Jewels of the Mediterranean: Sicily, Malta & Gozo - October 2020

Fully escorted by Charles Whitlock, Walkaway Treks

Jewels of the Mediterranean: Sicily, Malta & Gozo

From the largest to one of the smallest of the Mediterranean islands, our journey spans these remarkable islands that feature stunning vistas, ancient ruins and wonderful walking experiences. The accommodation has been specially selected for this tour with unique Italian flavor coupled with the superior Solana in Malta. From start to finish a first class experience as Charles Whitlock explores Sicily and his birth home, Malta.

Itinerary

Jewels of the Mediterranean: Sicily, Malta & Gozo

Saturday, October 3 Catania / Petralia Soprana D
Transfer to Petralia Soprana (1hr 45mins) the medieval town in the centre of the Madonie Mountains that won the award as the “The Most Beautiful Village in Italy” in 2018.
Overnight: Residenza Petra https://www.residenzapetra.it/

Sunday, October 4 Petralia Soprana - Piano Catarineci – Geraci B L D
From our hotel we venture through the cobbled street heading into the heart of the Madonie National Park for a beautiful high mountain walk finishing in at a small fortified town of Geraci, perched on the edge of the park, that was the original seat of the area's feudal lords.
(Distance: 13.5kms; ascent: 476m; descent: 500m)
Overnight: Residenza Petra https://www.residenzapetra.it/

Monday, October 5 Pomieri - Piano Sempria – Castelbuono B L D
The walk today takes us through the woodlands of the Madonie Mountains, passing maple and oak trees ranging in age from 600 to 800 years. Throughout our journey, we will enjoy spectacular views across the mountains towards the sea. A highlight of the walk is arriving at Piano Pomo, where we find 1,000-year-old Holly trees located near a traditional thatched roof shepherd's hut. Continuing our journey until we arrive at Piano Sempria, where we take a lunch break at the Rifugio (mountain hut). Optional stop after 9kms. After lunch we descend through woodlands, using the old coal burners’ trail and travel through cobblestoned streets to arrive at today's destination, the picturesque town of Castelbuono. Time to stroll around the historical centre of this medieval town before transferring (15mins) to our accommodation.
(Distance: 16.2km; ascent 292m; descent 900m)
Overnight: Relais Abbazia Santa Anastasia http://www.abbaziasantanastasia.com/en/

Tuesday, October 6 Floresta – Randazzo B L D
After breakfast we drive along the northern coastline up into the Nebrodi Mountains. Greatly differing from the Madonie Mountains, our drive takes us to Floresta, the highest town in Sicily, with spectacular views towards Mt Etna. From Floresta we gradually descend along the river, mostly through woodlands. Half way through our journey, there’s a lovely picnic area with fresh drinking water available from a fountain, where we stop and have lunch. After lunch we finish our walk just before the town of Randazzo, known as the ‘Black Town’, as it's built almost entirely of volcanic lava. Short drive (5mins) takes us into the town where we will have time to wander around before visiting the Casa Della Musica E Della Liuteria Medievale.
(Distance: 15km; ascent: 117m; descent: 577m)
Overnight: 12th century restored villa, Feudo Vagliasindi http://www.feudovagliasindi.it

Wednesday, October 7 Mt Etna - Taormina – Castelmola B L D
This morning we drive 15 mins to start our walk at an altitude of 1,250m. The walk is mainly on wide forest track that initially climbs uphill gently and then evens out through pine woods and onto the 1981 lava flow. The landscape is dramatic, walking nearby lava walls (approx. 10m) with wonderful views into the valley and mountain ranges. The walk continues through beech woods, before returning on a small path on the 1981 lava flow. After lunch we visit the town of Taormina and explore this, the most well-known tourist destination, in Sicily. Walk through the elegant medieval streets lined with bougainvillea, once a haven for the world famous writers, poets, musicians and painters who were inspired by her beauty. A guided visit to the magnificent Greek/Roman theatre, before driving (10 mins) to our accommodation.
(Distance: 10kms; ascent: 310m; descent: 310m)
Overnight: Hotel Villa Sonia, Castelmola http://www.hotelvillasonia.com

