The Heart of the Med

Join us for a multi-cultural island hopping adventure through the historic lands of the Central Mediterranean and discover the intriguing individuality of Cyprus, Malta, Sicily, Sardinia and mainland Italy. The same blue waters of the Mediterranean may caress their shores but every location is so totally different, both scenically and culturally, each having a unique and riveting story to tell.


There will be many “wow” moments as we travel - incredible coastal panoramas with cliff-hanging towns, the vineyard and cypress landscapes of Tuscany, Carrara’s mountains of marble and climbing the Dome of St Peters for a bird’s eye view, strolling along the rim of Vesuvius’s massive crater, walking the lofty walls of Valletta’s medieval Fort St. Elmo and hiking along goat trails high above the Amalfi Coast are just some of the magical moments to be enjoyed.  Everywhere, the immense wealth of art and imposing architecture creates an overwhelming sense of history and heritage, the perfect background for enjoying the laid-back al fresco Mediterranean lifestyle.

This trip certainly offers a veritable smorgasbord of delightful experiences.

 

Our itinerary will include.

Cyprus

  • The year round vacation Island - a perfect location and climate for a little R & R as you recoup from the long flight. 

  • Larnaca - sea side location, impressive waterfront promenade, interesting historical sites to be seen including the Church and Tomb of Lazarus of Bethany.

  • Northern Cyprus - in the Turkish sector of the island explore the ancient harbour town of Kyrenia, historic mountain abbeys and Crusader castles.

Malta

  • Valletta - founded by the Knights of the Order of St John in 1565, Valletta is a magnificent fortress city built on two deep water harbors. Learn about Malta’s incredible history, visit the Cathedral of St John, its mosaic floors and decorations are unbelievable, the Malta Experience audio-visual, the Knight’s Hospital and walk the walls of St Elmo Fortress. 

  • Gozo Island - take a ferry to this tiny laid-back island to the north, Malta’s vacation island

  • Marsaxlokk - a traditional fishing village in the south.

Sicily

  • Palermo - Sicily’s Capital, an impressive harbor city of character and culture, home to the Massimo Opera House, the world famous performance theatre that was featured in the film “The Godfather lll”.    

  • Agrigento - a Greek temple complex dating from the 6th Century BC, once one of the most important cities in the Mediterranean.

  • Taormina - a picture perfect cliff-top town, its beautifully located Greco-Roman Theatre back-dropped by Mt Etna. On a clear day the views are spectacular.

  • Mt Etna - an exciting excursion high up onto the moonscape-like slopes of Mt Etna, conditions permitting of course. 

  • Piazza Amerina - a 2,000 year old Roman villa with fantastic in situ mosaics, considered the best preserved in the World. 

Sardinia

  • The Island of a Thousand Beautiful Beaches they are indeed, beautiful crystal clear water,   JUST STUNNING!  

  • La Maddelena Archipelago all day cruise for swimming and sightseeing, the water's infinite shades of blue and green will amaze you.   

  • Alghero the Barcelona of Sardinia, Alghero’s medieval centre, its cobbled lanes, bustling squares and honey-coloured walls have a definite Spanish air.

  • Orgosolo and Mamioada - mountain villages of masks and murals

Mainland Italy

  • Naples - stroll through the narrow streets of Naples and take breakfast on the street, like a local;  explore “a city under the city” the Greco-Roman Aqueducts and Cisterns that were part of a 400km long water system that serviced Naples from ancient times until 1863. You will love Naples! 

  • Mt. Vesuvius and Pompeii - drive to near the summit and walk along the crater rim. The views are superb, well worth the effort of the climb. Visit ancient Pompeii, which was destroyed by the 79AD Vesuvius eruption.

  • Amalfi Coast - stay on the cliff above Positano beach, just a short walk to the beach. Explore the coast and the “Walk of the Gods” pathway.  There’s a free day here to do as you please. Some may wish to visit the Isle of Capri. 

  • Assisi - the birthplace of St Francis of Assisi, with winding medieval streets and a host of sacred shrines. The Abbey is magnificent and very different to the norm. 

  •  Siena - A perfect location for our four-night stay. Our two guided excursions to nearby hill towns, with some countryside walking and wine tasting will give us a real Tuscan experience.

  • Florence a full day excursion from Siena to see the major highlights of this iconic city.

  • Cinque Terre Coast - stay in Vernazza one of the Five Villages, explore the famous coast on foot and / or by train

  • Carrara and Pisa  - the Marble Quarries of Carrara have been in production since Roman times, visit the working quarries on an exciting 4WD jeep excursion to see how it is done today; In Pisa, climb the Leaning Tower and visit the Cathedral.

  • Rome - Stay close to the Metro and the all-important cross-city bus route, right in the heart of the City, visit St. Peters and the Sistine Chapel, the Colosseum, the Roman Forum and other ancient sites.  Transport tickets provided   

Draft Itinerary Outline (subject to change)

Day 1. Auckland to Flight, via Dubai

Day 2. Larnaca - arrive early afternoon. Free time

Day 3. Larnaca - an excursion to see the sights of Southern Cyprus.

Day 4. Kyrenia - visit Nicosia, the divided city before reaching the historic harbour town of Kyrenia in Turkish Cyprus.

Day 5. Kyrenia - visit a mountain Abbey and Crusader castle that will reveal the region's  turbulent past.

Day 6. Valletta (Malta) - fly to Malta and stay in Sliema, a harbourside location across from the old town.

Day 7. Valletta - day trip to Gozo Island, fascinating landscapes and ancient Megalithic temples that date from 3.600BC

Day 8. Valletta - a walking tour of old town Valletta, Malta's largest city, visit the Malta Experience, the Knights Hospital and St Johns.

