History, Mystery and Drama of Mt. Vesuvius, Mt. Vulcano and Mt. Etna Itinerary

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Total Trip:

12 Days
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Countries Visited:

Italy
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Places Visited:

Naples, Pompeii, Stromboli, Lipari, Taormina, Alcantara Gorge, Catania, Mt. Etna, Vulcano Island
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Departure Dates:

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.
Volcanoes embody power and drama, majesty and mystery during your grand Southern Italy itinerary focused on the unique landscapes. Lava spills out of a conical volcanic peak, causing a nightly light display spouting over the edges of a secluded island. Rich soil shapes the essences of the cuisine, fortifying produce and wine with delectable flavors. Antique cities hide beneath blanketing ash from an ancient eruption. Cafes in charming villages offer pristine panoramas of volcanic summits and the

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Day 1

Naples – At the Historical Heart

Naples is a bustling city with a vibrant port leading to the shimmering cobalt waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Historic streets wind into the maze-like lanes in the Historic District, sprawling into the endlessly moving metropolis along the outer 19th-century neighborhoods. Baroque architecture complements the city’s history under the reign the Spanish kingdom, with ruins dating back to the Roman Empire. Your flight lands at Naples International Airport, where your private transfer greets you upon your arrival. The main street of Via San Biagio divides the city at the historic center, teeming with people and glowing with the facades of golden churches.

The oldest castle in the city, Castel dell’Ovo, retains its prominent position guarding the harbor, with the water crashing against the rocky outcropping with dramatic effect. You settle into the comforts of your luxurious hotel offering views of the sea and boats returning from the open water. The aroma of melted cheese and bubbling pizza dough fills the city, emanating from the enumerable pizzerias celebrating the city as the birthplace of the iconic Italian dish. A funicular leads to the summit of the Vomero district, crowned by the Castel Sant’Elmo, a 13th-century fortress erected over the foundations of an 11th-century church.

What's Included:

included

Transfer

included

Accommodation

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Day 2

Naples – Atop the Vesuvius Summit

In the morning, the aroma of espresso drifts out of the cafes of the city. Locals fill the galleries before work, sipping on water and enjoying the balance of rich and bitter flavor of the iconic Italian breakfast. The sea breeze carries the sent of the briny water as boats return from the open sea. Your guide greets you at the hotel after the meal and escorts you along the Bay of Naples to discover the looming silhouette of Mount Vesuvius. The volcano is best known for its eruption in 79 AD that shrouded the city of Pompeii in ash and pumice stone. The volcano stands at more than 4,200 feet above sea level and erupted as recently as the mid-1940s.

You take to the pathway following the unpaved gravelly trail leading to the top of the peak. Your steps crunch the gravel. The fresh air blends with puffs of sulfur emanating from the caldera. An original, taller peak caved in, causing the caldera along the cone-shaped summit. You can look into the caldera to see the fumaroles puffing against the tan soil. The large and deep caldera offers insight into the power of the current volcano and the drama the historic bubbling summit has caused around the bay. You continue to Vesuvius Observatory, which was founded in the mid-19th century on the foothills of the mountain with the intent of monitoring the three volcanoes of the Campania region.

What's Included:

included

Tour

included

Accommodation

included

Breakfast

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Day 3

Stromboli – Brining the Past to Life

In the morning, the city of Naples returns to its energetic bustle. The sunlight washes over the tan stones of Castel dell’Ovo. The Mediterranean shimmers with sapphire and cobalt hues against the wading masts of the boats in the harbor. Locals take to walking or running along the promenade during the cool breeze of the sunny morning. Your guide greets you at the hotel after breakfast and escorts you to the National Archaeological Museum, which houses one of the world’s finest collections of Greco-Roman artifacts.

