I joined Amber Road’s Sicily tour in September. It was my third tour with Amber and it was marvellous. As we made our way around the island the wonderful legacy of Sicily unfolded before us – an incredible history of many cultures which are threaded through everything we saw and the delicious food we ate. One of the great positives of our tour was Aldo our guide – warm, funny and informative . His passionate love of Sicily was compelling. Last but not least was the vibrant mix of Australian, American, New Zealand and English fellow travellers. This tour is a must !
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This was a truly wonderful trip. Aldo, our guide, was a gem. He was a bundle of fun while also being extremely well-informed. His wonderful sense of humour made every minute a joy and brought all of the travellers together in easy camaraderie. The trip was very well designed and each new place we visited brought new wonders and delights; so many that I can’t single any as a favourite. The accommodation was excellent and the food delicious. Sicily has so many treasures (not the least being Aldo) that I would recommend anyone undertake this trip. At the end of the tour, I felt I could’ve turned around and done it all again. Bravo Amber Road!
Well-chosen itinerary for the best of Sicily. Tour guide was fantastic and the group enjoyed one another’s company. The visit to the museum at Marzara del Vallo was terrific, as was the Villa Romana del Casale.
I would like to start by saying this was my first tour ever. I’ve been traveling for decades, on my own, and always grimmest at the tour groups I ran across. We’ve all seen them: a large, haggard group of people following the person with the red flag and looking like they don’t even know what country they’re in, much less what city. From the looks of them the Bataan death march would have been more fun. But having said that, our friends warned us about driving in Sicily so I knew we couldn’t do this on our own. I’m glad we took our friends advice, but even gladder that I found Amber Road Tours.
I think the factors that make A.R.T. a great experience is that they keep their groups small (ours was 19), they attract people who have traveled extensively and are open to new adventures (no whiners here), they have managed to find absolutely outstanding tour guides to conduct their trips, and last but certainly not least, no expense is spared in hotel accommodations or restaurant experiences.
And finally, what can I say about Mariaelena, our tour guide, that hasn’t already been said??? I dare you not to fall in love with her. Mariaelena looked after every need we had and still managed to spent individual time with each person on the tour. If you didn’t feel like hiking up the path to the church outside of Palmero she announced she would arrange for a taxi, or if you didn’t feel like walking to or from a restaurant in the evening, a taxi was provided. Truly, no expense was spared to make you feel as comfortable as possible.
We booked the tour with some trepidation because nobody we knew in Australia had previously travelled with Amber Road. From the first day our uncertainty vanished as we knew we were in the hands of a very professional company and tour director, Aldo. Our tour far exceeded our expectations. From the cultural and particularly the historical perspective, brought to life by highly competent and enthusiastic local guides our small group interacted enthusiastically because of their many shared interests. It is impossible to choose one location as a trip highlight as there was a constant stream of varied experiences and Aldo always seemed to produce some extra surprise. His enthusiasm, sense of humour and love of Sicily gave us an insight we could not otherwise have attained. The locations of the accommodation were well selected to allow maximum use of our spare time and the general standard of the hotels was good. The shared restaurant meals maximised our local regional cuisine experiences and Aldo always gave appropriate suggestions for independent dining. Not all travel companies place adequate emphasis on the importance of enjoying local cuisine; Amber Road fulfilled this aspect of the tour to our great delight. We will certainly consider travelling with Amber Road again.
This was our third Amber Roads Tour and as on previous tours we had a truly memorable holiday. Aldo Valero was a wonderful tour director, charming knowledgeable and very amusing. Mention must also be made of Marco our very competent driver. An absolute gentleman. Our local guides were also all special.
We loved the food and our hotels were great. We had a lovely group of people which we always find to be the case on Amber Road Tours and it was also great to have Liz from the Charleston office with us. It was also wonderful to meet again with Emily and Anthony who we knew from a previous Amber Road Tour. We hope to catch up with them again on future Amber Road Tours. We came away with an insight into Sicilian life and its amazing history that we would never have experienced had we done the trip on our own.
