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 ambience is punctuated by colored tarpaulins suspended as “tents” to protect the wares from the elements. After the city tour you will travel to the beautiful countryside of the province of Palermo to visit a family owned winery and farmhouse. There you will have a chance to visit the property together with the cellars and to try out some of the wines together with a Sicilian country-style meal. The view is amazing: Towering in the distance is a spectacular-looking mountain called Rocca Busambra, a nature sanctuary where eagles nest. After your Food and Wine Tour, you will move on to the famous town of Corleone. Founded in ancient times and then colonized first by Arabs and later by Lombards, this little town has maintained a medieval aspect within the surrounding green farmland. Although this town was home to several Mafia bosses in the past, you will be surprised to be greeted by its friendly citizens, an excellent example of the typical Sicilian hospitality that can still be found in the rural areas of this island. Late afternoon return to Palermo. Overnight in Palermo.
Breakfast at the Hotel. Pick up from the hotel and travel by car and English speaking driver to your Hotel in Marsala. On route first stop in Erice to meet your Private Guide. Erice, a lovely medieval hilltop town, 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 also visit a 14th-century Gothic Catalan-style church featuring the famous depiction of the black Virgin Mary. 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. After lunch in a characteristic local restaurant you will go down to the coast to follow the salt route dotted with windmills and the so-called salt houses (mountains of salt-covered with tiles). The salt pans still function as they have for centuries and produce an excellent sea-salt. Among the most beautiful of these are the Saltworks of Trapani and Paceco, which are protected by the World Wildlife Federation for their role as home to around 170 different bird species, including flamingos, storks, cranes, and herons. You will stop at the saltworks visitor center in Nubia, just below Trapani. In a 300-year old salt house, the Museum of Salt was instituted, illustrating the phases of salt production and equipment utilized for its extraction and collection. Late afternoon you will continue to your Hotel in Marsala. Overnight in Marsala.
Breakfast at the Hotel. Meet your Driver and Guide at the Hotel lobby. This morning visit Marsala Historic centre, shape as a quadrilateral, like the ancient Roman cities, closed by four ancient gates, two of which still exist. The first is Porta Garibaldi, where in 1860 Garibaldi left for the Unification of Italy. Entering a Porta Garibaldi, we are already in the heart of the historical center, in the pedestrian area. On the left the Church of Our Lady of Sorrows (Chiesa della Addolorata) where you can admire the statue of the Virgin, that at Easter period is carried in procession by the faithful through the streets of the city. On the right, the fish market where you can buy fresh fish, fruit, vegetables, and where you can enjoy two specialties: the sandwich with Panelle and Pizza Sfincione. Continuing along Via Garibaldi and passing the old Spanish quarter, center of the Town Hall, you are in Piazza Loggia, in the heart of the historic center. The name of the square is Piazza della Repubblica and here there are the Cathedral, the largest church of Marsala, and a large building, the Palazzo VII Aprile. Next, Piazza del Purgatorio, with its fountain and the Baroque Church and then the Convento del Carmine, the oldest of Marsala, corporate hub of contemporary painting, a wonderful fusion of past and present. Back on the main road, the so-called Cassaro (Via XI Maggio) we find the Complesso Monumentale di San Pietro, Library, Garibaldi Museum, Archaeological Museum and the Museum of Popular Traditions … even in summer outdoor cinema. But the historical center of Marsala is not just history, architecture, legends and bell: is shopping in the stores and shops of walking zone; taste the sweet Cannoli Siciliani, the marzipan fruits, the Sicilian Cassata in one of the many bakeries. After lunch in a characteristic local restaurant visit The Cantine Florio are in Marsala, in Sicily. They are the historical wine cellars where the Marsala wine was created and everything began to conquer the whole world thanks to its perfume and good taste. Nowadays the Marsala production still occurs here, even though a part of the historical cellars have been restored and available to be visited by those who want to discover the world of the Marsala Florio. The cellars are easy to reach and they can be visited all year round. The tour includes the visit of the coopers, where the old tuff flooring has been restored and you can admire some huge vats of the 19th century that are still used for the Marsala’s refinement. Overnight in Marsala.
