UNESCO World Heritage Treasures of Sicily Tour

A 9 day trip to Italy 
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Sicily is the home of past kings and fabled warriors, ancient cities and celebrated mosaics. Your Sicily tour is specially customized, specializing in showing you the true heritage of the island that housed historic cities larger than Athens and temples grander than those found in Delphi. Baroque architecture highlights the grandeur of the bygone and illuminates the celebrated culture of towns and cities across the landscape. Vibrant markets persist. Jovial fishers return from sea, following the gentle tide and searching for the pastel buildings lining the coast. The traditions of Sicily are powerful, exciting, and enchanting.

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General Information

Photos
The city of Cefalu in Sicily, Italy.
Scillas castle in Italy.
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Catania, Lipari, Caltagirone, Piazza Armerina, Agrigento, Syracuse, Ragusa, Modica, Palazzolo Acreide, Noto

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Entering the Heritage of Sicily 

Catania blows with Baroque buildings and eclectic cultural heritage. Ionian Greeks founded the city in the 8th century BC, but Catania has since been home to a Roman colony, Norman kings, and Spanish rulers. The energy along the streets at all hours of the day is electric. Black and white palaces rise over baroque piazzas for an ambiance of absolute splendor. When your flight lands at Catania-Fontanarossa Airport, your private transfer greets you upon arrival. You settle into an exceptional hotel located in the heart of the city. In the center of the main piazza is the Fontana dell’Elefante, which was erected in the 18th century.

The smiling elephant turns its trunk upward in the direction of the Egyptian obelisk rising from its back. The water trickles outwards from the side of the moment. The Benedictine church of San Nicoló l’Arena now stands over the Greek Acropolis. The 18th-century edifice was never completed. The massive columns are raised on plinths. A large dome overlooks the plain. The uncompleted look of the church exudes an air of the forbidden, but visitors can roam through the three-aisled interior, and even venture to the top of the dome. The view over the plain provides a stunning panorama of Mount Etna looming in the distance.   

What’s Included: dinner, transfer, accommodation

Day 2: Cultural Treasures of Catania

In the morning, La Pescheria is at its zenith, brimming with fishermen eager to showcase their daily catch, and overflowing with locals excited to find a myriad of seafood, from octopus to muscles, along with various types of fish. The market takes place behind Piazza del Duomo. Swordfish overtake entire tables. People search for giant prawns and succulent sea urchins. The stalls, people, and lifestyle of the market provide perfect insight into the culture of the city. After breakfast, your guide meets you at the hotel. You are eager to explore the city and experience the vibrant culture of the daily and historical life that surrounds you. Consider learning more about your Sicily travel agents who strive to procure the highest quality tour and most memorable trip of a lifetime for you.

The Greco-Roman Theater is picturesque in its preserved state, encircled by a residential neighborhood. Two passageways along the perimeter lead to the central auditorium with a diameter of 328 feet. The steps were shaped from cool lava rock. The seats and orchestra rows are carved from marble. Vines lace around the surrounding buildings. Clothes set across clotheslines rustle in the soft breeze coursing through the city. To the west of the theater is another, smaller theater, known as the Odeon. Its orchestra is level with the highest passageway leading into the Greco-Roma Theater. Everyday life continues alongside the remains of ancient life.

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

Day 3: Along the Aeolian Islands

In the morning, the jovial calls of the fish market continue. Seafood restaurants open their doors alongside the marketplace to present the elegant possibilities of a full meal prepared with goods purchased from the local vendors. After breakfast, your guide meets you at the hotel and escorts you to the local marina where you board a private boat to the island of Lipari, the largest of the Aeolian Islands. Lipari Town is calm and tranquil compared to the active lifestyle of Catania. The rugged landscape rising and falling across the island center is typically Mediterranean, filled with craggy rocks, windswept highlands, steep cliffs, and sensational azure waters.

Stentillenians, the first known inhabitants of Sicily, settled on the island in the 4th century BC. For insight into the region’s deep well of history, your guide leads you to the Aeolian Region Archeological Museum. The collection contains stunning ancient artifacts from the Neolithic and Bronze Ages, along with Greco-Roman objects as well. The antique complex housing the museum gets you ready for the display inside the museum. Burial urns from the 11th-century BC necropolis are stacked in concentric tiers in the Classics Section of the cathedral. You can even find artifacts salvaged from ancient shipwrecks located off the coast of nearby islands.

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

Day 4: Ceramic Lifestyle and Mosaic Marvels

An armada of fishing boats returns to the marina of Catania in the morning, filled with fishers eager to make it to the market. The sunlight shines over the Duomo. The cathedral glints with opulent Baroque style. Your private transfer meets you at the hotel after breakfast. Today you leave behind the bustling streets and rich history of Catania, venturing to the breathtaking Greek ruins of near Agrigento. En route to the active city center, you visit the towns of Caltagirone and Piazza Armerina, one famous for exceptional ceramics, the other known for its exquisite mosaics. Caltagirone is separated into two distinct districts overtaking the hillside. The upper neighborhood is the classic district, and the lower area is the newer neighborhood.

Caltagirone has produced celebrated ceramic goods for over a millennium. The Arabs who arrived in the 10th century accentuated the town’s knowledge of terracotta pottery, introducing glazed colors that continue to distinguish local ceramics from other cities in Sicily. Scalinata di Santa Maria del Monte is the town’s staircase, connecting Piazza Municipio to the church of Santa Maria del Monte. Ceramic tiles decorate the staircase with terraces of ascending colors. Outside of the small town of Piazza Armerina is the preserved ancient mansion of Villa Romana del Casale, which encompasses 22 acres. The Roman estate contains numerous colorful mosaics, one of which depicts a collection of women playing sports. The room is known as the Chamber of the Ten Maidens.

