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Hiking & Culinary Adventure to Southern Italy’s Volcanoes

Hiking & Culinary Adventure to Southern Italy’s Volcanoes

View photos from the trip.

May 23 - June 3, 2019 (12 days)

Dear Alumni, Parents, and Friends of Dickinson College,

Next spring, travel and hike in Italy with Dickinson volcanologist Ben Edwards and expert local guides. Southern Italy has active and dormant volcanoes, picturesque land- and seascapes, charming coastal cities and towns, fascinating archaeological sites and, of course, renowned cuisine.

Stay in distinctive, four-star hotels, perfect for unwinding after a day’s hiking, exploring, and dining. On this well-paced tour you will spend four nights in Naples, one on a comfortable ferry from Naples to Lipari, three on the island of Panarea, and two in Taormina, Sicily.

An expert trip manager handles all the logistics, so you can relax, enjoy, and learn. On each of the seven hikes, an extra guide will allow us to split into two groups, so that you can choose either a longer or shorter excursion. Plus, an art historian will accompany a few of the cultural excursions.

The highlights are many, and include:

  • A guided walking tour of central Naples, including an amazing chapel, magnificent opera house, and the fascinating Undergrounds of Naples;
  • Pompeii, one of the world’s most extraordinary archaeological sites, destroyed (but also preserved!) by the catastrophic eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in A.D. 79;
  • Hiking the trail of Vesuvius National Park to the crater, with amazing views over the whole Gulf of Naples;
  • A scenic drive along the Amalfi Coast, with a visit of Amalfi town and Villa Rufolo with its magnificent gardens;
  • A breathtaking hike along the “path of the Gods,” on the Sorrento Peninsula, with views of the Tyrrhenian Sea;
  • A ferry ride to the fabled island of Capri to hike along fragrant trails to Roman Emperor Tiberius’ Villa Jovis;
  • A private boat ride to Vulcano, mythological location of Hephaestus, the Greek god of fire, where we hike to the top and observe numerous volcanic phenomena;
  • A ferry ride to Salina to hike amidst a wooded area of ferns overlooking jagged cliffs and the island’s beaches;
  • A private boat ride to Stromboli, the most active volcano in Europe, erupting at intervals of approximately 15 minutes;
  • Two nights in Taormina, Sicily, with its lively streets and shops as well as an ancient Greek theater with spectacular views of Mt. Etna and the Ionian Sea;
  • A hike up Mt. Etna, Europe’s largest active volcano, with panoramic views of Sicily’s eastern coast;
  • Excellent cuisine, including dinner at a private palace and such local specialties as Neapolitan pizza, Lipari’s crushed-ice treat called granite, and wine tastings at vineyards on Mt. Vesuvius and Mt. Etna.

This is an exclusive Dickinson Alumni Global Adventure limited to just 16 participants. Call 800-856-8951 or email today, before this trip is waitlisted. Sincerely,

Liz Glynn Toth ’06

Director of Alumni Relations

Mount Vesuvius National Park encompasses Italy’s most famous volcano, with a trail to hike to the volcano’s crater. Enjoy views of the Gulf of Naples along the way.

Mount Vesuvius National Park encompasses Italy’s most famous volcano, with a trail to hike to the volcano’s crater. Enjoy views of the Gulf of Naples along the way.

Dickinson College Faculty Leader

Ben Edwards

Ben Edwards.

Ben Edwards is a professor of Earth sciences who has taught courses on minerals, rocks, soils, environmental disasters, Arctic climate change, and volcanoes at Dickinson since arriving in Carlisle in 2002. His main research focus is interactions between volcanoes and glaciers, and he has traveled across the globe to study these interactions, including trips to Iceland, Russia, Alaska, British Columbia, Peru, and Chile. Ben has published multiple peer-reviewed scientific articles about volcanoes and volcanic eruptions, and he has previously visited two of Italy’s most famous volcanoes, Vesuvius and Etna. He has written reviews of the history of eruptions at Etna during which interactions between lava flows and its summit snow cover have produced small explosions and possibly even historic floods. Ben has a BA in geology from Carleton College, an MSc. from the University of Wyoming, and a Ph.D. from the University of British Columbia. He coled an earth sciences department trip to Sicily in 2011, and just last year led the 2017 Dickinson Alumni Global Adventure to Iceland to rave reviews.


