This holiday is definitely one for those who are passionate about art – it oozes wonderful paintings, frescos, sculptures and architecture. Montecatini is a busy but delightful town and the Hotel Arnolfo provided a friendly atmosphere – a family run concern, where all the staff worked unbelievably hard, attending to our every need, and always had time for a smile.
In Search of Wild Orchids
The Gargano Peninsular has its own unique mix of plants and is especially famous for the possibility of seeing different wild orchids in April and May.This was a new tour for me so everything was going to be as exciting and interesting for me as I hoped it would be for the group.
The Charm of Central Italy
I had a great time on this trip. Lots of wonderful scenery with interesting villages to wander through on our way to and from nice mountain lakes, and many impressive viewpoints. The walks were all well graded and we enjoyed walking through the shade of nice forested areas before reaching summits that jutted out above the high tree-line.
Walking In Italy Around Lake Iseo
Nicky Davis had a wonderful experience with Ramblers Worldwide Holidays last October, when she participated in our popular walking tour around Lake Iseo, in Italy. The wide variety of walks available on this two-week tour, ranging from lakeside rambles to mountain hikes, captured this walker’s imagination enough for her to want to detail her adventures in a detailed post on her blog.
Beauty off the beaten track in the Garfagnana Valley
Enthusiastic walker Gerry Carson has just returned from one of our new holiday destinations, the Garfagnana Valley in central Italy. Gerry reports that he had a great time in this less-visited area, and his photos certainly showcase the beauty of this ideal mountain walking location.
Cinque Terre – Sights, Scents and Sea
The Cinque Terre is a string of centuries-old seaside villages on the rugged Italian Riviera coastline. Colourful houses and ancient vineyards cling to steep terraces set amid some of the most dramatic coastal scenery in Europe. Al and Jane Sarjeant have just returned from leading a group there, and were once again captivated by its beauty.
Although it is difficult to summarise the holiday in a few short words, it was without a doubt amongst the best trips I have made. There is an extraordinary ‘permanent impermanence’ about Sicily, characterised in part by its volcanic nature, and the general feeling of being in a time warp.
“Wow” Moments in Sicily
Bob regales us with “wow” moments from his one of a kind Sicilian walking holiday. A combination of luck and beauty left this group with long lasting memories. – Laura, Community Coordinator
Our private group, the Georgia (USA) Overseas Hiking Club, chose Ancient Wonders of Sicily because of the many spectacular sights that we would see. We saw so many spectacular things, but what also makes a holiday truly memorable is the unexpected bonuses that in the words of our leader, Peter Watts, are simply “wow”. We had two super “wows” on this holiday.
The first occurred in Syracuse after a dinner at the appropriately name restaurant, La Rambla. Peter invited group members to accompany him on a bonus walk to explore Ortygia Island illuminated at night. While walking we spotted a crowd along the street and heard the music of a band coming toward us. We quickly squeezed in to see what the commotion was about, only to discover a small army of men bearing an enormous silver statue of a saintly woman on a pedestal. The mystery was solved when the men began to chant, “Santa Lucia! Santa Lucia!”.
A little research revealed that Santa Lucia was born in Syracuse and martyred during the persecutions under the Roman Emperor, Diocletian. The statue itself is 90 kilos of solid silver resting on an enormous base of silver and transported on the shoulders of 60(!) very able-bodied men. No wonder the procession took periodic rest breaks. It is paraded only twice a year, and we were there!
A helpful local told us the procession would end at the Duomo (Cathedral) and kindly showed us a shortcut so we could again see the procession as it arrived. We secured a prime location on the Duomo steps and again had a marvelous sighting of the sacred pageantry. The finale was a magnificent display of fireworks that lit the sky with color and deafened the ears. Definitely, wow!
Our stay in Palermo included a visit by public bus to the remarkable Cathedral in nearby Monreale, noted for its gold and colored glass mosaics which are said to surpass even those of St Mark’s in Venice. We were early arrivals for the return bus to Palermo where our group of 21 had the opportunity to mingle with a group of 8 young adults from Macedonia who were taking a break from a conference on organized crime. Many conversations between we Americans and our new Macedonia friends ensued. As the bus departed for Palermo our new friends entertained us with one of their national songs. Upon completion, much to our amazement, the Macedonians broke out with “The Star Spangled Banner”. Naturally, we joined in the singing of our national anthem as we serenaded all of the other bus passengers. This was a very unexpected and moving moment for us. Another wow!
Karen, our leader in Sicily, surveyed the debris of our 4 course meal on our last night and said wistfully, ‘ I remember when the Ramblers bought a bottle of wine on the first night and it lasted all week’. In front of her was the evidence of modern Ramblers; glasses and bottles bore evidence of aperitifs, wine, beer and after dinner liqueurs.
The Trentino Highlands – WW1’s Forgotten Front Line
The soaring landscapes of the Alps and the Dolomites dominate a part of Italy that often doesn’t seem very Italian at all. Most of the region known as the Südtirol belonged to Austria until it was handed over to Italy at the end of WW1, and many of its inhabitants and much of its way of life reflects that northern heritage.
Vertigo in Iseo?
The forecast for the week was not good – an increasing probability of rain until Wednesday, when over 40mm was expected. However, if it hadn’t rained, we wouldn’t have experienced the amazing sight of the vertical, jagged-topped mountains poking through the thick layer of cloud, completely hiding Lake Iseo below.
Researching Lake Como for Adagio 2015 – A Tough Job!
When you’re leading a group, you are always concentrating fully on them, totally absorbed on making their holiday the best possible, looking out for their safety while making sure that none of the sights or experiences are missed. It’s pretty full on, and hugely enjoyable.
The Gargano Peninsula is a lovely coastal part of Puglia and thankfully doesn’t appear to be well known to many tourists yet – which is nice for a walking group. We were a group of 15, none of whom knew each other prior to the holiday and we gelled pretty quickly – although there were two of the group who never joined us on any walks.
Hiking through Francavilla
As the week went on, the walks became slightly harder but the views were getting better. We visited places such as Taormina and, on our day off, a couple of us chose to go to Syracuse, a place bursting with rich history: with amphitheatres, catacombs and castles, there is too much to do and see in one day but it is definitely worth a visit.