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We like the model – small groups, excellent tour directors, solid hotels, good mix of group/independent activities.

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Seattle, WA
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Small Group Tour Highlights
  • Palermo’s Arab-Norman UNESCO sites
  • Street food experience in Palermo
  • Stunning Monreale Cathedral (UNESCO site)
  • Medieval walled town of Erice
  • Trapani Nature Reserve and salt pans
  • Agrigento’s Valley of the Temples (UNESCO site)
  • Outstanding mosaics at Villa Romana del Casale (UNESCO site)
  • Archaeological Park of Neapolis in Syracuse (UNESCO site)
  • Wine tasting
  • Sicilian cooking class
  • Taormina touring
  • Mount Etna excursion
  • Farmhouse lunch
  • Distinctive, well-located small group hotels
Day-by-Day Itinerary

Day 1: Depart U.S. for Palermo, Italy

Day 2: Arrive Palermo We arrive today in Palermo, capital of Italy’s autonomous region of Sicily. This evening we gather at our hotel for a briefing on the journey ahead, followed by a welcome dinner. D

Day 3: Palermo On this morning’s walking tour, we discover 2,700-year-old Palermo’s twin claims to fame: impressive architecture and world-class street food. Highlights include Palermo Cathedral and Palazzo Reale, both part of Arab-Norman Palermo, a UNESCO site comprising nine civil and religious structures dating to Norman rule in Sicily (c. 12th century). We also see Massimo Vittorio Emanuele Theater, one of Europe’s largest opera houses; and the Church of San Cataldo, another of Palermo’s Arab-Norman treasures. Along the way we pass through vibrant markets selling arancini, cannoli, and other Sicilian specialties – which, of course, we stop to sample. Following our tour, we enjoy lunch at a local restaurant then return to our hotel in the city center. The remainder of the day is free for independent exploration. With dinner on our own tonight, perhaps a culinary adventure is in order – and thanks to Sicily’s strategic Mediterranean location that lured many invaders, Sicilian food incorporates Italian, Arabic, and African influences into a singular, and delicious, cuisine. B,L

Day 4: Palermo/Erice/Trapani A full day of touring takes us first to the medieval walled town of Erice. Perched atop a mountain nearly 2,500 feet above sea level, Erice offers panoramic views of the valley below, the port town of Trapani, and the Tyrrhenian Sea beyond. We continue to Trapani, where we visit the region’s famed salt pans. Though the area is a designated Nature Reserve, Sicilians still harvest salt here using centuries-old methods; indeed, the oldest of the area’s 60 working windmills dates to the island’s Arabic regime. We tour the museum here then enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before returning to Palermo. B,L

Day 5: Palermo/Monreale/Agrigento En route to Agrigento today, we stop in nearby Monreale. Sitting on the slopes of Monte Caputo, Monreale looks over La Conca d’Oro, or “the Golden Shell,” a richly fertile valley studded with groves of orange, olive, and almond trees. Here we visit the city’s celebrated cathedral, another gem of Arab-Norman Palermo and one of the finest examples of Norman architecture still in existence. The imposing main façade and ornate outer cloister serve to prepare us for the cathedral’s breathtaking main sanctuary, where every inch of wall and ceiling space is covered with painstakingly detailed mosaics. Crafted by artisans from Constantinople (now Istanbul), the dazzling mosaics contain some 4,850 pounds of pure gold. Next we visit a nearby family-owned winery, where we enjoy a wine tasting and lunch. Our journey then continues; late this afternoon we reach Agrigento and our hotel, where we dine together tonight. B,L,D

Day 6: Agrigento This morning we visit the Valley of the Temples, a UNESCO site and archaeological zone whose ruins of fallen Doric temples and sanctuaries date to Greek rule in the 5th century BCE. Known in its heyday as “the most beautiful city of mortals,” Agrigento was one of the leading cities during the Golden Age of ancient Greece. Our tour features both the eastern zone, where we see the beautifully preserved Temple of Concordia (c. 430 BCE), and the western zone, with the massive temple of Olympian Zeus, believed to be the largest Doric temple ever built. From the outdoor sites, we then move on to Agrigento’s archaeological museum, with exhibits and artifacts that tell the story of this outpost of classical Greece. Then we return to our hotel for a cooking lesson and lunch, followed by an afternoon at leisure. B,L

