Multi-Day Tour | Escorted, Group, Private

Charming Sicily (11 days)

Essence of Sicily

Palermo, Italy To Catania, Italy

Valid for Departures Now Through: 17 Jan 2019

Itinerary

DAY LOCATION(S) HOTEL MEALS DESCRIPTION
Day 1
Palermo, Italy
Grand Hotel Piazza Borsa or Grand Hotel Villa Igiea None

Arrival at the airport. Pick up by your private English speaking driver and Mercedes car. Transfer to Palermo and accommodation at your hotel.

Day 2
Monreale, Italy
Palermo, Italy
Grand Hotel Piazza Borsa or Grand Hotel Villa Igiea Breakfast, Lunch

Food Market, Cooking class

& Palermo - Monreale Tour

Breakfast in hotel. In the morning, the Duchess Nicoletta Polo will take you to a colorful local open-air market to buy fresh seasonal ingredients. This type of market is very typical in Sicily. You will enjoy a quick walk through the streets of Palermo, one of the most beautiful cities of the Mediterranean Sea, to admire the magnificent baroque style plaza of the Quattro Canti, the luxurious exuberance of Piazza Marina Garden and the majesty of the Norman Palazzo Chiaramonte. The cooking class will be held in an extraordinary location, an 18th century palace by the sea. The Duchess will teach you how to create a whole Sicilian menu in a spacious kitchen where the old copper pots and the shiny blue and white Sicilian tiles create a magical atmosphere. After lunch in the elegant dining room, there will be a tour of the lush terrace and the beautifully restored palace, the last home of Prince Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, author of the world-famous novel “Il Gattopardo”. Later in the afternoon, a local guide will take you on a tour of Palermo. Founded by the Phoenicians in the VIIth and VIIIth centuries B.C., the city was conquered by Arabs in 831, and a period of immense prosperity commenced. You will be enchanted by the city’s wide boulevards, traditional Sicilian Old Quarter and baroque palaces. You will then visit the city's main sights, including the Norman section, Quattro Canti (the Four Corners of the City), Palermo's extravagant baroque square, and the twelfth-century Duomo (Cathedral). Finally , enjoy a tour of Monreale visiting the Norman Duomo and the Cloister. Return at hotel and overnight stay in Palermo.

Day 3
Trapani, Italy
Grand Hotel Piazza Borsa or Grand Hotel Villa Igiea Breakfast, Snack

Segesta, Erice and Salt Pans

Breakfast in hotel. Pick up by your private driver guide and transfer to Segesta, for a tour of the temple and the theatre. Next stop Erice, a wonderfully preserved mediaeval hill town at the extreme north-west corner of Sicily, on the top of Monte San Giuliano. The town overlooks the city of Trapani and the lower western coast towards the Egadi Islands, where sea salt is made, offering a most breathtaking view. On a clear day, you can see the African coast. You will visit the Norman Castle and the Duomo as you walk through the cobble-stoned streets of the town, taking in the fresh air and a variety of aromas emanating from the numerous pastry shops for which Erice is known. In fact, you will stop to visit Maria Grammatico's famous pastry shop to see the variety of sweets she lovingly creates. Visit to the salt pans along the salt road between Trapani and Marsala and return to Palermo. Overnight stay.

Day 4
Agrigento, Italy
Sclafani, Italy
Verdura Resort or Hotel Villa Athena Breakfast, Lunch

Regaleali Wine Estate and Agrigento

Breakfast in hotel and then check out. Next stop, the Regaleali Estate. The estate belongs to the Tasca d’Almerita family and is located in the center of the island. Eight generations of the Tasca family have been involved in the creation of some of Italy’s best wines from 500 hectares of land in the heart of Sicily. The Tasca family will host you for lunch sharing their history and giving you a taste of authentic Sicilian cuisine paired with delicious wines. You will enjoy a wine tasting and a visit of the Estate and of the Winery. After Lunch you will join the City of Agrigento, a visit of the Archaeological Park of Agrigento is planned at the Valley of the Temples, a place where time seems to have stopped. A private guided tour is organized, visiting all the iconic temples such as Juno, Concord and Castor and Pollux. After the visit you will reach your Hotel located in the city. Dinner at leisure.

