Upon arrival at Palermo Airport, you will be met by your private English speaking driver for direct transfer to your hotel in the heart of the old city center of Palermo: Hotel Mercure Excelsior Palermo 4****. We will book: 1 Double room. Rest of the day will be at leisure.
The Mercure Palermo Excelsior City is located right in the city centre on the Viale della Libertà, a main street renowned for its luxury boutiques, yet it is surrounded by greenery, including an English Garden. Explore Palermo’s rich architectural heritage and soak up its multicultural atmosphere from our hotel. You can take a trip up Monte Pellegrino, the spectacular mountain overlooking the city, relax at Mondello, Palermo’s up-scale seaside resort, where Paleolithic cave paintings were discovered.
Day 2– Palermo: Walking tour of Palermo with the Food Market and Monreale
After breakfast at your hotel, you will be met by your private English speaking driver and local guide, get ready to enjoy a full day tour of Palermo, explore the fascinating Sicilian culture and cuisine. First of all, you will visit the Capo Market, the oldest in Palermo, where you can admire an amazing array of the fresh seasonal food, the colorful stalls teaming with fruit, vegetables, fish, cheeses and meat, with the sellers calling out "abbanniate", beckoning their customers. You will see an array of fresh produce you have never seen before! Here, you will taste typical street food such as “pani ca meusa”, “sfincione”, “panelle”, “arancini”. Then, you will continue your tour to Palermo, stretching along the beautiful bay on the Tyrrhenian Sea. Founded by the Phoenicians in the 7th and 8th centuries B.C., conquered by Arabs in 831, where a period of immense prosperity started. You will be enchanted by the city’s wide boulevards, traditional Sicilian Old Quarter, and baroque palaces. You will visit the city's main sights, including the Norman section, Quattro Canti di Citta' (the Four Corners of the City), Palermo's extravagant baroque square and the twelfth-century Duomo (Cathedral) of Palermo. End of the tour and free time for lunch at leisure.
After lunch, meet up with your private driver and guide and travel to Monreale to discover the Arab-Norman splendor of the Cathedral and its Cloisters. This nearby treasure dates back to the 12th century and shows the diverse architectural influences of both the Normans and the Arab population. To finish off, visit the Convent of the Capuchin Friars, known as the Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo, one of the most impressive places to visit in the world. A macabre spectacle that brings out the typical old customs and traditions of the Palermo society from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century. End of the tour and transfer back to your hotel. Rest of the day will be at leisure.
Day 3 – Palermo: Cefalù and Castelbuono
After breakfast at your hotel, you will be met by your private English speaking driver and get ready for another exciting day. Just an hour from Palermo, between its natural bay and the towering rocky granite masses, is Cefalù, a charming unspoiled village with winding, narrow medieval streets and delightful restaurants overlooking the rocky coast. Upon arrival, you will be greeted by your private English speaking local guide and together, you will discover this town, which is dominated by a huge rock known as “La Rocca” - once the site of the Temple of Diana and one of the finest Norman-Arab-Byzantine Cathedrals. The Duomo of Cefalù was begun in 1131 by Roger II and it was intended as the principal religious seat in Sicily. Though it failed to fulfill this function, the building's magnificence has never been eclipsed. It’s fine mosaics (1148), which feature an image of Christ Pantocrator in the apse, are often celebrated as the purest Byzantine works of art on Sicilian soil. The views are spectacular, while the walls of the old Saracen stronghold and the remains of the Temple of Diana (which is believed to date back to Sicilian-Greek times) At the end of the tour, you will have free time for lunch. Afterwards, meet up with your private driver and together, you will travel South of Cefalù, where there is the wonderful Madonie National Park, with its charming villages and towns, such as Castelbuono, a wonderful medieval village rich in history and traditions. You can admire its delightful scenery, its impressive mountains and enjoy some wonderful walking. You will have some free time to explore the town on your own. Later in the afternoon, transfer back to your hotel and rest of the day will be at leisure.
