Activity note: Suggest sleeping on transatlantic flight and staying awake the next day; makes adjusting to the new time zone easier.
Activity note: Some fatigue from a long flight and hour long transfer to the hotel. Get your first view of Mt. Etna to the west as you travel toward Giardini-Naxos.
Lunch: At the hotel. The full southern Italian experience includes eating like a local; lunch is considered the main meal of the day and will consist of multiple courses.
Afternoon: After lunch, spend time in the pool or at the private beach and swim in the Ionian Sea--watch out for Sirenes, the mythological sea nymphs who swam those waters and enticed Ulysses. At the scheduled time, gather in the hotel meeting room for a briefing that will go over logistics and recommendations for a safe visit; after that enjoy a welcome refreshment, meet the group leaders and your fellow travelers in an informal gathering.
Dinner: At the hotel. As is the custom in Sicily, dinners begin at 8:30 pm and will include a first course (appetizer or pasta) and main course of meat or fish, a vegetable side dish and dessert of a sweet or fresh fruit.
Activity note: Light activities
Breakfast: Served buffet style at the hotel. Select from an egg dish, breads, yogurt, pastries, cake, cereals and muesli, fresh fruit, sliced cheeses, sliced cold cuts, and some gluten free products as well as a selection of hot and cold beverages.
Morning: A more detailed briefing on the excursions. A local expert gives insight on the science of volcanoes.
Lunch: Lunch at the hotel.
Afternoon: A classroom session learn about the Greco-Roman pantheon of gods and on the mythological stories set in Sicily - from Ulysses and Polyphemus in the caves of Etna to Vulcan/Hephaestus who used the volcanoes as a forge to make Jupiter/Zeus's lightening bolts. Make a model of a volcano and have a small eruption in a classroom hands on construction.
Dinner: At the hotel restaurant. Fixed menu; plated table service.
Activity note: Taormina is a located on a hill-top and the Greek theater is at the top. Uneven terrain and steps in the ancient theater.
Breakfast: Served buffet style at the hotel.
Morning: Board coach to Taormina where the local expert will explain how the original Greek theater changed once the Romans took over. Enjoy the spectacular view of Etna as a backdrop of the ruins. Expert continues through the town expounding on the fortunes of the UNESCO city. Taormina was founded by refugees of the original city of Naxos who were scattered by invading army.
Lunch: At a local restaurant sample some traditional Sicilian dishes.
Afternoon: After lunch and a little free time, meet at the sky lift and ride down the hill, board a private boat to sail around Isola Bella, a beautiful island in the gulf. The boat drops us off at the dock near the hotel, a couple of hundred yards away. Relax by the pool or room. Gather at the appointed hour before dinner for an illustrated presentation and review about the ancient Greek and Roman colonies in Sicily. Nearby are the ruins of Naxos, the oldest colony on Sicily, dating to 535 BCE.
Dinner: At the hotel. Fixed menu with plated table service.
Activity note: Uneven terrain on trails. Helmets are provided for side crater exploration. Wear closed shoes, bring jacket or fleece. Expect a different microclimate on the higher elevations of the mountain compared to the shore.
Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at hotel.
Morning: Coach to the slopes of Mt. Etna to explore inactive side vent craters. Weather and seismic conditions permitting, a park ranger leads a walk along the edge of one of the inactive side craters. Etna is typically snow capped 11 months of the year. Elevation may reach 6000-8000 feet.
Lunch: At a trattoria on the slopes of Mt. Etna. Traditional menu with local fresh produce.
Afternoon: Excursion continues on Mt. Etna. A park ranger leads the day's activities. Stop at a learning center and see models of Etna, learn about eruptions, types of lava, safety measures and precautions and the fertility of volcanic soil. Coach back to the hotel. A little time for a refreshing swim before dinner.
Dinner: At the hotel; fixed menu with plated table service.
Activity note: Minimal walking
Breakfast: Served buffet style at the hotel.
Morning: Prepare luggage for departure, one last swim in the Ionian Sea. Board coach to an agriturismo, or working farm for a home-cooked meal. Savor ingredients grown on site and prepared by skilled cooks. Walk around the gardens with the owner, ask him where the lava from the 1384 eruption of Etna can be seen.
Lunch: Enjoy a Sicilian farm to table meal at the family run farm and restaurant.
Afternoon: Board coach toward the port of Catania, arrive in time for 5:30 boarding. Find berth and settle in. Each berth sleeps 4 on bunk beds and is equipped with a toilet, sink and shower. This is a large ferry capable of transporting buses, tractor trailers, cars and cargo. There are large lounges with reclining chairs and tables, TVs and snack bars. Store luggage in the cabin under the bunk or shelf.
Dinner: On board the ferry, self-service style dinner. Choices include an antipasto, first course, second course, side dish, cheese, fruit or dessert. You can have bottled water or a soft drink; beer or wine for the adults.
