TOUR NAME: SDG-Sicily Driver Guide's Showcase nbr 30
TOUR DURATION: 12 nights/13 days (Cefalů 2 nights + Palermo 3 nights + Agrigento 1 night + Ragusa 1 night + Syracuse 2 nights + Taormina 3 nights).
ARRIVAL/DEPARTURE INFORMATION: We also strictly recommend you to plan your arrival to Messina port/rail station and plan your departure from Taormina-Giardini Naxos rail station or Catania airport/port or Messina port/rail station.
MEALS INCLUDED: 13 breakfast; 1 welcome dinner at local trattoria with set menů; 1 lunch in Polizzi Generosa with set menů; 1 lunch in a private house with beverages; 1 snack in Sant'Angelo Muxaro; 1 dinner in Ragusa with set menů; 1 snack in Etna Volcano winery; 2 cooking course; 2 visit to local wineries with wines tasting.
MEALS LEGEND: BB (Breakfast) L (Lunch) S (Snack) D (Dinner).
TOUR PROVIDED WITH: Driver Guide. Who is a Driver Guide?.
TOUR CUSTOMIZED FOR A MAXIMUM: 4 Persons.
PRICE AND CONDITIONS AVAILABLE ON REQUEST:
Please be so kind as to specify the style of accommodation you need, this is important for us to customize an appropriate offer.
ITINERARY recommended by SDG-Sicily Driver Guide
Day 1: Messina/Tindari & Cefalů
Upon arrival to Messina we will met our driver-guide. We will start with a scenic drive to Messina city, later we will continue to Tindari. It was founded as the Greek colony of Tyndaris in 396 BC and was located on the high ground overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea in the Gulf of Patti. The Battle of Tyndaris took place off the coast in 257 BC. It is also famous for the poem Vento a Tindari, written by Salvatore Quasimodo, as well as a Sanctuary to the Madonna and a lagoon. Local legend tells that the lagoon was created after a pilgrim who came to see the Madonna refused to pray to the Madonna because she was black. The woman accidentally dropped her baby into the ocean and the Madonna made the land rise to save the baby. The sands of Marinello have taken shape of the profile of the Madonna. During afternoon transfer to Cefalů a charming coastal town which boasts a massive Norman Cathedral with outstanding mosaics. Time at leisure to walk in the nice sands and in the city centre. Tonight welcome dinner at local trattoria. (D)
Day 2: Polizzi Generosa simple Cooking course & Cefalů
Following breakfast we drive to Polizzi Generosa, a lovely town in the heart of the Madonie Natural Park in Palermo province. The territory of the Madonie mountains is a paradise of earth and sky, tucked away on the island, where each corner guards its perfect history and nature. We soon arrive in Polizzi Generosa—a step back in time with the ancient masserie transformed into farmhouse companies, the flour mills that testify the water wealth of the territory and the furnaces used today, like in the past, to make ceramics. Upon arrival, our friend Santina will welcome us to her charming country restaurant. She will introduce us to her kitchen and ....start our simple cooking experience!!!!! At the end, we will taste typical madonite dishes such us olives, bread, tagliatelle, the deliciously mixed antipasti and the Sfoglio, a delicious local cheesecake. This afternoon we will return to Cefalů. Time at leisure to explore the town. (BB L)
Day 3: Bagheria & Monreale
At the end of the
breakfast we will drive to Bagheria to visit Villa Palagonia
(admission fee: charge),
a superb and eccentric villa already visited by famous travellers in the
17th century, who considered it "the most original in the world and
famous throughout Europe". The interior and exterior decoration
have made the villa known throughout the world as the "Villa of
Monsters". These statues represent imaginary animals, anthropoid
figures, statues of ladies and knights, musicians and other various
caricatures. Later we will continue to Monreale.
