A 13-day exploration of all the highlights of sunny Sicily, the largest and most interesting island of the Mediterranean! With Palermo and its Norman architecture, the Greek temples of Agrigento, the splendid Roman mosaics of the Villa del Casale, the great ancient city of Syracuse, amazing Mount Etna and the wonderful resort of Taormina. Escorted By Sandra Pauwels & Steve Thomas
Late evening departure from Toronto for Rome with Alitalia. Dinner and light breakfast will be served.
This morning we explore Taormina’s ancient streets; the lush Gardens of the Villa Communale, the superb hilltop Greco-Roman theatre, with its marvelous views of Mount Etna and also enjoy a spectacular city bus ride to Castel Mola, a picturesque village offering stunning panoramic views from its ancient walls and piazzas. No group dinner this evening.
After breakfast, a brief drive takes us to the slopes of Mount Etna, the massive, 3,330-meter high volcano - Europe’s highest - that dominates the entire island of Sicily. This excursion features desolate lunar landscapes of molten lava and homes abandoned during past eruptions, but also prosperous villages whose inhabitants produce wonderful products such as wine, honey, cheese and fruit on the rich volcanic soil. Also visit to the Research Station La Sapienza, situated at an altitude of almost 2,000 meters, where we will see the Monti Silvestri, cones formed by eruptions during the 1980s'. Here too, we will also enjoy our lunch of delicious Sicilian specialties in a winery located on the slopes of Mt. Etna! Remainder of the day for personal choices: retail therapy along Corso Umberto, or contemplating the panoramic vistas with a glass of wine.
Departure from Taormina after breakfast for Syracuse, once the most powerful and beautiful Greek city on the island they called “Trinacria”. On arrival we visit the original Greek settlement, known as Ortygia, a small island now connected to the mainland by two bridges; highlights here are the romantic Fountain of Arethusa, the Cathedral, a former temple, and the market. Time for lunch before transferring to the wonderful Archaeological Zone with the Greek theatre, the Roman amphitheatre, and the garden known as the Latomia del Paradiso, featuring the “Ear of Dionysios,” a cave with amazing acoustic properties. Check into the hotel for a bit of free time before transferring to a local Agritourismo for dinner. Overnight.
Breakfast at the hotel followed by a full day tour to Noto, UNESCO world heritage site and home to stunning Sicilian Baroque architecture. Guided tour of the city followed by free time to explore on your own. Return to Syracuse in the late afternoon.
Today we transfer to the ferry terminal for the short ride (2 hours) to Malta. Arrival in the Capital Valetta where we are met by our local driver and guide for a sightseeing tour of the city and the surrounding area. Highlights include; St. John’s cathedral, the waterfront, Fort St. Almo, St. George’s Square and Medina. In the late afternoon we return to Sicily by ferry and transfer back to the hotel. Overnight.
Today has been left free to pursue individual interests. Suggestions will be made regarding possible activities including the opportunity to enjoy a food tour inclusive of a cooking class and lunch. No group dinner tonight.
Morning tour of the temples and the museum before making your way to Menfi where you will enjoy a leisurely lunch of Sicilian seafood specialties. Continue to Palermo following lunch. No group dinner this evening. Overnight.
Morning guided walking tour of Palermo, with highlights such as the Palazzo dei Normanni with the 12th -century Palatine Chapel, whose interior is entirely covered in mosaics; the superb cathedral and its tombs of Sicilian Kings; the Byzantine Church of la Martorana; and the impressive Baroque sculptures of the Quattro Canti. Following lunch, we coach to Monreale and its Cathedral, considered to be the apex of Sicilian-Norman art. Return to Palermo in the late afternoon with time to explore Palermo independently. Dinner at leisure.
Departure from Palermo after breakfast to Segesta, where a superb lone Greek temple dominates a fascinating landscape of rugged mountains, a peaceful valley, and the distant Mediterranean Sea. A brief visit before continuing on to the medieval town of Erice, poised atop a cliff rising abruptly 750 meters above sea level. Local sightseeing and opportunity for lunch on terraces that offer breathtaking views. Return to Palermo in the late afternoon. Farewell dinner this evening.
Morning transfer to Palermo Airport and the domestic flight to Rome in good time for the transatlantic connection to Toronto. Lunch and a snack will be served before arrival in Toronto.
- Economy class, return flight on Alitalia Airlines. - Accommodation in well located premium hotels, based on double occupancy (all rooms have private facilities) – single room supplement: $495 - Meals: buffet breakfast daily and a total of 7 full-course dinners/lunches. - Overland transportation via deluxe private coach, equipped with AC, WC, video/audio, bar. - Sightseeing, visits, and excursions as indicated in the itinerary, including admission; - Hotel taxes and gratuities.
- The standard combination of airport taxes/security fees/fuel surcharges, presently $594, but subject to change. - All expenses of a personal nature. - Meals other than those mentioned above. - Beverages with dinners. - Coach chauffeur and guide gratuity of $75 to be collected by Tour Leader. - Travel insurance. Call office for rates.
Bitter Almonds, Mary Taylor Simeti
On Persephone's Island - A Sicilian Journal, Mary Taylor Simeti
Midnight in Sicily, Peter Robb
Normans in Sicily, John Julius Norwich
Sicily - An Informal History, Peter Sammartino and William Roberts
Six Characters in Search of an Author, Luigi Pirandello
The Leopard, Giuseppe Tomasi de Lampedusa
Wine Dark Sea, Leonardo Sciascia