Summary

Explore the beautiful island of Sicily during this amazing 13-day trip.

Itinerary

Day 1 - 2
Excursion starts:

Fly to Palermo. Upon arrival at Palermo Airport, meet your personal English-speaking driver/guide in the arrival hall, after passport control, baggage claim and customs. Your driver will be at your disposal for the entirety of your stay in Sicily. You will be transferred by Mercedes car to the hotel. You will get a recommendation of the best restaurants in Palermo.

Overnight: in Palermo

Day 2 - 3
Excursion starts:

After breakfast, meet your English-Speaking guide and driver in the lobby of your hotel and embark on a marvelous tour of Palermo a captivating and exotic city! At different times the capital for both the Arabs and the Normans, Palermo reflects the remarkable convergence of these two worlds. Begin your visit at the 12th- century Palatine Chapel, with Byzantine and Islamic style mosaics. Continue to the Church of St. John of the Hermits, which was constructed to look like a red-domed mosque, and explore the nearby Norman cathedral, to which an additional layer was added by each new ruling dynasty. Later stop for a light lunch in a local trattoria.

Afterwards take a short drive to the lovely town of Monreale to explore its celebrated cathedral, the greatest example of Norman architecture in the world, decorated with over 6,340 square meters (almost 70,000 feet) of mosaics and 24- carat gold brilliantly portraying scenes from the Old and New Testaments! Then, your driver transfers you back to your hotel in Palermo.

Overnight: in Palermo

Alternative activities & experiences in Palermo on request

Sicilian Pastry Cooking Class
The traditional pastry from Palermo has a long history based both on a religious and monastic legacy and a mixture of Arabic and northern European cultures. The Sicilian pastry equates Art since it embeds the fusion of peoples and nations. Broadly speaking, this fusion is also one of the most prominent characteristics of Sicily. In a homely and friendly atmosphere, some cooks will help you to prepare the famous “cassata” or “cannoli” (whose main ingredient is ricotta cheese), almond cookies, orange or canella "mellone" (fresh watermelon) puddings depending on the season, and other specialties. An entire afternoon (or two) will be dedicated to the discovery of ancient tastes and traditions. This will be a true gourmet journey amid the tastes and flavours of the delicious Sicilian sweets.

Street Food Cooking Class
Guided by the cook Giana, you will learn the "secrets" of the Sicilian cuisine: dishes that are reminiscent of The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, such as pies and “beccafico” sardines, or Malavoglia by Giovanni Verga with the famous battered anchovies and sweet almonds. Not only food but also history, anecdotes, and curious stories will accompany the cooking class, which will be held in the core of the old town centre of Palermo. On request, you can book a morning visit to the open air market “Ballarò” to buy the ingredients for the cooking class.

Oratories and Confraternities in Palermo: the art and magic of Sicilian stuccos
Thanks to this tour, you will discover the history of the powerful groups of the Palermitan confraternities, which developed between the 17th and 18th centuries mainly, and their places: the oratories. Although characterized by strong rivalry, each oratory, which was a religious meeting place, had to be the most beautiful amongst the others in order to express the power and the wealth of the group it belonged to. During the 18th century, the master of the artistic narratives of the late Baroque art of the oratories was Sicilian stucco sculptor Giacomo Serpotta.
By following the path of his stucco masterpieces, you will discover the Oratory of San Lorenzo, the Church of San Francesco d’Assisi, and the oratories of the Loggia neighbourhood: SS. Rosario in San Domenico and the oratory of Santa Cita. All of these monuments, which are the “white” masterpieces of the aforementioned original sculptor from Palermo, represent the specific imaginary of an entire era.

Day 3 - 4
Excursion starts:

After breakfast head to Erice. Located on the top of a Mount at about 750 meters above sea level, Erice overlooks the city of Trapani, the low western coast towards Marsala, Punta del Saraceno and Capo San Vito to the north-east, and the Aegadian Islands on Sicily’s north-western coast. Visit the remains of the ancient Elymian and Phoenician walls and both castle in town: Pepoli Castle (Saracen era) and the Venus Castle (Norman era), with its beautiful fountain.

Then drive to Segesta, a magical site, set on the edge of a deep canyon in the midst of wild, desolate mountains, and the 5th-century BC ruins. On windy days, the 36 giant columns of its magnificent temple are said to act like an organ, producing mysterious notes. The city, founded by the ancient Elymians, was in constant conflict with Selinunte in the south, whose destruction sought with dogged determination and singular success.

