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Walking Under Mount Etna

Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean, is richly diverse, steeped in history with many sights and experiences not to be missed.

From£999

  • Sicily

  • 7 nights
  • Apr

    Sep

Moderate

What does this mean?

Tour codes: 17700

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Our holiday walking grades

Moderate

Grade 6

Full day walks with appreciable amounts of ascent and descent.

These walks are in more remote areas such as Andorra or northern Portugal.

Similar to Grade 5, but with most of the walks at the upper level of ascent/descent, time and distance.

Overview

Holiday Highlights

  • See the view past the castle in Francavilla to Mount Etna.
  • Enjoy the spring flowers or autumn fruits that line our walks.
  • Visit Taormina, beautifully situated and a great place to finish a walk.
  • Explore the Alcanatara Gorge close by the hotel.

On the same latitude as part of the North African coast and tempered by sea breezes, Sicily is steeped in history having been home to Greek, Roman, Arab and Norman civilisations. Francavilla is situated inland from the east coast above the resort town of Taormina.

The outline of Mount Etna frames many of our walks. We have a varied walking programme, the walks take in fields and mountains, ancient tracks and villages, hill top castles and peaceful paths. We walk on the slopes of Etna, reaching the snow line on the spring tours. The lovely characterful town of Taormina offers some fine ice cream and sea views.

We take a special excursion to Mount Etna. As the volcano is still active, we can never predict an exact programme but the higher we reach, the more spectacular the views across the island and to the Italian mainland across the straights of Messina.

  • Return flights from Gatwick to Catania (British Airways or Easyjet)
  • Airport transfers
  • Half board en suite accommodation
  • A walk on the upper sopes of Mount Etna
  • All local transport costs.
  • Entrance fees (unless otherwise specified)
  • Personal expenses (such as your bar bill)
  • Discretionary tips
  • Optional excursions
  • Travel Insurance (you can add this when you book)

Holiday Information

Click the button below for a detailed Holiday Information Sheet containing all the particulars about this trip.

NOTE: Itineraries and Holiday Information Sheets can vary by a specific date chosen

View Holiday Information Sheet

Itinerary & Travel

Itinerary Details

Whilst every effort will be made to adhere to the outlined itinerary and advertised programme, local conditions can change due to weather or other unforeseen circumstances. This may mean that routes and timings need to be amended or the order of days may change, sometimes at short notice.

Your Itinerary

Day 1

Francavilla

Meals

Dinner

Accommodation

We fly into Catania Airport. Keep an eye out of the window for views of Mt Etna as we come in to land. From the airport we drive north up the coast and then inland to Francavilla.

Transfer Time = 1h 30m

Day 2

Francavilla

Meals

Breakfast & Dinner

Accommodation

  • Time

    4 hours

  • Distance

    8 miles

  • Ascent/Descent

    450m

We walk up to Castiglione, clearly visible on the ridge above Francavilla. This walk is an excellent introduction to the rich history of the area: from the settlement of ancient Sicilian tribes and the Ancient Greeks, through Roman, Byzantine, Arab, Norman, German, French and Spanish conquests, through the Second World War and to the Allied landings of 1943. The route offers castles, orchards of citrus and exotic fruits such as prickly pears, pomegranate, medlars and Sharon fruit (in season), an ancient hill-town with winding back-alleys and panoramic views of Etna. 13 kms (8 miles); 450m↑↓; 4 hrs

Day 3

Francavilla

Meals

Breakfast & Dinner

Accommodation

  • Time

    5.5 hours

  • Distance

    12 miles

  • Ascent/Descent

    580/880m

This is a fine walk that explores a number of remote villages abandoned after a failed experiment of the 1950s. The so-called Mussolini Villages have nothing to do with Mussolini. Expect superb views of Etna, tracks along a ridge, and a long descent into Francavilla. 19km (12 miles); 580m↑880m↓; 5 hrs 30 mins.

