Day 1 Depart USA
- Viewing the breathtaking Byzantine mosaics in Monreale
- Visiting the small mountain villages around Polizzi Generosa and participating in a personal cooking lesson with an authentic Sicilian family
- A private visit with the Baroness Nocoletta Moncada at Palazzo Biscari
- A walk through the Valley of the Temples with your own private historian
You board your flight for the overnight journey to the Palermo, founded by Phoenicians, located at the foot of Monte Pellegrino and gateway to our program of exploration.
Day 2 Welcome to Palermo and the Villa Igiea
Upon arrival you are met by your driver and guide and taken to your hotel which is located on the outskirts of the city, surrounded by gardens that slope gently down to the sea. The hotel provides a therapeutic environment as you adjust to the time change perhaps by taking a stroll through the grounds or a dip in the pool? Suitably revived you have the opportunity to dine in the hotel's fine restaurant this evening.
Day 3 Monreale, Historic Palermo and il mercato della Vucciria
This morning your guide will be waiting to take you on a short drive to Monreale located on the foothills of Mount Caputo overlooking the Conca d'Oro Valley. You are here to visit the spectacular 12th Century Cathedral which rivals Saint Sophia in Istanbul and Saint Mark's in Venice in its use of decorative mosaics. While it is Romanesque in overall style, the cathedral combines aspects of Arab, Byzantine and Norman architecture. After the visit you will be taken to lunch at a restaurant before returning to Palermo. Serving as a bridge between Europe and Africa both geographically and culturally, the city served as the capital of the Norman Kingdom of Sicily in the 12th Century. You will have a personally guided tour of the Palatine Chapel built in the 12th Century and an excellent example of Arabic-Norman architecture. You will also visit the church of St. John the Hermit which was originally a mosque then converted into a church. Your next stop is il mercato della Vucciria one of the oldest and most frequented markets in the city. Your guide will walk you through the market explaining the various stalls and their impact on everyday life in Palermo. You will then return to the hotel to freshen up and rest. This evening you will be taken to dinner at a restaurant in the city.
Day 4 Parco delle Madonie and Cefalu
Today you head into the central part of Sicily to the small medieval town of Polizzi Generosa. The town is the location of artwork from the Norman period and, as importantly, it lies within the Madonie Mountains' National Park. This area between the northern coast and central Sicily has a wealth of ancient small villages, where many people still live according to the Sicilian traditions. You will have a special experience today as you are invited into the home of an authentic Sicilian family where your host will demonstrate how to make homemade pasta and a variety of sauces to accompany it. You will be invited to participate and then sit down to lunch with your new friends. After lunch your guide is ready to take you to the coast and the long golden beach at Cefalu. Besides its scenic beauty, Cefalu also has several buildings of significance dating back to King Roger II. One such building is the Osterio Magno, reputed to be his residence. Of interest is the medieval wash-house and the Mandralisca museum which has, as part of its collection, a famous portrait done by Antonello da Messina, although the subject is unknown. You have some time to stroll along the lanes in the historical centre before returning to the hotel. Tonight you have the enviable choice of choosing the type of Sicilian meal that you would like to have this evening.
Day 5 Segesta, Erice and Fortanasalsa
After you have had a leisurely breakfast your guide will be in the hotel lobby to take you to Agrigento, our next destination. First, however there are interesting and unique experiences to be enjoyed along the way. Our first experience will be a visit to the abandoned Greek city of Segesta built around 500 B.C. The highlight of the visit will be the Doric Temple considered to be one of the best preserved in the world. We then continue on to the delightful town of Erice which was originally built to honor Aphrodite and later expanded in Medieval times. Located over 2,000 feet above sea level it has commanding views over the western part of Sicily, the Egadi Islands and the Mediterranean sea. It is not just the views, however that brings people here since the quaint cobblestone streets have their own unique appeal. A stop at a pastry shop for some almond cakes filled with candied lemon will fortify your walk around the town. Your guide will then take you to Fontanasalsa, a village on the western coast where you will have lunch in an antique farm house surrounded by palm trees, olive trees and vineyards. You will have a chance to taste both the olive oils and the wines before continuing on to Agrigento founded by the Greeks in the 6th Century B.C. and home to a vast array of temples which you will visit tomorrow. This evening a delightful dinner in a local restaurant.
