Small group tours of Italy
Sicily is an absolutely fascinating place to visit, being a crossroads of civilizations with a range of diverse influences. With our 7 day Sicily tour we provide a well rounded experience covering the diverse aspects that the island offers. This includes the wonderful food and wine, including a cooking lesson and winetasting. The lifestyle and culture of the people, with visits to markets and a farm. The art and architecture, seeing several Sicilian baroque towns. And of course the history, with visits to ancient Greek and Roman sites including Segesta and Agrigento. We enjoy long lunches, taking time over the multiple courses to enjoy the atmosphere and to relax. Our tours are in small groups to ensure a high quality travel experience.
On The Sicily Tour You will experience:
- Palermo - a crossroads of culture, living history.
- Ragusa - famous for the ornate 16th century Sicilian baroque buildings.
- Country Farmhouse Lunch - seeing the best of rural Sicily.
- Siracusa - a treasure trove of faded grandeur on the harbour.
- Baroque churches - typical of the region with their ornate edifices.
- Taormina - a town that’s like visiting an elegant film set.
- Agrigento - and the famed ‘Valley of the Temples’.
- Golden Mosaics - in the cathedral at Monreale.
- Erice - perched on a hilltop with charming cobbled lanes.
- Segesta - with an almost perfectly preserved Greek temple and theatre.
- Monreale - the incredible cathedral complex near Palermo.
- Mt Etna - see this active volcano rising up and often erupting.
- How to cook like a local - hands-on cooking lesson and take home the insider’s knowledge to add to your kitchen repertoire!
On The Sicily Tour You will taste:
- Classic Sicilian meals - such as Caponata and Pasta alla Norma.
- Sicilian foods revealing the cultural heritage - such as Couscous alla Trapanese.
- Wines made from Sicilian grapes - such as nero d’avola.
- Typical Sicilian combinations - we try the Alici alle Arance (anchovies with oranges).
- Local Cheeses - such as pecorino (sheep’s cheese) and canestrato.
- Pasticceria pastries and sweets - such as cannoli and cassata.
- Sicilian street food - arancini fried rice balls and sfincione.
- Seafood caught fresh - try pasta con le sarde (sardines) and spaghetti ai ricci (sea urchins).
- Italian Liqueurs - such as amaro and limoncello.
- Meals showcasing the best of Sicily - enjoyed each day in restaurants carefully selected with a focus on regional specialties... every meal will be different and specific to the places we visit.
The Sicily Tour also includes:
- 'Italy With Pleasure' provides a Tour Manager for the duration of the trip, who will coordinate all activities and accommodation. We also use specialist local guides to provide specific insight into key features.
- All accommodation is included. Accommodation is in 4 star hotels in Palermo, Ragusa and Taormina.
- All breakfasts are included, plus a main meal each day (either lunch or dinner).
- The meals included in the tour price are listed in the itinerary as: (B)-breakfast; (L)-lunch; (D)-dinner.
- All costs/entry fees for the activities listed in the itinerary are included.
- All transport during the tour is included. Transport is in our van/minibus.
The hotels we use for this tour are good quality hotels and all are centrally located in Palermo, Ragusa and Taormina. This makes it easy for you to spend time independently discovering these wonderful places. All of the hotels we use are 4 star rated.
In Palermo we stay at the Quintocanto Hotel, situated in the heart of historic Palermo. This hotel offers a refined atmosphere, including an in-house spa which is ideal for when you need a break from seeing the fascinating city of Palermo.
In Ragusa we stay at the San Giorgio Palace Hotel. Situated in a recently modernised and restored 19th century building, the hotel is right in the heart of the baroque historic centre of Ragusa Ibla.
In Taormina we stay at the Grand Hotel Miramare, boasting wonderful views over the Straits of Messina. The hotel is a short stroll from the centre of Taormina. For cooling off, the hotel has a pool plus is adjacent to the cable car which takes you to the beach below.
Day 1 - Palermo
Welcome to Palermo, with its many layers of civilizations and history. The city today is a vibrant, living testimony to this cultural heritage.
Starting the tour around midday, we first visit the Palermo cathedral, which reveals much of the varied history (Roman, Byzantine, Arab etc.) through its architecture and design. We continue to the Palatine Chapel, with its stunning opulence. And then to Monreale, a UNESCO World Heritage site, with incredible golden mosaics and said to be one of the finest Norman buildings in the world.
Back in Palermo there are many interesting sights to take in. Our hotel is located alongside the historic centre of town, and the vibrancy of this diverse city is all around you.
In the evening we dine together, sharing a meal of Sicilian cuisine where we start to discover the unique flavours on offer here: Arab spices alongside Mediterranean vegetables, seafood fresh from the Tyrrhenian Sea, distinctive local wines.
Day 2 - Segesta and Erice
Starting the day with a visit to Segesta, where we have our first glimpse of the monuments that remain from when Sicily was part of Magna Grecia (the greater Greek empire). Segesta boasts one of the most intact Greek Doric temples anywhere, and an excellent Greek theatre, both from the 5th century B.C. In fact some performances continue to be held in this theatre during the summer.
