Volcanoes of Italy - the Grand Tour
- 14-days study & walking tour from Vesuvius to Etna -
Tour code: ITA_GTI
Duration: 14 days (13 nights)
Dates:Custom and group dates
19 Oct - 1 Nov 13
Price (p.p.): 2950 € ?
Itinerary (14 days)
Day 1: Arrival in Naples
Arrival in Naples and transfer to a small, friendly and quiet hotel (roof terrace!) in the center of the lively colorful old town of Naples. After a welcome cocktail, the rest of the day can be used to relax or start exploring the center of Naples. In the evening, we meet for a dinner in a small trattoria (=local restaurant) where excellent food and a particularly amusing ambience are served. Hotel night in Naples.
Acc.: : hotel*** in downtown Naples (D: dinner)
Day 2: Vesuvius volcano - Herculaneum
Using the light of the morning and the calm of the Sunday, we will drive through the city and its suburbs and then walk (easy hike, ca. 20 min.) to the summit crater of Vesuvius volcano, last active in 1944. From its rim, we can look down into its still smoking deep crater on one side and the surrounding area with the problematic modern urban spread around the volcano on the other. However, the views over the ruins of Pompeii, the Bay of Naples with the city itself and the islands of Capri and Ischia are unforgettable. After some time spent there, we will stop at the old volcano observatory. After a lunch snack, we go on to visit the excavations of the Roman town of Herculaneum, destroyed by hot pyroclastic surges and mud flows from Vesuvius in 79 A.D. For a typical Napoletarean dinner, we will walk to a pizzeria or trattoria at the small fishing harbour of Naples, in a popular superb setting next to the majestic 11th century castle built on a small promontory at the waterfront.
Acc.: : as before (Naples) (B, L, D)
Day 3: Pozzuoli and the Campi Flegrei (Phlegrean Fields)
This day is fully dedicated to the second major, potentially very dangerous, but much less known volcanic area near Naples, the Phlegrean Fields. The daytrip leads us first to the neighboring bay of the small fishing town of Pozzuoli, where visible evidence of recent tectonic activity (recent seismic crises with strong ground uplift) is preserved. Impressive Roman ruins such as the Serapide and the amphitheatre are on our way to the Solfatara volcano, still active with its powerful hot fumaroles. Further stops (depending on time etc.) could include: the historically born volcano of Monte Nuovo, a caldera lake (another older crater), a large medieval castle near the site where a Roman city has sunk beneath water level, and the romantic Roman ruins near Capo Miseno.For a wonderful sunset view over the Bay of Naples, we head for a very romantic spot: Capo Miseno,- the very site where Plinius in 79 A.D: observed the eruption of Vesuvius volcano! We conclude the day with a delicious dinner (fresh seafood!) in a local taverna right on a good beach.
Acc.: : as before (Naples) (B, D)
Day 4: Pompeii, evening departure for Stromboli
On our last day in Naples, we will take our time to visit the world-famous Roman town of Pompeii, that has been exceptionally well preserved by the volcanic ash that had covered it for almost two thousands of years. The afternoon is at free disposal in Naples. We recommend a visit in the archeological museum close to the hotel and/or a short walk and climb by a cable car to the Castel St. Elmo - a famous viewpoint in the city center from a large medieval castle towering over the city. Before we embark on the ferry (leaving at around 9pm) to the Eolian islands, we will once more have the opportunity to taste Naples' unrivalled cuisine in one of the many local trattorias/pizzerias. After perhaps a few drinks on board the ship, with Naples' lights fading, the night is spent in double-bed cabins on the ferry.