Day 7: Agrigento/Piazza Armerina/Syracuse We travel across Sicily’s southern reaches today to Syracuse (Siracusa), stopping along the way in Piazza Armerina to visit Villa Romana del Casale, an elaborate 4th-century CE villa and UNESCO site boasting one of the richest, and largest, collections of mosaics in the Roman world. Thanks to having been buried by landslides, the villa, its vivid frescoes, and the more than 3,200 square feet of mosaics survived the millennia in remarkably good shape. Following our tour here, we continue on to Syracuse, arriving late this afternoon. Once the largest city in the ancient world, Syracuse today is an alluring spot known for its superb archaeological sites and the relaxed seaside ambience of its Baroque old town. B,L,D

Day 8: Syracuse Today we discover what this city is best known for: the Archaeological Park of Neapolis, a UNESCO site that comprises a range of ancient monuments. We begin our explorations at the 5th-century BCE Greek theater, the 16,000-seat amphitheater where the tragedies of Aeschylus were staged – in his presence – and still in use today. Next: Latomia del Paradiso (Paradise Quarry), the now overgrown shaft from which the white limestone used to build Syracuse was cut. Because it has excellent acoustics, the quarry also is known as the Ear of Dionysius. We continue on to the Roman amphitheater, the 1st-century BCE arena that once held gladiator spectacles; today it hosts musicals on its ancient stones. B,D

Day 9: Syracuse This morning is free to savor the amenities and bucolic setting of our hotel. This afternoon we embark on a cruise along Sicily’s Ionian coast dotted with tiny islands and caves. We see historic Ortigia Island, the Spanish Wall, and 13th-century Castello Maniace that served as a bulwark against invaders in the Middle Ages. Then we take a walking tour of Ortigia, the “white pearl” of Sicily, the historical center of Syracuse, and a UNESCO site. We cap this scenic afternoon with dinner at a local restaurant. B,D

Day 10: Syracuse/Mt. Etna/Taormina We depart Syracuse this morning and make our way up the coast to Mt. Etna, one of Europe’s largest active volcanoes. The ancients believed conical snow-topped Etna to be the forge of Vulcan, god of fire; today, modern-day Sicilians have a very personal relationship with the volcano, which frequently erupts but is seldom destructive. Descending from the volcano, we stop at a private farm set amidst acres of lemon and kiwi groves, where we enjoy a small group highlight: a homemade lunch prepared by the family who lives here. To accompany our meal, we sample some excellent Sicilian wines. Then we resume our journey to Taormina, arriving late this afternoon. This evening is at leisure, with dinner tonight on our own. B,L

Day 11: Taormina This morning we embark on a walking tour of this delightful medieval town set on a rocky terrace overlooking the Ionian Sea. Highlights include the 3rd-century BCE Greek theater, where gladiators once battled; the 13th-century fortress-like Duomo; and grand Piazza Vittorio Emanuele, site of the ancient agora and today an inviting plaza. This afternoon is at leisure to enjoy Taormina as we wish; tonight we celebrate our Sicily adventure over a farewell dinner at a local restaurant. B,D

Day 12: Depart for U.S. We transfer today to the Catania airport for our return flight to the U.S.

Please note: This trip involves considerable walking uphill and on uneven or cobblestone streets. You should be in good physical condition to enjoy the tour to the fullest.

 

B = Breakfast included L = Lunch included D = Dinner included

Tour Price Includes
  • Round-trip air transportation from listed cities
  • 10 nights’ accommodations in Deluxe, Superior First Class, and First Class hotels
  • 22 meals: 10 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 6 dinners
  • Extensive sightseeing as described, including all entrance fees
  • Services of an Odysseys Unlimited Tour Director
  • Private motorcoach transportation throughout your trip
  • Luggage handling for one bag per person
  • Gratuities for local guides, dining room servers, airport and hotel porters, and all drivers
  • $100 frequent traveler credit towards your next Odysseys Unlimited tour ($200 after three tours; $300 after 10 tours)
Tour Dates & Prices

2019 Tour Dates & Prices
including international airfare and all taxes, surcharges, and fees

Mar 28
Oct 31
Nov 3
Apr 11
Apr 18
Oct 20
Oct 24
Oct 3
Oct 6
Oct 10
Oct 13
May 2
May 9
Aug 29
Sep 5, 12
Sep 19
Sep 26
New York$3,474$3,674$3,874$3,974
Boston, Phil$3,674$3,874$4,074$4,174
Atlanta, Charlotte,
Chi, Cinc, Cleve,
Detroit, Mia, Orl,
Tampa, Wash, DC
$3,774$3,974$4,174$4,274
Dallas, Den, Hou,
Los Ang, Minn,
Phoe, Port (OR),
San Fran, Seattle
$3,874$4,074$4,274$4,374

Please call if your city is not listed or for land only prices. Prices are per person based on double occupancy and include airline taxes, surcharges, and fees of $479, which are subject to change until final payment is made.