Day 5
Sant'angelo Muxaro, Italy
Verdura resort or Hoteln Villa Athena Breakfast, Lunch, Snack

The True Sicily For Walking Lovers

Pick up in hotel by your English speaking driver guide and jeep. Today, you will visit one of the most typical village of the Agrigento Province, in the ancient heart of Sicily, at the gates of the Sican Mountains. Sant’Angelo Muxaro rises in the place that saw the epos of the Sican King Kokalos, in a secret and ancient land, far from the touristic areas, on a hill over the Valley of the Platani river. Along the town’s lanes and courtyards, you can enjoy the sight of the wild and luxuriant countryside. The first kilometers will take you into a natural path leading to the characteristic hill of Sant’Angelo. You will continue this scenic route until the archaeological area, where you will visit tombs and recent diggings. Along the way, you will see almond, pistachio and olive trees. At about 270 meters, you will stop at the Tholos tomb, also known as The Tomb of the Prince. This whole area is connected with the myth of Daedalus and Icarus as well as the Minotaur labyrinth. Our guide will then take you to a bakery to taste biscuits and homemade cookies. Then, you will visit a shepherd’s house to taste soft pecorino cheese and ricotta cheese, fresh and still warm. This walking itinerary really takes you far from the classic tourist routes. During the lunch time you will meet Aldo, considered the last Sicilian native seed keeper. A whole life dedicated to plants, their care and the creation of essences and oils from them for various uses. It will be a stimulating day that gives you the opportunity to discover smells and sensations never witnessed, immersed in his enchanting garden overlooking the Platani River valley. You will have lunch with local products and fruits coming from Aldo’s fields: flower salads, caper and olive pestos, cheese and bread made with ancient grain, colorful seasonal flowers in a sauce made of olive oil and herbs. After your naturalistic experience you will reach your hotel to enjoy the rest of the day in a relaxing and enchanting environment and with the most beautiful view to the sunset.

Day 6
Caltagirone, Italy
Piazza Armerina, Italy
Palazzo Nicolaci Seven Rooms Villadorata Breakfast

Piazza Armerina and Caltagirone

Breakfast at the Hotel and check out. Then, you will be transferred to Piazza Armerina to visit the mosaics of the Roman Villa del Casale, named after an agricultural settlement known as “Casale”, or farmhouse, that flourished there in the 15th century. This beautiful Roman Villa consists of 3,500 square meters of mosaic pavement, still perfectly intact. It may have also been a hunting lodge and a location to entertain important guests. The mosaics include a 60-meter-long hunting scene, in which groups of men struggle and sweat as they capture ferocious animals in India and North Africa before transporting them to Rome for gladiator games. Next stop, Caltagirone, a place that is well known for their ceramics, which are a symbol of Sicilian culture. Sicilian ceramics date back to the medieval times, when pottery was used especially for pharmaceutical proposes and tableware. Later, they were used to decorate royal and noble buildings. At this point, you will have some free time for shopping and browsing between many ceramic workshops. You will also be free to have lunch where you desire, on your own time. Transfer to Noto and accommodation in your luxury hotel.

Day 7
Noto, Italy
Palazzo Nicolaci Seven Rooms Villadorata Breakfast, Lunch, Snack

