Fly to Palermo; transfer to Castellammare del Golfo.
Italy's first nature reserve, Zingaro, is home to the rare Bonelli eagle, along with 40 other bird species and 700 plant varieties. Accompanied by our tour leader, we walk along the reserve's rugged coastline dotted with Mediterranean flora, tiny bays and hidden coves, providing excellent swimming spots in one of the most idyllic settings on the island. For those who don't like walking, there is the opportunity to join an optional boat tour over the crystal clear sea.
We take a ferry to the batterfly-shaped Favignana Island, home to elegant buildings, impressive churches and numerous cafes and gelaterie (ice-cream shops). We have the opportunity to explore this beautiful and unspolit island by bike or by boat.
Accompanied by a qualified local guide, we visit the eclectic city of Palermo. During our half-day tour, the guide will show us many beautiful sites, including Quattro Canti, Pretoria Square, the Cathedral and Marina Square. At the end of the tour we head to the colourful Capo market and after lunch we relax on the long sandy beach of Mondello, a popular beach resort among Palermitans set in the shadow of Mount Pellegrino. Before making our way back to the hotel, we enjoy a fun pizza-making demonstration.
Morning excursion to the rugged rocks and cliffs of the Alcantara Gorge, crossed by the Alcantara River. The formation of this gorge is fascinating! Thousands of years ago, hot lava coming down from Mt Etna flowed into the cold river and cooled down quickly forming huge basaltic columns. Over the millennia, the columns were eroded by the rushing waters of the river forming the walls of this impressive gorge. We enjoy some easy trekking in the icy waters of the river.
Today is left free for you to relax by the pool at the hotel or join an optional excursion to Taormina. Formed in 358 BC, Taormina has been the site of a settlement since Greek times. With its great view overlooking the sea, the town was a great asset for many years which you can see with the Greek theatre and Roman ruins at the edge of the town. The ruined sites here have been visited by many over the years and present a great insight into Roman history.
After breakfast you head up towards the famous volcano of Mt Etna, the largest active volcano in Europe. In an almost constant state of activity, the volcano presents a dramatic view over the island of Sicily. Weather and volcanic conditions permitting, we make our way up to 2900m by cable car and then by 4x4. There are many places to stop along the way up where we can admire the view. In the afternoon we have the option to visit the Volcano and Lava Museum, dedicated to volcanism and all the previous eruptions that have taken place here. This is a fascinating insight into the life of a volcano and what happens when it erupts.
Transfer to Palermo Airport; fly to London.