Highlights of Sicily Itinerary: Palermo to Catania

Greek temple ruins in Sicily, Italy
A 10 day trip to Italy 
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Embrace picturesque Italy as it is embodied in sapphire waters, rich sunsets, ancient ruins, and mouthwatering cuisine during your custom-tailored, highlights tour of Sicily. Experience the true beauty of the Mediterranean with succulent flavors from treasured wines that have been produced on Mount Etna and the bold history that combines Norman and Arab cultures. The remarkable treasures of Greek temples continue to rise from the arid landscape while Baroque palaces decorate elegant boulevards and lead to lavish piazzas. Picture-perfect seaside villages, bustling outdoor markets, and opulent cathedrals represent the spirit of the island and will immerse you in its heritage and beauty, capturing the best of Sicily.

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General Information

Photos
View of the hilltop town Taormina, Italy at dusk
The Temple of Segesta in Sicily, Italy
View from the bleachers in the amphitheater, Teatro Antico di Taormina in Sicily, Italy
Castello di Venere in Sicily, Italy at sunset
Gorgeous aerial view of the beach town of Mondello, Italy
View of a beach on the island of Isola Bella in Sicily
Pillars in the Villa Romana del Casale with mosaic art on the floor and walls
View of clocktower and buildings in town of Randazzo, Italy
Beautiful view of a Syracuse, Sicily, Italy sunset
Close up view of an orange tree in Sicily, Italy
The beaten and battered ruins of the Teatro Greco ancient amphitheater in Taormina, Sicily, Italy
Ruins in Syracuse, Sicily, Italy
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Palermo, Cefalù, Monreale, Syracuse, Taormina, Catania, Noto, Erica, Agrigento, Segesta, Villa del Casale

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Palermo – Arrive in Palermo with a Historical Introductory Tour

The historic city center of Palermo embodies the remarkable heritage of the city that is reflected in the opulent architecture of the Norman Palace and elegant cathedral. The aromas of freshly fried arancini and grilled calamari that is drizzled with lemon lingers above the cobblestone streets, connecting with the vibrant daily La Vucciria market that brims along the lanes around Piazza San Domenico. Your flight will land at Falcone Borsellino Airport, where your private transfer will greet you at customs before escorting you to the comforts of your luxurious hotel at the heart of the captivating city.

You will find the aromas of palm trees and citrus fruits to blend with the subtle scent of the sea breeze when you meet your guide in the lobby for a private introductory tour of the city that will reveal the sophisticated landmarks from the Norman architecture of the Cathedral and the elements of Arab design in the Norman Palace. The 12th-century Capella Palatina will take your breath away when you find the mosaics along the western wall that depict Jesus and the apostles of Peter and Paul. The Arabic-style stalactites decorate the ceiling and blend the remarkable and unique designs that are accentuated by the mystical glint from the gilded embellishments. The aroma of frankincense remains in the nave amid the mesmerizing images of the Bible, which line the central aisle and include scenes from Creation and Noah’s Ark.

What’s Included: airport transfer, accommodation

Day 2: Palermo – Discover Palermo Province and Fascinating Monreale

In the morning, the enchanting aromas of oranges, lemons, and pomegranates will filter through the crowds of La Vucciria market where locals from household chefs to restaurateurs search for ripe produce and fresh seafood. Vendors shout to one another and share jokes or remark on the quality of their goods in earshot of passersby. Your guide will meet you at your hotel breakfast and lead you to the seaside town of Cefalù to indulge in the Arab-Norman architecture, preserved medieval buildings, and glow of the Tyrrhenian Sea.

The sunlight will wash over the town as it shimmers against the honey-hued buildings with a dramatic mountain, edging the cobbled streets. Fishing boats wade in the small marina as fishers sit on the beach, mending their nets beside the seaside promenade. You will follow your guide along the walkway, through the streets, and into the jewel of a cathedral that hosts Arab and Norman elements, which are reflected in the Byzantine mosaics, graceful archways, and 16 columns.

