12 Days Self-Drive "The Splendors of Sicily"

Experience the Sicilian lifestyle and tradition with a self-drive tour experience.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.On a crossroads in the Mediterranean, part of Europe and Africa, yet belonging to neither, Sicily was tramped across by half of the ancient civilized world. As conquerors came and went, they left behind elements of their culture, resulting in the rich  and varied mixture that typifies every aspect of Sicilian life, from language, customs and cooking to art, and, most notably, architecture.

Sicily is a curiosity, and the legacy of the past is redolent everywhere. They say that today there is as much Phoenician, Greek, Arabic, Norman, Spanish or French blood in Sicilian veins as there is Italian. The resulting mixture – exotic and spicy- has created a distinct culture at the foot of Italy. We have a real passion for Sicily and look forward to sharing it with you !

Location

DAY 1 : WELCOME TO SPICY PALERMO 

Arrive at Palermo Airport at 21.15 Ryan Air flight BD2Y5R, meet your driver and travel to the city center for a two nights stay in our central”CENTRALE PALACE HOTEL” ,in a classic twin bedroom,close to the city’s architecturally treasures. Dinner is on your own this evening in one of the local restaurants or take advantadge of the hotel restaurant, if open at that time of the evening.Overnight in PALERMO

DAY 2 : HIGHLIGHTS OF PALERMO & MONUMENTAL MONREALE 
Start your discovery of Sicily with a 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. Today, you can visit to the Byzantine Martorana church, located near your hotel, 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 if interested, you can also visit the Opera House of Palermo. We recommend to visit the Ballaro‘ market located in the ancient Arabic quarter of the city where you can taste typical street food with local panelle and arancine. If you are still in love with mosaics, we suggest to visit the nearby 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.You can reach Monreale by local bus or taxi. Ask the hotel staff for update timetables.Evening is on your own to enjoy one of the local trattoria in Palermo. Overnight in PALERMO
 

DAY 3 : ALONG THE AFRICAN COAST: ZINGARO NATURE RESERVE, SLEEPY ERICE & TRAPANI SALT PANS 
Breakfast in hotel. Meet our driver outside the hotel at 09.30 to drive you to Palermo airport car rental area Goldcar.Details and voucher will follow shortly.Today we suggest a drive to THE NATURE ZINGARO RESERVE. Afterwards, travel to the perfectly preserved treasure hill town of ERICE which combines medieval charm with astounding 360-degree views. It boasts a breathtaking setting high above the Tyrrhenian Sea and an imposing Castle with views over the Egadi Islands. After some free time for sightseeing, drive to Agrigento passing by the Trapani Salt Pans and windmills, learning about the history and process of salt harvesting at the Museum of the Salt in TRAPANI.Continue to Agrigento for an overnight stay at the country hotel “COLLEVERDE PARK HOTEL" in a classic twin bedroom.You can have a meal in their restaurant which is highly recommended. Overnight stay in AGRIGENTO

DAY 4 : AGRIGENTO VALLEY OF THE TEMPLES & MAGICAL SIRACUSA
This morning we suggest visiting the VALLEY OF THE TEMPLES in AGRIGENTO, 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.After some time on one of the stunning golden sandy beaches of the Agrigento area,continue to the magical city of SIRACUSA where you will be spending the next three nights at the charming "HOTEL GARGALLO" in the island of Ortigia, in a classic twin bedroom. The rest of the afternoon is 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, we suggest exploring 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.Do visit the lively market where you can sample some local cheese or maybe sailing around the fascinating island of Ortigia to discover some of its prehistoric caves (weather permitting).Enjoy the rest of the day on your own for further swimming  or sightseeing.Overnight in SIRACUSA
 

DAY 6 :BAROQUE TREASURES OF NOTO, RAGUSA & MODICA
A full day’s journey today takes you south-east to witness the splendors 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 UNESCO town of NOTO, with its remarkable architectural integrity, honey-color 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.Time on your own for lunch followed by a suggested visit to the town of MODICA famous for its choccolate.Overnight stay in SIRACUSA

DAY 7 : BAROQUE CATANIA & MOUNT ETNA
This morning, depart for TAORMINA, one of the island’s most ancient destinations in Sicily. On the way 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 theater, the Villa Gardens or the lively fish market.Continue driving to the  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). If you wish, descend to the village of LINGUAGLOSSA to visit a winery to taste excellent Sicilian wines accompanied by “delizioso” lunch.Spend the next two nights in the fishing town of GIARDINI NAXOS staying at the 4 stars “HOTEL HELLENIA YACTING" with breakfast included, in a classic twin bedroom.Dinner is on your own this evening in one of the local trattoria. Overnight stay in GIARDINI NAXOS

DAY 8 : TAORMINA
The morning we suggest to visit the nearby beautiful town of TAORMINA. It goes back to the time of Dionysius in about 400 BC. It remained an important city during the Greek and Roman periods and the Theatre 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.You can stay in Taormina as long as you wish.Dinner is on your own. Overnight in GIARDINI NAXOS

DAY 9 : UNKNOWN SICILY & CEFALU'  

It is time to depart from Giardini Naxos today. We suggest The morning a 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’ll view the 18th century bar Vitelli, one of Coppola’s favorite spots and the church of St.Lucia. 
Please drive back to palermo airport to deliver the car at the Goldcar office.You should give the car back by 16.30. Our driver will be meeting you at 17.00 outside the arrival hall holding a sign with your name and driving you to the hotel in Cefalu'.Spend the last three nights at the family 3 stars “HOTEL MEDITERRANEO" in a classic bedroom with balcony, breakfast included,located in the
charming fishing town of CEFALU’.Overnight in CEFALU’

DAY 10 : CAPTIVATING CEFALU'
Today visit the colorful historical area  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.Overnight in CEFALU’
 

DAY 11 : DAY AT LEISURE IN CEFALU'
A day at leisure for swimming and sightseeing. Overnight in CEFALU’
 

DAY 12: ARRIVEDERCI SICILIA

Breakfast in hotel and end of the tour. Private transfer is included today to Palermo airport. Depart Palermo 14:25 (Volotea flight V71568). Meet your driver at the hotel at 11am. Thanks for travelling Secret Tours LImited