Sicily: Etna & the Aeolian Islands

Salina - drying the grapes, Aeolian islands, Italy
Drying the grapes in the sun of Salina, just one of the stunning islands we visit

Sicily: Etna & the Aeolian Islands
21 - 28 Sep 2014

Sicily is quite distinct from Italy in terms of culture, history, language, and wines but there is also an island within the island, which is Mount Etna, the highest volcano in Western Europe. It has emerged as one of the most exciting of Italian wine regions. Jancis Robinson recently raised the question “Is Etna the Burgundy of the Mediterranean?”.

The vineyards go up to over 3000 feet and are relatively cool. Etna has its own indigenous grape varieties; Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio that give spicy reds with fine perfume, tannins and colour; and Carricante that gives mineral and fresh whites.

This tour is Fully Booked. Please see: Etna & the Aeolian Islands Wine Tour, 24 - 31 May 2015.

 

£2,650 per person

Sole Occupancy: £400.00
Deposit: £550 per person
Click here to enquire about this tour

Arblaster & Clarke have watched the rejuvenation of the region as new estates appear in this ancient land, often reclaiming vineyards aged 100 years plus and are delighted to offer this special tour that takes in not only the very exciting wine areas on Etna, but also a rare opportunity to stay on the stunning islands of the volcanic Aeolian archipelago. Made up of seven small, inhabited islands, these unspoilt delights off the north east coast of Sicily are home to the Malvasia delle Lipari wines.

An online wine magazine recently asked “The wines of Mount Etna, wine’s next big thing?”. Vines were first planted on Etna by the Ancient Greeks and Etna, Taormina and Messina were major vineyards under the Romans who loved wines from volcanic soils with their strong minerality. Etna is a huge volcano and rises to around 10,000 feet. It is active and snow capped even in summer. There is water all year round and by 2000 feet up, the vineyard sites can be rated as cool climate. The northern slopes are the coolest, but there are also dry, cooling north winds. The southern slopes are warm and sunny; the eastern slopes much more humid. The lower slopes are distinctly warm. You can see a lot of terraces on Etna, many of them abandoned but gradually being recovered.

From our base on the eastern slopes of Mount Etna, we visit Barone di Villagrande, where we taste their Etna DOC wines over dinner. We are welcomed at the family run wine estate, Benanti, whose wines are world class including their elegant white Pietramarina and their Nerello Mascalese from old vines still grown bush style. 

A day out on the Northern slopes of Etna takes us to a tasting at I Custodi di Etna to understand the various terroirs on Etna, which makes it such an exciting region. We enjoy lunch at one of the other trailblazing estates on that side, at Tenute delle Terre Nere,  whose attention to individual vineyard parcels result in very appealing wines.

From Etna we head north to the UNESCO World Heritage Aeolian archipelago, where we enjoy free time on the main island, Lipari. We then continue by hydrofoil to Salina. We stay for three nights at a boutique 5* hotel owned by one of the most dynamic wine estates in Sicily, Tasca D’Almerita. Over dinner we enjoy a tasting of their wines from their mainland Sicilian vineyards including the emblematic Rosso del Conte.

Lipari, Aeolian Islands, Italy Etna wines, Sicily Etna old wine press, Sicily

The following day we remain on the picturesque Salina, for a tasting at Carlo Hauner to try their excellent red as well as their unctuous passito style dessert wine. Lunch at a simple  beach cafe and of course there is opportunity to have a dip in the sea! There will then be  time to explore  the little port village of Santa Marina di Salina.   The island is composed of six volcanoes with two distinct peaks but unlike its more active neightbour the most recent eruption was 13,000 years ago!  The island was also the beautiful setting for the film Il Postino about Pablo Neruda.  Almost 400 different types of plant grow on the island including one of their main crops – capers, which are beloved by foodies the world over. 

The next day we cross the water to Stromboli, one of the other islands, whose form looms from the sea topped by it’s still active ever-smoking volcano. Stromboli shot to world fame in the 1950’s, as the setting for the eponymous film starring Ingrid Bergman and her affair with Roberto Rossellini.  We have often enjoyed  the wonderful view of the sparking crater whilst sailing past it on our small ship luxury wine cruises!

We take a ferry back to mainland Sicily and  enjoy lunch with the owner of wine estate Enza la Fauci, whose Messina wines show elegance and complexity.  We continue to Catania, for our last evening and there is some time to explore this very vibrant and bustling port (and discover a great gelati bar!)  before our return flight to London.

A wonderful tour which combines visiting one of the most exciting wine regions in the world at the moment as well as enjoying the splendid scenery of the Aeolian islands. The personal invitations to the wine estates means that you will see a side to the country not normally encountered by visitors or seen on other tours of Sicily. 

