Highlights of Sicily
This new tour – extended from our Western Sicily tour – genuinely offers what its title says. From Greek temples to the majesty of Etna, Roman villas, seaside towns, farmhouse lunches, wine-tastings – this tour truly has it all. In the company of a local expert, discover the breadth of history and culture that this fabulous island has to offer.
- Return flights from London Gatwick to Palermo
- Four nights' bed and breakfast at the three-star Al Madarig Hotel, Castellammare
- Five nights' dinner, bed and breakfast at the four-star Federico II Palalce, Enna
- Six lunches/brunches and two wine tastings as detailed in the itinerary
- Transfers and full touring itinerary
- Tour manager throughout
Day 1: Fly from London Gatwick to Palermo with Easyjet. On arrival transfer from airport to Castellammare del Golfo for a four-night stay at Al Madarig Hotel on bed and breakfast basis. At leisure for the rest of the day.
Day 2: Full day tour to Palermo. The bustling capital of Sicily, Palermo, has retained its historical centre, with architecture reflecting its tempestuous past with Norman, Renaissance and Baroque influences. Guided tour of the Palatine Chapel in the Royal Palace, the Cathedral, the baroque Chapel of the Oratory of the Rosary of St. Cita, and the Cathedral in nearby Monreale to see the remarkable Byzantine mosaics.
Day 3: Full day to Segesta, Marsala and Erice. A day to the westernmost part of Sicily, stopping at Segesta to admire the Doric temple from 5th century B.C., one of the most important symbols of Sicilian archaeology, and also its Greek theatre. Then on to Marsala for a visit and tasting at the Florio Winery with its historic cellars, where Marsala wine has been produced since 1773 when the English trader John Woodhouse discovered this fortified wine, produced by the locals. The tour continues along “la via del mare” to see some of Europe's oldest salt marshes with their windmills, once used to drain water from the ponds. Stop at the Salt Museum in Nubia, for a typical lunch with wine. After lunch, at leisure in nearby Erice, a gorgeous historic town located on top of Mount Erice.
Day 4: Full day to Selinunte and Belice Valley. Visit Selinunte for a guided tour of one of the world’s largest archaeological parks, the unnamed temples, all of which face the sun, and are the oldest and most outstanding examples from all of the Dorian colonies in Sicily and indeed the whole of Magna Graecia. The tour continues, discovering the hidden treasures of Belice Valley, stopping for a typical lunch with wine at Castello di Rampinzeri, the historical castle close to the countryside town of Santa Ninfa, whose castle is mentioned by Tomasi of Lampedusa in his work “The Leopard”. We finish at Alcamo, the local “pasticceria” at the Bar 900, one of the oldest coffee-bars in town.
Day 5: Transfer to Enna via Agrigento. Driving along the south west coast, our first stop will be made in Sambuca di Sicilia, the home of the wine estate of the ancient family of Planeta, whose prestigious wines are renowned both in Italy and abroad. We will have a tour of this large wine estate and a tasting before enjoying a Sicilian lunch with wine in a typical “trattoria” in the town of Palazzo Adriano, the setting of classic Oscar-winning “Cinema Pariadiso.” Continue to Agrigento to visit the magnificent remains of the “Valley of Greek Temples”, one of the most captivating archaeological sites in the world, with UNESCO World Heritage Status, before ending at Enna Bassa, in the centre of Sicily, for a stay of the next five nights at Federico II Palace Hotel. Dinner tonight will be at the hotel.
Day 6: Full day to Piazza Armerina. This morning we visit the magnificent mosaics in the Roman Villa of Casale at Piazza Armerina, with UNESCO World Heritage Status. Discover a land that has been, over the centuries, “the Sicilian granary”, from the Roman Empire until today, in which “la Masseria”, a fortified large farm, has been and still is, its symbol. Brunch at the Agriturismo il Gigliotto, which was once a monastery. The tour ends back in Enna, one of the oldest human settlements in Sicily, before returning to the hotel. Dinner tonight at the hotel.
Day 7: Caltagirone and Catania. Today we travel through the varied landscapes, towns, villages and sites of centuries of feuding, immortalised by Giovanni Verga, the great Sicilian writer and the author of “Cavalleria Rusticana”. Stopping in Caltagirone, a leading centre for the production of ceramics in Sicily, an art that locals have inherited from the Greeks, visit a local potters to see how local craftsmen work. We then go on to the main town square to admire the “Scala Santa Maria del Monte”, with its 142 steps, intricately decorated with ceramic tiles, and the Church of Santa Maria Maddalena, one of the most beautiful in Eastern Sicily. Continue to Catania, crossing the fertile orange-growing area of the Plain of Catania. Enjoy a sightseeing tour of this bustling city at the foot of Mount Etna. Dinner at the hotel.
Day 8: Full day tour to Etna. Europe’s largest active volcano, Mount Etna, dominates the whole of Eastern/central Sicily, which most recently erupted in 2001 and 2002. You will take a breathtaking drive to the barren, eerie black lava landscape and see the damaging effects of these eruptions. Included is a typical Etna lunch with wine. Afternoon at leisure in Taormina, with its superb position perched on a series of high terraces, dating back to the Greeks and the Romans. Dinner at the hotel.
Day 9: Full day to Nicosia, Troina and Maniace. A day travelling along “The first Norman’s route” echoing their march through Sicily in 1062, stopping first in Nicosia a medieval town stacked against the steeply-pitched hillside of the Nebrodi mountain range, then to Troina, the first capital of the Norman Kingdom in Sicily. A typical Nebrodi lunch in Cesaro will be followed by a visit to Nelson’s Castle in nearby Maniace, a former Benedictine abbey, founded by the Normans in 1799. The Bourbon King Ferdinand IV presented the abbey, together with the title of Duke of Bronte, to Admiral Nelson – at the time his ally in the war with France. Back to the hotel, crossing the fertile pistachio-growing Mount Etna area of Bronte. Dinner at the hotel.
Day 10: Cefalù. The morning will be spent in Cefalù to enjoy this splendid, medieval picturesque town, which still retains its original Greek shape dating back to the IV century BC. Admire the Norman Cathedral with beautiful Byzantine mosaics, and wander through the old fisherman’s houses clustered along the seafront, before transferring to Palermo Airport for the return flight to Gatwick.
Al Madarig Hotel
This friendly three-star hotel in Castellammare’s historic main square is situated in the heart of the town which stands proud on a wide piazza which overlooks the sea. The hotel has a comfortable lounge and bar area to relax in after a long day. Bedrooms are comfortably furnished and overlook a square with palm trees which overlooks a lovely beach, accessible through a stone stairway. All rooms have a private bathroom with bath or shower, air-conditioning, TV, telephone, safe, minibar and hairdryer.
Federico II Palace Hotel, Enna Bassa
Situated in the lower part of the city of Enna, the four-star Federico II Palace Hotel is perfectly situated away from the hustle and bustle of the main city whilst also being conveniently situated for the city’s main attractions. The hotels facilities include a bar and restaurant, and boasts a wellness centre and gym, as well as indoor pool and seasonal outdoor pool. Bedrooms are comfortable with private bath or shower, air-conditioning, TV, telephone, minibar, safe and hairdryer.
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