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Sicily with Rosa Tour


Day 1 - Thu 27 September
Arrival Catania (3 nights)
On arrival at Catania Airport, we'll be met and transferred to our hotel. This evening we'll join Rosa and Colin (pictured below) and our Tour Manager for a welcome dinner at one of Rosa's favourite restaurants, the delightful Ristorante Antica Marina, located in a characteristic quarter of Catania near the Piazza Duomo and the Wall of Carlo V in the historic heart of the city. (D)

Sicily with Rosa Tour
Day 2 - Fri 28 September
Catania - Excursion to Bronte & Castiglione di Sicilia
The pistachios of Bronte, known as 'green gold', are world famous. This morning we'll drive on the slopes of Mt Etna to visit Bronte town and a producer of pistachio products. We'll spend time learning about the growing of the nuts and tasting some of the many products which are made from them. Next we'll have a comprehensive introduction to the wines of Sicily. First we'll visit the Planeta Sciaranuova vineyards (pictured) where we'll taste wines from five different regions of Sicily. The passopisciaro wine of Etna, a recently revived wine made from an ancient local grape variety grown on the slopes of Mt. Etna, a wine from Menfi, a wine from Noto, a wine from Capo Milazzo and a wine from Vittoria. This will be followed by a lunch of traditional Sicilian cuisine, each course paired with a Planeta wine, before a short drive brings us to the Planeta Feudo di Mezzo winery in Castiglione di Sicilia where we'll learn more of the process of wine-making, visit their barrique and take a walk through a vineyard of 120 year-old vines. We'll return to Catania in the late afternoon for a relaxing evening in our hotel. (BL)

Sicily with Rosa Tour
Day 3 - Sat 29 September
Catania - Sightseeing & Excursion to Mt Etna
Today we'll explore Catania, also known as the 'Black Pearl' of the Mediterranean Sea because of its baroque palaces constructed from the black lava stone of the area. Our morning visit will include the very famous, very colourful and bustling fish market and the Piazza Duomo where we'll view the Cathedral dedicated to St Agata. Mount Etna is the highest active volcano in Europe and a definite must for all visitors to Sicily. This afternoon our circuitous drive takes us through many villages typically built almost entirely of lava. The landscape is constantly changing as we ascend the mountain. At 1,900 metres the scenic situation is dominated by black lava and it's here we'll stop at Rifugio Sapienza to view the now dormant Crateri Silvestri. If the weather and volcanic activity allows it's possible to take a cable-car and an off-road vehicle (accompanied by experienced mountain guides) up to 2,800 metres. As we won't know the conditions until we're on the mountain this option is not included in the tour price but can be purchased on the day. We'll descend from the mountain in the late afternoon and this evening perhaps take a light meal in our hotel or stroll into the surrounding neighbourhood to discover a nearby trattoria for dinner. (B)
Day 4 - Sun 30 September
Catania - Milazzo - Lipari (2 nights)
This morning we'll take a coastal drive to the port of Milazzo where we'll embark on our hydrofoil to the Aeolian Islands, a group of eight volcanic islands off the north coast of Sicily. Lipari (pictured) is the largest of the group and is famous for its ancient export of obsidian. We'll arrive on Lipari in the early afternoon and after settling into our hotel we'll have a coach tour of the island highlighting the beautiful views and including the capital, which is also called Lipari. This evening we'll enjoy a tasting of island wine with a dinner and local music at the Tenuta Castellaro. (BD)

