The meeting point between Africa and Europe, East and West - there’s so much more to the Sicily you think you know. The classically beautiful heart of the Mediterranean has been praised by poets and became the prize of countless cultures – Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans and more. The sun-soaked island is home to wonderfully-preserved Greek temples, Roman villas and Norman cathedrals - many filled with glorious mosaics. Its bountiful seas and fertile lands were once the sites of fierce ancient battles; but Sicily was also a creative centre of philosophy, art and learning.
This tour will leave memories of beautiful bays and ruinous ancient cities; and honey coloured columns against a clear blue sky.
- Island at the centre of the Mediterranean, a multicultural nucleus packed with spectacular monuments
- Exceptionally fine mosaics at Piazza Armerina, a palatial Roman villa, re-opened after extensive refurbishment
- From columns to cathedrals - explore honey-coloured Greek temples and gleaming gold-in-glass Norman mosaics
- Historic Churches
- Ancient Greek
Arrive in Palermo and drive to the hotel.
Our journey begins with the famous unfinished Doric temple at Segesta, set amongst rolling hills. There is also a fine theater on the hilltop above. We continue to the magnificent Norman cathedral and abbey founded by William II in 1174 at Monreale.
We spend all day in Palermo.
We also visit the Archaeological Museum, the Church of La Martorana, and Palermo Cathedral.
We have a specially arranged early evening visit to the Cappella Palatina of Roger II, a glittering jewel of Norman architecture, with cosmatesque inlays in the lower walls, gold-in-glass mosaics above, and an exquisite stalactite ceiling of wood.
Today we take a boat across the shallow salt lagoon to the Phoenician island stronghold of Motya — bought and excavated in the 19th century by a family whose fortune was based on Marsala wine. We continue to the important port town of Marsala, ancient Lilybaeum.
In Marsala we see the remains of a Punic warship, sunk on its maiden voyage during the First Punic War. We continue on to the ancient quarries at Cave di Cusa, from which came the stone for the temples at Selinunte — unfinished column drums still lie abandoned here. We head to the site of Selinunte, dramatically situated overlooking the sea and strewn with wildflowers and celery.
We spend all day among the magnificent Greek temples of Agrigento, imposingly ranked along the southern ridge of the ancient city — built to impress all those approaching.
We start the day in opulent Roman style, at the palatial Roman villa with exceptionally fine mosaics at Piazza Armerina. These have been left in situ and can be viewed from raised walkways. Continue to the ancient settlement of Morgantina.
We spend all day discovering the ancient city of Syracuse. We see the exquisite artifacts in the Archaeological Museum; the Greek theater, still often used for performances; and the ancient quarries, where many prisoners of the Peloponnesian War met their end.
Free time to explore lovely Baroque Ortygia. We then drive south to see Noto and its Sicilian Baroque Cathedral, followed by the late Roman villa at Tellaro with its amazing mosaics, some of which depict scenes from the Fall of Troy.
Our final full day is spent at Euryalus fort, constructed at the beginning of the 4th century BC by Dionysius the Elder, and one of the few Greek fortifications surviving from this date. We then drive right out of the city to the unspoiled interior of the island. We explore the prehistoric tombs at Pantalica with stunning views over the hills.
Before transferring to the airport for flights to the US or onward travel, we have some free time in Syracuse followed by a visit to the Graeco-Roman Archaeological Park in Catania.
- Expert Guide Lecturer
- Tour Manager
- Local Travel - Private a/c coach; boat
- Meals - All meals included - dinners with wine
- Entries & Tips - Entry to all sites in program; tips included
- Field Notes
- Hotels - 3 nights in Palermo, staying in an elegantly restored palazzo, 1 night in the center of Marsala, 2 nights in a hotel overlooking the temples in Agrigento, 4 nights in elegant minimalistic hotel Ortygia, close to the Duomo
3 nights in Palermo, staying in an elegantly restored palazzo
1 night in the centre of Marsala
2 nights in a hotel overlooking the temples in Agrigento
4 nights in elegant minimalistic hotel Ortygia, close to the Duomo
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