A Sicilian Sojourn 

Discover Sicily, a land of active volcanoes, indomitable mountains, inspiring and storied ancient Greek & Roman sites, captivating gourmet and wine and a smorgasbord of cultural influence. Explore the mesmerizing region blessed with incredible beauty and a wine connoisseur's paradise to go along with endless stretches of incredible coastal charm. 

HIGHLIGHTS

Experience  Sicily with its coastal charm & exciting heritage.

Enjoy stays in unique and boutique hotels

Experience exceptional wines and gourmet experiences

Enjoy an intimate Sicilian experience with local characters

ITINERARY

DAY 1: ARRIVE PALERMO (TRACING THE LEGACY OF THE NORMANS)

Arrive into Palermo Falcone-Borsellino Airport where you will be met as we then begin an orientation to explore Palermo, capital of Sicily as we go into the heart of the city with its Norman lineage which ruled Sicily from 1130 - 1194. Visit the UNESCO-listed Palermo Cathedral, built in 1184 by the Normans on the site of a Muslim mosque that was previously built over a Christian basilica. What we see today is the result of a stratification of styles over the centuries from Gothic to Medieval, Arabic to Neoclassical. We have the chance to witness the crypt and the treasure room or the Royal and Imperial Tombs at the terraces before taking in a panoramic view of Palermo. Our next stop is the San Giovanni degli Eremiti with its iconic red domes and beautiful cloister that was built in the 6th Century before subsequently transforming into a Muslim mosque only to be reconverted into a church during the Norman Period. Continue our tour as we stop to learn about the Teatro Massimo (no entrance), the biggest opera house in Italy and third-largest in all of Europe. Nearing lunch, head over to the Ballaro Street Market, established for more than 1,000 years and here, we get to experience the local life with street vendors parading fresh produce, fish and meat to an assortment of daily use items. 

The second half of the day, a short drive arrives us to the hill town of Monreale where its Arab-Norman art and architecture reaches its pinnacle with the UNESCO-listed Monreale Cathedral with its astonishing golden mosaics depicting scenes from the Old and New Testaments. On the list as well will be the Benedictine Cloister adorned with 228 twin columns and intricately-crafted Arab-Norman arches, a true sight to behold. Finally, we return back to Palermo to check in at the Quintocanto Hotel & Spa

Overnight: Quintocanto Hotel & Spa, Palermo

Meals: NIL

DAY 2: PALERMO / CASTELLAMMARE DEL GOLFO / SCOPELLO / ERICE / TRAPANI

We leave Palermo today as we enjoy a scenic drive along the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea past some of the most incredible beaches before making a stop at the incredibly-beautiful port town of Castellammare del Golfo adorned with charming houses and its castle that stretches out to the sea. Enjoy picture-perfect photos at the port area and learn about its Arab-Norman heritage. Continue along the coast shortly to arrive at the fishing village of Scopello, blessed with incredible rocky and dramatic cliffs and sea stacks and wonderful beaches. The village is renowned for its tuna fishery dating back to medieval times and at the center of attraction of its tuna-fishing legacy is the Tonnara di Scopello, a scenic spot for sun-worshippers and in pop culture, a filming site for George Clooney's "Ocean's Twelve". 

From here, we move inland as enter into the province of Trapani to the nostalgic village of Erice, amongst the most beautiful in Italy nestled at the peak of Mount Erice. Charming winding lanes lead to some captivating photography moments, local bakeries and shops before we take a walk to the 12th Century Norman Castello di Venere, long a site of worship for the ancient Elymians, Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans while gazing over the sight of the Pepoli Tower, perched steeply on a rocky outcrop. 

Our day comes to an end today to arrive at the stunning environments of Baglio Soria Resort, nestled in the magnificent beauty of the Firriato vineyards. 

