Sicily, the crossroads of the Mediterranean, is a mosaic of cultures east and west.
The Phoenicians were the first to colonize Sicily – we’ll see what remains of their culture on the west coast at Mozia. The Greeks, who followed the Phoenicians and eventually displaced them, left us the marvelous Valley of Temples in Agrigento. Romans, puzzlingly, built the massiveVilla del Casale in the sparsely inhabited middle of the island at Piazza Armerina. We’ll discover Norman kings and Arab/Byzantine influence at the Cappella Palatina in Palermo and the cathedral and cloister at Monreale.
Along the way we’ll visit a salt museum atMarsala and view an historic puppet show performance at ancient Siracusa. A cable car ride will take us up Sicily’s magnificent Mt Etna. We’ll tour an aristocratic palace at Ragusa and meet the baron. We’ll stay 3 nights in sparkling Taormina and enjoy an Italian opera concert. Above all you’ll meet many wonderful Sicilians and experience exquisite southern cuisine.
There are many ways to enjoy a Sicily small group tour but don’t miss these oft-neglected highlights: Marsala on the island’s west coast and evenings in Ragusa.
Arrival at Palermo International airport from where you will be transferred to the Centrale Palace Hotel located in the heart of Palermo’s historic district. Your tour manager will await you at 6:30pm at the hotel bar for the welcome meeting and aperitifs.
Sicilian cuisine, due to its unique history and mix of peoples, is distinctly different from that of any other Italian region. This evening we’ll begin your introduction with an included dinner of typical food and wines at a rooftop ristorante.
The history of Sicily is woven from a rich 3,000 year old fabric populated by Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, Germans, French, Spanish and Italians. Palermo, the capital of the island, has one of the largest historic centers in Europe with over 500 palaces, churches, monasteries, theaters and gardens – truly an architectural feast. Today our local guide will introduce us to this marvelous city with an Arab – Norman tour that includes visits to the 9th century Palazzo Reale, with its splendid Palatine Chapel; and the Mercato Ballarò, the most popular outdoor food market in town with every kind of regional delicacy.
Included lunch at the best typical tavern in Palermo.
An afternoon trip up into the hills to Monreale, a lovely, small city best known for its splendid 12th century cathedral with a blend of Arab-Byzantine-Norman artistic styles and one of the world’s largest and most beautiful displays of mosaic artwork.
Evening on your own in Palermo.
Morning guided tour of the fabulous Greek temple at Segesta. Then, a visit to the ancient hilltop town of Erice, once home to a people known as the Elimi, conquered in turn by Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans and then some. Today, it has a charming medieval appearance with cobblestone streets and spectacular castles – perhaps the loveliest village in all Sicily.
After lunch we’ll descend to sea level via cable car to the west coast town of Trapani and proceed to Marsala where we’ll be staying for two nights at the Hotel Stella d’Italia or the Hotel Carmine.
In 397 B.C. the Phoenician island colony of Mozia was destroyed by the tyrant Dionysius I of Syracuse. Fleeing refugees created a new city they called Lylibeo the city that faces Lybia. Conquered by Romans during the first Punic war, it reached its greatest splendor under Saracen rule (8th–11th centuries) under the name Marsà Allah port of Allah. On May 11, 1860 Giuseppe Garibaldi landed his 1000 troops at Marsala, the beginning of the unification of Italy (grazie mille!). Marsala is famous for its salt pans and the production of Marsala wine. Today it is a port city with a delightful medieval town center.
A visit to the excellent Museo Archeologico Baglio Anselmi, where we’ll find a reconstructed Punic warship whose hull dates back to the Roman victory over the Carthaginians in 241 B.C.
Our guided tour will continue into the historic district of Marsala after which you’ll have time on your own to visit the Museo degli Arazzi, a wonderful collection of Flemish tapestries from 1500 depicting scenes of the first Jewish-Roman War (66-70 A.D.).
A short drive and ferry ride will take us to Isola San Pantaleo for a fascinating archeological tour. The ancient name of this city/island was Motya, a powerful military and trading center founded by Phoenicians that thrived from the 8th to the 5th centuries BC.
