01 – SATURDAY CATANIA Arrive independently to the hotel in the charming city of Catania . In the evening you will meet our tour-leader and your travel companions and enjoy a welcome dinner. Overnight in hotel.
02 After breakfast in hotel we will visit Syracuse, the most beautiful and greatest Greek colony in Sicily and World Heritage Site! The visit will start with the Archaeological Park of Neapolis, with its Greek Theatre, the Roman Amphitheatre, the Latomie of Paradise and the Ear of Dionysius. We will continue visiting the splendid Ortigia, a small island which is the historical centre of Syracuse. In Ortigia you will admire the beautiful Cathedral which dominates the square with its authoritative presence. The present façade is a powerful Sicilian-Baroque composition but it gives no hint that this building was once a Doric temple! From Piazza Duomo you will reach a wide terrace on the waterfront surrounding the famous Arethusa’s Fountain, one of the most famous fresh-water sources of the Greek world. Free time for lunch. Departure to Noto, the capital of Sicilian Baroque, famous for its fine buildings of the early eighteenth century and declared Unesco World Heritage Site. Inspired by Baroque ideals of “open city”, Noto is a rare masterpiece and the most clear example of theatrical tastes in 18th century architecture whose local limestone has been burnt gold by the sun. Noto’s Baroque is in fact a game of elegant curves, floral weaves, perspective views palaces and gardens, capitals and ornaments that adorn the facades of churches and monasteries. We will visit Palazzo Nicolaci Villadorata, beautiful noble residence in Baroque style and once the residence of Don Giacomo Nicolaci, a patron of the arts. Back to Catania for dinner and overnight in hotel.
Meals: B D
03 This morning we will leave to visit Etna, the highest (c. 3350m) volcano in Europe and one of the largest and most active in the world, nowadays Unesco World Heritage Site. Its regional park protects 59.000 hectares of unique geology, flora and fauna, villages and farms, and traditional methods of forestry, bee-keeping, wine manufacture, stonework and carpentry. Views of stunning landscapes will amaze you heading to Rifugio Sapienza. We will reach the “Crateri Silvestri”, small volcanic cones now inactive, surrounded by ancient lava flows. The view beyond the mountain’s hundreds of subsidiary cones and craters, can extend across the whole of Sicily, the Aeolian islands and Calabria. The spectacle is unique! Later we will visit a company of beekeeping: visit of the honey extraction lab, tasting of homemade honey and typical products of the area. We will proceed to Taormina, charming town renowned for its magnificent position above the sea commanding a celebrated view of Etna. Lunch in a typical restaurant where you will assist to a show-cooking lesson of some typical Sicilian cuisine dishes. In the afternoon we will visit Taormina’s fascinating Greek theatre, and then you will have free time for a nice walk among the picturesque Medieval typical narrow streets, go shopping and looking around the local handcraft (coral jewels, precious laces, ceramics, sweets and much more). The day will end with an overview of the beautiful Riviera dei Ciclopi. Back to our hotel in Catania for dinner and overnight.
Meals: B L D
04 – TUESDAY CATANIA – CEFALU’ Today we will visit the historical centre of Catania stated Unesco World Heritage Site, with its original Baroque style and its unique streets built with black lava stone. The colour scheme of the city-centre building in fact is black and dark grey, relieved with white limestone details around the doors and windows. The result is extremely elegant. The walking tour will start across the “pescheria” (the ancient fish market) to reach the scenic Duomo square with its magnificent Cathedral and the famous “Liotru” statue, antique lava-stone elephant, symbol of the city Not far from here we will reach University Square and we will have a walk along the splendid baroque Via dei Crociferi, the most representative 18th century street in Catania, where we will admire the famous S. Benedict Monastery, Unesco World Heritage Site. Before going on along the precious city center, we will stop in a historic bar of the city to taste the typical “granita & brioche”. Free time for lunch. Transfer to Cefalù, charming Medieval town situated at the northern coast of Sicily. We will visit its stunning Norman Dome and you will have free time to stroll through the town or to visit the famous and well-known Mandralisca Museum. We will proceed to Palermo for overnight. Dinner at the hotel or in a restaurant nearby.
