Transfer from Palermo airport to your centrally located hotel. Sleep in Palermo.
One full day tour of Palermo with a great local guide. You will walk through Palermo’s narrow streets and alleys to a market packed with produce, fish, and merchandise from all parts of the Mediterranean and beyond. Visit Palermo's great cathedral and the magnificent Palatine Chapel with its luminous mosaics. You will enjoy a very fun lunch of local specialties. After lunch, stroll to the Piazza Pretoria to see its unforgettable fountain. Sleep in Palermo.
Today you will be transferred to Cefalù, where you will be staying for the next two nights. The pick-up time will be around 10 am. You will visit Cefalù Cathedral to appreciate some of the best preserved Byzantine mosaics in the world, as well as the spectacular stonework of Norman and Arab masons. Medieval baron Roger II brought master craftsmen from Constantinople, who combined traditional Byzantine decorative art with Northern European cathedral-building techniques, to create a stunning cultural combination. You will have time to stroll around and relax in a quaint and colourful environment. Sleep in Cefalù.
After breakfast, we will drive to the Madonie Mountains, where you will enjoy a five-mile hike with a 900-foot elevation gain. These mountains are well-known for their giant holly trees (some more than 300 years old), and the flowering Manna Ash. You will also learn how Manna Ash is harvested and how it is used for medicinal and gastronomic purposes, with the help of a very knowledgeable naturalist. Sleep in Cefalù.
After breakfast at our hotel, we will travel to the small hill town of Monreale to behold the mosaics of Norman cathedral, among the most extraordinary in Italy. This amazing monument is a dazzling mixture of Arab, Byzantine, and Norman artistic styles -- a perfect blend of Christian and Muslim art and architecture from the 12th century CE. In the afternoon we will drive to Erice, a delightful medieval village perched on a mountaintop. Walking its narrow streets, we will enjoy breathtaking views of the Egadi Islands below, where the region's once-famed tuna harvest took place. Our small hotel in the coastal town of San Vito lo Capo will be our home for the next two nights. Sleep in San Vito Lo Capo.
Today we will explore Lo Zingaro, Sicily’s first nature reserve, established in 1981. We will hike four miles of Mediterranean coastline (gaining 400 feet of elevation), perched high above the sea, and delight in wonderful views and carpets of wildflowers. There are more than 40 bird species that nest in this area, including the rare Bonelli's eagle. After our hike we will return to our hotel. Sleep in San Vito Lo Capo.
Today our bus will take us to breathtaking Selinunte, where we will enjoy one of Europe's largest archaeological parks set against amazing views of the sea. Founded in the 7th century BCE, Selinunte played a fundamental role in the spread of Greek culture. After lunch we will sample Marsala wine made in this region. We will then be transferred to Agrigento. Sleep in Agrigento.
This morning we will visit the Valley of the Temples World Heritage site in Agrigento, one of the richest archaeological areas of the world. A passionate and knowledgeable art historian will take us on a tour among the remains of several ancient temples constructed in the Doric style in the 6th and 5th centuries BCE. Now excavated and partially restored, they constitute some of the largest and best-preserved ancient Greek buildings outside of Greece. In the afternoon we will transfer to our beautiful rural villa near Noto, our home for the next three nights. Sleep outside of Noto.
After breakfast at our hotel, we'll visit the Vendicari Nature Reserve, Europe’s southernmost wetland, where a naturalist will introduce us to the local flora and fauna. This is a resting place for numerous birds on their migratory journey southward to Africa. We will then head to a local winery to sample some of the great wine that Noto has to offer. We will then have time on our own to explore the city of Noto, a real baroque jewel, built late in the 17th century CE after an earthquake destroyed most of Old Noto. Sleep outside of Noto.
We will travel to Syracuse, one of modern Sicily’s most beautiful cities, an important colony of ancient Greece, and the birthplace of the mathematician Archimedes. We will explore the picturesque Piazza del Duomo and the poetic Fonte Aretusa in the morning, and in the afternoon we will enjoy the amazing Neapolis Archaeological Park, with its incredible Greek theatre, limestone quarries, and the famous Ear of Dionysus. Sleep outside of Noto.
Today we will travel north to Milazzo to catch our boat to Lipari -- the most diverse of the Aeolian Islands. Quaint streets wind past fortress walls to Castello, a site that was been continuously occupied since Neolithic times and has enabled archaeologists to date other Mediterranean cultures. Our afternoon hike will feature views of the scenic coastlines of Lipari and the other Aeolian Island, Vulcano. A charming local hotel will be our home for the next two nights. Sleep in Lipari.
This morning we will catch a boat to the dramatic island of Vulcano, where we will hike to the top of the dormant volcano and peer down into its crater (5 miles, +/-1,600 feet). Views from the top are fantastic! After lunch we’ll return to Lipari and may have time on our own to visit Lipari’s archaeological museums or explore the town. Sleep in Lipari.
We will cruise back to mainland Sicily this morning and drive to the village of Taormina, perched on a hillside overlooking the Ionian Sea. We'll drive to a very scenic winery on the slopes of Mount Etna, the highest active volcano in Europe. We will sample Sicilian wines overlooking the Mediterranean sea and eat very tasty local specialties. We will then reach Taormina and its colorful cobblestone streets. You will have time to explore its historic Greek theatre, shop and refresh yourself with granita, a Sicilian semi-frozen dessert. We will then check in at our hotel in Giardini di Naxos, on the coast below Taormina. Sleep in Giardini di Naxos.
This morning you will be transferred to Catania airport to catch your flight back home or you may wish to stay in Giardini di Naxos or Catania a little longer, let us know if you would like our help to arrange your tour extension in Sicily.
Main tour trip Cost: $ 4,250 per person in double room – minimum 10 travelers
Single Supplement: $550
Pre-tour extension cost: $320 per person in double room – minimum 6 travelers (price for 2 hotel nights, breakfast, full day walking city tour and lunch)
Deposit required to secure your reservation: $700 per person
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