Day 4 – Palermo to Agrigento with Segesta, Erice & Donnafugata Winery
After breakfast and check out from your hotel. You will be met by your private English speaking driver for a full day tour and transfer to Segesta where you will meet your local guide and visit the Ancient Temple and the Theatre. Next stop will be Erice, a wonderfully preserved medieval 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 low western coast towards the Egadi Islands, where sea salt is made, offering the most breath taking views. On a clear day you can even see the African coastline. You will visit the Norman Castle and the Duomo. Enjoy walking through the cobblestoned streets breathing in the fresh air and the smell of freshly made bread and pastries passing by the many bakeries. A special stop at Maria Grammatico’s famous pastry shop to see the variety of sweets and pastries she lovingly creates. Here you will taste almond sweets, genovesi and nougat to match with the local Marsala wine. After your guided tour, you will proceed to one of the most important wineries of the area called : the Donnafugata Winery. The owners, the Rallo family have been in the wine business for over a century and the winery is known for its exceptionally wide range of wines, made with autochthonous varieties such as Inzolia, Catarratto, Zibbibo and Nero d´Avola as well as international Viognier. You will be met by the wine grower himself who will show you the techniques of viticulture. You will enjoy and learn how to officially do a wine tasting with him and then enjoy some lunch. At the end of the tour, your driver will be ready to transfer you directly to Agrigento, to your hotel: Hotel Della Valle 4****. We will book: 1 Double. Check in and the rest of the day will be at leisure.
The park of the Hotel della Valle: an orderly but natural green space, where plants of all kinds are harmoniously inserted between the spaces of the hotel. Cleverly and diligently cultivated, typical of the Mediterranean area and alongside ,exotic plants perfectly set to our climate. An enchanting oasis in which to relax.
Day 5 – Agrigento to Siracusa with Valley of The Temples & Kolymbetra Garden with Picnic lunch
After breakfast and check out from your hotel. You will be met by your private English speaking driver and guide for a half hay tour. Agrigento was one of the greatest cities of the ancient Mediterranean. Founded as a Greek colony in the 6th century B.C., became one of the leading cities in the Mediterranean. Its supremacy is still visible with the remains of the magnificent Doric temples, much of which are still very well preserved and almost intact. Its great row of Doric temples is one of the most outstanding monuments of Greek art and culture and the area was included in the UNESCO Heritage Site list in 1997. You will enjoy a private tour of the magnificent “Valley of the Temples” a place where time seems to have stood still. The Valley includes remains of seven Temples, you will visit the Temples of Juno, Concord, Castor and Pollux, Vulcano and The Necropolis. Next, you will visit the wonderful botanical Garden of Kolymbetra, an old water reservoir from the Greek period. Visitors are able to explore the Mediterranean shrub rich in pistacia lemniscus, broom, myrtle, tamerix, citrus, ancient varieties of lemon, orange and mandarine, which are irrigated using a system based on that done by the ancient Arabs. Kolymbetra Gardens were selected as finalists in the 2010 edition of the "Most beautiful park in Italy" competition. At the end of your tour, enjoy a unique experience: a picnic lunch at the Kolimbetra Garden, a rare jewel that preserves colors, flavors and scents of Sicily, a different way to enjoy so many specialties of the Sicilian cuisine and taste fine wines in a little corner of paradise amongst the Greek temples. At the end of the tour, your driver will be ready to transfer you directly to Siracusa: Antico Hotel Roma 4****. We will book 1 Double. Check in and the rest of the day will be at leisure.
There are very few hotels in Ortigia, and the Antico Hotel Roma 1880 is the most centrally located, actually next door to the cathedral, which is located in the old Doric Temple of Minerva. The hotel, founded in 1880, is framed on one side by the cathedral and on the other by the Archbishop's Palace and overlooks Piazza Minerva, which is a continuation of the Piazza Duomo that runs alongside the Doric columns of the Temple, and onto Siracusa’s most central road, Via Roma. When the cathedral was the Temple of Minerva (known as Athena by the Greeks), as in all Greek temples the entrance was facing east. The stairway was therefore located inside the hotel, and some of its remains are still visible through glass panels in our floors. The outdoor tables and chairs placed in Piazza Minerva and the large indoor patio allow our guests to surround themselves in this ancient atmosphere, over breakfast, dinner or any other moment of relaxation. The interior has a strong Sicilian style, with the same limestone used for the Greek temples and Baroque palaces, traditional "secret" courtyards inherited from Arabian architecture, small hanging gardens, balconies in all the rooms and Dammus arches carved from volcanic rock in the restaurant.
Day 6 – Siracusa: Walking Tour of Siracusa and Ortigia
After breakfast at the hotel, you will be met your private English speaking driver guide and enjoy a full day tour of Siracusa and Ortigia. A window into the ancient history of the Mediterranean with its vast archaeological sites, on the edge of the modern city, Siracusa is a rare treasure of temples and amphitheaters. It flourished in 480 BC, and soon became the most important Greek city in Sicily both economically and politically. Together with your guide, you will visit remarkable Greek and Roman ruins, such as: the cave called “The Ear of Dionysius” because of its unusual shape resembling a human ear. In Ortigia you will wallow in the incredibly beautiful baroque buildings and classic churches such as the Duomo of Ortigia, an architectural splendor built upon the old temple of Athena. End of the tour and transfer back to your hotel.
