12 days Sicily small group tour "A land of contrasts" in 2022

Experience the Sicilian lifestyle and tradition with a small group tour limited to 12/14 travelers only! We are thrilled to introduce a wonderful journey to discover the beautiful Sicily travelling from west to east, through the magical interior of this paradise island.

Travel to Sicily with its idyllic climate, archaeology treasures, dramatic vistas and hearty cuisine that embodies all things Sicilian. On this small group tour journey, you’ll delve into one of the most fascinating and coveted regions in Italy.

Stare face to face with some of the world’s best Byzantine mosaics in the cathedral of Monreale. Marvel at the rich archaeological ruins of Siracusa dating to the 5th century BC. Explore the brilliant Roman floor mosaics in the Villa del Casale. Enjoy an Italian evening Opera in Taormina and a pizza making experience in one of the best taverns. 

Sicily has some of Italy’s best beaches and on this tour we make sure that you’ll have time to enjoy them.The cuisine of Sicily varies from one province to the next as do the wines. “Perhaps the most beautiful and ornate churches in the world, extraordinary seafood markets and incredible pistachio pastries and cassata gelati, home of the Mafia and amazing wineries alongside the best preserved Greek and Roman ruins in Europe”. This is the contradiction and enigma of Sicily; the island of contradictions and surprises!  Sicily is Italy’s “best-kept secret.” 

We have a real passion for Sicily and look forward to sharing it with you !

Location

DAY 1: WELCOME TO MONUMENTAL PALERMO & BIBLICAL MONREALE 
Arrive in Palermo Airport and travel to the city centre for a three nights stay at the “CENTRALE PALACE HOTEL” or similar, close to the city’s architecturally treasures. At 14.00 meet your local tour leader and city guide for a gentle drive to the hills of Palermo to uncover the beauty of MONREALE, known for one of Sicily’s great sites – the stunning 12th century Norman cathedral literally wallpapered with golden mosaics that tell the stories of the bible. Dinner is included this evening in a local tavern where you will feel like one of the family. Eat like a local! Overnight in PALERMO.

DAY 2: HIGHLIGHTS OF PALERMO & CAPTIVATING CEFALU’
Start your discovery of Sicily with a guided walking tour of PALERMO, a crossroads of history, being the world’s most conquered city and a melting pot of civilizations. Today we have included a visit to the Byzantine MARTORANA CHURCH, famous for its impressive Norman mosaics, the evocative PALATINE CHAPEL, dating back to the 12th century and some of the rooms of the ROYAL PALACE. After a discovery of the famous CAPO MARKET for a local street food experience, you will drive to the charming fishing village of CEFALU ‘. The squares, streets and churches of this medieval town are so postcard-pretty that it is no wonder director Giuseppe Tornatore chose to set parts of his much-loved film Cinema Paradiso here. Most of Cefalu’ sites are found in the historic town centre around Corso Ruggero and Piazza del Duomo, where you can visit the striking Cathedral, a mosaic-adorned outpost of Norman power and one of the jewels in Sicily’s Arab-Norman crown. After time on your own lunch, you will return to Palermo on time for your evening at leisure.Overnight in PALERMO

DAY 3: ALONG THE AFRICAN COAST: ANCIENT SEGESTA, SLEEPY ERICE & TRAPANI SALT PANS
Today, we will take a panoramic drive to SEGESTA, a unique archaeological site famous for its magnificent never completed 5th century Doric temple. We continue travelling to the perfectly preserved treasure hill town of ERICE which combines medieval charm with astounding 360-degree views. It boasts a breath-taking setting high above the Tyrrhenian Sea and an imposing Castle with views over the Egadi Islands. After an included lunch in the best local tavern, we will descend to Trapani by a 10 mins cable-way ride (weather permitting), passing Salt Pans and windmills, learning about the history and process of salt harvesting at the Museum of the Salt in TRAPANI. Rest of the evening is on your own. Overnight stay in PALERMO

DAY 4: INTRIGUING CORLEONE & VALLEY OF THE TEMPLES IN AGRIGENTO 
This morning’s visit takes you south-west from Palermo to the town of CORLEONE, well-known as the birthplace of several Mafia bosses.Here you will learn about the MAFIA, during an informative discussion with a member of the community. Afterwards, arrive to the ancient city of AGRIGENTO, a UNESCO heritage site where a local expert will shed light on the VALLEY OF THE TEMPLES, an incredible concentration of Greek temples in varying states of ruin and reconstruction.This historic site was the heart of one of the most important cities in the ancient world and is the prime example of the magnificence of MAGNA GRECIA. Tonight, you will be staying at the hotel “BAGLIO DELLA LUNA” or similar, with an included dinner. Overnight stay in AGRIGENTO

DAY 5: ROMAN VILLA MOSAICS & SIRACUSA’S ELEGANCE
Your transfer to SIRACUSA features a stop at the ROMAN VILLA, one of the 44 UNESCO World Heritage sites in Italy, built in the first quarter of the 4th century. It contains the richest, largest, and most complex collection of Roman mosaics in the world. Following a hearty included lunch in a family restaurant, your journey continues to the town of SIRACUSA for the next three nights at the 19th century “ANTICO HOTEL ROMA” or similar, in the heart of ORTIGIA island. The rest of the afternoon is at leisure to make your own discoveries or simply wandering its colourful winding streets and alleys. Overnight stay in SIRACUSA

