Sicily: History, Culture and Food

11 days / 10 nights

$4,995

Per person (Land Only, based on double occupancy) | March 27 – April 6, 2017

Tour Highlights: Sicily’s diverse topography, cuisine, wines and history…plus much more! Enjoy our small group tours that include boutique hotels and wonderful culinary treats!

Sicily has been inhabited by various civilizations that have traversed the Mediterranean waters looking for locations to settle, from which to build defense capabilities or to attempt to conquer. These “settlers” include, but are not limited to the Romans, Arabs, Italian and the British. The result is languages, dialects and cuisine which borrow on these various influences.

This Sicily tour provides an in-depth travel experience to both of these islands, with the opportunity to meet locals, enjoy regional cuisine and stay in boutique hotels, while enjoying the wonderful warmth and sun that comes with the Mediterranean.

Signature Jerry informal

Jerry Sorkin 

Director of Marketing & Product Development 

Gil Travel

11 days | 10 nights | 10 touring days

Included Services in our Tour Rates

  • 10 night accommodations in Sicily
  • Meals listed in the itinerary
  • All touring as described

 

NOT INCLUDED

  • International Airfare
  • Any purchases of a personal nature, hotel expenditures such as laundry, mini-bar, business center related expenses and spa expenses.
  • Meals other than listed on itinerary
  • Alcoholic drinks not included during group meals.
  • Tips for local guides

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Day 1 - Monday, March 27
Arrival in Catania - Syracuse
Typical streets of Syracuse

Typical streets of Syracuse

Upon arrival in Catania, a Gil Travel representative will meet you and transfer to Syracuse, city with colorful history and beautiful landscape. Check in at our  charming and unique hotel 4*  in Ortigia.

Our welcome dinner will be in a historical and private  house, among the most beautiful of Sicily’s Baroque townhouses, welcomed  by the owner, a dashing Sicilian baron with a schoolboy glint in his eyes. You will also be able to enjoy the fine wines produced by the Baron.

After dinner the “owner” of the Palace will guide you into a private tour through the gallery and the historic rooms of the palace.

Overnight in Syracuse (D)

Day 2 - Tuesday, March 28
Noto-Syracuse
Parco Archeologico della Neapolis - Sicily

Parco Archeologico della Neapolis

After breakfast, our adventure today begins in Noto, the capital of Sicilian Baroque, an authentic treasure chest brimming with baroque jewels: churches and palaces.  Stop at a special  Cafe  for a different experience of Sicilian pastry. A pearl in the pearl. What it was in the last century a factory of  nougat and jams is now the laboratory of a craftsman who monumental creations as the host city. Its owner is a great master of taste, devoted to the perpetual quest for excellence and perfection that never distorts the taste of memory. He will dazzle us with a tasting of his many products (ice creams, jams, sauces), and serve us lunch, combining all of these with exciting flavors.

We will return to Syracuse and visit the “Archaeological Park of Neapolis” (Parco Archeologico della Neapolis) and of its Greek theatre, nowadays still stages new theatre performances, the Roman amphitheatre, and a rock cave known as the “Ear of Dionysus”.

The tour continues in Acradina, the site of the earliest Jewish settlement. We will visit the catacombs of S. Giovanni and the crypt of S. Marciano, who, according to the legend, was killed by the Jews of the city. Then, we’ll move to the island of Ortigia ( an isthmus where a mix of Medieval and Baroque provide a delightful blending in the narrow streets)

Mikveh - Ortigia

Mikveh – Ortigia

Walk in the narrow streets of the Giudecca (the ancient Jewish quarter). See the site of the Synagogue and the Mikveh- Jewish ritual bath, 11 metres below ground level, the most archaic that has ever been found in all Europe.

The tour ends in the Bellomo Gallery, where some of the tombstones from the Jewish medieval cemetery are displayed..

We will head out to the countryside to a citrus farm (agriturismo) owned by a Baron  and his talented chef Signora Rosalba that will give us a demonstration of some of the iconic dishes of this very Greek part of Sicily.

Overnight in Syracuse (B,D)

Day 3 - Wednesday, March 29
Marzamemi - Modica

This morning we will tour a small charming village of Arabic origin: Marzamemi, one of the prettiest seaside fishing villages which until today has been keeping its original colors and shapes. From its ancient “Tonnara”  (tuna processing plant), to a new plant for the conversation of fish, tuna and swordfish. We will visit, and listen to a fascinating explanation: from the Phoenicians to the Greeks, the Romans and the Arabs, in Marzamemi fish processing is a tradition .

A walk along the sea  will lead us in a cute, little Taverna  where you can enjoy a delicious lunch of local fish.

