This tour of Sicily last almost two weeks and hits all the high spots. From Palermo, Sicily's largest city, to the fishing village of Cefalu’ … from the archeological treasures of Segesta to the beautiful city of Trapani … from salt pans to olive oil … and that’s just the first few days! There's also the Valley of Temples, a 150-year-old chocolate factory, the world’s largest Greek theater, Europe's most active volcano, and - not forgetting that this is, after all, an island - a boat tour of the coast. Could you want more? Do you want to do it all again? Come back any time! You have friends in Italy. Your Own Italy.
• Private Mercedes transfers to and from the airport
• English-speaking tour local guides throughout
• 12 nights’ accommodation in your choice of apartments in historic center in Palermo - 3 nights, Trapani – 2 nights, Agrigento – 2 nights, Syracuse – 2 nights and Taormina – 3 nights
• Private walking tour of Palermo
• Day excursion to fishing village of Cefalu’
• Private tour of Monreale and Segesta
• Private walking tour of Trapani
• Day excursion to Erice
• Private tour of the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento
• Day excursion to Villa Romana al Casale
• Private walking tour of Syracuse
• Day excursion to Ragusa and Modica
• Private walking tour of Taormina
• Day excursion to Catania and Mt. Etna
• Boat tour of the Taormina coastline
DAY 1: Welcome to Sicily! Introductory Tour of Palermo
Your driver will be waiting for you at the airport and will escort you by private car to your boutique hotel in Palermo. In the afternoon, your private guide will meet you at your hotel for an introductory walking tour of the capital of Sicily. The largest city on the island, Palermo is more than 2,700 years old and is noted for its history, culture, and architecture. Its 12th century cathedral houses royal tombs and its neoclassical opera house, the Teatro Massimo, is among Italy's largest and best know. Also in the center of town are the Palazzo dei Normanni, a royal palace begun in the ninth century, and the Cappella Palatina, with Byzantine mosaics. You’ll visit the main piazzas, stop at a street vendor for some of Sicily’s renowned lemon ices, and visit the Mercato il Capo, Palermo’s farmer’s market. Then, back to your hotel for an evening on your own.
DAY 2: Tour the Unique Sites of Palermo
Your guide will pick you up at your hotel and take you on a walking tour of Palermo’s most unique sites. You’ll visit the Piazza Bellini, with Punic Wall ruins; Arab-Norman churches from the Middle Ages; the baroque church of Santa Caterina di Alessandria; the Quattro Canti, where the quarters of the old city meet in the four seasons, four Spanish kings, and three classical orders on the facades of its buildings. You'll also see the Piazza Pretoria, the huge and imposing Royal Palace, and Palermo’s Duomo (cathedral), constructed over a period of 600 years. Be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes for this remarkable tour!
DAY 3: The Cathedral at Monreale and the Fishing Village of Cefalu’
From your hotel, your driver will take you and your guide to Monreale's cathedral, probably the first major piece of Norman architecture in Sicily, without a doubt the most impressive sacred space on the island, and a must-see for visitors to Italy. Among its architectural treasures are some of the oldest bronze church doors in Europe, a cloister with a winsome combination of Romanesque and Arabic design elements, and a glorious series of apse mosaics. From here you will head to the fishing village of Cefalu’ to enjoy lunch at a trattoria overlooking the sea and explore the picturesque town. If weather permits, you’ll have time to relax on the beach with rented umbrellas and lounge chairs, in the Italian manner.
DAY 4: Transfer to Trapani with Visit to Segesta
Your driver will pick you up at your hotel: destination Trapani. The archaeolical site of Segesta, on the way to Trapani, consists of the best-preserved Greek temple in the world, in an awe-inspiring situation atop a hill in open countryside. Trapani itself is known for its Holy Week traditions and contains many fascinating sites. At its western tip, offering views as far as the Aegadian Islands, is the 17th-century Torre di Ligny watchtower, which currently houses the Museo di Preistoria e del Mare, with archeological artifacts. North of the harbor, the Chiesa del Purgatorio houses the wooden sculptures that are paraded through town during Easter’s Processione dei Misteri. Your hotel this evening is in Trapani.
