A Sicilian Adventure

Duration: 13 days

Highlights: GROUP TOUR. Palermo, Monreale, Cefalu', Segesta, Trapani, Erice, Marsala, Masala del Vallo, Agrigento, Piazza Armerina, Syracuse, Noto, Modica, Chiramonte Gulfi, Catania, Taormina and Mount Etna.

A fascinating exploration of Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean and a less visited destination than the Italian mainland.

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Itinerary

Day 1 - Arrive Palermo

Upon arrival at Palermo airport you will be welcomed to Italy and privately transferred to your hotel overlooking the beautiful bay of Palermo. Meet fellow travellers in the stunning hotel bar for pre-dinner cocktails followed by dinner on the terrace.

Overnight: Rocco Forte Villa Igeia

Meal Plan: B

 

Day 2 - Palermo - Monreale

Enjoy the day in the eclectic city of Palermo - an old city of Arab and Norman monuments, medieval palaces, baroque churches, Art Nouveau-Liberty villas and hotels, lush gardens and lively markets. Visit the city’s historic heart, Quattro Canti, each corner adorned with fountains. See La Martorana, decorated with magnificent mosaics and a beautiful Norman bell tower, and San Cataldo with its red domes. The city’s Duomo (cathedral) was begun in 1185 on the foundations of an earlier Byzantine church that the Arabs had converted into a mosque.

Lunch will be Palermitanan specialties followed by the famous cannoli, tube-shaped shells of fried pastry dough filled with a sweet, creamy filling (usually ricotta cheese or sweetened mascarpone) flavored with vanilla, chocolate, pistachio or Marsala wine.

Travel to Monreale to see the stunning cathedral built by William II around 1174, the last and most majestic of the Norman churches in Sicily and one of the architectural wonders of the Middle Ages. The vast mosaics cover an area larger than St Mark’s Square in Venice.

Overnight: Rocco Forte Villa Igeia

Meal Plan: B,L

 

Day 3 - Cefalu’

Today visit the splendid medieval town of Cefalu’ located on the north western coast of Sicily.

You may wish to explore the narrow streets of the city centre, the old fisherman’s quarter, and the magnificent Cathedral and the Rocca, ancient fortifications upon which the ruins of a 12th century castle stand. On the way back to Palermo stop for wine tasting in one of the wineries in Sicily famous for its Nero d’Avola wines.

Dinner will be in a lively local restaurant (payable locally).

Overnight: Rocco Forte Villa Igeia

Meal Plan: B

 

Day 4 - Palermo – Segesta – Erice – Agrigento

This morning transfer along the stunning western coast of Sicily towards Segesta, set in splendid isolation amid rolling hills and known for its splendid Doric temple and theatre. Lunch will be in the charming medieval town of Erice, located on a bluff high above the sea and noted for its marzipan.

You end the day at your luxurious hotel in Agrigento, situated within the UNESCO World Heritage Valley of the Temples, enjoying a spectacular view of the 5th-century BC Temple of Concordia.

Overnight: Hotel Villa Athena

Meal Plan: B,L,D

 

Day 5 - Agrigento

Located on Sicily’s southern coast, Agrigento was founded in 581 BC by the Greek colonists from Gela who named the town Akragas. One of the great cities remaining from the Magna Graeca, Agrigento has seen many conquerers, from the Romans and Byzantines to the Arabs. What remains today are the magnificent ruins of the Greek colony in the Valley of Temples, and the rocky hill where the medieval town was built.

Overnight: Hotel Villa Athena

Meal Plan: B

 

Day 6 - Agrigento - Piazza Armerina - Syracuse

Today drive to Piazza Armerina, Sicily’s finest Roman site. A luxurious country mansion built in the third and fourth centuries as a summer retreat for a member of the imperial family, the site is known for the incredibly well-preserved mosaic pavements that cover almost the entire floor space (35,000 sq. feet), and depict scenes of mythology, hunting and domestic life in beautiful detail.

Lunch is truly memorable in a traditional masseria before visiting the island of Ortigia, inhabited since Greek times. Afterwards, continue on towards Syracuse.