Acc.: : double cabin on ferry (B, D)
Day 5: Arrival on Stromboli - climb to summit, eruption viewing
As we approach Stromboli at early dawn, most of us will be already awake (you will be woken up in time if you wish), in order to observe the frequent, red firework-like eruptions from Stromboli while getting closer and closer - hence its name "Lighthouse of the Tyrrhenian Sea". Small 3-wheeled "ape" motorvehicles bring our luggage to a nice hotel on the beach. After a well-deserved breakfast in a beach bar at the pier, we take the short walk along the beach road to reach our hotel rated as one of the best by many participants!). The rest of the morning and lunchtime are free for you to relax, swim in the nice sea or explore the unique ambience of Stromboli. In the afternoon, we prepare for the rarely undertaken, but very scenic 3-4 hours climb to the summit along the old path leading up alongside the Sciara del Fuoco. At around sunset, we arrive on a natural viewpoint at 918m, located directly above the active craters. From here, one can observe the several active craters' eruptions from very close range,- with a good portion of caution. Many people agree that this is one of the most awe-inspiring spectacles of nature they have seen in their lives,- be warned: this is where you might become addicted to volcanoes… After enjoying the fireworks for some time, we descend on a different route that brings us quickly down a steep sand slope directly to the village of Stromboli, in probably less than an hour.
Acc.: : beach hotel*** on Stromboli Island (B)
Day 6: Boat tour around Stromboli island
After breakfast, free morning and lunch (time to swim, or stroll around in the picturesque village), we embark on a small boat for an exciting 4-6 hours tour around the island. First, it brings us to the secluded village of Ginostra on the opposite side of the island, with what might be the "smallest harbour in the world",- a narrow landing site for small boats where all supplies and passenger traffic must go through.- we stroll around the village and have a wonderful lunch there, swim or snorkel in the blue waters… After lunch, we pass by the Sciara del Fuoco at daytime and disembark at our hotel or in the port. In the evening, we walk to a pizzeria in a unique setting (45 mins walk) at the NE tip of the island. From here, we have a first view of the erupting craters, while enjoying our dinner!
Acc.: : as before (Stromboli) (B, D)
Day 7: Spare day - Panarea Island
Today is a spare day that could be used instead of, or in addition to the previous day for the climb to Stromboli's craters (e.g. when the summit is in clouds the day before etc.). Otherwise, the day is free for you to relax. For those who prefer to be active, an optional excursion to beautiful Panarea island with the possibility to do a very scenic hike (ca. 4 hrs) to the top of the island is offered. We conclude our stay on Stromboli with a beautiful farewell dinner (often specially prepared for us in a private home by resident friends of our tour guides).
Acc.: : as before (Stromboli) (B, D)
Day 8: Stromboli - Vulcano Island
After breakfast, a speedy hydrofoil brings us in about 1.5 hours to our next destination: the volcanic island of Vulcano, where we will stay for the night in a comfortable beach hotel directly on a fine volcanic black sand beach.
Until the late afternoon, the day is free to relax: you could enjoy the fine beach, shop for souvenirs in the village, or explore the warm, bubbling volcanic mud pools and sulfurous steam vents just a few 100m away at the beach. For a magnificent sunset and overlook over the whole archipelago, we climb onto the famous active crater (300m high, ca. 1hr climb) "La Fossa del Vulcano" ("The Mouth of the Volcano"), which last erupted in 1888. After nightfall, we take a delicious dinner with Eolian specialties on the hotel's terrace above the waves on the beach.
Acc.: : beach hotel*** on Vulcano Island (B, D)
Day 9: Day trip to Lipari island
After breakfast we take a speed boat to Lipari Island, where we can have an extended stop in order to visit the historic castle, its archeologic museum and the world-famous obsidian deposits, where we combine this with an easy ca. 3 hrs walk to the historically active volcano, which is being quarried - in fact, the largest pumice quarries in the world. In the afternoon, we return to Vulcano.
Acc.: : as before (Vulcano) (B, D)
Day 10: Vulcano-Etna
A hydrofoil speedboat brings to the port of Milazzo on Sicily in the morning, from where we depart by minibus to Etna volcano to check in to our comfortable hotel at 1900 altitude on Etna for lunchtime. After a break, a short pleasant walk on Etna's flank (easy, ca. 2-3 hrs) nearby can be undertaken. For the time spent on Etna, a private car or minibus will be at our disposal. Dinner (menu) in the hotel.
