NEW YORK, Aug. 14, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Southern Italy and Sicily feature magnificent architecture and historic sites, world class food and wine, beautiful artisan works and stunning ocean vistas. Vacation, the online travel planning resource, now features an itinerary to this region that includes luxury accommodations and an array of immersive, fascinating and personalized experiences.
"Southern Italy has so much to offer, from stunning coastlines and exquisite culinary experiences to 7,000-year-old caves and Greco-Roman historical sites," said Ninan Chacko, CEO of Travel Leaders Group, which powers Vacation. "Many visitors return to Italy to experience different regions of this magnificent country and southern Italy and Sicily offer an extraordinary diversity of things to see, do and enjoy. Our Italy experts can create a customized journey to get the most from a visit to this area and experience a truly unforgettable vacation."
The recently unveiled collection of featured Italian itineraries, curated by Italian Journeys, include flights from multiple North American cities, stylish luxury hotels and a multitude of private tours and special experiences.
NAPLES – During this 12-day itinerary, travelers begin their journey in Naples, with its historic buildings, 13th century churches, world-renowned opera house and breathtaking bay. Often considered the birthplace of Neapolitan cuisine and pizza, Naples also contains some of the world's most historic and lavish sites, such as the Royal Palace and the renowned 13th century Castel Nuovo. The day in Naples also includes a guided Naples Underground tour, which showcases more than 2,400 years of the city's history.
MATERA – The location for many film settings, including Mel Gibson's controversial "The Passion of the Christ," Matera offers visitors an opportunity to explore the natural caves where people lived 7,000-years-ago. The itinerary even includes an option to sleep in one – the Sextantio Grotte della Civita. Also included is a two-hour guided tour of the remains at Pompeii followed by wine tasting in the foothills of Mount Vesuvius National Park. Matera, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is located in the Basilicata region, one of Italy's least visited areas. Matera was one of two cities named the 2019 European Capital of Culture.
PUGLIA – The journey to and through Puglia offers stops in small towns to enjoy Michelin-starred culinary experiences and end with a catamaran tour on the Adriatic Sea. One of the first stops between Matera and Puglia is Bari, with its seafront fish market, the Basilica of San Nicola and homes where the locals teach travelers how to make a variety of pasta. The journey also includes passing through the white walls and white-painted architecture in Ostuni, tasting olive oil in Masseria Brancati and touring Zona dei Trulli, a town dotted with 1,500 beehive-shaped houses with white tips. Also included on this portion of the itinerary is Lecce, dubbed the "Florence of the South," where travelers are able to enjoy the rich Baroque monuments and see artisans working with paper maché in their private studios.
SICILY – The final stop is Sicily, the Mediterranean's largest island, endowed with mountains, hills and beautiful ocean vistas. There's a trip to the legendary resort hilltop town of Taormina, on the east coast, with its many historical sites, including the ancient Greco-Roman theater. There are also tours of a small museum that houses many of Sicily's ancient artifacts and cannoli tasting with Italian coffee. Other things to do in Sicily include a walking tour of the first Greek settlement and opportunities to learn how to make pasta and sample local wines. The 12-day journey ends with a full-day boat tour of the Aeolian Islands, one of the many little island chains scattered along the coast of Sicily. There, visitors can sample Malvasia wine and view indigenous wildlife. While on the island, guests can enjoy hot springs, natural mud pools and black sand beaches.
Italian Journey itineraries can be highly customized to suit each travelers' individual preferences. Travel advisor Laura Freeman of Tzell Travel Group is an expert on Italy. Freeman enjoys the history of the country and integrates that into her travel planning. Through her research on the history of pizza, for example, she developed a customized "pizza crawl" tour of Naples. "Italy has so much nostalgia and diversity of experiences," said Freeman. "You can walk the same streets that legendary Italians have traversed throughout history and, hours later enjoy a wine-tasting at a beautiful countryside vineyard."
Travelers can contact Laura, other Italy experts and explore new Italy itineraries as well as other destinations at Vacation (www.vacation.com). Travelers also can learn more about savings and discounts by becoming a member of The Travel Collection by Travel Leaders Group, a portfolio of select travel offers that allows travelers to receive discounts on international and domestic flights, value-added benefits at select lodging establishments, shipboard credits on cruises and discounts on escorted and vacation packages. Membership to The Travel Collection is offered at no additional cost to holders of select American Express® cards. For more information visit TheTravelCollection.com.
Vacation inspires, informs and guides travelers throughout their planning process, making every step—from researching a destination to connecting with the ideal travel expert—as rewarding as possible. The content-rich website is powered by Travel Leaders Group, one of the industry's largest travel agency companies. Check out Vacation at www.vacation.com or on social media at #LoveUrVacay.