- Enjoy an exclusive out-of-hours tour of the spectacular mosaic filled rooms of the Piazza Armerina Roman villa.
- Visit the beautiful Greek city of Heraclea Minoa, which overlooks the sea at the mouth of the ancient Halykos River.
- Receive special access to the 5th century frescoes still surviving in the Grotto of the Sibyl of Lilybaeum.
The meeting point between Africa and Europe, East and West - there’s so much more to the Sicily you think you know. Go far beyond the ordinary; travel alongside Expert Guides who will help you uncover the other side of one of Europe’s most alluring destinations.
The classically beautiful heart of the Mediterranean has been praised by poets and became the prize of countless cultures – Phoenicians, Romans, Greeks and more. The sun-soaked island is home to wonderfully preserved Greek temples, Roman villas and Norman cathedrals - many filled with glorious mosaics. Its beautiful sea, volcano and mountain scenery was once the site of fierce ancient battles; but was also a creative centre of philosophy, art and learning.
- Historic Churches
- Ancient Greek
We 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 theatre 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, where we see the Church of La Martorana, and the Duomo.
In 2016, 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 wild flowers and celery.
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 artefacts in the Archaeological Museum; the Greek theatre, still often used for performances; the huge Altar of Hieron II and the ancient quarries, where many prisoners of the Peloponnesian War met their end.
Free time to explore lovely Baroque Ortygia, then drive north to the Graeco-Roman theatre at Taormina, with its amazing scenic backdrop which includes a view of Mount Etna.
Our final 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 unspoilt interior of the island. We explore the prehistoric tombs at Pantalica with stunning views over the hills.
We return home.
- Expert Guide Lecturer
- Tour Manager
- Local Travel - Private a/c coach; boat to Motya
- Meals - All meals included with water (wine with dinners) except dinner day 8
- Entries & Tips - Entry to all sites in program; tips included
- Field Notes
- Hotels - 3 nights in an elegant and friendly hotel in the heart of Palermo;1 night in a simple hotel 100m from the beach at Selinunte; 2 nights in a hotel overlooking the temples in Agrigento; 4 nights in a small, newly refurbished hotel on the seafront, in beautiful Ortygia, Syracuse
- 3 nights in the centre of Palermo: in an elegantly restored palazzo, close to the museum and Teatro Massimo (opera house).
- 1 night in a simple hotel 100m from the beach at Selinunte: amenities include a restaurant and a terrace bar.
- 2 nights in a hotel overlooking the temples in Agrigento.
- 4 nights in elegant minimalistic hotel Ortygia, Syracuse: a small, newly refurbished hotel set on the seafront at Ortygia and close to the Duomo.