Day 7 – Siracusa to Taormina with stop in Catania for the Pescheria Market Tour
After breakfast and check out from your hotel, you will be met by your private English speaking driver and get ready for your next destination: Taormina. Along the way, you will stop in Catania where you will enjoy a guided tour of the historical fish market, “A Piscaria”, a lively and authentic food market. Shopping and food tasting. Visit the modern and art nouveau section of the town passing close by the public garden dedicated to Vincenzo Bellini. Arriving close to the Greco-Roman town some ruins of the amphitheater will be visible and the evidence of the baroque buildings rebuilt after the tremendous earthquake of 1693, along a very regular urban plan with squares, monasteries and churches and institutional buildings . Some monumental fountains including the one at the entrance to the fish market or the elephant which is the towns symbol are made out of lava. Walk through the royal chapel, university square, town hall, cathedral, old agora area, via dei Crociferi with a splendid sequence of churches and monasteries by the slopes of the ancient acropolis. At the end of the tour, your driver will be ready to transfer you directly to Taormina: Grand Hotel Isabella 3***. We will book: 1 Double room Check in and the rest of the day will be at leisure.
The Hotel Isabella is an elegant hotel hidden away in the heart of Taormina. It is located on Corso Umberto, the stylish and chic main street, just a few steps away from the Greek-Roman Theatre and the ancient Sicilian monuments of the town. The Hotel Isabella is the “home away from home” for guests that love theatre and enjoy the fascinating contrasts and the liveliness of Sicily all year round. It’s for people who like browsing causally through an abundant selection of handcrafts and fashion in Taormina's premier shopping district, and being surprised and delighted at the unexpected treasures revealed. And for those who enjoy an evening stroll in the Sicilian warm climate, wander around the historical sights and listen to the sounds the center has to offer its visitors.
Day 8 – Taormina: Etna Volcano & Sicilian Winery Tour
After breakfast at your hotel, you will be met by your Naturalistic English speaking driver with a Jeep and transfer to explore Mount Etna, the largest active volcano in Europe. Discovering Mount Etna is one of the greatest adventure tours in Sicily, not only for the volcanic phenomena but also for the different kinds of vegetation visible during the ascent. This volcano has more than 400 craters, split all over the county. The first stop of the tour is Valle del Bove, a wide valley located on the eastern slope of the volcano. Valle del Bove is part of the protected area of the Etna Regional Park. Make sure you wrap up as it gets colder with the altitude! Then, you will go through old lava flows that date back to 1979 until you reach Mount Fontana, 1300 meters above the sea level. This is a great panoramic point, from which you can admire the majesty of the valley and of the Monti Sartorius. Afterwards, a short walk will lead you to the craters of the Sartorius Mountains, which date back to 1865 and are characterized by seven little eruptive cones. Halfway down from the top, you will reach another panoramic point which offers a breathtaking view of the Ionian Coast, from Riposto to Taormina and a glimpse of the Calabrian Coast, of the North-East crater and of the latest new lava flows and craters from 2002. Driving up the Mareneve Road, you will reach Piano Provenzana. Here you will have time to relax and enjoy an espresso. Later, walk through the Ragabo pine forest and reach the Corruccio cave. Then, drive to a nearby Winery. Here too the unique climate and ground conditions determine the special and unique flavor of the Etna grapes and wine. At the highest altitudes the changes of temperature between night and day allow a phenol and aromatic ripening that is essential for both the color and flavor of the red grapes and the aroma of the white wines. Enjoy your visit and lunch with wine tasting. After lunch, transfer back to your hotel and the rest of the day will at leisure.
Day 9 - Taormina: Walking Tour
After breakfast, you will be met by your English speaking guide and enjoy a walking tour of the town. The City was founded by the Greeks in 358 B.C. Later 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, nestled on top of Mount Tauro, it offers the beauty of Mediterranean architecture while surrounded by endless views of both the sea and mountains. Thanks to its perched position, Taormina gives its visitors a breathtaking experience. From the Greek theatre you can admire the bay of Giardini Naxos and Mount Etna in the background, the highest active volcano in Europe, while on the other side you can gaze out over the coastline toward Messina and view the proximity of the Calabrian coast. End of the tour and free time to visit the city and enjoy the local shopping.
Day 10 - Taormina: Departure
After breakfast and check out from your hotel, you will be met by your private English speaking driver and transfer to Catania Airport for your flight back home.