Thursday, October 8 Taormina – Pantalica – Siracusa – Pozzallo B L D
Today we visit the UNESCO sites of Pantalica and Siracusa. From Taormina we drive (1 1/2 hrs) to the commencement of our walk in Pantalica with its 5,000 simple tombs that honeycomb the limestone cliffs, resting place for the ancient inhabitants of Pantalica, set on a high plateau with its plunging gorges. During our walk we will stop at a scenic spot for our packed lunch. Following our walk we drive through beautiful countryside to Ortigia, Siracusa afternoon visit of the streets with elegant baroque building and one of the most amazing cathedrals dating from the Greek period. Drive (1hr) to our accommodation.
(Distance: 10.4km; ascent: 300m; descent: 331m)
Overnight: Villa Ada, Pozzallo https://hotelvillaada.it

Friday, October 9 Breakfast and transfer to the Port of Pozzallo, catch 09.15 ferry to Malta. Mellieħa, Malta B D
Arrival at Vertu Ferry Terminal, Valletta. Transfer to our hotel in Mellieha. Hotel check-in. Passport may be required by the front desk at time of check-in. Light snacks are available in the bar in the main lobby. Before dinner, a short introductory walk through the town will familiarize us with our immediate surroundings. Our accommodation for the next nights will be at the Solana Hotel & Spa https://www.solanahotel.com/.
SPECIAL NOTICE: Eco Contribution levied by the Government of Malta. Eco Contributions are due on arrival at the Hotel’s Front Desk, charged at € 0.50 per adult per night, but capped to a maximum of €5.00 per person per stay. Not included in tour cost.

Saturday, October 10 Malta B L
Depart hotel: 08:45. Dingle Cliffs to Mnajdra/Hagar Qim Temples. Walking distance of 14 kilometers over a gentle descent. 4-5 hours gentle road walking. Packed lunch included. Stunning and mesmerizing cliff faces welcome our group today. We start the walk from the chapel of Saint Mary Magdalene, close to the highest point in Malta and end at the Neolithic temples of Mnajdra and Hagar Qim. At the end of the walk up to 2 hours is allotted for us to visit the temples. Tickets included for prehistoric sites. Headphones are extra usually at a €1.00. A golf cart transfer is included between the temples. After the temples we will walk for 2 km to the Blue Grotto. (A taxi is an option for people that do not wish to walk the last 2 km). As an option and time permitting you may wish to take a 20-minute boat tour at the Blue Grotto to visit the fascinating sea caves that dot this coastline.

Sunday, October 11 Malta B L
Depart hotel: 08:45. Golden Bay to Paradise Bay. Hike distance: 12 kilometers, 5 hours walking time. Packed lunch. This West Coast Trail of Malta is the favorite of our tour manager Charles. The walk starts from the sandy beach of Golden Bay and winds through one of Malta’s nature reserves, Majjistral National Park. We will see wonderful views of Gozo, cliff faces, panoramic vistas, and hand built stone huts dotting the trail. We will also visit a Roman apiary. On the lighter side of things, we will eat lunch or snack at the top of Popeye Village, a stage village constructed for the 1980 movie, Popeye. Return by minibus at 15:30 from the parking lot at Paradise Bay.

Monday, October 12 Malta B L
Depart hotel: 08:45. Tour of Valletta, Malta’s capital city. Sightseeing 4-hour walking tour conducted by a Maltese Certified Tourist Guide. Valletta is Europe’s first planned city built during the 16th century under the guidance and rule of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. Modest clothing is required for church entrance. Valletta houses many fine museums; baroque buildings and massive fortifications surround the city. Tour members may choose to remain in Valletta for additional sightseeing, shopping or dinner. Your tour manager will assist you in arranging a return by taxi, mini-bus taxi, or public transportation. Maltese public buses are an interesting cultural experience and easy to use. An open evening. Please carry coinage for public washrooms.

