Welcome to Sicily! On your arrival at Palermo Airport, our local English Speaking Representative will be waiting to welcome you and facilitate your Private Transfer to your hotel. The rest of the day is at leisure. For overseas Flight arrivals, we suggest an early dinner with good night sleep. Overnight in Palermo.
Enjoy a full buffet breakfast at your hotel. Meeting with the driver and guide at your hotel for a 3-hour guided tour of Palermo. Your guide will show you the highlights of historical Palermo, capital of ancient Sicily. Colonized by the Phoenicians, Sicily boasts a rich 3,000 years of history, which particularly flourishing under the Arab and Norman rule. The many great empires that once ruled Sicily’s capital left behind wonderfully diverse architecture, from Roman to Byzantine to Arab-Norman, which we will view in the city’s palaces, churches and crypts. You will also visit “The Ballarò”, a Palermo Food street market which is a cacophony of sights and sounds. Here you will find a colourful assortment of fruits, vegetables, fish and meats to vendors barking about bargains for anybody who will listen. The ambiance is punctuated by colored tarpaulins suspended as “tents” to protect the wares from the elements. After Lunch at Leisure not included, meet back up with your guide to traveling to Monreale, a nearby hilltop town that boasts sweeping views over Palermo. Soak up the views, and then pay a visit to the Cathedral of Monreale. Stand in awe as you gaze at the cathedral’s golden mosaics and work out the biblical scenes that they represent. Another highlight is the columns of the Benedictine Cloister, which are carved with religious and mythological scenes. In the late afternoon travel, back to your Palermo Hotel. Overnight in Palermo.
Enjoy a full buffet breakfast at your hotel. Meet your driver and Guide at the Hotel lobby. Today enjoy one of the finest private guided tours or shore excursions of Sicily for Greek temples and architecture. Your first stop on this private escorted tour of Western Sicily will be the magnificent Temple of Segesta, the first Doric-style Greek Temple, set among gently sloping hills of yellow-ochre and brown. The temple was built by the Elimians, one of the most important Greek colonies in Western Sicily. The temple’s 36 columns are still intact despite several major earthquakes. You will also visit a typical Greek semi-circular-style theatre, set on the rocky slope. Its seats face west towards the hills, beyond which you can catch a glimpse of the Bay of Castellamare. After Lunch at Leisure not included, your driver and tour guide will then take you to the medieval town of Erice, situated nearly 3,000 feet above sea level and surrounded by ancient Elimi and Phoenician walls. In antiquity, Erice was famous for its temple where the Phoenicians worshipped Astarte, the Greeks venerated Aphrodite and the Romans celebrated Venus, respectively. Mount Eryx served as a point of reference for sailors, who adopted Venus as their protector. Erice’s hilltop twin castles of Pepoli, with foundations dating from both the Saracen and Norman eras, give the town a spectacular skyline. Both castles have been modified over the centuries, yet they retain their distinctively medieval character. You will enjoy a breathtaking view from the castle towers. You will wrap up the day strolling along the town’s charming old stone streets, stopping to taste the almond marzipan cakes at a famous pastry shop called Grammatico. Late afternoon you will return to Palermo. Overnight in Palermo.
Breakfast at the Hotel. Private transfer by car and English-speaking driver to Selinunte to meet your Guide for a personalized Tour of Selinunte Archaeological Park, one of Sicily’s great Greek archaeological sites. Situated by the sea in the south-western corner of Sicily, the ruins have stood abandoned for most of their history. The lack of later development allows modern visitors to imagine the ancient town of Selinus as it would have been 2500 years ago. The archaeological park at Selinunte is huge, incorporating Greek temples, ancient town walls, and the ruins of residential and commercial buildings, countryside paths and zones not yet excavated. Built by Greek colonists from Megara Hyblea, Selinunte probably owes its name to a type of wild parsley present in abundance in the area (selinon). Its period of greatest splendor dates from the sixth century BC, in which Selinunte was able to establish itself as an important commercial and military center in Sicily. The dynamism of the colony allowed for the expansion of its large territory, controlled by satellite towns (such as Eraclea Minoa) hence its continuity for some time. The coastal defense, however, was secured by a slender but fearsome war fleet. Lunch at Leisure not included. In the afternoon continue to your hotel in Sciacca. Overnight in Sciacca.
