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Sicily Behind the Scenes

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From the street markets of Palermo to the Baroque towns of Ragusa and Modica

 

Immerse yourself in the unique history, culture and cuisine of Sicily. Spend an authentic holiday rich in flavors, captivating stories and stunning UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. Discover the secret treasures of the island with the help of a private driver and get an insider’s view from our local guides.

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Sicily

Arrival at Palermo airport and transfer to your accommodation.

The ancient town of Palermo preserves the artistic and architectural heritage of diverse civilizations from Greek and Roman to Arab and Norman. Start your journey with a stroll down the oldest road in the city, The Cassaro, dating back to the Phoenicians. It is lined with elegant villas, countless shops and lively cafés. Next to Porta Nuova, the old city gate, be amazed by the prominent Norman Palace with its ornate Palatine Chapel.

Overnight at a 4-star boutique hotel in Palermo.

Day 2: Insider’s tour of Palermo

Enjoy a guided walk through historic Palermo, the lively capital city of Sicily. Marvel at the 18th century palaces of Quattro Canti (Four Corners), the beautiful square where four historic neighborhoods meet. Visit the Cathedral boasting a Catalan Gothic façade and an apse decorated in Arab style. Make your way to Teatro Massimo (Opera House), the third largest in Europe with a unique style inspired by ancient Greek temples, that earned it the reputation of greatest Italian music temple.

As you explore the city, you’ll come across tantalizing street markets abounding in colorful produce and unique foods your guide will introduce you to. Try fried rice balls, chickpea flour pancakes, potato croquettes or sfincione, a type of flatbread topped with tomatoes and anchovies.

Continue to Monreale to admire the best preserved Byzantine mosaics inside a church detailing religious scenes from the Old and New Testaments.

Overnight at a 4-star boutique hotel in Palermo.

Day 3: Castelbuono & Cefalù

Venture out from the city to the charming medieval village of Castelbuono in the Madonie Mountains, where some scenes of the famous movie Cinema Paradiso were filmed. Grab a biscotti and set out to explore the village’s narrow streets reminiscent of a bygone era of knights and noblewomen in their rich brocade dresses. Ancient churches adorned with frescoes and statues dot the village leading to the imposing Castello. The main square lined with cafés is the perfect place for a relaxed lunch.

Spend the rest of the day in Cefalù, the striking coastal town wedged between the sea and a dramatic cliff rising 880 ft. The Phoenicians called it the ‘promontory of Hercules’. Stroll through the old medieval town with its many interesting sights, such as the old washhouse carved out from a rock, the adorned Baroque squares, the Church of Purgatory, and the Duomo, a gigantic cathedral built by the Normans.

Overnight at a 4-star boutique hotel in Palermo.

Day 4: Ancient temples and farm lunch

Discover two major sites of Sicily’s ancient past. In Segesta visit a 2500 year old temple which was never completed because enemies attacked the settlement. Also visit a well-preserved Greek theater. Despite its unfinished state, the temple’s beauty together with the theater reveal a lot about the strategic importance of this site in the Sicilian heartland.

Enjoy a delicious farm lunch with locally sourced products in the quaint Sicilian countryside, a veritable treat organized just for you and your travel companion(s).

Arrive in the beautiful Valley of the Temples dotted with almond and olive trees, where you’ll discover the best preserved temple from the ancient world, designated as World Heritage Site by UNESCO. A stroll along the valley’s fascinating ancient ruins is a must.

Overnight at a 4-star hotel in Agrigento.

Day 5: A world of mosaics

Make your way to the heart of the island to Piazza Armerina, where your local guide will take you on a journey of the Roman Empire. Watch the colorful mosaics come alive and regale you about the Roman society, way of life and customs. The luxurious, former Roman Villa you’ll visit is decorated with over 35,000 square feet of mosaics. From a wooden platform, enjoy the special viewpoint on these extraordinary mosaics, including the most famous one called ‘the bikini girls’. Learn about the unique scenes as well as farming in Sicily, and find out why the Roman villa was built in that specific location.

Overnight at a 4-star historic hotel in Ragusa.