Tuesday, October 13 Malta / Gozo touring B L D
Depart hotel 08:30. This is a long touring day. Transfer Mellieha to Cirkewwa. This is about a 10-minute drive to the ferry. Ferry crossing to Gozo. This ferry crossing is about 20 minutes. In Gozo transfer to Xewkija. Our walk today is from Xewkija to Xlendi a distance of 12 kilometers 4 to 5 hours walking. Trail is rough and steep as we approach Xlendi. Packed lunch is provided by the hotel. Today we will start our walk by the majestic church of St. John the Baptist in the main square of Xewkija. If mass is in progress, a quiet and gentle entrance is acceptable. Modest clothing is required for church attendance. We will walk beside the picturesque, deep and unspoiled valley of Mgarr ix-Xini (Valley of the Sow). Panoramic views and pre-histories features surround our walk along the exhilarating, breath-taking, high cliffs of Ta’Saguna. We will end our walk in Xlendi where we will enjoy a local brew of beverage. As all Gozo roads lead to its capital Victoria/Rabat we will have a two hour stop to visit the recently completed restoration the Cittadella (Citadel). The Citadel has been at the center of activity by the Phoenicians and in Roman times it was a complex Acropolis. Transfer for 6:00 PM in Victoria/Rabat for our return trip to Malta.

Wednesday, October 14 Malta B
Depart hotel: 08:45 to Mosta, Rabat and Mdina.
Mosta: Visit to the church of St. Mary also known as the Mosta Dome Church. This is a parish church built in 1860 over a 1614 church. Its dome is claimed to be the 3rd largest dome in Europe. Modest clothing is required for church entrance (40 minutes). An entrance fee or donation may be in effect.
Rabat: There will be an opportunity to visit St. Paul’s Catacombs. Entrance fees of €5.00* is required. The Apostle Paul was shipwrecked in Malta on his way to Rome. Please advise the tour manager if you have a tendency of suffering from claustrophobia. *NOTE: Guests pay individually for the catacombs as some may elect not to do this.
Mdina: Mdina, the old capital of Malta, is an architectural dream. We cross into Mdina on a bridge through a classical archway with a magnificent mantle perched on its top. It is a medieval walled town built on a high ridge in the center of Malta. Clients are free to roam this city, have lunch or visit churches, museums or art galleries. After Mosta, Rabat and Mdina our minibus will take us to Valletta. Please be at the designated pick-up area no later than 2:00 PM. Those that wish to tour, shop or relax in Valletta, may do so. Return to the hotel will be by public transit. For others that wish to shop, tour or relax in the modern city of Sliema, our Tour Manager, Charles will accompany you via a 10-minute ferry ride to Sliema from Valletta. For clients wish to return to the hotel directly, you may do so from either Valletta or Sliema.

Thursday, October 15 Malta B L D
Depart 08:45. Xemxija to Mellieha Bay (Solana Hotel), via Mistra Bay. Distance is 15 kilometers allowing 5-6 hours walking. Walking along the Xemxija Heritage Trail we will start our day in an intense area of historic sites walking on a Roman road, visiting Roman baths, walking by Punic tomb-sites and finally placing our feet in the distinctive stone-age cart ruts. This is a remote hike that will lead us to Mgiebah Bay where a reddish sandy beach will greet us. Bring a swimsuit. Along the trail we will pass by an active but ancient (probably Roman) apiary and walk by the historic St. Paul’s Island. We will walk past Selmun Palace, a Knights hunting lodge. Packed lunch included. Return to our hotel and an open evening for individual exploration. Farewell dinner at Tosca on the hotel premises.