DAY 6: SIRACUSA- “TAPESTRY OF CULTURES”
In the morning, you will explore this major outpost of the Greek empire with a local expert guide. The city boasts an incredible historical heritage, starting from the Archaeological Park, featuring the ancient Greek Theatre now used for classical performances, the Latomie del Paradiso, the largest quarry in the ancient urban settlement and the Ear of Dionysus, a subterranean artificial cave quarry used as a prison. You will see numerous elegant Baroque town houses, rebuilt after the earthquake that severely damaged the city in 1693, the elegant Piazza Duomo, dominated by the Cathedral’s baroque facade and the Temple of Athena from the 5th century BC lying behind it. After a foodie experience at the lively market, you will be sailing around fascinating ORTIGIA and its prehistoric caves (weather permitting). Rest of the day and dinner is on your own.Overnight in SIRACUSA

DAY 7: BAROQUE TREASURES OF NOTO, RAGUSA & ANCIENT PALAZZO 
A full day’s journey today takes you south-east to witness the splendours of the Sicilian Baroque architecture, part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 1693 this corner of Sicily was devastated by an earthquake. Towns were rapidly rebuilt out of the glowing local limestone. Visit the stunning UNESCO town of NOTO, with its remarkable architectural integrity, honey-colour buildings, and famous domed Cathedral. Following this, drive to the ancient town of RAGUSA IBLA, famous for its labyrinth of crooked lanes and tiny squares. Here we will visit an ancient aristocratic palace inhabited by the same family for over 200 years. Time on your own for lunch followed by a photo stop on a panoramic terrace to view the town of MODICA. Dinner is included in a local tavern. Overnight stay in SIRACUSA

DAY 8: VOLCANIC CATANIA, CYCLOPS COASTLINE & TAORMINA” TIMELESS BEAUTY”
This morning, depart for TAORMINA, one of the island’s most ancient destinations in Sicily. On the way you will discover the vibrant city of CATANIA, which owes its Baroque architecture in gloomy black lava to the last quake of 1693. During your free time, you might consider visiting the Cathedral of St. Agatha, where the reliquary of the patron saint is housed, the cathedral square, the Bellini theatre, the Villa Gardens, or the lively fish market. Continue along the panoramic cyclops coastline to reach the fishing village of GIARDINI NAXOS, the site of the first Greek settlement in Sicily for an included lunch on a private sandy beach. Spend the last 4 nights at the charming “HOTEL VILLA SCHULER”” or similar, with ocean view rooms and breakfast included. Clamped to a rocky bluff planted with cypresses, pines, and lush subtropical vegetation, the exquisitely maintained medieval town of TAORMINA is Sicily’s glitziest and most dramatically situated resort. Dinner is on your own this evening. Overnight stay in TAORMINA

DAY 9: UNKNOWN SAVOCA, HOME-HOSTED FAMILY EXPERIENCE & TAORMINA GREEK THEATER
The morning starts with a panoramic drive to the trapped-in-time picturesque village of SAVOCA, set on the foothills of the Peloritani Mountains to discover the real Sicily. Seems unchanged since medieval times, with its gated walls, stone cottages, and haunting churches. Here you will view the 18th century bar Vitelli, one of Coppola’s favourite spots and the church of St. Lucia. Following this, a Sicilian family will welcome you for a traditional home-hosted lunch, a delightful way to experience everyday life. We end the day with an included visit of the crowning Greek-Roman theatre (entrance included) in TAORMINA, one of Sicily’s great sights. It is a near-perfect ancient amphitheatre with dramatic views over snow-capped Etna. The remainder of the day is on your own for more explorations. Overnight stay in TAORMINA

DAY 10: IN THE SHADOW OF MOUNT ETNA, WINERY VISIT & OPERA EVENING
Explore majestic MOUNT ETNA, the highest and largest volcano in Europe and one of the world’s most active. The peak changes in size over the years. It currently rises at 11,000 feet above sea level and literally towers above Sicily’s Ionian coast. Due to its scientific value supporting endemic flora and fauna, and its historical significance, Mount Etna was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Descend to the village of MILO to visit a family run winery to taste excellent wine accompanied by a light lunch. In the evening you are invited for a magical Italian opera in a private theatre. Overnight stay in TAORMINA

DAY 11: LA DOLCE VITA IN TAORMINA & HANDS -ON-PIZZA MAKING EXPERIENCE
In the morning, visit an ancient villa dating back to the 600’s where a professional pizza chef will give you an introduction to the history of pizza and how to make it. After an included light lunch with pizza, enjoy the rest of the day in “bella” Taormina. Wander through its elegant gardens, posh cafes, and shops, ride a cable car down to the beach, or explore the nearby mountain top village of Castelmola. In the evening celebrate your Sicilian adventure with an “Arrivederci dinner” sharing travel memories and toasting new friends. Overnight stay in TAORMINA

DAY 12: ARRIVEDERCI SICILIA
Morning transfers to Catania airport or train station for your journey home. You might extend your tour to PUGLIA,  SARDINIA ISLAND, the region of CALABRIA or  MALTA ISLAND