Outline Itinerary
Day 1. Sunday 21 September

British Airways flight London Gatwick – Catania (see Travel Details). Transfer to hotel. Tasting dinner at Barone di Villagrande. Overnight 4* hotel, Giarre.

Day 2. Monday 22 September

Drive up lower slopes of Etna. Tasting and Lunch at Benati wine estate. Free time in Giarre. Free time for dinner. Overnight 4* hotel, Giarre.

Day 3. Tuesday 23 September

Tasting at I Custodi di Etna. Lunch at Tenuta delle Terre Nere. Free time for dinner. Overnight 4* hotel, Giarre.

Day 4. Wednesday 24 September

Hydrofoil from Milazzo to Lipari. Free time In Lipari. Hydrofoil to Salina. Tasca D’Almerita Tasting and dinner at Hotel. Overnight 5* Salina.

Day 5. Thursday 25 September

Tasting at Carlo Hauner. Lunch at local restaurant. Free time on Salina. Free evening. Overnight 5* Salina.

Day 6. Friday 26 September

Boat to Stromboli. Lunch at wine bar on Stromboli. Free time on Stromboli. Boat to Salina. Dinner at Hotel. Overnight 5* Salina.

Day 7. Saturday 27 September

Ferry to Milazzo. Tasting and lunch with Enza La Fauci. Continue to Catania. Free evening. Overnight 4* Catania.

Day 8. Sunday 28 September

Free time in Catania. Transfer to airport for lunchtime flight to London Gatwick.

Price includes:
  • 7 nights in 4* & 5* hotels, with buffet breakfasts.
  • 8 meals with wines (at wine estates wines will be offered at the wine estates discretion, at restaurants half a bottle of wine per person is included. Coffee is included.)

  • Wine visits and tastings as per the itinerary.
  • Return flights London Gatwick – Catania with British Airways, all flight taxes (approximately £85).

  • Air conditioned Coach or local transport on the islands
  • Ferry tickets as per the itinerary.
  • An Arblaster & Clarke Wine Guide
  • A bi-lingual Arblaster & Clarke Tour Manager
  • Wine notes and maps

Please note: If the party size is 17 or under the tour may be accompanied by a Wine Guide who will also Tour Manager.

No flight discount: £180 per person.

Accommodation
4* hotel, Giarre

This family run hotel is situated on the outskirts of Giarre in a converted XVII century Palazzo. The rooms have been decorated in a rustic Sicilian style and are perhaps more three than four star but comfortable. The relaxing surroundings with an attractive pool and gardens make this the ideal place to visit the vineyards on Etna.

5* hotel, Salina

This beautifully located hotel belongs to the Sicilian Wine estate Tasca d’Almerita. The rooms are housed in a collection of whitewashed houses on this beautiful island surrounded by vines.

4* hotel, Catania

This classical turn of the century building has been converted in a very attractive four star hotel situated in the centre of Catania. The Rooms are modern and comfortable. There is a roof top garden bar with views of Etna.

Travel

The included flights are with British Airways. 

Outbound: London Gatwick 09.00 – 13:00 Catania (BA2592). 

Return: Catania 13.45 – 16:00 London Gatwick (BA2593).

If you would prefer to book your own flights, we offer a no flight discount of £180 per person.

Meet the group from the BA flight at Catania airport or at the Hotel in Giarre  and on the last day we will be at the airport for the BA Catania – London flight, so please book your return flight after this time. 

All flight/travel information is correct as of November 2013. This is not automatically updated when timings change so please check at the time of booking.

Early booking recommended: There are limited flights available as above included in the tour price and after the 16th July 2014 the above tour is sold without the travel to the destination, as we have to confirm numbers to the airline. After this date you may make your own arrangements or we can quote on current travel costs which will always be more than that included in the original tour price. Room allocations are also reduced at this time so although there may be space on the tour you may be offered alternative accommodation. So, early booking is strongly recommended for the best price and to ensure availability on the included travel and at the main tour hotels.

Room upgrade

For the first 6 bookings, you will be upgraded to a Superior room at CapoFaro with our compliments.

To upgrade to Superior rooms at the Etna and Catania Hotels and Jnr Suites at CapoFaro, the price would be £2850 per person (with an additional deposit of £300 due at time of booking).

To upgrade to Superior rooms at the Etna and Catania Hotels and Suites at CapoFaro, the price would be £3050 per person (with an additional deposit of £400 due at time of booking).

The above are based on sharing twin / double rooms – if you are a sole traveller and wish to upgrade, please call for details.

Images

Extend your holiday

If you would like to extend your holiday, stay on for two nights in Taormina.

Additional cost per person in twin/double £765 for a sea view room in a 5* beachfront hotel, including return transfers to Catania airport.

Payable in full at time of main booking and are non-refundable in the event of cancellation.

