This nearly two-week tour of Sicily includes more than you can imagine. From Palermo, the largest city in Italy, to the fishing village of Cefalu’…from the archeological site of Segesta to the beautiful city of Trapani…from the salt pans to an olive oil farm and factory…and that’s just the first few days. From there, you’ll visit the Valley of Temples…and on to a 150-year old chocolate factory, where you’ll indulge in a chocolate-making class… Still want more? You’ll head to Syracuse, where you’ll see archeological treasures, the world’s largest Greek theatre, even Ortygia, the historic center of Syracuse and the perfect place in Sicily to shop. Next: Catania, which sits near the foot of Mt. Etna, the most active volcano in the world today and a must-visit on a Sicilian trip. Finally, a boat tour of the Sicilian coast, a relaxing way to spend your last full day on the island before you fly home from Catania’s international Airport. Could you want more? Come back any time. You have friends in Italy. Your Own Italy.
Highlights and What’s Included
• Private Mercedes transfers to and from the airport.
• English-speaking tour guides throughout.
• 12 nights’ accommodation in your choice of hotels or 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 select boutique hotel in Palermo. In the afternoon, your private tour guide will meet you at your hotel for an introductory walking tour of this capital of Sicily. One of important cities on the Island, Palermo is more than 2,700 years old. The city is noted for its history, culture, architecture and astronomy. The 12th-century Palermo Cathedral houses royal tombs, while the huge neoclassical Teatro Massimo is known for opera performances. Also in the center are the Palazzo dei Normanni, a royal palace started in the 9th century, and the Cappella Palatina, with Byzantine mosaics. During your walking tour, you’ll visit the main piazzas, stop at a street vendor to experience Sicily’s famed lemon sorbet 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…Santa Caterina di Alessandria, a baroque church…the Quattro Canti, where the quarters of the old city meet and present the four seasons, four Spanish kings, and three clas¬sical orders on the facades of its buildings…Piazza Pretoria…the huge and imposing Royal Palace…and Palermo’s Duomo (cathedral), constructed over a period of 600 years. These sites are nothing short of amazing – unique in their diversity and historical significance. Be sure you’re wearing comfortable walking shoes for this remarkable tour.
DAY 3: The Cathedral at Monreale and the Fishing Village of Cefalu’
Your driver will pick you and your guide up at your hotel and drive to the nearby town of Monreale to visit the cathedral. Probably the first major piece of Norman architecture in Sicily and without a doubt the most impressive sacred space on the island, the Cathedral at Monreale is a must-see for visitors to Italy. Its architectural treas¬ures include 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 that will leave you speechless. Afterwards, your driver will accompany you to the fishing village of Cefalu’ where you will have time to enjoy lunch at a trattoria overlooking the water and explore the picturesque town. If the weather permits, you’ll have time to relax on the beach at one of the several places with umbrellas and lounge chairs for rent.
DAY 4: Transfer to Trapani with visit to the Archeological site of Segesta
Your driver will pick you up at your hotel: destination Trapani. The city is well known for its Holy Week traditions and contains many fascinating sites. Located at the western tip of Trapani, offering views as far as the Aegadian Islands, is the 17th-century Torre di Ligny watchtower. It houses the Museo di Preistoria e del Mare, with archeological artifacts. North of the harbor, the Chiesa del Purgatorio church holds wooden sculptures that are paraded around the city during Easter’s Processione dei Misteri. On the way to Trapani, you’ll visit the archeological site of Segesta consisting mainly of what is often considered the best preserved Greek temple in the world. The location of this site – atop a hill in the open countryside – is awe-inspiring. Your driver will then take you to Trapani where you will check in to your hotel. In the afternoon, your guide will pick you up and take you on an introductory walking tour of this baroque gem.
DAY 5: Visit to the Salt Pans, the Mountain Top Town of Erice and a Sicilian Olive Oil Farm
Your driver will pick you up at your hotel and take you on a day excursion that begins with a visit to the Trapani “salt pans.” The oldest salt marshes in Europe, the salt pans between Trapani and Marsala form a coastal wetland and nature reserve where sea salt has been harvested for nearly 3,000 years. Your expert, English-speaking guide will teach you about the history and process of salt harvesting. Afterwards, you will visit the medieval city of Erice to see turreted castles, local crafts and magnificent views of the Mediterranean. You will experience the Pasticceria of Maria Grammatico, one of Sicily’s most famous pastry chefs, as you taste the traditional almond pastries, jams, cannoli and the famed Sicilain cassate. Next stop, lunch and 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. Lunch includes Sicilian delicacies like plates of 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 by the famed Donna Fugata in Marsala 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 attrac¬tions. The private evening tour spares you the noise and press of crowds – and, in the summer, the heat of a Sicilian day. The an¬cient Greek temples and roads are lit evocatively in the evening, providing a wonderful opportunity to digest centuries of history or simply absorb the beauty of a warm evening among the ruins.
