Bare Bones Sicily
The multi-cultural nucleus of the ancient world; archaeologically, Sicily has it all - wonderfully-preserved Greek temples, Roman villas with mosaics and Norman cathedrals (also with glorious mosaics). This is a tremendously varied journey - from the flower-covered hills around ancient Segesta, to the Baroque splendour of chic Ortygia.
- Historic Churches
- Ancient Greek
Fly to Catania, from your airport of choice, then travel by private coach to our hotel in Ortygia, Syracuse. This was once an off-shore island settled by the first Greek colonists, later joined to the mainland by a causeway which still exists.
A day in Syracuse: we visit the Paolo Orsi Archaeological Museum and the Archaeological Park with a huge theatre and stone quarries, that was also once used for imprisoning thousands of enemy soldiers. Free afternoon.
Free morning to explore Ortygia, chic and beautifully restored with Greek remains still visible in many areas. This afternoon we continue our exploration of the Greek temples and monuments of the city.
We visit the remarkable Greek outer defenses of Syracuse at Euryalus, outside the city on a high ridge with a splendid view. Continue to the Roman Villa of Piazza Armerina, once a wealthy establishment, whose colorful and lively mosaics still lie in situ. On to Agrigento.
Spend all day exploring the temples and museum at Agrigento. This powerful colony displayed its considerable wealth in the construction of huge temples along a ridge behind the walls – those approaching could only be impressed.
Drive to the impressive ruins at Selinunte, beautifully situated beside the sea, including city defenses and many temples. Continue north to Segesta, which has an unfinished temple that is very informative for understanding the temple building process - and a well-preserved theatre high on the hill.
Spend your morning in Palermo, visiting the Archaeological Museum, the Capella Palatina and other fine Norman churches in the city. Free afternoon.
We end our tour at the Norman cathedral in Monreale adorned with walls of gleaming gold-in-glass mosaics. The cloisters here are also beautiful, and you may climb to the roof of the cathedral. Return flights to the US or onward journeys.
Fly to Catania, then travel by private coach to our hotel in Ortygia, Syracuse. This was once an off-shore island settled by the first Greek colonists, later joined to the mainland by a causeway which still exisits.
We visit the Archaeological Park in Siracusa, including the magnificent Greek theatre, the quarries, the Altar of Hieron and the Roman amphitheatre. We also visit the Paolo Orsi Archaeological Museum.
Free morning followed by an afternoon exploring wonderful Baroque Ortygia, including the Cathedral, which contains the Doric temple of Athena within its fabric; the Grand Harbour where the Athenian fleet was destroyed and the Fountain of Arethusa.
Outside the Greek city to explore it’s outer defences at the Castello Eurialo. Continue to the Roman villa at Piazza Armerina, once the residence of a grandee of the Late Roman world with wonderful mosaics on every floor. In the afternoon: Drive to Agrigento.
We visit Agrigento Museum which houses architectural fragments from the temples and magnificent treasures from the ancient city and its cemeteries. In the afternoon: Explore Agrigento’s ridge of temples which once so impressed those approaching the city, including those to Hera Lacinia, Concord, Apollo and Olympean Zeus.
The ancient city of Selinunte, also once filled with temples, adorned with carving and brightly coloured paint. In the afternoon: Segesta, with its unfinished Doric Temple in a valley beneath the acropolis and theatre.
Drive to Palermo.
Palermo Archaeological Museum, with treasures from all over the island, including the important architectural panels from Selinunte. Its long reconstruction is nearing its end and we hope to find it open to visit.
If the museum not open, the churches of La Martorana with its spectacular 12th century mosaic decoration undertaken by Byzantine craftsmen for King Roger II and San Cataldo, the classic Arabo-Norman church with its line of domes, another mark of the cosmopolitan nature of 12th century Sicily.
We visit the magnificent Cathedral of King William II at Monreale, built to circumvent the power of Palermo’s archbishop. A larger and later version of his grandfather’s chapel, gleaming with golden scenes from the Old and New Testaments. The Cloisters are a masterpiece of Romanesque carving.
In the afternoon: Continue to Palermo airport for flight home
- Expert Guide Lecturer
- Tour Manager
- Local Travel - Private a/c coach
- Choose when and where to eat - Breakfasts and 1 dinner included. Sicilian cuisine is Italian with a touch of Arab spice. Delicious fish and vegetable dishes, often flavored with the almonds that grow all over the island.
- Entries & Tips - Entry to all sites in program; tips included
- Field Notes
- Hotels - 3 nights in chic baroque Ortygia, Syracuse; 2 nights close to the temples in Agrigento; 2 nights in Palermo, close to the museum
- 3 nights in chic baroque Ortygia, Syracuse: the hotel has an attractive rooftop restaurant from which you can enjoy views of the island's harbour.
- 2 nights in Agrigento: The hotel is set in a large area of parkland within the Valley of the Temples at Agrigento. There is restaurant, a large, terraced garden with orange and lemon trees, hibiscus and bougainvillea, and a covered terrace bar with an impressive view of the temples.
- 2 nights in the centre of Palermo: in an elegantly restored palazzo, close to the museum and Teatro Massimo (opera house).