We are thrilled to introduce a wonderful private journey to discover beautiful Sicilia travelling from west to east, through the magical interior of this paradise island.
Travel to Sicily with its idyllic climate, its archaeology treasures, dramatic vistas and hearty cuisine that embodies all things Sicilian. Extravagant scenic beauty, a multicultural crossroads with a history that dates back to 3,000 years, an exuberant and richly layered culture and a tradition of food and wine that is celebrated the world over…all converge here in sunny Sicily! On this small group 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 – a literal Bible in gold. Sit in Taormina’s Greek theatre looking out at still-smouldering Mt.Etna and you can’t help but feel goosebumps. 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.The Greek influence is particularly strong in the south of Italy – we’ll see better preserved temples here than in Greece itself!
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. Sicily is a world apart, an island separated from the rest of Italy not only by the sea but also by centuries of history and cultural experience.
Sicily is an island of surprises and we are excited to discover this gem with you all.
We have a real passion for Sicily and look forward to sharing it with you !
DAY 1 : WELCOME TO SPICY PALERMO
Arrive in Palermo International Airport and travel to the city center for a two nights stay in our central”CENTRALE PALACE HOTEL” or similar, close to the city’s architecturally treasures. At 6.30 pm enjoy an included a drink at the hotel bar followed by a welcome dinner in a local restaurant.Overnight in PALERMO.
DAY 2 : HIGHLIGHTS OF PALERMO & MONUMENTAL MONREALE
Breakfast in hotel. Start your discovery of Sicily with a guided walking tour of PALERMO, the Sicilian capital. A crossroads of history, Palermo holds the distinction of being the world’s most conquered city and a melting pot of civilizations ranging from the Phoenicians, Romans and Byzantines to the Arabs and Normans. We have included today a visit to the Byzantine Martorana church, famous for its impressive Norman mosaics, the evocative Palatine Chapel, dating back to the 12th century,famous for its impressive mosaics, some of the rooms of the Royal Palace and an exclusive visit to the Opera House of Palermo. After a visit to the Ballaro‘ market located in the ancient Arabic quarter of the city and an included lunch in the best Palermitan tavern, we’ll continue to discover the town 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. Evening is on your own to enjoy Palermo.Overnight in PALERMO
DAY 3 : CAPTIVATING CEFALU’ & AGRIGENTO VALLEY OF THE TEMPLES
This morning drive takes you to visit the charming fishing village of CEFALU‘. The squares, streets and churches of this medieval town are so postcard-pretty that it’s 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 center 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 for sightseeing and maybe an Italian “gelato”,you’ll continue to the Valley of the Temples in AGRIGENTO, an incredible concentration of Greek temples in varying states of ruin and reconstruction. We’ll explore the major temples with a local expert who will shed light on these monuments to the Golden age of Tyranny. 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’ll be staying at the country hotel “BAGLIO DELLA LUNA” or similar, with an included dinner. Overnight stay in AGRIGENTO
DAY 4 : 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.The villa was a luxurious hunting lodge used, some believe by the Roman emperor Maximian. After being abandoned in the 1200s, it was covered by a mudslide that protected the mosaics until systematic excavation in 1880s. Following a lunch in a country family owned Osteria, your journey continues to the city of SIRACUSA. You’ll be spending the next two nights at the 19th century “CHARME HOTEL HENRY’S HOUSE“or similar, in the heart of the island of Ortigia. Spend the rest of the afternoon at leisure to make your own discoveries or simply wandering the colorful winding streets and alleys of elegant Ortigia. Overnight stay in SIRACUSA
DAY 5 : ENCHANTING SIRACUSA- “TOWN OF TYRANTS”
Encapsulating Sicily’s timeless beauty, Syracuse is a dense tapestry of overlapping cultures and civilizations. In the morning, you’ll explore this major outpost of the Greek empire with a local expert.The city boasts an incredible historical heritage, starting from the Archaeological Park, featuring the ancient Greek Theater 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’ll 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 that is subdivided by columns and the Temple of Athena from the 5th century BC lying behind it and the Caravaggio painting in the charming church of St Lucia.After an included foodie experience at the lively market, you’ll be sailing around the fascinating island of Ortigia to discover some of its prehistoric caves (weather permitting).Dinner is included in a local tavern.Overnight in SIRACUSA
DAY 6 : BAROQUE NOTO & MOUNT ETNA WITH WINERY
After breakfast at our hotel, we depart for TAORMINA, one of the island’s most ancient towns and most beautiful destinations. On the way you’ll discover the splendid UNESCO town of NOTO, with its remarkable architectural integrity.It presents a pleasing ensemble of honey-color buildings, strikingly uniform in style and a world famous domed Cathedral, an undisputed highlight of the extraordinary Baroque architecture.Continue to majestic MOUNT ETNA, known to the Greeks as the “column that holds up the sky”-Mt Etna is 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. Since 1987 its slopes have been part of the Etna Parkland, an area that encompasses both alpine forests and the forbiddingly black summit.You’ll ascend to 7,000 ft.and take a walk to visit the Silvestri Craters and new lava flow from recent eruptions (further ascend to highest levels to be paid locally). Afterwards, you’ll descend to the village of LINGUAGLOSSA to visit a well-known winery where to taste excellent Sicilian wines accompanied by “delizioso” lunch. Spend the last 2 nights in TAORMINA at the “HOTEL VILLA SCHULER“ or similar, with breakfast included.Dinner is on your own this evening in one of the local trattorias. Overnight stay in TAORMINA
DAY 7 : TAORMINA WALKING TOUR,CASTELMOLA & HOME-HOSTED LUNCH
This morning we have arranged a guided tour of TAORMINA. Its origin goes back to the time of Dionysius in about 400 BC. It remained an important city during the Greek and Roman periods and the Theater and Odeon still survive as reminders of those times. Taormina also boasts a number of elegant mansions and palaces dating back from the Middle Ages, and several interesting churches including the 15th century fortified cathedral, and St Pancras’, which incorporates part of a Greek temple. Afterwards, you will be driven to the charming town of CASTELMOLA perched high above Taormina, boasting amazing views over the mainland of Italy. Here you’ll have time for shopping, tasting the typical almond wine before heading to a lovely, quaint village located near the ALCANTARA GORGES where a friendly Sicilian family will open the door of their house for an included farewell lunch. Dinner is on your own. Overnight in TAORMINA
DAY 8 : ARRIVEDERCI BELLA SICILIA
Morning transfers to Catania airport for your flight home. Arrivederci from all of us…and thanks for travelling Secret Italia Tours!!!