Unesco sites in Sicily
DAY 1 – ARRIVAL IN PALERMO
Visit the National Archaeological Museum, home to a stunning collection of Roman artifacts from Pompeii and Herculaneum. Fly to Palermo, Sicily and enjoy free time this evening to stroll through the old city or relax at our centrally located hotel.
DAY 2 – MONREALE/PALERMO
Travel to nearby Monreale and visit its famous cathedral, one of the world’s greatest extant examples of Norman architecture. Wander through Moorish-style arcades and examine its exquisite gold mosaics illustrating biblical tales. Return to Palermo and descend into the catacombs of the Convento dei Cappuccini, where mummies and skeletons of the area’s former elite are still found dressed in their finery. Continue to the Palermo Cathedral, built on the site of an early Christian basilica and converted to a mosque by the Saracens in the 9th century. Elements of Gothic, Baroque, and Norman architecture show the influence of the region’s changing cultures.
DAY 3 – SELINUTE/AGRIGENTO
Head southwest to Selinunte, home of the ancient city of Selinus. Perched on a clifftop overlooking the sea, these ruins make up one of the largest archaeological parks in Europe. After a casual lunch along the shoreline of the Mediterranean, travel to Agrigento, a prominent city in Magna Graecia before it was sacked and fought over by the Carthaginians and Romans in the fourth and third centuries B.C. Explore the incredible Valley of the Temples, where temples to Zeus, Castor and Pollux, and Herakles dominate the landscape.
DAY 4 – PIAZZA ARMERINA/ORTIGIA
Journey into Sicily’s mountainous interior to the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Villa Romana del Casale, near the town of Piazza Armerina. The villa’s exquisite mosaics—some of the best preserved in the Roman world—were buried in mud for centuries and only rediscovered in the late 19th century. Continue to Syracuse, a city that once rivaled Athens in culture and economic strength. Check into our seaside hotel on the island of Ortigia, linked to Syracuse by a short bridge and one of Sicily’s most delightful resort areas. Venture down the winding streets of this ancient part of the city on a walking tour. Call at the massive Cathedral, built in the local white stone over an ancient Greek temple dedicated to the goddess Athena, and adorned with a Baroque façade. See the 6th-century-B.C. Temple of Apollo, which served as a church, mosque, and military barracks through history.
DAY 5 – NOTO VALLEY
In the morning, guided excursion to the near-by Noto Valley. Noto is a petite, Sicilian Baroque gem, splendidly set within a rocky plateau and overlooking the Asinaro Valley.
An important hub during all its phases – i.e. Sicilian, Roman, Byzantine, and Arab – it met destruction with the earthquake of 1693, at the height of its original splendor. Yet Noto found a second life in its reconstruction, and became a magnificent city of art listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site together with Caltagirone, Militello, Catania, Modica, Palazzolo, Ragusa and Scicli.
The city’s extraordinary beauty is matched by the other cities, and thus defines the entire Val di Noto. Stop-by for lunch in Modica, Capital of the greatest chocolate in Italy for a tasting of chocolates. After some free time to stroll through the charming alleys of Modica, you proceed to Ragusa, where you enjoy a hands-on cooking class with a Sicilian chef who will teach you how to prepare advanced recipes from Sicily. You will then enjoy dinner with your dishes.
DAY 6 – SIRACUSA/MOUNT ETNA/ TAORMINA
Stop at the Syracuse archaeological site, home to a stunning Greek theater and ancient quarry, now a massive grotto whose resonating acoustics lent it the name, “Ear of Dionysius.” Travel to Europe’s largest active volcano, Mount Etna, which dominates eastern Sicily. Ascend to 10,000 feet above sea level by cable car and 4×4 vehicle. Hike to the rim of this legendary volcano and behold a fascinating lava landscape forged by countless eruptions. Continue to Taormina this evening.
DAY 7 – TAORMINA
Take a walking tour through the upper town of Taormina, perched on a cliff overlooking the Ionian Sea. Labeled by Goethe “a corner of paradise,” Taormina has drawn visitors since its days as a key stop on the Grand Tour. See the celebrated Teatro Greco, with its spectacular views of Mt. Etna and the turquoise sea far below. The afternoon is at leisure.
DAY 8 – CATANIA/ROME
On your way to Catania Airport to catch our flight to Rome, you stop by the city of Catania for a guided orientation tour. Resurrected from the rubble and ashes of devastation, Catania eventually triumphed with the beauty of its Baroque architecture, which can still be admired today. Its Duomo is a magnificent example.
Upon arrival to Rome, departure to the U.S.