Famous for its historic spas and flamboyant carnival celebrations, Sciacca is the main town on this stretch of the coast. It was founded in the 5th century BC as a thermal resort for nearby Selinunte and later flourished under the Saracens, who arrived in the 9th century and named it Xacca (meaning 'water' in Arabic). Its healing waters continue to be the big drawcard, attracting coachloads of Italian tourists, who come to treat their assorted ailments in the sulphurous vapours and mineral-rich mud. Spas and thermal cures apart, it's a laid back town with an attractive medieval core and some excellent seafood restaurants. Sciacca retains much of its medieval layout, which divided the town into quarters, each laid out on a strip of rock descending towards the sea.

Accommodation: Verdura Resort, A Rocco Forte Hotel

Day 4 - 5
Excursion starts:

After breakfast at the hotel you will go to Planeta Estate. The famous winery of the Planeta family was established in 1995. Planeta is a Sicilian wine producer built on a long agricultural tradition, handed down since 1500 through 17 generations in the area between Sambuca di Sicilia and Menfi. Today Planeta represents not just one, but six ways of developing the territory, in six different settings. There are, in fact, six Planeta wine producing estates, each one with a specific research and development project.

You will kick off the tour with a welcome reception and a tasting of some of Planeta’s wines that come from five different estates throughout Sicily.

Accommodation: Verdura Resort, A Rocco Forte Hotel

Day 5 - 6
Excursion starts:

Head to Agrigento where you will meet your private local guide and take an unforgettable guided tour of one of the most remarkable sites in the world - the legendary Valley of the Temples, where the remains of seven Doric temples stand in a breathtaking setting of almond groves and olive trees.

Depart to Piazza Armerina where you’ll admire the extraordinary floor mosaics in the Roman Villa del Casale. The famed Roman mosaics housed in this third century villa are among the best preserved in the world, depicting scenes from everyday life. Scenes include children at play, and big game hunts showing some of the exotic African animals brought to Rome for gladiator games.

Then continue to Ragusa.

Overnight: in Ragusa

Day 6 - 7
Excursion starts:

After breakfast visit Ragusa which is set on a limestone hill between two valleys, Cava San Leonardo and Cava Santa Domenica. It is so stunning that is listed among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. In order to fully understand its structure, you have to know that the city is divided into two distinct areas, the lower and the oldest town of Ragusa Ibla, and Ragusa Superiore (upper town). The upper town features the San Giovanni Battista Cathedral, which underwent many structural changes. The current building has a façade in aq typical southern Sicilian Baroque style. Also interesting is the bell tower in Baroque style. Ragusa Ibla is the most stunning part with its Chathedral of San Giorgio of which only a Catalan Gothyic style portal can still be seen, while the rest of the church is topped by a Neoclassical Dome.

Then drive to Modica located in the Hyblaean Mountains and, along with Val di Noto. The city was badly damaged in the 1693 earthquake and largely rebuilt in Sicilian Baroque style. It is divided into two parts, “higher” Modica and “lower” Modica.

Overnight: in Ragusa

Alternative on request activities & experiences in Ragusa area

Ispica Gorges Tour
Take a walk along the Cave d’Ispica and discover the famous gorge. Enjoy a typical Sicilian wine tasting accompanied by Sicilian delicacies. This tour will start from the Archaeological Park of Cava Ispica where you will have the chance to admire the Catacomb of Larderia, rocky complexes that were inhabited from the Middle Ages to the last century, and Saint Nicholas’ rocky Church in which Byzantine frescoes are still visible. A pleasant natural walk in the valley will bring us to see the rocky settlements of Pernamazzone and so called "Sicanian Castle", and prehistoric necropolis of Calicantone.

Wine Tasting
Experience the excellence of the Sicilian wine at COS and Valle dell’Acate wineries. Enjoy a walk along the COS winery and be enchanted by the story of the amphoras, clay jars that were used by the ancient Greek. Taste the so called Cerasuolo di Vittoria, a red wine that is specific to the province of Ragusa. The Denomination of Origin was granted in 1974 and guaranteed in 2005, making it the only D.O.C.G. in Sicily. Walk then amid a bucolic atmosphere in Valle Dell’ACate, the suggestive stone architecture harks back to the land’s longstanding farming culture, reminding visitors of the way wine was once made. Inside the large building people can see the Dal Negro presses that have substituted the antique cianca once used to press the grapes. Large, luminous openings served to allow harvesters to send freshly-gathered grapes “down the course” and into the palmento press. In years past, men, women crushed the grapes, singing and dancing, together at harvest time. Visitors can still see the two carven channels through which fresh grape must once flowed, running downhill to the storeroom.
The wine tasting takes place in the “dispensa” where you’ll taste up to 5 different wines: the famous DOCG Cerasuolo di Vittoria, DOC wines like Il Frappato, Insolia and Zagra, IGT wines like Il Moro, Bidis, Rusciano and Tané accompanied by a light lunch made by Sicilian organic and regional products.

