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JTW 2019 – Malta & Sicily

9 May 2019 – 27 May 2019

Malta and Sicily are bursting at the seams with artistic and architectural gems. These two destinations, placed in the heart of the Mediterranean have been luring travellers since the time of legends.

Malta packs glorious variety into its small archipelago. You’ll find prehistoric temples, fossil-studded cliffs, rocky stretches of coast that end in dizzying limestone cliffs with sheltered bays that hide gin-clear water and red-gold beaches. Not to be outdone, Sicily has been praised by poets from Homer to Virgil and prized by the many ancient cultures – Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Elymians, Romans and Greeks – whose bones lie buried here.

Whether in the classical perfection of Agrigento’s Concordia temple, the monumental rubble of Selinunte’s columns or the rare grace of a dancing satyr statue rescued from Mazara del Vallo’s watery depths, reminders of bygone civilisations are everywhere.

// Walk through the historic centre of Corleone, hearing the history of its links with the Mafia
// Take part in and learn the traditional ways of making cheese
// Put a helmet on & grab a flashlight, as you have the opportunity to explore a lava tube!
// Visit Villa Bellini, a wonderful municipal garden that was set up in the 19th Century
// Roll up your sleeves for a pizza making class on the waterfront
// Wine tasting at the Meridiana Wine Estate

Day One // 9th May 2019
Today you will be transferred from your home address in Newcastle to Sydney Airport.
We will be travelling overnight, to get to our first destination – Sicily!
Meals: In flight

Day Two // 10th May 2019
Once you have arrived in Palermo, you will be transferred to your hotel.

Palermo is the capital of the Italian island of Sicily. This is a city at the edge of Europe and at the centre of the ancient world, a place where souk-like markets rub against baroque churches and where date palms frame Gothic palaces. This is Italy in the raw.
Meals: In flight, Dinner