Breakfast at the Hotel. Meet your Driver and Guide at the Hotel lobby to enjoy a Private Guided Tour of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Valley of the Temples, an incredible archeological spot on a hill, dating back to 430 BC. On the eastern edge of the cliff, you find the Temple of Demeter, incorporated into the medieval church of San Biagio, the Rock Sanctuary of Demeter and Persephone, linked to the cult of the waters flowing from two natural caves; remains of the Greek fortifications. Further down along the Via Panoramica Dei Templi, you get to the Temple of Juno, dating from around 460 BC. In front of the temple, the remains of the ‘sacrificial altar. Leaving the temple, you walk along the Via Sacra, a modern road that cuts from east to west the Hill of the Temples. On the left, there are the remains of the Greek walls and Byzantine arcosolia which demonstrate the use of the area as a cemetery at the end of the pagan age. Further down the ‘Antiquarium of Christian Agrigento and the Temple of Concordia, one of the best-preserved in the world along with the Greek temple of Hera at Paestum and the Temple of Hephaistos. Its harmonious proportions and beauty of forms make it one of the masterpieces of the Doric style. Then continue the temple of Hercules (Heracles), the oldest temple in Agrigento. Under the temple, a few meters away, you can see a tomb of Roman times, improperly called “Tomb of Theron”. You walk across the new footbridge over the modern road and access the area of the colossal Temple of Olympian Zeus or Jupiter. Built after the victory in 480 BC at Imera, it displayed, between pseudo columns, statues of giant telamons, 7.61m high. At the center of the temple, a copy of one of the telamons, the original of which is preserved in the archaeological museum. In ‘area below the Sanctuary of Chthonian deities’ (Demeter and Persephone). At the center, four columns with superimposed entablature reconstructed in the nineteenth century and known as the Temple of Castor and Pollux. Continuing towards Villaseta, a path to the right leads to the Temple of Vulcan or Hephaestus. There are the base and two columns left. Returning to the Porta Aurea continue to the (Temple of Asclepius) and San Leone (old Emporion). After the tour, return to your Hotel. Lunch and afternoon at leisure. Overnight in Sciacca.
Breakfast at the Hotel. Pick up from the hotel and travel by car and English-speaking driver to Piazza Armerina where you will meet your Guide for a Private Guided Tour of Villa Romana del Casale. The Villa is one of the most important exemplars of a Roman official governmental residence, attributed to the elaboration and exceptional beauty of its architectonic and decorative elements. Dated back to 320-350 A.D., the villa most likely belonged to a member of Rome’s senatorial class, probably a governor of the Eternal City itself (Praefectus Urbi). The very impressive mosaic complex has been the reason to include the villa in the list of Unesco World Heritage Sites making it one of the most important examples of the “Villa” architectural style, which combines on the one hand high-quality residential characteristics and on the other hand functional elements for productive activities related to its rural location: olericulture, viticulture, cereal cultivation, farm animals, etc. The Villa is a monument of great historical and artistic value of the late Roman Empire. It has those special characteristics of residence and representation, due to both the complexity of the architectural layout and the richness of the decoration, typical of many large Roman villas built in different regions of the empire. Throughout the long centuries of existence, the Villa has been robbed of most of its artistic decorative patrimony, but the spectacular conservation of the floor mosaics is in spite of a powerful flood that occurred around 1000 AD. Still today, the richness of the polychromy, the realistic observation, the energy of the depictions and the variety of the subjects is surprising. Lunch at Leisure not included. In the early afternoon continue to your Hotel in Ragusa. Overnight in Ragusa
