Day 1 – Arrival in Sicily: Palermo
Arrival at Palermo airport. You will be met by your private English speaking driver who will transfer you to your hotel: Grand Hotel Piazza Borsa 4**** . We will book 1 Double Executive room. Check in and the rest of the day at leisure. Overnight in Palermo.
The Grand Hotel Piazza Borsa, once a convent and church, is located in the heart of Palermo. The middle of the hotel features the Old Cloister with a sitting area, where guests can enjoy the lovely atmosphere. All guestrooms offer maximum comfort. Bar and a restaurant provide guests with traditional food.
Day 2 – Palermo: Walking tour, Food Market and Palermo (B, Street food tastings)
Breakfast at the hotel. Meet your local english speaking guide in the hotel lobby today you will visit the bright and colorful food market and Palermo. Sitting at the crossroads of history, Sicily bears the mark of many world cultures and civilizations - join your expert local guide to witness this multicultural mix on this unique tour of Palermo. The itinerary begins with a morning visit of the Capo market, the oldest in Palermo, where you will see and taste the famous local Street Food such as “panelle”, “arancine”, “crocchette” and “Pani Ca Meusa”. Admire colorful stalls featuring an abundance of fruit, vegetables, seafood and meats as the sellers’ cry out for your attention. Enjoy a food tasting as you walk by the stalls. Then, visit the part of Palermo that stretches along a beautiful bay on the Tyrrhenian Sea. Founded by the Phoenicians in the VIIth and VIIIth centuries B.C., the city was conquered by Arabs in 831, and a period of immense prosperity began. Continue your walking tour around the city center. You will be enchanted by the city’s wide boulevards, the traditional Sicilian Old Quarter, and baroque palaces. In Piazza Pretoria, stop to admire the risqué Renaissance-era 'Fountain of Shame' that was banished from Florence and moved to Palermo, discover why. Stop for a traditional lunch with Sicilian specialties (not included). Transfer back to your hotel.
Day 3 – From Palermo to Agrigento: Segesta, Erice and Salt Pans (B, Pastry tastings)
Breakfast in your hotel and check out. Meet your private English speaking driver in the hotel lobby and transfer to Agrigento. On the way, you will enjoy a stop in Segesta where you will be shown and told all about the majestic Temple, the Theatre and the archaeological area. Probably founded by the Elimys coming from Asia Minor who settled down in Western Sicily by the end of the second millennium B.C. At the arrival of the Greeks in Eastern Sicily VIII century BC and thanks to their expansion towards the western side of it, Segesta started a deep process of "Hellenization" as attested by the presence of its beautiful Greek temple (V century BC.) and its breath-taking Hellenistic theatre. Afterwards, you will be driven to Erice, a wonderfully preserved mediaeval hill town at the extreme north-west corner of Sicily, on the top of Monte San Giuliano. The town overlooks the city of Trapani and the lower western coast towards the Egadi Islands, where fresh sea salt is made, offering the most breath-taking view. On a clear day, you can even see the African coast. You will visit the Norman Castle and the Duomo as you walk through the cobble-stoned streets of the town, taking in the fresh air and a variety of aromas coming from the numerous pastry shops for which Erice is so well known. You will stop to visit Maria Grammatico’s Pastry Shop to see and taste the variety of sweets she lovingly creates. Lunch is at leisure in Erice. You will be able to admire the Salt Pans which are charachteristic to this coastline from Trapani to Marsala. Large salt water pools divided by narrow strips of land, where for centuries salt has been produced. This route is called “la via del sale” (the Salt Road) remarkable for its many Dutch-style windmills used for both pumping sea water and for grinding salt. The salt is then piled up creating little white mounds covered with terracotta tiles to protect it from the rain. Probably established as far back as the Phoenicians and still practiced today this thousand-year-old salt culture. After your visit, your driver will accompany you to your hotel in Agrigento area: Hotel Alba Palace 4****. We will book 1 Double Classic room . Check in and rest of the evening at leisure.
In the heart of the most authentic Sicily, in Favara, a few steps from the majesty of Agrigento and from the Valley of the Temples, there is The Alba Palace Hotel. An ancient palace of the XIX century built around an apse of the '700, recovered in a contemporary style with a perfect balance between tradition and innovation. At Alba Palace you will find luxury suites, tasty dishes of the best gourmet cuisine combined with the excellent labels of our wine cellar, lounge bar, Spa with wellness program.
Day 4 – Agrigento: Valley of The Temples
Breakfast at the hotel. You will be picked up in your hotel by your private English speaking driver and transfer to Agrigento for a half day guided visit of the Valley of the Temples. As one of the premier Italian destinations, it is easy to forget that Sicily was once a thriving Greek colony. Thought to be some of the best Greek ruins in the world, the Valle dei Templi near the western Sicilian town of Agrigento is an amazing sight, especially when lit up in the evening. Most of the seven temples date from the 5th century B.C., with the best-preserved being the Tempio della Concordia (Temple of Concordia), and the oldest the Tempio di Ercole (Temple of Hercules), from the 6th century B.C. It will take a couple of hours to wander through the archaeological zone. Join your expert local guide to explore one of the best-preserved relics of the island's 'Magna Graecia'... As English author and historian Douglas Sladen once said, "If you want to understand ancient Greece, come to Sicily". Indeed, history tells us that there were once more Greeks living in the colonies of southern Italy and Sicily known as Magna Graecia than there were in Greece. You will hear the amazing story that the 8 temples tell: from the almost entirely intact Temple of Concordia to the Temple of Hera that suffered in a medieval earthquake and from the Temple of Juno perched on a hilltop to the unfortunate Temple of Zeus, dismantled by greedy builders over the centuries for its stones. Return to your hotel at the end of the tour and you will have the afternoon at leisure.