(Or make your own choice of longer holiday, in which case please choose the no-flight discount)

Tour description

Arblaster & Clarke have watched the rejuvenation of the region as new estates appear in this ancient land, often reclaiming vineyards aged 100 years plus and are delighted to offer this special tour that takes in not only the very exciting wine areas on Etna, but also a rare opportunity to stay on the stunning islands of the volcanic Aeolian archipelago. Made up of seven small, inhabited islands, these unspoilt delights off the north east coast of Sicily are home to the Malvasia delle Lipari wines.

An online wine magazine recently asked “The wines of Mount Etna, wine’s next big thing?”. Vines were first planted on Etna by the Ancient Greeks and Etna, Taormina and Messina were major vineyards under the Romans who loved wines from volcanic soils with their strong minerality. Etna is a huge volcano and rises to around 10,000 feet. It is active and snow capped even in summer. There is water all year round and by 2000 feet up, the vineyard sites can be rated as cool climate. The northern slopes are the coolest, but there are also dry, cooling north winds. The southern slopes are warm and sunny; the eastern slopes much more humid. The lower slopes are distinctly warm. You can see a lot of terraces on Etna, many of them abandoned but gradually being recovered.

From our base on the eastern slopes of Mount Etna, we visit Barone di Villagrande, where we taste their Etna DOC wines over dinner. We are welcomed at the family run wine estate, Benanti, whose wines are world class including their elegant white Pietramarina and their Nerello Mascalese from old vines still grown bush style. 

A day out on the Northern slopes of Etna takes us to a tasting at I Custodi di Etna to understand the various terroirs on Etna, which makes it such an exciting region. We enjoy lunch at one of the other trailblazing estates on that side, at Tenute delle Terre Nere,  whose attention to individual vineyard parcels result in very appealing wines.

From Etna we head north to the UNESCO World Heritage Aeolian archipelago, where we enjoy free time on the main island, Lipari. We then continue by hydrofoil to Salina. We stay for three nights at a boutique 5* hotel owned by one of the most dynamic wine estates in Sicily, Tasca D’Almerita. Over dinner we enjoy a tasting of their wines from their mainland Sicilian vineyards including the emblematic Rosso del Conte.

Lipari, Aeolian Islands, Italy Etna wines, Sicily Etna old wine press, Sicily

The following day we remain on the picturesque Salina, for a tasting at Carlo Hauner to try their excellent red as well as their unctuous passito style dessert wine. Lunch at a simple  beach cafe and of course there is opportunity to have a dip in the sea! There will then be  time to explore  the little port village of Santa Marina di Salina.   The island is composed of six volcanoes with two distinct peaks but unlike its more active neightbour the most recent eruption was 13,000 years ago!  The island was also the beautiful setting for the film Il Postino about Pablo Neruda.  Almost 400 different types of plant grow on the island including one of their main crops – capers, which are beloved by foodies the world over. 

The next day we cross the water to Stromboli, one of the other islands, whose form looms from the sea topped by it’s still active ever-smoking volcano. Stromboli shot to world fame in the 1950’s, as the setting for the eponymous film starring Ingrid Bergman and her affair with Roberto Rossellini.  We have often enjoyed  the wonderful view of the sparking crater whilst sailing past it on our small ship luxury wine cruises!

We take a ferry back to mainland Sicily and  enjoy lunch with the owner of wine estate Enza la Fauci, whose Messina wines show elegance and complexity.  We continue to Catania, for our last evening and there is some time to explore this very vibrant and bustling port (and discover a great gelati bar!)  before our return flight to London.

A wonderful tour which combines visiting one of the most exciting wine regions in the world at the moment as well as enjoying the splendid scenery of the Aeolian islands. The personal invitations to the wine estates means that you will see a side to the country not normally encountered by visitors or seen on other tours of Sicily. 

Outline Itinerary & What's included

Outline Itinerary
Day 1. Sunday 21 September

British Airways flight London Gatwick – Catania (see Travel Details). Transfer to hotel. Tasting dinner at Barone di Villagrande. Overnight 4* hotel, Giarre.

Day 2. Monday 22 September

Drive up lower slopes of Etna. Tasting and Lunch at Benati wine estate. Free time in Giarre. Free time for dinner. Overnight 4* hotel, Giarre.

Day 3. Tuesday 23 September

Tasting at I Custodi di Etna. Lunch at Tenuta delle Terre Nere. Free time for dinner. Overnight 4* hotel, Giarre.

Day 4. Wednesday 24 September

Hydrofoil from Milazzo to Lipari. Free time In Lipari. Hydrofoil to Salina. Tasca D’Almerita Tasting and dinner at Hotel. Overnight 5* Salina.