DAY 7: Visit to Ragusa, Modica and a Chocolate Making Factory
Your driver will pick you up at your hotel and take you to visit the jewel of Ragusa, where a private guide will take you on a tour that starts with a visit to the original church of San Giorgio, which survived the earthquake of 1693. Next, you will visit the Giardino Iblis, a beautiful park with 3 churches, where you will enjoy the magnificent view of the two valleys surrounding Ragusa. Walking along Corso 25 Aprile, you will find the most beautiful aristocratic palaces of the city. Passing by the palaces, you will arrive in Piazza Duomo where, at the end of a monumental staircase closed by a wrought iron gate, is the Church of San Giorgio -- a work by Gagliardi, with a facade consid¬ered a prime example of late baroque art. Lastly, you will visit the Larocca Palace and its famous baroque masks. You’ll also have the opportunity to visit Palazzo Arezzo Trifiletti, guided by a mem¬ber of the family that has owned it since the end of the 17th century. After lunch, you’ll visit nearby Modica, one of the area’s UNESCO-listed Baroque towns. You will also indulge in a chocolate-making class at the Dolceria Bonajuto. It’s the oldest working chocolate factory in Sicily, in operation for more than 150 years. Just wait ‘til you taste the sweets they make – and the ones you’ll make yourself during this delicious class.
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, where you will meet your guide for a private tour of the Villa Romana del Casale. The villa contained dozens of rooms and its mosaics – unrivalled in the world, and preserved down to the finest detail – range from simple geomet¬ric patterns to huge and complex scenes of the natural and hu¬man world. After lunch, you will arrive in Syracuse. After relaxing in your hotel, your guide will pick you up at take you on an introductory walking tour of the city center.
DAY 9: Tour of Syracuse
Your private guide will begin your tour with a visit to Syracuse’s Museo Archeologico Regionale Paolo Orsi. Much of modern Syracuse was destroyed during WWII, but its archeological treasures – one of the most important collections in Europe -- have been preserved. Next, you will visit the nearby Archeological park, which boasts the world’s largest Greek theater and a Roman amphitheater. After lunch, you will tour Syracuse in a golf cart that permits driving in the narrow streets of Ortygia. This small island is the historic center of Syracuse, a popular destination for shopping and entertainment. Landmarks on Ortygia include the Cathedral of Syracuse, the Piazza del Duomo, Piazza Archimede, Fountain of Arethusa and more.
DAY 10: Tour of Taormina and the Greek-Roman Theater
Your driver will pick you up at your hotel and take you to Mt. Etna, the culmination of any visit to Sicily. Etna has been erupting for half a million years or more – and is still erupting today. Your visit to the volcano will include a cable car ride to the 2,500-meter mark, where the spectacular views with astonish you. Weather permitting, you can opt to go to the top on a jeep. Not for weak of heart or wearers of pace makers! 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: Visit to Mt. Etna and Walking Tour of Catania
Your guide will pick you up at your hotel and accompany you to your private boat in Taormina’s port. You will see Taormina from the best vantage point, the sea, then relax as you tour along the Sicilian coastline with stops on the famed Isola Bella and the Bay of the Mermaids where you will be able to swim in the cool, clear waters. After a sumptuous lunch, you will visit the Blue Grotto with its famed colorful shades of blue and green.
DAY 12: Boat Tour of the Taormina Coastline
Your driver will pick you up at your hotel in Syracuse and take you to Taormina. After checking into your hotel, your local guide will introduce you to this Sicilian gem.
Taormina is a hilltop town on the east coast of Sicily. It sits near Mount Etna and is known for the Teatro Antico di Taormina, 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 13: Departure
Your driver will pick you up at your hotel with plenty of time to make your flight from Catania’s international Airport for departure. 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.