13 Days Palermo to Catania.
Highlights Include: 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.
A Sicilian Adventure
DAY 1 ARRIVE PALERMO, SICILY: 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.
Hotel Name: Grand Hotel Villa Igeia.
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.
Hotel Name: Grand Hotel Villa Igeia. (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 center, 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’Avolo wines. Dinner will be in a lively local restaurant.
Hotel Name: Grand Hotel Villa Igeia. (B/L/D)
DAY 4 SEGESTA – TRAPANI – ERICE – MARSALA – MASALA DEL VALLO: Head along the stunning western coast of Sicily towards Segesta, set in splendid isolation amid rolling hills and known for its splendid Doric temple and theater. Continue to the rosy-red saltpans of Trapani to visit the 17th century saltworks. Lunch will be in the charming medieval town of Erice, located on a bluff high above the sea and noted for its marzipan. End the day with a well deserved visit to a winery in Marsala to learn more about why and how these world-famous fortified wines are produced. The evening is spent at a luxurious hotel with Sicily’s largest and most modern spa.
Hotel Name: Kempinski Giardino di Costanza. (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 conquerors, 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. Our historic hotel looks out over the valley and is just a short walk from the private beach.
Hotel Name: Baglio della Luna. (B)
DAY 6 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 Caltagirone, famous since Arab times for its brilliantly colored ceramics. Spend the evening on the island of Ortigia, inhabited since Greek times, and eat dinner al fresco.
Hotel Name: Hotel Des Etrangers. (B/L/D)
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 theater, Roman amphitheater 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.
Hotel Name: Hotel Des Etrangers, (B)
DAY 8 NOTO: This morning head to a truly impressive private palazzo for a hands-on cooking class to learn Syracusan specialties in the kitchens of a local baron. At lunch reap the rewards of your efforts. In the afternoon, travel to nearby Noto, the most charming of all the 18th century baroque cities in Sicily, and to the River Ciano with its thick clumps of papyrus.
Tonight’s dinner will be typical Sicilian cuisine in one of the best trattorias in Sicily.
Hotel Name: Hotel Des Etrangers. (B/L/D)
DAY 9 SYRACUSE – MODICA – CHIRAMONTE GULFI: Today experience the best of a new found gourmet revival in the southernmost part of the island as you travel to Modica, one of the oldest towns in Sicily. Modica sits quietly in a deep valley among the limestone cliffs of the area, and is a center for cheeses, chocolates and almonds. Stop at the chocolate factory of the Bonajuto family to learn about the different phases involved in the production. Taste some of the local cheeses before driving on to Chiramonte Gulfi, a small inland village famous for its food. The town sits on a hill surrounded by lush pine forests. Enjoy lunch in one of Sicily’s best-known restaurants, Majore, which specializes in pork dishes. After lunch, return to Syracuse, stopping en route for a visit to an almond factory.
Hotel Name: Hotel Des Etrangers. (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.
Hotel Name: Grand Hotel Timeo. (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 Theater 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.
Hotel Name: Grand Hotel Timeo. (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 4×4 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.
Hotel Name: Grand Hotel Timeo. (B/L/D)
DAY 13 DEPART CATANIA: Transfer to Catania airport for your home-bound flight. (B)
Customize to Suit
The above suggested itinerary can be customized to suit; more or less meals, different cities and/or sightseeing based on your clients’ interests. You name it, our expert group specialist professionals will put it together for you. Please call 1-855-220-6450, or simply complete the group request form, and we’ll get back to you with your proposal.
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