Day 4

Francavilla

Meals

Breakfast & Dinner

Accommodation

  • Time

    4 hours

  • Distance

    8 miles

  • Ascent/Descent

    450m

We take transport out to our start point with great views of Etna. We walk up to ascent to the broad summit of Monte Venere with panoramic views. Then we descend to the fortified village of Castelmola, perched high on a hill above the sea, for a pause before continuing the descent to the picturesque and photogenic town of Taormina. 13km (8 miles); 450m↑↓; 4 hours.

Day 5

Francavilla

Meals

Breakfast & Dinner

Accommodation

This is planned as a free day. There are many walking options to be considered and for those who prefer a little culture to supplement the walking it is normally possible to arrange an excursion to Syracuse, about 90 minutes drive to the south. Your tour leader will be happy to advise.

Day 6

Francavilla

Meals

Breakfast & Dinner

Accommodation

Today we plan to walk on the slopes of Mt Etna. Etna is an active volcano, so our plans always have to take this into account. However, with use of hired transport, we can aim to walk on the slopes at high altitude. It is likely that groups visiting in Spring will walk in snow - so come prepared. At any time of the year it can be very cold on the upper slopes.

Day 7

Francavilla

Meals

Breakfast & Dinner

Accommodation

  • Time

    5 hours

  • Distance

    9 miles

  • Ascent/Descent

    500/750m

This is a glorious ridge walk on good tracks and paths with fine views of Etna, followed by a descent on tracks to the valley for an unusual view of the Alcantara gorge. Finally, we walk along a quiet lane to the foot of the castle hill at Francavilla. 16km (9 miles); 500m↑750m↓; 5 hours.

Day 8

Final day

Meals

Breakfast

We have no particular plans for the last day of the holiday. Our departure from the hotel will be decided by our flight times from Catania Airport but there may be time for a stroll before we transfer.

Departure dates for your selected tour

24th Apr 2020 - 1st May 2020 (7 Nights)

11th Sep 2020 - 18th Sep 2020 (7 Nights)

18th Sep 2020 - 25th Sep 2020 (7 Nights)

Travel Details

  • Return flights from Gatwick to Catania (British Airways or Easyjet)
  • Airport transfers by road c.1hr.30mins
  • We can offer regional flight options but due to the location and travelling time to our resort we operate just one transfer coach between the airport and our hotel to coincide with our main group. This may mean that there is a wait at the overseas airport in one or both directions
  • Upgrades are available on most flights. For scheduled flights this may be Premium Economy, Business or First Class. Most low-cost carriers also have extra legroom seats.
  • If direct regional flights are not available, we can often offer add-on flights to a London airport at a competitive rate. Please ask us for details and a competitive quote.

Accommodation

Accommodation information

Below is the accommodation featured on this holiday across all departure dates. Please refer to the Itinerary for more detail about each nights' accommodation for each departure date.

Hotel D'Orange D'Alcantara

We stay at the Hotel D'Orange D'Alcantara in Francavilla. We have worked with the Savoca family, who have run the hotel for two generations. The hotel is a comfortable three star on the edge of town about 5 minutes’ walk from the centre. It has three standards of rooms. All Ramblers Walking Holidays clients will be in deluxe standard rooms. Please see the hotel website for more information on room and hotel facilities. The hotel has a swimming pool, but this is unlikely to be open for clients staying in April. Please check with us for details.

Breakfasts and dinners at the hotel are included in the holiday charge and will be taken in the hotel. Our first meal is dinner on Day 1 and our last is breakfast on Day 8. Lunches are not included. Breakfast is buffet style. Dinner will be four courses. Drinks are not included.

Please note: For later flight arrivals dinner on arrival at the hotel will be a light meal consisting of items such as salad, cold meats and bread.