Day 5. Thursday 25 September

Tasting at Carlo Hauner. Lunch at local restaurant. Free time on Salina. Free evening. Overnight 5* Salina.

Day 6. Friday 26 September

Boat to Stromboli. Lunch at wine bar on Stromboli. Free time on Stromboli. Boat to Salina. Dinner at Hotel. Overnight 5* Salina.

Day 7. Saturday 27 September

Ferry to Milazzo. Tasting and lunch with Enza La Fauci. Continue to Catania. Free evening. Overnight 4* Catania.

Day 8. Sunday 28 September

Free time in Catania. Transfer to airport for lunchtime flight to London Gatwick.

Price includes:
  • 7 nights in 4* & 5* hotels, with buffet breakfasts.
  • 8 meals with wines (at wine estates wines will be offered at the wine estates discretion, at restaurants half a bottle of wine per person is included. Coffee is included.)

  • Wine visits and tastings as per the itinerary.
  • Return flights London Gatwick – Catania with British Airways, all flight taxes (approximately £85).

  • Air conditioned Coach or local transport on the islands
  • Ferry tickets as per the itinerary.
  • An Arblaster & Clarke Wine Guide
  • A bi-lingual Arblaster & Clarke Tour Manager
  • Wine notes and maps

Please note: If the party size is 17 or under the tour may be accompanied by a Wine Guide who will also Tour Manager.

No flight discount: £180 per person.

Travel & Accommodation

Accommodation
4* hotel, Giarre

This family run hotel is situated on the outskirts of Giarre in a converted XVII century Palazzo. The rooms have been decorated in a rustic Sicilian style and are perhaps more three than four star but comfortable. The relaxing surroundings with an attractive pool and gardens make this the ideal place to visit the vineyards on Etna.

5* hotel, Salina

This beautifully located hotel belongs to the Sicilian Wine estate Tasca d’Almerita. The rooms are housed in a collection of whitewashed houses on this beautiful island surrounded by vines.

4* hotel, Catania

This classical turn of the century building has been converted in a very attractive four star hotel situated in the centre of Catania. The Rooms are modern and comfortable. There is a roof top garden bar with views of Etna.

Travel

The included flights are with British Airways. 

Outbound: London Gatwick 09.00 – 13:00 Catania (BA2592). 

Return: Catania 13.45 – 16:00 London Gatwick (BA2593).

If you would prefer to book your own flights, we offer a no flight discount of £180 per person.

Meet the group from the BA flight at Catania airport or at the Hotel in Giarre  and on the last day we will be at the airport for the BA Catania – London flight, so please book your return flight after this time. 

All flight/travel information is correct as of November 2013. This is not automatically updated when timings change so please check at the time of booking.

Early booking recommended: There are limited flights available as above included in the tour price and after the 16th July 2014 the above tour is sold without the travel to the destination, as we have to confirm numbers to the airline. After this date you may make your own arrangements or we can quote on current travel costs which will always be more than that included in the original tour price. Room allocations are also reduced at this time so although there may be space on the tour you may be offered alternative accommodation. So, early booking is strongly recommended for the best price and to ensure availability on the included travel and at the main tour hotels.

Room upgrade

For the first 6 bookings, you will be upgraded to a Superior room at CapoFaro with our compliments.

To upgrade to Superior rooms at the Etna and Catania Hotels and Jnr Suites at CapoFaro, the price would be £2850 per person (with an additional deposit of £300 due at time of booking).

To upgrade to Superior rooms at the Etna and Catania Hotels and Suites at CapoFaro, the price would be £3050 per person (with an additional deposit of £400 due at time of booking).

The above are based on sharing twin / double rooms – if you are a sole traveller and wish to upgrade, please call for details.

Image Gallery & Videos

None

Holiday Extensions

Extend your holiday

If you would like to extend your holiday, stay on for two nights in Taormina.

Additional cost per person in twin/double £765 for a sea view room in a 5* beachfront hotel, including return transfers to Catania airport.

Payable in full at time of main booking and are non-refundable in the event of cancellation.

(Or make your own choice of longer holiday, in which case please choose the no-flight discount)

 

Any questions?
Please call us!

We are very happy to talk to you about our wonderful holidays. We love our tours and are sure you will too!

0044 (0)1730 263111

Wine guide

Lys Hall
Lys Hall
More about Lys Hall

Lys is an established lecturer on the wines of Europe and an expert on those of Italy and Spain. She has a degree in Art History and a passion for Mediterranean history, as well as a good all-round knowledge and love of the countries themselves. She has been wine guiding for over a decade.

Feedback on our tours

"One of the most enjoyable holidays we have ever had, organisation was quite simply flawless. Thanks for making sure we had such a good time. We will be recommending A&C to friends and family and hope to join you on another tour in the not too distant future."