Acc.: : Mountain hotel*** on Etna (B, D)
Day 11: Excursion to Etna's summit craters
After a copious breakfast from the buffet, we prepare for a long day of hiking. First, we take a cable car and/or jeeps to quickly reach about 2700m elevation and then continue on foot,- if weather and activity permitting, we can climb one or several of the summit craters of Etna.Back down from the summit craters, we walk back towards our hotel, descending along a variety of interesting volcanic features, such as the still warm craters that had formed in 2001 and 2002-03. Back at our hotel, we restore our energies with a delicious, 3-course dinner and local red wine.
Acc.: : Acc: as before (Etna) (B, D)
Day 12: Etna: Valle del Bove
This day could be exchanged with the previous day and is again fully dedicated to Etna's upper region and sites of possible volcanic activity (if accessible). Normally, this day will be dedicated to one of Etna's most spectacular features: the Valle del Bove, a giant depression formed by repeated flank collapses of the volcano.
We take the cable-car and/or jeeps that bring us quickly to around 2500m altitude. From here, we descend into the Valle del Bove, along an extremely steep (40+ degrees), but soft sandy slope where we can run or slide down as if skiing (great fun!! and not dangerous), descending about 1000m altitude in less than about 15 minutes!
At the bottom of the giant depression, an almost alien, rarely visited landscape awaits us,- surrounded by magnificient volcanic dikes, steep walls of ancient lava rocks, we are on the vast field of lava from the 1991-1993 eruption. On an unmarked, but easy trail we cross a sector of the Valle del Bove until we reach one of its lowest points of the SW border, where we can easily climb out of the Valle in just about 30 mins. Within just another hour on an easy path downhill, through forest and passing by giant vertical basalt wall (used as training ground for advanced rock climbers), we arrive at one of the very few springs at Etna, and shortly after that at the road. A jeep or a minibus will pick us up and bring us back to the hotel.
Tonight, we could drive to the lively village of Nicolosi, perhaps first for an aperitif in a local bar on the lively piazza, before we have our well-deserved dinner (Sicilian menu or pizza) in a busy garden restaurant.
Acc.: : as before (Etna) (B, D)
Day 13: Linguaglossa - Alcantara Gorge - Taormina - Catania
If we don't choose to return to the summit area of Etna, we have this day to explore some of the many other highlights around the giant volcano: we drive partly around Etna along a very scenic route and visit a nice lava cave where we can walk through. Before lunch, we stop at the charming small medieval town of Linguaglossa at Etna's NE flank and move on to visit one of Etna's natural wonders: the deep lava gorge cut by the river Alcantara on the NE-side of the mountain at around lunchtime (picnic and swimming possible inside the gorge). In the afternoon, we arrive at Taormina, surely one of Sicily's most famous and beautiful towns, where we will walk through its medieval center and visit the still functional Ancient Greek theatre. In the evening, we continue to the lively town of Catania, where spend the last night in a beautiful hotel**** in the old city center with great views onto the sea. For dinner we meet in a typical local restaurant and celebrate our tour.
Acc.: : hotel**** in the historic center of Catania (B, D)
Day 14: Departure from Catania or own tour extension
The tour ends today with transfer to Catania according to your departure time. Probably, you still have time enough to explore a bit of Taormina or the lively city of Catania itself, which offers more than enough to visit: the famous local market (especially the fish-market is spectacular!), numerous Ancient relics, baroque architecture, or simply enjoy its buzzing charm from one of the plenty street cafes.If you have more time, we recommend you extend your stay in Sicily or on the islands - options of things to do here are nearly unlimited, and we are ready to give you advice.
Acc.: : none (B)