Overnight: Baglio Soria Resort, Trapani

Meals: Breakfast 

DAY 3: TRAPANI (SEGESTA & THE FIRRIATO VINEYARDS)

We start the day with a short drive to visit the ancient site of Segesta. Perched in a dramatic hilltop location, the archeological site of Segesta is one of the most fascinating in Sicily, home to some well-preserved ancient ruins. Founded by the indigenous Elymian people, Segesta was later ruled by both the Greeks and the Romans, before being abandoned in the 13th Century. Admire the fascinating Doric Temple, dating back to the 5th Century BC and in remarkable condition, despite never being completed, with its 36 Doric columns still standing. Close by, the grand open-air amphitheatre sits atop Mount Barbaro and offers magnificent views over the surrounding valleys, 

We then continue next to the Firriato Vineyards where with your sommelier guide, enjoy a tour of the estate and the terroir and learn about the undisputed quality of the wines of Trapani culminating in a tasting of its vintages and food tasting of innovative Sicilian cuisine. Enjoy a relaxing unwind for the rest of the day to soak in in the mesmerizing beauty of the vineyards. 

Overnight: Baglio Soria Resort, Trapani

Meals: Breakfast & Lunch

DAY 4: TRAPANI / MARSALA / SCIACCA / REALMONTE / AGRIGENTO

We leave Trapani today to continue our journey south towards Marsala, our first stop of the day. No visit to Sicily is complete without an understanding of its iconic Marsala fortified wines and the legacy of English trader, John Woodhouse who embarked on the process of developing fortified wines in Marsala after the success of Oporto in Portugal and Jerez in Spain. Enjoy a visit to the traditional Pellegrino Winery and tasting of its vintages before then a visit to the salt pans with its characteristic old windmills, are inside a beautiful area protected by the WWF, right on the coast between Trapani and Marsala. The salt produced in this area is part of Slow Food Italian Presidia. 

Continuing our journey to the south-western coasts of Sicily, we stop in Sciacca, one of the most beautiful port towns in Sicily and Italy where we enjoy a walking tour amongst the charming houses near to the harbor and then visit the medieval Church of Santa Margherita, founded by Eleonora d’Aragona in 1342: inside you can admire marvelous stuccos and frescoes, a coffered ceiling and an extraordinary eighteenth-century organ. Spend time for lunch in a local trattoria enjoying fine seafood before we continue to the coastal town of Realmonte where we come face to face with the spectacular Scala dei Turchi "Stair of the Turks", a white cliff made of soft limestone sculpted by the wind and the sea for one of the most intense natural visual experience. Take a walk on the cliffs and enjoy a humbling experience of nature's work and finally, a short drive arrives us, with pulse racing, to the Hotel Villa Athena, situated right inside the Archaeological Park of the Valley of the Temples, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Consider this evening, an "Illuminations Tour" of the temples to soak up the magical ancient atmosphere. 

Overnight: Hotel Villa Athena, Agrigento

Meals: Breakfast 

DAY 5: AGRIGENTO (VALLEY OF THE TEMPLES, OLIVES & THE ARTS)

Morning begins with a visit of the Valley of the Temples this time during daylight and before the hordes of crowds. One of the most outstanding examples of Greater Greece art and architecture, enjoy a guided tour with your expert historian guide as we marvel at the Temples of Hera, Concordia and Herakles and others and listen to stories that bring the ruins to life. Thereafter, a pleasant drive takes us to the beautiful surroundings of the Mandranova Farm, the undisputed top producers of high quality extra-virgin olive oil and almonds in an incredible and picturesque setting where we enjoy a tour of the olive groves, learn about it complex process from harvesting to pressing and bottling culminating in a tasting of its high quality variety of olive oil. 

Next, we head on to the fascinating Farm Cultural Park in the town of Favara where in 2010, Andrea Bartoli and his lawyer wife, Florinda Saieva decided to move from Paris and restart their life in their native region, transforming an entire neighborhood in the centre of Favara into a lively modern art site. Enjoy a wonderful brisk time here admiring the cheerful contemporary art before we return to Hotel Villa Athena. 

