Treasures of Sicily – Jewel Box of the Mediterranean

  • October 01 – 10, 2021
  • Italy
  • Italy
  • October 01 – 10, 2021
  • 10 days/9 nights
  • $5,995
  • 6 – 12 guests

Overview

Join us on a unique and exclusive trip of Sicily a veritable treasure chest of art, history, color and culture plus fabulous food and wine and spectacular landscapes.

Highlights:

  • 10 days (9 nights) to discover beautiful Sicily.
  • You’ll stay in just three privately owned superior town house properties, where modern comforts combine with historic traditions. The warmest of welcomes is guaranteed.
  • Discover the exquisite Baroque towns of Val di Noto – architectural gems
  • Visit the filming locations of detective series Montalbano
  • Enjoy pastries and cannoli (Sicily’s delicious crispy, brandy snap desserts)
  • Explore the Greek town of Siracusa where Archimedes, Greek philosopher lived and worked
  • Learn chocolate-making skills in Modica at the oldest ‘laboratorio’ in Sicily.
  • Visit a vineyard for an exclusive visit and wine tasting.
  • Marvel at the Greek Temples built in Sicily at the same time as the Parthenon in Athens
  • Explore historic palaces in Palermo rich in history and art
  • Visit the amazing and vast ballroom where Burt Lancaster danced when he was filming the movie ‘The Leopard’
  • Enjoy lunch on a hillside over-looking the Mediterranean Sea, whilst sampling wonderful local products including cheeses, honey, hams and succulent fruits.
  • Dive into the street markets of Palermo where our own ‘Personal Jesus’ will introduce us to the street food and markets of this intoxicating city.
  • Meet local Sicilian people who will share with you the finest local produce of Sicily.

The island of Sicily floats regally in the center of the Mediterranean Sea, a treasure trove for invaders over the centuries; the Greeks, Phoenicians, Romans, Arabs, North Africans, Normans and Spanish all wanted to control this bountiful territory and benefit from its riches. Sicily is a diverse and abundant tapestry just waiting to be discovered. The people are warm and friendly, and the landscapes are exceptional.

Read more about the history of Sicily here: Sicily – Jewel of the Mediterranean

NOTE: This exceptional journey will be led by Geographer and Art Historian Janet Simmonds, a friend of GG2P with a master’s degree from the University of Oxford. Janet lives in Venice and works all over Italy. When she’s not triping, she writes about travel including numerous articles on Sicily. Lucky for us, Janet speaks Italian, French and English. Janet has recently been appointed Oxford University’s official itinerary creator in Italy.

Itinerary

Day 1 – 1st October, Friday

Catania – Ragusa Ibla

Our journey will start at Catania Airport, on Sicily’s eastern coast, where guests will be met by our driver in his luxurious mini-coach. Giorgio, our friendly local chauffeur and his son Filippo will drive us throughout the trip. First stop: Ragusa Ibla, a UNESCO world heritage site and probably the most beautiful of the Sicilian Baroque hilltop towns.

We will be staying at a boutique hotel in the heart of the old town: Boutique Hotel 1768.  Every room is furnished in a funky combination of stylish retro and modern with a dash of Sicilian color thrown in. There’s a cool atrium where we can enjoy our aperitivi and conversation. There’s time to relax, take a nap and unpack before we meet for evening drinks on the terrace and a gentle stroll up to the wonderful cathedral. Here you feel as if you have stepped back in time.

Tonight our ‘Welcome Dinner’ features home-made pasta, local salads and some spectacular Sicilian wines.

Hotel: Boutique Hotel 1768, Ragusa Ibla

Day 2 – 2nd October, Saturday 

Ragusa Ibla – Montalbano – Scicli – Modica

After a leisurely breakfast in the hotel, we’ll meet up in the lobby for a day exploring this magical corner of Sicily. Today is all about the Val di Noto, a valley of exceptional natural beauty. This area inspired the writer Andrea Camilleri to create and write the Montalbano Detective novels here. Montalbano is now probably the most popular detective TV series in Italy. Visits to Scicli, Punta Secca and Donnafugata will inspire and impress. Donnafugata Castle which goes back to the 14th century literally means an escaping or fleeing woman. The Palace of Donnafugata was used in the Montalbano novels and TV series acting as the home of an evil mafia boss! Click here for more on movies made in Sicily.

Today we’ll enjoy a light lunch at a wonderful sandwich shop, that sells all types of delicious snacks including an amazing range of cannoli (Sicilian pastries).

This afternoon we’re off to Modica to visit the oldest chocolate shop in Sicily. Here we’ll have the opportunity to try our hand at chocolate making. Of course, there’s also the opportunity to buy chocolate too.

Dinner tonight will be near the Duomo at Trattoria La Rusticana where Detective Montalbano dines in the TV series.

Hotel: Boutique Hotel 1768, Ragusa Ibla

Day 3 – 3rd October, Sunday

Ragusa Ibla – Siracusa – Ortigia

Sunday is a special day in Sicily; the locals all come out in their Sunday best to go to church. Today, there’s an opportunity to attend mass in the fabulous Duomo of San Giorgio just minutes from the hotel. As you walk up the steps to the church, marvel at the intricate Baroque architecture before your eyes.

