Southern Italy with Perillo Tours

My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed a tour of Sicily and southern ITALY with Perillo Tours (577 Chestnut Ridge Rd., Woodcliff Lake, NJ 07677; phone 800/431-1515).

Our 14-day tour, Feb. 26-March 11, ’03, began in Palermo and ended in Rome. The total cost for two, including airfare from Seattle, was $5,685. This did not include travel insurance or three optional tours which I would highly recommend ($40-$80 each).

The Amalfi Coast — southern Italy. Photo: Myhre

Our group of 32 traveled in a comfortable, air-conditioned bus that could have seated 50. The weather was spring-like — a bonus. Dante, our guide, was a native of Rome who had spent several years in England. His fluent English was sprinkled with humor.

Our hotel accommodations were outstanding. We stayed two or three nights at each stop, which made for a relaxed, unhurried trip. Dining was at our hotel or in a well-chosen restaurant. The evening meal was an event, two or three hours.

Among trip highlights was the city tour of Palermo. Also on Sicily we visited the “Lost City” of Selinunte, where our guide was a brilliant young woman from Russia. We viewed hundred-ton blocks of stone which gave evidence of temples and a once-flourishing city that had been destroyed by Hannibal in 490 B.C.

In the center of Sicily we toured Piazza Armerina, the partially restored summer home of a Roman emperor. The magnificent, restored mosaics covering the floors and some walls of the rooms depict the beliefs and lives of the inhabitants in the third century. Of particular interest was the dining hall with a floor showing hunters bringing back wild animals from Africa for the arena games.

We, like many Europeans, fell in love with Taormina, built on a rocky promontory high above the Mediterranean with Mt. Etna in the distance. We were fortunate to be there during Carnival, which gave us the opportunity to mingle with local people and enjoy the costumes, floats and music.

Leaving blossoming Sicily with its orchards of ripe lemons and oranges, our group took a steamer across the Straits of Messina, then drove across the Apennines to Sorrento. We enjoyed a full day on the Isle of Capri, then went up the Amalfi Coast to Pompeii and Naples, ending with three nights in Rome.

Our trip with Perillo Tours met and exceeded our expectations. We have enjoyed cruises and bed-and-breakfast tours in the past, but for the occasional bus tour, this one is magnificent!

Gig Harbor, WA