Your view over the water brings an endless azure panorama sweeping upwards into the looming conical peak of Mount Etna. Ancient Greek temples decorate the valley floor, their pearl marble color standing out against the rugged hillsides. A Norman castle contains elements of Arabic décor and the Riace Warriors show bearded, muscular figures cut from bronze. Your custom tailored Sicily tour takes you through the unparalleled...
Palermo – Cultures on Parade
Palermo’s beauty stretches from the glittering coastline to the jovial markets. The city encompasses a Norman palace and Arabian mosque, Spanish flair and elements of French cuisine. Your private transfer meets you at the airport upon your arrival and escorts you to your hotel situated near the heart of the city. You find the aroma of orange citrus blending with the salty sea breeze. Palm trees sway and linger alongside ancient cobbled streets.
The Cathedral was erected in the 12th-century with three apses, round arches, and a curved parapet on the east façade maintaining the original Norman attributes. The 15th-century entrance overlooks the central square where you find an Arabic inscription on a single column commemorating the mosque. Inside the cathedral, the grandeur continues, inspiring visitors and locals with the blending of international styles that somehow flow effortlessly together. The sarcophagi of the Hohenstaufen dynasty remain in the first two chapels you come across, constructed of large-grain crystalized Egyptian rock. In the 18th-century, the tombs were excavated, finding the opulent crown of Constance of Aragon, decorated with strings of pearls and precious stones that glisten in the light. The cathedral embodies Palermo and the entire island of Sicily, at once Italian, but also uniquely international.
Catania – Luminous Mosaics
In the morning, the waves of the Mediterranean brush against Palermo’s natural harbor. The water shines azure against the golden walls and streets around the city. The scent of rich, thick coffee accompanies the freshly baked brioches of breakfast. The aroma of orange zest continues to waft around the city. The markets fill with jovial vendors selling the freshest fish and vivacious produce, calling out to passersby and other merchants around the market.
Your guide meets you at the hotel to take you out of the regional capital city, visiting the luxurious city of Cefalu and arriving in Villa Romana del Casale. The Roman village dates back to the 4th-century and is located near the center of the island. The complex displays one of the richest and most complete collections of Roman mosaics anywhere in the world. You find the villa nestled in a wooded valley spread across four interconnected groups of buildings decorating the hillside.
The mosaics encompass 38,050 square feet of space. The villa spent approximately 700 years undiscovered after a 12th-century landscape covered the area and protected the mosaics from the effects of the elements and raiders. The rooms are cool in the warmth of the Sicilian sun. One of the best-preserved mosaics depicts a hunt. Dogs linger around the hunters’ legs, and two men carry a captured boar back to camp. The colors remain vibrant, and the images are clear, bursting out of the ancient walls.
Taormina – Heights and History
In the morning, the indigo water settles against the golden sands outside Catania. In the distance, you look north and find the summit of Mount Etna overtaking the horizon. Your guide meets you at the hotel and whisks you to the base of the mountain, Europe’s tallest active volcano standing at 10,922 feet. The landscape turns from flatland to rugged foothills rising into the barren soil of the lower crater. The air turns cooler the higher up the mountain you travel. At the crater’s southern edge, known as Sapienza Refuge, you step aboard the cable car venturing to 8,000 feet above sea level. The mountain is rugged and craggy, offering an exquisite view beyond the island. Smoke puffs from the looming crater above.
The landscape almost resembles a black sand dune sloping downward into lush vegetation. Continue to Taormina, an ancient city perched on a clifftop, overlooking the clear azure waters of the Gulf of Naxos. The cold air from the mountain swiftly changes to the warmth of the coast. Medieval churches speckle the ancient town streets, and you find the enchanting Greek theater offering a marvelous view of the water to the summit of Mount Etna. The theater was built in 3rd-century BC and is the second largest Greek theater on the island. The horseshoe shape added to the drama of the stage allowing patrons access to the unparalleled panorama.
