The Best of Sicily from Palermo Back

Departs from : Palermo

Duration : 8 days

Type : Small Group

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Price Per Person : EUR 933.00

Meals Included

Breakfasts : 7

Dinners : 4

Map

This small group tour of Sicily begins in Palermo on Sicily's Western Coast and ends in the beautiful hill-top town of Taormina on the east-west coast. It's nearly a full circle tour of the entire island of Sicily and includes some of the region's most beautiful and historic towns including Agrigento, Noto, Erice, Monreale and many others.

 

 


Day 1 : Benvenuti a Palermo! Welcome dinner with Group

Where we visit : Palermo

Meeting Location : Hotel

Description :

Today you will arrive in beautiful Palermo and met by one of our local representatives at the Hotel.   

Take some time to relax at the hotel, then enjoy a delicious Sicilian dinner with the rest of the group members at the hotel.

Overnight at the hotel and time to rest up the for the adventure that lie ahead.

Meals : Dinner

Day 2 : Palermo and Monreale -with option to visit Mondello & Monte Pellegrino

Where we visit : Palermo, Monreale

Description :

After breakfast we will depart for for an half day guided tour of Palermo. We will start the visit from the old part of the city with the Royal Palace, the Palatina Chapel and the Cathedral. Afterwards you will visit  Monreale, an ancient royal town with spectacular views over the countryside towards the sea, where there will be time to visit the beautiful Cathedral here. We will have time to explore the cathedral and some of the city’s other main attractions. 

In the afternoon there will be time to explore Palermo at your leisure  or arrange an optional excursion to Monte Pellegrino and Mondello.  Dinner and an overnight at hotel in Palermo. 

 

Meals : Breakfast, Dinner

Day 3 : Erice, Trapani, Selinunte, Palermo

Where we visit : Erice, Marsala

Description :

A full day awaits you after breakfast. First depart for Erice, a small mountaintop medieval village in western Sicily that has changed little since Sixth Century BC.  Stop at a bakey shop to taste the typical almond pastry of Erice.  Proceed on to Trapani, with its medieval districts situated on the headland pointing out to the sea.  In the afternoon visit the archaeological park of Selinunte  that contains the ruins of the Temples and the Greek Acropolis.   We proceed back to the Hotel in Palermo for dinner and overnight. 

Meals : Breakfast, Dinner

Day 4 : Agrigento, Piazza Armenina, Taormina mare

Where we visit : Noto, Siracusa, Taormina

Description :

Following breakfast in your hotel, you will depart for Agrigento for a guided tour of the Valley of Temples  where you can admire the temple of Juno, the temple of Concorde, the temple of Ercules and the Temple of Castor and Pollux.  Continue to Piazza Armerina, where you will stop on the way to have a taste of the typical Sicilian products, like olive pate, marmelades and local  wine followed by a visit of the well known  Villa Romana del Casale, famous for its beautiful collection  of late-roman mosaics and the Cathedral.  Continue to Taormina beach where you will arrive late afternoon. Check in to hotel, dinner and overnight. 

Meals : Breakfast, Dinner

Day 5 : Taormina Mare - Etna - Taormina

Where we visit : Taormina

Description :

After a delicious buffet breakfast at your hotel, we head  for Mount Etna, the largest active volcano in Europe and the highest mountain in Italy. If the weather cooperates, you will have a chance to climb to the summit (1800 m). Visit to a local beekeeper, to taste quality honey and see how it is produced.  In the afternoon visit of the city of  Taormina, the beautiful and romantic town located on Mount Tauro. Relax over dinner and then get some well- deserved rest.

Meals : Breakfast, Dinner

Day 6 : Taormina Mare - Noto - Siracusa

Where we visit : Taormina

Description :

After a delicious buffet breakfast at your hotel, depart for a full day excursion. First stop will be in Noto, to discover the beautiful baroque style in Sicily.  On to Siracusa, one of the most interesting archaoelogical site of the island.  Guided tour of the Archaeological park, The Roman Amphiteatre, the Greek Theatre, The Ear of Dionysus, the cave of Cordari, island of Ortigia, the most ancient nucleus of the city with its stunning Cathedral. Return to Hotel in Taormina for dinner and overnight.  

Meals : Breakfast, Dinner

Day 7 : Day at Leisure in Taormina

Where we visit : Taormina

Description :

Take a day out for yourself to enjoy Taormina, a wonderful place for walking around, fine shopping, wonderful beaches and just about anything you could wish for in terms of fine-dining.

Overnight in Taormina. 

Meals : Breakfast

Day 8 : TAORMINA MARE - CASTELBUONO - CEFALU’- PALERMO

Where we visit : Cefalu, Palermo

Description :

This morning we will depart Taormina for Castelbuono, a beautiful hill top town with beautiful views over the straight of Messina that looks over to mainland Italy.  From here, we will continue onto the beautiful sea-side town of Cefalu' where will visit this lovely medieval town famous for its Arabian – Norman Cathedral one of the most beautiful churches in Sicily. In the afternoon, we will return to Palermo where our services will conclude and it will be time to say Arrivederci!
 