Breakfast at the Hotel. Meet your driver at the Hotel lobby and Private transfer to your Hotel in Agrigento. On route enjoy a delightful Food and Wine Tour at Planeta Winery in Ulmo, followed by a Private Guided Tour of The Valley of the Temples. In mid-morning, you will reach Planeta Winery in Ulmo. Located near the village of Sambuca di Sicilia, on the shores of Lake Arancio, Ulmo was the first Planeta winery, opened in 1995. An ancient 16th-century stone farmhouse overlooks the estate which is also home to the Iter Vitis open-air museum dedicated to the history of the Sicilian viticulture. The Segreta nature trail offers three possible walks through the vineyards, allowing visitors to discover wild spots and unique landscapes. Planeta, a leading winemaker for both Italian and international markets, has a strong presence in Sicily, with 370 hectares of proprietary vineyards and five wineries located in different areas of the region. Here at Ulmo in 1995 Planeta built their first winery, in the most delightful countryside and just a few meters farmhouse dating from 1500 which has always been owned by the Planeta family. In the afternoon continue to Valley of Temples for a Private Guided Tour. This splendid archaeological park consists of eight temples (and various other remains) built between about 510 BC and 430 BC: the Temple of Hera, the Temple of Concordia, the Temple of Heracles, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, the Temple of Castor and Pollux, the Temple of Hephaestos, the Temple of Demeter, and the Temple of Asclepius (the God of Medicine). Late afternoon you will continue to your hotel for an overnight in Agrigento. Overnight in Agrigento.
Breakfast at the Hotel. Pick up from the hotel and travel by car and English speaking driver to your Hotel in Ragusa. Check in at the Hotel. Lunch at leisure. In the afternoon 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 view from the upper town over Ragusa Ibla on its own separate hilltop is quite breathtaking. The town was originally built on a small steep-sided hill with deep valleys on three sides separating it from the high plateau. After the earthquake of 1693, which destroyed many of south-eastern Sicily’s buildings, it was decided to rebuild Ragusa on higher, more level ground nearby. This new planned town was built, with straight streets and a rational layout, but local aristocrats didn’t want to move and instead built themselves new palazzi on the ruins of the old town. So nowadays Ragusa has two parts: Ibla (or Ragusa Ibla), the older nucleus on its hilltop, and Ragusa Superiore, the more modern upper town which spreads from the post-earthquake streets into more recent developments. Overnight in Ragusa
Breakfast at the Hotel. Meet your Driver and 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, which are the main points of focus of the itinerary. 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. On the way to Noto, you will enjoy a private winery tour followed by a tasting of the producer’s elegant Nero D’Avola vintages, before enjoying a lovely picnic lunch beneath the estate’s sprawling carob trees. Noto is famous for its masterpieces of Sicilian baroque style. It has many fine churches that are outstanding because of 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. Late afternoon return to your Hotel in Ragusa. Overnight in Ragusa.
Breakfast at the Hotel. Late morning pick up from the hotel and travel by car and English speaking driver to your Hotel in Taormina. On route stop in Syracuse for lunch in a characteristic local restaurant. After lunch, meet your Guide for a Syracuse Private Guided Tour. Syracuse, splendid and magnificent, in the classic age was the richest and the most powerful among the Hellenic towns in Sicily and some archaeological ruins testify the former glory. Visit the superb Archaeological Museum Paolo Orsi, which displays an important and well-organized collection of items covering the late prehistoric period up to the Magna Grecia era. Stroll through the archaeological park of Neapolis, admiring one of the largest of all surviving Greek Theatres, a Roman Amphitheatre built to allow for gladiators ‘sporting’ activities, which the Greek theatre could not accommodate, and the Ear of Dionysius, a huge cavern shaped in a way that gives it surprising acoustic properties. A great many legends are associated with this cave. In Ortigia, you will stop at many important sites such as the ruins of the Apollo Temple, the famed Arethusa Fountain and the Piazza del Duomo, certainly one of the most suggestive Italian Baroque piazza. Arrive at your hotel early afternoon and spend the rest of the day at leisure. Overnight in Taormina.
