Additional Itinerary Facts & Details -Sicily 2015

Tour Description & Itinerary with EXPANDED INFO SECTIONS

Spring in SICILY – ITALY 2015 – April 8-18Sicily50

A Cultural & Gastronomic Adventure!

Day 1 | Wed 8 April – CATANIA {3 nights}
Arrive in Catania • Check into beautiful 4-star Hotel Principe in the heart of the city’s historical baroque downtown • Settle in/rest/stroll around and take in the sights and sounds of this vibrant quarter • Group welcome dinner and orientation in the evening • [Night in Catania] • Meals: D

Catania Facts:  Nestled in the foothills of Mt. Etna, situated on the eastern coast of Sicily and facing the Ionian Sea, Catania has a population of circa 300,000 and is the island’s second largest city after Palermo. The soil in the area of Catania is extremely fertile owing to centuries of volcanic activity.

Day 2 | Thurs 9 April – CATANIA => TAORMINA => CATANIA       [40 min / 40 min / 65 tot mi]     • Depart Catania for Taormina • Morning guided walking tour of this gorgeous, chic seaside town • Group lunch in a typical Sicilian trattoria • Afternoon free to roam/shop/explore • Return to our lodgings and evening free in Catania • [Night in Catania] • Meals: B-L

Sights included in Taormina tour:  Corso Umberto I, Taormina’s charming main street; Piazza del Duomo (cathedral plaza), gothic 15 C. Corvaja Palace, Greek-Roman Theatre known for its spaciousness, extraoredinary acoustics and views of Mt. Etna. To do during your afternoon free time: roam/shop/explore, stroll Taormina’s Piazza del Duomo, walk its winding streets, visit the many elegant shops, savor a bounty of breathtaking views.

Day 3 | Fri 10 April – CATANIA => MT. ETNA => CATANIA    [60 min /60 min / Sicily31100 tot mi]       •  Visit to Catania’s colorful old fish-market • Depart for Mt. Etna, Europe’s largest and still-active volcano • Visit the Silvestri Craters • Delicious lunch and wine-tasting at a vineyard and cantina near Mt. Etna • Visit Catania’s Benedictine Monastery • Guided walking tour of the city’s historical center • Free evening in Catania • [Night in Catania] • Meals: B-L

Facts:  The Benedictine Monastery is the second largest in Europe, and a portion of it now houses the University of Catania. Among the jewels we’ll see in Catania: Roman ruins and the baroque style cathedral constructed from lava stone (as is all Catantia, right down to the stones that pave the streets), Piazza del Duomo, Roman ruins/Teatro Odeon, Palazzo San Giuliano, Palazzo Biscari.

Day 4 | Sat 11 April – CATANIA => SIRACUSA {2 nights}     [50 min / 40 mi]
Depart Catania for Siracusa • Visit Ciane Nature Reserve and take an idyllic boat ride along dreamy Ciane River • Guided walking tour of Neapolis Archaeological Park • Arrive at Ortigia (cultural and historical heart of Siracusa) for a group lunch in a typical Sicilian restaurant • Guided walking tour of Ortigia • Check into 4-star Hotel Livingston located directly on the coastline • Remainder of afternoon and evening free to explore and have dinner on your own • [night in Siracusa] • Meals: B-L

Siracusa Facts:  Once one of the greatest powers of the Western World, on par with Sicily01Athens, Carthage and Rome… the city of Archimedes, Pindar and Aeschylus… and today a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Ortigia is actually an island and now permanently connected to the mainland by short bridges. Neapolis Archaeological Park is the most outstanding trace of Siracusa’s Greco-Roman roots. We’ll see one of the largest still-functioning Greek theaters, the legendary Ear of Dionysius – a strangely shaped grotto inside the ancient rock quarries that provided the stone for building the 3rd century Roman amphitheater used for gladiator fights.

Day 5 | Sun 12 April – SIRACUSA => NOTO => VENDICARI => MARZAMEMI => SIRACUSA     [20 min/10 min/10 min/30 min / 68 tot mi]     • Depart Siracusa for Noto, a small town noted for its stunning baroque cathedral and surrounding structures • Walking tour of Noto • Visit Venidicari Nature Reserve • On to the quaint old fishing Sicily11village of Marzamemi • Lunch at your leisure • Visit to a Tonnara, an age-old traditional tuna processing facility • Free time • Return to Siracusa • Evening group meal • [night in Siracusa] • Meals: B-D

Facts:  Vendicari Nature Reserve is known for its beautiful flora and fauna and especially for bird watching and its marshes that that serve as an important stop for migratory birds, including flamingos. It also features the ruins of an ancient Tonnara and some of Sicily’s most exotic beaches.

