Albatross Traveller Jill's Italy, the Deep South & Sicily Experience


Albatross Traveller

Albatross Traveller Jill's Italy, the Deep South & Sicily Experience


What tour did you travel on?

Italy, the Deep South & Sicily 

When did you travel?

14 September 2022 

Why did you select this tour?

I had not visited this part of Italy before, and the itinerary sounded very interesting. I also liked the fact that there were extended stays in many areas. 

Who did you travel with?

I travelled on my own. 

Have you travelled with us previously? If so, please list the tours you have travelled on:

I have now been on three Albatross tours; Italian Lakes & Tuscany in 2016; Black Forest and Bavaria in 2017; and Italy, the Deep South & Sicily in 2022. I will be going on the Northern Spain & The Pyrenees tour in September 2023 and am looking forward to another fabulous tour. 

Where were your favourite places on your Albatross tour?

Alberobello and Matera were fascinating places to visit. The hundreds of unique whitewashed ‘Trulli’ in Alberobello created a stunning view from the upper part of the city centre. The area behind the city centre is closed to traffic. It was lovely meandering along the polished, stone-paved streets in the quiet of the evening and observing the many different styles of Trulli, each with its own individual features.

The ancient man-made stone caves (‘Sassi’) in Matera were also a fascinating place to visit. The views across the rock plateau and the ‘la Gravina’ ravine were amazing. It was fantastic to be able to enjoy the unique experiences of staying in a Trullo in Alberobello and a ‘cave dwelling’ at the Le Grotte della Civita Hotel in Matera. 


What was your favourite experience during your Albatross Tour?

There were a lot of ‘amazing things’ to enjoy on this tour, including visiting many fascinating UNESCO World Heritage Sites. One of the most incredible places that I visited was the Villa Romana del Casale in Sicily, which was built in the 4th century. It would have been a very opulent structure in its time, until it was covered by a landslide in the 12th century. Surprisingly, there was a positive outcome of this event, in that many of the very ornate and detailed mosaics were preserved by the mud and are still in good condition. The intricate and expansive mosaics depicted the many and varied aspects of everyday Roman life at that time in history. The guide provided a very interesting explanation of the different areas of the ‘villa’ and the various ‘stories’ depicted in the mosaics. 


Tell us about your most memorable moment on tour?

There were many memorable moments on the tour. The visit to Mount Etna was amazing. It was great to be one of the first groups going up the mountain, as we avoided the crowds. A sense of anticipation built, as we travelled up the mountain in cable cars and a specially designed large 4WD bus. The final stage of the ‘journey’ involved walking over the black petrified lava flow to the viewing crater area at 2920 metres. Unfortunately, there was quite a bit of cloud obstructing the view that morning, but occasionally the cloud cleared and there were glimpses of the steaming caldera.   

 Another memorable moment was visiting the Palatine Chapel in Palermo. The interior of the chapel was magnificent. The beautiful mosaic decorations and artwork, involving the extensive use of gold and vibrant colours, were very impressive. Around the walls were detailed pictures depicting various stories from the Bible. It was an incredible place to visit.  

What was your favourite meal on tour?

The meals throughout the tour were of a very high standard. Some of my favourites were:

  • Breakfasts at The Baglio Oneto, near Marsala - These included an amazing array of foods and beverages which could be consumed inside in the lovely dining room or outside under umbrellas in the beautiful courtyard.
  • Lunch at the farm of Mandranova - This was delicious; the various dishes included a range of different ingredients. It was interesting to hear about the production of olive oil and to sample different types of oil.
  • Lunch at Vittorio’s restaurant at Porto Palo - Many different types of perfectly cooked seafood were enjoyed at this restaurant, while admiring the beautiful view of the water
  • The included dinner at Le Grotte della Civita, our hotel in Matera - This was a memorable meal. The food was amazing and the atmosphere inside the ‘cave restaurant’ was lovely. 

What advice do you have for anyone interested in travelling on this tour?

Due to the nature of the landscape and the various ancient, historical sites, there are a variety of elements to negotiate:

  • A lot of steps 
  • Uneven surfaces 
  • Slopes 
  • Hilly areas 
  • Uneven cobblestones  
  • Uneven pavers to negotiate 

All of which are part of the ‘charm’ of this magnificent tour. However, it could be quite challenging for anyone who has mobility problems. I would recommend this tour for people who have a good level of physical fitness. 

Would you recommend this tour to family and friends? If so, why?

This tour has a fabulous itinerary and would be of particular interest to anyone who enjoys history. Of course, it would also appeal to people who enjoy delicious Italian food! I have already recommended the tour to family and friends. 

Jill was one of our finalists in 2022 'Best of Europe' photo competition. Below are some more of her photos from her tour.

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