Beautiful Landscapes and Gardens of Sicily Tour

A 10 day trip to Italy 
4.75
4.75 out of 5 stars
4 reviews

Discover your private secret garden in Sicily, lush with decorative vines, orange groves and olive orchards; explore the rich soil that creates the incredible fertile landscape. Chefs create unique and widely sought dishes using traditional ingredients grown in personalized private plots. Noble families decorate their estates with blossoming white trees and towering palm fronds. Vineyards comb the fertile foothills of Mount Etna. Baroque palaces frame elegant squares and verdant gardens hide behind ancient Doric ruins. Your custom tailored tour of Sicily’s landscapes and gardens has you strolling along parks and botanical gardens, history, and unforgettable scenery.  

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Most tours are customized for private travel.

General Information

Photos
Hiking Mount Etna. Photo Credit: Etna Tribe
Etna Nature and Flavors Tour. Photo Credit: Etna Tribe
Mount Etna Smoke Peak. Photo Credit: Etna Tribe
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Taormina, Catania, Mount Etna, Barone di Villagrande, Casa Cuseni, Palermo, Monreale, Parco del Toscano, Modica, Syracuse, Scicli 

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Lushness of Sicily

Sicily is a majestic island with thousands of years of history. Gardens blossom unhindered, and grape vines comb the countryside. You arrive at the airport in Catania, where your private transfer is waiting to escort you to Syracuse. En route to Syracuse, you stop at an elegant boutique winery with vineyards on the lower regions of the Gibellina Mountains. Your tour of the winery takes you along the elegant garden filled with fragrant olive and citrus trees. Emerald leaves glow along the vines like gemstones.

Ivy dangles across the seasoned façade of the estate home. Inside the estate, your guide shows you a range of instruments and techniques used to produce wine since the 12th century. Outside, you can feel the texture of the soil and embrace the semi-sweet aroma of the grape varieties growing along the nearly 50 acres of land. Your guide pours you a sample of the Moscato produced on the property. The wine has a brilliant gold color and an intense aroma of peach and banana. You sip the wine to find a crisp roundness. You continue to Syracuse, and your arrival in Sicily has already made you feel welcome. Consider reading some of our travelers' reviews of Sicily tours to gain more inspiration to perfectly craft your itinerary to your particular interests and desires.

What’s Included: dinner, transfer, tour, accommodation

Day 2: Splendor of Syracuse

The wonders of Syracuse transcend time and culture. In the heart of Ortygia, the small island is filled with ancient foundations and architecture more than 3,000 years old. Syracuse was once the largest and most powerful city in Classical antiquity, greater than even that of Athens. Fontana Aretusa is located in the heart of Ortygia. Wild papyrus grows out of the fresh water. Ducks and gray mullets swim around the plants in search of shade. Legends surround the fountain’s origins, accounting for the fresh water spring’s filling the fountain, even today.

After breakfast, your guide leads you through the narrow alleys of the historic area, showing you the Jewish Quarter and Maniace Castle. The Duomo, known as Santa Maria delle Colonne, was erected in the 17th century over the remains of the Temple of Athena. The Doric columns along the façade once supported the ancient structure and now contrast the Baroque architecture. Steps lead to the main portal flanked by the looming statues of Apostles Peter and Paul. Ancient materials being carefully combined to shape post-Renaissance buildings describes part of the splendor of Syracuse.

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, accommodation

Day 3: Private Gardens and Sensational Blossoms

In the morning, the rich aroma of frothy cappuccinos accompanies the sweet scent of a freshly baked brioche filled with raisins. The elegant history of Syracuse continues to fascinate you. Your guide meets you in the hotel lobby after your meal and escorts you to the Garden of Sangiuliano, which was owned by one of the oldest noble families in Sicily, with roots on the island for more than 800 years. The estate covers more than 148 acres. Orange groves cast a sweet aroma across the grass.

The grounds were once devoted to wheat and olives, surrounding the 15th-century fortified manor house. Today, stonewalls divide the gardens into segments, delineating sections between Arab, tropical, and even herb garden. Strawberry grapes bloom along the lower garden near the pomelo citruses. Hedychiums add delicate white petals to the ever-present greenery. Bananas thrive in the Mediterranean climate, and olive trees provide a succulent aroma in the gardens. There is a tranquil ambiance sweeping across the landscape and rising along the summit of Mount Etna on the horizon.