Noto and Siracusa

Breakfast at Seven Rooms Villadorata. In the morning, a tour of Noto is planned. Noto is one of Sicily’s most beautiful baroque cities, whose heritage, both for importance and beauty, has been declared World Heritage by the UNESCO. Here, you will meet Corrado Assenza, the master of all Sicilian pastry chefs, who will delight you with his amazing and unique pastry creations (gelato, jams, creams). Next stop, Siracusa. You will enjoy lunch in an amazing historic “Salumeria” located in Ortigia, tasting typical Sicilian products (cold cuts, cheeses and “caponata”).In the afternoon, there will be a guided tour of Siracusa, a window into the ancient history of the Mediterranean. Its vast archaeological site, on the edge of the modern city, is a rare treasure of temples and amphitheaters. Siracusa flourished in 480 B.C. and soon became the most important Greek city in Sicily, both economically and politically. You will visit remarkable Greek and Roman ruins, such as: the cave called “The Ear of Dionysius”, because of its unusual shape resembling a human ear, baroque buildings and classic churches such as the Duomo, built upon the old temple of Athena. Overnight stay in Noto.

Day 8
Sicily, Italy
Modica, Italy
Ragusa, Italy
Palazzo Nicolaci Seven Rooms Villadorata Breakfast, Lunch, Snack

Ragusa, Scicli and Modica

Breakfast at the hotel. Pick up by driver guide. The first stop will be at Scicli to visit the “Aromi Farm” with the owner Enrico. This farm cultivates autochthon plants and aromatic herbs. It also holds an important position of leadership in sales and marketing, focusing on local species of the Sicilian coast and in particular of the Iblean area. The farm produces more than 120 different varieties of plants and herbs using old traditional methods of manual cultivation. You will sample the different varieties of herbs and see how they are used alongside other local products for lunch. Lunch at the farm. Discover two of Sicily’s most stunning Baroque towns: Modica and Ragusa Ibla where you can admire picturesque lanes, narrow streets, many old workshops, and St. George’s Church. You will then visit the Antica Dolceria Bonajuto, the oldest pastry shop of Sicily, to taste the famous chocolate of Modica. The owner Pierpaolo Ruta will explain the secrets of the Modican chocolate, which is made with only two ingredients: cacao and sugar. Overnight stay in Noto.

Day 9
Catania, Italy
Taormina, Italy
The Asbee Hotel , Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo - Villa Sant' Andrea Breakfast

Catania and Taormina

Breakfast at the hotel and check out. Transfer to Catania, a city situated between the Ionian Sea and the majestic Mount Etna. The city is often blanketed by a dark rain of ash and cinders. In 1669, there was a violent eruption of the volcano and it covered everything with lava. Less than thirty years later (1693), when the city was still nursing its wounds, an earthquake destroyed anything that was still left of it. Catania managed to react to these natural calamities and started a huge building project that foresaw a wide use of black lava and light colored limestone. The city was one huge, busy building site for decades and slowly the baroque aspect that still characterizes the city today began to form. Today, Catania is one of the greatest baroque cities of the Mediterranean. The city radiates a strange romantic beauty with its broad boulevards, spacious squares and great cathedrals, still striking in their black and white colors, lava and limestone, crumbling plaster, and cracked marble columns. First stop, the “Pescheria”, a daily fish and vegetable market. Then arrive in Taormina, check in at your hotel and time at leisure to visit the town, founded by the Greeks in 358 B.C.. It was occupied by the Romans and then fell into Byzantine hands. The little town is located on the East coast of Sicily, overlooking the Ionian Sea. Taormina is called the “Pearl of the Mediterranean” for several reasons: nestled on Mount Tauro, it offers the beauty of Mediterranean architecture all the while surrounded by endless magnificent views of both sea and mountains. Thanks to its high position in altitude, Taormina offers visitors a breathtaking panorama. From its Greek theatre, you can admire the bay of Giardini Naxos and Mount Etna, the highest active volcano in Europe, while on the other side you can gaze out over the coastline toward Messina and view the proximity of the Calabrian coast.