Day 5 – Agrigento to Siracusa with stop in Piazza Armerina
Breakfast at your hotel and check out. You will be picked up in the hotel by your private English-speaking driver. Today you will be driven to Siracusa, on the way you will stop in Piazza Armerina where you will be met by your local guide for a half day tour, visit the mosaics of the Roman Villa del Casale, named after an agricultural settlement known as “Casale”, or farmhouse, that flourished there in the 15th century. This beautiful Roman Villa consists of 3,500 square meters of mosaic pavement, still perfectly intact. It may have also been a hunting lodge and a location to entertain important guests. The mosaics include a 60-meter-long hunting scene, in which groups of men struggle and sweat as they capture ferocious animals in India and North Africa before transporting them back to Rome for the gladiatoral games. After this visit, your driver will accompany you to your hotel in Siracusa: Antico Hotel Roma 4****. We will book 1 Double Classic room. Check in at your hotel and time to relax.
The Antico Hotel Roma is located in the heart of the Island of Ortigia, just a few steps from the Cathedral, a very ancient and sacred area in the historic-artistic centre of Siracusa whose unique features and heritage is steeped in its Greek origins. Built in the late decades of the XIX century and recently renovated, the hotel retains original architectural elements, such as capitals, columns and vaults that enrich the overall ambience. Rooms are light and spacious, and offer all the amenities needed for a pleasant stay.
Day 6 – Siracusa: free day
Free day at leisure.
Day 7– Siracusa to Taormina
Breakfast at the hotel and check out. You will be picked up in hotel by your private English-speaking driver and transfer to Taormina. Here you will be met by your local guide to enjoy a relaxing half day walking tour to discover Taormina. Founded by the Greeks in 358 B.C.. It was occupied by the Romans and then fell into Byzantine hands. The little town is located on the East coast of Sicily, overlooking the Ionian Sea. Taormina is called the “Pearl of the Mediterranean” for several reasons: it is nestled on Mount Tauro, it offers the beauty of Mediterranean architecture surrounded by endless magnificent views of both the sea and the mountains. Thanks to its high altitude, Taormina offers visitors a breathtaking panorama. From its Greek theatre, you can admire the bay of Giardini of Naxos and Mount Etna, the highest active volcano in Europe, while on the other side you can gaze out over the coastline toward Messina and see how close the Calabrian coastline in Italy is. After the visit, you will be escorted to your hotel: Hotel Villa Diodoro 4**** . We book 1 Double Classic room. Check in and free time to visit the city and enjoy some shopping.
The Hotel Villa Diodoro, is a place for those that enjoy the best in life. Open all-year round, and located just a just a few steps from the idyllic town of Taormina, the hotel boasts a pool area which looks out over Mount Etna and the bay of Naxos. The Diodoro, monument among monuments, with over one-hundred years of history, has been dedicated to the greek historian Diodoro Siculo, a renowed figure who lived in the old town, telling the story of how distinguished travellers all over the world, discovered Taormina in their search of beauty and sun, art and culture.
Day 8 – Siracusa: Etna Volcano and Sicilian Etna DOC Winery (Wine Tasting and Lunch)
Breakfast at the hotel. You will be picked up in the hotel by your private English speaking driver/guide with a Jeep and transfer to explore the Etna volcano, the largest active volcano in Europe, and admire a unique combination of nature and the uncontrollable essence of fire. The guided walk options are weather dependent., our first visit is the 2002 lava flow, reachable by jeep through a winding dirt road surrounded by chestnut and oak forests. The 2002 eruption lasted from October 27th to January 29th 2003 and it is considered one of the most explosive eruptions of the past one hundred years. Corruccio Cave’s, continuing our excursion we will reach the Ragabo pine forest where hidden among pines and brooms, we will discover the cave of Corruccio (1350 meters above sea level) a cave formed by the flowing lava. Later, driving up along the Mareneve road we will reach Piano Provenzana (1800 meters above sea level), a ski resort, theater to the great eruption of 2002. After enjoying an excellent espresso, we will take a short walk to visit the ruins of the hotel Le Betulle destroyed by the molten lava flow. Our tour continues with a short walk to some of the side craters, the Sartorius Mountains (1700 meters above sea level), formed in the year 1865 and characterized by seven small, aligned eruptive cones (or "buttonholes"). This area holds great geological and botanical treasures, and our tour winds along clearings rich in endemic species, large volcanic “bombs” and woodlands dominated by birch trees (Betula Aetnensis). Halfway down from the top of one of the craters, you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the Ionian coast, from Riposto to Taormina, the Calabrian coast, the North-East Crater (3350 meters above sea level), the impressive dark lava formations of 2002 and the eruptive mouths (2000 meters above sea level), near the tourist resort of Piano Provenzana. Then, arrival in Milo on Mount Etna to visit the Barone di Villagrande Winery surrounded by organically cultivated vineyards, where the tradition of winemaking has been handed down from generation to generation for many centuries. Enjoy the visit and your wine tasting with lunch.
Day 9 – Siracusa: Arrivederci Sicilia!
Breakfast at the hotel and check out. Your private English speaking driver will pick you up at the hotel and take you to Catania airport for your flight back home.