Day Three // 11th May 2019
Today you will visit the underground cemetery of the Capuchin monks. We will go on a journey back in time, to a world that despite its state of decay, is absolutely charming, mysterious and fascinating. Alongside it’s incredible collection of skeleton and mummified bodies, the Catacombs of the Capuchin Friars is home to a mass of documents and information that have allowed us to reconstruct and understand the traditions and customs of a past society. After visiting the catacombs, you’ll move to the Cathedral of Monreale, once part of a self-sufficient, fortified complex that included a Royal Palace and Episcopate.  The Cathedral of Monreale has maintained its’ original configurations and its origin as an “ecclesia munita”, emphasized by the two mighty square towers that stand on either side of the façade.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day Four // 12th May 2019
This morning your first visit will be Portella della Ginestra in Corleone, site of the 1st “state crime” of Italy. This is when 11 people were killed during the May Day celebrations, allegedly by the separatist leader, Salvatore Giuliano. Continue along stunning roads to the village of Corleone, notable as the birthplace of several Mafia bosses. A local escort will take you on a walk through the historic centre, telling the history of its links with the Mafi and of its magnificent culture and art. See where labourers used to wait to be hired by the Mafia gabelloti (tenant farmers) in Piazza Nasce. Admire the statue of the trade unionist and ani-Mafia history at the Laboratory of legality, confiscated from the mob and now art gallery of movement.
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day Five // 13th May 2019
After breakfast you will continue your journey to Agrigento.  A hilltop city on Sicily’s southwest shore, Agrigento is known for the ruins of the ancient city of Akragas in the Valley of the Temples. This is a vast archaeological site with well-preserved Greek temples.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day Six // 14th May 2019
Today we will be exploring the Valley of Temples. This is one of the most important archaeological sites in the world and a UNESCO world heritage site since 1998. Here you will visit the temples of great Akragas. Further down on the bank of the Akragas River, near a medical spring, stood the Temple dedicated to Asclepius, the god of medicine. Ancient Akragas, in its prime, was a flourishing cultural centre; it gave the word Empedocles, a philosopher whose concept divided matter into four elements – Earth, Air, Fire and Water. This was the foundation of science for many centuries.
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day Seven // 15th May 2019
A delectable layer-cake of culinary influences, Sicily’s ancient cuisine continues to rely on a few key island-grown ingredients: shellfish and citrus, tuna and swordfish, pistachios, almonds and ricotta. If you talk to the septuagenarian chef at a Catania restaurant, she’ll confide that she still uses her grandmother’s recipe for pasta alla Norma, joyfully sharing the poetic imagery that links it to Mt Etna: the tomatoes are lava; the aubergines, cinders; the basil, leafy greenery; the ricotta, snow. Modern chefs may play with the details, but Sicily’s timeless recipes – from the simplest cannolo to the most exquisite fish couscous – live on. Today we will be taking a food tasting tour in the town of Sant ‘Angelo to enjoy some of their traditional favourites. Afterward we travel onto Catania. An ancient port city on Sicily’s east coast. It sits at the foot of Mt. Etna, an active volcano with trails leading up to the summit. Catania has a strong magnetic pull. This is Sicily at its most youthful, abundant energy and an earthy spirit in sharp contrast to Palermo’s aristocratic airs.
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day Eight // 16th May 2019
The Ursino Castle was built in the 13th century as a royal castle of the Kingdom of Sicily. It is mostly known for its role in the Sicilian Vespers, when it became the seat of the Sicilian Parliament. After our visit, we will continue along the main street of Catania Via Etnea which is full of bars, restaurants and shops. During today we will visit Villa Bellini, a wonderful municipal garden that was set up in the 19th century. Full of beautiful plants and monuments, here you can see an amazing botanic clock made of flowers. As we walk along the beautiful streets of Catania, we will arrive to the Duomo square. This is  where you can see the Elephant fountain and also visit the jewels of Sicilian Baroque and UNESCO heritage at the Cathedral, This is one of the most important churches in Catania because inside, there is a statue of Sant’Agata, the saint patron of the city.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day Nine // 17th May 2019
Today’s adventure will be to Taormina. Spectacularly perched on the side of a mountain, Taormina is one of Sicily’s most popular summer destinations. As soon as you arrive in Taormina, you will feel the magical, mythical atmosphere spread all around which has enchanted visitors from all over the world for years.