This was my first experience with Amber Road Tours and it was memorable trip and superb in the ways Sally, Emily and Anthony describe. Sicily’s sights and tastes are extraordinary, its cultural history and spectacular ancient ruins and monuments are really quite different from the rest of Italy. Aldo made it all come alive with his boundless energy, humor and (as Sally indicated) he made sure that every one of us was happy and comfortable. In addition to regaling us with historical descriptions, tales and cultural anecdotes, Aldo provided intelligent insight into Sicily’s current economic and social stresses. Our multi-national group of travelers were friendly and readily intermingled. Free time allowed for a variety of ad hoc explorations according to one’s choice, such as: in Palermo, a performance at the beautiful 19th century Massimo theater; in Siracusa, a visit to the fascinating archeological museum; a walking tour of the remnants of the Jewish section of Siracusa dating back to the 13th century; in Taormina, a visit to a Saracen castle above the city with lunch at a taverna overlooking Mt. Etna.
We have just returned from our wonderful Amber Roads Tour of Sicily, and are still basking in the glow! Sicily is truly fascinating, and Amber Roads does a terrific job of showing its many sides – we loved the ruins of Agrigento, Segesta and the Island of Motya, the stunning mosaics in the Cathedral of Monreale, and the charming towns of Ragusa and Siracusa, not to mention the incredible beauty of Taormina. This is our second Amber Roads tour, and we really appreciate how it achieves such a great balance – you see the sights with very informed local guides, while also discovering many hidden gems, and having time on your own to relax or explore. The trip was seamlessly managed by our wonderful guide Aldo, who is gracious, funny, knowledgeable and full of energy and love for Sicily. Together with wonderful fellow participants, he really made the tour memorable. With a small group, we never felt like we were in a herd of tourists, and we were able to wander and get to know this beautiful place. We feel like we really got to know Sicily, and want to go back for more. But first we plan to do another Amber Roads tour! Thank you for a terrific experience.
Amber Road Tours certainly exceeded my expectations on many levels. The sites were unbelievable and so very diverse reflecting so many past civilizations. The pace was perfect for me — we stayed on the move, yet had some down time as well. The hotels were quite charming and definitely roomy for European standards. The food and wine were excellent. And the people were all very friendly, well-traveled, diverse and fascinating. Our local guides were very professional and extremely knowledgeable. The whole trip went along without a glitch, which I attribute to our Tour Director, Aldo, who is also very talented and one of the funniest guys I’ve met. His energy level was amazing and contagious; and he made sure every one of us was taken care of. I would recommend this tour to any of my friends/relatives and especially to those who have an appreciation for history, culture and beauty. And I will definitely be taking another Amber Roads tour in the not too distant future.
Ditto to everything our fellow tour member Sally Marr wrote. Aldo made this tour terrific, Ole! Sicily is endlessly fascinating.
As I am about to leave for home after 8 weeks in this beautiful part of the world, I look back on the days spent touring Sicily with this Amber Road tour as the highlight of my time here. Sicily is a fascinating and beautiful country with great diversity and this tour shows it off perfectly. The tour, my third with Amber Road, more than lived up to my expectations with its mix of good company, knowledgeable and engaging guides as well as an enthusiastic and fun loving tour leader. Aldo, with his marvellous sense of humour, managed effortlessly to impart so much information about the culture, history, language and social aspects of life in Sicily while keeping everything on track for the 12 days. The itinerary has been well thought out with the right amount of activity each day as well as down time to explore on your own. The hotels and included meals were all top class. A comfortable coach with the professional and friendly driver Fabio, topped off this tour. Thanks so much to all involved in this tour of an truly amazing country.
Aldo shared his love of isola di Sicilia by immersing us daily in the culture, history and fantastic gastronomic foods and wines. This was my second Amber tour which exceeded any and all expectations! Italy is Italy but Sicily is Sicily is Sicily a very distinct difference from Italy which I can only now appreciate and understand after our SUPERB TOUR. Hats off to Aldo for a crazy fun filled tour. Special thanks to Liz and Jonathan for all the attention to details, no situation or problem impossible from start to finish!!!
What can we say!!! Our fellow travelers have probably summed it all up (What a great group…it was lots of laughs mostly started by Aldo). This was our second Amber Road tour & didn’t disappoint it lived up to its high standard (well done Jonathan) & hopefully it won’t be our last. After travelling thru Italy, Amalfi Coast/Apulia 2 yrs ago Sicily was on our bucket list to complete our love of that country. If you want history Sicily is the place to go…. To add to the experience you have to have a guide by the name of Aldo (“IN THE LOBBY”) he made the whole time effortless looking after 20 people is no mean feat…. his knowledge of his country is boundless. If anyone wants to travel on a small group and be waited on…..well Amber Road is the tour to take.
