7 DAYS IN SICILY
Days 1 & 2 Taormina, Island of Sicily
Upon arrival in Milan, board your connecting flight to Catania, on the island of Sicily. You are welcomed to Catania and transferred to your luxurious hotel in the charming seaside town of Taormina. Goethe described Taormina as “a patch of paradise,” with its breathtaking views, pastel buildings, garden terraces and citrus trees. Join your fellow travelers at a festive party Sunday evening to learn more about the events and adventures ahead. The next day explore Taormina’s well-preserved Greek theater, built in the third century B.C. Tragedies of Sophocles and Euripides are still performed here. The historic theater offers a grand panorama of Mt. Etna and the Ionian Sea. Afterward visit volatile Mt. Etna, Europe’s largest active volcano.
Day 3 Syracuse
On Tuesday drive to ancient Syracuse, a great Greek city from 733 until 211 B.C. when it was conquered by Rome. Fortunately the conquering Roman General Marcellus was so amazed by the city’s richness and beauty that he refrained from destroying the Greek temples and buildings. Explore the ruins of the Greek theater, where the great dramatist Aeschylus staged plays, and the more modern amphitheater where man fought beast to a gory finish. Return to Taormina for the night.
Day 4 Agrigento
A drive through local villages and the picturesque Sicilian countryside takes you to the classical city of Agrigento. Visit the Valley of the Temples, site of some of the best preserved Greek remains in the world. Later, witness the temples beautifully illuminated at night.
Days 5 & 6 Palermo
Your last stop in Sicily is the city of Palermo, Sicily’s capital and largest port overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea. Your hotel, once an aristocratic estate, is one of Sicily’s most opulent retreats. Visit the Royal Palace, the heart of the Norman kingdom in Sicily. Built in the 1130s, the palace reflects the wealth and luxury of its royal history. Its Palatine Chapel is one of Sicily’s most glorious treasures with a painted Arabic ceiling, Byzantine art, mosaics and granite pillars. Descend to the 19th-century Catacombs of the Capuchins, where the Sicilians buried their dead. Mummies, naturally preserved by the dry air, line the corridors. Explore the stunning Norman Cathedral of Monreale and marvel at its dazzling mosaics and Benedictine cloisters. Palazzo Conte Federico, built on Punic-Roman city walls, is one of the oldest and most important buildings in Palermo. Examine its Baroque ceiling frescoes by Vito D’Anna, the grand stairway, Marabitti’s lion fountain and the beautiful sculptures. Enjoy the lavish yet personal atmosphere of the palace, home to Conte Federico and his family.
Day 7 Segeste, Erice, Trapani
Today’s excursion takes us first to Segeste to visit the Doric Temple and Acropolis, then to Erice, a beautiful Phoenician and Hellenistic town. Perched on the mountain of the same name, Erice offers a glorious view over the sea. In antiquity, Erice was famous for its temples where in succession the Phoenicians worshiped Astarte, the Greeks venerated Aphrodite and the Romans celebrated Venus. The little town now takes the shape of a perfect equilateral triangle, hemmed in by the Castello di Venere and the Chiesa Madre, exactly in the center of the triangle is the Church of St. Peter. An intricate maze of narrow, cobblestone streets provides unexpected glimpses of churches and monasteries scattered throughout the town. Continue to Trapani to visit the ex-Carmelite convent converted to the Pepoli Museum and its fine collections of coral jewels. South of the town, enjoy the unusual view of the saltpans. Return to Palermo in the afternoon. This evening you will enjoy a festive dinner party and bid farewell to your fellow travelers.