This short tour starting in Catania and ending in Palermo will take you through its picturesque villages, well-preserved archaeological sites and splendid scenery, inclusive of local delicacies. Good value for money in a group of 30 people and 4* accommodation…
Day 1. – CATANIA (hotel in Catania)
Arrive independently to the hotel in the charming city of Catania (optional private transfer on request). In the evening meet our tour-leader and your travel companions and enjoy welcome dinner. Overnight in hotel.
Day 2. – SIRACUSA – NOTO (hotel in Catania)
After breakfast in hotel we will visit Siracusa, 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 Siracusa. 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.
Day 3. -ETNA–TAORMINA (hotel in Catania)
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. There are splendid views of the lava fields on the approach roads 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 and rustic cellar: 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 for 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 and go shopping and looking around the local handycraft (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.
Day 4. – CATANIA–CEFALU’ (hotel in Palermo)
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 city still preserves ruins of the Imperial Roman period despite having been rebuilt after the earthquake of 1693. Catania was the capital of the Kingdom of Sicily under the Aragonese dynasty. 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 the 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. We will continue walking along the precious historical city centre. 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.
Day 5. – MONREAKE – PALERMO ( Hotel in Plaermo)
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, the debated fountain in Pretoria Square, situated in the ancient Kalsa area and adorned with XVI century sculptures. Dinner and overnight in hotel.
Day 6. – PALERMO. Breakfast in hotel and end of services.
Cost inclusive of : 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 5th day), local guides or audio-guides where necessary; Gran Comfort bus (from the 2nd day to the 5th); Accommodation in charming 4 stars hotels mostly located in the city centre (Catania: Il Principe Hotel 4*/ Romano House Hotel 4* or similar ; Palermo: Hotel Federico II 4*/ Ibis Styles Palermo Cristal 4* or similar); Half board basis in hotels or local restaurants (dinner – 3 main courses fixed menu , beverages not included) to have a taste of Sicilian and Italian cuisine; Visit of the main suggestive Unesco World Heritage Sites: Syracuse, Noto, Etna, Catania city centre, Cefalù, Monreale, Palermo; 1 lunch in Taormina on day 3 (fixe menu, beverages not included) and show-cooking; 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
*Possibility of monolingual departures during high season
Not inclusive of: Airfares, Transfers in/out, all lunches except for the one on day 3, beverages, entrance fees for monuments, Tourist taxes (to pay direct if applicable), tips, extras and in general anything not specified under “cost inclusive of”.
Total cost: AUD$1340 per person (based on 2 people)
Guarantee Departure dates 2019:
Fees for the entrances to pay direct (to be confirmed):
Multilingual Tour : English, Italian and Spanish with a maximum of 30 people in the peak periods
Special GIFT to participants: A splendid illustrated book about Sicily, its history and its culinary tradition with recipes in English.
Hotels are carefully selected for their location and design to combine Sicilian tradition with comfort
Payment: Deposit A$600 per person within 7 days of confirmation and balance 60 days before leaving from Australia