Calabria + sicily Wine Tour Itinerary
eight Days | Seven Nights
Start: Airport | Lamezia Terme Calabria
FINISH: City center | Catania, sicily
(Please note: This itinerary is subject to change slightly)
A private transfer will bring you from Lamezia Terme's airport to our gorgeous, Ionian-seaside resort near Isola di Capo Rizzuto in Calabria. Today, enjoy the beautiful grounds of the hotel, stroll along the beach or read a book poolside while we await for our group to arrive. We'll meet for an alfresco aperitivo at the hotel to go over the week's activities, followed by a wonderful dinner.
After breakfast at the hotel, we'll head out to explore Le Castella, a small town known for its 17th-Century Aragonese fortress. After lunch at a locally-loved osteria, we'll visit a nearby organic winery that makes mostly expressive reds and rosés. Back at the hotel, take some time to rest or enjoy a swim. Dinner will be in a neighboring town.
We dedicate today to Cirò, Calabria's most prized wine region. We'll visit two wineries, one small and family-run, the other a larger, historic winery. Both will be enjoyable educational experiences, including a stroll through a beautiful vineyard and meeting with a winemaker, and will help us get to know the Gaglioppo grape in its native habitat. There will be some downtime at the hotel before we convene for an aperitivo and dinner.
This morning we depart the Ionian coast of Calabria and make our way versus the Tyrrhenian Sea—not without a few stops, however. The first is Lamezia Terme, Francesco's hometown, where we will have lunch and a special surprise that Francesco has thought up for the group. We will then visit a winery in the Lamezia Terme appellation. Expect big, fruity red wines and aromatic, exotic whites. Our next stop is one of Leslie's favorites: a tasting not of wine, but of Pizzo's famed dessert, the tartufo, a ball of chocolate and hazelnut gelato with a chocolate coating and heart. With our senses full of the beauty from the day, we will retire at our hotel just outside of Tropea, a stunning villa with sea views. Take some time to unpack before our delectable dinner at the hotel.
Tropea is a small clifftop town with a beautiful beach that fills up with Europeans during the height of the summer. Spend the day exploring the charming town or lounging on the beach with a good book. Lunch will be on your own. We'll have an optional outing with Francesco's skipper friend and his boat, for those who would like to explore the gorgeous coastline of Calabria. Afterward, we'll head back to the hotel in the late afternoon, where we can shower off and get dressed for dinner. Francesco has selected one of his favorite restaurants in Tropea known for traditional dishes and local wines.
Sicily or bust. Today, we will take the ferry that crosses the Strait of Messina, the two-mile wide stretch of sea that separates Calabria and Sicily. Take in the beautiful and impressive views of Mt. Etna, Europe's highest active volcano, ahead of us. Once on Sicilian soil, we will head to the appellation of Faro in the northeast corner of the island. We will get to taste their cherished dry, mineral-driven white wine accompanied by a vineyard lunch at the winery of a sassy winemaker. We'll then make our way down the eastern coast to another gorgeous clifftop town, Taormina—arguably one of the most beautiful cities in Sicily and our base for the next two nights. Take the afternoon to settle in, and explore the vistas, ceramics and other shopping before we meet for dinner at a special osteria.
Today we finally get to explore Mt. Etna, the commanding force of nature that steals the skyline. Thanks to its incredibly rich volcanic soil, Etna's slopes give the wines grown on its slopes tons of minerals and an unmistakable earthiness. We will visit two wineries, both skilled at making amazing Etna Rosso (Red) and Etna Bianco (White). Lunch will be at one of the wineries. Back in Taormina, you will have some time to pack and enjoy an evening stroll before our final dinner.
Before our drop off in Catania's city center, we will have one last adventure together: a short (optional) hike to a crater on the south-east side of Mt. Etna. Dress warmly as the altitude, even in the summer, can cause winter-like conditions. This will definitely be a great group photo op as long as the skies remain clear! (Fingers crossed.) Experience the black, pebbly terrain with wild flowers and other brush repopulating the area. With Mt. Etna in our rear-view mirror, we will make our way down to Catania, where two stops will be made: the airport and then the city center for those who would like to remain an extra day or two to explore Catania's cuisine and cultural offerings. See you back in San Francisco!