For any of your needs in Sicily following the conclusion of this tour, we are happy to assist you including arranging transfers to the airport, flights and ferries back to mainland Italy.  Contact us at team@italygroupspecialists.com or ask you travel agent to get in touch with us! 
 

Meals : Breakfast

Tour Highlights and What's Included

  1. 4 star hotels in great locations
  2. Accommodation in superior four star hotels throughout
  3. Daily Buffet Breakfast
  4. Detailed explanation of sites
  5. Dinners where indicated with wine included
  6. English speaking tour escort for the duration of the tour
  7. Road Tolls
  8. Tastings of local products
  9. Local guides in Palermo, Selinunte, Agrigen- to (Valle dei Templi), Villa Romana del Casale in Piazza Armerina and Syracuse
  10. Coach with air condition for all the tour
  11. Half board
  12. Drinks at meals included
  13. (1⁄4 local wine and 1⁄2 mineral water)

What's Not Included

  1. Departure Transfer
  2. Entrance Fees which must be paid locally unless you specially request us to make reservations in advance
  3. Food and beverages not mentioned in the program
  4. Gratuities of any type
  5. International fights
  6. Local City Hotel Tax Paid Directly to Hotel
  7. Optional excursions during your tour
  8. Personal Expenses or Extras at hotels
  9. Travel Insurance

Palermo


 

The capital of Sicily, Palermo, derives its name from the Greek "panormus", meaning "all port". Through history the city has been conquered by the Phoenicians, the Greeks, the Romans and the Arabs, the civilizations of which have all left their mark, and contributed to its great architectural and cultural importance.

 
Among the many monuments, there are numerous buildings of great significance such as Palermo Cathedral, the Norman Church of St Giovanni degli Eremiti, the Church of St Maria dell'Ammiraglio, also known as Martorana, the Church of the Magione, Palazzo Abatellis, Theatre Politeama and the Sicilian Regional Gallery.
 
A visit to the Massimo Theatre, one of the largest and most prestigious theatres in Europe, should be on every tourist's itinerary. Many artists, poets and writers have cited Palermo in their works, amongst these are Petrarch, Dante, D'Annunzio, and Wolfgang Goethe, who proclaimed Palermo to be "a land of indescribable beauty".

Agrigento


 

The crowning glory of western Sicily is the concentration of Greek temples at Agrigento, on a height between the modern city and the sea known as the Valle Dei Tempi  - Valley of Temples.  


Built on a broad open field that slopes gently to the sun-simmered Mediterranean, Akragas (ancient Agrigento's Greek name) was a showpiece  of temples erected to flaunt a citory over Carthage.  Despite a later sack by the Carthaginians, mishandling by tthe Romans, and neglect by the Christians and Muslims, the eight or so monuments in the Valley dei Tempi are considered to be, along with the Acropolis in Athens the finest Greek ruins in all the world.  

Whether you first come to the Valle dei Tempi at Agrigento in the early morning light, or bathed by the golden floodlights at night, it's easy to see why Akragas was celebrated by the Greek poet Pindar as "the most beautiful city built by mortal men". 

 

 

Erice


 

Erice, known to its Elymian founders and later to the Greeks, as Eryx, sits at 751 meters (2500 feet) on Monte San Giuliani overlooking the Gulf of Castellammare and the city of Trapani, on Sicily's western coast.  The views, to use a much travestied phrase, are utterly spectacular!
 
In the summer months, Erice, whose overall shape is an equilateral triangle is hot hot hot, but during winter, the town can become shrouded in disorienting and dreamlike fogs.  Beautiful in either case.
 
Erice's history closely follows that of Trapani, so we need not take time to revisit the subject again.  So, let's take a look around and discover what there is to be experienced in the here and now, with some reference to origins when necessary.
 
To get to Erice from Trapani, take the cable car (and rouse your heart), or drive up the via Vito Carvini.  At the Porta Trapani you will encounter the Duomo (Cathedral), the Chiesa Matrice, built between 1313 and 1332, beside which sits a striking campanile (bell tower).  The cathedral, with a Gothic arch door, large rose window, two rows of mullioned windows and crowned by merlons, is is largely  of the Gothic style.  A "porch" with a quartet of ogival arches was added in 1426.  The Gothic interior, with three aisles, is equally impressive.
 
Unlike Trapani which was rebuilt after World War II bombings destroyed much of the city, Erice retains a wonderful medieval ambiance, with a labyrinth of narrow cobblestone streets, a number of old churches, 60 or so in fact, including the original Orthodox Church of Saint John the Baptist, the Church of the Madonna, and the Church of Saint Ursula, mostly built in the 15th century, and various public buildings and private villi.
 
At the center of town, in the center of the equilateral triangle which it comprises, is the Church of St. Peter and adjacent monastery.  The complex also houses the E. Majorana Centre for Culture and Science.  Every year, important scientific conferences organized by Antonio Zichichi are held in Erice.
 
Museum goers should make time for a visit to the Cordici Civic Museum in Piazza Umberto I where a number of artifacts from Phoenecian, Greek, Carthiginian and Roman times are on display.
 