Day 6: Baroque towns of Ragusa & Modica

After enjoying a granita with brioche for breakfast, wander around picturesque Ragusa. The original town, destroyed by an earthquake in 1693, was rebuilt in two sections, Ragusa Superiore and Ragusa Inferiore (or Ibla). The panorama over the lower town of Ibla as seen from the long descending staircase is in itself an unforgettable experience. Ibla is filled with palazzi, churches and highly ornate balconies in the popular 18th century Baroque style. Admire the Duomo and take in the vibrant atmosphere in elegant Piazza Pola, then explore the main Corso where movies such as ‘Detective Montalbano’ and ‘Divorce Italian Style’ were set.

Continue to Modica, home to two massive Baroque treasures, Duomo di San Giorgio and Duomo di San Pietro. But as you’ll find out, the town is more than just religious sites and impressive architecture. Discover local delicacies and treat yourself to a special chocolate tasting.

Overnight at a 4-star historic hotel in Ragusa.

Day 7: Ancient Siracusa

Discover the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Siracusa, an enchanting coastal town with two souls: Greek and Baroque. First, take a tour of the ancient Altar of Hieron, the famous Ear of Dionysius, the Greek Theatre and the Roman Amphitheater located within the Archaeological Park. Next, explore the heart of Siracusa – Ortigia – with its beautiful alleys, lovely seafront restaurants and the popular Piazza Duomo. Not to be missed are the wild papyrus sedges typical to the area.

Overnight at an elegant 4-star hotel in Catania.

Day 8: Mt Etna & Taormina

Experience Mt Etna, the towering volcano rising 10,991 ft from the sea, in all its majesty. It is the tallest volcano in Europe and the most active in the world. It’s visible from nearly every point of the island and on a clear day from the shores of Italy. As you approach the mountain the scenery steadily changes. Curvy roads lead you through extinct craters, birch and chestnut forests, arriving at the Silvestri Craters. Go for an easy walk or a more strenuous hike on the volcano, depending on your physical condition. You can also take the cable car to a higher elevation to admire the vast panorama all around.

Spend the afternoon in Taormina, the picturesque resort town located at the foot of the volcano. Be amazed by the Ancient Theater, suspended between Greek and Roman history, carved on a beautiful promontory with sweeping views on the coastline and nearby towns. Enjoy a leisurely stroll on the famous Corso Umberto and Piazza Belvedere as you experience the ‘dolce vita’.

Overnight at an elegant 4-star hotel in Catania.

Day 9: In the footsteps of the Godfather

Your journey starts in the quaint fishing village of Aci Trezza with its ‘faraglioni’ (big boulders). Homer in his Odyssey tells the story of Polyphemus throwing these big rocks at a retreating Ulysses. Aci Trezza was also the movie set for ‘The Earth trembles’, a popular movie by Visconti.

Arrive in Savoca, the setting for another famous movie, ‘The Godfather’. The winding, narrow road leading up to the village culminates in a thrilling experience at the church on the hill. Follow in Michael Corleone’s footsteps as your local guide shares little known anecdotes and points out the movie locations for the wedding and other scenes, including the now aging Bar Vitelli. Admire the coastline from atop and learn the most fascinating secrets of this small town.

Overnight at an elegant 4-star hotel in Catania.

Day 10: Return home

Private transfer to Catania airport. Depart for home.

Book this itinerary for $4,770.00/person.

Pricing is based on double room occupancy. Other options (i.e. single supplement, family rates) are available on request. Rates valid for travel in 2021.

Package includes:

  • 4-star boutique accommodations with breakfast
  • Airport transfers on arrival and departure
  • Full-day guided tours in Palermo, Ragusa/Modica, Siracusa, Mt Etna/Taormina, Aci Trezza/Savoca
  • Half-day guided tours in Segesta, Agrigento, Piazza Armerina
  • Street food tasting experience in Palermo
  • Entrance fees to attractions included in guided trips
  • Entrance fees to Castelbuono Castle
  • Farm lunch and tasting fees per itinerary
  • Private transfers between hotels
  • English speaking driver
  • Emergency customer support
  • Restaurant recommendations

Package does not include:

  • International airfare
  • Travel insurance (highly recommended)
  • Personal expenses
  • Gratuities

Payments

  • Deposit 35% of total – paid at booking
  • Trip balance – 60 days before travel date

Cancellation and Refund Policy

  • Cancellable and refundable up to 60 days before trip start date. Refunds are subject to 10% administrative fee.