Explore the magic of Sicily with Green Italy Tours
10 days 9 nights (optional 2 nights extension)
Day 1 - Sep 16th: welcome to Palermo.
We will pick up you at the Palermo International airport and drive to Grand hotel Villa Igiea where you will spend the first three nights.
The capital of Sicily has been a crossroads for cultures and civilizations for the past 4 thousand years, Arabic, Jewish and Norman/Christian architecture is overwhelming… On the first day we will walk along Villa Bonanno to the Cathedral in Corso Vittorio Emanuele and continue along Vittorio Emanuele to the imposing Four Corners. Admire the Tuscan fountain in Piazza Pretoria and, just behind it, take in two splendid Arabic-Norman churches, many of which were originally Mosques or Synagogues. After visiting La Martorana and San Cataldo, we will drive to the Vucciria the Casbah style market that reminds us of Palermo’s Arabic past; after a short walk we will enjoy an amazing lunch at “Maestro del Brodo”. In the afternoon we will unwind in the chic pedestrian area of Via Principe di Belmonte. The tour ends in the splendid Norman royal palace of the Zisa, built in Norman Arab style, that still keeps a Hebrew inscription and a Jewish candle-holder. Dinner at Ristorante Sant’Andrea.
Day 2 – Sep 17th: Visit Palermo & Monreale
Today we will spend the morning gaping at the impressive mosaics in the Duomo of Monreale, which lies 15km (12 miles) south of Palermo. Make your way next door to visit the annexed Cloisters, where no two-column capitals are alike. Back to Palermo to visit the picturesque medieval quarter of La Kalsa and a Jewish memorial tombstone. We will end the day at the famous Piazza Marina where the imposing building of Palazzo Steri , once the seat of the Holy Inquisition, is still standing.
Enjoy a cocktail at our hotel and dinner at Bellotero http://www.bellotero.it/ in the fascinating old town.
Day 3 – Sep 18th: Visit Cefalu
Today we will visit Cefalù, Just one hour's drive of Palermo, we will discover the beauty of Cefalu’ with its winding Mediaeval streets flanked with all manner of shops, excellent restaurants serving the freshest of fish and last but probably first, its unique Norman cathedral.
After lunch we will drive back to Palermo where we will visit The Norman Palace, built by the Arabs in the year 900 AD and later enlarged by the Normans ( mosaics of the Palatine chapel). Dinner at “Trattoria ai Cascinari” or ….
Day 4 – Sep 19th: Travel from Palermo to Noto and we will stop at the “Valley of Temples” in Agrigento
Prepare to spend the day exploring two of the most impressive and powerful cities of Magna Graecia. When Pindar praisedAgrigentoas "the most beautiful of the mortal cities," he was not overstating his case. The splendidValley of the Temples, a Unesco World Heritage site, preserves the vestiges of what was once a main player in the Mediterranean and surpasses Greece's Athens itself for the quantity and quality of ruins. The near-intactTemple of Concordis the best-preserved temple in the world and one of the symbols of Sicily. after lunch travel to NOTO, where we will spend 2 nights at hotel Villa Dorata.
Day 5th – Sep 20th: Visit Noto and surroundings
Noto and Ragusa are wonderful jewels of Sicilian baroque architecture, rebuilt after the earthquake of 1693. Giuseppe Lanza, Duke of Camastra, employed the best architects of the day. The result, initiated just a week after the earthquake struck, is a late Baroque fantasy played out in fragile, honey-coloured stone.
Burnished a dusty gold in the fading light and flanked by huge palm trees, this initial introduction to Noto is a surprise, more north African than Mediterranean and yet somehow so Sicilian, enigmatic and unruly.
Noto's cathedral rises impressively above Corso Vittorio Emmanuele and is approached by a wide and graceful flight of steps. The dome collapsed in 1996, but is now back in place, and the whole building has been restored after years of grime and neglect.
Noto, a Unesco World Heritage site, is easy to visit. Simply wander the length of the Corso, as long and graceful as an arrow, diving down side streets here and there, and not missing Via Nicolaci, at the top of which is the beautiful elliptical façade of the Chiesa di Montevirgine. Along one side of Via Nicolaci stands the Palazzo Villadorata, with many playfully buttressed balconies and sculptures of horses, griffons, nymphs and cherubs; its poignant Empire-style interior, with frescoed walls and ceilings, has been miraculously preserved.
