These three delightful islands lie further south in the Mediterranean than Tunis. Experience this journey with Ramblers Walking Holidays. Their central position deep in the Mediterranean has made all three hubs of history as Romans, Normans, Arabs, Spanish and other great powers have all left their mark.
We start in the city of Ragusa, in Sicily’s southeast corner. Along with Scicli and Modica, which we visit, Ragusa’s old town is a maze of cobbled hilly streets leading to beautiful squares, grand public buildings and cathedrals. A local guide will really help us discover this town’s rich history. Anyone who has seen the Inspector Montalbano TV series will already be in love with the area.
During our day in Modica we will indulge our sweet tooth with a visit to the Bonajuto Kitchens, a haven for the chocolate connoisseur. Open since 1880 we will learn firsthand how the raw ingredients turn into the finest chocolate at the oldest factory in Sicily.
Malta and Gozo lie only some fifty miles south of Sicily and we travel across the Mediterranean Sea by ferry to continue this wonderful holiday. The journey itself gives panoramic views of both the Maltese and Sicilian coastlines whilst hopefully catching a glimpse of Camino on our travels.
Our stay on Malta and Gozo means that you will enjoy leisurely walks on both islands, visit a local farm to taste their produce and visit a vineyard to sample their locally made wine. A local guide in Valetta will tell us about this UNESCO World Heritage Site and its relation to the Knights Templar. Afterwards you will have time to explore in Valetta for the rest of the day. The Grand Harbour is now a popular haven for the massive motor yachts of the rich and famous, where the old city shelters today's glitterati.
Fly to Catania. Transfer by road to the Hotel Mediterraneo Palace Ragusa for 5 nights accommodation.
A local guide will take us round Ragusa for half a day then leaving us time to explore the town further as a group.
The Baroque splendor of Scicli a UNESCO World Heritage Site is an undiscovered gem. Over a period of time, the town shifted down the hillside and nowadays the inhabited area fills the wide valley below the church. In the afternoon we will visit Aromi Farm. The visit includes a tour of the herb garden and a countryside snack – bread, aubergines with cappers and mint, pasta with tomatoes and mint, cream of beans with wild fennels, mousse of ricotta cheese, water and wine.
Today we will explore Cava d'lspica an ancient 13km long canyon cutting through the Monti Iblei limestone plateau. Its sites of habitation reveal life and death from prehistoric times as early as the Bronze Age. Sheer pastel coloured rock faces, now extensively weathered, reveal layers of interconnected manmade cavities.
The town of Noto, known as the ‘Pearl of the Baroque’ is a UNESCO Word Heritage Site and was built after the former town of Noto Antica was totally destroyed by the earthquake of January 11th 1693. Noto is often referred to as ’il giardino di pietra’, the garden of stone. The town is considered a masterpiece of Sicilian Baroque architecture and urban planning, and it is listed as one of the 'must-see' tourist attractions in Sicily.
We take the ferry to Malta for 5 nights.
Valletta was founded in March 1566 by Grand Master Jean de la Vallette, of the Knights of St John, only months after the devastating Turkish attack and siege of the island in 1565. The grid-plan of the streets shows that this was a care¬fully planned settlement. As the Knights of St John could rely on vast amounts of money from their estates around Europe, it is plain that no expense was spared. The complexities of the defensive walls are all the more remarkable when you consider that they were raised in only three years. A local guide will help us explore efficiently not only the city itself but its rich history.
The highest place in Malta, the Dingli Cliffs fall a sheer and impressive 250m into the sea. The views of the Mediterranean are spectacular. There will also be an opportunity to visit the Mnajdra and Hagar Qim temples in an atmospheric setting, surrounded by blue sea, grey rock and, in spring, greenery and flowers.
From the Victoria Lines to Mdina. The major British fortification on Malta known as ‘Victoria Lines’ spans a total of 12 km from the east to the west coast, effectively cutting Malta into a northern and southern half. This fortified system consisted of four forts, a number of gun batteries and an unbroken infantry line which connected them together to form a continuous defence system. After we are finished exploring the Victoria Lines we will head to Meridiana Wine Estate for cheese and wine tasting.
Our final day on Malta will be spent in Mdina exploring its history further. Long before Valletta was constructed, the fortified city of Mdina was the main settlement on Malta, and was known as the Citta Notabile ('Noble City'). Its earliest fortifications date back to 1000 BC. Located far inland on one of the highest parts of the island, at almost 200m (650ft), this site was easily defended in times of strife. It became the seat of Malta's government, the Universita.
Depart Malta and travel by road and ferry to Gozo for 4 nights.
Victoria sightseeing day. Victoria (named by the British in 1897) or Rabat, is centrally located on Gozo and is the island capital. Rising above the town is the older Citadel. In years gone by, most of the popula¬tion of Gozo would have retreated here in times of strife. The Citadel area is crammed full of interesting buildings, while its defensive walls offer splen¬did views of almost the whole island.
Marsalforn to Xagrha onto Rambla. This walk goes through a typical Gozitan valley behind Marsalforn Bay where traditional agricultural methods can be seen, the route and leads through the picturesque village of ix-Xaghra where there is an opportunity to visit the temples at Ggantija. The walk continues to Ramla Bay, the island’s best beach and returns to Marsalforn.
On our final day on Gozo we will walk to Victoria the Capital then onto the Temples of Ggantija, the oldest free-standing monuments in the world, dating back to 3,500BC and a UNESCO World Heritage site. We will also visit Ta Mena for a tour of the estate with wine, food & olive oil tasting.
Transfer by road and ferry to Malta airport for check-in and return flight.
See where this holiday travels to.
In Gozo we stay at the four-star Hotel Calypso in Marsalforn Bay on the north of the island with great views over the sea, hills or the bay. Rooms are twin bedded and single with bath, shower and wc. Here you are also able to upgrade to a sea view room. The hotel is located on the sea front and rooms have balconies, fridges, phones, TV and you can hire kettles from reception. There is a ground floor bar, coffee bar, a rooftop bar and sun terrace with loungers and a small pool. Pool towels are available for a €5 deposit. The rooms have safes and keys can be obtained from reception at €7 for 5 days with an additional €7 deposit. Please note that opting for a garden / sea view room in Malta only does not guarantee a sea view room in Gozo. Sea view rooms are also available in Gozo, please ask our reservations team at the time of booking.
We stay in the four star Mediterraneo Palace well located in the centre of Ragusa. This modern hotel has twin bedded and single rooms with shower and wc with Wi-Fi, phone, AC, TV, minibars and safe. The hotel has a relaxed lounge, bar and an elegant restaurant serving the flavours and aromas typical of Sicily.
On Malta we stay in the four-star Antonine Hotel & Spa in ensuite twin bedded and single rooms. There are two room options available one with a village view (these rooms maybe subject to noise from the street) and secondly a view of the gardens or the sea, most rooms have a combination of the both, (please note that the view of the sea is restricted from some rooms) and we are not able to specify a preference to a garden or sea view. Rooms have balconies, minibar, cable TV, air conditioning, hairdryer, safe, a phone and a kettle (tea and coffee items not provided). Mellieha village is perched on one of the many terrace levels carved out of the town’s rocky slopes, and overlooks the sea and Gozo and Comino. A beach is located 1 km away and is easily reached on foot. Other facilities include a bar and terrace, sun beds, an indoor pool and a spa area.