Day 6 | Mon 13 April – SIRACUSA => MODICA => RAGUSA IBLA => PIAZZA ARMERINA {1 night}       [50 min / 15min /70 min /108 tot mi]   • Depart Siracusa for Modica • Guided visit of the old city • Tour & tasting: Bonajuto pastry and chocolate factory • Free time • Group lunch in a typical Sicilian restaurant • Guided walking tour of the old town of Ragusa Ibla, including a visit to the filming location of Inspector Sicily18Montalbano • Free time in Ragusa Ibla • Depart for the medieval town of Piazza Armerina where we’ll spend a relaxing evening dining and lodging in the country at Torre di Renda • Group dinner • [Night in Piazza Armerina]   Meals: B-L-D

More info:  Bonajuto is one of the oldest and most renowned pastry and chocolate-making factories on the island. Inspector Montalbano is one of Italy’s most popular and longest running TV series. Torre di Renda, nestled high on a hill with a spectacular view of medieval Piazza Armerina, was once a working farm and has been converted into a charming agri-turismo (lodgings located in the countryside on property where fruit or vegetables are cultivated and processed into food, oil, wine, etc). Set amidst 103,000 square meters of woodland, this family-run treasure offers us a quiet country respite.

Day 7 | Tues 14 April – PIAZZA ARMERINA => AIDONE => AGRIGENTO {1  night   [10 min/80 min/ 62 tot mi]     • Guided tour of Villa Romana del Casale, renowned for its exquisite and extensive mosaic collection • On to Aidone and a visit to Sicily72Morganitna Museum, which houses the famous Venus of Morgantina • Artisan cheese factory tour & tasting • Free time and lunch at your leisure • On to Agrigento to check into the tranquil and elegant Grand Hotel Mosé • Group dinner in hotel • [Night in Agrigento] Meals: B-D

More info:  The Villa Romana del Casale is a luxurious Roman villa (3rd-4th centuries A.D.) Its massive amount (3500 square meters) of exquisite mosaics have earned it billing as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Aidone is a small village whose museum houses the famous and fought over Venus of Morgantina, , the goddess statue bought by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 1981 and returned to Sicily in 2010, after a long controversy between Sicily and USA.

Day 8 | Wed 15 April – AGRIGENTO => PALERMO {2 nights}    [90 min / 80 mi]
Morning guided tour of Valley of the Temples archeological park in Agrigento • Lunch on Sicily16your own and free time to explore the historic downtown of Agrigento • Head to Palermo; check into the splendid and superbly located 4-star Quintocanto Hotel & Spa • Group dinner • [Night in Palermo] • Meals: B-D

More info: Our tour of Valley of the Temples archaeological park starts with the Temple of Hera (Juno), built at the very top of the hill. Magnificent views of the landscape, coastline and Mediterranean Sea. Then we’ll walk for about a mile downhill and stop along the way to admire the city fortifications and Byzantine columns, the Temple of Concordia, the Temple of Herakles, the Temple of Zeus and the Sanctuary of Chthonian Deities (Temple of Castor and Pollux). As you listen to your guide, you’ll discover the secrets behind their construction, gain insight into the civilization that produced them, and get to know the personages that made ancient Akragas “the most beautiful of mortal cities”.

Day 9 | Thurs 16 April – PALERMO & MONREALE
Today is dedicated to Palermo: Morning guided visit of Monreale Cathedral and cloisters • Guided walking tSicily69our of the historical city center • Tour & tasting: traditional pastry factory • Afternoon free • Lunch at your leisure • Group dinner in the evening • [Night in Palermo] • Meals: B-D

 Palermo facts Palermo, with a population 650,000, is the largest city and the capital of both the island and the region of Sicily and is known for its rich history, culture, architecture and gastronomy.  Among the impressive sights we’ll see Martorana Church with its gilded mosaics and Baroque frescoes, San Cataldo (which looks like an Arabic mosque with its three raised orange domes, but was planned and used as a Christian Church), Piazza Quattro Canti at Maqueda Street (an intersection of two streets featuring beautiful statues and fountains on its four corners very near to our hotel). The icing on our tour will be the visit to a typical pastry factory, where, among other things, we’ll taste Sicily’s iconic cannoli and marzipan.

Day 10 | Fri 17 April – PALERMO => CEFALÙ => SANTO STEFANO DI CAMASTRA => CATANIA       [60 min – 44 mi / 30 min – 22 mi / 1 hr 50min – 87 mi]     • Depart Palermo for Cefalù • Guided walking tour of the historic city center • Visit to Santo Stefano di Camastra, a locale best known for its many ceramic workshops and factories • Time to stroll, shop and lunch on your own • Return to Catania • Group celebration dinner in evening • [Night in Catania] • Meals: B-D

More info: Cefalù is an ancient Norman town on Sicily’s northern coast characterized by its quaint narrow streets and reminiscent of Taormina. Santo Stefano di Camastra is home to Sicily’s largest number of ceramic artisans and studios and offers the perfect chance to watch ceramic artisans at work creating one of Sicily’s best know handicrafts.

Day 11 | Sat 18 April – CATANIA
Breakfast in hotel + departure. Grazie e arrivederci Sicilia!

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