DAY 5: Visit the Salt Pans, the Mountaintop Town of Erice and a Sicilian Olive Oil Farm
Your day excursion begins with a visit to the “salt pans” between Trapani and Marsala, which form a coastal wetland and nature reserve where sea salt has been harvested for nearly 3,000 years. An expert guide will describe the history and process of salt harvesting. From salty to sweet: The medieval city of Erice offers not only turreted castles, local crafts, and magnificent views of the Mediterranean, but the pasticceria of Maria Grammatico, one of Sicily’s most famous pastry chefs. You can savor traditional almond pastries, jams, cannoli, and Sicilain cassate or just enjoy their scent. There will be lunch and an olive oil tasting at Fontanasalsa, a village on the Western coast of the region. Your olive oil tasting includes four different oils from the on-site olive oil factory, served with freshly-baked bread and coarse sea salt, while lunch includes Sicilian delicacies like traditional lasagne, tomato and basil pasta, local cheeses, rice salad, roasted vegetables, olive tapenade, and caponata.
DAY 6: Transfer to Agrigento with Tour of the Valley of the Temples
Your driver will pick you up at your hotel for the 2.5 hour drive to Agrigento. On the way, you’ll stop in Marsala at the famous Donna Fugata for lunch and wine-tasting. After settling in to your hotel in Agrigento, your guide will take you on a tour of the Valley of the Temples, one of the largest archeological sites in the world and one of Sicily’s most visited tourist attractions; your private evening tour spares you the noise and press of crowds, not to mention, in the summer, the heat of a Sicilian afternoon. The ancient Greek temples and roads are lit evocatively in the evening, providing a wonderful opportunity to digest centuries of history or simply experience the beauty of a warm evening among the ruins.
DAY 7: Visit Ragusa, Modica, and a Chocolate-Making Factory
Your driver will pick you up at your hotel and take you to Ragusa, where you will tour the city with a private guide, beginning with a visit to the church of San Giorgio, remarkable in Sicily for having withstood earthquakes over the centuries. The Giardino Iblis is a beautiful park with three churches and a magnificent view of the two valleys surrounding Ragusa. The most beuatiful palaces of the city are found en route to the Piazza Duomo where, at the end of a monumental staircase enclosed by a wrought iron gate, is the late baroque Church of San Giorgio, a work by Gagliardi with a facade that is considered a prime example of its style. Lastly, you will visit the Larocca Palace, famous for its baroque masks, and the Palazzo Arezzo Trifiletti, where a member of the family that has owned it since the end of the 17th century will be your guide. After lunch, you’ll visit nearby Modica, a UNESCO-listed baroque town. You will also indulge in a chocolate-making class at the Dolceria Bonajuto, which, at 150 years, is the oldest working chocolate factory in Sicily. Just wait ‘til you taste their sweets – and your own!
DAY 8: Transfer to Syracuse with Visit to Villa Romana al Casale
Your driver will pick you up at your hotel and accompany you to Syracuse. On the way, you will stop at Piazza Armerina for a private tour of the incredible mosaics of Villa Romana del Casale. The villa contains dozens of rooms and intact floor mosaics, unrivalled in the world and preserved down to the finest detail, ranging from simple geometrics to huge, complex scenes of the natural and human world. You will arrive in Syracuse after lunch. After relaxing in your hotel, your guide will meet you for an introductory walking tour of the city center.
DAY 9: Tour Syracuse
Your private, in-depth tour of Syracuse will begin with a visit to the Museo Archeologico Regionale Paolo Orsi. Much of Syracuse was destroyed during WWII, but its archeological treasures – one of the most important collections in Europe - have been preserved. The nearby Archeological Park, which you will visit next, boasts the world’s largest Greek theater and a Roman amphitheater. After lunch, you will tour the narrow street of Ortygia, the city's histori center, in a golf cart. This small island is a popular destination for shopping and entertainment. Its landmarks include the Cathedral, the Piazza del Duomo, the Piazza Archimede, the Fountain of Arethusa, and wonderful views of the sea.