Breakfast at the Hotel. Meet your driver and Guide at the hotel lobby. This morning visit 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. You will then visit a local family farm where it is possible to taste local Etna wine, a selection of different types of honey (orange, lemon, eucalyptus, strawberry…), almond pastries, olives, and extra virgin olive oil. 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. We will then take you to the historical center of Taormina. The gods must have been smiling on Taormina because this Sicilian town has been blessed with heavenly beauty. Taormina, the ancient Taurominum, is a spot of infinite loveliness, the land of Dolce far niente – of sweet do nothing. 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. Upon arrival, we 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. Overnight in Taormina.
Breakfast at the Hotel. Meet your driver at the hotel lobby. Today you will enjoy a Private Boat Tour of the Taormina/Giardini Naxos area. This boat excursion will enable you to enjoy the Sicilian east coast dominated by the bulk of Europe’s largest volcano, Etna. To begin this adventure will sail with our boat in the direction of the Timpa di Acireale, named for the characteristic shape of the lava flows superimposed over millions of years and eroded by the sea. Finally, we’ll reach the famous Riviera of the Cyclops: Capo Mulini, Aci Trezza and Aci Castello, which are part of the beautiful natural reserve of Isole. You can attend one of the most impressive shows that nature can offer, I Faraglioni. The legend tells us that the Cyclops Polyphemus throw these stones from slopes of Mount Etna against Ulysses and his fellow trying to escape from him. Then we come back to Giardini Naxos. The Bay of Naxos closes with the Capo Taormina, rock structure that is erected by the sea on which stands the enchanting Taormina. We’ll stop here to have lunch buffet on board. During the entire excursion, you can have open bar of soft drinks. The most advanced end of the Capo Taormina is characterized by a huge rock on which is placed a cross, hence the name given by locals, Scoglio della Croce. Under the head creates a wonderful “natural pool” where we will stop to give you the opportunity to swim in the crystal-clear sea and maybe go see the Grotta del Giorno about 25m deep, the cave is populated by the characteristic flora and fauna as sea urchins, starfish, shrimp, eels and coral. Later it will open to your view the lovely Bay Isola Bella characterized by green vegetation and the presence of a residence built in 1954 by a noble family from Messina. In the beautiful bay of Isola Bella, there is the Grotta Azzurra with its characteristic depth of 30m is outstanding for its rich flora and fauna and the intense blue color that the sun’s rays through the water of the sea give the cave. Finally, we enter the Bay of Mazzarò and sail towards the Bay of Siren’s natural creek which offers a unique atmosphere. Late afternoon you will continue to your Hotel in Taormina. Overnight in Taormina.
Breakfast at the Hotel. Meet your driver at the hotel lobby to be transferred to Palermo. Lunch and rest of the day at leisure. We suggest a visit to The Vucciria market, located in the Vucciria district. The market is filled with local fruits, vegetables, spices, and delicacies. You can also get sportswear, CD’s and DVD’s, bric a brac. Sicilian cookbooks can be bought at the market alongside the ingredients you need to make the recipes in the cookbook. Many small shops around Palermo and all of Sicily carry ceramics. You can find everything from cups and ashtrays to dishes and even tables. Depending on which store you visit, you’ll find a wide range of styles and designs to choose from. Overnight in Palermo.
Breakfast at the Hotel. This morning at the appropriate time, enjoy a Private Transfer to Palermo Airport. Arrivederci! Ciao! Buon Viaggio!