After church we’ll all get together for an aperitivo and lunch on an outdoor terrace admiring the wonderful Sicilian countryside.

Later this afternoon we’ll hop on our mini-coach and head to Siracusa for a visit to this spectacular Greek town, including a stroll through the historic alleys of Ortigia. The Ortigia Cosmetics and Perfume brand was created here. They are quite literally bottling and packaging the scents and aromas of Sicily. We’ll visit the Ortigia studio for the chance to see and smell these wonderful and unique fragrances. The packaging is to die for (www.ortigiasicilia.com).

Dinner will be in Siracusa in the historic ‘old town’ this evening.

Hotel: Boutique Hotel 1768, Ragusa Ibla

Day 4 – 4th October, Monday

Ragusa – Greek Temples – Cefalu

After another fresh and delicious breakfast in our hotel, we’ll travel west towards Agrigento. Here, we’ll find an exceptional group of classical temples built on Italy’s south coast by the Greeks in the 5th century BC. These temples have been standing for 2,500 years! The temple site is now a UNESCO world heritage site. It’s possible to wander amongst the temples which are surrounded by a verdant green park. The park is home to a unique species of goat known as ‘Capra Girgentana’ who have curly horns and clearly thrive in this beautiful and historic environment.

Lunch will be close to Agrigento in a rustic farmhouse setting with salads, cheeses, quiches and desserts. After lunch, we’ll travel north through Italy’s rural interior to the coastal town of Cefalu. For the next three nights, we’re staying at the boutique B&B ‘A Tonnara’’ just a short walk from Cefalu. There will be a relaxing, informal dinner tonight at our B&B with stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea.

Hotel: Atonnara, Cefalu

Day 5 – 5th October, Tuesday

Cefalu

Today’s the day for a joyful hike along the coast to the beautiful small city of Cefalu. Walking time about one hour. Drink in the fresh sea air as we walk through the Sicilian countryside to the medieval city of Cefalu. This is probably our favorite small city in Sicily. Narrow, stone streets, a superb cathedral and a fabulous array of shops and artisan studios await us. Here’s a little more on Cefalu – the most stylish small town in Sicily. Inside the cathedral in Cefalu there’s a 12th century mosaic of Christ ‘The Almighty’, created by the Normans when they invaded and took control of Sicily in the 1100s.

There’s free time for lunch today in Cefalu – there are numerous cafes, bars and small restaurants to choose from. We’ll explore the town center, waterfront and the medieval laundry, where the washerwomen of the town worked and gossiped more than five hundred years ago. There’ll be a car service back to the hotel available in the late afternoon.

This evening, a fish supper is organized at a tiny, family-run restaurant adjacent to La Tonnara (the old tuna processing factory). It’s a bit like Sicily’s equivalent of Cannery Row in Monterey!

Hotel: Atonnara, Cefalu

Day 6 – 6th October, Wednesday

Cefalu

Today there’s a choice of activities; either you can rest this morning and soak in the sun and the sea views from one of our hotel’s numerous terraces, or you can join us for an excursion inland to the Nebrodi Hills to see the isolated villages and winding roads of Sicily’s mountainous interior. It was here in the Nebrodi Hills that Sicily’s legendary and fiendishly difficult car race, the infamous ‘Targa Florio’, was held until the route was deemed too dangerous in the 1970s.

We’ll meet up at lunch time for a visit to an agriturismo where Margarita and her charming husband will delight us with an olive oil tasting and local pasta sampling, including a casual lunch, washed down with a locally produced wine.

Dinner this evening will be in Cefalu, in the historic center of town after a sunset drink at the beach.

Day 7 – 7th October, Thursday

Cefalu – Bagheria – Aspra – Palermo

Travelling along Sicily’s north coast with the sea at our feet reminds us of the island’s maritime heritage. Many wealthy families in Sicily owned farms in the countryside and a palace or large house on the coast, usually in a town. Our first stop this morning is Bagheria, a seaside location popular with the wealthy Sicilians to build their summer houses. These elaborate historic homes are mostly empty now and open to the public as museums. We’ll be visiting a small, and almost unknown villa that was occupied by the last member of an aristocratic family until just five years ago. The house is filled with fabulous furniture, family photographs and incredible ladies’ gowns (from the last hundred years). We’ll have a private visit to this fairytale palace, with its overgrown garden, dusty corridors and romantic courtyard.

We’ll have lunch ‘avec les pieds dans l’eau’ as the French say! Our lunch will be at Aspra in a tiny waterfront seafood eatery. The freshest of fish is served here, adjacent to the beach. A truly Sicilian experience.

From Aspra it’s just about forty minutes into Palermo, the capital city of Sicily, where we’ll stay for the next 3 nights. Our accommodation in Palermo is a stylish and contemporary palace located opposite the public gardens. It is a true Palermitano experience.