Oil Tasting
Experience the excellence of the Sicilian oil inside a typical Sicilian “frantoio”. For generations the family has been dedicating to the cultivation of olive trees and olive oil production, a profession carried on for decades with the passion and the love that binds this family to its land. The company's origins date back more than a century ago. Records show that in 1906, the family was dedicated to the cultivation and care of olive trees in Chiaramonte Gulfi, a small town in the south-eastern area of Sicily. Be guided on an interesting tour of the factory and be enchanted by the notions and techniques used for the oil bottling and warehousing. Taste different types of olive oil and enjoy a typical Sicilian light lunch made up of Sicilian delicacies, Nero d’Avola wine and a delicious dessert.

A sensorial path
Experience the sensorial pathway at Gli Aromi and be enchanted by the explanation of the owner as you walk along the garden. Be embraced by the colours and the aromas, touch, smell and taste the fragrance of the aromatic plants all around you. This multi-sensorial experience is preferred also by famous chefs, gourmet and food lovers. The path is made by more than 200 different plants: from sage to pineapple, lemon, geranium, orange, mint, bergamot and many others. The owner is able to catch your attention during the entire walk with stories and scientific notions. The tour ends in the Kitchen Garden where you can enjoy a typical Sicilian aperitivo with Sicilian delicacies and participate in an interesting cooking show.

Day 7 - 8
Excursion starts:

After breakfast you will go to Siracusa, where will enjoy light lunch which will be served at Salumeria F.lli Burgio in Ortigia. In the afternoon you will have a guided tour of Archeological Park including “The Ear of Dionysius,” which because of its unusual shape, resembles a human ear. Finally you will enjoy the elegant island of Ortigia, where you will admire the architectural splendor of ancient medieval streets, baroque structures, and classic churches as the Duomo, built upon the old temple of Athena.

Continue to Riposto and overnight stay on board of a private yacht.

Accommodation: onboard a private yacht

Day 8 - 9
Excursion starts:

After about 2,5 hours sailing across the strict of Messina, enjoy a full day on the island of Salina and discover each hidden corner. Salina is the second largest island, and the most fertile and rich in water (Salina was the first among the Aeolian islands to protect its environment with a natural preserve, known as the Riserva Naturale del Fossa delle Felci e dei Porri).

That is why here is harvested the Malvasia delle Lipari, a sweet wine, and capers, exported all over the world. Sites of interest are the slopes of the Fossa, where several Roman tombs have been excavated, and the Sanctuary of the Madonna del Terzito, located between the twin volcanoes, and built in 1630.

Back on board, head to Pollara Bay and stop enjoy an aperitivo at the sunset. Dinner at leisure in Salina.

Accommodation: onboard a private yacht

Day 9 - 10
Excursion starts:

Wake up in Panarea. Panarea is a small but enchanting island, the ideal scenery of a great photo shooting. The landscape of Panarea is unforgettable, with colours changing from turquoise to deep blue.

In antiquity, the island was named "Euonymus"; the nearby islet of Basiluzzo, administered from Panarea, was named "Hycesia". The archaeological evidence on the island dates back to Mycenaean inhabitants but the island was then settled by Romans. Panarea and the entire Aeolian chain were declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2000.

Head to Stromboli towards the so-called Sciara del fuoco by boat to watch the explosions.

Accommodation: onboard a private yacht

Day 10 - 11
Excursion starts:

After breakfast you can get off the boat and visit the island of Stromboli in the morning. Its name comes from the ancient Greek word Stroggyli, which means “ a spinning top”, for its shape. Stromboli features one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Some meters north-east of Stromboli, there is volcanic neck of Strombolicchio that features a deserted lighthouse.

Have lunch and head to Messina harbour.

Later you will be transferred to Taormina.

Accommodation: Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo

Day 11 - 12
Excursion starts:

Taormina is a small town on the East Coast of Sicily, and has been a tourist destination since the 19th century. Goethe represented Taormina in many paintings to let others fall in love with the city that today is one of the most famous destination in the world.

