Hampshire Hikes & Historical Sites
Bring intriguing coastal trails and history alive in South Hampshire
Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean, is richly diverse, steeped in history with many sights and experiences not to be missed.
What does this mean?
Tour codes: 17700
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.
On the same latitude as part of the North African coast and tempered by sea breezes, Sicily is the largest of the Mediterranean Islands and is steeped in history having been home to Greek, Roman, Arab and Norman civilisations. As Goethe said, “To have seen Italy without having seen Sicily is to not have seen Italy at all, for Sicily is the clue to everything.”
You will be based in Castiglione di Sicilia, a small Sicilian town nestled in a valley between Etna and the Alcantara Park. It’s a picturesque town with small houses and historical buildings perched upon a hill on the north side of Etna. Follow its winding streets and you'll discover Italian architecture and a central square made from lava stone. Its castles and churches make for an impressive backdrop against Etna. As a centre it offers some of the finest walking to be had. The ever-present 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, hilltop castles and peaceful paths. An impressive trail takes us down from Mount Venere, where we can capture panoramic views of the Dalmatian Coast and across the Alps, to the characterful town of Taormina. Its temptations of some cold refreshments, ice cream and sea views will put a spring in your step. We explore the magical Alcantara gorge, formed by cool crystallised lava from Mount Etna.
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.
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
Itinerary & Travel
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.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we may unfortunately need to withdraw a tour that is currently confirmed to operate and we therefore reserve the right to cancel your booking. We would always do our utmost to give you plenty of notice should we have to do this. Selected elements of this tour, including local attractions and restaurants, may change at late notice. Please ensure you have valid insurance cover before you travel.
Keep an eye out of the window for views of Mount Etna as we come in to land at Catania Airport. A private coach takes us north up the dramatic coast, before turning inland towards Castiglione di Sicilia.
Transfer Time = 1h 30m
Our itinerary is expected to follow the daily schedule outlined below but please bare in mind that the order of the days may be amended, or walks substituted, due to weather conditions, attraction opening times, public transport timetables or changes beyond our control.
We walk up to Francavilla, situated inland from the east coast above the resort town of Taormina with the ever present outline of Mount Etna. 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). We explore the winding back-valleys of ancient hill-towns and enjoy panoramic views of Etna.
We take transport out to our start point with impressive views of Etna. We ascend to the broad summit of Monte Venere with panoramic views of the Dalmatian Coast and across the Alps (on a clear day).
We descend to the fortified village of Castelmola, a charming village perched high on a hill above the azure sea, before continuing the descent to picturesque and photogenic Taormina, a colourful town located on the slopes of a mountain.
This is a glorious ridge walk on well maintained tracks and paths with impressive views of Etna, followed by a descent on tracks to the valley for a unique view of the magical Alcantara gorge. This distinctive rocky 50m high walled landscape was formed by cool crystallised lava from Mount Etna.
We finish the day following a quiet lane to the foot of the castle hill at Francavilla and on to Castiglione di Sicilia.
This is a free day for your own independent exploration. There are so many walking options to be considered, or maybe immerse yourself in culture by visiting a town.
Explore the impressive Selinunte temples, one of the most important archaeological sites in Europe, or discover the UNESCO World Heritage Valley of the Temples in Agrigento. Perhaps take a trip to Syracuse or Palermo.
Sicily is well known for its gastronomy, so why not explore the area more and try some culinary delights and traditional delicacies such as Pastieri (minced lamb and pastry, seasoned with pepper, cheese and eggs), Sacce (thin flour pasta leaves stuffed with spinach and ricotta) or try Caciocavallo (cows milk cheese). Don't forget to find the many bakeries with delicious cakes or gelato parlour!
This is a fine walk that explores a number of remote villages abandoned after a failed experiment of the 1950s. Expect superb views of Etna, long tracks along grassy and rocky ridges, and a long winding descent into picturesque Castiglione di sicilia.
Today we plan to walk on the slopes of Mount Etna. Etna is an active volcano, so our plans always have to take this into account. 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.
After our exciting exploration of Etna, we spend the afternoon sitting back, enjoying the panoramic views of Mount Etna, and sipping on some delicious wines in a local vineyard. A memorable day with impressive panoramic mountain views.
Today we say goodbye to Sicily and transfer to Catania Airport for our return flight back to the UK.
Sometimes our flight schedule allows us for free time and a short stroll to explore the area once more or some time in Catania.
Departure dates for your selected tour
22nd Oct 2021 - 29th Oct 2021 (7 Nights)
6th May 2022 - 13th May 2022 (7 Nights)
23rd Sep 2022 - 30th Sep 2022 (7 Nights)
7th Oct 2022 - 14th Oct 2022 (7 Nights)
21st Oct 2022 - 28th Oct 2022 (7 Nights)
Below is the accommodation featured on this holiday across all departure dates. Please refer to the Itinerary for more detail about each night's accommodation for each departure date.
Castiglione di Sicilia is a small Sicilian town nestled in a valley between Etna and the Alcantara Park. Its a picturesque town with small houses and historical buildings perched upon a hill on the north side of Etna. Follow its winding streets and you'll discover Italian architecture and a central square made from lava stone. Its castles and churches make for an impressive backdrop against Etna. The town is filled with restaurants, cafes, shops, and supermarkets. There are also banks, ATMs, a post office, tourist office and bus/train stations in the town.
