Sicily: Extension to the Sicily & Malta Cruise Aboard the Sea Cloud: May 11—18, 2017
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- Apr 29, 2017: Malta: Pre-trip to the Sicily & Malta Cruise Aboard The Sea Cloud
- May 02, 2017: Sicily & Malta: History, Culture & Nature
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An optional extension to our Sicily and Malta cruise offers additional birding opportunities and visits to several famous locations not included in the cruise program, namely Mt. Etna, Taormina, and Palermo.
Beautiful northern and eastern Sicily is the setting for this optional extension to our cruise, Sicily & Malta: History, Culture & Nature aboard the Sea Cloud. Owing to Sicily’s size, there simply is not enough time in the cruise program to include all of the island’s best known sites in a single trip. This land-based program provides the final piece to the full “Sicily experience,” with additional birding opportunities and visits to marvelous historical sites.
Our trip begins with a flight from Malta to Catania (possibly via Rome), from which we’ll transfer south to Ortygia, our base for the next three days. This part of the trip will be geared more toward birding and sightseeing, highlighted by trips to the Vendicari Nature Reserve, perhaps Sicily’s finest and most important birding location where a range of shorebirds, waders, and landbirds may be found; Cava Grande and the rocky uplands for breeding songbirds; and a day-long trip to the slopes of spectacular Mt. Etna, Europe’s highest and most active volcano. Golden Eagle, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Pallid Swift, Spectacled and Subalpine warblers, “Sicilian” Long-tailed Tit, Firecrest, Rock Bunting, Rock Petronia, and a variety of shorebirds and wading birds are all likely among many other species.
On the sightseeing and cultural front, we’ll tour the historic city-center of Catania, Sicily’s second largest city; visit the remarkable Necropolis of Pantalica, featuring rock-cut chamber tombs that date from antiquity; spend a night in lovely Taormina with its dramatic Greco-Roman theatre, public garden, and unparalleled views of the sea and Mt. Etna; and trace a route along the scenic Tyrrhenian coastline, stopping at the Cathedral of Cefalù, home to the mosaic Christ Pantokrator which the historian John Julius Norwich calls the most beautiful representation of Christ in Western art.
Our time in Sicily will conclude in the island capital of Palermo where a day-tour of the city and nearby Monreale will bring exposure to a panoply of marvelous historical and architectural wonders including the Cappella Palatina, Martorana, and Cathedral of Monreale—reflecting a blended array of architectural styles and exquisite works of art.
Very good to excellent accommodations and cuisine; multi-themed program includes a mix of sightseeing and birding activities; light to moderate physical demands with a moderate amount of walking; elevations range from sea level to 6,000 feet; mild to warm temperatures expected, but wind, rain, and cooler temperatures possible on Mt. Etna.