Trip Information

All the details you need

Holiday Grade

This is a Grade 6 walking holiday with challenging walks through beautiful scenery set against the stunning back drop of Mt Etna.  Expect to walk on mountain paths, farm tracks, through ancient villages and lovely rural scenery. We will use local hired transport where required to enjoy the most varied walking programme.  Please see below for details of individual walks

Walks & Excursions

Local Transport Costs

All local transport costs in conjunction with the advertised activity programme are included in the holiday cost. There may be occasions where additional visits or excursions are added to enrich your experience, these will be paid for locally by you if you choose to participate. Local transport can be a mix of private hire coaches, taxis, local buses and ferries depending on the itinerary.

Optional Excursions

A range of local excursions and activities may be available to book at your destination through a local operator. We have no involvement in such activities or excursions which are not run, supervised or controlled in any way by us. Your contract will be with the local activity supplier and we accept no responsibility for their actions or omissions.

Spending Money

Holiday Budgeting

When budgeting for your holiday, you will need to consider drinks, any meals not included in the holiday price, non-included entrance fees, optional excursions you may choose to participate in locally and any souvenirs or additional services such as laundry. A general guideline for lunches and drinks is £10-£20 per person per day.

Currency in Italy

The currency in Italy is the Euro.

Tipping

Although entirely at your own discretion, tipping is an important aspect of tourism and hospitality life and expectations are fairly high. In order to simplify tipping, we strongly recommend that you allow your leader to take care of making sure tips are given to hotel and restaurant staff and to local guides and drivers. This will be done using some funds provided by us together with, if you wish, a contribution from you, which he/she will collect during the holiday.

Tour Leaders & Local Guides

Tour Leaders

Your tour leader makes the world of difference to your holiday and ours are as passionate about discovering the world on foot as you are. They're resourceful, organised and widely travelled. They will handle all the local administration and other needs that might arise to ensure that you don't have to worry about planning your days and you can enjoy your holiday. Although leading group holidays, they won't forget that every group is made up of individuals. Each tour leader has their own individual style, talents and professional backgrounds and all are trained, qualified, experienced and dedicated to making your holiday as enjoyable, interesting and inspiring as possible.

Leader's Evening Briefing

Each evening, your tour leader will discuss with you the programme for the following day. This will be your opportunity to discuss the details and ensure the planned activities suit your walking ability. If you have concerns on clothing or equipment, this can be discussed then also. If you do not wish to join the organised group programme, please let the leader know.

Your Travel Details

Flights: London Gatwick to Catania and return with British Airways. 

Baggage allowance will be confirmed in your travel documents, sent approximately 10 days prior to departure. 

Transfer time from airport to hotel is approximately 1 hour by road.

If you intend joining and leaving the party in Sicily, it is assumed, unless you have advised us otherwise, that you will join and leave the group at the Hotel D'Orange. If this is not your intention, please let us know in writing at least 5 weeks prior to departure.

Booking Your Own Travel Arrangements?

If you wish to organise your own flights from a non-UK or provincial airport or travel by rail or car to your holiday destination, 'land only' reductions are often available. Please contact us for details.

Before finalising any independent travel arrangements, please check with us first - especially if doing so 12 weeks or more before your intended date of travel. If you do intend to join your holiday locally please do tell us at least 14 weeks in advance.

If you are joining and leaving your holiday overseas we assume, unless you advise us otherwise, that you will join and leave the holiday at your hotel.

Although airport transfers are not included for those making their own independent travel arrangements, if you wish to join the group at the overseas airport, depending on your flight arrival time, you may be able to be included on the group's transfer. Please contact us at least 5 weeks before departure for more details. 

Please note that your flight must arrive within 30 minutes of the group flight to be able to join the group transfer. We also need your flight number, arrival time and departure point so that the group leader is able to meet up with you.

Regional Transfers

Regional Flights (R2). We offer regional flight options on this holiday but due to the location and travelling time to our resort we operate just one transfer vehicle between the airport and hotel. This may mean that there is a wait at the overseas airport in one or both directions.

Luggage Allowance & Travel Documents

For all those booking a flight or rail inclusive holiday, details of your travel arrangements and baggage allowance will be confirmed in your travel documents, sent to you approximately 10 days prior to departure.