(B) = Breakfast, (L) = Lunch, (R) = Reception, (D) = Dinner

Thursday, May 23, 2019: Depart home for Naples, Italy

Friday, May 24: Arrive in Naples | Private transfer to hotel | Welcome dinner Upon arrival at Naples International Airport (NAP), you will be met and transferred to our hotel. Take some time to relax before a welcome reception and dinner at a local restaurant. Overnight at the four-star Grand Hotel Santa Lucia for four nights. (R,D)

Saturday, May 25: Naples walking tour | Spaccanapoli | San Carlo Theater | Undergrounds of Naples In the morning, enjoy a guided walking tour of downtown Naples with an art historian guide, including entrance to the striking Sansevero Chapel, featuring the Cristo Velato, one of the most beautiful marble statues of all time. Walk along lively Spaccanapoli, the main street of the old historic center (a UNESCO World Heritage site), and savor a typical Neapolitan “street food” lunch, including such specialties as a cuppetiello (a brown paper cone of mini arancini [fried stuffed rice balls]), frittatine (fried stuffed pasta balls), and sfogliatelle (ricotta-filled pastries). In the afternoon, enjoy a private visit of the San Carlo Theater, the oldest, still-active opera house in the world. Top off your day exploring the fascinating Undergrounds of Naples, dating back to the ancient Greeks, a labyrinth of aqueducts, cisterns, catacombs, bunkers, and more. Dinner is on your own this evening. (B,L)

Sansevero Chapel, located in downtown Naples. © David Sivyer

Sansevero Chapel, located in downtown Naples. © David Sivyer

Sunday, May 26: Pompeii | Mt. Vesuvius winery visit | Vesuvius National Park 3-hour, 3-mile hike (600 feet up & down) OR 4-hour, 5-mile hike (1,120 feet up & down)  Explore Pompeii, a UNESCO World Heritage site and one the world’s most fascinating archaeological sites, both destroyed and preserved by the catastrophic eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in A.D. 79. The eruption buried the city under tons of ash, pumice, and lapilli, but excavations have revealed life in a prosperous ancient Roman city. Proceed to a winery at the base of Mt. Vesuvius for a wine tasting lunch, where each course (antipasto and spaghetti, both featuring heirloom Piennolo tomatoes; and pastiera napoletana [a traditional tart with sweetened ricotta, candied fruit, and boiled wheat berries]) is paired with a specific local wine. In the afternoon, hike the trail of Vesuvius National Park, reaching the crater and enjoying the majesty of the volcano as well as the amazing views over the whole Gulf of Naples. Return to Naples where we enjoy dinner at a local pizzeria this evening. It is said that here, in Naples, an unknown street baker first invented the pizza centuries ago. (B,L,D)  

Mount Vesuvius National Park encompasses Italy’s most famous volcano, with a trail to hike to the volcano’s crater. Enjoy views of the Gulf of Naples along the way.

Mount Vesuvius National Park encompasses Italy’s most famous volcano, with a trail to hike to the volcano’s crater. Enjoy views of the Gulf of Naples along the way.

Monday, May 27: The Amalfi Coast | Villa Rufolo | Agerola | Positano | Naples 3-hour, 3-mile hike (165 feet up & 860 down) OR 4-hour, 5-mile hike (165 feet up & 1,210 down) Take a scenic drive to Ravello, on the Amalfi Coast (a UNESCO World Heritage site), to visit Villa Rufolo with its magnificent gardens overlooking the sea. Then discover Amalfi’s Duomo and take some time to explore the charming town at your own pace. After an independent lunch, depart to Agerola from where we hike the breathtaking “path of the Gods” to Positano, a journey back in time to the glories of ancient Greece. Return to Naples and enjoy a special dinner of local family dishes at a private palace in Posillipo, hosted by the owners. Weather-permitting, we will dine on the terrace, with views of the island of Capri and Mt. Vesuvius. (B,D)