Visit to a salt works and the Museo del Sale followed by a tasting of wines, olive oil and local products at an historic winery.
Evening free in Marsala.
Some say that in Sicily you find better preserved Greek temples than exist in Greece itself. This morning you’ll see for yourself when we visit the Valley of Temples in Agrigento. Originally called Akragas, it was founded as a Greek colony in the late 6th century BC. Our local guide will take us through this amazing archaeological park and recount the story of the rise and fall of one of Sicily’s most important ancient cities
Included dinner of local flavors at a nearby restaurant, located in a 17th century palace.
One of the most charming and picturesque hill towns in Sicily, Ragusa is divided into two parts – the ancient Ragusa Ibla with its labyrinth of crooked lanes, tiny squares and noble palazzos – and the slightly less old Ragusa Superiore.
Mid morning tour with local guide followed by a tasting of local products.
Afternoon visits to the gardens of Palazzo Bertini, the Teatro Donnafugata and to the Palazzo Arezzo di Trifiletti, a stunning aristocratic palace inhabited by the same family for over 200 years.
Morning guided tour of Noto, the magical Baroque city par excellence with its sandstone architecture, wide avenues and beautiful squares.
Transfer to Syracuse, the once thriving metropolis of ancient Magna Graecia. You’ll be staying at the 19th century Antico Hotel Roma 1880 in the heart of Ortygia Island (two nights).
This afternoon you can take the lovely island perimeter walk, see the Greek Temple of Apollo, visit the 13th century Norman Castle, or simply wander winding streets and alleys.
Morning guided walking tour through the Neapolis Archaeological Zone for a visit to the impressive 16,000 seat Greek Theater, the Ear of Dionysius (a huge cavern) and the 3rd century AD Roman amphitheater.
Afterwards we’ll explore the historic center of Syracuse, with its baroque palaces, narrow lanes, Greek ruins and the magnificent Piazza Duomo with the columns of the 5th century BC Temple of Athena still to be seen inside its cathedral.
Late afternoon visit to the Teatro dei Pupi for a very entertaining experience of the traditional Sicilian art of puppet theater. Included in the UNESCO list as a masterpiece of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity.
Evening on your own in Syracuse
Today we provide you with an adventure. Mount Etna, the biggest and most active of Europe’s volcanoes, rises majestically 11,000 feet above sea level, occasionally spewing forth flame, smoke and lava – the last serious eruption being in 2003.
Our coach will take us up the side to the Sapienza Refuge, at a level of 6,266 ft, continuing by funivia (gondola) up to 8,200 feet where you’ll witness a vast lunar landscape with open volcanic cones. You can walk at leisure or take your adventure further with the option to proceed higher up on your own by funivia and then jeep.
Mid afternoon arrival to the famous hilltop town of Taormina, where we’ll be staying at the Hotel Villa Belvedere (three nights), a 19th century former noble residence overlooking terraced gardens of orange and lemon trees, the splendid Bay of Naxos and Mount Etna in the distance.
Evening free in Taormina
Taormina, once a rich, ancient Greek town of 12,000 inhabitants, lies up on a 300 meter high rocky promontory overlooking the Ionian Sea. Picturesque and lively, a medieval aspect amidst bougainvillea and groves of lemons and oranges, it offers bustling cafes and boutiques as well as a deep immersion in art and archaeology surrounded by a spectacular landscape that seems almost unreal.
The Greek theater, the second largest in Sicily and with Etna as its spectacular backdrop, will be the first stop on our guided tour. Then we’ll enter the long pedestrian Corso Umberto and the rest of the day will unfold by itself.
Afternoon and dinner on your own followed by an optional Italian Opera performance at Teatro San Giorgio at 9:15 pm.
Morning departure for Villa Romana del Casale at Piazza Armerina. The villa, constructed in the late 3rd century AD, was buried in a landslide during medieval times and only rediscovered in 1950. It contains the most splendid Roman mosaics still in existence, forty in all, covering 38,000 square feet. Included lunch at an excellent nearby trattoria.
