Danube Express Sicilian Odyssey Southbound
Danube Express Sicilian Odyssey Southbound
VENICE - CREMONA - VERONA - BOLOGNA - BARI - HERCULANEUM - POMPEII - REGGIO CALABRIA - PALERMO - AGRIGENTO - RAGUSA - SYRACUSE - CALTAGIRONE - CATANIA -TAORMINA
Italy is overflowing with ancient history. The architecture is vast and varied; from the quirky flamboyance of Palermo to the medieval influences of Cremona.
This tour will guide you through the beauty, culture and romance that is Italy.
DAY 1 – VENICE
A truly captivating city of romance. Included in our time in Venice is two nights at the iconic five-star Hotel Danieli. The hotel enjoys a spectacular location overlooking the water-front and is only a short stroll from St Mark’s Square, the Doge's Palace and the Bridge of Sighs. On the first evening there is a welcome reception dinner at the hotel, giving you the opportunity to learn more about the journey.
DAY 2 – VENICE
Guests have the opportunity to take a walking tour around the highlights of this romantic city. Alternatively, you can spend the day exploring this magnificent city at your leisure, maybe taking an iconic gondola ride in the basin of St. Mark’s, visit St Mark’s Basilica or stroll through the Rialto Market. This evening enjoy a private pianist concert at the Palazzetto Bru Zane.
DAY 3 – CREMONA & VERONA
This morning we transfer from the hotel, by boat, directly to Santa Lucia station on the Grand Canal where our train the Golden Eagle Danube Express will be waiting to depart on the Sicilian Odyssey Southbound . We cross the 3-mile causeway over the Venice Lagoon and along the Po River to Cremona. This charmingly quaint and understated city carries itself with impressive architecture and is almost completely off the major tourism radar.
After browsing the impressive 13th century piazza we’ll take a private tour of the fabled Stradivari Museum to allow us to explore the city’s intertwined relationship with violins and other stringed instruments. A gourmet lunch will then be served on-board the train as we continue onto Verona. Famous for being the setting of Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’, we will enjoy a concise yet informative walking tour of the city’s famous sites. This evening, dinner will be served just out of the city at the stunning setting of Sirmione on Lake Garda.
DAY 4 – BOLOGNA, RIMINI & SAN MARINO
After breakfast on board, we arrive in the food capital of Italy, Bologna. Beautiful from nearly all angles, a morning tour highlighting the character and history of this renowned culinary destination will allow us to admire the city’s many famous arches and its historic university. Following a toast at the top of the Torre di Prendiparte, we travel onwards to Rimini. With Freedom of
Choice touring options available this afternoon you could visit the Ferrari factory in nearby Maranello to take a drive around the test-track.
Alternatively, explore the enclaved microstate of San Marino and tour the designated UNESCO World Heritage centre along with Mount Titano. Dinner will be served here and will feature the country’s famous Torta Tre Monti or ‘Cake of the Three Towers’.
DAY 5 – BARI
This morning, enjoy stunning coastal views as we travel along the eastern Italian seaboard to our next stop in the Apulia region, Bari. A guided tour of Bari’s Florentine style old-town and its domineering fortress and castle that has stood guarding the port since the 12th century gives one a good introduction to this town. There is a chance to visit a local olive oil mill complete with a tasting just a few minutes from the station. Tonight as we dine we travel across west through central Italy via the Matese hills.
DAY 6 – HERCULANEUM & POMPEII
The crumbling ruins of Herculaneum and Pompeii await our exploration. These two towns, which were destroyed by lava flow in the momentous eruption of 79AD, have been painstakingly conserved over centuries. Take a behind the scenes tour to see how preservation work is a continuous race against time to protect the original splendour. Following this memorable visit of these Roman ghost-towns, we stop at the Michelin-starred restaurant, President, which is at the foot of Mount Vesuvius. Here we sample local wine and taste some delicious, slowly ripening Piennolo tomatoes.
This afternoon the scenic railway journey continues as we leave the region of Campania to travel all the way to the southern tip of the Italian mainland at Reggio di Calabria. On this stretch of rail, we will mostly be travelling through the remarkable Parco Nazionale del Cilento, Vallo di Diano e Alburni, filled with mountains, forests, rivers and creeks.
DAY 7 – PALERMO
Now we enter Sicily. Enjoy a delicious locally-sourced breakfast on board as the Golden Eagle Danube Express begins its movement onto one of the very few ‘rail ferries’ in the world across to Sicily. Our first stop after the crossing is the flamboyant and feisty capitol of Sicily, Palermo, allowing us a gentle walking tour of the city’s bustling old-town with the mixture of architectural styles. The tour ends with an aperitif and small concert at the stunning Teatro Massimo, the biggest theatre in Italy and the third largest in Europe.
This afternoon you have the choice to continue browsing the capital or take a transfer to Corleone to learn about the notorious Mafia families made famous by Martin Scorsese’s motion picture, The Godfather.
DAY 8 – AGRIEGENTO & RAGUSA
Wake up in Agrigento, home to Italy’s most impressive Greek ruins. We visit the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Valle Dei Templi and have a private tour around the remains of the ancient city.
This afternoon we continue onto Ragusa. This quaint small town has plenty of character with its many grey stone houses and churches littering the hillside, making for wonderful picture post-card scenery. A cooking demonstration at a nearby hotel introduces us to local delicacies before a brief walking tour of the historical old town. Tonight the train will continue on to Syracuse.
DAY 9 – SYRACUSE & CALTAGIRONE
The former Byzantine empire was founded and raised in Syracuse. Escaping the hustle and bustle of the city, we take in the view from the water with a tour around the Island of Ortigia before heading back to the train for a lunch.
We then continue to the attractive hilltop town of Caltagirone. Renowned for producing beautiful pottery since the 10th century, we visit a local ceramic workshop before visiting the Villa Romana del Casale, one of the best preserved Roman Villas in the world. This evening, we enjoy a special dinner deep in the countryside at the Michelin-starred restaurant, Al Fogher.
DAY 10 – CATANIA & TAORMINA
Following a leisurely breakfast on board as we pass through the Sicilian landscapes, you will have the option of free time to explore the various characterful squares and churches of Catania, before taking a hands-on Sicilian pastry cooking class at Società Storica Catanese or Palazzo Biscari, where the class will be supervised by the owner of the Palace.
Later this afternoon, the train will continue onto our final stop of Taormina with two nights at the Hotel San Domenico Palace.
DAY 11 – TAORMINA
With views overlooking the gulf of Naxos and Mount Etna, the city of Taormina makes for a truly memorable setting for the end of our voyage. A privately guided tour of the Mount Etna museum with a local volcanologist will start our day before taking time on the slopes of the geological wonder itself at a Sicilian Palmento. Here sample local wines and take lunch amongst the vineyard. This afternoon we will have time to relax amongst the gorgeous medieval churches and the stunning Greek theatre. Tonight there is the farewell dinner at the Hotel San Domenico Palace.
DAY 12 – TAORMINA
After breakfast there are transfers to the airport for onward departures.
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