Tuesday, May 28: Capri | Villa Jovis | Naples | Overnight ferry to Lipari 5-hour, 7-mile hike (1,470 feet up & down) OR  5-hour, 9-mile hike (1,470 feet up & down) In the morning take a ferry ride to the fabled island of Capri, the favorite place of Roman Emperor Tiberius. Enjoy a hike on its iconic trails, including a visit to the largest and most opulent of Tiberius’ twelve villas on the island, Villa Jovis, a secluded spot of legendary debauchery. Enjoy a picnic lunch and walk through Mediterranean vegetation, with the scent of holm oak, myrtle, and broom permeating the air, plus amazing views over the Faraglioni (three towering rock formations just off the coast) and the mainland. Return to Naples to embark the overnight Siremar Ferry to Lipari. Dinner is on your own in the ferry cafeteria. Overnight aboard the ferry. (B,L)

On the Amalfi Coast, you have time to explore the city before venturing into the mountains for a hike. © Paolo Costa Baldi

On the Amalfi Coast, you have time to explore the city before venturing into the mountains for a hike. © Paolo Costa Baldi

Wednesday, May 29: Lipari | Archaeological Museum | Vulcano | Panarea 2-hour, 2-mile hike (1,610 feet up & down) OR 2-hour, 3-mile hike (1,650 feet up & down) Breakfast is on your own in the ferry cafeteria. Disembark the ferry at Lipari, the largest of the Aeolian archipelago, comprising seven exquisite islands off the coast of Sicily: Lipari, Panarea, Vulcano, Stromboli, Salina, Alicudi, and Filicudi. They were all created by the still-active volcanoes of Stromboli and Vulcano, and today they are a UNESCO World Heritage (natural) site. Visit the Archaeological Museum, tucked inside Lipari Castle, which stands out on the island’s eastern bay between its best docks, Marina Lunga and Marina Corta. Do not miss the marvelous Greek acropolis and the Norman cathedral. After a lunch of local fish, take a private boat to Vulcano that, according to Greek mythology, was the home of Hephaestus, god of fire, metalwork, and the fine arts. Hike to the top, from where it is possible to observe numerous volcanic phenomena, including smoke clouds, vapor spouts, and sulphuric mud holes known for their therapeutic properties. Continue on to Panarea, the only car-free island of the archipelago. Overnight at the four-star Quartara Resort Hotel for three nights. (L,D)

Thursday, May 30: Panarea | Salina | Hike to Hauner Winery | Panarea 3-hour, 3-mile hike (900 feet up & down) OR  4-hour, 6-mile hike (2,170 up & 3,150 feet down) The morning is at leisure to relax at the hotel pool, explore the village on your own, go to the beach, or independently hike the beautiful island. After an independent lunch, take the ferry to the island of Salina, home to a beautiful wooded area of ferns (la Fossa delle Felci) located on jagged cliffs above the island’s gorgeous beaches. Stop to taste the renowned granita, a local crushed-ice treat with all-natural flavors such as peach, mulberry, almond, and pistachio. Then set out on a hike ending at Hauner Winery, for a tasting of its very special Malvasia delle Lipari wine. Return to Panarea by private boat and enjoy an evening at leisure. (B)

Visit this ancient Greek theater in Taormina with a view of Mt. Etna. © Łukasz Stachowiak

Visit this ancient Greek theater in Taormina with a view of Mt. Etna. © Łukasz Stachowiak

Friday, May 31: Stromboli 4-hour, 5-mile hike (1,310 up & down) OR 6-hour, 9-mile hike (2,950 feet up & down) Take a private boat to nearby Stromboli, the most active volcano in Europe, which has been erupting for at least 2,000 years at intervals of approximately 15 minutes, with lava flow that runs down into the sea. Enjoy a full-day excursion here, including a picnic lunch. On our way back to Panarea, stop at one of the smallest rock formations to see underwater vapor spouts and swim in hot waters, weather permitting. (B,L,D)

