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Premium Small-Group Coach Touring

Sicily with Rosa Tour

SICILY WITH ROSA TOUR FULL DAY-BY-DAY ITINERARY

Day 1 - Thu 19 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, Colin 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)
Day 2 - Fri 20 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 Planeta Sciaranuova vineyards where we'll taste wines from five 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)
Day 3 - Sat 21 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 is 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 22 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 is the largest of the group and is famous for its ancient export of obsidian. We'll arrive at the port of Lipari in the early afternoon and after settling into our hotel we'll drive to the Tenuta Castellaro where we'll enjoy a sampling of their island wine accompanied by tasty Aeolian specialties and stirring local music. Tonight the time is yours to perhaps eat in the hotel or wander into town and choose a waterfront eatery for your evening meal. (BL)
Day 5 - Mon 23 September
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 private boat trip will get us there and we can choose to circumnavigate the island and perhaps swim in one of its beautiful grottoes, or remain in the town and 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 Kasbah. (BD)
Day 6 - Tue 24 September
Lipari - Milazzo - Castelbuono - Monreale - 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 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 the Norman conquest of Sicily. On arrival in Palermo we'll settle into our hotel before we explore the surrounding area to find a trattoria or ristorante for our evening meal. (BL)
Day 7 - Wed 25 September
Palermo - Market Visit, Cooking Class & Sightseeing
First up today we'll join Rosa and celebrated chef, Vincenzo Clemente, on a visit to one of Palermo's popular markets where we'll purchase local ingredients for later use in our cooking class at Vincenzo’s Ristorante Cin Cin. While in the market Rosa will be delighted to introduce us to Sicilian street-food and afterwards we’ll gather in Cin Cin where, with expert guidance from Rosa and Vincenzo, we’ll prepare our lunch... to be enjoyed with the restaurant's resident house wine! This afternoon we'll join our local guide on a 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 the 'Fountain of Shame'. This evening there's an opportunity to pursue our own interests or, if more food is needed, dine in one of the many eating places close to our hotel. (BL)



Day 8 - Thu 26 September
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 a visit to the Salt Museum along with a tasting of the local product. We'll share 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 27 September
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 28 September
Caltagirone Area - Excursion to Villa Romana del Casale
Today we visit the renowned Villa Romana del Casale, a short drive from Piazza Armerina. 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 when we'll visit the exclusive Tenuta Manca di Geracello, a private 'estate' close to Piazza Armerina where we'll enjoy a sumptuous local meal accompanied by their excellent wine! We'll also have an opportunity to sample the select olive oil produced on the estate. Later in the afternoon we'll return to our agriturismo accommodation and a light dinner to top off a memorable day. (BLD)
Day 11 - Sun 29 September
Caltagirone Area - Caltagirone Town - Marzamemi - Syracuse (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. En route to Syracuse we'll drop into the enchanting seaside village of Marzamemi... an ideal spot to take time for lunch. This evening we'll enjoy dinner at one of Rosa's more intimate eateries, the Osteria La Gazza Ladra in Ortigia, an endearing restaurant known for its 'home-style' cooking! (BD)
Day 12 - Mon 30 September
Syracuse - Sightseeing
Syracuse was the most important Greek city of antiquity which flourished on the coast of Sicily, a formidable seafaring power which was nearly the equal of Athens. Our local guide will join us this morning 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 its 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. After visiting Ortigia for dinner the previous day it's certain that by this time we'll all agree... that Ortigia is particularly wonderful at night! So, this evening we'll enjoy more of its ambience when we stroll among its narrow streets to find a local trattoria or ristorante for our evening meal. (B)
Day 13 - Tue 01 October
Syracuse - Excursion to Modica, Scicli & Noto
This morning we have most of the morning to do as we please. Perhaps take a leisurely breakfast followed by shopping in the Ortigia Street Market or take coffee at one of the many cafes in the area? Later in the morning we'll depart for our drive to Modica where we'll first visit the legendary Antica Dolceria Bonajuto, the oldest chocolate factory in Sicily, to taste chocolate still made by using the old Aztec method. We'll follow with a light lunch at the Osteria dei Sapori Perduti, one of Rosa's lunch-time favourites! Afterwards we ll take a short drive to Scicli. Many of us will be familiar with the Montalbano TV series which is filmed in Ragusa, Noto, Modica and Scicli. In Scicli 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 police HQ in the fictional town of 'Montelusa' is located a few steps down the road from the town hall, in Palazzo Iacono. After exploring Scicli a short drive brings us to the 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 beautiful golden or rosy hue. The town is famous for its ice-cream so we'll visit the Caffe Sicilia and Dolceria Corrado Costanzo to try a 'granita'. This evening we'll enjoy dinner at the Ristorante Crocifisso, the Noto restaurant whose chef is influenced by the tastes of his city. (BLD))
Day 14 - Wed 02 October
Syracuse - Excursion to Vittoria and Ragusa
After another leisurely start to our day we'll take a late-morning drive to the Vittoria region where we'll visit the well-known COS Winery to taste their local product accompanied by a light lunch. We'll then drive to the spectacular town of Ragusa where we'll visit its Ibla (Old Town) with its imposing Piazza Duomo and Cathedral dedicated to Saint John the Baptist. This evening we remain in Ragusa's Ibla and it's here that Rosa has reserved the best for last... tonight we'll enjoy a very special farewell to Sicily dinner at the exclusive Michelin-starred Ristorante Duomo! Salut! (BLD)
Day 15 - Thu 03 October
Depart Syracuse 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.