What’s Included: breakfast, lunch, tour, accommodation

Day 4: Farming the Familiar and Unfamiliar

Today you leave behind the bustling streets of Syracuse and make your way to the hourglass-shaped valley. You find Scicli, a Baroque town filled with elegant churches, and surrounded by steep ridges. Graceful palaces line the long square of Piazza Italia. Old men sit in the shade and share produce. Cafes set out tables where locals quietly absorb the news of the day. Outside of town, your guide leads you to Gli Aromi, a farm dedicated to its production of high valued plants, and a philosophy of understanding cultivation, from ground up. The land is a Mediterranean melting pot, constituting thousands of years of various cultures.

Your guide leads you on a multisensory tour of the farm, taking in the aromas and treasured flavors of herbs, spices, and flower petals. With more than 200 varieties of plants growing on the farm, there are endless opportunities for discovery. Cardamom and rosemary fill the air. Your guide turns into a seasoned chef, utilizing the plants on hand to demonstrate the illustrious flavors possible, and the inherent beauty of the traditional cuisine of the Ragusa countryside. Eggplant plays a large role in the dish, creating a hardy base to begin your lunch.

What’s Included: breakfast, lunch, tour, transfer, accommodation

Day 5: Age, Size, and Beauty

At breakfast, you enjoy the fresh aroma of espresso and the decadent flavor it entails. After your meal, you leave the Baroque town of Modica behind and make your way to the second largest city in Sicily, Catania. The long history of Catania began in the 8th century BC. The varieties of cultures that have settled in the city are apparent in the vibrant mixture of jovial activity emanating from the Pescheria, the local fish market that’s famous across the island. Table legs bend from the weight of the amount of seafood displayed by a single vendor.

Swordfish, ruby prawns, clams and sea urchins provide a modicum of insight into the variety of seafood caught that morning and sought by local women shopping for their daily ingredients. Castello Ursino was erected in the 13th century for defensive purposes. An inner courtyard separates the four wings, each wing adorned by a tower. A lava stream from the 17th-century eruption remains on the west side of the castle edifice, which pushed the coastline farther east.

Le Stanze in Fiore Garden was designed in the 21st century to accompany a 19th-century neoclassical villa. Tropical and subtropical plants grow and bloom, including approximately 900 varieties of rare species. Water lilies float on the surface of small lakes. The garden has an enchanting ambiance. The tropical garden boasts jasmine and white petals blossom along the white orchid trees. Trails lead to the terraces and open up to exquisite views of Mount Etna. 

What’s Included: breakfast, lunch, transfer, tour, accommodation

Day 6: Learning the Culture

The city of Taormina is situated on a cliff overlooking the Bay of Naxos and the Ionian Sea. The water sparkles layers of blue. Medieval history rises out of the main square in the form of a clock tower. An ancient Greek theater decorates the hillside, with the capacity of seating over 5,400 spectators in an area constructed in the 3rd century BC. A funicular connects the towering cliff top to Mazzaro beach below. After breakfast, your guide meets you at the hotel. Today you are led through town by a celebrated private chef. The cobblestone streets and boutique shops lining the main street of Corso Umberto provide a charming and elegant ambiance.

Your chef describes the history of the region and its connection to the cuisine. Arabs brought eggplant, rice, and spice while the Spanish used the ingredients to produce stew, mixing lemons, olive oil, and tomatoes. After your time in the market, your chef leads you into the kitchen where you follow the steps of producing a traditional regional dish, filled with traditional Mediterranean staples, such as grilled fish, fresh vegetables, and olive oil. You follow the chef’s directions and create a perfect dish of tuna steak with sweet and sour onions, garnished with peas and mint.

