A heady blend of ancient sites, stunning scenery, charming towns and glorious churches, this is our ‘grand tour’ of Sicily, its highlights varying from Aeolian Isles to UNESCO sites, Mount Etna to Marsala wine, and the Scicli film locations of Inspector Montalbano
Palermo - 2 nights
Marsala - 2 nights
Agrigento - 1 night
Noto - 3 nights
Castelmola - 2 nights
Vulcano Island - 2 nights
Palermo - 2 nights
Our ‘Secret Sicily’ and ‘Treasures of Sicily’ tours have always been very popular. Now, following requests from Jules Verne travellers to combine the two, we are delighted to have tailor-made our own ‘grand tour’, a full fortnight of sumptuous Sicilian discovery. Circling coastal highlights, crossing to inland ‘unmissables’, and sailing to offshore islands, the route includes the features of both the shorter tours, and adds a medieval mountain village, Phoenician relics on a tiny islet, and the Savoca setting of The Godfather film.
It visits every one of the island’s UNESCO World Heritage sites, from the ancient Greek ruins of Agrigento to the exquisite Roman mosaics of Vila del Casale, from the slopes of iconic Mount Etna to the volcanic landscapes of the Aeolian Islands, from the Baroque beauty of Noto to the castle and theatres of Syracuse, the rock tombs of Pantalica, and the grandiose Gothic cathedrals and gilded Byzantine churches and chapels of Palermo, Cefalu and Monreale. Enroute are villas and palazzos, white-washed villages and wind-whipped cliffs, spectacular views and atmospheric alleys in photogenic Taormina, and time to taste Erice’s traditional almond pastries and Marsala’s eponymous wine.
Cultural & Natural Wonders
Jules Verne Sightseeing
9 UNESCO Heritage Sites
Local Guide Throughout
Day 1 Fly to Palermo, transfer to your centrally located hotel and enjoy a Welcome drink. Two nights at the 4-star Hotel Plaza Opera.
Day 2 A city tour in Palermo includes the awe-inspiring Norman Byzantine churches, from the crypt and the carved stone columns of the mighty Cathedral, to the triple-domed church of San Cataldo, biblical old-gold mosaics in La Martorana church and the Palatine chapel of the Norman Palace, where barely an inch of wall or ceiling is left unadorned. Continue to the Cathedral of Monreale with its 6,000sqm of Byzantine mosaics. (B)
Day 3 Travel west to Trapani province to visit the Greek temple in Segesta and ancient theatre set high on Monte Barbaro; and onward to the mountain-top medieval village of Erice, to enjoy terrific coastal views and taste the speciality almond pastries, traditionally made in the town’s many convents. Continue to Marsala for two nights at the 4-star Hotel Stella d’Italia. (B)
Day 4 A major wine-producer, Marsala gave its name to its renowned dessert wine, so wine-tasting in a local winery is a ’must do’. The town was founded by the Phoenicians and (Englishman) Joseph Whitaker discovered and excavated a settlement from that era on the lagoon island of Mozia, to which we sail today. (B)
Day 5 The first of today’s visits is to Selinunte, the westernmost of Greek colonies, its several temples, city walls and acropolis ruins set on a seafront cliff. Continue to Agrigento’s Valley of Temples, Concordia the best preserved of the seven striking Doric temples crowning a rocky ridge. Overnight in Agrigento at the 4-star Hotel Colleverde Park. (B)
Day 6 Journey into Sicily’s central mountains to visit the 3rd/4th century AD Villa del Casale at Piazza Armerina, with the world’s richest collection of Roman mosaics, illustrating mundane and mythological life. Continue to Ragusa, visiting its Baroque cathedral and enjoying an ‘insider’ glance at the aristocratic Ibla area; and then to Noto for three nights at the historic ‘Villa Favorita’ country house, still owned by the original noble family. (B, D)
Day 7 Follow the footsteps (and film sets) of Inspector Montalbano, from the mayor’s office in Scicli to Montalbano’s home in Punta Secca. Return to Noto, its ornate churches and palaces earning it the epithet “the stone garden”, for a walking tour through the Corso Vittorio Emanuele to the cathedral. (B)
Day 8 A full day excursion begins in Syracuse, once ranked amongst Greek cities as second only to Athens, its archaeological area including a Roman amphitheatre and Greek theatre. Continue onto the Ortigia peninsula for Arethusa’s Fountain, and a Baroque cathedral on the site of the Temple of Minerva, with ancient temple columns re-utilised in its walls. (B)