The palace in which the museum stands was originally 18th-century cavalry barracks, before housing the private collection of antiquities for the Bourbon King Charles VII. The sunlight fills the hall, pouring through the large, elegant windows. The marble floors and pillars glint against the neutral tones of the walls. The museum houses a large collection of treasures taken from Pompeii and Herculaneum, bringing to life the rich history of the Roman Empire around the Bay of Naples. You discover the exquisite mosaic of the Battle of Alexander against Darius, which originally decorated a mansion in Pompeii. The vibrant colors cover the entire 215-square-foot 2nd century BC artwork, depicting the famous emperor and general riding chariot into battle.

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included

Tour

included

Transfer

included

Accommodation

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Breakfast

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Day 4

Stromboli – Witnessing Natural Power

In the morning, you arrive on the small island of Stromboli, connected to the Aeolian Island chain. The volcanic crater forms a perfect cone and puffs streams of smoke above the glistening cobalt Mediterranean Sea. The relaxed pace and exotic ambiance provide the perfect island setting for you to settle into. Your luxury hotel provides views of the volcano and the calm water. The sunlight washes over the patches of scarred and blackened earth near the lava fields.

Grainy, black sand lines the beaches, contrasting the bright blue water lapping against the shoreline connected to the lower slopes of the volcano. The day is yours to embrace the tranquil day of island life at your preferred pace. Trek along the trails circumventing the seaside cliffs or embrace the nearly mile-long stretch of black sand at Spiaggia di Piscita. The whitewashed homes glisten in the Mediterranean light with fishing boats weighing anchor in the small port. If inclined, you can dip your toes into the refreshingly cool water.

In the afternoon, you venture to the Sciara del Fuoco Viewpoint, a lookout located at more than 1,300 feet above sea level. You have a stunning panorama of the lava erupting nightly from the crater of along the northern edge every 20 minutes. A magnificent roar echoes through the night, accompanied by red rocks tumbling down the slopes. You can feel the heat from a distance, hearing the hot rocks hit the water with a splash and sizzle.

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included

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Accommodation

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Breakfast

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Day 5

Stromboli – Up Close and a Personal Volcano

The day in Stromboli is once again at your leisure to indulge in the beauty and charm of the secluded Aeolian Island. The sea breeze sweeps along the narrow cobbled lanes of Ginostra, a small settlement along the southwest shore. The cafes carry hints of espresso lingering along the tables and chairs offering views of the water. Donkeys continue to circumnavigate the island on narrow trails connecting the isolated town to the main lanes of Stromboli Town.

You can visit the major landmark of the Church of San Vincenzo. The golden yellow façade frames the main piazza and glows with subtle filigree in the afternoon light. The church acts as a meeting point to begin the trek up Sciara del Fuoco. The volcano has been erupting for more than 2,000 years. You make your way along the trail leading to Pizzo, an area of the volcano situated at more than 3,000 feet above sea level. The plateau looks down upon the active craters, located nearly 500 feet below.

The rugged trail winds along the back of the volcano taking you out of the way of the fumes, heat, and rocks. You look back to find the stunning foothills of the volcano sloping into the sea. The sunlight fades to an early evening as you reach Pizzo sopra la Fossa. The heat spreads across your face as you look down, finding the fireworks of the nightly eruption. The iridescent lava spray reminds you of the perfect images of a volcanic eruption depicted in a cartoon.

What's Included:

included

Tour

included

Accommodation

included

Breakfast

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Day 6

Lipari – Walking on Obsidian

In the morning, the sunlight washes over the summit of Sciara del Fuoco. At breakfast, you can’t help but look back to the crater and think of the elaborate natural show you witnessed the previous evening. After the meal, you make your way to the port to board the ferry to Lipari Island. The cobalt blue water sprays against the windows as you glide over the sea. The smooth, effortless transition brings into view the largest of the Aeolian Islands. After docking in the harbor, your private transfer escorts you to a gorgeous hotel offering private views of the stunning coastline. Pastel homes along the seafront contrast the sapphire glow of the water.

