Sicily is a very distinctive region of Italy, filled with unique personality stemming from architecture that spans thousands of years. The coastline undulates between pristine beaches to remarkable cliffs. Mount Etna looms over wineries and cities, puffing smoke and spouting lava. Baroque palaces line charming piazzas. Marvelous frescoes decorate historic churches. Greek temples continue to stand tall along the edges of a modern city. Cobblestone streets twist and turn alongside medieval homes....
Palermo - Introducing Palermo
Palermo’s uniqueness stems from its vibrant architecture, stunning setting, and radiant culture. The jovial calls of vendors at La Vucciria market echo off of the historical walls encompassing the stalls. “Vucciria” means voices in Sicilian dialect, and rings true in the boisterous and jubilant atmosphere of the marketplace. Produce native to the Mediterranean and North African climate thrives in both color and size. Herbs bring a sensual aroma to the pathways. Fresh seafood caught earlier that morning showcases the variety and abundance of what the oceans has offered residents of Sicily for millennia. Your private transfer greets you at the airport and escorts you to a luxurious hotel situated near the heart of the city. You quickly notice that the markets of Palermo offer more than just insight into the local shopping habits and vendor practices of the Italian province. They also embody the eclecticism of the cultures that have traversed and shaped the island.
Palermo - The Apparent Wonders of Palermo
In the morning, the calls of Vucciria market return to the streets. The palm trees rustle in the sea breeze sweeping in from the port. The city has a golden hue glinting off the cobblestone streets and bright historic buildings. In the heart of the city stands the vibrant Norman Palace embellished with an Arab design and erected on a Phoenician base. Palermo Cathedral embodies original Norman architectural elements showcasing three apses, crossover rounded arches, and curved parapets along the eastern façade. The splendor of the city’s Arab-Norman past brims in the marble interior, which houses impressive royal Norman tombs.
You find hints of myrrh filling the nave. Gothic décor accentuates the 13th and 14th-century southwestern façade. In the treasury, you find the glistening jewels of the gem-encrusted crown of Constance of Aragon. Outside Quattro Canti, the circular space open to the city was erected in the 17th century at the junction of two of the Palermo’s major streets. A nook at each of the four corners of the façade holds a fountain, and sculpted figures adorn the upper floors. The neo-Classical allure offers passersby an elegant look into the glamorousness of Palermo’s past.
Palermo - Delighting in the Days of Palermo or Lampedusa
The morning light washes over the verdant trees and manicured hedges of the Botanic Garden. The broad boulevard of Foro Umberto I opens to a sensational view of the Bay of Palermo. The sweet aromas of coconut palms and banana trees drift from the gardens blending with the sea breeze. After breakfast, the day is yours to indulge in a free day exploring the city. Consider reading some of our travelers' Sicily tour reviews to gain some insight into the possibilities available to you. Venture to the Archeological Museum to visit some Egyptian and Phoenician artifacts, along with stunning Roman mosaics and Greek friezes.
Stroll along the vibrant Ballarò market, filled with the aroma of freshly cooked food and colorful clothing. Walking around Palermo is a fantastic way to enjoy the architecture and embrace the culture. Teatro Massimo was erected in the 19th century with an auditorium that can hold up to 3,200 people. The first performance in the opera house was Verdi’s “Falstaff,” which solidified the performance hall as one of the major opera houses in Sicily. The upper tiers envelop the main gallery in a horseshoe arrangement that helps the music of the orchestra and singers resonate harmoniously.
You also have the option to discover the amazing depths of the Mediterranean Sea on an epic SCUBA diving adventure. Your guide meets you at your hotel lobby and escorts you to the airport for a short flight to the gorgeous island of Lampedusa. Local dive-masters from Marina Diving Center guide you around the beautiful island, taking you to some of the best dive spots in the Mediterranean Sea. Swim amongst spectacular underwater rock formations, caves, and drop-offs that are home to magnificent fish like brown groupers, moray eels, and brown meagres. After your amazing day of diving through the grand limestone structures of the Mediterranean Sea, your guide will accompany you to your hotel for a wonderful night's stay.
Agrigento - Fascinating Greek Ruins in Italy
In the morning, the aroma of arancini, deep-fried rice balls, filters through the streets of the Palermo. Locals enjoy the popular street food throughout the day, especially when shopping in one of the vivacious marketplaces filling the cobblestone streets and public piazzas. After breakfast, your guide meets you at the hotel. You say goodbye to Palermo and venture away from the golden hues of the Norman palace and the lavish neo-Classical architecture of the cityscape. You reach the edges of the contemporary town of Agrigento to find the Valley of the Temples. Ancient Greek ruins speckle the dell surrounded by rolling rugged hills.