Day 9. Valletta - free day to explore, hop-on-hop-off bus pass provided, or join the leader for an excursion to the south of the island.

Day 10. Palermo  - fly or take the ferry to Sicily.

Day 11. Agrigento - enjoy some of Palermo's highlights before travelling along the South Coast.

Day 12. Aci Trezza - visit the impressive 6th Century BC archeological site at Agrigento, the Valley of the Temples, later reach Piazza Amerina to see the magnificent mosaics, considered the best preserved in the World.

Day 13. Aci Trezza - a day trip to the picture-perfect cliff-top town of Taormina, a short hike opt.

Day 14. Aci Trezza   - an exciting trip up Mt Etna, weather permitting - by bus, skyway and jeep. Wow!

Day 15. Ferry - travel via Central Sicily to Palermo,  take the evening overnight ferry to Naples.

Day 16. Naples -  visit Naples  Underground Greco-Roman Aqueducts, the historical areas of Old Naples and take time to enjoy the magical charm of this intriguing city.

Day 17. Positano - walk to the rim of Mt Vesuvius to view the huge crater and weather permitting enjoy stunning views over the Naples region. Later, visit of Pompeii before driving the impressive Amalifi coast road.

Day 18. Positano - walk the amazing " Walk of the Gods" trail; (opt. participation)

Day 19. Positano - free day. Some may take the opportunity to go to the Isle of Capri (opt.expense)

Day 20. Assisi - morning drive, late afternoon visit the St Francis of Assisi Abbey

Day 21. Siena - a short drive to Siena in the Heart of Tuscany,

Day 22. Siena - guided day walk visiting the hill towns of Pienza and Montepulciano, wine tasting

Day 23. Siena - day trip to nearby Florence

Day 24. Siena - excursion to picturesque San Gimignano, a farm visit, Chianti tasting and gelato!

Day 25 Vernazza - by train to the Cinque Terrre  and stay in Vernazza one of the Five Villages.

Day 26. Vernazza - Walk the open sections of the Cinque Terre coastal pathway and explore other areas by train

Day 27. Ferry - visit the historic Marble quarries at Carrara; in Pisa climb the tower.  Take the mid-evening ferry to Sardinia

Day 28 Cala Gonone - visit the Blue Marino Cave and Cala Luna Beach, one of Sardinia’s most famous beaches

Day 29. Alghero - see the amazing Orgosolo Murals and a fascinating Mask Museum

Day 30. Palau - enjoy the stunning seascapes at Cape Neptune and visit an ancient Nuragic village near Palau.

Day 31. Palau - full day boat/swim/sightseeing cruise to the Maddelena  Archipelago - blue and turquoise water.

Day 32. Rome - an early afternoon flight to Rome.

Day 33. Rome - visit the Vatican, Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums, climb St Peters' Dome.

Day 34. Rome - sights to include the Colosseum and Roman Forum  – ½ day free time.

Day 35. Flight - Free day in Rome until late afternoon, before taking the mid-evening flight to Dubai.

Day 36. In Flight (Dubai/Auckland)

Day 37. Arrive Auckland

 


Trip Style and Transport: 
 Essentially private charter buses and vans.  There will be two overnight ferries, two or three regional flights and some day trains. Sightseeing will essentially be on-foot. 

Luggage:  A light-weight medium-sized wheelie bag (less than 65lts) with a  sturdy wheelie system is recommended.  We suggest that it should weigh no more than 13kg as it is essential that you are able to comfortably handle your own baggage; on some days towing it 20 minutes or so between transport depots and accommodation, including up and down steps and stairs. Soft-sided wheelie bags or lightweight packs are suitable, but please, no hard or semi-hard bags. Be aware that some hotels and transport terminals do not have elevators. Medium sized back-packs are fine, provided you are an experienced backpack carrier. 

Day Bag - a lightweight day/sightseeing bag. A fold-away nylon type is perfect.

Accommodation: Hotels essentially Star***  with the occasional Star **. Throughout the region rooms and facilities are clean and tidy, with private bathrooms the norm.  All single rooms use will require a single supplement of approximately E2,000. Figure to be confirmed, once reservations are settled. 

Meals: Included meals -  we are planning to include all hotel night breakfasts and a few other meals. Exact number to be advised once accommodation is finalised.  You can purchase supplies at local shops as lunches are often picnic affairs and dinners are normally eaten at local-styled restaurants. 

Price Includes:  Accommodation, Auckland to Auckland airfares (in a specific class), transport, a full programme of sightseeing excursions, entries and services as detailed in the itinerary. Meals as specified later.

Criteria for Taking Part:  This is long trip, with complex and varied transport arrangements so it is essential that all participants are fit, active and agile. Please be aware that in order to fully participate …………….

  • A reasonable degree of walking fitness and agility is required as most sightseeing excursions will be on foot and there are extended day walks (however these are always optional).  

  • You need to be comfortable with steps and stairs and uneven surfaces (cobbles)  

  • You must be capable of handling your own bag/s at all times. Please keep it light! 

FACT FILE

Trip Code: HOM 201

Date:  1st week of May 2020

Duration: 37 days

Party: 15 to 18 + leader

Price Guide:  2019 price was $16,950 -  The 2020 price will be subject to the prevailing exchange rates, to be confirmed. 

Current Status: Preliminary Registrations, $100 refundable.

Important Note:  If you wish to take part please make your Preliminary Registration, $100 refundable. We are very close to viable numbers so are still accepting Registrations until 31 Oct 2019.