Continuing on the Erice, a charming town on a hilltop overlooking the western coast of Sicily. Erice is a medieval town, with everything you’d expect in a postcard – beautiful cobbled lanes, a castle, a view out to the coastal islands. It even has a bit of a steamy past (in legend at least), with interesting stories of a cult here after the town was founded by Aphrodite.
We have lunch in Erice. Before leaving, we stop in at one of the best pasticcerias in Sicily. Sicily is renowned for wonderful sweet pastries, and we take full advantage of this!
Meals: (B) (L)
Day 3 - Agrigento
Agrigento, with its famous ‘Valley of the Temples’, is our destination today. This UNESCO World Heritage site featuring the beautiful Temple of Concordia is one of the most photogenic spots in Sicily. Strolling through the archaeological area gives a sense of the gravitas of history, as well as a pleasant experience of continued traditions, surrounded by almond groves and olive trees.
For lunch we stop in at a farm in the countryside, where we get an opportunity to taste good, wholesome rural Sicilian produce. Here we meet the owner, who shows us around the property - much of our lunch is grown right here on the farm. We enjoy a leisurely lunch in the restored farmhouse.
We continue on to our hotel in the town of Ragusa.
Meals: (B) (L)
Day 4 - Ragusa
On waking in Ragusa, you can’t help but be charmed by the elegant palazzos and the picturesque winding streets.
Ragusa is one of the best examples of the famous Sicilian baroque style, with ornate edifices and intricate detailing. Some of Sicily’s architectural gems are scattered through Ragusa. The buildings we see in this style were built from 1693 onwards, and feature elegant balconies and balustrades.
Today we have a hands on cooking class, where you take an active part in preparing a complete four course meal. The dishes are typically Sicilian, such as Caponata alla Siciliana and Cannolo alla Ricotta. Sicilian cuisine has developed through the absorption of a myriad of influences through the ages. With today’s focus on Sicilian cooking, we have a local chef unlock some of the secrets and teach us the techniques used here. As well as this, we discuss the importance and provenance of the ingredients and produce used. Then we relax and eat!
In the afternoon we visit the town of Modica, another of Sicily’s famed baroque towns. But here we also have an ulterior motive, and that is chocolate. Modica is an important centre for chocolate making, and has its own distinctive style known as ‘cioccolato modicano’. This is made using a different production method to regular chocolate. We have a tasting where you can appreciate the unique qualities of this chocolate.
Meals: (B) (L)
Day 5 - Siracusa
Siracusa is a treasure trove of ancient palazzi, a lively old centre, and many harbourside restaurants where good living comes first.
The historic area of Siracusa is a UNESCO World Heritage site. We start by visiting the archaeological sites, in particular the Greek theatre, the Roman amphitheatre, and the quarries once used for building such monuments.
We continue on to visit the island of Ortigia, the heart of Siracusa, with the remains of the ancient Greek city. The Duomo (the main church) is elegant and domineering, looking over the piazza. See a fine Caravaggio painting. And, bringing things to the present day, we visit the fantastic markets. The Ortigia markets have a wide range of products, but the particular speciality is seafood – the huge swordfish are an impressive sight.
Meals: (B) (L)
Day 6 - Taormina
Visiting Taormina is like visiting an elegant film set, such is the combination of spectacular views (over the sea and Mt Etna), beautiful old buildings, plus a touch of the ancient (both Greek and Roman). We take full advantage of all three aspects (the view, the town, the ancient ruins) as we enjoy our day here. Located high on a hill, there is time to take the cable car from Taormina down to the excellent beach below. Around town, as well as the archaeological sites, there are numerous ceramic shops and cafes on the piazza.
In the afternoon we travel to the slopes of Mt Etna for a wine tasting. Etna is an active volcano, and the wines made from its volcanic soils are superb due to the unique microclimate and lava soils. Wine has been made in Sicily for over 2000 years, and the Etna DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) region is one of the top quality wine areas. The predominant red grape is called Nerello – you get to try many new wines on this tour.
This evening we celebrate our week of discovery together with a final dinner in one of Taormina’s fine restaurants.
Meals: (B) (D)
Day 7 - Arrivederci
Transfers to Catania airport.
And while we bid you ‘arrivederci’, your week will have provided such richness that a piece of Sicily will always be with you. Memories are the most beautiful pictures our minds can paint.
Sicily Tour Dates:
25 - 31 May 2018
15 - 21 June 2018
07 - 13 September 2018
05 - 11 October 2018
Sicily Tour Price:
€2400 ( GBP£2100 / US$2800 / AUD$3500 / NZ$3800 / CAD$3550 )
* Price is denominated in Euros. Prices listed are based on twin share
Tour Price Includes:
- All accommodation is included, in 4 star hotels with central locations in Palermo (Hotel Massimo Plaza or Hotel Quintcanto), Ragusa (Hotel San Giorgio Palace) and Taormina (Hotel Miramare).
- Meals as listed in the itinerary: each day breakfast, plus a 3-4 course lunch or dinner each day with wine included.
- All costs/entry fees for activities listed in the itinerary are included.
- All transport during the tour is included. Travel is in our van/minibus with a professional driver.
- 'Italy With Pleasure' provides a tour manager for the duration of the trip.