Gardens of Sicily & Malta with Ciscoe Morris
April 7th – 20th, 2024
Join us for this escape to Sicily and Malta for gardens, wine, cuisine, and local culture. This tour is limited to 16 guests, and is expected to fill quickly.
The tour includes accommodations, ground transportation, local guides, many of your meals, wine tastings, garden visits, warm sunny days, beautiful seascapes, volcanoes, Greek and Roman ruins,
Sunday, April 7th Depart USA for Catania, Sicily (CTA)
Day 1 Monday, April 8th Catania Arrival/Taormina
Arrive Catania Airport in the in the late-afternoon. We’ll be met by our driver and guide, followed by a short journey to our hotel in Taormina. We’ll enjoy our first dinner together in the early evening. Overnight Taormina (D)
Day 2 Tuesday, April 9th Taormina
We’ll start the morning with a walking tour of Taormina and the ancient Greek Amphitheater with our local guide. After a break for lunch on your own in town, we’ll enjoy a tour of the gardens at Hotel Schuler. Your afternoon is free to enjoy the town before we meet for dinner in the early evening. Overnight Taormina (BD)
Day 3 Wednesday, April 10th Mount Etna
We’ll begin just after breakfast for our day Mount Etna. Since the views are generally best in the morning, we’ll make our planned excursion for the summit early. On our way back to Taormina we’ll stop at Benanti, a local wine estate for a tasting of red and white wines and a light lunch. Upon arrival in Taormina, we’ll enjoy a late afternoon tour of the gardens of Casa Cuseni. Your evening is free to enjoy one of the many fine restaurants in Taormina. Overnight Taormina (BL)
Day 4 Thursday, April 11th Two great gardens
We’ve got two very unique gardens scheduled today with a morning visit to Il Biviere, the gardens of Princess Maria Carla Borghese, which were created out of barren ground almost fifty years ago. After lunch nearby, we’ll spend the early afternoon at the San Giuliano estate in Villasmundo, where the head gardener gives us an exclusive insight into Sicilian gardening. We then make our way to our Syracuse hotel with a little free time before meeting for dinner this evening. Overnight Syracuse (BLD)
Day 5 Friday, April 12th Syracuse and hill towns
We’ll start our time in Siracusa with a local guide and a walking tour of the historic center and the island of Ortigia. You can join our guide and I to take a 30 train trip train from Syracuse to the Baroque town of Noto for a walking tour before returning in the early evening. Your afternoon and early evening are free to explore and shop. Overnight Syracuse. (B)
Day 6 Saturday, April 13th Roman Villa and Agrigento
We’re departing the coast to journey west to the town of Agrigento, known for the hopping off point for Greek Ruins.
First visit is to Piazza Armerina to tour the Roman Villa at Casale, containing some of the best example of Roman Mosaics in the world. We continue east to Tenute Camilleri, a local wine producer working with grapes such as Grillo, Nero d’Avola, Perricone, and Merlot. We’ll taste some wine with accompanying snacks before continuing our drive to the southern coast town on Agrigento. You’ve got some time to take in the shore prior to our dinner this evening. Overnight Agrigento (BSD)
Day 8 Sunday, April 14th Agrigento
We start today with a guided garden visit of Giardino Della Klymbethra. This oasis garden is located inside the expansive complex known as the Valley of the Temples. After our tour of the gardens, you’ve got some time to refuel and/or shop before we begin our guided tour of the temple complex this afternoon. We’ll return to the hotel in time to relax prior to dinner. Overnight Agrigento (BD)
Day 9 Monday, April 15th Driving to Palermo
We depart the hotel shortly after breakfast for Palermo. We’ll drive through the town of Corleone, a must if you’re a fan of The Godfather. Just past the town, we’ll enjoy a tasting of wines and Sicilian street food for a light lunch.
Our next stop is Monreale, a cathedral city built on the hill overlooking Palermo. We’ll enjoy a short tour of the town and have time to see the Cathedral before arriving at our hotel this afternoon.
For dinner, we’ll hook up with a local guide for a foodies guided tour of Palermo. Overnight Palermo. (BLD)
Day 10 Tuesday, April 16th Palermo
We start the day with a morning visit to the Ballaro open air market to experience the vendors as they hawk their wares. Next, we have a very unique tour experience planned at Palazzo Conte Federico, one of Palermo’s oldest and most important buildings. We’ll enjoy a guided tour with one of the family members that may include the owners classic racing car.