Late afternoon back in Taormina. Farewell dinner at a favorite local restaurant.
All breakfasts, 5 dinners & 2 lunches, beverages included
All activities and admissions listed in Highlights
Full-time professional tour manager
All ground transportation
Day 12 morning transfers to Catania airport, station or city center
All activities and admissions listed under Highlights
Palermo city walking tour with local guide
La Martorana Church
San Giovanni degli Eremiti
Palazzo Reale & Cappella Palatina
Monreale Cathedral and Cloister guided tour
Segesta archaeological park
Erice local guide tour
Museo del Sale at Marsala
Guided tour of Marsala and Motya
Visit to an historic Marsala winery
Agrigento Valley of Temples guided tour
Ragusa local guide tour
Guided tour of Palazzo Arezzo Trifiletti at Ragusa
Guided tour of Noto
Syracuse archaeological tour
Puppet theater show Syracuse
Villa Romana del Casale guided tour
Mt Etna visit and funivia (gondola)
Italian Opera Concert at Taormina
Local guide tour of Taormina including the Greek Theater
Tour begins: Palermo
Transfers from Palermo Airport
Tour ends: Catania
Morning transfers to Catania airport and train station
How to get there: Book a multicity ticket into Palermo and out from Catania
Pre tour: We recommend arriving a day or more prior to tour start. You will be met by our driver at the airport and transferred to the first hotel on tour.
How to get there: Book a multicity ticket into Palermo and out from Catania
Day 1 — Palermo, PA, Italia
Day 2 — Monreale, PA, Italia
Day 3 — Segesta, Calatafimi, Trapani, Italy
Day 3 — Erice, TP, Italia
Day 3 — Marsala, Trapani, Italy
Day 4 — Marsala, Trapani, Italy
Day 4 — Mozia, Marsala, Trapani, Italy
Day 5 — Valley of the Temples, Agrigento, Italy
Day 5 — Ragusa, Italy
Day 7 — Noto, Syracuse, Italy
Day 7 — Siracusa, Syracuse, Italy
Day 9 — Piazzale Rifugio Sapienza, 95030 Nicolosi CT, Italy
Day 9 — Taormina, Messina, Italy
Day 10 — 94015 Piazza Armerina EN, Italy
Most of the walking on this tour is not difficult. However, be prepared to spend a few hours a day on your feet and expect some of your walking to be uphill. You should reasonably fit and a good walker.
Our tours are not suited for anyone who has problems with knee, back, heart or obesity. If you have mobility issues this is not the right tour for you. Please call us if you have questions.
1. PRICES, DEPOSITS, PAYMENTS, REFUNDS
Prices shown are per person, double occupancy, in euro.
The deposit is 800 euro per room.
Balance payments are due 70 days prior to tour start.
Deposits and balance payments are accepted by Visa, Master Card, AMEX or by bank wire. After your deposit has been received we will send you an invoice with the due date and amount for the balance of payment. Should you fail to make final payment by the date specified on your invoice, we reserve the right to cancel your booking without refund.
Cancellations and refunds: in the unlikely event that we would cancel your tour, you would be entitled to a 100% refund within 2 weeks after the tour’s cancellation.
If you cancel your tour reservation:
1. are 50% refundable up until 180 days prior to tour start date.
2. are 100 % non-refundable less than 180 days prior to tour start date.
3. are 98% refundable 70 days or more prior to tour start date.
4. are 48% refundable 70 to 31 days prior to tour start date.
5. 30 days or less prior to tour start date: no refund.
Physician documented emergency medical reasons or police documented cases of accident, flood, fire or crime are required for refunds.
We do not provide refunds for: non-medical personal problems; air carrier delays or cancellations; inability to obtain passports; business problems or emergencies; etc.
2. TRAVEL PROTECTION
Covid-19 Policy: All tour members including tour managers and drivers must be fully vaccinated.
We strongly recommend that you purchase a travel protection plan to help protect you and your travel investment against the unexpected. Travel protection plans can include coverage for Trip Cancellation, Trip Interruption, Emergency Medical and Emergency Evacuation/Repatriation, Trip Delay, Baggage Delay and more.
