Fly to Sicily and board the wonderfully comfortable Callisto for a nine-day voyage that will take you to some of the most historic and scenically beautiful places in Sicily, Southern Italy and Greece. There is no shortage of cruise ships exploring this area, however what we offer aboard this 34-passenger vessel is unique. With a small group of like-minded passengers, we will embark on a voyage of wine discovery to some truly unique vineyards.
From the lofty and noble architecture of Catania, to the unique white-washed houses of Gallipoli and Santorini and the ancient sites of Delphi, this itinerary offers something for everyone; ancient history, stunning coastline, old streets that still have a Greek air about them, and of course the contrast in flavours of the regions we are visiting. Our lunches ashore will all reflect seasonal ingredients matched with local recipes to give you a real taste of the areas we are visiting.
Gastronomy themed itineraries have been designed around food and drink. You will be joined by a food or drink expert and the tour will include tastings of local produce
Roger Preece - Wine Expert
For this specially arranged ‘wine exploration’ we have enlisted the help of wine expert, Roger Preece. Roger’s interest in wine dates from when, whilst working for Stowells of Chelsea, he helped in broadening the company’s portfolio. This led to extensive travel throughout wine-growing Europe and an ever-increasing love affair with wines. He opened a wine bar in South Kensington which was so successful that the venture grew into an impressive 17 more bars. Roger still has an interest in 2 bars and acts as a wine consultant to several companies. He holds a Diploma from the Wines & Spirits Education Trust. He has helped to design this itinerary to take in the best of the culture, cuisine and visit some of the best vineyards of these regions.
A Note from Roger
“Scents, flavours and feelings - three words that help to describe Italy’s formidable food and wine culture. During our voyage we will taste indigenous food and wines looking at how the phrase ‘Italy keeps all her best wine for herself’ might just be true. All our vineyard visits are to producers who can best show off their region’s place in the remarkable kaleidoscope of Italian wines. To whet your appetite, we will enjoy wines in stunning wild countryside and even on the slopes of Mount Etna. As far as wine is concerned, Greece has become a classic example of how a new generation of French and New World-trained wine growers - with a little help from EU funds - has set about making the phrase ‘world-class Greek wines’ credible. The growers we will be visiting are all at the forefront of the march towards quality. Oxidation and the aromas of resin are largely a thing of the past in a fast-growing industry, busy matching the aspirations of a growing domestic market. The challenge is, of course, export markets and it will be interesting to see how classic, indigenous grapes - many dating back to Ancient Greece - will be accepted across the rest of the wine-drinking world. Our verdicts will be interesting.”
Sicily to Santorini itinerary:
Day 1 - LONDON HEATHROW TO CATANIA, SICILY.
Fly by scheduled flight via Rome. On arrival transfer to Callisto and enjoy a welcome dinner.
Day 2 - TAORMINA & MT. ETNA.
This morning visit Taormina, one of the most beautiful villages in Sicily. Settled on a hill of the Monte Tauro, Taormina dominates two grand, sweeping bays below and the peak of Mount Etna on the southern side, Europe’s highest active volcano which is often capped with snow. The views are simply breathtaking, a dramatic and memorable vista over almost one hundred miles of Mediterranean Sea. We then move ever closer to Etna and visit the vineyards of Benanti, tucked away on the slopes of Etna itself; Benantini own vineyards up to an altitude of 1000m. Lunch will be taken at the vineyard followed by some wine tasting. White wines are made from the indigenous Carricante - only found on the slopes of Etna and the more-famous reds are made from Nerello Mascalese, a varietal which thrives in the unique volcanic soil structure.
Day 3 - GALLIPOLI.
Morning at sea, arriving in Gallipoli at lunchtime on the remote Salentine Peninsula. From here we will take an afternoon excursion to Lecce, famous for its flowery style of Baroque architecture.
Day 4 - GALLIPOLI.
Today sees us in the heartland of the broad shoulders of the deep, rich Negroamaro grape and our visit this morning to Leone de Castris will show what can be done when innovation is paired with the highest of quality standards. Blending it with Cabernet Sauvignon, re-discovering varietals like Aleatico, award-winning whites from Malvasia, some interesting rosés and an outstanding sparkler all showcase this splendid estate. Lunch will be taken at the winery before returning to Gallipoli and sailing in the early afternoon.
Day 5 - KEFALONIA & ITHACA.