Day 6 The Valley of The Temples and Piazza Armerina
Today you will have the chance to compare and contrast the Greek and Roman contributions to Sicilian history. Your visit this morning will be to the Valley of the Temples so-called because the Greeks, in the 5th Century B.C., built a number of them in honor of their gods and as a testament to their wealth. As in Greece, all the temples faced East to catch the life giving sun in the morning. The ruined temples include those dedicated to Juno, Jupiter, Castor and Pollux, Hercules Vulcan and Esculapio. The only one in a good state of preservation is the Concordia temple which was converted into a Christian church in the 6th Century A.D. Your guide will give you a private tour of the area before allowing you some time to grab some lunch and explore on your own. Your guide will then take you to the small town of Piazza Armerina where we visit Villa Romana del Casale a well preserved 3rd Century Roman villa with excellent mosaics and giving an interesting insight into Roman life at the time. After a tour of the villa you are driven to Syracusa and the luxury Grand Hotel Des Etrangers located on the island of Ortigia and offering spectacular sea views. This evening you will have dinner overlooking the port of Syracusa.
Day 7 Modica and the Splendors of Syracusa
After enjoying a leisurely breakfast you meet your guide for the ride to the ancient capital of Contea called Modica. This is a city full of fascinating architectural, artistic and scenic attractions revolving around the Sicilian Baroque period. You will take a stroll with your guide through the winding streets pausing at Bonajuto where the Ruta family is famous for their Aztec-inspired chocolate. You should try not to spoil your appetite for the lunch in store in a local restaurant. After lunch you will be taken back to Syracusa where you will get a private tour of this the most classic towns of Syracusa's Hellenic age bridging the span between Greek and Roman influence (Archimedes was born here). You will visit the Greek Theatre where Aeschylus put on his plays and the Roman Amphitheatre. Ortigia Island, where your hotel is located, is home to the temple of Apollo and the mythical spring of Arethusa. The highlight of the day will be a visit to a private palace, Palazzo Beneventano where the currentresident, the Baron, will personally receive you and welcome you to Syracusa.
Day 8 Catania and Taormina
Your first stop today will be Sicily's second largest city, Catania. This lively town with Baroque-style charm is also known as the "black city" because of the dark color of the facades of the building carved from black lave stone. In addition to viewing its historic monuments you will also have the chance to visit its colorful fish market. You are invited to visit the most magnificent private building in Catania, Palazzo Biscari, where you will meet the owner, Baroness Nicoletta Moncada, and have a chance to tour the Palazzo. After lunch you are driven to Taormina where you check into the San Domenico Palace, a monastery now turned into a luxury hotel situated on a natural terrace overlooking the sea. Dinner is at the hotel this evening.
Day 9 Exploring and Enjoying Taormina
The town of Taormina is blessed with a temperate climate, a beautiful setting and unsurpassed water views. Goethe sang its praises and it was, in the 19th Century a place where the English wealthy came to. It was here, in fact, that D.H. Lawrence wrote “Lady Chatterley’s Lover”. We have left the day open for you to enjoy the town at your leisure. You may wish to pursue additional history by visiting the Greek Theatre which was used by the Greeks for Drama, the Romans for gladiatorial contests and, even today it holds major cultural events. For people watching, try the Corso Umberto which widens at its center to provide an unforgettable view over the bay. This evening you will be taken to a well known restaurant where you can enjoy a farewell dinner. After dinner your driver can take you back to the hotel or you may choose to enjoy the night air on the Corso Umberto.
Day 10 Return to USA
In the morning your driver will be waiting to take you to the airport for the return flight to the US.
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Privatly Escorted Tour - Heritage Hotels of Sicily ULIT16 Location and other villas and tours nearby
Disclaimer: Pins in map may not be accurate if Google Maps cannot find the exact address. In this case an approximation is made.
Tour Location / Places Visiteds
Palermo, Agrigento, Siracusa, Taormina
Additional Pricing Information
- 1st Class rail travel as indicated on the itinerary
- Superior Rooms at the properties indicated in the accommodations area (We reserve the right to substitute a property of equal quality in advance of departure should the designated hotel be unavailable)
- Private Transfers to and from the airport or rail station at destination
- All meals as indicated on the itinerary by B=Breakfast, L=Lunch and D=Dinner
- Private guides for city explorations and private driver/guide while traveling.
- Entrance fees to all museums, attractions and other venues as indicated on the daily itinerary
- Baggage handling at all hotels
- All applicable taxes and service fees
Services Not Included
- International airfare (round-trip from hometown departure gateway to destination)
- Beverages with included meals (unless otherwise indicated on itinerary page)
- Any meals not indicated on the Itinerary page
- Items of a personal nature e.g. minibar, film, postcards etc.
- Gratuities to Guides and Driver/Guides (we provide suggested guidelines for your selected destination in your pre-departure material)
- Any passport or visa fees or government departure taxes (It is the traveler’s responsibility to secure the latest information regarding passports and visa requirements)
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