Sicily's Ancient Landscapes & Timeless Traditions
Calabria: Southern Italy’s Heartland
We have traveled to Italy many times and had seen the upper portion of the peninsula in detail. Our first trip to Europe was to Rome and then all over the middle portion all the way to Bari.
This Overseas Adventure Travel trip to Sicily and then to Calabria and the boot portion gave us a much greater appreciation for the southern portion of Italy. OAT did not disappoint us; this trip provided us with great insights into the people, customs, culture, and history of the area that we have come to expect from our previous 22 trips with OAT.
Maurizio C. was our Tour Director (TD) and he is to be highly commended for keeping the trip lively and interesting. Every day, from the beginning to the end of each, he provided us with his acumen of his knowledge and understanding of the two areas and enriched each day’s learnings with different experiences.
Our group learned very early into the trip that Maurizio has been recognized by OAT for his exemplary work. He is one of two TD at OAT who has won the coveted Tour Director of the Year award twice. As we have traveled with both of these recipients, we see they are both in the top ten of the tour directors we have traveled with in our 78 tours/trips.
Of so many exemplary attributes, Maurizio was the organizer, he supported the local guides, he made sure the responsibilities were carried out; he solved each and every problem as they arose and he more than filled our days with adventure and gelatos.
As an excellent teacher, at the end of each day he reviewed what we had done and seen, went over our next day schedule, gave us options, and was very patient with those who could not walk on difficult terrain. Full and busy days are OAT expectations.
Once we were in our rooms he checked to see if all was OK, he helped with providing tables, more chairs and took care of Internet concerns. On our expeditions Maurizio worked to get members of the group to interact with the native population in local markets, during the Day in the Life experiences, and on local transportation.
Aspects that really showed his professionalism and experience were his personal touches. Before we left the USA he sent us an email with a map of the customs area at the Palermo airport. He greeted us at the hotel and then took us on a get acquainted walk. The morning departure times were always reasonable. He would call ahead to driver to start the bus and turn on the A/C. In difficult situations he had a nice way of asking - "I need to ask your cooperation...".
While we rode in the bus from one area to another he posted a map of Sicily with our route in front of bus so we always knew where we were going. As he spoke about our day's events he circulated a collection of prints to show maps, civilizations, and illustrations to give all of us a visual perspective.
Gastronomically we were offered a variety of Sicilian street food. In Palermo we had a full lunch where we tried panelle, crocchè, sfincione, arancine, and lastly pani ca meusa.
Maurizio was generous with special treats: gelato, pistachio nougat, cheeses, cannoli, marzipan, biscotti, and dozens of other delicacies.
Our local step-on guides were all very well versed in their specific cities and regions. They took their responsibilities seriously and complimented Maurizio. We were provided a large 50-passenger bus in Sicily for our 16 tour members and smaller vehicles during the post trip for our 10 members. Our only concern with every vehicle was the windows that were not cleaned inside and out.
We participated in all of the Optional Tours in the main and post trips. Every member chose to join the great experience to Cefalù and Castelbuono. We found the optional Taormina Tour to be very touristy, a disappointment and certainly not worth the expense.
OAT is now including this visit into the basic trip. In the post trip we were not able to do Positano and Amalfi due to heavy rains and strong winds.
The Post Trip was a special treat for all ten of us who participated. Enjoying the agriturismo of southern Italy we met truly welcoming hosts in Monterosso and the wonderful people of the countryside. We shopped, prepared and then cooked great Italian specialties. The scenic beauty of this mountainous region was visually and photographically worth every mile we traveled.
The new OAT policy of having the tips for drivers and local guides included in the base price of the tour package has been a real plus. What a relief not to have to come up with tips for the many drivers and guides, but to be able to thank them, knowing that OAT was taking care of them and that our fellow travelers were not “shorting” them as we have seen in the past. Well done OAT!
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Just before we were to go on our first journey of 2020, the COVID-19 virus hit and the world shut down for travel and adventure.
We have been working around the house, cleaning and sorting, and we replaced our deck. But the love...