Sicily with Rosa Tour
Day 5 - Mon 01 October
Lipari - Excursion to Vulcano Island
The island of Vulcano is the southernmost island of the group. It has three volcanoes and is a land of lava, black sands and yellow sulphur rocks. A short boat trip will get us there and we can choose from all sorts of different activities...enjoy the beaches, take a mineral-rich mud bath, walk to one of the volcano craters or linger over a lunch of locally caught sword-fish washed down with local wine! Dinner tonight is at another of Rosa's notable local restaurants, the Ristorante da Marisa. (BD)
Day 6 - Tue 02 October
Lipari - Milazzo - Cefalý - Palermo (2 nights)
This morning we take the ferry back to the port of Milazzo where we join our coach for the coastal drive which takes us to Palermo. En route we'll stop for lunch in the small town of Castelbuono in the Madonie Mountains. After lunch at Ristorante Nangalarruni we'll also have the opportunity to visit the Pasticceria Fiasconara to sample the sweet pastries of the region made from manna. Our next stop is at Cefalý a very picturesque mediaeval town about one hour's drive from Castelbuono. We'll stroll through the historical city centre, with its narrow streets built in Roman times, and we'll also see the old, perfectly preserved, Roman laundry! We'll visit the gold-coloured Cathedral, a Romanesque jewel built by the Norman king Roger II in the 12th century. Its interior is decorated with fabulous mosaics executed in a spectacular array of colours on a gold background. On arrival in Palermo we'll settle into our before we explore the surrounding area to find a trattoria or ristorante for our evening meal. (BL)

