The Vatican to Valletta
From Rome, To Naples, Catania (Sicily), Syracuse, Valletta (Malta). - 6 Nights
- Departing from:
- Naples, Catania (Sicily), Syracuse, Valletta (Malta).
- 6 Nights
- Travel Dates:
- 28/05/24 to 03/06/24
- Offer Expires:
- Tour Operator:
- Railway Adventures
- Reference Code:
Price per person
Welcome to this short but unforgettable journey travelling through the rich history, breathtaking architecture, and awe-inspiring landscapes that define these captivating destinations as we roll along on various trains, from the ancient ruins of Rome to the charming coastal towns of Sicily and the walled city of Valletta in Malta. With two night stays in the enchanting cities of Catania, Syracuse, and Valletta, you’ll have time to explore the wonders of these remarkable places, most of them UNESCO-listed, unveiling the hidden gems and cultural treasures that await you at every turn.
Day 1 • Tuesday 28 May: ROME – CATANIA
After breakfast at the hotel, we transfer to the railway station and travel by rail on a scenic journey down the coast to Sicily. The first part of the journey is aboard the ultra-modern, high-speed Frecciarossa train. At Naples, we change to the fast regional express which hugs the coast for much of the journey to Calabria. You can marvel at how the train is loaded onto the ferry for its journey across to the Sicilian port city of Messina and the scenic run down the Sicilian coast to Catania.
Catania has a long and eventful history having been founded in the 8th century BC. During the Renaissance, it was one of Italy’s most important and flourishing cultural, artistic, and political centres and its stunning architecture expresses this history in spades. Mount Etna’s great eruption of 1669 almost wiped out the city but fortunately its walls diverted most of the lava flow. Today, it is one of the main economic, educational and tourism centres on the island and boasts the nickname, “European Silicon Valley”.
We check into our hotel and the rest of the day is free to wander the piazzas of this vibrant and atmospheric city.
Tonight we enjoy a welcome dinner at the rooftop restaurant in the hotel.
Overnight: UNA Hotel Palace, Catania (B, D)
Day 2 • Wednesday 29 May: CATANIA – MT ETNA – TAORMINA – CATANIA
After breakfast at the hotel, we transfer to the small private railway station of the Ferrovia Circumetnea. Our excursion on this unique railway takes us literally right around the steaming massif of Europe’s largest volcano. Our privately chartered vintage railcar climbs and weaves around the fertile slopes of the mountain, sometimes cutting through recent lava flows and pausing at the rustic towns and villages on the sleepy little line.
After the circumnavigation of the mountain, we continue by local train and coach to Taormina to have a local speciality lunch in a Sicilian agriturismo. Wander the sublimely located Teatro Greco (Greek Theatre) in the heart of Taormina dating from the 6th century and perched high above a spur of the dramatic mountains overhanging the Mediterranean Sea. The efficient local train will whisk us back to the heart of Catania where you are free to enjoy an evening at your leisure.
Overnight: UNA Hotel Palace, Catania (B, L)
Day 3 • Thursday 30 May: CATANIA – SYRACUSE
This morning is a leisurely one with a late checkout. After breakfast at the hotel you will have time to explore a little more of Catania before boarding our early afternoon train for Syracuse. Our coach will take the luggage and on arrival at the train station we will transfer us to the hotel to check in and enjoy some free time to explore the surroundings of its ideal location at the edge of the atmospheric old town. Later that evening we will enjoy a lavish dinner at a local restaurant.
Overnight: Grand Hotel Ortiga, Syracuse (B, D)
Day 4 • Friday 31 May: SYRACUSE
Today we will spend the morning on a half-day guided tour of Syracuse and its surroundings. Built on an ancient Greek settlement established by Corinthians in 734 BC and recognised as a UNESCO heritage site (together with the nearby Rocky Necropolis of Pantalica). During its Golden Age Syracuse rivalled Athens in power and prosperity. Our tour will visit the Neapolis Archaeological Park on the Temenites Hill which features a Greek theatre built around the 5th century BC, the Orsi Regional Archaeological Museum, the Ear of Dionysius, and a 3rd-century AD Roman amphitheatre.
A must-see in Syracuse is definitely the island of Ortigia with its 2500-year history featuring Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Mediaeval Norman, and Baroque architectural styles. We will view the remains of the Temple of Apollo (or Artemis) which is possibly the oldest Greek temple of its kind in Sicily having been built around 565 BC; the Piazza del Duomo cathedral built on the site of the Temple of Athena; and the Spring of Arethusa. The Bellomo Palace houses an art gallery with a collection that includes Antonello da Messina’s Assumption.
The afternoon is free to explore this ancient and charming city. The best way to absorb Ortigia’s character is to take the time to wander and explore at your own pace.
Overnight: Grand Hotel Ortiga, Syracuse (B, L)
Day 5 • Saturday 1 June: SYRACUSE – VALLETTA, MALTA
After breakfast we will take a morning transfer to Pozzallo for the 2.5-hour ferry ride across the Mediterranean to Valletta, the capital of Malta. This is an island with a fascinating heritage including British rule from 1800 until 1964 when Malta gained its independence.
Following the transfer to our hotel, we will enjoy an afternoon tour of the city of Valletta. From 1530 to 1798, prior to British occupation, Malta was ruled by the Knights of St. John. Baroque artists Caravaggio, Mattia Preti and Favray were all commissioned by the Knights to embellish churches, palaces and the auberges we will see as we tour the island.
Valletta is a World Heritage city with stunning Baroque architecture, and our exploration will include St. John’s Co-Cathedral, built between 1573 and 1577, home to the Knights of St. John and housing priceless works of art such as Caravaggio’s The Beheading of St John; the National Museum of Archaeology; and the Upper Barracca Gardens with a magnificent view of the Grand Harbour. Our tour will be followed by dinner at a local restaurant.
Overnight: AX The Palace Hotel, Sliema, Malta (B, D)
Day 6 • Sunday 2 June: MALTA
Today we take in the fascinating history and topography of this island nation with a half-day guided tour. We will visit sites such as those built by the Knights of St. John like Boschetto Gardens, designated an Important Bird Area; Palazzo Verdala, official residence of the President of Malta built in 1588; and Palazzo Girgenti, or the Inquisitor’s Palace, built in 1625 and now the residence of the Prime Ministers of Malta. We arrive back to Valletta for a free afternoon.
You may wish to join Scott for an optional excursion to the Malta at War Museum, providing an amazing insight into how the Maltese civilians lived through the blitz of Malta in World War II, and Fort Rinella housing the world’s largest cannon—the Armstrong 100-ton gun.
In the evening, we re-group for a celebratory farewell dinner with Scott and Bernie and our fellow travellers at a fabulous local restaurant.
Overnight: AX The Palace Hotel, Sliema, Malta (B, D)
Day 7 • Monday 3 June: DEPARTURES
After breakfast, we say farewell for homeward journeys or travels further afield. (B)
- 6 nights’ accommodation in very comfortable, centrally located 4-5 star hotels
- All excursions and entrance fees to attractions, as listed in the itinerary
- All other personal expenses such as drinks, phone calls, laundry services, camera fees where applicable
- Daily breakfast, 2 lunches, 4 dinners
- Drinks included with welcome and farewell dinners
- Expert local guides
- Airport transfers on arrival and departure
- Excursions listed as optional/extra in the brochure – also referred to as separate activities that can be facilitated by your tour leader
- International flights
- Meals and services not mentioned in itinerary