Hotel: L’Hotellerie, Palermo

Day 8 – 8th October, Friday

Palermo

Palermo was the capital city of the Kingdom of Sicily for seven centuries. The city is an incredible mixture of different styles and influences. There are churches that look like mosques with domed red roof tops and vast, sprawling, historic palaces. The Palazzo Normanno was the center of the royal court and today is the home of the Sicilian Regional government. Part of Palermo’s UNESCO world heritage status are the incredible Arabo-Normano churches of the city. We’ll visit the Palazzo dei Normanni and the spectacular Cappella Palatina – a richly decorated chapel filled with mosaics.

Then around mid-day we’ll meet our own “Personal Jesus” for a wonderful walking trip of the street markets of Palermo, where we’ll sample the delicious and varied street food of the Sicilians. This is an experience not to be missed. This is a lunch on-the-go with a difference. Sampling delicious delicacies whilst learning about the streets and history of Palermo. We’ll head back to our hotel via the smallest bookshop you’ve ever seen with a charming and tiny selection of interesting and unique volumes. We’ll meet the owner and see the courtyards that make up the University of Palermo.

This evening we’ll head to Mondello for dinner on the beach. This is a favorite spot for the local Palermitani. We’ll eat at the stunning ‘Alle Terrazze’ Ristorante over-looking the Golfo di Mondello. Seafood is the specialty, but there’s every type of dish to choose from this evening.

Hotel: L’Hotellerie, Palermo

Day 9 – 9th October, Saturday

Palermo – Monreale – Trapani – Marsala

We will complete our visit to Sicily today with a trip to the island’s west coast, travelling out of Palermo to Trapani and the incredible salt flats. These salt flats have been farmed for centuries, producing the finest sea salt for cooking and (in the old days) preserving food. The landscape is hauntingly beautiful. Then, it’s on to Marsala, where the traditional sweet Sicilian wine is harvested and fermented in oak barrels for years. We’ll enjoy a visit to a cantina where we can try a selection of Marsala wines, served with a selection of delicious Sicilian snacks.

This afternoon we’ll head back into Palermo via the Cathedral and monastic complex of Monreale, a huge religious building, highly decorated with carvings and mosaics.

This evening we’ll enjoy our Farewell Dinner in a super chic and trendy bistro where modern and traditional dishes are served in a vibrant and modern atmosphere. The sommelier will help us on a journey through some (there are many) of the wonderful wines of Sicily. A fitting end to our amazing Sicily experience.

Hotel: L’Hotellerie, Palermo

Day 10 – 10th October, Sunday

Departures

Today is the end of the trip – there will a private vehicle transfer service to Palermo Airport for guests flying out of Palermo. Optional add-ons are available if desired. Buon Viaggio! We hope to see you in Sicily again soon.

Trip Notes:

GG2P reserves the right to alter the itinerary based on weather or availability as well as exciting opportunities that might crop up!

** Not to worry – Vegetarians will be well fed in all cafés and restaurants as well as those allergic to seafood or gluten. Options are plentiful.

Trip Cost

Trip Cost: $5,995*

* All our trips are organized and priced based on single occupancy at all the places we stay. If you’re traveling with a friend/relative, or would prefer to save some money by sharing a room, we can usually organize double occupancy and a reduction in cost.

What’s Included?

  • Breakfast daily
  • 7 Lunches included, these are typical 2-course meals, including one glass of wine per person.
  • 9 Dinners these are 3-course meals with two glasses of wine per person.
  • Teas and coffees with meals.
  • Accommodation, double room for single occupancy as listed in program
  • All sight-seeing as listed in itinerary
  • Entrance fees and activities as listed in itinerary
  • All transportation as listed in itinerary from arrival at Catania to departure from Palermo
  • All guiding services organized and coordinated by Janet Simmonds

What’s not included:

  • Lunch is not included on Arrival Day and on Cefalu Day
  • Round Trip Airfare or other transportation to arrive in Sicily
  • Teas and coffees outside mealtimes
  • Wines, beers and spirits in addition to those served with meals
  • Travel and medical insurance is mandatory and is not included.
  • Any personal souvenirs or purchases.

I’m interested, so what do I do next?

If you have questions, press the Inquire Now button above, and complete the form. We’ll get back to you ASAP.

If you’d like to come, press the Reserve Now button above. You will be prompted to complete a form with your pertinent details, put down a refundable $250 deposit, and schedule a time to speak with a GG2P representative. We like to speak with everyone before they embark on their first trip with Girls’ Guide to Paris & Beyond. This allows you to ask any questions or voice any concerns you may have. These are intimate, small group trips; a quick yet personal conversation allows you to get to know how our trips work and make sure it’s right for you. If it’s not, we’ll immediately refund your $250 deposit.

If it’s a Go! after your call, we’ll bill you for 25% of the trip’s cost (less the $250 deposit you already paid) and your place is reserved. This is non-refundable; you’re committed to the trip. The balance is due approximately 2 months before the trip.

Our cancellation policy is here.

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