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Gardens And Wild Flowers Of Sicily

7 nights starting from
£1399

  • Wildlife and fauna of magnificent Nebrodi National Park

  • Laghetti di Marinello Nature Reserve

  • Wonderful varied gardens – Le Stanze in Fiore, Parco Paterno and Giardino del Biviere

  • The flora in the lava fields on the slopes of Mount Etna

No description of Sicily’s natural wonders can be complete without a mention of her flowers. Rugged, snow-capped mountains are fringed with rich meadows, adorned with wild flowers that reveals a natural landscape painting with a tapestry of reds, golds and purples from the poppies, daisies, wild gladioli and garofano Siciliano. Sicilians add to nature’s bounty with their roadside planting – the lanes are full of oleanders and geraniums – even the main roads are bedecked with flora. This tour explores some of this wild flower bounty, along with excellent local cuisine.  As well as wild flowers, we will visit a selection of beautiful public and private gardens, and explore the oak and  beech woodlands of the beautiful Nebrodi Regional Park. To truly appreciate the natural splendour, most of the visits will be undertaken on foot, so comfortable walking shoes are essential for this tour.  However, the pace will be gentle with lots of stops to admire the flora, fauna and exceptional vistas and plenty of eating and drinking opportunities. You will be accompanied on the first three days by botanist and wild flower expert, Sr Gaetano Spagnolo,  an accomplished nature photographer and fungus expert and throughout the tour by our resident Sicily expert, Tullio Scurria. Tullio has been leading tours for us to the Aeolian Islands and throughout the mainland of Sicily for many years. A lifelong resident of the Nebrodi region, his knowledge of the region, its history, culture and cuisine is extensive.  That he is a genial, caring, committed and experienced tour manager ensures that he adds a great deal to your enjoyment of the tour.

Available Departures

From

06 - May - 2019 £ 1399.00 Travel Info Book Now

Provisional Timings

London Gatwick

Departing: 06th May 2019 at 11:45

Returning: 13th May 2019 at 16:30

ITINERARY

Day 1: Fly from London Gatwick to Catania. 
On arrival, transfer from Catania airport to Capri Leone, in the Nebrodi Region on the North East Coast of Sicily, for a  three night stay at the excellent Hotel Antica Filanda, renowned for its food. Dinner at the hotel.

Day 2Nebrodi Regional Park: Wild flowers and flora in the Mangalavite Woodland & around Lake Biviere
Today’s  walk will give us the opportunity to see very interesting environments in one day: Mediterranean woodlands, cultivated fields, natural meadows, and Lake Biviere, the most important high-mountain wetland.  A beautiful, scenic walk along an easy route will show a vast array of species of plants, trees and abundant wildlife.  The walk ends with a picnic lunch, prepared by locals by a spring fountain, prepared by locals. Return to the hotel by minibus.  Dinner at the hotel.

Day 3 : Nebrodi Regional Park: Wild flowers and wildlife at the Rocche del Crasto (Goat Peaks).
Another spectacular day of scenic wonder today, as we walk through the Rocche del Crasto (Goat Peaks) These ancient crystalline rocks, which take on different colours from red to green depending on the reflection of the sun and rocky limestone formations with harsh, inaccessible gorges are home to several species of birds of prey, such as the golden eagle. The flora, which grows on the cliffs, is very  distinctive and rare in Sicily.  A picnic lunch, prepared by locals, provides sustenance.  Return to the hotel by minibus. Dinner at the hotel.

Day 4Transfer to Acireale with en-route visit to Laghetti di Marinello
Transfer to Acireale for the next four nights stay at the Hotel Santa Caterina. En route visit to Laghetti di Marinello  (the lagoon of Cape Tyndaris),  a Nature Reserve, which lies on the north coast of Sicily, between the promontory of Tyndaris and the sea, with an ever-changing landscape that follows the seasons and the tides. A thin spit of sand  creates four salt water lakes, fed by the sea flowing into the bay, an area home to a vast array of beautiful wild flowers.  We then continue to the typical port towm of Milazzo for lunch (own arrangement) before a visit to the Vivai Sciotto (Sciotto’Nurseries), one of the most interesting plant nurseries in the area.   Continue to Acireale for four night stay.  Evening free.

Day 5: Le Stanze in Fiore Garden with lunch
Today we visit  Le Stanze in Fiore” a private garden, created in 2000 by Rossella Pezzino de Geronimo,  located just outside  Catania City Centre.   This contemporary garden, which surrounds a nineteenth-century neoclassical country villa, is arranged like a series of rooms, reveals itself gradually on a guided tour, hosted by the owner.  One of the “Grandi Giardini Italiani” collection of the most important gardens in the country, it features a vast array of climbing plants and flowering shrubs, primarily subtropical species, and a host of water features.   The tour ends with a lunch in the garden, with a delicious finger food menu and wine.  After lunch, return to hotel for the afternoon and evening at leisure in Acireale.