Personal Details Check

To ensure that we can accurately administer your holiday arrangements, please confirm that the personal details we hold for you are up to date and that you have provided the information we need to secure your holiday travel and accommodation arrangements. Please check your passport details, date of birth and any other important details necessary for us to properly manage your holiday booking. You can view and update information already provided, and add details not yet asked for, by using the Manage My Booking facility on our website www.ramblersholidays.co.uk, or by calling our Sales and Reservations team on +44 (0)1707 331133. When you receive your booking confirmation please check the details as soon as possible.

Passports and Visas

General Passport Advice

It is a good idea to carry photocopies of the personal details pages of your passport. Should you lose your passport, this may assist with the issue of replacement documents and your return to your home country.

Passport and visa requirements can change at any time. It is your own responsibility to ensure that you inform yourself from a professionally qualified source on, and comply with, such requirements.

General travel and destination advice for UK nationals is available from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office at www.fco.gov.uk/travel and at www.gov.uk/travelaware.

Brexit Passport Advice

You should have at least 6 months validity left on your passport from your date of arrival.

If you renewed a 10 year passport before it expired, extra months may have been added to your passport’s expiry date. These extra months will not count, so you should ensure that your passport is not older than 9 years and 6 months from the date of issue at the time of travel.

You may wish to renew your passport sooner rather than later, in order to make sure you have it in time for your holiday or travel plans.

Please ensure to regularly check the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website for updates on passport requirements leading up to and after Brexit or contact us for more assistance. 

UK Government Brexit Information for Passports can be found at www.gov.uk/guidance/passport-rules-for-travel-to-europe-after-Brexit.

The UK Government has published a website tool to check the validity of your passport under these rules  which can be found at www.passport.service.gov.uk/check-a-passport.

In the event the UK leaves the EU without a deal, UK citizens will be able to visit the EU for up to 90 days within a 180-day period without a visa. The UK Government also has information for travellers available at gov.uk/EUexit

Non British Passport holders should consult the host country’s embassy for applicable passport and visa entry requirements.

Meals

Breakfasts and dinners at the hotel are included in the holiday charge and will be taken in the hotel. Lunches are not included and are usually taken as picnics or in a local cafe during the day. Breakfast is buffet style with a selection of cereal, cold meats, tomatoes, cheeses, fruits, rolls and jams. Dinner is a fixed four course menu with a starter, pasta, a main course and dessert. Sometimes you may be required to choose your pasta and main course choice the night before. The hotel specialises in delicious Sicilian traditional recipes, with usually a choice of fish or meat dishes. Vegetarian diets can also be catered for.  Drinks are not included.

Please note: For later flight arrivals, dinner on arrival at the hotel will be a light meal consisting of items such as salad, cold meats and bread.

Footwear & Kit List

Footwear

Lightweight waterproof walking boots with a good moulded sole (such as Vibram or similar) and a deep tread and which provide ankle support are strongly recommended and may be essential for some walks. 

Footwear As Hand Luggage

We recommend that you either wear your walking boots or shoes or pack them and some waterproofs in your hand luggage as in the unlikely event that your hold luggage is delayed, you will still be able to participate in the holiday programme.

General Kit List

Outdoor activities are always safer and more enjoyable if you are prepared.

If you have not travelled with us before the following list might be of use:

  • Waterproof jacket (Goretex or similar) and trousers
  • Lightweight quick-drying trousers
  • Walking T-shirt/shirts
  • Walking socks
  • Fleece or jumper
  • Sun hat, sunglasses, lip salve and sun block
  • Warm hat and gloves (if appropriate)
  • Swimwear (if appropriate)
  • Day sack (this should be able to carry all you would need for the day's activity)
  • Day sack liner
  • Water bottle - at least 1 litre capacity (more than 1 bottle may be required)
  • Basic first aid kit
  • Lunchbox
  • Walking poles (should you find them useful)
  • Sit mat

This list is not exhaustive and every walker is different and may have their own preference.