Overnight: Ortea Palace

Meal Plan: B

 

Day 7 - Syracuse

Syracuse is the city that overcame Athens in the Peloponnesian War and put an end to her imperial dream. Your visit will include the fifth century BC Temple of Athena and an archaeological site which features a Greek theatre, Roman amphitheatre and Latomia del Paradiso. Also visit the cave known as Dionysos’ ear - be sure to test out the acoustics.

The afternoon is yours to relax by the sea or take in the sights and sounds of Syracuse at your leisure.

Overnight: Ortea Palace

Meal Plan: B

 

Day 8 - Syracuse - Noto - Syracuse

Explore the culinary and architectural treasures of south-east Sicily today. Head to Noto, a Baroque town so rich in heritage and beauty that it has earned UNESCO World Heritage listing. Among the dramatic, honey-coloured facades adorning the streets, you meet Corrado Assenza, a master pastry chef famed for his creations throughout the island. Delight in seeing a genius at work, as you witness the unique inventions involving gelato, cream and jam, the ideal way to work up an appetite.

Tonight’s dinner will be typical Sicilian cuisine in one of the best trattorias in Sicily.

Overnight: Ortea Palace

Meal Plan: B,L

 

Day 9 - Syracuse - Ragusa - Modica - Syracuse

Explore south-east Sicily today with a full day tour. The architectural treasures of this region are matched only by the culinary wealth of its gourmet cuisine – from artisanal chocolate makers to several Michelin-starred restaurants; this unique area is a haven for those looking to indulge the senses. Your tour takes in the dramatic, honey-coloured, Baroque facades so typical of this stunning area.

Visit the city of Ragusa for a 2-hour walking tour with your local guide, exploring Ragusa Ibla – the ancient and more tranquil part of the city. Discover why it is often referred to as the most atmospheric town in the region. Continue to the delightful town of Modica, where you experience a chocolate-making demonstration and tasting, before transferring to your hotel. (8 hours, driver and local guides in Ragusa and Modica) 

*Ragusa and Modica involve steep walking. Alternative recommendations can be made for those with walking difficulties

Overnight: Ortea Palace

Meal Plan: B,L

 

Day 10 - Syracuse - Catania - Taormina

Today you will be met in the lobby of the hotel by your tour director and privately transferred to Taormina.

En route, stop in Sicily’s other major city, Catania. Characterised by the unique black buildings made from Mount Etna’s cooled lava, the city is more relaxed than Palermo but the buzzing street market with fish straight out of the sea is not to be missed. Continue on to Taormina, stopping by the coast to enjoy a refreshing granita on the way.

Overnight: Grand Hotel Timeo

Meal Plan: B

 

Day 11 - Taormina and the Godfather Connection

This morning you will enjoy a walking tour of Taormina, including a visit to the impressive Greek Theatre and a walk along the Corso Umberto, the town’s main street.

In the afternoon, join in a reception at the estate just outside Taormina where The Godfather was filmed. Tour the Castello which served as the primary location for outdoor filming of the film, and meet the fascinating baron who lives here as he recounts stories of the filming here. The villa itself is also unique, built from black lava rock it is an interesting Baroque structure including a private chapel and vast wine cellars.

This evening enjoy dinner in an elegant Sicilian restaurant with amazing views from the rooftop terrace.

Overnight: Grand Hotel Timeo

Meal Plan: B,D

 

Day 12 - Mount Etna

Mount Etna, one of the world’s most famous volcanoes, is still live with molten lava continuously flowing downs its slopes. There are two ways to view the volcano. Go off-road by Land Rover into the amazing network of caverns and caves formed over the millennia by the flowing lava. Alternatively head for the skies by cable car and then 4x4 bus across the landscape which is strangely lunar in appearance. Depart the volcano for lunch and tasting of uniquely smooth almond wines.

This evening say goodbye in style with a gala dinner on the terrace of the hotel.

Overnight: Grand Hotel Timeo

Meal Plan: B,L,D

 

Day 13 - Depart Catania

Transfer to Catania airport for your homebound flight.

Meal Plan: B

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