- June 5th to June 14th 2016
This tour will give those taking part the opportunity to see some of the most spectacular sights nature has to offer, visiting all five active Italian volcanoes, two of which are in a state of frequent eruption. All excursions will be escorted, making use of local guides where necessary. We shall follow well-used footpaths and all viewing will be undertaken from a safe distance. The party will be led by Alan Clewlow, an experienced geologist and guide who will be on hand to offer advice and explanation of the features seen. It will also offer a superb opportunity for photography. The trip will also include visits to the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum, both devastated by the AD 79 eruption of Mount Vesuvius, then rediscovered after being buried for almost two thousand years. The trip will also include a train ride through the south of Italy, including a crossing of the Straits of Messina between Sicily and mainland Italy.
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Leave London (Gatwick) on direct morning flight to Catania. Coach to Milazzo for ferry transfer to Lipari. Check into the high-quality “La Giara” apartments in Lipari town for 5 night stay.
Hydrofoil to the island of Vulcano, after which all volcanoes have been named. Climb to view the spectacular main crater and see fumaroles (steam vents) passing lava flows of recent eruptions. From the rim of the crater can be seen much of the island, including the mini-crater of Vulcanello beyond the small harbour at Porto de Levante. Then descend to examine and bathe if desired in the "fanghi" (mud-pools) and bubbling hot springs.
Chartered boat excursion to the island of Salina, which includes a circuit of both Lipari and Salina islands, viewing numerous coastal features from close-range. Time spent on the island for a walk to take in its magnificent local scenery, which includes views of its famous twin-peaks.
Free morning in Lipari Town. The opportunity if desired to visit the Old Town and Castle, in which the local museum is based which has displays of colonisation of the islands dating back to Neolithic times around 4000BC.
Leave around mid-day for Stromboli, with time for a stop at Panarea to take a picnic-lunch. Arrive at Stromboli island late-afternoon, followed by a steady climb to the summit, accompanied by local guides, reaching the summit at dusk. We will spend time there watching the spectacular eruptions of Stromboli by night, before returning to Stromboli town. Those who do not feel up to the climb may wish to see the eruptions from below by taking the short low-level walk to the Observatory ~ a pizzeria with a terrace giving good views of the eruptions). A pasta supper will be served on the boat on the journey back to Lipari.
Local bus to the north of Lipari Island to see obsidian flow and pumice deposits from Monte Pilato. Short walk to the village of Aquacalda, then return to Lipari town for a lunch break. Afteroon local bus via western part of Lipari island, for a stunning view of the coastal scenery from Quattrocchi. Descend via coastal path to beach, passing layered ash and lava deposits. Return to Lipari town on foot, by local path.
Morning ferry/hydrofoil to Milazzo, with coach excursion to the Rifugio Sapienza , on the southern side of Etna. From that point, there are a number of optional excursions available. For example, people may choose to take the cable-car and 4WD bus to the highest public access point, near the SE crater, where a guide will then lead the group on a walk with the chance to view various lava-flows, steam-vents and numerous subsidiary craters at lower levels. Transfer to the 4-star hotel Sporting Baia at Giardini-Naxos, near Taormina for 1 night stay (including dinner and breakfast).
Free morning. The chance to spend some time in the resort or make a short visit to the stunningly attractive town of Taormina nearby. Soon after midday, we take the Inter-City express train to the mainland, which is rolled onto a ferry for the crossing of the Straits of Messina. We leave the train early evening at Salerno, then transfer by coach to Sorrento to spend three nights at a hotel there, on a half-board basis.
Morning train by Circumvesuviana railway to Pompeii, which was buried by the eruption of 79 AD. Tour of the site accompanied by local guide. Return to Sorrento late afternoon, giving some free time in the resort before dinner.
Coach to Vesuvius in the morning, which will ascend the lower slopes. From the coach park, we will make the short climb to the summit to view the crater. On the journey down we will be able to see the evidence of the remains of the older summit (Monte Somma) which formed a caldera as a result of the 79 AD eruption. In the afternoon we will visit the Phlegrean fields (“fields of fire”) to the west of Naples to examine the steam-vents and bubbling mud pools at Solfatara near Pozzuoli.
Check out of the hotel after breakfast for a coach-ride around the Bay of Naples to Herculaneum, much smaller than Pompeii, but many of the buildings are better preserved. There may also be time to visit the archaeological museum in Naples, where some of the best finds from Pompeii and Herculaneum are displayed. Late afternoon transfer to Naples airport for the flight back to London Gatwick, arriving in the evening.
(Please note that this might have to be amended due to weather or sea conditions, but hopefully all planned activities will take place. The itinerary has been planned with a certain amount of flexibility so that adverse weather on one day should not prevent a planned activity being cancelled completely.)
The estimated cost of the 9-night visit is £1395. The price includes flights from London to Catania and the return flight from Naples (and airport taxes), the train journey, coach transfers and local ferries on the itinerary listed above. Included in the cost is bed & breakfast accommodation in the high quality “La Giara” apartments in Lipari Town (on one evening the group will have an evening meal on the boat returning from Stromboli as part of the excursion). In Sicily, there will be one night half-board accommodation, with dinner provided, at hotel “Sporting Baia in Giardini-Naxos, near Taormina. There will also be three nights at Hotel Conca Park in Sorrento including dinners. Accommodation is based on two people sharing. Single accommodation is available on request, subject to availability, but this will involve a supplement. All those taking part in the tour are expected to arrange their own holiday insurance, which can be obtained from any travel agent or insurance broker.
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