Opulent Journeys

Garden Tour to Sicily & Sardinia

08 May - 25 May 2018

From (AUD)

$8,995

18 DAY

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1300 219 885 (AU)

0800 456 219 (NZ)

Overview
Led by Carlo Gabriele, Italian garden and landscape designer born in Sardinia, trained in Milan and living in Melbourne. He shares his native country with visitors, inviting those who join him on the tour to enjoy delicious, authentic Italian meals, to meet the locals and to shop where Italians do, while you explore the rich history and culture of Naples, Sicily and Sardinia, through their most beautiful gardens, parks and historical sites.

 

Dates & Prices

Tour Prices                                    

                               

Per person, twin share                               $8,995
Single room supplement $1,590
 

 

Tour Highlights
Naples
  • We start in Naples, with a visit to the extraordinary Reggia di Caserta (Palace of Caserta). This is the largest Royal Palace in the World and its garden was inspired by Versailles. 
Sicily
  • We visit the historic centre of Palermo and discover its unique mix of influences.
  • We meet Massimiliano Marafon Pecoraro, Researcher at the Department of Historic and Artistic Studies at the University of Palermo and let him introduce you to some of the most beautiful buildings of the city, including the Palazzo Alliata di Pietratagliata and the Palazzina Cinese (Chinese Palace).
  • We experience how Italian aristocrats live today, with an exclusive tour and lunch at Villa Valguarnera, home of the Princess Vittoria Alliata.
  • We visit some of Palermo’s most beautiful gardens, including the Botanical Garden of Palermo and Villa Tasca, open exclusively for our group. Let the Valle dei Templi (Valley of Temples) charm you with one of the largest complex of Greek temples in the world.
  • We explore the ruins of an historic garden from 500 B.C. with a stroll through the Giardinodella Kolymbetra national park.
  • Moving further into Sicily, fall in love with the magnificent historical centres of Ragusa, Modica and Siracusa.
  • We enjoy the iconic beauty of Taormina, with its Greek-Roman amphitheatre overlooking Mt. Etna.
Sardinia
  • We explore the historic centre of Cagliari, the main city of Sardinia, where talented landscape architect and rose and perennial expert, Maurizio Usai, leads us through some of the private gardens he has designed. 
  • We go back in time to the prehistoric site of Barumini, dating back to the 17th century B.C.
  • We revel in the Mediterranean lifestyle of the towns of Bosa and Alghero, and visit the outstanding Grotte di Nettuno (Neptune's Grotto). 
  • We tour the natural paradise of the Asinara Island.
  • We explore the garden of Villa Certosa in Porto Cervo for a private and exclusive tour. 
  • We tour the iconic Costa Smeralda, famed getaway spot for celebrities and socialites and visit the historic centre of Olbia.

 

About your tour leader - Carlo Gabriele
Carlo Gabriele’s passion for the beauty of nature was kindled in his native Sardinia, famous for its scenic landscapes and the ‘Emerald Coast’ – La Costa Smeralda. 
In 2010, Carlo started his own landscape and  garden design business in Milan. At this stage he was discovered by some of the world’s leading design and fashion magazines, such as Vanity Fair, Elle and Elle Décor and was asked to create installations for fashion and design photo shoots. These shoots opened the doors to incredible locations not normally accessible to the public. Carlo’s passion for sharing the beauty of Europe’s most beautiful gardens and natural settings was born.
In 2014 he moved to Melbourne and in 2016 founded his own Garden and Landscape Design practice. Today, in addition to applying the timeless beauty of classic Italian design to contemporary Australian gardens, he is delighted to share the gardens that inspire him with those who join him on tours to his native Italy. 
 
What's Included

Inclusions:

  • Internal flights Naples-Palermo//Catania-Cagliari with taxes and surcharges
  • 17 nights’ twin-share accommodation
  • Porterage at hotels
  • Meals as stated
  • Comprehensive touring, local English Speaking guides in each city
  • Gratuities to local guides and drivers

Not included:

  • International flights to and from Italy
  • Travel insurance
  • Personal expenses
  • Anything not mentioned above
To enquire or book this tour, please contact

Phone: 1300 219 885            Email: enquiries@opulentjourneys.com.au

Please Click Here to download the tour details.

As all our tours are bespoke, we aim to provide a seamless, individual service to you. We are aware you may have many questions about the tour and are very happy to assist, so please contact us directly. Once your booking form is completed, we will be in contact with you.