We stay in the small family owned Hotel Federico II located in the heart of the town. This recently renovated little and intimate hotel is set in a 14th century building. It's simple and chosen for its perfect location for our walking itinerary. It allows us to explore remote walking paths and the hotels back drop is the magnificent Mount Etna.
We stay in double and twin bedded rooms. Single rooms are usually double for sole use. Hotel rooms are either in the main building, the Hotel Federico II, or the small building next door called Le Vie del Borgo next door. Both hotels are run by the same family. All rooms are comfortable and minimalistic. Facilities include
There are no tea/coffee making facilities in rooms.
This is a Grade 6 walking holiday with challenging walks through beautiful scenery set against the stunning back drop of Mount Etna. Expect to walk on mountain paths, farm tracks, through ancient villages and lovely rural scenery. Walks will be full days with ascents and descents of 450-1000m. We will be walking between 8-12 miles a day. The hotels superb location allows us to explore remote paths, and sometimes we can walk to the start of the trail from our hotel! We will use local hired transport where required to enjoy our varied walking programme. The maximum altitude reached on this holiday is 2055m.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We fly from London to Catania and return. On some dates we 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.
A private transfer takes us to our hotel, approximately 1 hour 30 minutes by road. Details of your baggage allowance will be confirmed in your travel documents, sent to you approximately 10 days before departure.
If you intend joining and leaving the party in Castiglione di Sicilia, we assume, unless you have advised us otherwise, that you will meet and leave the party at the Hotel Federico II . If this is not your intention, please let us know in writing at least 5 weeks before 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 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.
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.
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.
Breakfasts and dinners are included in the holiday. Breakfast is a buffet style with a selection such as cereal, cold meats, tomatoes, cheeses, fruits, rolls and jams.
Some dinners are taken in the hotels highly rated restaurant, the Sine Tempore. You will be served traditional Sicilian dishes made from locally sourced produce and fresh ingredients, with usually a choice of fish or meat dishes. Vegetarian diets can also be catered for. During the summer, the outdoor garden and courtyard area is opened for dinner too. The restaurant is also open to local residents and other tourists.
Two dinners are taken in local restaurants, giving us the opportunity to sample the excellent Italian cuisine and local wines. We'll enjoy an authentic experience and sometimes lively atmosphere in a traditional Italian restaurant along with local diners and the Italian hospitality.
In Italy, traditional meals usually have four courses, antipasto or antipasti, primo, il secondo, and dolce; but this varies depending on restaurants and the regions of Italy.
Antipasto and Antipasti are a traditional course in formal Italian meals and translate as 'before the meal' as they are usually before the primo course. Antipasto refers to one portion and Antipasti refers to more than one portion. This usually includes cured meats such as salami, pepperoni, prosciutto or mortadella. Rich cheeses such as fresh mozzarella, gouda, provolone or Parmigiana-Reggiano are also included. Seafood like shrimp, anchovies and salmon are sometimes included too.
The first course, known as primo, is served as an appetiser and usually consists of rich pasta, soup or risotto. The main course is called il secondo and usually includes meat, fish or vegetarian. The dolce refers to the dessert and ends a traditional Italian meal. Coffee usually follows too.
One lunch is included during our time in Motta Camastra where an impressive street lunch will be provided for us. Remaining lunches are not included and are usually taken as picnics or in a local cafe during the day.
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.
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.
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:
This list is not exhaustive and every walker is different and may have their own preference.
Some paths are sometimes affected by the growth of large bushes and brambles in the Spring and Summer months so it may be advisable to bring walking trousers as shorts may not be advisable at this time.
Travel Documents Checklist
Documents and Information to take with you:
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 & More
Many local libraries stock a selection of travel guides and books which may offer you more information. Apart from any books available in local libraries, the internet is now an excellent resource for information about holidays in Sicily. You may find the below websites, books and programmes useful.
Maps of the areas we visit (1:200 000 scale) are available locally and at specialist map shops in the UK.
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.
Lonely Planet Sicily Travel Guide.
The Rough Guide to Sicily.
Sicily: The Wonder of the Mediterranean on BBC2 player. Follow Michael Scott on his historical journey through Sicily.
Gino D'Acampo visits Sicily on Gino's Italian Escapes, available on ITV player.
The Map Shop
If you cannot find the maps or books locally we recommend:
The Map Shop
5 High Street
Upton upon Severn, Worcs
If you key many of the local places mentioned in this holiday fact sheet into YouTube, you will find a vast array of spectacular footage of the area.
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.
It is a condition of booking with Ramblers Walking Holidays that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the trip, including all optional activities.
Your travel insurance policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation. Please ensure your policy covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are walking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. Medical and repatriation insurance cover are not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
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.
Looking for travel insurance cover?
If you have not already arranged cover, please visit SunWorld who offer travel insurance.
SunWorld policies include cover for COVID-19, subject to applicable terms and conditions.
From January 1st, 2021 UK travellers can continue to use their European Heath Insurance Card (EHIC) – which can last up to five years, until its expiry date, to gain access to medical assistance during your holiday. However, you will no longer be covered in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland. Travellers without a valid EHIC can apply for a new UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC), which will replaces the EHIC once it has been phased out. Please note however that the EHIC/GHIC should not be considered a substitute for medical or travel insurance.
For more information, please visit www.nhs.uk/ehic
The UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development 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.
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.
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.
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.
Visas and Passports
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