12 days, Wednesday, November 24 to Sunday, December 5, 2021
A leisurely and ‘upscale’ exploration of the biggest and most beautiful island in the Mediterranean, a part of Italy, of course, but in many ways a different planet! Based in a deluxe hotel in the wonderful capital, Palermo, we will enjoy many local treasures, including superb Byzantine churches and mosaics, and also explore the major attractions of the island’s western part, including the Greek temples of Segesta, Selinunte, and Agrigento; the seaports of Trapani and Marsala, and picturesque towns such as Erice and Cefalu. Next we head east via the Canadian War Cemetery at Agira to explore the island’s second city, Catania, and nearby Mount Etna, Europe’s biggest volcano! The tour will feature fine food and wine and be hosted by historian Jacques R. Pauwels, PhD, author of ‘Beneath the Dust of Time: A History of the Names of Peoples and Places’ (London, 2009), who will lecture about the history of the island from the time of the prehistoric Siculi people, who gave their name to the island, to Sicily’s liberation in 1943 by Allied, including Canadian, forces.
Tour cost: “Land only” (i.e., from Palermo Airport upon arrival of the group flight on March 6 to Catania Airport on March 18): $3,010.00. Supplement for “double room for single use”: $550.00
Morning sidetrip to Monreale, a picturesque hilltop town overlooking the fertile valley known as Conca d’Oro or “golden shell,” as well as Palermo and the Mediterranean Sea. Visits to the fabulous Cathedral with its outstanding mosaics, a splendid example of “Sicilian-Norman” art, and the adjoining cloisters, inspired by Islamic architecture and featuring wonderful Romanesque pillars and capitals. On to the seaside resort of Mondello, situated on a beautiful inlet of the Tyrrhenian Sea, where we break for lunch. In the afternoon, return to Palermo via the Monte Pellegrino mountain road, offering spectacular views of the coast, with a stop briefly to inspect the immensely popular shrine of St. Rosalia, patron saint of the city. Today, group lunch for dinner.
This morning we check out Palermo’s famous Vucciria market, then explore the surrounding old harbour district, the city’s historical cradle, dating back to the time of the Phoenicians, with sights such as Piazza Marina, Garibaldi Gardens, the monumental city gate knows as Porta Felice, and churches such as Santa Maria della Catena and San Domenico. The rest of the day is free to shop and/or explore the city on your own. Free evening, and perhaps it will be possible to enjoy a classical music concert, ballet or opera in the magnificent Teatro Massimo, the equally imposing Teatro Politeama, or another venue.
Departure from Palermo after breakfast. We motor to Agrigento, a town on the south coast of Sicily, for a guided tour of the spectacular collection of very well-preserved Greek temples and the excellent local archaeological museum. In the afternoon we continue to Canadian War Cemetery at Agira, an opportunity for your tour guide to tell you about the Canadian army’s role in the liberation of the island in 1943. Late afternoon arrival in Sicily’s second city, Catania, a bustling seaport situated on Sicily’s eastern coast at the foot of 3,330-meter high Mount Etna, the island’s huge volcano. Accommodation in the first-class Hotel Parco degli Aragonesi, situated in a garden near the shores of the Ionian Sea. Dinner in the hotel’s restaurant.
After breakfast we visit Catania's famous fish market, the Cathedral with the tomb of a famous native son, the composer Bellini, and the famous street, the Via Etnea, as well as the ruins of Roman monuments that survived the major historical eruptions of Mount Etna. Then we tour the slopes of Mount Etna, Europe's highest volcan, classified as a UNESCA World Heritage Site. This excursion features desolate lunar landscapes of molten lava sprinkled with ruins of homes abandoned during recent eruptions, but also villages whose inhabitants rely on the rich volcanic soil to produce wonderful products such as wine, honey, cheese and fruit. We will pause at the Sapienza Research Station, situated at an altitude of almost 2,000 meters, to inspect Monti Silvestri, cones formed by eruptions during the 1980"s. Group lunch of delicious Sicilian specialties in a winery on the slopes of Mount Etna, with great views (weather permitting) of the coast and the Ionian Sea below. Time permitting there will be an opportunity for some shopping in Catania before we return to the hotel for a free evening.
After a late breakfast, short transfer to nearby Catania Airport for return flight.
- Accommodation for 9 nights in a deluxe hotel in Palermo and 2 nights in a first-class hotel in Catania, based on double occupancy; - Breakfast daily, four dinners, some with wine/water, and one full winery lunch, also including wine; - Airport transfers for those arriving Nov. 24 at 2:35 PM or earlier; - Sightseeing, and visits as outlined in the itinerary; - Services of our tour escort and gratuities for drivers and local guides.
Beverages with meals; meals other than those shown above; items of a personal nature; and travel insurance . Rates are available upon request.
May 12 - 26, 2021
Land Only: (to and from Rome Airport) : $3,385 based on double occupancy
June 11 - 21, 2021
$3,895 from Toronto (including all taxes and other surcharges)
June 12 - 23, 2021
Price TBA post COVID-19