Travel Documents Checklist

Documents and Information to take with you:

  • Passport (make sure it's yours and valid)
  • Your travel tickets or e-ticket itinerary
  • Any visa or electronic travel authorisation (if required)
  • Holiday money
  • Credit or debit cards (and separate details of who to call if lost)
  • Car parking ticket and car park directions (if prebooked)
  • Coach or rail travel tickets (if prebooked)
  • Your holiday Booking Confirmation document
  • Your travel insurance details
  • Alternative form of identification (such as a driving licence)
  • Photocopy of the personal details pages of your passport
  • A valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) if relevant
  • Details of any medical condition or allergy your holiday leader should know about

Electricity in Italy

Electricity in Italy is supplied at 220 Volts. If you wish to use electrical equipment you will need a European two pin adaptor with round pins. More information can be found at https://www.power-plugs-sockets.com/

Water To Go

An alternative to bottled water from single-use sealed water bottles is filtered water from a refillable bottle containing its own water filter such as a Water-to-go bottle available from www.watertogo.eu. Just fill up from any water source and save the environment from disposable plastic bottles.

We have negotiated an exclusive 15% discount with our partners Water-to-Go for you as a thank you for helping the environment. Please go to their website at www.watertogo.eu and enter the code RWH17 when ordering. In addition, Water-to-Go will match the discount with a donation to our charity, Heart & Sole, which will allow us to continue to make a difference in the countries you visit on our holidays.

Maps, Guidebooks & Other Information

Maps, Guidebooks & More

Many local libraries stock a selection of travel guides and books which may offer you more information regarding the island of Sicily.  In literature and film Sicily is closely associated with The Godfather books and films. Various locations in the area of Francavilla were used in the filming of the original Godfather film. You may find the Italian Tourist office website useful in planning your trip at www.enit.it


The Map Shop

Maps and guidebooks relating to your the areas you will be walking in may be brought before your holiday from The Map Shop at www.themapshop.co.uk

Weather

Visit the following websites for an idea of the climate in your destination:

Staying Healthy On Holiday

Health requirements can change at any time. It is your own responsibility to ensure that you inform yourself from a professionally qualified source on, and comply with, such requirements at least 6 to 8 weeks before departure. Advice on vaccinations is available from your GP.

Health Advice for Italy

No compulsory immunisations are required for visits to Italy.

You should be up to date with the usual immunisations recommended in the UK. 

You may wish to consider immunisations against Tetanus and Tick-borne Encephalitis.

Further Travel Advice

For further advice please visit:

You might wish to take a small bottle of antibacterial hand gel with you for times when you're unable to wash your hands.

Travel Insurance

You must be adequately insured to join our holidays. We do not insist that you insure with us but we require that you are adequately insured for the nature of your holiday. You will be unable to participate in our local walking and other activity programmes without being able to demonstrate that you have valid travel insurance.

Please ensure that as a minimum your travel insurance policy covers you for travel to your holiday destinations (country and geographical region) and for medical expenses, mountain rescue (including helicopter rescue) and emergency repatriation to your home country in the event of illness or injury. Your policy should also provide adequate cover for the activities, included and optional, you are likely to participate in during your holiday.

See our brochure or website for further advice regarding holiday insurance.

Whoever you insure with, please ensure that you take full details, and ideally the policy itself, with you on holiday and provide our tour leader with your insurer's name, the policy number and emergency assistance contact numbers.

Please note that it is very difficult to obtain travel insurance once your holiday arrangements have started.

EHIC Cards

Please take your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) with you; it will help you in the event of you needing medical assistance during your holiday. Please note that the EHIC has an expiry date, so please check that your card is valid for the duration of your holiday. Please note however the EHIC should not be considered a substitute for medical or travel insurance. 

For more information please visit ehic.org.uk.

Personal Safety

The UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office provides up to date information on security and local laws for travellers, together with current passport and visa information, at www.gov.uk/travelaware. Please take a few minutes to look at the current advice on your planned destination.