Single travelers please add $895 Mar, Oct, Nov; $1,095 all other dates. Your $375 deposit is fully refundable up to 95 days before departure. All 2019 tour prices above (excluding airlines taxes, surcharges, and fees) are guaranteed.

Airline upgrades (subject to availability) on round-trip Trans-Atlantic flight: Business Class – $3,895 per person; Premium Economy – $1,495 per person

A visa is not required for this tour.

Accommodations
    Artemisia Palace Hotel, Palermo / Days 2-4 / Superior First Class

    Sitting directly in the center of Palermo, the Artemisia Palace Hotel offers an ideal location from which to explore the Sicilian capital.  The boutique, 19-room hotel occupies a restored Sicilian palazzo; its original entranceway has been seamlessly converted into an elegant, modern lobby.  The hotel’s amenities include a cocktail bar, hot tub, bicycle rental, and complimentary Wi-Fi internet access.  Due to the nature of the hotel, guest rooms vary in size and layout, but all include private bath, in-room safe, minibar, TV, and phone.  Additionally, the hotel does offer a completely buffet breakfast in the bar area, but does not offer dinner service.  This will not pose a problem due to the hotel’s excellent location in Palermo, close to a host of fine restaurants.

    Hotel Costazzura Museum & Spa, Agrigento / Days 5-6 / First Class

    As its name suggests, the Hotel Costazzura Museum & Spa is located in the coastal town of San Leone, just a short walk from the beach and a 15-minute drive from Agrigento.  Amenities include a restaurant and bar, full-service spa with grotto-style soaking tub, outdoor swimming pool, hair salon, complimentary bicycle rental, and complimentary Wi-Fi internet access.  Each air-conditioned guest room is comfortably furnished and includes private bath with hair dryer, in-room safe, TV, and phone.

    Hotel Borgo Pantano, Syracuse / Days 7-9 / First Class

    Rated by TripAdvisor travelers as the 9th-best hotel in Italy, the Hotel Borgo Pantano sits on the site of a restored 19th-century manor in the rolling green countryside outside Syracuse.  This contemporary, family-run property was opened in 2010 and boasts four dining and drinking options (a restaurant, outdoor grill, thatch-roof poolside bar, and lobby bar), sweeping manicured grounds with an array of covered sitting areas, an expansive outdoor swimming pool and lounge area, and complimentary Wi-Fi internet access. Each air-conditioned guest room has a unique layout and furnishings, is decorated with art created by local artists, and includes private bath with hair dryer, minibar, tea- and coffee-making facilities, TV, and phone.

    Hotel NH Collection Taormina, Taormina / Days 10-11 / Deluxe

    The elegant Hotel NH Collection Taormina is nestled high on the rugged wooded hillside along which the city of Taormina is built. With an unmatched view across the city and the sea, the hotel offers a restaurant, café, rooftop swimming pool with poolside bar, fitness center (with spa, sauna, solarium, and steam bath), laundry and dry cleaning service (for a fee), and complimentary Wi-Fi internet service. Air-conditioned guest rooms have private bath with hair dryer, minibar, in-room safe, tea- and coffee-making facilities, TV, and phone.

Ratings are based on the Hotel & Travel Index, the travel industry standard reference.
Tour Directors for this Journey
Maurizio Caminita

“There are simply no superlatives worthy of Maurizio’s talents as a guide.  He is always organized, always alert to the needs of the group … always ready to deal quickly and efficiently with the unexpected.”
Owen & Laurie Guitteau
Santa Barbara, CA

Mariangela Carozzi

Odysseys Unlimited Tour Director

Andrea Fiorillo

Odysseys Unlimited Tour Director

Dania Mastacchini

“We enjoyed spending time with Dania. She was thoughtful, knowledgeable, and always positive. She has the perfect temperament for a tour leader.”
Rekha & Craig Arness
McLean, VA

Daniela Mendola

“Daniela was exceptional. Her caring attitude and knowledge of Italy were exceptional. She truly made the tour come alive.”
Gregory E. Peterson
Tyngsboro, MA

Gaetano Salemi

“Absolutely outstanding! Very knowledgeable about Sicily and Italy, and the Italian way of life. Kept us entertained with stories and piano playing.”
Dennis & Sharon Marks
Vero Beach, FL

Destination Insight

Suggested Reading

Mary Taylor Simeti
On Persephone’s Island
Strong on the delights of rural life, Simeti’s portrait of Sicily takes the form of a year-long journal, capturing the spirit of the people, daily life, traditions and the land.