Breakfast at the Hotel. Meet your guide in the hotel lobby for a Private Walking Tour. Ragusa is a small Baroque town and a Unesco World Heritage Site. Ragusa is one of the most picturesque towns in Sicily. The city is divided into two important areas: Ragusa Superiore, founded after the earthquake in 1693, and Ragusa Inferiore, the original site. The latter is called Ibla nowadays because, at the beginning of the 20th century, some archaeologists discovered the ruins of Hybla, a village founded by Siculi people about 3000 years ago. You start Your Private Tour with a stop to see the panoramic view and the church of Santa Maria delle Scale, whose interior has one nave in gothic catalan style (15th century). Going down toward the old city you find Palazzo Della Cancelleria, the Church of Madonna dell’ Itria, whose bell tower is decorated by tiles which reproduce Iris plants, and Palazzo Cosentini and its two facades joined by a statue of San Francesco di Paola. Arriving in Piazza Della Repubblica you see the church of the Anime Purganti. Its central portal door is decorated by dadoes and the souls in purgatory and on its sides, two shell niches hold statues of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. Going along Via Capitano Bocchieri, you arrive in Piazza Duomo where, at the end of a monumental staircase closed by a wrought iron gate, there is the Church of San Giorgio, a work by Rosario Gagliardi, the most important architect of the Val di Noto. The facade is considered the best example of late baroque art: 3 levels convex in the center and concave to sides animated by free Corinthian columns. Crossing Piazza Duomo, enclosed by late baroque and neoclassic palaces, among which are the Circolo di Conversazione and Palazzo Donnafugata, you reach piazza Pola. Here you find the Church of San Giuseppe, built on the ruins of the church of San Tommaso. Its beautiful central door is flanked by statues and Corinthian columns and above it, there is a huge central window with grated shutters. Leaving Corso 25 Aprile you reach the Giardino Ibleo, a beautiful park that hosts inside 3 churches (San Vincenzo, San Giacomo, and Cappuccini church) and the Gothic style portal door of the original church of San Giorgio, survived the earthquake in 1693. Your Guide will escort you back to your Hotel. Lunch and afternoon at Leisure. Overnight in Ragusa.
Breakfast at the Hotel. Meet your Driver and Private Guide at the Hotel lobby. Today visit Modica and Noto. Nestled in a dramatic gorge of the Val di Noto, Modica, is a World Heritage Site. Its flamboyant baroque architecture delights its visitors as soon as they approach the town from the road. Yet Modica is a sharply divided town, and locals usually identify with the lower or the upper part of the town. The lower town mainly occupies two wide streets that came to replace two rivers after a tragic flood in 1902. The upper town, built on a steep hill, is a maze of alleyways and retains the feel of an old Sicilian village. Both have many splendid baroque palaces and religious edifices. Lower and upper Modica have their own opulent Chiesa Madre. The church dedicated to San Giorgio, the patron saint of Modica (upper Modica) is of interest, notably for its remarkable grand façade and its elegant twin staircases leading to the church. In the church of San Pietro (lower Modica), its old rival, the largest chapel is decorated with a superb Madonna of Trapani by the school of Gagini. Next to San Pietro is the cave-church of San Nicolo Inferiore, the oldest church in Modica. Its earliest fresco, depicting a scene of the Ascension, date from late Byzantine (late 10th early 11th century). You will be introduced to the town’s legendary chocolate-making traditions with a visit to Modica’s most esteemed chocolatier for a special behind the scenes look at their artisanal chocolate making practices. Lunch at Leisure not included. Continuing to Noto, famous for its masterpieces of Sicilian baroque style. It has many fine churches that are outstanding because their architecture, decorations, but also because of their strategic locations. Numerous aristocratic palazzi with their delightful baroque facades and twisted iron railings flank the main Corso Vittorio Emanuele and the many adjoining streets. The ancient community of Noto was originally known as Netum and actually lies about eight kilometers to the north of the current town of Noto on Mount Alveria. Dating back to at least 263 BC, the community changed hands numerous times over the millennium and was at one time the capital city of this district of Sicily. Tragedy would strike this region of Sicily in 1693 and the entire town of Netum and many surrounding communities were destroyed by a devastating earthquake. Today, portions of the ancient amphitheater and a few buildings are all that remains of the old town of Noto. In the late afternoon, return to your Hotel in Ragusa. Overnight in Ragusa.
Breakfast at the Hotel. Meet your Driver at the Hotel lobby to be transferred to your Hotel in Syracuse. Lunch and afternoon at Leisure. Overnight in Syracuse.