Enjoy a walking tour through its narrow streets; see the Greek theatre, the cathedral and the botanical garden. This evening you will have time to explore Taormina at your own pace, before being transferred back to Catania.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day Ten // 18th May 2019
Today you will discover Etna. At a height of 3320m above sea level and a diameter of over 40km, Enta is the largest active volcano in Europe. You will also visit Monti Rossi, responsible for the major eruption in 1669, and see a lava stone quarry. If your fitness allows, take a short, moderate hike to Crateri Silvestri (which is 2000m above sea level). Put on a helmet and grab a flashlight, as you will also have the opportunity to explore a lava tube!
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day Eleven // 19th May 2019
We continue our journey today to Syracuse. More than any other city, Syracuse encapsulates Sicily’s timeless beauty. Ancient Greek ruins rise out of lush citrus orchards, cafe tables spill onto dazzling baroque piazzas, and honey-hued medieval lanes lead down to the sparkling blue sea. Explore the ancient Greek Apollo Temple. After a short walk you will reach Cathedral Square and be surprised by the magnificent bright limestone buildings: the town hall, Palazzo Beneventano, the bishop’s palace and St. Lucy’s Church, but most of all, the Cathedral itself – the only church still in use today which time ago was a pagan temple. You then continue to Arethusa Fountain near the sea. The myth of Arethusa was told by Ovidius and in its clear fresh water grows papyrus, which probably was brought here when Archimedes lived in town. The way back leads you through the Jewish Quarter to ‘Via Maestranza’ –  the street where the nobility of the town had their pompous homes. On Archimedes Square, the neoclassical Fountain of Diana remembers once more the glorious past of Syracuse. A cheese making visit will be included in today’s activities.
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day Twelve // 20th May 2019
Today you will be transferred to Pozzallo via Ragusa. We start with a stop to take in the panaromic view of Ragusa and the church of Santa Maria delle Scale. Heading down toward the old city you will find Palazzo della Cancelleria, the church of Madonna dell’ltria and Palazzo Cosentini. It’s two facades are joined by a statue of San Francesco di Paola. Arriving in Piazzo Cosentini you will see the church of Anime Purganti. Heading along Via Capitano Bocchieri, you arrive in Piazza Duono where, at the end of a monumental staircase closed by a wrought iron gate, there is the Church of San Giorgio. The façade is considered the best example of late baroque art. We finish our tour at Piazza Pola, where you will have free time to explore the quaint shops and local area.
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day Thirteen // 21st May 2019
This morning we bid farewell to Sicily and take the ferry to Malta. We will arrive into the town of Valletta, which is the tiny capital of the Mediterranean island nation. It may be small, but it’s packed full of sights! When UNESCO named Valletta a World Heritage Site, it was described as ‘one of the most concentrated historic areas in the world’.
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day Fourteen // 22nd May 2019
Today includes a full day of sightseeing in Valletta, which offers 7000 years of history! Dotted with quaint cafes and shops, the city is today one of Malta’s main tourist attractions. It is home to the majestic St John’s Cathedral, Caravaggio Museum and the Grand Master’s Palace. Today we will hear the history of the Knights of St John of Jerusalem, a Crusader order which defended the westward Islamic campaign into Europe; as well as travelling to St Thomas’ Bay – the possible shipwreck site of the Apostle Paul.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day Fifteen // 23rd May 2019
Today’s activities will be at St. Julians, a 30min drive from your accommodation. Visit the Upper Barrakka Gardens and Grandmasters Palace State, before rolling up your sleeves for a pizza making class on the waterfront! Afterwards we will sit back, enjoy the view and savour our delicious creations. This afternoon visit the iconic cities of Vittoriosa and Senglea. We will have time to see the Gardjola Gardens and the Quaint fishing village of Marsaxlokk before relaxing on a Harbour cruise around the natural ports. We will return to Valletta via the Dingli Cliffs and Buskett Gardens.
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day Sixteen // 24th May 2019
This morning travel to Mdina, known as the silent city. Here we will be visiting the Meridiana Wine Estate to indulge in wine, cheese and biscuit tastings! Tonight we will regather for a folklore show at a local restaurant before visit the Hagar Qim Temples and Tal-Hamrija Tower.
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day Seventeen // 25th May 2019
Today you will travel to Xaghra where you will visit Popeye’s Village, before a short speedboat transfer to Gozo. Part of the Maltese archipelago, Gozo is the second-largest of the seven-island chain and basks in the Mediterranean off the coast of Sicily. More rural than its sister island (Malta) Gozo has a population of 31,000. Home to some of the oldest religious structures in the world, the fascinating Ggantija temples, the island offers dramatic orange-red sands and we will have the opportunity to see some it’s caves.

See the “dream of Horses farm” and interact with the animals, before visiting the Megalithis Temples of Ggantija, Ta’Pinu Church and the Old Citadelle in Victoria. You will also go to another farm today, but something a little different then before. You will go to Ta’Rikkardu Farm for a hands-on experience making cheese! Continuing on see Sannat, Fungus Rock, Saltpans of Xwenji Bay, before trying local ftiras at the famous Makren Bakery.
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day Eighteen // 26th May 2019
This morning you will be transferred to the airport for your flight home.
Meals: Breakfast, In flight

Day Nineteen // 27th May 2019
Arrive Sydney and after collecting your luggage, you will be transferred to your home address in Newcastle. This will be a very late, evening arrival into Sydney.
Meals: In flight

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