Day 9 Travel to Catania, where a walking tour of the city takes in the cathedral and baroque façades of the Via Crociferi; continue to Acireale to visit Palazzo Fiorini; and visit Sicily’s most famous landmark, and Europe’s highest and most active volcano, Mount Etna, climbing the 1,900m to the Rifugio Sapienza by bus (or, at an extra charge, reaching 2,920m by cable-car or 4-wheel drive). Drive to Castelmola, above Taormina, with fine views of Etna and the coast, for two nights at the historic Hotel Villa Sonia. (B)
Day 10 Visit the small town of Savoca this morning, the setting for Francis Ford Coppola’s film The Godfather, and perhaps call at the ‘Café Vitelli’ haunt of Corleone. The afternoon in Taormina lets you stroll its medieval lanes, people-watch from a pavement café, and soak-up the spectacular views from its Greco-Roman theatre. (B)
Day 11 Travel to Milazzo and sail to the Aeolian Islands, visiting Lipari to see is Citadel, and circling around the island to neighbouring Vulcano. Set on the shore with superb views of all the islands, stay for two nights at the 4-star Hotel Les Sables Noirs. (B, D)
Day 12 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, with free time here till your sunset sail past Strombolicchio lava-flow reef (£55, pre-bookable). (B)
Day 13 Take the ferry back to Milazzo and continue to Cefalú whose Norman cathedral and cloisters dominate the medieval town, while contemporary Cefalú hems the beaches. Free time to relax or explore before returning to Palermo for two nights at the central 4-star Hotel Plaza Opera. (B)
Day 14 Discover the less-visited Baroque part of Palermo, with a Palazzo visit and time at the Teatro Massimo and the Villa Malfitano residence of the (archeologist) Whitaker family. (B)
Day 15 Transfer to airport for return flight. (B)
This is a busy and full itinerary and entails morning departures and late evening arrivals at hotels. Sightseeing involves many visits on foot and uneven surfaces.
Due to traffic controlled areas in Sicily, bus/coach may not be able to drop off or pick up as close to site entrances or hotels (in this case you may need to take your luggage up to the hotel)
Itinerary at Aeolian Island depends on weather conditions.
A 4-star hotel in the heart of Palermo, a few steps away from the historic city centre. Lounge bar, WiFi (free) and 47 air-conditioned rooms with hairdryer, safe and satellite TV. An accommodation tax is payable locally, currently per person per night: €2.
A 4-star hotel located in the historic centre of Marsala facing the cathedral and Palazzo VII Aprile. Breakfast room, bar (serving snacks) and WiFi (free). 35 air-conditioned rooms with safe, mini-bar and TV.
A classic-style 4-star hotel, surrounded by a lush park, overlooking the Valley of the Temples and the sea and a 10-minute drive to the city centre. Restaurant, bar, WiFi (free) and 48 air-conditioned rooms with hairdryer, safe, mini-bar and satellite TV. An accommodation tax is payable locally.
A charming 18th-century country house near Noto. Restaurant, outdoor pool, terrace, gardens and WiFi (free). 30 air-conditioned rooms with hairdryer, safe, mini-fridge and satellite TV. An accommodation tax is payable locally, currently €1.50 per person per night.
A historic hotel in Castelmola, near Taormina. Restaurants, bar, pool and WiFi (free). 44 air-conditioned rooms with hairdryer, safe, mini-bar and satellite TV. An accommodation tax is payable locally.
A 4-star boutique hotel recently renovated and located on the Aeolian Island of Vulcano. Private beach, restaurant, pool, spa, lounge bar overlooking the sea and WiFi (free). 53 air-conditioned rooms all equipped with kitchenette and terrace and with hairdryer, safe, fridge and satellite TV.
per person in a twin/double room
easyJet from Gatwick
Supplements per person
Single supplement £575
Les Sables Noir
Sea View Suite (2 nights) £275
easyJet from Luton - On request
Cruise to Panarea and Stromboli £55
Extra nights Palermo
Hotel Plaza Opera (per night) £95
Single supplement £45
Arrival or departure transfer £35
Arrival or departure transfer add £60
Air travel and taxes, entrance fees, transfers, 14 nights’ accommodation, breakfast daily, 2 dinners, itinerary as described, services of local guides and representatives. If our specially negotiated airfares are unavailable at the time of booking, a supplement may apply.
Travel insurance, visa procurement, optional excursions, tipping, porterage, any government taxes or compulsory charges introduced after publication.
An accommodation tax is payable locally, currently between €1.50 and €3 per person per night.
Please complete this form and a member of our sales department will contact you as soon as possible to confirm your booking and take payment. Our opening hours are Monday to Friday 9am to 5.30pm and Saturdays 10am to 2pm