Breakfast at the Hotel. Meet your Driver and Guide at the Hotel lobby. Today enjoy a Syracuse Private Guided Tour. More than any other city, Syracuse encapsulates Sicily’s timeless beauty. Ancient Greek ruins rise out of lush citrus orchards, cafe tables spill onto dazzling baroque piazzas, and medieval lanes lead down to the sparkling blue sea. It’s difficult to imagine now but in its heyday, this was the largest city in the ancient world, bigger even than Athens and Corinth. Almost three millennia later, the ruins of that then-new city constitute the Parco Archeologico Della Neapolis, one of Sicily’s greatest archaeological sites. Across the water from the mainland, Ortygia remains the city’s most beautiful corner, a casually chic, eclectic marvel with an ever-growing legion of fans. You will visit the ancient Greek theater, cut in the rock of the Temenite hill, the Nymphaeum fountain and the beautiful panorama from the top of the hill. Explore the “latomie del Paradiso” ancient stone quarries, the beautiful local flora, the “Ear of Dionysius”, a grotto famous for its shape and echo and the Roman Amphitheater. After Lunch at Leisure not included, you will visit the Island of Ortigia, where you will find the Cathedral Square and be surprised by the magnificent bright limestone buildings: the town hall, Palazzo Beneventano, the bishop’s palace, and St. Lucy’s Church, but most of all the Cathedral itself, the only church still in use today which time ago was a pagan temple. You will continue to Aretusa Fountain near the sea. The myth of Aretusa was told by Ovidius and in its clear freshwater grows papyrus which probably was brought here when Archimedes lived in town. On the way back, you may want to go through the Jewish Quarter to Via Maestranza, the street where the nobility of the town had their pompous homes. On Archimedes Square, the neoclassical Fountain of Diana remembers once more the glorious past of Syracuse. Late afternoon you will return to your Hotel. Overnight in Syracuse.
Breakfast at the Hotel. Meet your driver at the hotel lobby. This morning en route to your hotel in Taormina stop at the bottom of Mount Etna to meet your Private Guide for a visit of Mt Etna Volcano, one of the world’s most active volcanoes in Europe. You will reach 2.000 meters (7.000 ft) where you can admire and take a walk on the “Silvestri” craters (1892) and the latest new lava flows and craters from 2001/2002/2003 – Eruptions of Etna follow a variety of patterns. Most occur at the summit, where there are currently (as of 2008) six distinct craters: the Northeast Crater, the Voragine, the Bocca Nuova, and the Southeast Crater. Other eruptions occur on the flanks, which have more than 300 vents ranging in size from small holes in the ground to large craters hundreds of meters across. Summit eruptions can be highly explosive and spectacular but rarely threaten the inhabited areas around the volcano. Driving down from Mount Etna through wonderful scenery with photo stops at the most beautiful locations; you will visit the Piazza Belvedere (Lookout square) where you will have a breathtaking view of Isolabella (Beautiful Island) and the Messina coastline. Lunch at Leisure not included. In the afternoon continue to Taormina for a Private Guided Tour. Spectacularly perched on the side of a mountain, Taormina is one of Sicily’s most popular destinations, in summer and not only. It’s rich in history, art, culture, and tradition, besides being in one of the most breathtaking spots of the whole country. Founded in the 4th century BC, Taormina enjoyed great prosperity under the Greek ruler Gelon II and later under the Romans but fell into quiet obscurity after being conquered by the Normans in 1087. Its reincarnation as a tourist destination, dates to the 18th century, when northern Europeans discovered it on the Grand Tour. Among its fans was DH Lawrence, who lived here between 1920 and 1923. The town lies in an elevated position of amazing, almost unique beauty, affording magnificent views combining sea and sky of a marvelous blue, miles of a curving coastline and picturesque mountain scenery, while the majestic pyramid of Mt. Etna on one side constitutes a scene of indescribable beauty. You will visit the most impressive monument of the city: the Greco-Roman Theatre. It has the finest site of any theatre in the world and one of the most striking monuments of antiquity. We continue our walking tour to the Villa Comunale: the public gardens which are planted with a huge variety of flowering plants and shrubs ranging from the most common to the exotic, your guide will be able to describe you all the botanical curiosity. In the late afternoon, you will continue to your hotel by the Sea. Overnight in Taormina.
Breakfast at the Hotel. Today spend the day at leisure. Overnight in Taormina.
Breakfast at the Hotel. This morning at the appropriate time, enjoy a Private Transfer to Catania Airport. Arrivederci! Ciao! Buon Viaggio!