What’s Included: breakfast, lunch, tour, accommodation

Day 7: Fertile and Dramatic Land

In the morning, you can enjoy an exquisite view of the layers of blue water glistening in the sunlight as you sip your daily cappuccino. The looming peak of Mount Etna seems to be inescapable. After breakfast, your guides at Etna Tribe take you on a scenic drive to Rifugio Sapienza. There, you will begin your Etna Nature and Flavors tour which you are given the option to take a spectacular ride up cable cars and until your reach an altitude of 9,500 feet. Along the way you will notice numerous craters near the summit, whose activity has been documented by local scholars and historians for over two millennia. The peak climbs to nearly 10,000 feet above sea level. Astute farmers have cultivated the fertile volcanic soil along the foothills to produce extraordinary crops and grapevines, which soak up the rich minerals from the earth.

The higher up the landscape you ascend, the more rugged the mountainside becomes. You can see the blue horizon cast by the Ionian Sea. The trees and brush give way to rocks and a lunar quality of black, grainy sand. Your guide points out the conical edges of the great central crater, one of the most active craters on the mountain. Steam puffs out of the caldera. Clouds pass the summit. You can feel your heart pounding in your chest from the thrill of your experience. After your descent, your guide escorts you to a celebrated local organic farm where you can sample the luxurious flavors of wine, honey, olive oil produced along the edges of Mount Etna and enhanced by the rich minerals.

What’s Included: breakfast, lunch, tour with Etna Tribe, accommodation

Day 8: Greek Garden and Temple Ruins

The public gardens in Taormina offer a spectacular view of Mount Etna rising above the olive trees and Mediterranean plants. Cobblestones line the walkways and Pagoda-style towers made of brick and lava pumice stone rise as tall as the palm trees. After breakfast, your private transfer leads you away from the coastal city until you reach the border of the archeological site known as the Valley of the Temples, outside of the city of Agrigento. Ancient Doric temples continue to rise along the hillside. Orange trees provide a bright citrus aroma. Hedges grow alongside rugged boulders.

 The Temple of Heracles has a late 6th-century BC style and has a three-step base. The tall columns have wide foundations to help support the load of the metopes and roof. A large altar remains on the eastern side of the temple. The well-preserved outline of the Temple of Concord crowns the Acropolis. The Kolymbetra Garden was originally an artificial lake set between sandstone cliffs in a river valley. Citrus trees blossom. Pomegranates grow wild and large. Figs linger on the branches. Wild olives grow as emerald as the surrounding leaves. The lake is now a pool that stands at the heart of the garden as a reminder of the lush past and fertile future of the area.     

What’s Included: breakfast, transfer, tour, accommodation

Day 9: Framing Botanical Gardens

The marketplace opens in the morning, with vendors calling out jovially, vying for attention from passersby. The bright rinds of the local fruit shine in the display stalls. Tarps hang over the market and give a unique ambiance encompassing the North African civilizations that once settled in the city more than a millennium ago. After breakfast, your guide leads you on a fabulous tour of Palermo’s rich history, prevalent in the architecture dating back to the Middle Ages and the Baroque designs of elegant piazzas. Fontana Pretoria, erected in the 16th century, sits in the heart of Piazza Pretoria. Two churches frame the fountain. Statues stand proudly atop the concentric, circular steps.

Animal heads, nymphs, and monsters create allegories, leading to images of gods and goddesses adorning the water. The Orto Botanical Gardens of Palermo cover 30 acres of land and were erected over 30 feet above the sea level, atop the red soil. The oldest greenhouse is known as the Winter Garden and was once heated by stoves to ensure an agreeable year-round temperature for the flowers to blossom. A statue adorns the pond outside the greenhouse. Foreign plants, such as bamboo from Burma and sycamore trees, were introduced in the 19th century. The herbarium is 64,583 square feet and contains an average of 125,000 species of plants native to the Mediterranean.

What’s Included: breakfast, dinner, transfer, tour, accommodation

Day 10: Vibrant Natural Colors of Sicily

The 12th-century mosaics in the Church of Santa Maria dell’Ammiraglio shimmer in the morning light. The gold ground frames the focal point of the church, depicting Christ the Pantocrator. The church exterior showcases the combination of Arab influence in the design and the Byzantine architectural concepts. At breakfast, you enjoy the balance of bitter and sweet in your frothy cappuccino. The Ionian Sea laps at the shores of the city. After your meal, your private transfer greets you at the hotel and escorts you to the airport in Palermo for your flight home.

What’s Included: breakfast, transfer

Price

Starting Price 

$2,745
This trip is customizable for your private travel.

What's Included 

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.