Saturday, June 1: Milazzo, Sicily | Taormina walking tour Leaving Panarea behind, we take a boat to Milazzo, considered one of the most beautiful villages of Italy, and then drive to Taormina. After an independent lunch, take a guided walking tour through the upper town, perched on a cliff overlooking the Ionian Sea. Labeled by Goethe “a corner of paradise,” Taormina has drawn visitors since its days as an essential stop on the Grand Tour. Visit the celebrated ancient Greek theater, with its spectacular view of Mt. Etna and the turquoise sea far below. Overnight at the fourstar Hotel Villa Schuler for two nights. (B,D)

Visit a more than 400-year-old winery on the slopes of Mount Etna, Sicily.
© Neil Weightman

Visit a more than 400-year-old winery on the slopes of Mount Etna, Sicily. © Neil Weightman

Sunday, June 2: Mt. Etna | Wine tasting | Farewell dinner 2.5-hour, 3-mile hike (850 up & down) OR  4-hour, 6-mile hike (2,625 feet up & down) Travel to Europe’s largest active volcano, Mt. Etna, a UNESCO World Heritage (natural) site that dominates eastern Sicily. Rifugio Sapienza (at 6,000 feet) is the starting point of our walk today. Cinder cones and extinct craters are features of the desolate landscape of this upper part of Etna. From high on the mountain, there is a wonderful panorama of Sicily’s eastern coast. Depending on the weather and volcanic conditions, take 4x4 Jeeps to 9,500 feet and then continue on foot to 11,000 feet, escorted by an alpine guide. In the afternoon, reach an extraordinary winery on the slopes of this legendary volcano and behold a fascinating lava landscape forged by countless eruptions. Meet the owner, Salvo Foti, who runs this winery in the same way as his ancestors who founded it more than 400 years ago, and taste his fabulous wines before driving back to Taormina. Gather this evening for a farewell dinner. (B,L,D)

Monday, June 3: Private transfer to Catania airport | Fly home Transfer this morning to Catania-Fontanarossa Airport (CTA) for flights homeward. (B)

What to Expect

This is a good introduction to hiking in Italy, along trails on volcanoes and to cultural sites, for people with basic fitness and good health. In addition to Professor Edwards, two guides join us for our seven mountain hikes so you can choose either a shorter or longer hike. Hiking distances, including the elevations in both directions, plus their estimated durations, are provided in the itinerary. The actual itinerary is subject to variables such as the abilities and interests of the group and weather conditions. In late May, average temperatures in Naples, the Aeolian archipelago, and Taormina range from 57 to 75 degrees F. Trekking poles and layered clothing are recommended; complete pre-departure details and packing suggestions will be sent to participants.


Naples to Lipari (1 night): The simple but adequate Siremar Ferry line offers first-class double cabins (single occupancy possible) with bunk beds and private bathrooms. The ferry has a lounge area, self-service cafeteria, and bar.

Naples (4 nights): The 4-star Grand Hotel Santa Lucia is an elegant waterfront hotel on the Gulf of Naples, conveniently located adjacent to the Castel dell’Ovo and just under two miles from the city center. Its quiet, deluxe sea view rooms have marble bathrooms, free wifi, and are about 220 sq. ft. The hotel features a small gym, the Megaris Restaurant, and Il Pavone Bar-Restaurant.

Panarea (3 nights): The 4-star Quartara Resort Hotel is a tranquil boutique hotel located on the Piano Quartara, a plateau above the port. The hotel is centered on a beautiful, multipurpose terrace, and features a restaurant and bar, small library, and Jacuzzi. Its 14 rooms have private terraces, are furnished with handmade teak furniture, and are about 220 sq. ft.

Taormina (2 nights): The 4-star Hotel Villa Schuler is a 31-room boutique hotel in the historic center of Taormina, and is the oldest owner-operated hotel in the city. The Villa has views of the Bay of Naxos and Mt. Etna, plus extensive, shady, terraced gardens. Its rooms feature individually-controlled A/C, free Wi-Fi, and private balconies or terraces.