Day 7 - Wed 03 October
Palermo - Sightseeing Palermo amp; Monreale
First up today we'll join our local guide on a morning tour of Palermo where a special highlight is a visit to the Palatine Chapel inside the Royal Palace, rich in mosaics and Byzantine decorations. Next is the Cathedral of Palermo, a sumptuous example of Norman architecture, where we'll visit the Imperial and Royal tombs. We'll also see the 16th century Pretoria Fountain which, after its unveiling, so outraged the locals that it was forever known as the Fontana della Vergogna, or 'Fountain of Shame'. We'll enjoy a lunch street-food style at Ristorante Pizzeria Carlo V and later in the afternoon we'll take a short drive to Monreale, the Norman 'Mons Regalis', which is situated at the foot of Monte Caputo. The majestic dome of its Cathedral was built in the 12th century by the Norman King, William II and is 6,340 square meters of polychrome and gold mosaics. This gives rise to its local name of the golden bible, referring to the mosaics telling the stories of the Old and New Testament. We'll also visit the Benedictine cloister, which completes one of the most magnificent testimonies to Norman conquest of Sicily. On our return to Palermo there'll be time to relax, or perhaps pursue our own interests, before taking a short walk to the Palermo Yacht Harbour to take dinner at the Ristorante A'Cala. (BLD)
Day 8 - Thu 04 October
Palermo - Trapani - Paceco - Marsala (1 night)
This morning we'll drive to Trapani, an ancient Phoenician trading port and a very important town during the Middle Ages. We'll view the Castello del Mare before we head to Paceco via the area's famous salt pans and the red garlic of Nubia. We'll enjoy a light lunch at the Fontanasalsa (Olive Oil Mill) in Paceco before we continue to our vineyard hotel close to Marsala. There'll be time to relax before we drive into the city to dine at the San Lorenzo Osteria, another of Rosa's favourites and one of the most highly-rated eateries in the city. (BLD)
Day 9 - Fri 05 October
Marsala - Agrigento - Caltagirone Area (2 nights)
Our day begins with a 'pick-me-up' when we visit the Cantine Pellegrino for a guided tour along with a tasting of their celebrated Marsala wine! Then our drive brings us to the southern coast of Sicily and the town of Agrigento with its marvellous Valley of the Temples, undoubtedly one of the Island's most famous historical attractions. In this splendid archaeological park we'll admire the collection of ancient Greek temples including the beauty of the Temple of Concordia, among the best preserved of the temples, the Temple of Juno, built just prior to the Temple of Concordia and badly damaged by an earthquake during the middle ages, and the Temple of Castor and Pollux, a Doric temple built around the 5th century A.D. We'll continue our journey to the area of Caltagirone and our special agriturismo accommodation where this evening we'll enjoy a dinner of local specialities in their restaurant. (BD)
Day 10 - Sat 06 October
Caltagirone Area - Excursion to Villa del Casale (Piazza Armerina)
First on our agenda today is to take a scenic drive in the Piazza Armerina area before we visit the renowned Villa Del Casale. This splendid Roman villa owes its fame to its magnificent mosaic floors, thought to be the work of North African artists, which are rather striking due to the variety of colours used and the incredibly interesting subjects depicted. Lunch today is a very special event as we're eating at the exclusive Tenuta Manca di Geracello, an 'estate' close to Piazza Armerina where we'll sample their olive oil and enjoy their excellent wine with our meal. Later in the afternoon we'll return to our agriturismo accommodation and a light dinner via a short stop in the town of Piazza Armerina. (BLD)
Day 11 - Sun 07 October
Caltagirone Area - Caltagirone - Modica - Ragusa (4 nights)
Sicily is famous for its ceramics and today we'll visit the city of Caltagirone, one of the liveliest baroque towns in central Sicily and known throughout Italy as 'The City of Sicilian Ceramics'. The main landmark of the city is the 142-step monumental Staircase of Santa Maria del Monte, built from 1608 in the old part of the town. Each step is decorated with different hand-decorated ceramics, using styles and figures derived from the millennial tradition of pottery making. We'll continue towards Ragusa but en route we'll drop into Modica where we'll take lunch at the Osteria dei Sapori Perduti, one of Rosa's lunch-time favourites! We'll also visit the legendary Antica Dolceria Bonajuto, the oldest chocolate factory in Sicily, to taste chocolate which is still made by using the old Aztec method. Ragusa is particularly wonderful at night so this evening we'll enjoy its ambience by strolling among its streets to find a local trattoria or ristorante for dinner. (BL)
Day 12 - Mon 08 October
Ragusa - Excursion to Syracuse
Syracuse was the most important Greek city of antiquity which flourished on the coast of Sicily, a formidable seafaring power nearly the equal of Athens. Our local guide will join us this for a tour of Ortigia Island, the heart of the ancient city where time seems to be caught between the mediaeval and baroque eras. We'll admire the architectural splendour of ancient mediaeval streets, baroque structures and classic churches before we continue to the archaeological park with its remarkable Greek and Roman ruins. Now part of a World Heritage Site the park contains the Greek Theatre, one of the biggest in the Greek world, the Latomias, big stone quarries with the famous 'Ear of Dionysius' and the Roman Amphitheatre, created at the time of Augustus. Later this evening, before we return to our hotel in Ragusa, we'll enjoy dinner at one of Rosa's more intimate eateries, the Osteria La Gazza Ladra in Ortigia, known for its 'home-style' cooking. (BD)
Day 13 - Tue 09 October
Ragusa - Excursion to Scicli & Noto
Many of us will be familiar with the Montalbano TV series which is filmed in Ragusa, Noto, Modica and Scicli. After a leisurely start to our day our first port of call this morning is to Scicli. Here we'll discover that the 'police station' in the fictional town of 'Vigata', where Inspector Montalbano plies his trade, is actually the town hall of Scicli in the beautifully preserved baroque street of Via Mormino Penna. And the regional police HQ in the fictional town of 'Montelusa' is located just a few steps down the road from the town hall, in Palazzo Iacono. After exploring Scicli a short drive brings us to the beautiful town of Noto. This baroque jewel was created after the earthquake of 1693 when the reconstruction built many majestic palaces using the soft local limestone which, over time, loses its glaring whiteness and develops a magnificent golden or rosy hue. The town is famous for its ice-cream and there'll be time to visit the Caffe Sicilia and Dolceria Corrado Costanzo to try a 'granita' but don't have too many because tonight we'll enjoy dinner at the Ristorante Crocifisso, the Noto restaurant whose chef is influenced by the tastes of his city. (BD)
Day 14 - Wed 10 October
Ragusa - Excursion to Vittoria
This morning we have the whole morning to do as we please: perhaps a leisurely breakfast, some last minute shopping, or take a coffee in Old Town with its beautiful Piazza Duomo and do some people-watching! This afternoon we'll visit the renowned COS Winery in the Vittoria region for a tasting before returning to our hotel in Ragusa to prepare for tonight's festivities. Rosa has reserved the best for last...this evening we'll enjoy a very special farewell to Sicily dinner at the exclusive Ristorante Duomo! Salut! (BD)
Day 15 - Thu 11 October
Depart Ragusa via Catania
Our tour ends after breakfast with a transfer to Catania Airport for onward journeys. (B)

Note: The above itinerary is subject to change necessitated by any change in Community regulations as well as changes by Government and/or natural circumstances beyond our control.