Evening: Ferry sets sail at 7 PM, over the open water, enjoy (weather permitting) the expanse of the stars. Passing the Straits of Messina, look out for Scylla and Charybdis the mythological monsters of the sea current vortex, read their description in Homer's Odyssey Book XII.
Activity note: Handle own luggage from ferry to coach. Uneven terrain in Cumae and at Solfatara in the Phlegreian Fields
Breakfast: The breakfast on board the ferry is a simple snack consisting of a fruit juice and packaged croissant.
Morning: Sail past the island of Capri and observe Vesuvius rising in the distance. Disembark in Naples. Coach from the port of Naples to Cumae. With an expert visit the cave sanctuary of the mythological Sibyl prophetess who predicted the future. She is depicted by Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel ceiling. Continue to other remains and take in the panoramic sight of the Bay of Naples from the Temple of Apollo.
Lunch: At a local restaurant.
Afternoon: Coach continues to the Phlegreian Fields. Visit the caldaras of Solfatara, site of a collapsed volcano where pools of bubbling mud indicate fissures and steam vents spew forth an odor of sulfur, as the name of the Solfatara suggests. The word "conflagration" meaning large fire is related to a mythological character Phlegyas and lends his name to the area. Following the visit, coach to Sorrento and check in to the hotel.
Dinner: At the hotel, dinner is plated table service with multiple courses, water and dessert. Adults can order wine or beer; young people can order a soft drink and charge it to their room. Settle extra expenses with the front desk before departure.
Evening: After dinner go for a short neighborhood walk to see the main piazza in Sorrento, locate ATMs, pharmacies and stores.
Activity note: Uneven Terrain on the Slopes of Mt. Vesuvius.
Breakfast: Served buffet style at the hotel. Items include an egg dish, bread, cereal, muesli, yogurt, fresh fruit, pastries, cake, cold cuts, cheese platter, assortment of jams and honey. Choose American coffee, espresso, cappuccino, or hot water (for tea) at the beverage dispenser - available only in the morning. In the afternoon and evening, you can order a cold beverage at the poolside bar or lounge in the lobby.
Morning: Coach to the slope of Mount Vesuvius. At the observatory, the local guide/ranger illustrates the seismic instruments. Ride to the crest for panoramic views of the bay. Weather permitting, it is possible to walk around a portion of the crater.
Lunch: Lunch at a restaurant on the slope of Mt. Vesuvius. A kid friendly meal consists of various fritters, a second course, French fries and gelato. The adults will enjoy a second course and fruit or sweet dessert.
Afternoon: Return to the hotel for a rest period or go to the roof and enjoy a dip in the pool. There is a clear view of Vesuvius. At the designated time, meet in the lecture hall for an illustrated Lecture on the Eruption of 79 CE.
Dinner: On your own. The group leader will have suggestions for various tastes and budgets.
Activity note: Extensive walking and standing during the expert-led visit to the vast archaeological site of Pompeii.
Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at the hotel.
Morning: Guided visit of Pompeii archaeological site. Wander the streets of the city frozen in time in August of 79 CE. Walk into the amphitheater, see where the gladiators trained, walk down Via Abbondanza, the main street, observe 1st century political grafitti. Notice the similarities between Pompeii, where bars, restaurants, shops and bakeries line the streets, and that in any modern city in Italy.
Lunch: Light lunch at a restaurant in the archaeological park. A dessert of gelato will help you cool off.
Afternoon: After a long day in the sun, return to the hotel for some down time, swim in the pool or take a stroll in the commercial center of Sorrento. Later in the afternoon, board a coach to a spot in the countryside.
Dinner: Dinner at an agriturismo or working farm serving a regional menu of seasonal food including cheeses made onsite. At the conclusion, coach back to Sorrento.
Activity note: Extended walking and standing during the expert-led visit to the archaeological site of Herculaneum and in the museum
Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at the hotel.
Morning: Coach to Herculaneum, the upper class city destroyed by the intense pyroclastic mud flow from Mount Vesuvius in 79 CE. The expert will talk about the differences of the Pompeii and this city. The Villa of the Papyri was discovered and was recreated for the Getty Museum in Malibu, California.
Lunch: Lunch at a restaurant in Naples where you can try some Neapolitan dishes.
Afternoon: Expert-led visit the Archaeological Museum in Naples which houses treasures and artifacts found in Pompeii and Herculaneum, including the famed Alexander Mosaic, the Farnese Bull, gold jewelry, plaster casts of the deceased and bronze sculptures of dancing women from the Villa of the Papyri in Herculaneum.
Dinner: Farewell dinner at the hotel consists of multiple courses, plated table service with a special dessert.
Activity note: Board coach for the Naples airport in time for check-in. Handle own luggage from coach to counter.
Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at the hotel; continental style for participants with early morning departures.
Morning: Coach to and Depart from Naples airport