After a lunch break on your own, we’ll meet up at the renowned Palermo Botanical Garden for a guided tour. Dinner will be on your own this evening. Overnight Palermo. (B)
Day 11 Wednesday, April 17th On to Malta
We depart the hotel this morning with bags shortly after breakfast. Our flight for Malta departs at 4:00 PM, so we have time to visit the incredible hill town of Erice. We’ll travel to the town of Trapani, then take the gondola/cable car for the 10-minute scenic journey to the top of the mountain.
After lunch on your own, we’ll depart for the airport with a 2-hour check in window in mind. It’s a short hop, getting us to Malta at 5:00 PM, and an expectation that we’ll be at our Malta hotel and checked in by 6:30. Overnight Valetta (BD)
Day 12 Thursday, April 18th Valletta
We’ll start the day with a morning walking tour of the ancient town center, which will include a visit to Saint John’s Co-Cathedral and the Grand Master’s Palace. We’ll break for lunch, then join again for a tour of Casa Roca Piccola, a 16th Century palace with a courtyard garden. We’ll break for free time this afternoon. Dinner is on your own this evening. Overnight Valletta (B)
Day 13 Friday, April 19th Valletta Environs
We begin the morning with a short coach ride to the west to the ancient walled city of Mdina for a walking tour of its pedestrian streets. We’ll visit Palazzo Falson with its intimate courtyard garden. After a break for lunch and free time in this medieval city, we detour just a bit out of the way for a visit to the Palace and gardens at Palazzo Parisio in nearby Naxxar. We’ll return to the Valletta hotel in the late afternoon. Our farewell dinner is planned nearby. Overnight Valletta (BD)
Day 14 Saturday, April 20th Flights Home
Early morning transfers to the airport this morning for a 2-hour check in for flights home. While the official tour is over, you might want to consider another day or two on the island on your own.
This tour is limited to 16 guests.
Total price is $6400 per person, based on double occupancy. Single supplement is $1400, with space for only two singles on the tour.
Deposit is $2,000 per person. Balance of payment is due December 15th. If you decide to pay for your tour by check instead of visa/mastercard, you may deduct $220 per person from the final payment.
This 12-night tour of Sicily and Malta includes:
- Twelve nights’ accommodations:
- 3 nights in Taormina
- 2 nights in Syracuse
- 2 nights in Agrigento
- 2 nights in Palermo
- 3 nights in Valletta, Malta
- Air-conditioned motorcoach transportation
- Services of local guides
- Most meals including:
- All breakfasts
- 8 Dinners
- 4 Lunches
- Admission to events and sites as indicated
Weather in Sicily and Malta for April
It’s a fairly dry month in Sicily. Daytime temperatures should be in the low to mid-60s. It will be cooler in the evening, so pack accordingly. Rainfall accumulation is low, with about 2.3 inches for the month.
Malta will be a few degrees warmer and a bit dryer than averages in Sicily. I’m using historical data for these estimates. It’s suggested that you check the forecasts on accuweather.com or weather.org for a better estimation of temperatures and precipitation.
Dress for cooler mornings, warming in the afternoon. No reason for anything fancy.
We are traveling on motor coaches which typically do not provide a lot of baggage storage. For this reason, you should plan to bring 1 medium-large checked bag and one carry on.
Lufthansa is the only carrier for guests coming from Seattle on this tour. Transfers are via Frankfurt with 4 hours connection time on the way out, and just under 2 hours on the return. Air costs are estimated to be below $1400 for coach.
LH 491 07APR SEA/FRA 2:20 PM 9:20 AM
LH 306 08APR FRA/CTA 1:55 PM 4:15 PM
LH 1313 20APR MLA/FRA 6:20 AM 9:00 AM
LH 490 20APR FRA/SEA 10:45 AM 12:20 PM
Schedules are available to book from mid-May, although that may not be the best time to purchase. See my notes on tracking fares via google flights or Kayak.com. It’s suggested that any fare under the $1400 mark is reasonable.
I looked into British, Delta/Air France, and others, but these flights are the best available.
If you like to come early to get acclimated, consider spending some time in Catania on the water. A standard room at the NH Hotel on the beach is priced at about €130 a night. Taxi estimate from the airport to the hotel is €20 each way. We won’t be spending any time in Catania itself, so there’s no duplication on the tour itinerary.