Each ruin stands in contrast to the modern buildings of the city of Agrigento. The Temple of Castor and Pollux was erected between the 6th and 5th centuries BC. Four columns and a fragmented pediment remain today. The original edifice had a large colonnade adding grandeur to the historic edifice. The Temple of Herakles was once revered as one of the most beautiful temples of antiquity. Today, the building maintains a modicum of its former glory due to its visibility from a distance, adding an extra layer of mystique to its current form. The wide rectangular platform measures 242 feet long and is mounted atop four steps. The original temple stood more than 53 feet tall.
Agrigento - Preserved Piazza
In the morning, the sunlight sweeps over the valley and once again highlights the former glories of the Greek ruins. After breakfast, your private transfer leads you away from the Valley of the Temples and into the City of Piazza Armerina. The city was developed during the 11th century but maintains a proud history of flourishing during Roman times. Norman and Gothic architecture decorate the city streets, along with a Baroque Cathedral erected between the 17th and 18th centuries.
You make your way to Villa Romana del Casale, a Roman villa located two miles outside of town. The mansion was constructed in the 4th century AD. A landslide covered part of the villa in the 12th century. More than 37,673 square feet of mosaics depicting 40 separate scenes decorate the grounds. North African motifs influenced the artistry. “The Great Hunt,” is a single mosaic stretching 200 feet long, depicting the hunt, capture, and also the gladiatorial games in which the animals fought inside the Colosseum. Each artistic interpretation provides another unique perception of the times.
Syracuse - Taking in Syracuse
The city of Syracuse has a timeless beauty, encapsulating the wonders of Ancient Greece and Baroque piazzas. Medieval lanes weave through the city and open to stunning blue waters of the Ionian Sea. Life in Syracuse has continued for nearly 3,000 years. The city once boasted the largest population of any city in Classical antiquity, greater than that of even Athens. The marketplaces brim with excitement in the morning. The sea crashes against the rugged shores beneath the fortified walls of the city. Your guide meets you at your hotel after breakfast. Exploring the main street takes you in front of the cathedral where you find the ancient spring of Fontana Aretusa.
Charming buildings encircle the pool where freshwater continues to bubble up as it has since ancient times. Papyrus grows in the heart of the fountain and lingers in the quiet grotto. Ducks glide across the fountain’s surface. It is a quiet moment in the bustling streets of an ancient city. The Greek Theater was erected in 470 BC. The ancient construction uses the natural slope of the landscape to frame the sensational theater, which has 61 rows, carved from the rock, with capacity for 15,000 people. A colonnade once stood on the terrace protecting visitors from the elements.
Syracuse - Deeper into the Splendor of Syracuse
In the morning, the Piazza del Duomo fills with locals. The cathedral was erected on the former site of the Temple of Athena. The edifice absorbed the Doric columns into the main structure, connecting the past and present grandeur of the city. After breakfast, the day is yours to discover the continuing beauty of Syracuse at your preferred pace. Visit the Baroque Palazzo Beneventano in the Piazza del Duomo or visit the stunning I Sapori Gusti Smarriti, which means the “Flavors of Lost Tastes,” a delicatessen specializing in Sicilian cheeses and cured meats.
The Crypts and Catacombs of San Giovanni continue to captivate visitors from around the world. The church was originally erected in the 6th century and has been rebuilt numerous times over the centuries. The 14th-century portal wall is one of the oldest elements of the church. The crypt is cool and hidden from the natural warmth of the sunlight. Remnants of Ionic column bases remain in the vault. The underground necropolis dates back to the 4th century and connects to a network of roads and piazzas around the city. The honeycombed tunnels and empty niches leave traces of the church’s Norman history and lavish riches that were once accompanied the burial ceremonies.
Taormina - The Draw of Taormina
Taormina has a romantic ambiance rising from its incredible panorama and historic ruins. After breakfast, your private guide whisks you away from the embrace of Syracuse. The beauty of Taormina comes into view quickly. The city sits atop towering cliffs overlooking the Bay of Naxos. In the distance, you can see the snowcapped peak of Mount Etna climbing into the sky. Walls of ancient stone hide secluded gardens. Terraces overlook the pristine Ionian Sea. In the old neighborhood of the city, Palazzo Santo Stefano glows with archeological monuments and medieval homes, including a view of the 12th-century Norman-Arab castle. Your guide leads you on a fabulous tour of the city, strolling along the circuit of walls looking out towards Messina. The clock tower was erected in the 15th century. Ruins around the base of the tower show a defensive wall dating back to the 4th century BC.
Taormina - Independent Taormina
In the morning, the water in the Bay of Naxos changes from azure to turquoise as it reaches the coastline. You can see the small rock-bound island of Isola Bella. The nature preserve has a small and narrow sandy beach that connects the islet to the mainland. The day is yours to enjoy Taormina and its surroundings at your leisure. Locals sit in the open-air cafes and sip espresso. The aroma of fresh brioche blends into the sea breeze. You can make your way down to the Isola Bell and dig your toes into the hot sand.