Meals: B D
05 MONREALE – PALERMO – MARSALA After breakfast in hotel, the morning will be spent visiting Monreale, its huge Norman Cathedral, proclaimed the Eighth Wonder of the World, and its splendid Cloister in Arab-Norman style: admirable masterpiece of art, sculpture, and semi-precious stones marquetry! Later we will discover the stunning Palermo, one of the richest towns in the Island for its history and art. Palermo stands on a bay at the foot of Mt Pellegrino, a headland described by Goethe as the loveliest he had ever seen. While the Baroque predominates, there is a profusion of different architectural styles reflecting the city’s multicultural past: Punic walls, Art Nouveau villas, noble residences, XVIIth century squares, including an elegant opera house. We will visit the wonderful Arab-Norman Cathedral, the astonishing Martorana Church and the amazing Cappella Palatina, mirable example from an historical and an artistic point of view, of how different cultures, religions and way of thinking apparently incompatible can coexist. Ruggero II in fact employed both Bizantyne, Muslim and Latin workers. Along the visiting day we will have a stop for a food surprise in the famous Antica Focacceria San Francesco. Free time for lunch. Continuing our walk we will admire the Teatro Massimo and the debated fountain in Pretoria Square, situated in the ancient Kalsa area and adorned with XVI century sculptures. In the afternoon we will continue to Marsala in whose port Garibaldi landed in 1860. Visit of a prestigious wine cellar and wine tasting. Dinner and overnight in hotel.
Meals: B D
06 – THURSDAY MARSALA SALT ROAD – SELINUNTE – AGRIGENTO This morning the tour will continue along the charming and well-known Salt Road: the west coast of Sicily with many salt marshes, which have given rise to one of the oldest salt-extracting industries in the world. Between Trapani and Marsala they are now protected, in part because of the interesting birdlife, and also as important sites of industrial archaeology. Departure to Selinunte to visit the largest Archaeological Park in whole Mediterranean and World Heritage
Site. Surrounded by a splendid landscape near the African Sea, we will walk among the rests of the ancient Greek city. Free time for lunch. Transfer to Agrigento and visit of the Valley of the Temples stated World Heritage Site, where among hundreds of almond trees, the rests of the ancient Akragas rise. It was defined by Pyndar “the most beautiful city of mortals”. Once one of the most prosperous of the ancient Greek cities on the island, Agrigento presents a remarkable series of Doric Temples of the 5th century. You will see the “Temple of Hera”, the “Temple of Concordia” and the “Temple of Heracles”. Accommodation in hotel, dinner and overnight.
Meals: B D
07 – FRIDAY PIAZZA ARMERINA – RAGUSA Today we will reach Piazza Armerina where we will admire the splendid polychrome mosaics of the famous Villa Romana del Casale, World Heritage Site. The complex includes some of the most extensive and most beautiful Roman mosaics known. This majestic villa, belonged to a member of the Roman Senatorial aristocracy, hosts prestigious mosaics representing mythological and historical episodes and scenes of hunting and entertainments. After free time for lunch, departure to Ragusa Ibla and visit of its historical centre cradle of Sicilian Baroque, with its Cathedral, situated in the beautiful square of the Dome and the “giardino Ibleo”. Used as a location of the extremely popular Police Inspector Montalbano Tv series, it is today stated among the 44 Italian World Heritage Sites. This little precious ancient city hosts more than 50 churches and many Baroque architectural treasures. We’ll conclude the visiting day with a tasting of local products. Proceed to Catania for dinner and overnight in hotel.
Meals: B D
08 – SATURDAY CATANIA Breakfast in hotel and end of services.
3+1 nights’ accommodation in 4* hotel in Catania;
1 night’s accommodation in 4* hotel in Palermo;
1 night’s accommodation in 4* hotel in Marsala;
1 night’s accommodation in 4* hotel in Agrigento
7 American buffet breakfast.
7 dinners in hotels or local restaurants (drinks NOT included).
1 Lunch on day 3 (drinks NOT included).
5 Tasting of Sicilian typical products Etna (day 3): visit of a beekeeping honey company and honey tasting;
Catania (day 4): tasting of Sicilian “granita & brioche”;
Palermo (day 5) tasting of local street food;
Marsala (day 5): visit of a wine cellar and wine tasting;
Ragusa (day 7): tasting of local cheese.