One of Troy’s greatest passions is traveling and seeing the world. Beginning in spring of 2013, Troy will be offering others the opportunity to join in him in some of his favorite gardens across the U.S., in Europe and beyond.

Ancient Sicily and the Amalfi Coast

with Garden Travelers and Troy Marden

April 15-28, 2015

(with an optional Extension to Amsterdam, April 28-30)

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April 15 Depart the U.S. for Palermo, Sicily
April 16 Arrival in Palermo, Sicily Dinner at our hotel in Erice
April 17 Today we will visit the ancient Greek temple at Segesta, which can make a valid claim to being the best preserved in the world. This archeological site, about seventy kilometers southwest of Palermo and reflecting the presence of several ancient civilizations, will certainly amaze you. Its amphitheater boasts a hilltop position on Mount Barbaro that is second to none. We will return to Erice in time for you to enjoy free time in this wonderful town.
April 18 Our second day of sightseeing finds us at The Cathedral of Montreal, one of the greatest extant examples of Norman architecture in the world. It was begun in 1174 by William II and in 1182 the church, dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, was elevated to the rank of a metropolitan cathedral. The church is a national monument of Italy and one of the most important attractions of Sicily. We will continue to the Villa Romana del Casale, a Roman villa built in the first quarter of the 4th century and located about 3 km outside the town of Piazza Armerina, Sicily. Containing the richest, largest and most complex collection of Roman mosaics in the world, it is one of 49 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Italy. We will spend the night in Taormina.
April 19 This morning we will visit the private garden of Rossella Pezzino, Giardini Le Stanze in Fiore. Rosella began the villa restoration in 1996 and the garden followed shortly thereafter in 2000. After visiting this garden masterpiece, we will be treated to a wonderful garden lunch. This afternoon we are in for another treat as we visit Villa Cuseni. Often considered to be the finest house in Taormina, Villa Cuseni has enviable views of both the sea and Mount Etna. The terraced gardens were carefully designed to hold the rainfall from winter until needed during long, hot summer months. The gardens each display a stunning, eye-catching feature, as well as being adorned with some of the original citrus, other fruit trees, roses, vines and wisteria. As a relatively modern 20th century garden, you will see bold Rococo and Art Deco design. Dinner on your own tonight in Taormina.
April 20 We will begin our day with a trip to the Benanti Winery where we will not only enjoy a tour of the winery, but also lunch and a wine tasting. This winery, one of the most important in Sicily, has won several awards over the last twenty years and is located directly on the slopes of Mount Etna. After lunch, we will return to Taormina where you will have an opportunity to visit this charming town at your leisure.
April 21 Today we will visit the Garden of Biviere and Villa Borghese. The garden’s owner, Maria Carla Borghese, will be our guide. We will have a wonderful lunch after our guided tour and we promise that this will be one of the highlights of the trip! After lunch, we continue to the garden of the Grand Marquess of San Giuliano at Villasmundo, near Siracusa. The property has been in the Marchesi Paternò Castello di San Giuliano family for more than 800 years. After our visit we will check into our hotel in Siracusa.
April 22 Today we will see ruins! An early visit to The Archeological Park of Siracusa will start our day. Until the Arab conquest of 878, Siracusa was the capital of Sicily and was by far the most important city on the island. We will visit the Ear of Dyonisus, the Greek Theatre, and the Ara (altar) di Ierone. Afterwards, we will walk through the historical centre of Ortigia to admire the Cathedral, constructed over the ancient Temple of Athena, the Aretusa fountain and the ancient and baroque streets. Lunch will be at your leisure in Ortigia. We will then depart for Catania where we will spend the night.
April 23 This morning, we will depart Sicily for our short flight to Naples. Once we have landed and collected our luggage, we will meet our private coach for a visit to Pompeii. As you know, Pompeii is one of the world’s most famous archaeological sites, having been buried in the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 A.D. when it was a thriving city of 11,000 people, complete with a complex water system, an amphitheater, a gymnasium and a port. When we finish at Pompeii, we depart for the Amalfi Coast. Tonight will find us staying in Ravello, one of the most beautiful and picturesque towns in all of Italy. You will not be disappointed in Ravello!
April 24 We have been on the go since we landed in Sicily more than a week ago, so we hope you find this day a real gift—a day of leisure to explore Ravello! Ravello is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The town’s Duomo (Cathedral), the villas Rufolo and Cimbrone and their gardens, the church of San Giovanni del Toro, and more await you in this most beautiful place. Or maybe you’ll make your way down to the water for a relaxing and leisurely afternoon.
April 25 Today we will travel to the Island of Ischia where we will visit the private home and garden of the late Lady Susana Walton. This is a truly magical place and you will be awed by its beauty. We will tour the garden and be treated to a garden lunch, followed by some free time in Ischia before returning on the ferry to Ravello for the evening.
April 26 This morning, we will depart Ravello and make our way north to Rome via the Palace of Caserta, known as the Versailles of the south. This extraordinary palace and garden is difficult to describe. Its sheer size and beauty will take your breath away. You really have to see it to believe it! We will also make another special stop before arriving in Rome.
April 27 Today, we will spend the day in Rome. You will have the opportunity to see some of Rome’s most famous sites, including the Roman Forum, the Colosseum, the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain and more.
April 28 Depart Rome for the U.S. or take the optional extension to Amsterdam, listed below.
Optional Extension: Due to the timing of this trip, we have a unique opportunity to add an optional, 3-day extension to Amsterdam to visit the world famous bulb display at Keukenhof, Het Loo palace and leisure time to explore Amsterdam. The cost of this extension is $450 per person, which will include a 3-night hotel stay (April 28, 29 and 30), ground transportation for group visits, cost of admission to the sites we visit as a group and breakfast each morning. ***PLEASE NOTE*** If you choose to join us on this optional extension, you will be booking a “multi-city” international flight. You will be flying from the U.S. to Palermo, Sicily and then from Rome, Italy to Amsterdam, returning to the U.S. from Amsterdam at the end of the extension. This is not difficult to book and we will be happy to answer any questions you may have. If you choose to join us on this extension, you will be returning to the U.S. on May 1, 2015 (staying in Amsterdam the nights of April 28, 29, 30 and flying out the morning of May 1 to land in the U.S. that afternoon/evening).
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