The water is calm and still against the shoreline. The sun is warm on your skin. When you dip your feet into the water, the refreshing temperature cools you down. A walkway surrounds the perimeter of the island overlooking the coves and beaches of Taormina. You can see the cable car connecting the cliff top to the resort of Mazzaro. The zesty scent of lemon mixes with the sweet aroma of coconut. The sporadic trees provide lovely shade in the heart of the afternoon.
Taormina - Luxuries of Taormina
When you wake up in the morning, the summit of Mount Etna is too alluring to pass up. You choose to venture up the mountainside on an exhilarating excursion to a number of craters to see the active volcano up close. The summit rises to an elevation of 10,958 feet. A cable car ferries people as far as 9,842 feet above sea level. The lush and fertile soil of the foothills changes to a rugged lunar landscape. The rocks turn black, showcasing the intensity of cooled magma. White puffs of smoke rise from the active craters around the craggy peak.
The higher you climb, the more the atmosphere thins, bringing a colder afternoon. It is hard to differentiate the puffs of volcanic smoke and the clouds drifting past the mountain. Your guide leads you to the Valle del Bove, which provides an impressive view of the summit craters. When the volcano last erupted, lava flowed from the basin. At the edge of Valle del Bove, you can look down into the lava desert and feel the lava ash slipping down the slopes.
Taormina - Taking the Culture with You
Via Roman connects to the municipal gardens of Villa Comunale, where rare species of plants grow over Victorian stone architecture. Flower petals blossom in the vast greenery. The trees open to expansive views of the water. The quiet ambiance makes it a preferred escape for locals who wish to stroll along tranquil walkways away from the bustling piazzas and absorb the beatitude of nature. Soon you will soar over the Tyrrhenian Sea, but for now, you relax with the indulgent aroma of fresh espresso and the wondrous images of Taormina. After breakfast, your private transfer meets you at the hotel, ready to escort you to Catania-Fontanarossa Airport for your flight home.
- Experience the unique amalgamation of cultures that have settled in Sicily over a millennium
- Discover lavish palaces and sensational cathedrals decorating the cities and towns across Sicily
- Relish the tremendous marketplaces that offer insight into the daily lives of the locals
- Witness the largest Greek amphitheater in Sicily located in the city of Syracuse
- Revel in the stunning ancient Greek ruins located in the Valley of the Temples
- Relax on an exquisite sandy beach edging the waters of the Bay of Naxos
- Trek the lunar landscape of Mount Etna, Europe’s most active volcano
Sicily is an island jewel in the Mediterranean, with coastal views that look out across the Strait of Messina to mainland Italy; in the other direction, you can see across the Tyrrhenian Sea to catch glimpses of the shores of Tunisia. The heritage of the island brims a blend of Phoenician, Greek, and Roman, and Carthaginian settlements, followed by Arab and Norman invaders. The blends of civilizations have made the culture of Sicily unique to Italy and the world. Each city has its own characteristics emanating from the architectural style and vibrant marketplaces. Your vacationing in Sicily begins when you arrive in Palermo, where your private transfer escorts you to a beautiful hotel located in the heart of the city.
The following day, you have a guided tour of Palermo and Monreale. The bayside city and architectural beauty of the provincial capital encompass the vast history of Mediterranean exploration by cultures from near and far. The cathedrals of Monreale show inspiring grace. The day is at your leisure to enjoy the city as you please, taking in the magnificent markets or winding through the interesting catacombs. The next day, you leave the capital city behind for the ancient Greek ruins located in the archeological park known as the Valley of the Temples.
Embrace the charming village of Piazza Armerina. The Roman villa outside of town contains a brilliant array of preserved mosaics. Your guide leads you on a majestic tour of Syracuse, once the largest city in the ancient world. Many ruins and antique buildings continue to decorate the cityscape. With a day in Syracuse at your leisure, you can visit the tremendous Greek theater or explore one of the 12 ancient quarries of the old city at Latomia dei Cappuccini.
Next, you travel to Taormina, where you have three days to enjoy the splendor of the town’s seaside location. Your guide leads you on a fabulous tour of the city’s charming streets, lined with palaces and the first seat of Sicilian parliament. Spend time on the opulent beaches on the fringes of Taormina, or escape to the high reaches of Mount Etna on a guided hike of the volcanic landscape. On your final day, your private transfer meets you at the hotel and transfers you to the Catania airport for your flight home.
$3,020 per person (excluding international flights)
Your Zicasso trip is fully customizable, and this sample itinerary is a starting place for your travel plans. Actual costs are dynamic, and your selection of accommodations and activities, your season of travel, and other such variables will bring this budget guideline up or down. Throughout your planning experience with your Zicasso specialist, your itinerary is designed around your budget. You can book your trip when you are satisfied with every detail. Planning your trip with a Zicasso travel specialist is a free service.
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Your final trip cost will vary based on your selected accommodations, activities, meals, and other trip elements that you opt to include.
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