Day 4: Simple Cooking Home Experience & Palermo
After breakfast, we meet a local housewife and transfer to explore the lively Capo Market, a large open street market that captures the flavor of Palermo's Saracen Arab past. Capo is a blend of general confusion and a jumble of vendors' stalls, winding toward the old gate (Porta Carini) of what used to be the city wall. Here we'll purchase fresh fruit, vegetables and all the ingredients necessary for the cooking course. Then transfer to the housewife's house to start a really simple and friendly cooking course. She will teach us one of the really Sicilian recipe such as Involtini alla Siciliana (Sicilian ruled meat) or Fettuccine or Ravioli with fresh tomato sauce. At the end of the cooking course, we will enjoy our scrumptious creations with the perfect compliment—a beautifully paired Sicilian wine. House make Dessert follows accompanied by a typical local Lemoncello (home maked). BUON PRANZO! This afternoon we will visit Palermo with the lovely Piazza Pretoria, Via Maqueda with its “four corners” who converge Palermo at a quartet of baroque palaces left over from the heyday of Spanish rule dates from the 1560 (BB L)
Day 5: Marsala Winery, Erice & Segesta Temple
Following breakfast we will meet our driver-guide. Today we will drive to Marsala, the home of the world-famous Marsala wine. The wine was first popularized in 1770 when an Englishman, John Woodhouse, came ashore from a British ship that had been forced to anchor here during a violent storm. Woodhouse headed for a local tavern, and the rest is history. On arrival we will visit an historical winery and first of all we will have the opportunity to taste the local wines. Than we travel between Marsala and Trapani to the Salt Road, to tour the historic saltpan works, where the ancient tradition of harvesting salt from the sea is still practiced. Later transfer to the medieval city of Erice. From its thrilling mountaintop setting, two sheer cliffs drop 743m (2,438 ft.) to vistas across the plains of Trapani and down the west coast of Sicily. On a clear day, you can even see Cape Bon in Tunisia, but the Sicilian aerie of Erice is often shrouded in mist that only adds to its mystique (or misery, especially in winter, when temperatures can plummet below Sicilian norms and snow is not uncommon). Erice is a lovely place to spend an afternoon wandering the medieval streets, with their baroque balconies and flowering vines. The southwest corner of town contains the Villa Balio gardens, originally laid out in the 19th century. Beyond the gardens, a path winds along the cliff's edge up to Erice's highest point, the Castello di Venere (Venus Castle), today little more than crumbling Norman walls surrounding the sacred site where a temple to Venus once stood. Before returning to Palermo we will make our short stop to Segesta to see a single amazing temple in a lonely field and one of the best-preserved ancient temples in all of Italy (admission fee: charge). Later back to Palermo (BB)
Day 6: Sant'Angelo Muxaro & Agrigento
This morning we depart for the country town of Sant’Angelo Muxaro. First time visitors can’t help but be dazzled and awed when, from the provincial road that meanders from Agrigento inland along curves, twists and bends between mountains and hills, they are greeted by a uniquely spectacular view. On a lonely hill, in the center of the Platani river valley, surrounded by wild and harsh vegetation, a handful of houses lie on the sheer slope of the hill—this is the small town of Sant’Angelo Muxaro. Upon arrival meet our friend Angela. She will show us Pizza and Bread preparation. Simple bakery-cooked snack to taste Sicilian Pizza and Pane Cunsatu (a typical homemade bread with olive oil and pecorino cheese). During the afternoon, we continue to Agrigento whose history dates back to 580 BC. Time for a brief, independent visit to the Temple Valley (admission fee: charge) —a magnificent cluster of Greek ruins overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. (BB S)
Day 7: Piazza Armerina, Caltagirone & Ragusa
After breakfast we will drive to Piazza Armerina to see the ruins of an extraordinary Roman villa at Casale (admission fee: charge). Once known only as "Piazza," the town gets its name from Colle Armerino, one of a trio of hills on which it was constructed. The town is actually two-in-one: the original "Piazza," a village that dates from the heyday of the Saracens in the 10th century; and a 15th-century "overflow" town that extended to the southeast as early as the 15th century. This afternoon we will travel for Caltagirone, one of the most lively Baroque towns in central Sicily. It’s known in Italy as “The city of Sicilian ceramics” due to its thousand-year-old tradition. The name itself – Caltagirone – derives from an Arabic word meaning the Castle or Fortress of the vases. Caltagirone ceramics have been used for centuries to decorate parks and churches, streets and squares. The typical colours of local pottery, sage green and yellow, are the colours of Sicily itself, of its sun and breathtaking beauty. We will visit some local ceramic shops and we will admire the Santa Maria steps all with ceramic decorations. Later we will continue our trip to Ragusa. Ragusa is two towns in one: an upper town, Ragusa Superiore, mapped out after a devastating earthquake in 1693, and Ragusa Ibla, constructed on an isolated spur. Ibla, in glaring contrast to the modern city, is one of the best-preserved old towns in Sicily, and well worth a day of your valuable time. The two parts of town are linked by a steep winding road or else by steps. Even if Ragusa Ibla weren't fascinating, the site would make an interesting trip because of the craggy valley that separates the two towns. It is a vista of winding pathways and plant-filled cliffs. The landscapes around Ragusa are among the most memorable (and eerie) in Sicily. Many are crisscrossed with low-lying stone walls, pieced laboriously together without mortar, and lying in impoverished solitude beneath the punishing sun. These are the landscapes most often evoked in Sicilian literature and cinema, an oft-filmed terrain that has positioned Ragusa and its outlying districts in the forefront of Italian filmmaking. Tonight we will enjoy a dinner in a local trattoria to taste the famous Ravioli with Ricotta cheese. (BB D)
