Classic Tour of Italy, 7 Days
Palermo | Menfi | Siracusa | Taormina
Positioned by the toe of Italy’s book, Sicily is the southern-most point in the country and the biggest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Brimming with wonderous scenery like the landscapes to be seen on the Aeolian and Pelagian Islands, with copious sandy beaches, cliffs, caves, and coast lines. Comparing this to the dramatic perspective of the well-known Mount Etna in the background, which just happens to be the largest active volcano in Europe, Sicily has a huge variety of natural sights to enjoy. In addition to the natural wonders, there are a multitude of historical sites to discover, from Siracusa, one of Sicily’s main historic cities and the birthplace of mathematician and engineer Archimedes, to the Valley of the Temples (Velle dei Templi), a series of eight temples declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO. The capital of the island, Palermo, boasts dynamic and exciting street food markets, gorgeous beaches, architectural jewels, unique coastal villages, and an extensive history.
Arrival transfer from Palermo Airport. You will meet your tour guide at the hotel for a welcome briefing and stay overnight in Palermo.
A full day private visit of Palermo and Monreale awaits you today and your driver will meet you at your hotel to get you started. Palermo is the capital of Sicily, a city that is rich in history that has been influenced by many distinctive cultures from the many invaders over the years, including Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Normans, French and Spaniards. They all played a different role in creating Sicily and Palermo as they are today. Those diverse cultures have had an impact on the language, art, food, and architecture of the island. The crumbling Baroque monuments, modern art scene, innovative cuisine, all make Palermo a must-see on your tour.
In 1174, William II, the Norman King, insisted on the building of a new church to honor the Virgin Mary. Built for this purpose, the Cathedral is a beautiful mix of architectural styles and is influenced by Arab, Byzantine, and Norman craftsmanship. One of the key talking points of the Cathedral is the golden mosaics that cover the inside of the building. Paintings of saints, angels and kings, and biblical scenes from both the old and new testament, all build up to a monumental masterpiece of Christ. As you leave the Cathedral, take a moment to walk through the Cloisters next door, which was also built on William’s instructions and is arguably just as beautiful. Stay overnight in Palermo.
Today you will transfer from Palermo to Menfi and will take breaks in Erice and Trapani to enjoy some free time for an independent visit. Driving across the coastline, you will observe the markings on the edge of the sea with salt flats and windmills that have been used to pump water in years gone by.
The historical heart of Trapani has been crafted around its port and is testament to its artistic and historical nature. The ancient buildings, churches, and monuments like in the Cathedral of San Lorenzo with its divine Baroque façade, and the Sanctuary of the Annunziata. As you travel south, you will start to notice the small island of Mothia off the coast. It is a Phoenician settlement where you can observe several ruins that can be seen from the coast.
Erice is a medieval town and its roots can be traced back into history. The city sits atop a mountainside and overlooks Trapani. It is enveloped by the defensive walls and the Castle of Venus sits aloft where you can get an outstanding view of the sea. You will arrive in the late afternoon in Menfi where you will stay overnight.
It is a strong belief of ours that holidays need free time weaved into the agenda so that we can pause and relax to take in the surroundings. This time alone to explore is a fantastic way of getting to know the region at your own speed and in your own way.
You may choose to explore the ancient Greek city of Selinunte that sits nearby. This is as beautiful as anything you will find in Greece and is one of the most extraordinary archaeological sites in the Mediterranean. Formerly the Magna Graecia, in 409 B.C. Selinunte stopped existing when a hundred thousand Carthaginians tore apart the town and slaughtered sixteen thousand people over nine days.
If you would prefer something more relaxing, we can arrange a vineyard tour or a cookery class at the Planeta Estate. Or simply choose to hang out by the swimming pool, eating a leisurely lunch or reading that book you have had your eye on for ages. That is, after all, what holidays are for! Spend the night in Menfi.
In the morning, your tour guide will collect you to leave Menfi and travel to Siracusa. There will be a break in Agrigento so that you have enjoy a tour of the Valley of the Temples. In ancient times, Agrigento was the Greek city of Akragas that was colonised by the Greek islands of Rhodes and Crete. The town was prosperous, but like Selinunte, Hannibal and the Carthaginians attacked the city in 406 B.C. In modern day, the Valley of the Temples is known as one of the best illustrations of the ancient world, since the original settlement site has been perfectly preserved.
Once your tour of Agrigento is complete, you will travel east and take a break in Modica for some free time to explore. Awarded world heritage site status by UNESCO, the town is one of Sicily’s beautiful Baroque city. Chocolate lovers will appreciate Modica where you can take a tour of the Antica Dolceria Bonajuto (Corso Umberto I, 159), who is the city’s most famous chocolate maker. Make sure to purchase enough to last the rest of your stay! Remain overnight in Siracusa.
Cicero defined Siracusa as “the most beautiful city in Magna Graecia,” which was absolutely correct, of course. Today, you will enjoy a walking tour with your guide of the town.
The ancient wonders of Siracusa still echo around the town and can be seen through the streets, churches, and monuments. It is a must-see for all travellers and, with the Mediterranean temperatures in Sicily, can be enjoyed at any time of year. The city was awarded World Heritage status in 2005 by UNESCO and you can see the ancient vestiges in every corner of the town, from Classical to Baroque wonders, all in a scenery of alluring beauty. At one point, this city was the biggest city in the West, with a population of nearly three hundred thousand. The Greek theatre, for example, could have seated fifteen thousand people and dates to the fifth century B.C. The soul of Syracuse can be found in Ortigia, a small island off the mainland, that is packed to the brim with 2,500 years of history. Visitors will especially enjoy the daily morning food market. If you get a chance, try and take a pit stop at a shop called “I Sapori dei Gusti Smarriti” (flavors of lost tastes) and you will find some new Sicilian delicacies to bring home or sample on the road. Stay overnight in Siracusa.
Today you will travel from Siracusa to Taormina. Enjoy the stunning views on your journey, including that of the volcano Mount Etna. When you arrive in Taormina, your guide will treat you to a tour of the town, known as ‘Pearl of the Mediterranean Pearl.’ It can be found on a sheer natural terrace over the sea, with wonderous views from every spot. The narrow streets wind around the town with restaurants, bars, and shops, which make it an ideal place to enjoy a relaxing day on your holiday. Carved into the earth, the Greek theatre sits in a fantastic position for absorbing the arts. One can only imagine audiences trying to absorb performances without being distracted by the views across the ocean. A great all year-round location, Taormina has a mild climate and is full of activities that offer fun, peace, and joie de vivre. Stay overnight in Taormina.
You will independently transfer back to the airport to return home.
The hotels might be replaced with similar ones due to lack of availability.
• 7 Overnights at centrally located 4 star hotels
• Welcome briefing upon arrival with our local assistant
• Daily breakfast
• Full Day private visit of Palermo & Monreale with driver guide
• Transfer from Palermo to Menfi and en route stops in Erice, Trapani and Salt Plans for an independent visit
• Transfer from Menfi to Siracusa and en route stops in Agrigento for a guided visit, entrance fee included
• Free time in Modica for an independent visit
• Walking guide tour of Siracusa, entrance fee included
• Transfer from Siracusa to Taormina
• Taormina guided visit
• Arrival Transfer
• City Tax to be paid locally
• Drinks on meals
• Departure Transfer
• Porterage at airport
• Tipping for guide, driver and hotel staff
• Any Insurance
• Any Item, product or service not specifically listed under “Inclusions”
Prices may vary according to dates of travel.