Tour Prices Per Person (10 nights)

Double Occupancy (12-16 participants): $7,295

Single Supplement (limited availability): $1,395

Single room supplement will be charged when requested or required (limited availability). With fewer than 12 participants, a small group surcharge may be applied.

Prices Include:

  • Leadership of Dickinson volcanologist Benjamin Edwards; expert English-speaking, naturalistic guide/tour manager, additional naturalistic guide for all seven hikes; professional English-speaking art historian/guide (where applicable)
  • Nine nights in lovely 4-star hotels and one overnight aboard a ferry (with private bathroom)
  • Delicious meals: 9 breakfast buffets; 6 lunches, including water or soft drinks, a choice of local beer or house wine, and coffee/ tea; 7 dinners with water or soft drinks, wine, and coffee/tea
  • Many special events including a welcome reception; a dinner at a private palace in Posillipo with the owners; a granita tasting in Salina; a winery visit with tastings in Salina; and a winery visit with tastings on Mount Etna
  • Private  arrival and departure airport transfers • All road transportation in a comfortable, private coach with water available at all times, as well as a 4x4 excursion on Mount Etna (conditions permitting)
  • All ferry tickets (Naples-Capri roundtrip, Naples-Lipari, Lipari-Vulcano-Panarea, Panarea-Salina, Panarea-Milazzo) and private boat transfers (Salina-Panarea and Panarea-Stromboli roundtrip)
  • All gratuities for tour manager, local guides, hotel staff, drivers, and waiters for all included meals
  • Baggage handling at hotels, where available
  • Entrance fees as per program, and all VAT and local taxes
  • Comprehensive pre-departure information, including a suggested reading guide, travel guide, and packing list

Air Arrangements & Transfers

Airfare from/to home is not included. Private transfers are provided upon arrival at the Naples airport (NAP) and to the Catania airport (CTA) for departure. Your flight itinerary must be provided to our office prior to the tour. Once you have received your final payment invoice, you should book your flights. If you are considering booking nonrefundable airline tickets before this time, please contact our office first. We do not accept any liability for cancellation penalties related to domestic or international airline tickets.

Prices do not include:

Airfare from/to home; passport and visa fees; all airport fees and departure taxes; cost of personal, trip cancellation, and baggage insurance; transportation of excess baggage; meals other than those listed in the itinerary; personal tips; items of a personal nature, such as laundry; alcoholic or other beverages except as noted at left; taxi, telephone, and fax charges; optional excursions or deviations from scheduled tour; and other items not listed as included.


A deposit of $1,000 per person is required to reserve your space on the tour and is payable by Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or check made payable to “EOS-Passenger Account-DC ItalyHiking5/19.” Final payment is due 120 days prior to departure and must be by personal check only; credit cards are not accepted for final payment. By submitting your deposit you are bound by the terms and conditions delineated throughout this brochure or elsewhere published.


Rates are based on tariffs and exchange rates in effect at the time of printing and are subject to change prior to departure. Substantial changes in tariffs, exchange rates, the price of fuel, services and labor may increase the cost of arrangements significantly, and we reserve the right to alter our prices. Prices, itinerary, and leader are subject to change. Prices quoted are based on group participation and no refunds will be made for any part of the program in which you choose not to participate. It is understood that refunds cannot be made to passengers who do not complete the tour for whatever reason.

Passenger Cancellation Charges 

All requests by passengers for cancellations must be received in writing. Cancellations received at least 121 days prior to departure are refunded less an administrative fee of $500 per person. Cancellations received between 120 and 91 days prior to departure are subject to a cancellation fee equal to 50% of the total tour cost. Cancellations received 90 days or less before departure are subject to a cancellation fee of 100% of the tour cost. For this and other reasons, participants are strongly encouraged to purchase trip cancellation insurance. An application will be sent with confirmation of receipt of your deposit.

Due to space limitations, this is abbreviated information. Complete terms and conditions can be found on the final pages of this document or will be provided upon request.