Day 6Parco Paternò del Toscano & Mount Etna
Visit to the Parco Paternò del Toscano at Sant’Agata Li Battiati, a private park which covers more than three hectares on the slopes of Mount Etna. Agave and Yucca plants clamber up the lava outcrops, the residue of ancient flows. At the top of the garden stands the main house which blends in effortlessly with the surrounding nature thanks to a system of asymmetrical terracing. The result is a unique rock garden with breath-taking views, one of the most charming masterpieces of the landscape gardener from whom the park has inherited its name, Ettore Paternò.  This afternoon we explore the lava fields of Mount Etna with wild plants, new and very ancient trees, such as  “Il Castagno dei cento cavalli” (Hundred-Horse Chestnut), the largest and oldest in the world, believed by scientists to be between 2,000 and 4,000 years old.  As remarkable as its age is its position, since it grows just 7.2 km from the volcano’s crater. Return to hotel for evening at leisure in Acireale.

Day 7I Giardino del Biviere  & Catania
Today we head south to the region Biviere of Lentini where the Prince Borghese estate is situated.  Descendants of a noble Roman family, Princess Donna Maria Carla Borghese accompanied by Virginia, her daughter-in-law, guide us round their marvellous Mediterranean garden, well known all over the world, telling the story of the family and the project, begun in 1968 to turn a desolate drained lake into a restful haven of greenery.  World-renowned and another member of the “Grandi Giardini Italiani” association, the gardens attract visitors from throughout the world, but especially popular with British visitors since the Queen Mother visited it in 1988.  After the visit, we head to Catania for an independent lunch and visit to the Villa Bellini the biggest and most beautiful public gardens in Catania. Return to the hotel with evening at leisure.

Day 8: Il Giardino di Casa Pennisi & Departure
We will start the day visiting our final garden of the “Grandi Giardini Italiani” association, Il Giardino di Casa Pennisi.  One of the few Italian gardens to have resisted property speculation it has maintained its original structure, even though it is based in the heart of Acireale, where it was planted at the end of the 19th century to frame the prestigious Grand Hotel des Bain (now a private residence).   Free time in Acireale as flight timings permit before transfer to Catania Airport for your flight back to London.


NB: Exact order of excursions may vary according to local conditions and tour manager's discretion.

Please note the maximum group size on this tour is 20 passengers.

INCLUDED

  • Return flights from London Gatwick to Catania including applicable taxes
  • Three nights’ accommodation on dinner, bed and breakfast basis at the three-star Hotel Antica Filanda, based on shared occupancy of a twin/double room
  • Four nights’ accommodation on bed and breakfast basis at the four-star Santa Caterina Hotel, Acireale, based on shared occupancy of a twin/double room
  • Welcome drink and six dinners at the hotel
  • Five lunches and various tastings as detailed in the itinerary
  • Return transfers from Catania Airport to the hotel
  • Full touring itinerary with visits conducted by tour manager, Tullio Scurria and botanist,  Gaetano Spagnolo on days 2-4
  • Tour manager throughout

NOT INCLUDED

  • Single room supplement 
  • Holiday insurance
  • Meals other than those stated
  • Items of a personal nature such as drinks, laundry, telephone calls 
  • Porterage and gratuities 

HOTELS

Ristorante-Hotel Antica Filanda
A small 16-room hotel in a beautiful rural location, just outside the village of Capri Leone, on a hill with lovely views over the Tyrenian Sea and the Aeolian Islands, close to the Abbey San Filippo di Fragalà. Facilities here include an excellent restaurant, bar and comfortable bedrooms with private bathroom with hydro-massage shower, air-conditioning, safe, TV, mini-bar, free wifi and telephone. The hotel also has an outdoor swimming pool which is open during the summer months.

Antica Filanda Website

OUR VIEW ON THE HOTEL
We chose this hotel over several cheaper options as its small size, rural location close to the start of the walks and excellent food make it the best choice in the area. Tullio has stayed at the hotel with small groups many times and rates it extremely highly for its comfort, service and cuisine.

Santa Caterina Hotel, Acireale
The four-star Santa Caterina Hotel enjoys a panoramic location overlooking the sea, with recently restored rooms, a swimming pool with solarium and restaurant “Aquadelferro” with a magnificent view. Rooms are comfortable with a Sicilian design; all have private bathroom, air-conditioning, TV, free Wi-Fi, hairdryer and fridge.

Santa Caterina Hotel Website

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