Day 8: Ragusa, Noto & Ortigia Island
This morning is dedicated to a walk in Ragusa Ibla city centre. Later we will drive to the little town of Noto, which is set amid olive groves and almond trees on a plateau overlooking the Asinaro Valley. Noto dates from the 9th century and knew Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Arab, Norman, Aragonese, and even Spanish culture before 1692, when an earthquake destroyed it. The town was constructed somewhat like a stage set, with curvilinear accents and wrought-iron balconies. Many Sicilian artists and artisans have worked hard to rebuild Noto into a baroque gem, with uniform buildings of soft limestone. Our best approach is through the monumental Porta Reale (Royal Gate), crowned by three symbols -- a dog, a swan, and a tower, representing the town's former allegiance to the Bourbon monarchy. From here, take Corso Vittorio Emanuele, going through the old patricians' quarter. The rich-looking, honey-colored buildings along this street are some of the most captivating on the island. This street takes you to the three most important piazzas. Later we will continue to Syracuse on the south-eastern side of Sicily, emerged as a Greek city around 734 BC. On arrival the first site we must see is on the island of Ortygia, which is filled with not only ancient ruins but also crafts shops and boutiques. From the mainland, Corso Umberto goes to the Ponte Nuova, which leads to the island. We will explore the city centre and we will shop along the narrow streets. Than we'll also sit on Piazza del Duomo, off Via Cavour -- one of the most elegant squares in Sicily. (BB)
Day 9: Syracuse
Following breakafst time to explore the town with the great Cathedral, the Aretusa Fountain, the Museum. This afternoon transfer to the Archaeological Park (admission fee: charge) showing also the great Greek Theatre, the Roman Anphitheatre and the Paradise Quarry. (BB)
Day 10: Catania & Taormina
Following breakfast our driver-guide drives us to the capital of the eastern part of Sicily and its second-largest city after Palermo, Catania has had a tormented history of conquest and devastation by nature. It's also one of the richest repositories of baroque architecture in Europe, with treasures well worth seeking out. The city has suffered natural disasters throughout the centuries. Much of the history of Catania is linked to its volcanic neighbor, Mount Etna. The characteristic of this town is for the fact that the people of Catania bounced back, creating an even better city and rebuilding in the harmonious baroque style. Many of the buildings were fashioned from the black lava (and this is the reason why the city looks dark) that had rained down upon it. An aura of the 18th century still lingers over much of the heart of Catania as a direct result of the city's rebuilding program. We will visit the city centre and the famous fish market. The market is famous for the variety and freshness of its produce, the picturesque and noisy Catania Fish Market is as old as the city itself. We can watch the fishermen using their unorthodox sales skills to persuade people into buying their catch of the day. Along with squid, swordfish and a myriad of other seafood, Catania Fish Market also has wine, extra virgin olive oil and other key ingredients used in the local cuisine. This afternoon we will continue to Taormina the resort town of Sicily. On arrival we will say Good Bye to our driver-guide (BB)
Day 11: Mount Etna Volcano in jeeps and Winery
Following breakfast we will meet our jeep-driver and departure to Etna Volcano: we will experience what the Greeks called "the realm of Vulcan (god of fire)" by Jeep, viewing along the way: Mount Fontana (view of Bove Valley), the Thieves Cave (grotta dei ladroni), extinct craters of Sartorius Mounts, and the lava flow from the 2002 eruption. Indulge in a snack at local Winery followed by wine tasting and typical Sicilian dishes. During the afternoon, off-road drive along the Linguaglossa-Castiglione and Alcantara Gorges. Short visit to the Canyon entrance. Later back to the hotel (BB S)
Day 12: Taormina
Today is at our total disposal for an independent visit to the Greek-Roman Theatre, offering a view of rare beauty of the seacoast and Mount Etna. Then time at leisure for a walk to Corso Umberto street, draws a semicircle in the old city and links Porta Catania in the south with Porta Messina in the north. The street is narrow and has a medieval appearance; it is lined with buildings, many of which are quite ancient. (BB)
Day 13: Taormina END
This morning a driver will meet us at hotel for a transfer to Catania airport/port/rail station or to Taormina-Giardini Naxos rail station or to Messina rail station/port. (BB)
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