Itinerary
The beautiful city of Naples welcomes you with its rich history, art, culture and gastronomy. Mediterranean pines and the volcano Mount Vesuvius are the iconic landmarks of this city with a terrific history, listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Its narrow alleyways lead to mysterious churches, catacombs and underground caves. Until today, Naples’ old folk-culture reveals itself to the visitor among artisans, fluttering laundry and shouting fish sellers.
Make your own way to the hotel for check in. Relax and freshen up before our welcome dinner.
(Meals: D)
Covering an area of approx. 235,000m² the Royal Palace of Caserta, erected during the 18th century, is the largest royal residence in the world. You will discover this monumental complex created by the Bourbon King Charles III in the mid-18th century to rival Versailles and the Royal Palace in Madrid. What makes it exceptional is the way it brings together a magnificent palace with its park and gardens, as well as natural woodland, hunting lodges and a silk factory. After the visit, you will be transferred to Naples airport for your flight to Palermo.
(Meals: B, L)
Palermo, one of the largest ancient historical centres of Europe, is a unique mix of influences: from Roman to a distinctive Norman/Arab mix, from the Baroque style to the Liberty style (the Italian expression of the Art Nouveau).
In the morning you will take a walking tour of this charming city including the traditional street markets. In the afternoon you will discover the beautiful Villa Tasca; originally built in the 1500 A.C., the oasis which protects it is one of Sicily's most emblematic Victorian-era Romantic gardens. The curvilinear stone-bordered pathways and the lush tropical vegetation carry one away into a rich world of silence and suggestion. These more thickly planted areas are complemented by English lawns that allow the garden to be experienced with lightness and simplicity, even during every-day activities.
(Meals: B, L)
Between 1650 and 1800 circa Bagheria became the preferred location for the vacation homes of Palermo's elite class, and the area experienced a boom: all the aristocrats wanted a Villa in the area. Today you will have the privilege to visit one of the most charming Villas of Bagheria, and meet its owner: the Princess Vittoria Alliata di Villafranca e Valguarnera. Journalist, writer and the only Italian translator of J.R. Tolkien, she will open the doors of her house and garden, Villa Valguarnera, for an exclusive tour and lunch. In the afternoon, the Director of the Botanical Garden of Palermo will take you on a private tour of this urban oasis built between the 18th and the 19th century.  To conclude the day, you will visit the Palazzo Alliata di Pietratagliata, a prestigious gothic building erected around the second half of the fifteenth Century.
(Meals: B, L)
In the morning you will meet with Massimiliano Marafon Pecoraro, Researcher in the Department of Historic and Artistic Studies at the University of Palermo who will show you the secrets behind one of the most striking buildings of Palermo: the Palazzina Cinese (The Chinese Palace). Conceived as a royal residence on commission by the King Ferdinand III of Sicily, it was designed in 1799 in the style of Chinoiserie; internally is completely decorated with terrific paintings and frescoes. The afternoon is dedicated to relaxation and leisure, followed by the transfer to Agrigento.
(Meals: B)
Today you will visit one of the most outstanding examples of Greater Greece art and architecture: the Valle dei Templi (Valley of the Temples). Included in the UNESCO Heritage Site list, the area is the largest archaeological site in the world with its 1,300 hectares. The Valley includes remains of seven temples, all in Doric style, including the Temples of Concordia, Hera and Zeus. After visiting the Greek temples you can enjoy a moment of relaxation, or you can follow me for a stroll along the ruins of a historic garden from 500 B.C.: the Giardino della Kolymbetra. This well restored and cared for unique garden is situated within the historical Valley of Temples in Agrigento. You will enjoy the variety of fragrances of plants and herbs, including a magnificent collection of very old lemon, orange and olive trees. You will even see one of the world's oldest systems of irrigation still working to water the garden.
(Meals: B, L)
Today’s walking tour will explore two symbols of the Sicilian Baroque: Ragusa and Modica. 
Ragusa, made world famous thanks to the television series ‘Il Commissario Montalbano’ (Inspector Montalbano), is a two faced city: sitting on the top of the hill is Ragusa Superiore, the modern heart of the city, built after the earthquake that destroyed the old city in 1693. Etched into the hillside further down is Ragusa Ibla, the magnificent historic centre. The next stop will be Modica, a small gem that lies nestled in a deep valley. In the old town, the houses seem to spring out of the rock, resting on ancient caves carved in prehistoric times. The picturesque scenic view is dominated by the imposing churches of San Giorgio and San Pietro, both set atop a wide staircase.
(Meals: B)
This morning we enjoy a walking tour of the Florence Trevelyan garden. This unique garden is the second biggest tourist attraction in Taormina. After the morning walk you will visit some of the most characteristics monuments of the town, including the Greek-Roman amphitheatre, you will have free time to enjoy the atmosphere of this Sicily’s most famous touristic destinations. The rest of the day is free.
(Meals: B)
This morning you will say farewell to Taormina and travel to Siracusa. En route, visit to Villa San Giuliano and lunch.