Siracusa – Moments of Ancient Splendor
At sunrise, the Piazza IX Aprile glistens in the soft light. The marble squares run alongside the mountaintop leading to the church. The aroma of olive trees touches the scent of the sea. You can hear the ocean current spreading across the coastline. The day takes you deeper into history, from the Bronzi di Riace of Reggio Calabria to the coastal majesty of Acireale.
When you reach Siracusa, you find a city embracing the island’s history and embodying an ineffable timeless charm. Citrus orchards encircle the cityscape where Greek ruins peek out of the canopy. Locals relax at café tables spilling out in Baroque piazzas. Medieval lanes wind through the city along historic buildings and lead to the calm, golden shores. Siracusa was once the largest city of antiquity dating back to approximately 734 BC. Follow the main street, as it winds around bustling markets and energetic locals until it opens to the ancient spring of Fontana Aretusa. You have a first-hand glimpse of ancient city life where the freshwater continues to bubble up. Ducks linger in the water and quack in the quiet afternoon sun.
Agrigento – When the Valley Opens
After breakfast, you leave the marvels of ancient and modern Siracusa behind for the Baroque architecture of Ragusa. Later in the day, you arrive in the Valley of the Temples located outside the modern city of Agrigento. Rolling hills encompass the landscape filling the horizon with lush greenery. You can see Agrigento ascending the hillside. The Valley of the Temples dates back to the 5th-century BC and encompasses over 3,212 acres of land. An 800-year-old olive tree borders the path leading from the Eastern Zone to the Western Zone, along with a series of tombs etched into old city walls constructed by the Byzantines. The Tempio della Concordia was erected in 430 BC and was converted into a Christian basilica in the 6th-century, reinforcing the main structure.
The columns stand 22 feet tall and are etched with shallow grooves and tapered at the top to give an emboldened look around the columns’ midsections. The roof was once covered with marble tiles and lion busts decorated the upturned edges of the roofing. The magnificence of the architecture remains today, emblematic of Greek tradition and powerful preservation.
In the evening, the temples glow underneath the starless sky. You can see complete structures and half constructed archways, impressive columns, and empowering porticoes spread across the sacred valley.
Palermo – Wonders of Antiquity
The sun rises over the Valley of the Temples and returns the majestic stature of the historic ruins to the landscape. After breakfast you leave behind the towering temples and make your way to the beautiful countryside around Segesta. The Temple of Segesta illuminates the details of antique structures, from the architectural design to the specific placement. You come across the Doric Temple, which was erected by the Elymians between 430 and 420 BC, supported by 36 Doric columns and standing atop Monte Barbaro at 1,280 feet above sea level. The aroma of nearby olive groves lingers in the air.
Greenery patches the hillsides interspersed between pebbled slopes and lush canopy. The terrain undulates naturally, offering views out o the mountains on the far horizon. Archeological discoveries have found traces of mosques and a Norman castle in the area indicating reoccupation from various cultural groups after the fall of the original cities. The Doric Temple is a vision of grandeur, towering above the hills and surrounding plain on a base 67 feet by 179 feet, elevated by three steps. Although the temple was never completed its splendor remains, situated near the amphitheater offering exceptional views to the valley below.
Palermo – Particularly Palermo
You wake up in the uniqueness surrounding Palermo. North African architecture and styles become more apparent near the city’s natural harbor. The familiar jovial cries of the morning market meander through the narrow lanes. The palm trees continue to sway in the city’s gentle breeze.
After breakfast, your guide meets you at the hotel and escorts you through the city on a private tour. The Royal Palace stands on ancient foundations dating back to the Phoenicians in 700 BC. Your guide points out the palace’s original elements estimated to be from the 9th-century, under a Tunisian dynasty. The south corner is referred to as the Norman Wing when the palace became a multifunctional complex for administration and residences. Arcades and gardens linked the buildings together.