Please be aware of what's going on around you, take sensible precautions with your credit cards and passport and avoid displays of wealth such as wearing expensive jewellery or watches. Do not carry more cash on you than you will need for each day, and we recommend that a money belt is used.

Cultural Awareness

Italian Laws & Customs

In some Italian towns and cities you may be fined for dropping litter and in some towns or cities it’s an offence to sit on monument steps or to eat and drink in the immediate vicinity of main churches, historic monuments and public buildings. It’s also an offence to enter or bathe in public fountains.

In May 2019, the Municipality of Capri introduced a law forbidding the use of any disposable plastic objects such as bags, cutlery, plates, cups, food packaging, trays, straws on the island of Capri. Violations can incur a fine of up to 500 euros.

Illegal traders operate on the streets of all major Italian cities, particularly tourist cities like Florence, Venice and Rome. Don’t buy from illegal street traders. You could be stopped by the local police and fined.

It is illegal to remove sand, shells or pebbles from coastal areas in Italy. Doing so may result in heavy fines. It’s also forbidden to collect various species of flowers, plants and herbs from mountain and wooded areas. For more information, check with the regional authorities of the area you’re visiting.

Responsible Travel

We're committed to ethical tourism in all our destinations. Our holidays are designed for you to discover the essence of the country you are visiting. Travelling in small groups not only gives you an up close and personal experience of your destination, but minimises your impact on the immediate environment. We feel that the most important starting point to protect the environment is to be out in it. For more details visit our website.

The Ramblers Holidays Charitable Trust

Unlike many tour operators we have our own trust through which RWH Travel’s profits are channelled back into a variety of outdoor, walking-related or environmental conservation projects in the UK. The focus of the Trust’s financial support is Britain’s leading walking charity, The Ramblers, and their role in promoting the benefits and importance of walking to the British public. In addition the Trust welcomes applications for small grants from local organisations in the UK who need support for walking-orientated activities. This includes the establishment of footpaths and bridleways, funding for rebuilding bridges and renovating huts, as well as bursary funding for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award for children who could not otherwise afford to do it. Please visit the ‘About Us’ section of our website and click on the Charitable Trust link for more details.

Heart and Sole

We appreciate that we are in a fortunate position to be able to use our profits to help make a difference to people's lives. Heart & Sole is a venture managed by our office staff, whose aim is to reach the heart of the communities in the countries we visit. Through Heart & Sole, we hope to make more of a long term, direct impact to these communities, particularly in less developed countries where even a small amount goes a long way. See our website for more information and details of some of the projects we support.

Staying In Touch

Mobile Phones

Please do provide us with a mobile phone contact number. We will only use this to contact you with important information relating to your holiday arrangements. 

Do keep your mobile phones switched on and readily available when travelling to the airport or if delayed in transit so that we can contact you with any last minute information relating to your travel arrangements.  

As a matter of courtesy, please switch off your mobile phone during walks, or endeavour to minimise its use. Please also try to minimise the use of mobile devices during group meals.

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Useful Information

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Italy

  • Capital

    Rome

  • Currency

    Euro

  • Language

    Italian

  • Time Difference

    UTC +02:00

  • Flight duration

    2.5hrs from UK

Visas and Passports

No Visa Required

Average weather

  • January

    6°C

    Avg. Rain: 67mm

  • February

    7°C

    Avg. Rain: 62mm

  • March

    9°C

    Avg. Rain: 63mm

  • April

    12°C

    Avg. Rain: 61mm

  • May

    16°C

    Avg. Rain: 56mm

  • June

    20°C

    Avg. Rain: 47mm

  • July

    22°C

    Avg. Rain: 35mm

  • August

    22°C

    Avg. Rain: 48mm

  • September

    20°C

    Avg. Rain: 64mm

  • October

    15°C

    Avg. Rain: 89mm

  • November

    10°C

    Avg. Rain: 96mm

  • December

    7°C

    Avg. Rain: 82mm

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