Peter Robb
Midnight in Sicily, On Art, Food, History, Travel and La Cosa Nostra
Combining interviews, research and essays on Sicilian history and culture, this vivid report by journalist Robb is a superb introduction to Italy’s glorious, corrupt and troubled south.

Giuseppe Di Lampedusa
The Leopard
Evoking a lost world of privilege and tradition, Di Lampedusa’s memorable tale, set on a rural Sicilian estate during the days of independence, follows the world-weary Don Fabrizio, Prince of Salina. A classic, now in a 50th-anniversary edition.

Eyewitness Guides
Eyewitness Guide Sicily
This superb guide to Sicily features color photography, dozens of excellent local maps and a synopsis of the island’s attractions. Handsome, convenient and up-to-date, this is the guide to carry.

Touring Club Italiano
Sicily Map
A detailed map of Sicily (1:200,000). The detail is great if you don’t mind folding it out to its full poster size.

Lawrence Durrell
Sicilian Carousel
Durrell writes with warmth and grace of his journey around the island in the 1950s.

Andrew Edwards
Sicily, A Literary Guide for Travellers
From local authors to classic writers like Cicero and Shakespeare and 20th-century greats Lawrence and Capote, this literary survey reveals Sicily’s multifaceted personality through literature.

Andrea Camilleri
The Shape of Water
Not to be confused with the Oscar-winning film of the same name, this is the first of Camilleri’s wildly popular Inspector Montalbano mysteries, nicely translated and shot through (pun intended) with not just memorable characters but also with Sicilian lore and politics. If you like the series, it continues in 19 more installments — and counting.

Leonardo Sciascia, Avril Bardoni (Translator), Alberto Mobilio (Introduction)
The Wine-Dark Sea
A collection of 13 stories, all set in the celebrated writers’ native Sicily, and featuring mafiosi, carabinieri and villagers.

Ellen Grady
Blue Guide Sicily
This in-depth guide to Sicily’s ancient history and archaeology features detailed maps and site plans.

Jeremy Dummett
Palermo, City of Kings, The Heart of Sicily
The first history of Palermo available, this short book is a standalone history of the city, but also surveys important monuments and sites.

John Keahey
Seeking Sicily, A Cultural Journey Through Myth and Reality in the Heart of the Mediterranean
Taken with Sicily, its culture and its literature, Keahey explores the food, history and pure pleasure of the place, using his heroes Giuseppe di Lampedusa, Leonardo Sciascia and other Sicilian literary greats as guides.

Francine Prose
Sicilian Odyssey
Novelist Francine Prose tries her hand at travel writing in this lyrical, vibrant and concise portrait of Sicily. Prose evokes Sicily’s history, art, landscape and cuisine through considerations of her own journey across the island.

Joseph Privitera
Sicily, An Illustrated History
Privitera covers the scope of Sicily and its diverse civilizations in lively prose and well-chosen illustrations in this succinct history.

John Julius Norwich
Sicily, An Island at the Crossroads of History
Norwich delivers a page-turning account of Sicily, from the Classical period through the Mafia, highlighting the crucial role the island has played in world politics.

Sandra Benjamin
Sicily, Three Thousand Years of Human History
With clarity and authority, Benjamin traces the rich legacy of the Greeks and Romans, Vandals and Goths, Arab traders, Normans, Bourbons and others who have contributed to the multi-faceted history of the kingdom of Sicily.

G. Messineo, E. Borgia
Ancient Sicily, Monuments Past & Present
In this illuminating overview, ingenious overlays depict 17 important sites as they appear today and how they may have appeared in the past.

Daphne Phelps
A House in Sicily
An old-fashioned memoir of life at Casa Cuseni, the pensione and garden in Taormina run by the indomitable Daphne Phelps, which has been a sanctuary for such guests as Tennessee Williams, Betrand Russell and others, famous and infamous, since 1947.

Roberto Alajmo
Palermo
In this charming little book, Alajmo offers a wry, lyrical portrait of his native city, its people, charms and “big problems.” What follows is a rollicking, odd journey through the peccadilloes of the Sicilian city.

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