Overview

Catania - 1 night
Vulcano Island - 2 nights
Noto - 2 nights
Ragusa - 2 nights

Spendology - Widgets

SECRET SICILY

A very varied journey through Sicily’s less-visited sites, this tour reveals the hidden gems of cultural heritage and contrasting landscapes, from Aeolian Islands to ostentatious Baroque towns, and from fishing villages to the fictional world of Inspector Montalbano

This is an entertaining insight to the natural, historic and intriguing sights, for a repeat traveller to Sicily, this tour takes you to places which are new to you but may seem familiar, as it fuses fact with fiction in film, TV, and literary locations. It begins off Sicily’s northern shore, as we sail to the UNESCO World Heritage cluster of the Aeolian Islands, with hot pools, active volcanoes, and the lava flow of Stromboli, where Jules Verne’s adventurers emerged from their ‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth’. Following days see us in Savoca, the setting for scenes of ‘The Godfather’; visiting a palazzo in Acireale; viewing Roman mosaics, found below a 400-year-old farmhouse; seeing Ispica’s ancient necropolis caves, and relaxing in a picturesque, south coast fishing port. We stay in the southeast to tour to four very individual towns, but with much in common. Noto, Scicli, Ragusa and Catania all feature in the UNESCO listed ‘Towns of Val di Noto’; all were destroyed in the 1693 earthquake and rebuilt in the florid façades of Baroque splendour; and each is focused on a fine cathedral and speciality Sicilian food. Scicli and Ragusa also share the fame of film locations for Inspector Montalbano, along with seaside Punta Secca, where his ‘home’ is now a B&B!

Key Features

Culture & Natural Wonders
Jules Verne Sightseeing
Improved Itinerary
Historic / 5-Star Hotels
2 UNESCO Heritage Sites
Local Expert Guide

Special Events

Sicily from the Inside

A private visit to Palazzo Fiorini in Acireale; a tour by private appointment with specialist guide in Ragusa Ibla of the ‘Circolo di Conversazione’ club, the Donnafugata theatre and the private garden of Palazzo Arezzo-Bertini.

Day 1 Fly from London to Catania and transfer from the airport to the 4-star Hotel Principe for an overnight stay. The hotel is centrally positioned, with a good selection of restaurants nearby. An afternoon walking tour in the city takes in the Baroque façades of the Via Crociferi, and iconic monuments including the Elephant, Amphitheatre, and majestic Cathedral of St. Agatha.

Day 2 Travel north to Milazzo and sail to the Aeolian Islands, disembarking at Vulcano island to check-in at your hotel, then taking an afternoon ferry to Lipari, the largest town in the archipelago, to visit the clifftop Citadel and enjoy time at leisure in the picturesque town and its harbourside cafés. Return by ferry to Vulcano for two nights at the 4-star Hotel Les Sables Noir with superb views of the sea and volcanic archipelago. (B, D)

Day 3 A free day to relax at the hotel, enjoy the island, or join an optional cruise (weather permitting), sailing late morning to visit Panarea, dropping anchor enroute for a swim in an island bay, and passing tiny Ginostra Island as you sail to Stromboli. Free time here to enjoy the town until your sunset sail, with views of the island’s active volcano and the lava-flow reef of Strombolicchio, returning late evening to Vulcano (£55, pre-bookable). (B)

Day 4 Return to Milazzo this morning and drive to the Messina region to visit the small town of Savoca, the setting for Francis Ford Coppola’s film The Godfather, with time to call in at the ‘Café Vitelli’ haunt of Michael Corleone. From here we drive to Acireale to visit the historic Palazzo Fiorini, its magnificent interiors matched by splendid views over the sea and the town; and continue to Noto area for dinner and a two-night stay at the charming 18th century country house, Villa Favorita. (B, D)  

Day 5 Today’s excursion takes us first to the Villa Romana del Tellaro, where fabulous Roman floor mosaics, of Homeric and hunting scenes, were found beneath a 17th century farmhouse. After a light lunch with wine at nearby Villa Giulia, continue to Sicily’s southernmost point, the pretty fishing village of Marzamemi, where we have the possibility to taste its tuna specialities. With Arabic roots, when it was romantically named Marsa’ al Hamen (‘harbour of little doves’), its broad piazza is hemmed with cafés, a cathedral and palazzo. Return to UNESCO listed Noto, its exuberantly ornate churches and palaces earning it the epithet “the stone garden”. A walking tour takes us through the Corso Vittorio Emanuele to the cathedral, and includes a visit to the Baroque Palazzo Nicolaci. Free time for dinner in town. (B, L)

Day 6 In southern Sicilian Baroque style, the elegant villas and churches of Ispica contrast with its rugged setting amid canyons and countryside. We visit the town and its Cava d’Ispica archaeological area, where ancient caves and catacombs were hewn into the rock. From here we begin to follow the footsteps (and film sets) of Inspector Montalbano, viewing his ‘Vigata’ office and ‘Montelusa’ police HQ – actually both in Scicli, in the town hall and mayor’s office, and his ‘Marinella’ home – filmed in coastal Punta Secca. Continue toward Ragusa for dinner and two nights at the 4-star Hotel Mediterraneo Palace located in the historic centre of Ragusa. (B, D)

Day 7 A private tour of Ragusa Ibla includes the gardens of Palazzo Arezzo Bertini, the imposing San Giorgio Cathedral, and the Circolo di Conversazione meeting place for Ibla’s aristocrats. After free time for lunch in the old town (perhaps finding Trattoria La Rusticana, the real name of Montalbano’s lunch spot, ‘Trattoria San Calogero’), we visit Donnafugata Castle, a place of many legends and the fictional, film-set home of Montalbano’s nemesis mafia boss Balduccio Sinagra. Free time for dinner in Ragusa before returning to the hotel. (B)

Day 8 Travel to Catania airport for your return flight to London. (B)

  • B - Breakfast
  • L - Lunch
  • D - Dinner

Notes

This is a full itinerary with many visits on foot including some uneven surfaces and inclines.
The itinerary at Aeolian Islands depends on weather conditions.

2023

Tuesdays
per person in a twin/double room
easyJet from Gatwick

Date Price
May 9 £1745
May 23 £1825
June 6 £1825
September 5 £1795
September 19 £1775
October 3 £1725

2024

Click here for 2024 departures

Supplements per person

Single Supplement

Single supplement £395 (Singles not available for 9 May)

Accommodation Upgrades

Les Sables Noir
Sea view Suite (2 nights) £275

Optional Excursions

Panarea & Stromboli Cruise £55

Extension Options

Extra nights- Catania
Hotel Principe (per night) £75
Single supplement £50
Arrival transfer £35

Tour Only

Save £220
Arrival transfer add £35
Departure transfer included with group

Price Includes
Air travel and taxes, transfers, 7 nights' accommodation, breakfast daily, 1 lunch and 3 dinners, entrance fees, itinerary as described, services of a guide and local representatives. If our specially negotiated airfares are unavailable at the time of booking, a supplement may apply.

Not Included
Travel insurance, tipping, any government or local tourist taxes or compulsory charges introduced after publication.

Notes
An accommodation tax is payable locally, currently between €1.50 and €3 per person per night.

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Secret Sicily

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