DAY 10: Ascend Mt. Etna and Tour Catania
Any visit to Sicily culminates with Mt. Etna. It has been erupting for half a million years or more and is still erupting today. Your visit will include a cable car ride to the 2,500-meter mark, where the spectacular views will leave your speechless. Weather and seismic activity permitting, you can opt to ride to the top in a jeep, a trip not for weak of heart or wearers of pacemakers! After lunch, your driver will take you to Catania, Sicily’s second largest city. Much of Catania was rebuilt in the eighteenth century, following a volcanic eruption and then an earthquake. The city’s wide central square, Piazza del Duomo, features the whimsical Fontana dell’Elefante statue and richly decorated Catania Cathedral. In the southwest corner of the square, you’ll visit La Pescheria, a lively fish market behind the Duomo that provides a daily rowdy spectacle surrounded by seafood restaurants.
DAY 11: Tour Taormina and Visit the Amphitheater
You will be driven by private car from Syracuse to Taormina. After checking into your hotel, your local guide will introduce you to this Sicilian gem, a hilltop town on Sicily's east coast that sits below Mount Etna and is known for the Teatro Antico, an ancient Greco-Roman theater still used today. Near the theater, cliffs drop to the sea, forming coves with sandy beaches. A narrow stretch of sand connects to Isola Bella, a tiny island and nature reserve.
DAY 12: Boat Along the Taormina Coastline and to the Blue Grotto
Your guide will pick you up at your hotel and accompany you to your private boat in Taormina’s port. You will view Taormina from the best vantage point, the sea, then relax as you cruise along the Sicilian coastline, with stops at the Isola Bella ("Beautiful Island") and Bay of the Mermaids, where you will be able to swim in the cool, clear waters. Your ultimate stop, after a sumptuous lunch, is the incomparable Blue Grotto.
DAY 13: Departure
Your driver will pick you up at your hotel with plenty of time to make your flight from Catania’s international Airport. We salute you with a warm and heartfelt “arrivederci!" See you again! Now that you’ve traveled with us, know that you have friends here in Your Own Italy.
• There is a dress code for churches and basilicas. Shoulders and knees must be covered; shorts, miniskirts and sleeveless shirts are not permitted. It is recommended that you not take large bags or backpacks on tours that include churches as storage accommodations are not always available.
• This tour is not fully accessible for wheelchair users or people with walking disabilities. However, please contact us directly and we will be able to take you on alternative routes suitable for you.
• Please wear comfortable footwear as the tours on your vacation involve a lot of walking.
• Contact Your Own Italy for customization options on your vacation.
• Refer to our website for details on our Cancellation Policy.
• The team at Your Own Italy is absolutely flexible and will customize your vacation to suit your personal tastes and needs. Are you traveling with children? Are you disabled? We will provide all the assistance necessary to adjust our packages to ensure that your vacation is truly memorable!
- When should we start planning our trip?
- Ideally, we ask for at least 3 months' advance notice, especially in the high season (May to September). Arrangements can be made on shorter notice, but you run the risk of missing out on the availability of our favorite hotels and guides. We want the best for our clients, and the more time we have, the more we can guarantee just that.
- What are YOI's payment terms?
- For our customized vacations, we require a 20% deposit upon approval of the itinerary we have presented to you. The balance is due 30 days prior to your arrival date.
- What happens after I've made a reservation through your website?
- Upon submitting your reservation through our website, you will be provided with a voucher with a reservation number that will be used for payment by credit card on the online portal of Blue Pay, our credit card processor.
- Should I purchase travel insurance?
- We strongly encourage you to buy travel insurance at the time of booking, in the event you must cancel and forfeit funds or in the unfortunate case of injury or loss. We also recommend checking with your credit card company, which may offer travel coverage.
- What kind of information will we receive before our trip?
- Approximately one month prior to your departure date, you will receive a Your Own Italy travel packet consisting of a detailed day-to-day itinerary, our list of recommended restaurants, a “Helpful Hints Guide” for Italy, and your specific destinations, plus detailed information and contacts for your accommodations, tours, excursions, and transportation.
- Can you give me a cost breakdown of my customized vacation and what is included?
- The vacations we create are bundled packages and therefore we do not provide a cost breakdown. Our local suppliers often give us a bundled price for the services provided and so we do the same for our clients. We arrange for all your accommodations, transportation, local tour guides, restaurant reservations, and any other fun activities and experiences from the moment you arrive until the day of your departure.