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

Day 5: Garden of the Valley

In the morning, you come to the edges of the Valley of the Temples for a panoramic view of the ancient Greek ruins peppering the landscape. Preserved and refurbished temples rise out of the small valley, surrounded by rolling hills. The temple of the Olympian Zeus was once the largest edifice in the area. It was erected in the 5th century BC to commemorate a victory over Carthage. The temple encompassed an area of more than 184 feet by 372 feet. Each column stood nearly 60 feet tall. Niches contained 38 statues dedicated to Zeus.

Beyond the ruins is the luscious botanical garden known as Kolymbetra. Channels bisect the valley and form the vast pool at the heart of the garden. The resemblance to a romantic painting from the 19th century is striking. You can take in the verdant trees, lush blossoming pomegranates, and strewn rocks stemming from the ancient ruins nearby. The aroma of citrus trees fills the air. You bask in the shade and aroma of the lemon trees but find sporadically blossoming trees growing in the secluded landscape. You can even spot the occasional banana tree.   

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

Day 6: Sensational Syracuse

An ancient spring in Syracuse known as Fontana Aretusa continues to bubble up in the grotto. Ducks swim in the water around the growing papyrus plants. The spring was once the city’s only supply of fresh water and now acts as a reminder of the mythological beginnings of what was once the largest city in antiquity. After breakfast, your guide leads you on a wondrous tour of Syracuse, taking in the ancient ruins and charms of the old town. The Temple of Apollo is the island’s oldest Doric temple, erected in the 6th century BC.

Since its inception, it has also become a Byzantine church, a mosque, a Norman church, and even a barracks for the Spanish army. The foundation of the temple remains. The monolithic columns stand almost 26 feet tall, visible from the walkway nearby. Trees shade the walkway of Foro Vittorio Emanuele II. The path offers a clear view to the seaside and extends to the 15th-century port. Old city walls continue to guard the promenade. The gateway contains elements of a 15th-century Spanish decoration. The strongest Greek fortifications encompass nearly four acres at Eurialo Castle. Five large towers continue to protect the bastion.

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

Day 7: Baroque Masterpieces

In the morning, numerous locals delight in two scoops of gelato stuffed inside a bowl made of brioche. The sweet flavors combine for a scintillating start to the day in any Sicilian city, especially the fast-paced streets of Syracuse. After breakfast, you venture to the town of Ragusa, which overtakes the hillside. The height of the town acts as a natural buffer, dividing the upper tier into Ragusa Superiore, a neighborhood designed on a grid, and the meandering historic streets of Ragusa Ibla, the old town. The streets of old town create a joyous labyrinth to explore, lined with historic palaces and piazzas soaked in sunlight.

The Duomo of San Giorgio was erected in the 18th century. It stands at the top of a 200-step climb, crowned with an idyllic neoclassical dome. Stained glass windows add opulent color to the interior when the light shines through. From a distance, the façade resembles an elegant three-tiered wedding cake supported by numerous Corinthian columns. Just outside of town is the Castell di Donnafugata, known for its commanding views of the valley. The exterior emanates strength and power. The interior resembles a palace, elaborately decorated with elegant furnishings and graceful murals. Stone walls line the pathways, creating a trapezoidal maze to wander through.

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

Day 8: Importance of Ancient Warfare

The legends surrounding Palazzolo Acreide was carved around a particular ancient battle when the island of Sicily fought against the Athenians and subsequently won. The town is relaxed with seemingly endless Baroque architecture decorating the avenues. In the lower realm of the city, a 13th-century church, known as the Mother Church, overlooks central Piazza Aldo Moro. The hillside rises above the city and is home to the ancient acropolis of Akrai, the first Syracusan outpost in the neighborhood. The hillside reaches an altitude of 2,526 feet. The outpost was erected in the 7th century BC. The Greek Theater was built in the 3rd century and reconstituted by the Romans.

It contains a perfect crescent carved into the hillside, with the ability to hold up to 600 people. Your guide leads you to the Santoni, holy statues created in the 3rd century BC, housed inside a sanctuary complex on the hillside. Your guide points out the circular stones along the path, believed to be altars. You find the sculptures in the niches carved into the rock.  An image of a goddess is depicted on a throne, surrounded by lesser figures. The ancient iconography brings various possibilities as to the cult that worshiped here.

What’s Included: breakfast, guided tour, accommodation 

Day 9: Departing from the Past

The three bridges connecting the small islet of Ortigia to mainland Syracuse fill with locals walking to work. The majestic remains of the Temple of Athena were absorbed into the Duomo, bringing new life to the ancient edifice. The Castello Maniace overlooks the pristine waters of the Mediterranean. An underground network of tunnels weaves underneath the Piazza del Duomo, which was used as refuges from bombings during World War II. In the old Jewish Quarter of the city, a historic mikvah, a traditional bath used in Jewish ritual ceremonies, was found buried in the homes. The splendor of Syracuse and the island of Sicily is endless. Soon your private transfer will arrive to escort you to Catania-Fontanarossa Airport for your flight home, but you could always extend your stay to continue your cultural and historical immersion of Sicily. 

What’s Included: breakfast, transfer

Price

Starting Price 

$2,470
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.