TOUR NAME: SDG-Sicily Driver Guide's Showcase nbr 28
TOUR DURATION: 9nights/10days (3 nights Taormina + 2 nights Syracuse + 1 night Ragusa + 3 nights Palermo + 1 night Catania).
ARRIVAL/DEPARTURE INFORMATION: We also strictly recommend you to purchase your airline/train/ferry tickets with arrival and departure to/from Catania airport/rail station/port.
MEALS INCLUDED: 6 breakfast; 1 snack in Etna winery; 1 dinner in Ragusa trattoria; 1 cooking course in a private house with lunch and beverages; 1 snack in Nebrodi Park.
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: Catania/Etna Volcano
Upon arrival to Catania airport/port/rail station you will be met by a driver and transferred to your hotel located in Etna Volcano area. The remainder of the day is at leisure to rest or explore the Golf facilities on your own.
Day 2: 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 3: Taormina
This morning we will meet our driver-guide for an excursion to Taormina. On arrival 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. This afternoon back at hotel. (BB)
Day 4: Catania & Syracuse
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 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 5: Syracuse
All day long dedicated to explore the town on our own or shops (BB)
Day 6: Noto & Ragusa
Following breakfast our driver-guide will
drive us 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. This afternoon we will continue to the baroque town of 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)
After breakfast we will drive to 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. This afternoon we will continue our trip to Piazza Armerina to see the ruins of an extraordinary Roman villa at Casale. 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. Later we will travel for Palermo (BB)
Day 8: Monreale, Simple Cooking Home Experience & Palermo
After breakfast, our driver-guide will show us where the Arab-Norman art and architecture reached the pinnacle of its glory with the Monreale Duomo, launched in 1174 by William II and represent the scene from the Old and New Testaments all in golden mosaics. Then to Palermo to reach the house of our friend 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 9: 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. Later back to Palermo (BB)
Day 10: Cefalů and the Nebrodi Park Landscapes
At the end of the breakfast we meet the driver-guide. Today we drive to Cefalů, a charming coastal town with medieval streets and delightful views overlooking a rocky coast—all under the ever-present gaze of the Norman/Arab/Byzantine cathedral, one of the greatest churches in southern Europe. Nestled between the Madonie Mountains and the sea, Cefalů's mountains boast the ruins of a large fortress and an ancient Sicanian-Greek temple. The view from the summit is inspiring. Leaving Cefalů, we will drive along the Tyrrenian coast and enter the Nebrodi Park, known for its immense forests full of majestic trees. We will stop for a snack in a country shop located in the area of Miraglia Forest in the San Fratello region of the park. This afternoon we will pass the lovely Cesarň region of the park and the fantastic Randazzo region at the boundary between the Nebrodi Park and the great Etna Volcano Park. We will then cross the northern slopes of Mount Etna to reach Catania, the world famous resort town of Sicily, known for its views and atmosphere. On arrival we will say Good-Bye to our driver-guide. (BB S)
Day 11: Catania END
This morning a driver will meet us at hotel for a transfer to Catania airport/port/rail station (BB)
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