The most remarkable monument is definitely the Ancient Theatre, set in a breath-taking location. It is built for the most part of bricks, which let us think of the Roman era, though the plan and arrangements are in accordance with those of Greek. The monument you see today has been rebuilt on the foundations of an older theatre of the Greek period. It is the second largest of its kind in Sicily (after the one in Siracusa) and because of its perfect acoustic, it is still used today for theatre performances, concerts and international events.

Enjoy a day at the beach.

In the evening, experience a lovely walking tour (easy walking - duration: 2,5 hours approximately). Your guide will show you the most beautiful corners and streets of the town, and help you uncover all of their most evocative secrets. During this walk you will visit the famous Ancient Greek Theatre, the beautiful Palazzo Corvaja, the Odeon – a small Roman theater, the church of Saint Catherine, Vicolo Stretto – the narrowest street in Taormina, Corso Umberto – the fashionable and charming main street, and Piazza IX Aprile – the main square with a magnificent view of the majestic profile of Etna and the coast of the Bay of Giardini Naxos stretching up the hill to the Greek Theater.

Accommodation: Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo

Alternative on request activities & experiences in Taormina area

Etna and Taormina Helicopter Tour
Enjoy a bird's-eye view of Etna and Taormina as you soar above the volcano’s active craters and Taormina’s ancient theater. Fly over the the highest active volcano in Europe and admire from above its amazing natural beauty.

Boat Tour
Visit the bays of Taormina by boat. Relax, swim, and enjoy a fresh fish lunch by the waters of the natural reserve of Isola Bella. To really see Taormina is to experience it from its most privileged point of view. That is from the beautiful sea that surrounds it. Enjoy a day at sea visiting the bays of Taormina and the coast of the pearl of the Ionian with this authentic and relaxing tour. You will experience a traditional sea voyage while on board a comfortable boat, caressed by the sea breeze and relaxed by the lapping waves. You will visit not only the fascinating Grotta Azzurra with its colorful shades of blue, but also Capo Taormina and its rocky coastline - made famous by the film Le Grand Blue. Etna and the Gulf of Giardini Naxos will provide the perfect backdrop for a photo to remember the moment, and this will be the perfect place for a refreshing dip in the waters surrounding the Grotta del Giorno.

Fishing Tour
Go fishing with a local fisherman, then feast on your spoils caught at the crystal clear Isola Bella! Today it’s possible to follow the local fisherman’s footsteps, thanks to the exclusive tour restricted to a small number of participants to guarantee and enhance an authentic experience. Get ready to get your hands dirty preparing the bait, and feel the lines tug as you hook some local delicacies. You will learn to fish like the true Sicilian fishermen and locals who regularly enjoy this past time.

Ancient Greek Theatre and Wine Tasting - Walking Tour
From the Ancient Greek Theater to a wine tasting, a walking tour is the ideal way to discover Taormina and be properly introduced to this unforgettable town and its unique historical heritage. Taormina lies on the slopes of Monte Tauro and was dubbed the "Pearl of the Mediterranean" by the famous German baron Wilhelm von Gloeden. The enchanting town appears to have been created to seduce the eyes, the mind, and the imagination. It is a worthwhile visit for simply understanding its history and heritage, taking a romantic escape, or just relaxing. Every church, every street, and every building is full of colours, people and magic that make Sicily famous. The most remarkable monument of all is the Ancient Greek Theater, set in a breathtaking location with an unbeatable view of Mount Etna and the beautiful coastline of the Ionian Sea. Jump the queues and visit this wonderful historical site with a professional licensed guide.

Cooking with Mamma
Tie your apron and get to cooking under the watchful eye of a Sicilian “mamma” who will guide you along the way to successfully create a typical Sicilian menu. Get your hands dirty using your fresh ingredients to prepare some delicious recipes. Then get ready to cook special dishes according to local culinary traditions and techniques that you can use to impress your family and friends back home! Meet ‘mamma’ — for the evening — in her apartment, and let her show you all the fresh ingredients you’ll be cooking with.

Sicilian Cooking Class in a Private Villa
Enjoy a cooking class in a private villa in Taormina guided by a professional chef. Then savor your dishes on the terrace with a selection of Etna wines soak up the atmosphere of the villa. Taormina is famous for its lush villas and elegant historical palazzi. Why not try to create some of the most typical dishes of Sicilian cuisine in the refined atmosphere of a private villa in Taormina? Tie your apron and get to cooking under the watchful eye of the professional local chef who will offer helpful guidance along the way to successfully create a typical Sicilian menu.

