Pearls of Sicily (Palermo to Palermo) – 2019
Filled with the very best of Sicily with Baroque, Norman, Medieval architecture; amazing history, art, fashion, style, food and wine.
Itinerary: Palermo • Monreale • Marsala • Selinute • Agrigento • Ragusa • Catania • Siracusa • Noto • Taormina • Cefalù • Palermo
- Multilingual Tour leader and professional travel guide (English, Italian or Spanish) for the whole tour (from the evening of the 1st day to the evening of the 8th day), local guides or audio-guides where necessary.
- Gran Comfort bus (from the 2nd day to the 8th)
- Accommodation in charming 4 stars hotels mostly located in the city centre
- Visit of the main suggestive Unesco World Heritage Sites: Monreale, Palermo, Selinunte, Agrigento, Piazza Armerina, Ragusa, Syracuse, Noto, Etna, Catania city centre and Cefalù.
- Half board basis in hotels or local restaurants (dinner – 3 main courses fixe menu , beverages not included) to have a taste of Sicilian and Italian cuisine.
- 1 lunch in Taormina on day 7 (fixed menu, beverages not included) and show-cooking
- Tasting of typical Sicilian products: Palermo (day 2) tasting of local street food; Marsala (day 2): visit of a wine cellar and wine tasting; Ragusa (day 4) tasting of local cheese; Etna (day 7) visit of a beekeeping honey company and honey tasting; Catania (day 8) tasting of Sicilian “granita & brioche”.
Rates DO NOT Include:
- Transfers in/out
- All lunches except for the one on day 7
- Entrance fees at monuments/museums
- City taxes (where compulsory)
- Tips and extras in general
- March: 26
- April: 02 – 09 – 16 – 23 – 30
- May: 07 – 14 – 21 – 28
- June: 04 – 11 –18 –25
- July: 02 – 09 – 16 – 23 – 30
- August: 06 – 13 –20– 27
- September: 03 – 10– 17 – 24
- October: 01 – 08 – 15 – 22 – 29
- November: 05
*City Tax not included and must be paid directly at the hotel on check out
Day 1 Tuesday: PALERMO
Make your own way to your hotel in the charming city of Palermo (optional private transfer available on request). In the evening you will meet your tour-leader and your travel companions and enjoy a welcome dinner. Spend overnight in your hotel in Palermo
DAY 2 Wednesday: MONREALE • PALERMO • MARSALA
After breakfast in hotel, your 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. You will see admirable masterpiece of art, sculpture, and marquetry of semi-precious stones.
Later you will discover the stunning Palermo; one of the island towns, well known 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.
You will visit the wonderful Arab-Norman Cathedral, the astonishing Martorana Church and the amazing Cappella Palatina. This is an example from a historical and artistic point of view, of how different cultures, religions and way of thinking apparently incompatible can coexist. In fact, Ruggero II employed both Byzantyne, Muslim and Latin workers. Throughout the day you will stop for a food surprise in the famous Antica Focacceria San Francesco. You will enjoy free time for lunch.
Continuing your walking tour, you 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 you will continue to Marsala; in whose port Garibaldi landed in 1860. Finally, you will visit a prestigious wine cellar for wine tasting and dinner and overnight in hotel in Marsala.
DAY 3 Thursday: MARSALA SALT ROAD • SELINUNTE • AGRIGENTO
Your tour will continue along the charming and well-known Salt Road: the West coast of Sicily with its 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.
You will travel to Selinunte to visit the largest Archaeological Park in whole Mediterranean – a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Surrounded by a splendid landscape near the African Sea, you will walk among the rests of the ancient Greek city. Enjoy some free time for lunch.
You will take a transfer to Agrigento to visit the Valley of the Temples – another UNESCO World Heritage Site, where among hundreds of almond trees, the rest 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. Check in to your hotel, dinner and overnight in Agrigento.
DAY 4 Friday: PIAZZA ARMERINA• RAGUSA
You will visit Piazza Armerina where you will admire the splendid polychrome mosaics of the famous Villa Romana del Casale, UNESCO 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, travel to Ragusa Ibla and visit 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 for the extremely popular Police Inspector Montalbano TV series, it is today stated among the 44 Italian UNESCO World Heritage Sites. This little precious ancient city hosts more than 50 churches and many Baroque architectural treasures. You will conclude your touring day with a tasting of local products. Proceed to Catania for dinner and overnight in hotel.
DAY 5 Saturday: CATANIA
Breakfast in the hotel and a day of leisure to enjoy the Catania city centre and some shopping. Meet our tour-leader in the afternoon. Dinner and overnight in hotel In Catania.
DAY 6 Sunday: SIRACUSE • NOTO
After breakfast in the hotel you will visit Syracuse, the most beautiful and greatest Greek colony in Sicily and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Your 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. You will continue with a visit to 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.
Enjoy free time for lunch before traveling to Noto. Noto, renowned as the capital of Sicilian Baroque, is famous for its fine buildings of the early eighteenth century and declared a 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.
You will visit Palazzo Nicolaci Villadorata, beautiful noble residence in Baroque style and once the residence of Don Giacomo Nicolaci, a patron of the arts. You will travel back to Catania for dinner and overnight in hotel.
DAY 7 Monday: ETNA • TAORMINA
In the morning, you will visit Etna, the highest (c. 3350m) volcano in Europe and one of the largest and most active in the world; nowadays a 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.
On the way to Rifugio Sapienza, you will be amazed by stunning landscape views. You will reach the “Crateri Silvestri”, these small volcanic cones are now inactive and 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 you will visit a company of beekeeping: visit the honey extraction lab, taste the homemade honey and typical products of the area. You will proceed to Taormina, a charming town renowned for its magnificent position above the sea, commanding a celebrated view of Etna.
Enjoy lunch in a traditional restaurant where you will witness a cooking lesson of some celebrated Sicilian dishes. In the afternoon, you will visit Taormina’s fascinating Greek theatre, and then you will have free time to walk among the picturesque Medieval narrow streets, do some shopping and enjoy the local handycrafts (coral jewels, precious lace, ceramics, sweets and much more).
The day will end with an overview of the beautiful Riviera dei Ciclopi. Back to your hotel in Catania for dinner and overnight.
Day 8 Tuesday: CATANIA • CEFALU’
A visit to the historical centre of Catania; classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site; will show you its original Baroque style and unique streets built with black lava stone. Your walking tour will begin across the Pescheria (the ancient fish market) to reach the beautiful Duomo Square with the magnificent Cathedral and the famous Liotru statue; the antique lava-stone elephant – symbol of the city.
Not far from here, you will reach the University Square and walk along the splendid baroque Via dei Crociferi, the most exemplary 18th Century street in Catania. Here you will admire the famous Saint Benedict Monastery; another UNESCO World Heritage Site. You will continue walking along the precious historical city centre and then enjoy some free time for lunch. Subsequently, you will transfer to Cefalù, a charming Medieval town situated at the Northern coast of Sicily. You will visit its stunning Norman Dome and enjoy free time to stroll through the town or to visit the famous and well-known Mandralisca Museum. From here, you will will proceed to Palermo for overnight. Dinner at the hotel or in a restaurant nearby.
DAY 9 Wednesday: Palermo
Enjoy breakfast in your hotel and end of services.
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