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Discover Sicily: Heart of the Mediterranean 2014

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Trip Extensions

Post-trip: Malta

Due to their strategic position, the Maltese Islands have been occupied, conquered, and defended by a multitude of peoples—producing a proud history that encompasses 7,000 years. You’ll be welcomed by a warm, friendly people and bask in their sun-kissed Mediterranean climate as you share the rich heritage of their country.

It's Included:
Air transportation from Rome to Malta and Malta to Rome
Accommodations for 5 nights in Malta at the Superior First-Class Victoria Hotel or similar and 1 night in Rome, Italy, at Hotel Albani or similar
7 meals: 6 breakfasts and 1 dinner
Included tour: Valletta
Exclusive services of a Grand Circle Hospitality Desk representative
All transfers
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    After saying farewell to your fellow travelers from your Discover Sicily: Heart of the Mediterranean tour, depart Rome today on your flight to Malta. On arrival in Malta, which varies throughout the day depending on your flight, you’ll be met at the airport by a local representative and assisted to your hotel. Then meet your fellow travelers and Hospitality Desk representative over a Welcome Drink at your hotel. Dinner is on your own tonight.

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    In the morning, you’ll enjoy a walking tour of Malta’s capital city, Valletta, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We begin our walking tour from the Upper Barracca Gardens, from where we’ll take in the breathtaking panorama of the Grand Harbor and the Three Cities, the three fortified towns of Vittoriosa, Cospicua, and Senglea located across the harbor. We continue our explorations through the city of Valletta with a visit to the priceless art at St. John’s Cathedral with its elaborately ornate interior, and Caravaggio’s masterpiece, The Beheading of St. John, hanging in the Oratory. You’ll see the Grandmaster’s Palace staterooms, completed in 1574 and decorated with friezes and a collection of unique Gobelin tapestries. Please note: As the Palace is the seat of Malta's government, it may be closed to the public when Parliament is in session.

    You'll end our visit by viewing The Malta Experience, an award-winning audio-visual presentation about the island’s history.

    After lunch on your own, enjoy your afternoon at leisure, with the option to continue exploring Valletta, or journey back to the hotel.

    The evening is free for your own explorations. Your hotel is conveniently located in the heart of Sliema, and many restaurants are within easy reach.

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    Enjoy a day to make your own discoveries. Perhaps you’ll elect to discover the area known as “The Three Cities,” for the three historic fortified towns of Cospicua, Senglea, and Vittoriosa. Explore Vittoriosa, an ancient city that dates back to the time of the Phoenicians, and where the Knights of St. John made their headquarters before Valletta was built.

    Or, join our optional tour: Temples & Marsaxlokk,where you’ll discover Limestone Heritage, once a family-run quarry that in recent years has been brought back to life by a younger generation as a living monument to the limestone arts and crafts of the Maltese Islands. Your visit is conceived as a living experience of past and present quarrymen and of the primary industrial mineral of the archipelago: the honey-colored, calcareous, sedimentary limestone of marine origin. You’ll experience how a family’s intimate relationship with limestone quarrying and building traditions becomes a form of personal expression.

    Next, you’ll visit one of Malta’s best-known prehistoric temples, Hagar Qim, which means “free-standing boulders.” Malta boasts monumental remains of sites older than Stonehenge and the Pyramids, and which have been designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites. You’ll also visit the Tarxien megalithic temples from 3200 BC.

    Then stop at the charming fishing village of Marsaxlokk, home to the largest fishing fleet in Malta, among which there are still many characteristic iuzzu ships decorated with the Eye of Isis, where you'll enjoy lunch in a local restaurant and time to explore.

    The evening is yours to enjoy.

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    Explore as you wish today. Or, join an optional half-day tour to Mdina, known as the "Silent City." You'll stop first in the village of Mosta to visit its grand, domed church before proceeding to Mdina, the former capital of Malta. This medieval city is surrounded by thick, imposing walls, and the limited access allowed to traffic gives Mdina its nickname. Stroll along the peaceful winding streets, admire palaces now serving as private homes, and see Mdina's Baroque cathedral anchoring a large square. Continue to Rabat to admire the mosaic floors and antiquities in its Roman Domus (townhouse) before returning to your hotel. The rest of the afternoon at leisure.

    Dinner is at a local restaurant this evening.

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    Your day is free to do as you please. You may enjoy a return to Valletta to admire the architecture of Francesco Laparelli. Or head to the nearby town of Sliema and its lovely Balluta Bay, with its tiny beach popular with the locals.

    Or, join us on an optional full-day excursion. After breakfast, transfer to the pier for your ferry ride to Gozo, a small fishing and farming island with green, flat-topped cultivated hills, rugged cliffs, and beautiful inlets and beaches.

    On arrival, you’ll tour the island’s main attractions, including the Ggantija Neolithic Temples. This group of two very important temples, set side-by-side on the Xaghra Plateau, date to about 4000 BC, making them older than Egypt’s pyramids. You will also visit the Citadel, called the Gran Castello, in Gozo’s major town of Victoria. Here, you’ll witness its dominating Citadella, a fortification designed to safeguard the local population against the once-constant threat of pirates. The bastions of the Citadel offer an incredible sweeping panorama of Gozo (almost 360 degrees).

    After lunch at a local restaurant which overlooks Comino and Mgarr Harbor, we’ll continue on to Ta’Pinu, a 19th-century basilica that is the center of many pilgrimages, and the legendary Calypso’s Cave.

    Late this afternoon we’ll embark our ferry to return to Malta. Dinner is on your own this evening.

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    After breakfast, the morning is yours. This afternoon, you’ll be assisted to the airport in Malta for your flight to Rome. You’ll be met at the Rome airport by a Hospitality Desk representative, who will assist you to your hotel.

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    • Meals included:

    After breakfast, you’ll be transferred to the airport for your flight home.