCLUDED IN THE TOUR +
- Your travel costs to tour start and from tour endpoint.
- Transfers and accommodations pre- and post-tour.
- Any expense incurred for personal items, services or hotel room extras.
- Travel insurance, cancellation and medical insurance.
CONTACT US OR YOUR TRAVEL AGENT IF YOU NEED ASSISTANCE WITH ANY OF THE ABOVE ITEMS