Day 10
Etna, Italy
The Asbee Hotel , Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo - Villa Sant' Andrea Breakfast, Lunch

Volcano and Etna Wines (By Jeep or Car)

Breakfast at the hotel. Pick up by your naturalistic driver guide. Explore Mount Etna, the largest active volcano in Europe. Discovering Mount Etna is one of the greatest adventure tours in Sicily, not only for the volcanic phenomena but also fort the different kinds of vegetation visible during the ascent. This volcano has more than 400 craters, split all over the Catania county. The first stop of the tour is Valle del Bove, a wide valley located on the eastern slope of the volcano. Valle del Bove is part of the protected area of the Etna Regional Park. Proceeding, you will go through old lava flows that date back to 1979 until you reach Mount Fontana, 1300meters above the sea level. This is a great panoramic point, from which you can admire the majesty of the valley and of the Monti Sartorius. Afterwards, a short walk will lead you to the craters of the Sartorius Mountains, which date back to 1865 and are characterized by seven little eruptive cones. Halfway down from the top, you will reach another panoramic point which offers a breathtaking view of the Ionian Coast, from Riposto to Taormina and a glimpse of the Calabrian Coast, of the North-East crater and of the latest new lava flows and craters of 2002. Lunch will be served in an exclusive Etna Doc Winery. Return to Hotel.

Day 11
Catania, Italy
None Breakfast

Catania airport

Breakfast in hotel. Private transfer to Catania airport.

Tour Features

Experience(s)

  • Adventure
  • Culture, History & Arts
  • Food & Wine
  • Romance, Weddings & Honeymoons
  • Sightseeing
  • Wildlife & Nature

Description

Sicily is the largest of the Italian islands and known as the pearls of Southern Italy. The island can be discovered, understood and experienced with several itineraries dedicated to areas of interest ranging from nature to history and traditions.

Nature seems to have endowed all its wonders to this land: mountains, hills and above all the sea, with its incredible colours, its crystal-clear water and the beauty of its seabeds.

The island has many little islands scattered around the coasts of Sicily and Last but not least, its great volcanoes are symbols of the irresistible beauty and vitality of this incredibly charming region.

Fascination for this region grows with treasured archaeological sites that tell the story of the ancient origins of Trinacria (ancient name for Sicily).

If you would like to live a tailor-made and private experience of Sicily than “The Charming Sicily Tour” will be the best choice for you. We will permit you to live the Sicilian quotidian life with a real and authentic overview of the different locations. The program is full of tasteful food and wine tastings. Experience an alternative way of sightseeing like the cooking lesson with the duchess and lunch in an aristocratic palace or a walking tour into the nature with the plant whisperer.

Welcome to Sicily or better welcome to the Essence of Sicily.

About Us

Essence of Sicily is a boutique DMC offering luxury and unique experiences in Sicily and Aeolian Islands to suit any individual or group. Our customized luxury tours are chosen to offer a balance of Sicilian history, culture and cuisine, bringing you all the best that the beautiful island has to offer. All of our tours go above and beyond the normal remits – with private guides, private transfers and a personalized service, tailoring the experience exclusively for our clients. We pride ourselves on the connections we have on the island, ensuring we can offer proven quality from start to finish.

Insider Tip

Contact your Virtuoso Travel Advisor for insider knowledge to help enhance your experience.

Terms & Conditions

Terms and conditions vary by program. Details will be provided upon request.



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Italy trip

By: mb


Reviewed on: 14 Jun 2018

Essence of Italy was fantastic! Their guides were wonderful and very carefully selected for each city and site we visited. The local team was very prompt when we needed their help to coordinate with one of our hotels and they communicated well with our Departure Lounge Travel Advisor back in the US.
Travel Advisor:  Kim Shraibati
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Sicily

By: Cheryl


Reviewed on: 16 Aug 2018

Our tour of Mount Etna, helicopter ride and tour of the Valley of Temples were incredible! We highly recommend all of our tours.
Travel Advisor:  Debbie Hires
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Familyfun

By: Familyfun


Reviewed on: 05 Oct 2018

All was great with all of the hotels where we stayed. They were perfect - location and accommodations and food. The tour guides were fabulous, and their recommendations for meals, etc. were great! The drivers were excellent. Only complaint was that one event was not as promised, and if we had been given accurate information, we would not have done it.
Travel Advisor:  Lynne Adams