Friday, October 16 Malta departure B
Transfer for our departure to return to Canada or extend your stay in Malta / Europe.


Cost

Tour Price
  • Tour Cost per person twin / double: $5,295 Canadian
  • Single Surcharge: $450 Canadian (request basis only)
  • Land only per person twin / double: $4,195 Canadian
Payment Requirements
  • Per Passenger deposit requirements:
    Canadian $950
  • Final Payment Due: July 17, 2020
Single Occupancy
Single occupancy is limited on this tour and on a request basis only. We also offer the opportunity of share single. In this case we will attempt to provide suitable share accommodation for single requests however this is not guaranteed.
Air Fare

We can only book air approximately 320 days prior to tour departure. The Alitalia flight scheduled shown are based on the best available flights at this time and a projected cost for fall 2020. We reserve the right to alter flights once schedules have been loaded for group bookings.

Tour Includes:

  • Tour manager and escort Charles Whitlock
  • Flight to Sicily with return from Malta including all air taxes as at June 2019
  • Private transfers for all included walks, airports, ferry etc. based on our schedule of events
  • Accommodation in Sicily per the itinerary and for the Solana Hotel for 7 nights include breakfast (B), Lunch / packed lunch (L) and dinner (D) as indicated
  • Special farewell dinner
  • Guide fees
  • Ferry from Sicily to Malta and return from Malta to / from Gozo
  • Tickets for Mnajdra /Hagar Qim Temples and Ggantija Temples and golf-cart shuttle between the two temples

Not Included:

  • Meals not indicated, drinks except tea/coffee with dinner and gratuities

Insurance

We strongly recommend adequate travel insurance and will provide details of insurance suggestions at the time of booking.

Cancellation Penalties

From date of booking to July 18:
loss of deposit paid

From final payment date to departure:
100% non-refundable

In the event that we are able to find a replacement from waitlists or other requests received for the land tour between date of booking and 31-days prior to date of departure, a flat $50.00 p.p. administration charge will be accessed. Within 31-days prior, we regret that all payments become non-refundable with or without a replacement. We cannot guarantee a replacement for any cancelled passenger regardless of the date the cancellation is received in our office.

Flights

Toronto October 2
Rome FCO October 3
Alitalia 651
Depart: 21:30
Arrive: 12:05
Rome FCO October 3
Catania
Alitalia 1741
Depart: 15:00
Arrive: 16:15
Malta October 16
Rome FCO
Alitalia 885
Depart: 11:40
Arrive: 13:10
Rome FCO October 16
Toronto
Alitalia 650
Depart: 15:15
Arrive: 19:10

Our Very Special Accommodations

Residenza Petra
Residenza Petra
Petralia Soprana

Located in the historic centre of Petralia Soprana, the highest village of the mountain chain of Madonie, at 1147 metres above sea level it is the perfect place for relaxation and recovery of physical fitness. The clean air, greenery and nature are excellent therapies for children and adults. Located on the main square of Petralia, the staff will welcome you with professionalism. A few kilometers from the hotel is the first Adventure Park of Sicily. A new, fun and safe way to get closer to nature by learning to discover, know and respect it; you have the chance to compete with exciting canopy tours, exciting mountain bike tracks, in archery, orienteering and nature tours: experience nature in a territory to discover. Here silence is not a luxury and life flows slowly between evocative landscape and breathtaking sunsets. Fresh air, greenery and nature are excellent cure, both for adults and for children, to free your mind and your body from the stess built up in the cities.

Relais Abbazia
Relais Abbazia
Santa Anastasia

The Abbey is a place where magic and the masterly balance that is established between man and nature creates a perfect alchemy. You will have the feeling of becoming one with the surrounding landscape, becoming a single soul and finding peace and relax immersed in sounds, colours and smells that are simply perfect. Great commitment and dedication are put into the cultivation of the vineyards that surround it and the fruit of this love is a precious wine that is produced according to the principles of biodynamics and with absolute respect for the earth. The cellars preserve a wide variety of wines, superb gifts of the earth to be enjoyed slowly. A distinctive feature of Relais Santa Anastasia is the close relationship with nature. Nature lies at the centre of the experience that Relais Santa Anastasia offers, as well as of the production philosophy of the winery.