Outside of town, the rugged, volcanic landscape manifests in windswept highlands, wild shrubbery, and steep cliffs plunging into the Mediterranean Sea. Your guide greets you in the lobby of the hotel, eager to lead you through town and to the obsidian flow on the northern part of the island. The black glass-like mineral poured out of the volcano nearly 9,000 years ago and had been used to build tools since Neolithic times in approximately 5,000 BC. The glassy texture glints against the rugged, polished stones and low-lying shrubbery bordering the obsidian lava field. Your guide explains that evidence of trade around the Mediterranean has been found by locating tools such as antique knives and tracing the home of the obsidian back to Lipari.

What's Included:

included

Transfer

included

Accommodation

included

Breakfast

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Day 7

Lipari – Relaxing with a Mud Bath

The aroma of chocolate and hazelnut accompany the scent of fresh espresso drifting out of the cafes in Lipari Town. Tables and chairs offer patrons a view of the sea, the volcanic peaks, and the fishing boats returning to shore. The fishermen bring mackerel and baby tuna to the market, alongside mussels, swordfish, and ruby prawns. Your guide escorts you from the hotel to enjoy the unique archaeological museum of Lipari before continuing to Vulcano Island. The volcanic peak visibly smokes throughout the day, releasing intense pressure from the Gran Crater on the northeastern shore. Black sand paves the beaches bordering Porto di Ponente. Grassland and vegetable gardens add a softer side to the island’s central plateau.

The greenery contrasts the black and silver boulders sprouting across the island, offering a refreshing image surrounded by the water. Take to the trails leading to the crater to enjoy the views and active exploration at your preferred pace. The summit reaches a height of 1,600 feet above sea level, with several overlapping craters. The scent of pine emanates from the shrubbery and trees. Upon reaching the crater, you find a haze puffing from the caldera through active fumaroles. The sulfur has stained the rocks orange inside the cone and along the summit ridges. Relax after the trek in one of the natural mud pools, using the rich minerals of the volcanic soil to soothe the skin, accompanied by the hot water to relax the muscles.

What's Included:

included

Tour

included

Accommodation

included

Breakfast

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Day 8

Taormina – Looking Out to Etna

After breakfast, you board a ferry bound for the famous island of Sicily, home to the legendary Mt. Etna. The ferry docks in Messina, the gateway to the island, where your private transfer greets you at the harbor. The city of Taormina crowns the coastal cliffs overlooking the Ionian Sea, a branch of the Mediterranean. The smoldering cone of Mt. Etna dominates the southern view. The city offers a welcoming, luxurious ambiance with breathtaking panoramas, elegant restaurants, and your lavish accommodation offering private vistas of the precipitous cliffs plunging down into the water.

The remainder of the day is yours to get acquainted with the cobbled lanes and baroque architecture of the city, with roots dating back to the 4th century BC. Follow the main, pedestrian-friendly street of Corso Umberto I. The aroma of swordfish grilled over an open fire fills the air, accompanied by the zesty scent of fresh lemon juice. Boutique shops provide elegant window dressing leading to the main plaza of Piazza IX Aprile. Continue to the Greek Theater to view the master design of the horseshoe-shaped stadium carved into the natural gradient of the hillside. The 3rd-century edifice remains the second largest in Sicily, with an upper diameter of nearly 360 feet. From the upper rows of the theater, you can view the peak of Mt. Etna overtaking the horizon.

What's Included:

included

Transfer

included

Tour

included

Accommodation

included

Breakfast

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Day 9

Taormina – To Etna’s Peak

The tan and golden brick of Palazzo Corvaja shimmers in the morning with sublime Arab, Norman, and Gothic features. The battlements undulate atop mullioned windows protecting the serene, shady courtyards. The cubic structure of the tower connotes the original Arab design, erecting the edifice with defensive intent. At breakfast, you enjoy a rejuvenating cappuccino before following your guide to the sloping foothills of Mt. Etna. The peak reaches an elevation of nearly 11,000 feet. The prominent ridges and soaring summit command attention across the northeast landscape of Sicily. You begin the ascent along the volcano’s south, finding the street ending at an altitude of 6,230 feet above sea level. The craters continue to smoke on the upper echelons of the mountain.

