27 September – 04 October 2019
Sicily – the mythic garden of Persephone – is abundant with colour and luminosity. Mount Etna is part of the island’s life, its gift a rich volcanic soil that yields delicious fruit and vegetables, and excellent wine. We visit gardens in the east of the island, some created by the English in former times, others planted more recently, and add some cultural elements to the programme.
An island of great contrasts, Sicily was invaded over the centuries by Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Normans and Spaniards, all of whom have influenced its culture and character. More recently, Lord Nelson was rewarded with an estate in the foothills of Etna by the Sicilians for his aid in a maritime campaign.
Warm weather after late summer thunderstorms encourages new growth on terraced hillside gardens. The olive trees are heavy with fruit and the orange groves will be ready for the harvest late in the year.
The first few days are spent in Ortigia, our base for three days. We stay at the well-situated Grand Hotel in a beautiful historic area overlooking the harbour; the views from the rooftop restaurant are memorable. We then move north to the hills below Mount Etna, to a beautiful boutique hotel with superb views over the bay and towards the volcano.
The group will be a maximum of 16 participants. We use a comfortable small coach, and travel is limited to just over one hour on certain days.