At the bottom of the street stands the church of San Carlo, whose bell tower offers fine views. Opposite the cathedral, the town hall has an exuberant trompe l'oeil ceiling in its "Hall of Mirrors". After such a memorable walk, we will leave time for gelato at Caffè Sicilia, opened in 1892, fourth-generation owner Corrado Assenza creates radical cakes such as saffron with sour orange rind and ices flavoured with black olive or basil.
Dinner at “Le Ularie” Located in Noto’s historical district, Le Ularie restaurant specializes in fresh, simply prepared seafood. The dining room is designed in a minimalist style while the outdoor patio provides additional seating against a backdrop of Sicilian Baroque buildings. Menu options include the signature seafood sampler, which comes with smoked tuna, marinated swordfish, fried mullet, and octopus salad, followed by entrées like spaghetti with fresh lemon and bottarga (dried mullet roe).
Day 6 Visit Ragusa Sept 21st
Visit Ragusa, a prestigious winery and lunch at Duomo. This well-known restaurant, ranked two stars by Michelin, is tucked along a winding street in the old section of Ragusa, known as Ragusa Ibla. Small and formal, there is framed artwork along the walls and silk-covered tables set against long, champagne-colored drapes. The menu is chef-owner Ciccio Sultano's stylized take on Sicilian dishes, like pasta with sardines and pork sauce, caviar with ricotta and strawberry honey, or truffle gelato sandwiched between crostini. In the afternoon back to Noto.
Day 7– Sept 22nd: Travel to Siracusa
We will travel from Noto to the small town of Agira where we will visit the Synagogue site and the magnificent stone portal of the Aron Kodesh made of the local stone stored in the local church. The Aron belongs to the local ex-synagogue that existed before the expulsion of the Jews from Sicily in 1510. The portal, unique example of Jewish architecture, will give us an insight into the life of a small Jewish community in the heart of mediaeval Sicily.
In Siracusa where we will spend 2 nights, we will enjoy the magical atmosphere of the old city, with sea all around it, concentrated in few streets and squares, with walls, forts and Greek temples mixed with the recent buildings, and the delightful street market. The large Greek theater, the “ear of Dyonisos”, an ancient quarry-prison, the fine archeological Museum, are the best stops for the history lovers.
We have 2 option in Siracusa for accomodation: Ortiga Algilà - www.algila.it or Donna Coraly www.donnacoraly.it
Day 8 – Sep 23th: Travel to Taormina
After breakfast we will visit the Miqwè- Jewish ritual bath, the most archaic that has ever been found in all Europe, and then travel to Taormina(1 hours 30 min). After checking in at our charming hotel with amazing sea views, we will explore Taormina’s town center. with its little charming streets which have attracted visitors for centuries.
Option for accomodations:
- Belmond Villa sant'Andrea: www.belmond.com/villa-sant-andrea-taormina-mare/
- Hotel el Jebel: www.hoteleljebel.com/
- Belmond grand hotel el Timeo: www.belmond.com/it/grand-hotel-timeo-taormina/
- Hotel Ash Bee: www.theashbeehotel.it/
Day 9 – Sep 24th: Relax in Taormina
Enjoy Taormina’s town center, with its little charming streets which have attracted visitors for centuries, and take a fresh gelato while sitting by the main street, Corso Umberto I, walk along venerable palazzi or shop for shoes, fashion, jewels, picture and memorabilia of any kind.
Day 10 – Sep 25th: Greek Amphitheatre and departure
After breakfast we will visit the Greek theatre of Taormina and then we will drive you to Catania international airport for your return flight.
Day 11- September 26th: optional extension Mount Etna
drive up to the slopes of Mt. Etna. Weather and volcanic conditions permitting, we will experience the lava fields and incredible views of Europe's highest and most active volcano. On our way down we will stop in one of the winery farmhouse located on the lower slope of the Volcano for a wine tasting and a light meal based on local products.
Day 12 - September 27th: optinal extension – Sept 26th: Catania
Today we will drive to the city of Catania for a short guided visit that include the famous Duomo dedicated to Saint Agata and the Orsino Castle.