Before returning to Palermo, your guide will lead you to Monreale Cathedral, which is located on a hilltop and symbolizes the architectural styles and treasures that date back to the 9th century. The greater structure was built in the 12th century with an interior that is covered in 64,583 square feet of golden mosaics, combining Norman, Byzantine, and Islamic aesthetics. The lavishness of the interior gives way to the tranquil setting of the neighboring Benedictine cloisters, where 200 twin columns surround the greenery that is embellished with sculptures and the soothing sounds of a trickling fountain.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 3: Palermo – Visit Ancient Segesta and Mountaintop Erice

Cafes and neighborhood bars fill the city with the aromas of freshly baked brioche and the sweet scent of a legendary Sicilian sorbet, which is known as granita. Your guide will escort you from the hotel lobby to the splendor of ancient Segesta to view one of the world’s best preserved ancient Greek temples that will showcase the depth of history on the island of Sicily. The temple’s foundations date back to Magna Grecia and the 5th century BC, and your guide will provide the incredible history of the settlement and the construction of the temple that features Doric design and reaches over 196 feet long. The scent of the arid landscape exemplifies the Mediterranean ambiance that is enhanced by the majestic structure that has been preserved through the millennia.

You will continue to the enchanting, medieval city of Erice by taking a cable-car to the plateau, reaching 2,345 feet above sea level. You will have a sensational panorama of the Sicilian countryside as you sweep over the Trapani province and across the glistening sapphire water to the Egadi Islands. The medieval architecture looms above the landscape like a fairytale castle complex with walls that date back to the 12th century and preserved temple foundations that date back to the former Greek settlements. The vistas that look out to the countryside will charm you before you notice the swelling aroma of marzipan and chocolate as they drift through the doors of the celebrated confectionaries that are scattered throughout the town. 

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 4: Syracuse – Explore Greek Agrigento and Villa Romana del Casale

In the morning, the aromas of the deep-fried donut, which is known as ciambelle, fill the piazzas across Palermo deriving from the cafés where locals enjoy the pastry that is topped with granulated sugar and accompanied by a frothy cappuccino. You will leave the lively city behind with your private transfer and make your way to the fascinating ancient ruins at the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento. The structures that are scattered across the landscape date back to between the 6th and 4th centuries BC and are reflected in the statues and temples that rise against a backdrop of hills.

The classical architecture connects the ancient traditions of Sicily with its contemporary culture and is reflected in the legendary remains of the Temple of Concordia. The 6th-century temple is one of the largest remaining Greek structures on the island and was built over soft stone to protect it from earthquakes through the millennia. On your way to Syracuse, you will stop at Villa Romana del Casale for a glimpse of aristocratic life in Sicily during the era of the Roman Empire. The structure hosts mosaic floors that span nearly 37,664 square feet and have been preserved in the soil after landslides and floods covered the villa in the 4th century. Your guide will show you the unique “bikini mosaic,” which portrays ten maidens who are performing sports such as weight-lifting, running, and throwing.

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

Day 5: Syracuse – Traverse the Past and Present Charms of Syracuse

You will step out onto the cobblestones of Syracuse in the morning with your private guide to explore the depths and opulence of history in an area that dates back to the ancient Greeks. The scent of the sea blends with the aromas of pastries that are drifting out of the bakeries, and the honey-hued buildings will shimmer in the Mediterranean light within the majestic fortifications. You will have a walking tour of the city that leads to the remarkable archeological park of Neapolis, which is where the stunning Teatro Greco stands.

The engineers used the natural gradient of the hillside to build the stadium seating of the grand theater in the 3rd century BC, which reaches 61 rows that can host up to 15,000 spectators. Inside the city, you will find the 12th-century, triple-aisled Basilica of Santa Lucia. The sunlight will filter through the rose-window to highlight the remnants of the Gothic aesthetic that lead to Baroque porticos. The network of catacombs beneath the church contains early Christian burials that date back to the 6th century AD and connect to the unused aqueducts that were built by the Greeks to create a labyrinth of hidden chambers.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 6: Syracuse – Revel in Baroque Grandeur in Celebrated Towns

You will be introduced to the splendor of Noto with a local guide who specializes in history, architecture, and culture, highlighting the Baroque charm that is treasured at the heart of the town. The brightly colored limestone provides the 17th-century architecture with a unique shine that is featured on the impressive cathedral that soars above the central Piazza del Municipio. You will stroll down Corso Vittorio Emanuele and notice the zesty aromas of pastries that have been stuffed with orange citrus cream alongside elegant palaces and churches that bask in a Baroque design. Ionic columns support the arches of the Palazzo Ducezio, and a sophisticated staircase leads to the portico of the Noto Cathedral. The peachy glow of the Cathedral acts as a beacon at the center of the city, which decorates the city skyline with its colorful splendor.