After looking forward to this tour for many months, we are happy to say that it surpassed our high expectations. Sicily itself is beautiful and fascinating, and our experience of it was enhanced by knowledgable and engaging local guides, our expert driver, Fabio, and–most of all–our tour director, Aldo. His boundless energy, enthusiasm, and good humor were complemented by meticulous planning and organization that made our journey effortless. The hotels, food, wine, and activities offered us a wonderful taste of the variety of riches that Sicily offers. Bravo, Aldo and Amber Road, and grazie mille!
Although we have traveled quite a bit throughout Italy, this tour of Sicily with Amber Roads was our first organized tour. We were slightly apprehensive given the many too-good-to-be-true reviews. We needn’t have worried for our expectations were exceeded and we, too, are pleased to join the chorus of positive reviewers.
Amber Roads is very well organized. We were provided detailed, clear instructions at every step along the way. The accommodations were quite nice, and the bathrooms in every hotel had been renovated. The included meals and wine selections were outstanding. The transportation was by luxury coach at the hands of our very skilled driver, Fabio. The selection of sites we visited was varied and exceptional, giving us the true flavor and historical perspective of Sicily. As well, the pace of the tour was well thought out, with several events every day but enough down time in each location to explore on our own. The local guides were all quite professional, proficient and personable. Last but certainly not least, if you are fortunate enough to have Aldo as your tour director, you are in for a special treat. Aldo personifies joie de vivre. He has a vibrant personality, is very knowledgeable and has a unique talent for making everyone feel special while at the same time keeping things on track. He always told us what to expect in advance, and each day’s timetable. We can honestly say there were no glitches at all during our 12-day tour. We highly recommend the Amber Road’s Sicily tour.
We had emailed Aldo after the tour to thank him for being a wonderful, efficient, and caring tour guide to us during the tour itself, and then again on our trip to our ancestral town of Sant’Alfio. He works tirelessly in accommodating requests, and keeping all schedules running on time. His humorous personality, and love of Sicily shines through at all times. He is a gem. How fortunate we were to find the church where my grandfather prayed, and also the church where he was married. Also the cemetery where my ancestors are buried. So very special. We will never forget that day.
Also wanted to let you know that we found the island of Sicily to be so interesting and more amazing than we ever expected. All of the diverse civilizations such as the Greeks, Normans, Arabs, Romans, Corinthians, Carthaginians, that built and rebuilt the island over the past centuries left their marks with so much old world beauty to the island. The artwork, history, archeological sites, amphitheaters, temples, mosques, churches, castles, are not to be topped anywhere else. All of the city guides were exceptional in conveying this diverse history of all of the sites on our itinerary. The farm land between the cities can be described as a beautiful patchwork quilt of crops of vegetables, fruit trees, and vineyards with mountains and Mt. Etna as a background. We will never forget coming upon the site of the old world town of Ragusa from the bus. The homes layered and staggered one on top of another, built into the mountain, was such a magnificent site. Pairing our lunch and dinner menus to the specialty foods and wines of the regions we were touring made for some interesting tasting choices. All menus, foods and wines were delicious. We are currently on diets. Who ever thought that the beautiful Gambino Vineyard could be cultivated at the base of Mt. Etna? Such fertile grounds made way for the delicious wines we had at the fantastic wine tasting. And finally, we found the Sicilian people all over the island to be warm, kind, caring and helpful. They were so glad to have us as tourists to their beautiful island. This has been a trip we will never forget!! Thanks again, Amber Road Tours!
From the moment Aldo greeted us in the lobby of the Central Palace Hotel, we knew we were in good hands. Besides keeping us on schedule with departure times and meeting places, Aldo would explain Sicily’s politics, economics, and food, and entertain us with lessons in Italian both with and without words. The restaurants and sights he recommended for our free time (especially Castel Mola) always turned out to be excellent choices. Turning the page to the itinerary, this tour appealed to us because it would take us all around the island, and it amply fulfilled those expectations. Day after day, we marveled at the increasing variety of landscapes, architectural styles, and archaeological excavations. Local guides described the history and culture during walking tours at each stop. The food – bread, fish, pasta – and the wine were simply extraordinary everywhere we went. As Also promised, we enjoyed a terrific Sicilian experience!
Overall excellent experience. Well organized with varied, diverse and interesting itinerary. Having participants from other countries was definitely a highlight. Local guides were all well informed and helpful with suggestions. Guided visit by baron in Ragusa and puppet theatre were well appreciated stops. Good balance between organized activities and free time. Saverio was an excellent guide and driver Marcello was a true professional.