Modica

Modica

Transfer to Modica. At the center of a deep valley, the town of Modica appears like a nativity scene carved in stone. The town has been declared World Heritage site by the UNESCO with its terraced narrow  alleys and its successful integration into the wildly romantic landscape. Modica is an open air museum.

Dinner will be at leisure

Overnight in Modica (B,L)

Day 4 - Thursday, March 30
Caltagirone - Piazza Armerina - Agrigento

We will enjoy breakfast and then drive to Caltagirone, the Sicilian capital for ceramic artistry. Visit to some laboratories  and stopover at the wine cellars of the Antica Tenuta del Nanfro for a guided visit and tasting of typical vintages from the area: Nero d’Avola and the Cerasuolo di Vittori.

Ceramics - SicilyIn the early afternoon we will stop at the 4th-century UNESCO World Heritage Villa Romana del Casale. Located just southwest of Piazza Armerina, the walls and floors of the villa boast some of the finest mosaics in the world. Originally built as a hunting lodge for a Roman patrician, this unique structure remained undiscovered for centuries after it was buried in a landslide in the 12th century. Its fabulous mosaics were hidden from sight for seven centuries before excavations began.

We will then take a drive on country roads to Agrigento and check in at the hotel.

Tonight, you will have an unforgettable dinner,  immersing yourself in history and myth, surrounded by  temples that are  a spectacular demonstration of eternal charm.

Overnight in Agrigento (B,D)

Day 5 - Friday, March 31
Agrigento - Marsala
Temple of Corcord

Temple of Corcord

This Morning will be dedicated to the visit of Agrigento a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1998 and one of the most symbolic remains of classical Greek civilization. Accompanied by a guide, you will visit the Temple of Juno and the grandiose Temple of Corcord, which will amaze you for its sheer size, harmonious architecture and perfect state of preservation.

Picnic lunch at the Kolymbetra park, an agricultural jewel returned to light after decades of abandon. Surrounded by pomegranate, pistachio, orange and lemon trees and under the Mediterranean sun you will enjoy a typical Sicilian lunch served to you outdoors, complete with local fruit, cheese and wine.

Drive to Marsala. Upon arrival, enjoy a visit of a  very known old winery. You will visit the atmospheric wine museum , where you´ll learn all about the wine and the history of the estate. Special tasting in a private room.

Aperitif-dinner in a “trattoria” that  overlooks the salt-pans.

Overnight in Marsala (B,L,D)

Day 6 - Saturday, April 1
Erice - Segesta - Palermo

After breakfast, we will drive to Erice,  famous in  antiquity for its temples where the Phoenicians worshipped Astarte , the Greeks venerated Aphrodite and the Romans celebrated Venus. Erice is the best preserved medieval town in the world, rich of castles and churches. Enjoy a breathtaking view from the hilltop..

Stop in a historical pastry shop in Erice to learn about the tradition of dolci Siciliani, made by nuns.

Segesta Temple

Segesta Temple

We will enjoy a cooking lesson in a “Baglio” (a building with a courtyard) . The chef will  send you  back to a cultural and culinary tradition that chooses the best raw materials available, reinterpreted in dishes from the Trapani’s gastronomy , from  the cassatelle to cannoli. All this combined with the tasting of the wines of a historic winery.  We will have lunch there.

Afternoon departure for Segesta, a 5th-century BC ruins set in a magical site. On windy days the 36 giant columns of its magnificent temple are said to act like an organ, producing mysterious notes.

Continue to Palermo. Check in at the hotel . Dinner is at leisure.

Overnight in Palermo (B,L)

Day 7 - Sunday, April 2
Palermo
Mercato del Capo

Mercato del Capo

This morning we will enjoy walking tour of Palermo dedicated to “Street food”.  This will be a 3 hour walking tour where you will sample the best of Sicily’s street food, led by a local expert guide , you will explore the fascinating culinary world of Sicily’s Capital.

You will visit the famous and bustling Vucciria and Mercato del Capo, ourdoor markets, tasting five different Sicilian treats along the way – including “panelle” (chickpea fritters) and arancine (deep- fried rice balls). Pass major Palermo monuments during the tour: “Palermo Arabo-Normanna”, “Palermo Barocca”. Round out your tour with some local sweet wine and seasonal dessert.

Lunch in a typical restaurant where innovation and tradition is the perfect combination

Our tour continues in the historical centre of the city, walking through the narrow streets of the Jewish quarter and its fascinating remains, where Jews lived under Muslims and Christians and created an important community in the Middle Ages. We will visit to the site of the Synagogue and with the help of some descriptions made by Jewish mediaeval travellers, we will discover the biggest Jewish community of the capital city.A stop in the regional Gallery of Palermo in the Palazzo Abatellis where there is an inscription in four languages including Hebrew  . The rest of the day and your evening is free for shopping and exploring

Dinner is at leisure.