The original wall continues to stand underneath the castle, known as the Punic Wall. The Romanesque floor plan turned the Palatine Chapel into a rectangular hall, painted with a traditional Arabian ornamented vaulted ceiling with geometric subdivisions. The faint aroma of myrrh brings a touch of spice to the gallery. Figures of mythological creatures and people decorate the ceiling, along with iconic figures of Saint Peter and Saint James, with lions and eagles displayed prominently throughout the frescoes. The beauty of the palace emanates from its rich history and amalgamation of cultures throughout Palermo’s existence.
Palermo – History Continues
The vibrant assortment of fruits, vegetables, fish, and meat returns to the streets with the morning markets. The vendors bargain with passerby underneath colorful tarpaulins. The aroma of blood oranges filters through the streets accompanying artichokes and chicory. The Ballarò Market extends from Piazza Ballarò, near the façade of San Nicolò Church towards the main train station, intersecting numerous plazas along the way.
You linger at breakfast, enjoying the slightly bitter taste of your morning coffee. The treasures of Sicily have revealed themselves in antique majesty, rising from atop hills and overlooking the valleys. Your private transfer soon meets you at the hotel to escort you to the airport, but sunlight continues to illuminate the marvels of Sicily.
- Explore the tremendous history of Palermo, the capital of the island
- Visit the inspiring Norman Cathedral and medieval wash-house of Cefalu
- Discover the treasured Villa Romana del Casale, home to the best-preserved Roman mosaics in the world
- Venture to the edges of Mount Etna’s crater, the tallest active volcano in Europe
- Traverse the teardrop shaped cave carved into the Temenites hill known as the Ear of Dionysius
- Enjoy a guided tour of the largest city in Antiquity, Siracusa
- Witness the extraordinary Greek ruins at the Valley of the Temples
- Follow your guide on a tour of the Doric Temple of Segesta, what could have been the largest Hellenistic structure in the world
Sicily is an island that encompasses millennia and spans global cultures from coast to coast. Your 8-day Sicily tour takes you through the exceptional history around the island, from the Valley of the Temples to the bronze warrior statues in Reggio Calabria. Visit the largest city in antiquity and stroll through the open-air markets to find traditional cuisine and amalgamated culture between historic buildings. When in Sicily, it feels like you have arrived in the ancient and medieval center of the world, where the beauty of the past continues to influence the island today. Be sure to read the Sicily travel reviews on Zicasso for more information and ideas.
Arrive in Palermo, where your stunning historical tour of the island begins. The city showcases its past through the narrow streets and architectural designs etched into the buildings meandering to the natural harbor. Make your way out of the city, following the coastal road to Cefalu to see the Norman Cathedral and a medieval washhouse carved into the rockface. Near Piazza Armerina, you find the exquisite ruins of Villa Romana del Casale and the preserved mosaics decorating the interior of the Roman palace.
Your guide leads you to Mount Etna where you can venture up the mountainside to experience the view atop the largest active volcano in Europe. Continue onward to Taormina to see the Greek Theater and quaint, tiny cobbled streets of the city. The following day you make your way to Reggio Calabria, home to the Bronze Warrior statues. Next is a tour of the ancient and Baroque wonders remaining in the city of Siracusa. Ragusa maintains a proud connection to its Baroque architecture where you can wander through the lavish décor before discovering the breathtaking ruins at the Valley of the Temples.
Travel to Segesta to witness the remains of what could have been the largest Doric Temple ever erected, standing against the sloping landscape. In Erice, you find the luxuries of modern Italy hidden inside medieval structures. Once in Trapani, you can relax in the ancient town set on the hilltop overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Return to Palermo where you have a full day guided tour of the city’s remarkable highlights, from the Cathedral to the Royal Palace. On your last morning, your private transfer meets you at the hotel and escorts you to the Falcone-Borsellino Airport for your flight home.
$2,195 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.
- In-country transportation
- Some or all activities and tours
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- 24x7 support during your trip
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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