Super Tour of Sicily. Our tour manager Saverio was great. We really enjoyed his sense of humour. Hotels were good. We enjoyed our tour.
Do you remember the first time you fell in love? Does it make you smile and perhaps your heart skips a beat? And when you finally must part, do you start planning and counting the days until you are reunited once again? That’s how I feel about Italy. This is our fifth visit to Italy and the Sicily tour is our third with Amber Road. We recently returned from our trip and are still reliving our experiences! Sicily is a blend of many cultures – Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Normans and Spanish – and we discovered magnificent temples, ancient amphitheaters, breathtaking cathedrals, intricate mosaics, baroque palaces and went back in time in medieval towns. We also enjoyed stunning landscapes, Mt. Etna, colorful markets, salt pans, a puppet theater, wine tastings and fabulous food. I now have an unhealthy obsession with cannoli, arancini, cassata, fried ricotta with honey, marzipan, gelato, Marsala wine, sugared almonds – need I say more? And I have the pounds to prove it! The hotels were all centrally located and Hotel Belvedere in Taormina was my favorite, a charming and elegant villa with spectacular views of the Bay of Naxos and Mt. Etna. We had a great group of travel companions and a good balance of tour activities and free time on our own. Since Julian and I were in Palermo a couple of days before the tour, we took the hour-long train trip from Palermo to Cefalu, a picturesque seaside town with a lovely Norman Duomo which has beautiful mosaics. We also had a guided tour of Palermo’s opera house built in the 1890’s, Teatro Massimo, and it was very interesting. Our tour director Saverio Renda was excellent. In a most engaging and entertaining manner he provided the group with historical facts, as well as anecdotes of his family and contemporary life in Sicily. Marcello was a courteous and amazing driver and our local guides were very good. Mille grazie for a truly memorable trip. We highly recommend it. I am ready for our next adventure. As Saverio would say: “Andiamo”!
Our tour of Sicily in the spring of 2016 was an outstanding experience. Mariaelena, our tour manager, was an outstanding asset to our experience. Her thoughtful, efficient and timely attention to the needs of the participants was amazing. Her dialogue regarding the culture, history and people of Sicily added so much to our tour. I would totally recommend Amber Road Tours to anyone.
A first-rate itinerary which exposed us to a great variety of the wonders and contrasts of the island; excellent hotels; very good food and wine; a superb tour leader in the ever-patient, efficient and charming Mariaelena; and a highly capable and courteous driver in Francesco. A superb introduction to and overview of Sicily.
Sicily was my first Amber Road tour and it will definitely not be my last. I can’t begin to tell you how impressed I am.!!!!!! How do I begin, first of all, Mariaelena, our guide was the most perfect tour guide ever. Her knowledge of Sicily and its people and her love of them emanated through all she did. Her personality is sparkling, caring, mellow, empathetic, attentive…. I have never had a better suited tour guide and I have traveled a LOT . She catered to everyone’s special needs if called for and worked with all their personalities.
Amber Road’s selection of hotels was excellent. Even no porter and no hot water at the first hotel was ok because the hotel with its facilities and location was great. All of the hotels were in great locations so that we could freely walk the town independently. I loved the uniqueness of each town as shown in it its architecture, its cuisine andrhistory . Amber Road stayed true to the “cultural” experienced advertised.
Our group was very cohesive and for the most part blended well together We all got along well and made friendships that hopefully will extend beyond the trip. Your choice of restaurants for lunch and dinner was exemplary. I have NEVER had such exquisite food with such large quantities of both wine and food in all my travels including cruises. It would be hard to choose a favorite. Quality in all aspects is certainly your trademark. Kudos to the company.
Amber Road gives great value, both for the places we stayed and the group meals. Mariaelena [tour manager] was great. We would certainly give your tour an A+.
I can’t say enough good things about my experience with my adventure to Sicily with Amber Road Tours. I wasn’t sure what to expect and was overwhelmed with the beauty of the country and its citizens! A total new world of its own. The hotels were extremely comfortable. And the food!! We were treated to the most wonderful experiences with deliciousness! Ate ourselves to oblivion! The tour guides were very knowledgeable and showed how proud they were of their heritage and country. Lastly, our tour guide, Mariaelena is a most beautiful person. Her consideration to everyone’s needs, her smile, and her stories made the experience so much more enjoyable. I hope our paths cross again soon! I have told every traveling friend that they should consider Amber Tours – the best!!