Top tours of the past 10 years: Sicily
Sicily’s archaeology is world renowned and this stunning Italian island plays host to sites such as the UNESCO-listed Valley of the Temples at Agrigento and the city of Syracuse with its fabulous Paolo Orsi Archaeological Museum. The archaeological sites in Sicily are so fantastic that we built a tour around them, which went on to become one of our best-sellers, but it started out a few decades ago as a trip we named ‘Sicilia Antiqua’. It then became Classical Sicily and for 2024 it will be known as Sicilian Civilisation, a new iteration that has two additional days, and expert Guide Lecturer Dr Eireann Marshall spoke to us about this tour’s evolution over the years.
“My very first solo tour was to Sicily, a tour that was then called Sicilia Antiqua, back in 1997 and I was young and nervous. The tour stayed the same length, though we have tweaked the sites over the years due to site closures and to listening to our clients’ feedback, and we have now added two days. We don’t go to the Castello Eurialo or Pantalica now for these reasons. Some of the sites have become a lot busier, particularly Agrigento and Piazza Armerina, though some of the sites, like Selinus and the Cave de Cusa, still seem to be well-kept secrets. The site conditions have depended on the popularity of the sites. Some of the popular sites have really been done up, like Piazza Armerina, the restoration of which is exemplary in the main. Other sites, like Morgantina, which nobody seems to go to, have become more overgrown.
The biggest change, perhaps, has been the special private evening visit to the Cappella Palatina – we used to have 15 minutes of a stressful visit, whereas now we get the whole of this wonderful chapel completely to ourselves. The tour has remained as popular as it has because Sicily is literally littered with UNESCO World Heritage Sites and because it has a wonderful cuisine – perhaps the best in Italy. I’ve noticed that we are attracting more American guests on our tours, as our marketing to other countries has grown. The other big change is all the security on sites – before entering some of the most important sites, you now must go through security systems, which is a real sign of the times.”
There are four departures of our Sicilian Civilisation tour available for 2024 and this revamped version of our best-selling Classical Sicily itinerary now includes visits to the charming little port of Cefalù and Taormina, where you can visit the superbly situated Roman theatre.
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