You will continue to the charming Baroque town of Modica to explore both the upper and lower town that highlights the 18th-century architectural aesthetic. Your guide will lead you up the 250 steps to reach the Church of San Giorgio, where extravagance brims from the five doorways and crowning, central tower. A warm ambiance derives from the friendly locals, and unique grandeur lines the Corso Umberto I, where the graceful palaces linger above the charming restaurants. Nearby, bars fill the city with familiar aromas of Scaccia, which is a flatbread that is stuffed with ricotta cheese, onions, sausage, and tomatoes.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 7: Taormina – Delight in the Scenery and Wines of Mount Etna

The staggering beauty and dramatic summit of Mount Etna dominate the Eastern edges of the island with a looming, active presence that stands at 10,922 feet above sea level. Your guide will lead you away from the charming heritage of Syracuse to explore the marvelous, natural history of the volcanic slopes that have created the tallest mountain in Italy, which is located south of the Alps and is the most active volcano in Europe. Your discovery of Mount Etna will begin with a scenic drive and walk along a nature path that leads to Torre del Filosofo. Your guide will provide incredible information on the landscape, history, and ecology of the mountain as you venture off-road on a 4x4, reaching up to 9,514 feet above sea level.

The scenery will resemble distinct cliffs that resemble a lunar landscape as you travel closer to the active craters with rising gasses and steam to reveal the fumaroles. The crisp air contrasts the warm, Mediterranean climate of the surrounding island. As you travel back down the mountain, the colorful woodlands and vibrant greenery will return and lead you to a lush vineyard that utilizes the rich minerals in the soil to support the flavors of their thriving vines. Your guide will offer insight into the mixture of traditional and contemporary techniques that the winemakers of the region use while you enjoy views of the mountainous terrain. The scent of oranges and lemons from the orchards will fade beneath the unique aromas of cherry and wild plum from a wine that has been made with Pinot Nero grapes and grown in the cooled lava flow.

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

Day 8: Taormina – Enjoy the Natural Beauty and History of Taormina

The majesty of Taormina rests on a rocky terrace and overlooks the Ionian Sea. The illustrious town combines the splendor of views over the sapphire water with fascinating, ancient, and Baroque history that is emphasized by the charismatic aromas of freshly made marzipan. Your guide will escort you around the alluring highlights of the town, following the cobbled boulevard of Corso Umberto and along the pebbled shores that lead to the nature preserve of Isola Bella. You will find the famous landmark of the Greek Theater, which dates back to the 3rd century BD and soars above the coastline.

While the fascinating history of the structure will lead you to the upper levels of the theater, the panorama from the elevated position will demand your attention as it sweeps across the countryside, the water, and the summit of Mount Etna. The 14th-century gate of Porta Catania marks the boundary of the city and is emblazoned with the coat-of-arms of the former Aragon noble family in view of the Gothic windows of the Palazzo Duchi di Santo Stefano. The detailed stonework adorns the façade beneath the intricate rooftop crenellations.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 9: Catania – Travel to Colorful Catania and Enjoy a Cooking Class

Sicily’s second-largest city will brim to life in the morning around the boisterous fish market of La Pescheria. Locals wander past large swordfish, pink prawns, and trays of sea urchins or mussels that are displayed by gregarious vendors for an inspiring ambiance. Your private transfer will escort you from Syracuse to Catania after breakfast and immerse you in the hidden charms of the bustling city. Ancient ruins that date back to the 2nd century BC reflect the presence of the Romans with a theater and buildings that are covered in fragrant vines. You will follow your guide along Via Etna where boutique shops display elegant fashion in the windows as the road opens to a majestic image of Mount Etna in the distance, soaring above the cathedral at the end of the avenue.

Your private chef will meet you in the afternoon and will be eager to introduce you to the pleasures of traditional Sicilian cuisine that is unique to Catania. The kitchen will fill with the aromas of marinated olives and pistachios before you begin marinating the fresh and seasonal vegetables. The scent of simmering tomato sauce will fill the kitchen as you prepare handmade pasta and learn the proper technique for creating delicious, traditional noodles, which will eventually result in the popular dish of pasta alla Norma, consisting of eggplant, zucchini, a flavorful seafood soup, and couscous.

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

Day 10: Catania – Depart for Home

The morning light will spread over the enchanting Baroque churches and 18th-century palaces of Via dei Crociferi in the morning. The scent of fresh espresso will fill the dining room and will be accompanied by pastries that are known to produce the mouthwatering aromas of lemon and orange zest. The vibrant sounds of La Pescheria market will return with the fishers as they set up their stands and display their seafood that they caught fresh earlier on the Ionian Sea. After breakfast, your private transfer will meet you in the hotel lobby and escort you to Catania-Fontanarossa Airport for your flight home.

What’s Included: airport transfer, breakfast

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.