Answers to some frequently asked questions:
Q. Do I need to speak Italian to come on this trip?
A. No, absolutely not. But if you do/are studying the language, here’s your chance to practice. Plus, your tour director, Jodina, will provide mini language tutorials as requested/desired by members of the group. Wish to study the language before going on the trip to enhance your experience? See current class offerings here. Contact Jodina for more info.
Q. What are the requirements of this trip?
A. The only requirements are… an appreciation for Italian food and culture; a willingness to go with the flow, savor the moment, and enjoy being in Italy on an Italian timetable; and the desire to share this enjoyable experience with fellow Italy aficionados.
Q. How soon should I sign up?
A. While the deadline for the deposit ($1000) is Jan 15, 2015, much interest has been expressed in this trip. We do not recommend waiting too long to register… we’d hate to see you miss out on this wonderful opportunity! Also, the sooner travelers sign up, the sooner we can confirm our presence and numbers with our gracious service providers in Sicily… and that makes them happy, too!
Q. How physically demanding is this trip?
A. While this is not a physically taxing trip, the nature of this trip and of Italy in general is such that the guided tours of historical town centers, nature oases and other sights visited will be conducted on foot. The terrain around towns and on nature trails is ancient and as such could contain rough and uneven surfaces and can include hills, inclines and slopes. Though the tour will feature a leisurely pace, the ability to stand and walk for reasonably extended periods of time is recommended to get the most out of this trip.
Q. What’s the weather like that time of year (mid-April)?
A. Averages: high/low temperatures: 64º F/55º F, water temp 59º F, rainfall: 1.73 in., hours of daylight: 13, hours of sunshine: 7.
Q. Will the wildflowers be in bloom then?
A. The wild flowers begin to truly explode all over Sicily in April, and on the coast the first bathers start taking to the beaches (though the water is still bracing). There is still snow on Mt. Etna, the interior is now warming up fast, wheat fields are at their greenest, and the array of colors is spectacular. This is Easter season (celebrated this year in Italy Apr 3-6). Time for fritedda, made with artichokes, fresh fava beans and other green products (like fennel) of the first of Sicily’s two harvests.
Q. Any special things I should bring?
A. Comfortable walking shoes, a warm jacket for evenings and chill mornings, layers you can take off/put on as the day warms up/cools down. Scarves (beautiful ones are usually available for purchase on location), cardigans, and lightweight fleece jackets or vests are great for this purpose.
Q. I’d like to attend a few classes/enroll in an immersion class at a language school in Sicily before/after the trip. Any chance I could do that?
A. Why yes, you could! We are currently in discussion with schools in Sicily to offer language lessons to tour participants at a discounted rate. We’ll let you know about that soon.
Q. Any advice on money, credit cards, etc?
A. Yes, most definitely. After signing up for the trip, you’ll be receiving a free info packet that will include a guide with Jodina’s best travel advice and suggestions regarding money, credit cards, staying in touch while you travel, what to pack, what to expect, and more.
Q. What about trip insurance?
A. It is strongly recommended. Free trip insurance quote comparisons can be found here. Some travelers swear by Travel Guard. Some like to start with trip insurance that covers the amount of their deposit and raise the amount insured in increments as they purchase air tickets, pay balance of trip cost, etc. Some credit card companies also include trip insurance as a cardholder benefit for items purchased with the card.
Q. Any advice on booking air travel?
A. You may book your air travel any way you wish. It is not included in the tour so that travelers may use their miles or points, fly with their airline of choice, arrive ahead of the tour start date or remain in Italy after the tour conclusion, and/or arrive to/depart from a city prior to or after Catania. Note: Due to the time-zone difference, flights out of the US arrive to Italy the following day.
Flights to Catania will include a layover in either Milan, Rome, Frankfort, Paris or London. Because this tour is in spring (when the weather is better than in March), the cost of flights will reflect that it is not the low season, and therefore we recommend booking flights soon.
To book on your own, there are numerous internet sites specialized in air travel. Some of the most popular are TripAdvisor.com, Expedia.com, KAYAK.com and Orbitz.com.
Should you wish to consult with an independent travel agent who can help you arrange your travel (air, train, etc), we can recommend Liliana Roman-Hamilton, who specializes in Italy (booking fee: $50/air ticket, ). Contact Jodina and she will be happy to put you in touch with Liliana.