The ruin of the Greek Temple of Aphrodite (Venus to the Romans) was allegedly founded by Aeneas, but that of course, is more mythology than history.  It was known throughout the ancient Mediterranean world for its beauty and because it was home to a notorious Venus cult whose practices spread far and wide.
 
In the north eastern part of the town you will find walls built by the Elymians and Phoenecians over 3,000 years ago.  Overlooking the city are the Castello Pepoli, built in the days of the Saracens, and the Castello di Venere (Venus again), built, to make a point no doubt, by the Normans on top of another Temple of Venus.  Surrounding the Castello di Venere, built in the 12th Century, and the Torri di Ballo are the sweet and quiet public gardens, the Giardiani del Ballo.  Climb the castle ramparts or tower and on a clear day you will see Monte Cofano, the city of Trapani and the nearby Egadi Islands, and perhaps Pantelleria or Cap Bon, which is in Tunisia about 170 km away.
 
One can not visit Erice for less than a few hours, so it is likely that lunch or dinner, or both, are in the offing.  There are a number of good restaurants in the town, but look for one that serves up the area specialties, fish and cous cous.
 
We can not leave Erice without making a solid recommendation for one last delightful turn: literary and culinary fans, particularly those blessed with a sweet tooth, will love Pasticceria Grammatico, with its amazing and molto artistico pastries. The shop is owned by Maria Grammatico, and ex-nun whose life story was told in the book Bitter Almonds by Mary Taylor Simeti.
 
By Jesse Andrews, October 15th, 2005

Monreale


 

After Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Vandals and Byzantines, came the Saraceni, the Arabs, the great gardeners of Sicily. They brought irrigation and cultivation: their gifts ran from silk and citrus fruits to sanitation and better fishing methods. Sicily became a jigsaw of Emirates. Then, in 1064, came adventurers from the north, Norman mercenaries who had struck a deal with the Pope. If you can break the Muslim hold on that strange, off-shore other world, you can have it, ran the terms. With their long lances and heavy armour the Normans conquered, but did not scourge. Instead they ruled a tolerant society, where Arab civilisation, learning and craftsmanship were prized. And so Sicily became something else, a kingdom of God where Allah was also worshipped, the world's first harmony of East and West (and a vexation to successive popes). You can still feel it in Palermo's old centre. In the extraordinary Norman-Arab architecture, you can still see it.
 
Painting of Monreale, Sicily by Martin Mathews 
 
We should be well prepared, starting the day in Pasticceria Alba, or any one of Palermo's 1950s cafés, with a fresh orange juice (we are on the clasp of the orange belt stretching from Seville to Damascus), acornetto alla crema, a lemon-custard croissant (because we are on holiday), and a coffee (only in Ethiopia can you get better coffee). Charged with sugar, caffeine and anticipation, we go up Corso Vittorio Emanuele, which begins at the sea, past the cathedral, a great stone ship designed by Normans, trimmed and decorated by Arabs, to the Norman Palace. We marvel at the Palatina Chapel, commissioned by Roger II, greatest of the Norman rulers, whose nameless masters of wood, stone and decoration made him a chapel like a little jewellery box, fit for God.
 
Next we take a bus to Monreale, 15km south of Palermo. Monreale is the crown of the Conca d'Oro, the Golden Shell, the great sweep of bay from Monte Pellegrino to the mountains that cradles Palermo and is only matched in beauty by the Bay of Naples. The cathedral of Monreale was constructed by William the Good, a Norman king who fell headlong into the temptations of the East (his lifestyle would have embarrassed a sultan) but not before he had put Arab artists, Byzantine mosaicists and Norman architects to work creating one of the wonders of the world.
 
The interior of the cathedral is the Sistine Chapel of medieval Europe. It is a golden vision, a dream of the testaments, Old and New. The mosaics tell their stories in a downpour of colour, life and drama. It is as close as the visual arts can come to the power of music. We stand as the first worshippers would have stood, when the doors were opened, and townsfolk, court, craftsmen and king gazed up at what they had done. They must have known it at once: here is a splinter of eternity. Here is man's tribute to the Kingdom, the Power Glory. The Sicilians have a typically pithy attitude to their treasure. Who visits Sicily without seeing Monreale arrives a donkey and leaves a beast, they say.
 
Norman Palace open Mon, Fri, Sat, 9am-noon. Palatina Chapel open Mon-Fri, 9am-11.45am, 3pm-4.45pm. Monreale Cathedral open daily, 8am-noon; 3.30pm-6.30pm. 'The Blue Guide to Sicily' and Vincent Cronin's 'The Golden Honeycomb' are useful accompaniments.
 
For a personal guide of Monreale and any other tours in Sicily, contact us at: info@italygroupspecialists.com or call us toll free anytime to have one of our knowledeable experts speak with you about how to best organize your tour of Monreale and many other destinations in Sicily.
 
 
 
Please contact us today by either phone or email for assistance with this booking.
Email : team@italygroupspecialists.com
Toll Free : 1-866-779-2565
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Price Per Person : EUR 933.00

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