Fire & Ice - The Wonders of Sicily, Italy & Austria
Join us on this Grand Explorer holiday for a journey of discovery, as we capture some of Europe’s most spectacular natural and ancient wonders. From vast volcanoes to the Rome Colosseum, our tour begins with the mighty Mountains of Italy, as we take in the vast Vesuvius, the haunting ruins of Pompeii and the mighty Mount Etna, Europe’s largest active volcano. Guests also have the opportunity to join a boat trip to Stromboli, to see the spectacular volcano, which has been continually erupting for over 2000 years. In contrast, we then visit Austria’s highest mountain, the icy Grossglockner glacier, which offers breath taking views of the surrounding alpine scenery. On this grand coach tour we also spend time in the popular resort of Sorrento, visit the ancient wonders of Rome and give guests the opportunity to visit the Isle of Capri and the Sicilian town of Syracuse.
- 15 nights hotel with continental breakfast
- 13 evening meals
- Convenient local joining points
Day 1: UK - France
Local departure by coach or Door-to-Door service, then to northern France for an overnight stay.
Day 2: Parma
We depart our overnight hotel early this morning as we begin our journey towards Italy. During the day we will travel through Switzerland, bypassing places such as Basel and Lucerne before arriving at our hotel in the Parma area for an overnight stay.
Day 3: Sorrento Peninsula
We continue our journey south bypassing Bologna, home of the famous Bolognese sauce and the Tuscan capital of Florence. We continue past the ‘eternal city’ of Rome and later Naples, Italy’s third largest city, before arriving at our hotel on the Sorrento Peninsula for a three-night stay.
Day 4: Pompeii & Vesuvius
Today we visit the historic town of Pompeii at the foot of Mount Vesuvius on our included excursion. We begin our day with a visit to Pompeii, and the spectacular ruins of what was once a great Roman city. In 79AD the eruption of Mount Vesuvius buried the town of Pompeii in about 6/7 metres of stones and ash. Painstaking excavations, which are still ongoing, began in the 18th century and have uncovered a remarkable hidden city. Accompany your expert guide around the town, walking along roads with indents from the passing of chariot wheels and discovering the remains of homes, shops and public baths (entrance to the ruins is included). We then continue to the awe-inspiring Mount Vesuvius. Discover the history of the volcano’s activity. The coach will take you within 1000 metres of the summit and from here you can walk to the very top and admire the splendid, panoramic views across the bay. Please note: there is a local charge of approximately €10 to visit the crater.
Day 5: Sorrento or Isle of Capri
A free day in Sorrento today, or you can join our superb optional excursion as we sail across the Bay of Naples to the Isle of Capri. Visit the fabulous villa of Dr Axel Munthe (entrance cost is extra – approximately €8), a Swedish doctor, whose bestselling book “Story of San Michele” tells of his time on Capri. Continue to Capri town, famous for its main square Piazza Umberto, which has a pretty white church and several open-air cafes where you can sit and watch the world drift by. Leading off the square are medieval looking alleyways and arcades full of shops selling handicrafts of the island, clothing, shoes, ceramics and jewellery made from coral and gold. There is so much to see and do on this tiny island paradise you will be sorry to leave.
Day 6: Sicily
We leave our hotel and travel south to the ‘foot’ of Italy and take a ferry across to Sicily where we stay for the next five nights.
Day 7: Mount Etna & Taormina
Today we take an unforgettable drive up Mount Etna, the highest volcano in Europe. Standing at 3350 meters (10,991ft) Etna is one of the most active volcanoes in the world and is in an almost constant state of eruption. Although it can occasionally be very destructive, it is not generally regarded as being a dangerous volcano. Thousands of people live on its slopes and in the surrounding areas where the fertile volcanic soil support extensive agriculture. Our coach takes us within 1900 metres and if the weather is good why not enhance your experience of Etna with a visit to its summit (at own cost, payable locally). A 15-minute gondola ride takes you to 2504 metres and offers some fantastic views of the landscape, which has been characterised by countless lava flows. For the more adventurous, we then join the special modernised ‘Busses’ which, driven by expert drivers, take you on a 20-minute journey to an altitude of 3000 metres. There will be some free time at the summit to photograph the impressive central and southeast craters before we commence our descent. Later in the day we travel to Taormina for free time where you can explore the sights or perhaps visit some of the many shops along the car free main street ‘Corso Umberto’.
Day 8: Free Time
Enjoy a free day to relax in resort.
Day 9: Free Time or Stromboli
Another memorable optional excursion today as we leave the hotel and take a boat to the tiny island of Panarea. We arrive at the port and then either walk or perhaps take a local taxi (own cost) into the village centre. We spend free time on this enchanting island surrounded by typical Aeolian white houses and clear blue seas. Perhaps meander through the town centre, have a meal in one of the restaurants, or enjoy a swim at Zimmari Beach. This evening we board a boat and travel out to Stromboli and anchor off shore to view the mighty volcano at night. This is the best time to see the mountains fiery explosions, a truly breathtaking sight. We return by sea to Milazzo and then return to our hotel late this evening.
Day 10: Free Time or Syracuse
A further day at leisure today or why not join our optional excursion to Syracuse, once the most powerful of all Mediterranean cities and the home of the famous natural Philosopher, Archimedes. Accompanied by our guide, we are introduced to the delights of this lovely town. We see the Grand Theatre whose cavea is one of the largest ever built by the ancient Greeks. Entrance to the Archaeological area is also included.
Day 11: Fiuggi
We say goodbye to Sicily as we travel back to the foot of Italy and head north to Fiuggi and onto our overnight hotel.
Day 12: Rome
We leave our hotel this morning as we head north towards our overnight hotel in Tuscany. En route we visit the beautiful Italian capital city of Rome. A lovely place to explore on foot. To make the most of your visit, why not join our optional guided sightseeing tour. The sightseeing tour takes place on both coach and foot and will introduce you to the city’s wonderful sights, including the mighty Colosseum (entrance not included), Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps. Although Rome is a relatively compact city, we would remind you that this is a walking tour, not suitable for anyone with mobility difficulties and we would recommend you wear suitable shoes for the day.
Day 13: Brenner Pass
We continue our journey north as we head towards the Austrian Tyrol. We pass the beautiful border town of Vipiteno, the ancient city of the wealthy Fugger family. We continue our journey across the magnificent Brenner Pass and to our hotel where we stay for two nights.
Day 14: Grossglockner Glacier
Our included excursion takes us along the Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse and up the Grossglockner, which at 3,789 metres, is Austria’s highest mountain. We view the icy world of the massive Grossglockner Glacier from the magnificently situated Franz-Josefs-Heights panorama viewing platform.
Day 15: Belgium
To Belgium for an overnight stay.
Day 16: UK
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