Pizza and Cannolo Making Class
Become a chef and learn how to make pizza and a traditional Sicilian dessert, cannolo. Feast on your creations and enjoy a dining experience in a beautiful Sicilian garden. Learning to make Pizza and cannolo like an Italian is a great way to have fun, make friends, and learn a new skill that won't fail to impress your friends and family when you get home. After wandering through the narrow streets of the historic centre of Taormina, you will stop off in Piazza IX Aprile to admire the view. From there you will head to an ancient villa dating back to the 600's. Built in typical local stone and immersed in the trees, today it is one of the most renowned restaurants in Taormina.

Day 12 - 13
Excursion starts:

Sicily has always had an extraordinary food and wine culture, and this Wine Trail aims to give you a full understanding of all that this fertile land has to offer.

Travel in comfort by car from Taormina through the rocky landscape of Etna to visit three different wineries on the slopes of the volcano. You will hear the stories of the men who have worked passionately to make Sicily an internationally renowned wine region. During the tour a professional sommelier will explain to you the specific characteristics of the terroir and the effect that the Mediterranean climate and the vicinity to the sea have on the cultivation of the vines. You will learn all about the wine making process - from the harvesting of the grapes to the bottling and aging of the wine – which are all carried out with typical Sicilian devotion and love.

You will start your tour by visiting a beautiful winery extending from 650 to 850 meters above the sea level. You will have the chance to admire the terraces where the vineyards grow, surrounded by small charming lava stone cottages, see the elements of old and modern wine production and taste a 100% Chardonnay Classic and a vinified Nerello Mascalese. The large antique wine press will take you back in time and show you how wine was made for centuries, whilst the modern technological system will show you how Etna's wine is currently made. Strolling through the vineyards of this enchanting winery you will discover all the particularities of the vines, leaving you with an unforgettable experience.

Your second stop will be at an internationally renowned boutique winery. Here you can admire the vines growing on the the dark volcanic field that gives the grapes an unforgettable colour and taste that make Etna Doc famous worldwide. In a beautiful panoramic spot you will taste one of the most important Etna Doc red and white wines, paired with a locally produced olive oil.

Your tour will conclude with a visit to a small family owned antique winery, located at a private Villa, where you can enjoy a walk around some rare examples of vines that are over 80 years old. The charming cellar represents an intimate timeless environment where a selection of great and authentic Etna Doc wines rest. The sommelier will offer you 2 wines to taste. Thanks to its aged plants, the wines have distinctively intense and spicy notes.

A homemade lunch will be served in the relaxing garden by the family owning this exclusive winery. Thanks to the unique environment, natural beauty, and its quality wine production, Mount Etna has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2013.

After lunch, enjoy Etna helicopter tour. Admire the active craters and beautiful landscape of Mount Etna from high above. Enjoy the unique experience of seeing a volcano in an almost constant state of activity whilst surrounded by green vineyards and orange groves. The perfect backdrop for the amazing pictures that will forever remind you of this outstanding tour. The helicopter tour takes around 20 min. and it has a capacity of 5 passengers. The return to Taormina will be around 5 pm.

Accommodation: Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo

Day 13 -
Excursion starts:

After breakfast you will leave Taormina and go to Catania Airport for your flight back home.

If you have free time, you can visit Catania, which is located at the foot of the highest active volcano in Europe - Mount Etna. You can easily visit the black lava stone city center on foot. Piazza Duomo, the city's focal point and a Unesco World Heritage Site, like much of the old  town, was built in the Baroque style of the 18th century after the eruption of Etna and an earthquake that devastated the city in the 17th century. In Piazza Duomo, admire the baroque façade of the Cattedrale di Sant' Agata and the symbol of the city - u Litoru, Fontana dell'Elefante, a fountain that portrays an ancient lava stone elephant and is topped by an Egyptian obelisk. Then explore with your guide La Pescheria, the city's cheerful fish market where local fishermen sell their catch: decapitated swordfish, ruby-pink prawns, clams and mussels. Visit the ancient Catania with the remains of Roman Theatre and its small rehearsal theatre, the Odeon. Follow your guide to enjoy Catania's main shopping street Via Etna that runs from Piazza Duomo up to the foothills of Etna – on a clear day you can see the volcano rising at the end of the street.

- This is a guide itinerary and can be modified to suit. It is subject to availability and price at the time of booking. Other conditions may apply -

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