(Meals: B, L)
The day will start with a visit to the island of Ortigia, the historical heart of Siracusa. The tight lanes are pleasant for strolling, so you will wander down narrow medieval lanes, Baroque palaces and churches. In the afternoon you will visit the Neapolis Archeological Park which includes the Greek theatre, and the Roman amphitheatre. Afternoon is at your leisure.
(Meals: B)
It’s time to say goodbye to Sicily and fly to Sardinia. You will land in Cagliari, the main city of the island. When DH Lawrence arrived in the 1920s, he compared the Sardinian capital to Jerusalem: ‘…strange and rather wonderful, not a bit like Italy.’ You will be met on arrival at the airport by one of our drivers and transported to the hotel, to relax and freshen up.
(Meals: B, D)
During this walking tour around the old town of Cagliari we will evoke the crucial events that took place in the most important city of Sardinia. You will discover representative monuments and spots of its historical centre and get captivated by its secrets, legends and fascinating anecdotes.
Get familiar with the numerous faces of Cagliari: its Phoenician-Punic origins, vast Roman heritage and fortified district conquered by the Republic of Pisa, the Spanish Empire and the Savoyard dynasty respectively. Not to mention its breath-taking panoramas and sounds of singing flamingos coming from the sky.
In the afternoon the Landscape Architect Maurizio Usai will wait for you in his own private garden, La Pietra Rossa. He will guide you in an exclusive tour of his garden that he started to create when he was 17 years old. Extremely passionate about roses, his private collection counts over 250 varieties.
(Meals: B)
In the morning you will leave Cagliari and travel north-west to Bosa. A first stop will be the prehistoric archaeological site of ‘Su Nuraxi’. Included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites, Su Nuraxi is a settlement consisting of a bastion, called Nuraghe, and a village. Probably built in the seventeenth century B.C. the complex is considered the most impressive expression of the Nuragic civilization.
A second stop will be the nursery ‘I campi’, specialized in drought tolerant plants and gardens or the ancient city of Tharros probably founded by the Phoenicians at the end of the 8th century B.C.
(Meals: B, L)
Alghero is one of Sardinia's most beautiful medieval cities: with its animated historic centre is a terrific place to hang out. Enclosed by robust, honey-coloured seawalls, this is a tightly knit enclave of shady cobbled lanes, Gothic palazzi and cafe-lined piazzas. Presiding over everything is a palpable Spanish atmosphere, a hangover of the city’s past as a Catalan colony. Even today, more than three centuries after the Iberians left, a form of medieval Catalan is still spoken, and street signs and menus are often written in both Catalan and Italian.
In the afternoon you will visit the Neptune's Grotto: a suggestive a stunning stalactite and stalagmite cave accessible via a short boat trip from the port of Alghero. Within the grotto, tourists can visit a 120-metre-long saltwater lake. The shallow salt lake boasts the same calcic salt structures as the rest of the cave.
(Meals: B)
Fine, white sand, breathtaking panoramas, waters that range from hues of azure to turquoise, and one of the most beautiful seascapes of the entire Mediterranean: welcome to Stintino, renowned touristic destination on Sardinia’s north-western extremity.
It started out as a fishermen’s village, when the Island of Asinara was made a penal colony. Stintino today is synonymous with magnificent beaches, like the most celebrated La Pelosa characterized by its luscious white sand and transparent sea. 
Accessible by boat, Asinara Island was a quarantine station during the 1800s, a prison camp during World War I, and afterward one of the most famous Italian prisons until the establishment of the homonymous National Park in 1997. Isolated for almost a century, it has become an oasis of rare and sometimes-almost-extinct species of plants and animals, such as the white albino donkey.
(Meals: B)
Today you will have the pleasure to meet again the Landscape Architect Maurizio Usai who will guide you through a beautiful private garden: Il giardino dei Fontanili. Designed in 2011, the garden is characterized by a profusion of water that flows generously through a series of granite basins framed by lush borders Salvia chaemdryoides, Aster x Frikartii and several varieties of Agapanthus. Another feature of this garden is the presence of numerous varieties of roses (Rosa candida 'Sally Holmes', Rosa 'Clair Matin', Rosa 'Mlle Marie van Houttei'). 
After the visit, you will arrive at Olbia, where you can finally relax after a hectic few days of sightseeing.
(Meals: B, L)
In the morning you will take a walking tour for discovering every hidden corner and the of this old town, including the oldest Romanic church in Sardinia (San Simplicio) and the Archaeologic Museum where you will learn about the early Greek foundation of Olbia, the later clashes between Carthaginians and Romans, and the maritime and commercial activities that flourished over the centuries. 
In the afternoon you will meet again with the Landscape Architect Maurizio Usai who will take you for a private and exclusive tour of Villa Certosa, a 168-acre estate formerly owned by the ex-Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. The property includes six swimming pools, an amphitheatre and even an artificial volcano, and it’s also known as the Italian garden with one of the largest collections of plants.
(Meals: B, D)
Our tour ends after breakfast.
(Meals: B)

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