Overnight: Hotel Villa Athena, Agrigento

Meals: Breakfast

DAY 6: AGRIGENTO / PIAZZA ARMERINA / CALTAGIRONE / RAGUSA 

Leaving Agrigento today, we head east to the charming town of Piazza Armerina, perched on a plateau about 700m above sea level. Enjoy an insightful walk-through of the labyrinths and historical quarter, founded during the Norman Period and then we visit the UNESCO-listed Villa Romana del Casale, an old hunting lodge that is home to the planet's biggest collection of Roman mosaics. Take some time to study the mosaics, some of which depict every day scenes from centuries past. With your guide, we wander around its interiors including the thermal baths, dining hall and courtyard to fully appreciate its splendors. 

Thereafter, continue to the UNESCO-listed hilltop town of Caltagirone, part of the "Magnificent Baroque 8" of the Val do Noto with its incredible late Baroque architecture of the 17th Century. Renowned for its ceramics, wander around the perfectly manicured public gardens and take a leisurely walk up the emphatic Scalinata di Santa Maria del Monte (the town’s celebrated ceramic inlaid staircase). 

Finally, our journey today ends as we arrive into UNESCO-listed Ragusa, a city of two souls "Superiore" - the upper new town and "Inferiore" or Ragusa Ibla, the lower old town separated by a deep ravine. Time-permitting for the day, we make a a visit of Ragusa "Superiore" for spectacular views of Ragusa Ibla and an orientation of its history before arriving and checking into the romantic and atmospheric Locanda Don Serafino. Enjoy a treat this evening enjoying a sumptuous cuisine by 2 Michelin Stars Chef Vincenzo Candiano

Overnight: Locanda Don Serafino, Ragusa

Meals: Breakfast & Dinner

DAY 7: RAGUSA (CHEESE, CHOCOLATE & BAROQUE GEMS OF THE VAL DI NOTO)

We will uncover today some of the Baroque gems of the UNESCO-listed Val di Noto. Begin afresh today as we enjoy a tour of historic Ragusa Ibla with some of the most incredibly-atmospheric alleys and Baroque-styled buildings and monuments including the Piazza Duomo. Later, we have the opportunity to visit a traditional Ragusa Caciocavallo or "Ragusano" cheese factory, some of the most revered cheese in Italy with its aged-old drying process. The Ragusano is a large, rectangular cheese and can weigh 10-16 kilograms and one of the most original and oldest cheeses from Sicily shaped in a traditional wooden mould and is salted and regularly rubbed with a mixture of oil and vinegar which gives the cheese a characteristic, dark, golden-yellow external skin. 

 

Next, we head out of Ragusa to visit the historic town of Modica, also a UNESCO-listed town of the Val di Noto and like Ragusa, is divided into the upper and lower sections as a result of the earthquake of 1693. Enjoy a walking tour of this stunning Baroque town with its collection of tight-knit houses and thereafter, an opportunity to learn about the secrets of its chocolate-making heritage which dates back to more than 400 years. 

 

Our final stop for the day will be Scicli, another Baroque jewel and UNESCO-listed component of the Val di Noto. At the centerpiece of the town is the Palazzo Beneventano, described as Sicily's most beautiful Baroque building as well as the San Bartholomeo Church

Overnight: Locanda Don Serafino, Ragusa

Meals: Breakfast 

DAY 8: RAGUSA / NOTO / SIRACUSA / MOUNT ETNA

Our incredible journey of Sicily continues eastwards to Noto, part of the UNESCO-listed Val di Noto and dubbed the finest Baroque city in Sicily where you will be charmed by every corner of this Baroque masterpiece starting from the Arco di Trionfo to the core of the Vittorio Emanuele and to the most impressive of all, the Cathedral of San Nicolo. Take a walk on the Via Nicolaci - home to the annual "Infiorata Flower Festival" where teams of artists make up a mosaic of colourful petals that form a carpet that covers the road’s paving. 