Arrive this morning in Kefalonia whose reputation for wine dates back to Homeric times. Kefalonian vineyards are currently dominated by the Robola variety and have three appellation designations, Robola of Kefalonia (100% Robola), Muscat of Kefalonia (100% Moschato Aspro) and Mavrodafni of Kefalonia (100% Mavrodafni). This morning we will take the chance to visit the Gentilini Vineyard for a tasting before returning to the ship for the short sail to Ithaca. This jewel of the Ionian Sea is unspoiled by tourism, yet has a fascinating history. Relics date back to 4000 B.C. and by Mycenaean times it was the capital of a kingdom that included surrounding islands and part of the Peleponnese coast. It was under Odysseus that this kingdom reached its zenith, sending 12 ships to the Trojan War. From the charming port of Vathy we will explore the island including the ruins of Stavros and the medieval capital of Perachori with its Byzantine and Venetian architecture.
Day 6 - ITEA FOR DELPHI & CORINTH CANAL.
This morning we dock at Itea and depart by coach on an optional excursion for the sacred site of Delphi, one of Greece’s most important sites of antiquity. The ruins here are exceptional. We will explore the Sanctuary of Apollo, site of the sacred Delphi oracle, and walk along Delphi’s Sacred Way, visiting the Treasury of the Athenians and the 5,000-seat theatre dating from the fourth century B.C. Later, we will navigate the narrow Corinth Canal on our way to the Aegean Sea.
Day 7 - NAPFLION.
This morning we arrive in the Peloponnese. From our base in the pretty port of Napflion, our full day excursions will start with a visit to Mycenae and discover the powerful walled palace of Agamemnon, the Homeric Achaean king. We will then head to Nemea. The region was first noted for its winemaking by Homer who called it Ampelóessa, "full of vines." Today, the appellation of Nemea is the most important red wine AOC of southern Greece and arguably of all of Greece. In Nemea, the indigenous Greek Agiorgitiko grape is used and produces wines famous for their deep red colour, complex aroma and long, velvety palate. We will enjoy lunch and a tasting at a local winery.
Day 8 - SANTORINI.
Be on deck as we cruise into Santorini in the late morning. In prehistoric times, the people who inhabited what today is known as Santorini, called the island Strongyle ("round"). Around 1650 BC, a volcanic eruption caused the centre of Strongyle to sink, leaving a caldera with high cliffs - one of the world’s most dramatic geological sights. Our afternoon tour starts at Santorini’s highest peak, crowned by the Mt. Profitis Ilias monastery. From here we proceed to the most northern tip of the island to experience the unique village of Oia. This dramatic little village, built on a steep slope of the caldera, has many of its dwellings nestled in niches hewn into the volcanic rock. Explore the narrow cobbled streets, any with tiny shops offering unusual crafts. Our final stop is one of the local wineries on the island. Here you will gain insight into how wines were once produced in Santorini. After the guided tour of the wine cellars and distilleries you will be able to sample some of the most famous wines of Santorini.
Day 9 - SANTORINI TO LONDON HEATHROW.
Disembark this morning and return to London by scheduled flight via Athens.
The MS Callisto has a guest list which is limited to 34, a party large enough to bring together an interesting mix, but small enough to foster a true spirit of community. Beautifully appointed and filled with amenities one would expect to find in a fine country house, the 17 cabins feature large windows (portholes on the Daphne Deck) that look out to sea. Cabins also feature:
• Satellite TV, DVD/CD player
• Marble-appointed bathroom with fine toiletries
• Plush terry robes and slippers
• Decorated with rich fabrics, handsome wood, polished brass, the yacht’s public spaces are warm and inviting. These include:
• Library with Internet access
• Lounge with audiovisual facilities
• Dining room
• Two sun decks
• Swimming platform
MS Callisto’s steward and kitchen staff seek fresh provisions from many ports of call. Guests savour just caught fish and perfectly ripened produce from local markets, resulting in menus of classic regional specialties as well as creative Continental fare. Select regional wines are complimentary with lunch and dinner (wine is not permitted to be served in Libyan waters). Meals are served at a single, unassigned seating in the elegantly-styled dining room, surrounded by large picture windows. Weather permitting, guests may also dine al fresco on the broad sun decks.
An Uncommon Advantage
MS Callisto’s compact size allows visits to unspoiled islets, pristine beaches and intimate coves inaccessible to larger cruise-liners. She is both large enough to offer every possible comfort and small enough to navigate tiny inlets and berth in exclusive harbours, taking travellers where few have gone before.
- Explore local vineyards including those of Benanti on the slopes of Mount Etna
- Discover the beauty of Ithaca and Kefalonia
- Explore the ancient sites of Delphi and Mycenae
- Visit the hilltop villages of Santorini
- Enjoy three lunches ashore at local vineyards