It is not possible for Amber Road Tours to provide protection coverage of any sort and you agree to buy insurance or travel at your own risk.
Transfers from Palermo “Falcone Borsellino” Airport. All ground transportation Days 2 to 11, including tour manager and drivers. Transfers on Day 12 from Taormina to Catania airport, train station or hotel. 11 nights’ hotel accommodations with breakfast. Included meals listed on itinerary including beverages (wine or beer or soft drinks and water). Admissions to all sites visited as a group, as listed in the Highlights of the tour itinerary.
4. NOT INCLUDED
Air transportation, departure transfers after noon on Day 12, all meals not listed above, room service, phone calls, etc.
Transfers available from Palermo airport. Our driver will be waiting for you just outside the arrivals terminal with an Amber Road Tours’ sign.
Our last hotel destination in Taormina is located 50 minutes from the Catania airport. Day 12 transfers to Catania airport, train station or hotel are available at scheduled times between 4am and noon.
You are allowed one suitcase and one carry-on bag. If you exceed this limit there may not be space in the coach to transport your excess luggage and it will be at your own expense to have it transported throughout the tour. We suggest that you bring a daypack for carrying water, guide books, jacket, rain gear, etc.
8. WALKING ON TOUR
Most of the walking on this tour is not difficult. However, be prepared to spend a few hours a day on your feet and expect some of your walking to be uphill. Age is not important as long as you are reasonably fit and a good walker. Our tours are not suited for anyone who has problems with knee, back, heart or obesity.
By air conditioned Mercedes 30 seat coach.
Are located in quiet locations within historic districts or a short distance outside the city walls. European hotel rooms are generally smaller than those in the U.S., and have one queen bed or two single beds, with private bath. Historic district hotels are located in residences from earlier centuries and don’t have standardized rooms – each one is different. Taormina hotels allocate a mix of rooms of varying size and views.
11. SINGLE TRAVELERS
We have space available for two singles on each of our tours. They are provided with single-use double rooms. The additional single supplement room cost can be found on the Calendar page of our website.
For our recommended tours and dates, as listed in our web site, are guaranteed for groups of six or more participants.
For groups with fewer than six participants, a supplemental charge may be applied when the estimated total cost of operating the tour exceeds the revenues paid.
We do not sell optional excursions or take you on shopping expeditions. Your additional expenses will be for non-included meals, moderate tipping where appropriate, and personal sightseeing or shopping.
13. NO SMOKING / NO CELL PHONES
We have a no smoking policy on all tour buses, at group meals and at all sites visited. The same policy applies to the use of cellular phones.
14. EASY TRAVELERS
For the enjoyment of all our guests on tour we ask those who choose to travel with Amber Road Tours to be congenial, lighthearted and to take small issues in stride. Should you have any issues please address them to your tour manager – he or she is your Amber Road Tours’ representative during your time on tour. Once your tour is finished you will be emailed a link to our website where you can leave comments about your experiences and suggestions about how we can improve our services.
15. LIMIT OF LIABILITY
No responsibility is accepted for any loss, expense, accident, injury, or damage to any person or property due to the actions or omissions of any person, or any cause, including but not limited to acts of God, acts of terrorism, war, strikes, defects in machinery, breakdown of equipment, weather, pandemic, quarantine, or other causes beyond our control.
16. MEMBERSHIP ON TOUR
Amber Road Tours reserves the right to accept, reject, or not retain any person as a tour participant whose condition or general deportment impedes the operation of the tour or, in the opinion of the tour manager, affects the rights and enjoyment of other guests. A guest not retained on tour shall have no cause for complaint or refund, and shall bear any and all extra expenses that ensue.
17. TOUR CHANGES
All information on this website is, to the best of our knowledge, correct. However, we reserve the right to make changes in accommodations, visits, and itineraries at any time should it become necessary or desirable. Delays or itinerary changes caused by strikes, bad weather, traffic, or other unforeseen circumstances are beyond our control and we are not obliged to pay guests compensation.