Thereafter, we head to the coastal city of Siracusa, set on the Ionian Coast of Sicily, the most important Greek city of antiquity that flourished on the coast of Sicily and formidable seafaring power nearly equal to Athens. At the height of its power, it had the might to take on both Carthage and Rome. With your guide, enjoy a guided tour of the UNESCO-listed Neapolis Archaeological park where we discover the most significant monuments of ancient Greeks and Romans - the Greek Theater, the biggest Greek theater in Sicily, the legendary "Ear of Dionysius" cave, famous for its unique acoustics, the altar of Hiero, the ancient Greek quarries "Latomie", the Roman amphitheater, the Nympheum fountain, and enjoy beautiful local flora and spectacular panoramic view from the top of the hill. Thereafter, continue to Ortigia, historical center of Siracusa where we witness the Cathedral of Siracusa, Temple of Apollo and subsequent Baroque buildings and monuments as well as the Jewish Quarter. 

 

Ending the day will be a drive to the slopes of Mount Etna where we arrive in one of the most talked-about new hotels, the Monaci delle Terre Nere where we spend the next 2 nights. 

Overnight: Monaci delle Terre Nere, Mount Etna

Meals: Breakfast

DAY 9: MOUNT ETNA (MOUNT ETNA & TAORMINA)

A sensational start to the day as we embark on a private jeep tour where we ascend Mount Etna,  During our adventurous, partially off-road, drive up to the volcano, we will cross old lava fields as well as hundred-years old forests. We will make several stops to visit some of the most beautiful sites on Mount Etna by foot.

Thereafter, we make a descend and head to the ancient city of Taormina where we enjoy a tour culminating with our visit of the Teatro di Taormina where enjoy superb views of Etna and the Naxos Bay. There will be time to enjoy a stroll and browse the shops before we return to Monaci delle Terre Nere. 

NOTES:

Option for a private helicopter tour of Mount Etna

Overnight: Monaci delle Terre Nere, Mount Etna

Meals: Breakfast

DAY 10: MOUNT ETNA / DEPARTURE CATANIA

Today, you will be transferred to Catania Fontanarossa Airport for departure or continue your exploration of Sicily to the stunning Aeolian Islands or Pantelleria and beyond. 

Meals: Breakfast

HOTELS

Set in the heart of Palermo next to the Quattro Canti, the Quintocanto Hotel & Spa offers a comfortable and relaxing atmosphere with its minimalist and contemporary style as well as a spa to allow you a rejuvenating stay in the capital city of Sicily. 

Quintocanto Hotel & Spa, Palermo

Furnished in a fresh contemporary style that reflects the essence of Sicily, the guest rooms at Baglio Sorìa Resort provide an elegant and relaxing personal space. There are 11 in total, each with its own uninterrupted view across the Sicilian Countryside and Firriato vineyards.  

Baglio Soria Resort, Trapani

Situated 200m away from the Temple of Concordia and the only hotel within the Archaeological Park of the Valley of the Temples, the Hotel Villa Athena is a magnificent residence established at the end of the 18th Century carefully-restored and offers delightful collection of rooms and suites tastefully decorated in designer fabrics and furnishings.

Hotel Villa Athena, Agrigento

In the maze of little streets and baroque churches of Ragusa Ibla, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is where you find Locanda Don Serafino, one of the finest restaurants in Sicily. Two-Michelin-star chef Vincenzo Candiano sources his ingredients exclusively from the island, yet draws his inspiration from well beyond the Mediterranean to elevate Sicilian cuisine with his own style.

Locanda Don Serafino, Ragusa

The historic estate of Monaci delle Terre Nere is located on the slopes of Mount Etna, the largest active volcano in Europe. With dramatic views over the volcano and the Mediterranean, this countryside boutique hotel is a very special place. Explore the romantic, terraced gardens, stroll through the 46-hectare estate, visit the farm and vineyards, relax by the pretty pool, and discover its unique atmosphere for yourself.

Monaci delle Terre Nere

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