The sporadic trees and underbrush provide herbaceous, fresh aromas in the crisp air. The cool breeze bites at your cheeks. The ascent takes you from Rifugio Sapienza to the plateau at more than 9,500 feet above sea level. The trees give way to a lunar landscape of crumbling rocks and durable boulders. Puffs of smoke continue to drift from the craters and active fumaroles. Your guide explains that the landscape is constantly changing due to the activity of the various craters around the summit. The hills roll into the mountain, with dirt tracks and a seemingly endless display of rugged scenery spreading to the fuming peak. You can bask in the view of the marvelous vista showcasing the lush vineyards, forest, and elegant towns decorating the foothills and valleys of Sicily.

What's Included:

included

Tour

included

Accommodation

included

Breakfast

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Day 10

Taormina – Flavors of the Slopes of Etna

In the morning, Taormina fills with the aromas of espresso and fruit being crushed to make famous granitas, a semi-frozen dessert. The famous dessert and refreshing drink offer a variety of flavors in berry, apple, plum, chocolate, and vanilla. You guide greets you in the morning and escorts you back to the foothills of Mt. Etna, eager to introduce you to the flavors of the region as shaped by the rich minerals in the soil. You arrive at your first stop, a vineyard decorated with a sea flush with vines and a view of the fuming peak of the volcano. The rich soil and sea breeze provide a unique, fortified flavor to the grapes dangling beneath the verdant leaves. You guide leads you along the rows of vines to touch the gritty soil and plump, warm skin of the grapes.

The sunlight spreads across the landscape, providing a protective heat, adding a refined struggle to the grape growing. It is the struggle that gives the grape such reinforced flavors. After touring the estate and enjoying the refreshingly cool temperature of the cellars, you enter the tasting room. The nearly 2,000-foot-high elevation, spread across nearly 55 acres, provides a perfect ambiance for wild roses and plum to grow, having an effect on the flavors of the vine. An aroma of limestone lies beneath hints of black pepper and wild berries drifting upwards from the glass.

What's Included:

included

Tour

included

Accommodation

included

Breakfast

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Day 11

Catania – A Celebration of the Landscape

After breakfast, your private transfer greets you in the hotel lobby. You take another view of the sapphire waters of the Ionian Sea, noticing the sandbar connecting the pale shores to the small, rugged island of Isola Bella. The clear water shimmers with indigo colors against the large protruding boulders. You make your way to Catania for the evening, stopping along the way to explore the natural splendors of the landscape. After visiting a lava tube caused by prehistoric lava flow, you continue to the Alcantara Gorge. Volcanic rocks lead to precipitous cliffs shaped by Mt. Etna eruptions over many millennia. A river sparkling with sapphire waters winds along the base of the gorge, continuously shaping the gray stone.

Dense vegetation grows along crags and crevices. The river winds for nearly 500 feet before disappearing into the rock-face. Wildflowers grow along the banks of the river, where the water tumbles over the canyon walls leading to cold natural pools accentuated by the aroma of birch trees. Ascending the gorge trail, you find the whitewater rushing against the silvery textured rocks. The icy blue colors of the river demonstrate the temperature of the water fed by snowmelt. The peak of Mt. Etna continues to linger on the horizon, endlessly present on the edge of your Sicilian panorama.

What's Included:

included

Transfer

included

Tour

included

Accommodation

included

Breakfast

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Day 12

Catania – The Fading Volcanic Silhouette

In the morning, the grand atmosphere of ancient Catania returns. The city has abundant energy and a relaxed spirit emanating from palaces shimmering with black and white stone. Baroque piazzas fill with tables and chairs encircling cafes and restaurants emanating the scent of espresso and fresh-baked pastries stuffed with orange cream. The vibrant fish market returns with a vivacious atmosphere, with local fishermen displaying sea urchins, clams, and gorgeous swordfish. Your private transfer greets you at the hotel after breakfast and escorts you to Catania-Fontanarossa Airport for your flight home, where you can watch the outline of Mt. Etna disappear beyond the horizon.

What's Included:

included

Transfer

included

Breakfast

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