Restored 12th Century Villa
Restored 12th Century Villa
Feudo Vagliasindi

In a villa of the early twentieth century, surrounded by authentic sicilian landscapes, the Hotel Feudo Vagliasindi offers a dream vacation at the slope of Etna. Feudo Vagliasindi is a nobiliary house in Art Nouveau style, with elegant minimalist interiors, featuring a swimming pool, restaurant, free parking and wi-fi. It borders with the Etna park, the nature reserve of Alcantara and Nebrodi Park, the largest protected area of Sicily. You will find many possibilities to discover the ancient beauty of eastern Sicily, like: guided hikes, mountain bike tours, horseback riding, quad bikes adventures, tasting of wines and typical products. The hotel is located at five minutes away from the beautiful medieval village of Randazzo.


Hotel Villa Sonia
Hotel Villa Sonia
Castelmola

Under the rock of Castelmola, a historic residence is today a refined hotel with the transformation being carried out down to the tiniest details. Hotel Villa Sonia is a historic rural home situated in Castelmola in the district of Taormina where a real corner of "Paradise" awaits you. A charming residence surrounded by green vegetation and having as much tranquility as one would desire, ensuring your relaxation which provides the facilities to spend all the time you want to, reliving ancient times and rediscovering unique flavours that only a land as rich and generous as “Sicily” can give you. The hotel is set in a unique and silent natural environment, yet just a few kilometers from Taormina and the sea. Most of the rooms have a balcony with a splendid view of Etna and you wake up in the morning to an air which is rich in the unmistakable fragrances of this land, real charming luxuriousness, of relaxation and time all for yourself.

Villa Ada, Pozzallo
Villa Ada
Pozzallo

Hotel Villa Ada is located in the city center was founded in 1928 and only 30 meters from the sea, a 10-minute walk from Pozzallo train station and 3 km from the Port of Pozzallo. The rooms are spacious and well sound-proofed from outside. They are provided with tv, phone, internet access, autonomous air conditioner and private bathroom. The restaurant can accommodate groups for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Solana Hotel & Spa
Solana Hotel & Spa
Mellieha

The recently renovated Solana Hotel & Spa is here to offer you the best of all worlds at one of Malta’s most premier luxury accommodations. As a guest you’ll be greeted to a blend of modern aesthetics, a variety of dining options, and amazing features like the rooftop pool. Solana’s prime location in northern Malta takes you far away from the urban noise and close to some of the most beautiful beaches in Malta. Come and experience all the magic that Malta has to offer. Some of Solana’s special features include an indoor pool as well as outdoor pool, sun terrace, spa, and fitness centre. With three restaurants and two bars to choose from, there’s something for every guest here. We also provide catering services and a conference room for large events and business meetings. Our highly-trained staff will be with you to make your stay as pleasant as possible.


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Meet Charles Whitlock
Walkaway Treks

Charles Whitlock

Charles is a passionate hiker who shares his love of hiking with both new and experienced walkers.

In 2003 Charles established Walkaway Treks to better serve his hiking adventures and to provide a variety of hiking services.

Charles Whitlock is the owner/operator
of Walkaway Treks.

  • 30+ years outdoor leadership experience
  • Certified Wilderness First Responder
  • Certified hike leader with the Toronto Bruce
  • Trail Club and the Grand Valley Trails Association
  • Tour Manager for tours in the United Kingdom, France, Guernsey, Canada and the United States
  • Advisor to the Grand Valley Trails Association

Exclusive Reservations:
We pleased to offer these EXCLUSIVE travel arrangements!

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