Overnight in Palermo (B,L)

Day 8 - Monday, April 3
Monreale - Cefalu

Cefalu

Morning transfer to Monreale the Norman “Mons Regalis”. The majestic dome was founded in the 12th century by the Norman king William II.

Departure for Cefalù famous for its historical centre (the Normand Cathedral and the medieval quarter) as well as for its beautiful beach and blue sea. Our excursion will start along the slopes of the “Rocca” to live emotions through the story of Cefalù: magalithism and the East, the temple of Diana and the cult of water.

We will then have lunch at a restaurant in the famous Duomo’s Square to taste blue fish and local food.

Norman Duomo

The Norman Duomo, initiated under Roger II in 1131, that preserves precious mosaics which adorn the apse and a representation of Christ Pantocrator; The Giudecca and the jewish ghetto, from Postierla to Megalithic walls.

Transfer to Castelbuono, a village with a fascinating history as well as valuable masterpieces. Stop in one of the most famous pastries to taste the delicious “panettone” with creams.. Continue to  a particular place: Abbazia Santa Anastasia , a former Benedictine abbey built in the twelfth century in the hills high above the north coast.

We will check in and then enjoy dinner.

Overnight in Castelbuono (B,L,D)

Day 9 - Tuesday, April 4
Etna

This morning we will visit Mount Etna, of  the most active volcano in the world.

Etna

We will then stop in a local family honey farm where it is possible to taste a selection of natural honey (orange , lemon, eucalyptus , strawberry), almond pastries, olive and olive oil. We continue in the territory of Santa Venerina, and visit to wine  Estate for a true “discovery of the wines of Etna”.

Lunch  at the  Estate, with a menu characteristic of Etnean tradition.

Castello degli Schiavi, by Andrej Antipin – Wikimedia Commons

Depart for Taormina with a stop in Fiumefreddo, with a  visit of Castello degli Schiavi, the house of  DON CORLEONE. This beautiful looking residence was built in 1700 as a country house for the Nobility. The house was location for several scenes throughout the Godfather films including the un-intentional murder of Apollonia in The Godfather and also the brutal revenge killing of Don Ciccio, by Vito Corleone in Godfather part II. Walk into the  castle and meet the owner Mr Platania that will let you introduce into the aim of the film.

Drive to Taormina and rest of the night on own.

Overnight in Taormina (B,L)

Day 10 - Wednesday, April 5
Taormina

Greek Taormina Theatre

Buffet breakfast at the hotel. Day at leisure in this beautiful spot, which offers also historical and cultural attractions, such as the Greek Theatre, used as stage for many important international events. You can also admire the various buildings in Corso Umberto, the main road that in the summer evenings is always crowded and just in the middle it widens on a “belvedere”, with an unforgettable view on the bay . Swim, enjoy the shops , views and restaurants in Taormina

We will finish your tour with our “Arrivederci “  dinner at a local restaurant .

Overnight in Taormina (B,D)

Day 11 - Thursday, April 6
Departure

Breakfast and transfer to the airport. (B)

(B) Breakfast  (L) Lunch  (D) Dinner

Note: All itineraries are subject to change
* A minimum of 10 passengers is required for tour service.
This tour is limited to 18 participants.

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Dates: March 27 – April 6, 2017

Land Only Rates (based on double occupancy)

$4,995 Per person

Single Supplement $600

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Hotels are subject to change

CityHotelDescription 
SyracuseGrand Hotel MinaretoThis hotel is a luxury seaside resort located right in front of the island of Ortigia, on a promontory in the midst of the crystal-clear waters of the Plemmirio Nature Reserve.
ModicaPietre Nere ResortThe Pietre Nere Resort combines modern design with wide and bright rooms
AgrigentoVilla AthenaVilla Athena is the only 5-star hotel situated within the Archaeological Park of the Valley of the Temples, which UNESCO has declared a World Heritage Site.
MarsalaBaglio BasileBaglio Basile is surrounded by pretty vineyards and palm trees, set between Marsala and Mazara del Vallo in western Sicily.
PalermoCentrale PalaceThis hotel is located in the heart of Palermo. It occupies the old Palazzo Tarallo building keeping the original structure and becoming a special pace with vintage frescos and furniture. Furthermore, the hotel is part of the Arab-Norman route, declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO.
CastelbuonoAbbazia Santa AnastasiaIn the heart of Madonie Mountains, surrounded by the colours and scents of the pristine nature, stands Abbazia Santa Anastasia, an oasis nestled in the countryside and surrounded by vineyards and nature.
TaorminaHotel caparenaThe warm and inviting ambiance of the Hotel Caparena, with its terracotta floors, the elegant fabrics, its pool and terraces, provide complete sensory experiences to be discovered and absorbed.
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This is a Land Only trip. For airfare information, please call 1-800-223-3855

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