Sicily Sanctuaries

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    Tour Details

    8 nights/9 days

    Arrive in Palermo and Depart from Catania


    Day 01:Palermo Arrival

    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.

    Day 02:Palermo - Monreale - Montepellegrino

    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 historic Palermo, the 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 colorful 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. Continue to Montepellegrino to visit the Santa Rosalia Sanctuary. Santa Rosalia, the Hermitess, greatly venerated at Palermo and in the whole of Sicily of which she is patroness. Her feast is celebrated on 4 September. A special feast of the translation of her relics is kept in Sicily 15 June. I n the late afternoon travel, back to your Palermo hotel. Overnight in Palermo.

    Day 03:Palermo - Tindari - Taormina

    Enjoy a full buffet breakfast at your hotel. Meet your driver at hotel lobby. Depart through the Northern Coast to Tindari, the most important Sanctuary in the area: Santuario della Madonna Nera di Tindari. Local legend tells that the lagoon was created after a pilgrim who came to see the Madonna refused to pray to the Madonna because she was black. The woman accidentally dropped her baby into the ocean and the Madonna made the land rise to save the baby. The sands of Marinello have taken shape of the profile of the Madonna. Lunch en route. Continue to Taormina and visit the city as well as the Sanctuary of Madonna della Rocca. It was built in 1640 by exploiting the limestone rock that acts as a cover to the interior. Our Lady of the Rock is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Taormina for the panorama from the pretty terrace before the church. Overnight at hotel in Taormina.

    Day 04: Mount Etna and 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. 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.

    Day 05: Taormina at leisure

    Breakfast at the Hotel. Today spend the day at leisure. Overnight in Taormina.

    Day 06:Taormina - Ragusa

    Breakfast at the Hotel. Meet your driver at the Hotel lobby and Private transfer to your Hotel in Ragusa. Check-in at the Hotel. Lunch at leisure: (Not Included). In the afternoon meet your driver and guide in the hotel lobby for a 4 Hours 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).
    The ancient religious complex consists of a church and convent and it was built in memory of the “Santa Maria degli Ammalati”. It dates back to the sixteenth century, as suggested by the date engraved on one of the bells, 1574.
    The sanctuary, despite having survived the 1693 earthquake without serious damages was rebuilt in 1726 thanks to local noblemen and prominent figures. Since 1632 the building complex had been entrusted to the Carmelite Province, which follows the ancient St. Albert Observance, then abolished in 1866. After World War II the building returned to the Carmelites and it was decided to rebuild the sanctuary, possibly bigger and more beautiful. The whole church was demolished in 1957 but the bell tower, and it was rebuilt from scratch. The construction was completed in 1962. 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. After the tour return to your Hotel. Overnight in Ragusa.

    Day 07: Ragusa - Modica & Noto - Syracuse

    Breakfast at the Hotel. Meet your Driver at the Hotel lobby. Today visit Modica and Noto en route to your Hotel in Syracuse. 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. After Lunch/Food and Wine Tour in the Countryside Wine Estate, continue to Noto, 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. 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. Late afternoon, continue to your Hotel in Syracuse. Overnight in Syracuse.

    Day 08:Syracuse

    Breakfast at the Hotel. Meet your Driver and Guide at the Hotel lobby. This morning enjoy a 4 Hours 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. 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. Continue to 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. Lunch in a characteristic local restaurant. In the afternoon, visit the Santuario della Madonna delle Lacrime. From 29 August to 1 September 1953, a plaster plaque of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, placed over the headboard of the bed of a young couple, Angelo Iannuso and Antonina Giusto, at 11 Via Degli Orti St., shed human tears. The phenomenon took place at more or less long intervals inside and outside of the home. Many saw, touched, gathered and tasted the salt of the tears. On Sunday, 30 August an amateur filmmaker of Syracuse, Nicola Guarino, was able to capture the event on film, making this one of the very few miraculous happenings with such documentation. On 1 September, at 11:00 a.m., a Commission of doctors and analysts went to the Iannuso home sent by the Chancery of the Archdiocese of Syracuse. They withdrew a sample of the liquid that flowed from the eyes. The microscopic analysis verified: “They are human tears.” After the scientific analysis, on the fourth day of the lachrymator, the weeping ceased. Late afternoon, return to your Hotel in Syracuse. Overnight in Syracuse.

    Day 09:Ctania Departure

    Enjoy a full buffet breakfast at your hotel. At the indicated hour, transfer to Catania airport. End of our services. Arrivederci Sicilia!!