Current as of: June 15, 2024 - 08:38

Treasures of Sicily

Treasures of Sicily Trip Notes

  • Ways to Travel: Guided Group, Private Group Adventures
  • Destination: Italy
  • Programmes: Culture
  • Activity Level:

    2 out of 7 - Leisurely / Moderate

  • 9 Days: Flight Inclusive
  • 9 Days: Land Only
  • Ages: 16+
  • Trip Code: ADZ
  • Carbon Footprint: 14kg CO2e

Trip Overview

Discover baroque towns and Greek ruins surrounded by stunning scenery

Sicily is one of the most fascinating islands in Europe, thanks to the indelible marks left by the Phoenician, Greek, Roman, Arab, Norman and Spanish civilisations. This comprehensive tour explores sophisticated cities, picturesque villages, well-preserved archeological sites and splendid scenery. It starts with an excursion on Mount Etna, continuing to the towns of Syracuse, Agrigento, and Selinunte – all Unesco World Heritage sites. There is also a day in Zingaro National Reserve with magnificent views of the Mediterranean.

Treasures of Sicily

Join us to celebrate Exodus’ 50th anniversary! The departure starting in Viagrande on 7 September 2024 features extra inclusions to mark the occasion: a traditional puppet show, a local birthday celebration and a special edition Exodus kitbag.

At a Glance

  • Seven nights in three- and four-star hotels and one night agriturismo
  • Sightseeing on foot and two day walks
  • Group normally 6 to 18, plus local leader. Minimum age: 16
  • Travel by private air-conditioned minibus

Highlights

  • Explore baroque heritage in Noto and Ragusa Ibla
  • Visit archeological sites in Siracusa, Agrigento and Selinunte
  • Cover the island's highlights and best heritage sites in nine days

Is This Trip for You?

This trip is graded Activity Level 2 (Leisurely/Moderate). For more on our trip gradings, visit our Activity Level Guidelines page.

This is a comprehensive itinerary, with a few long, busy days due to the distance we cover. There is gentle walking on most days during the sightseeing but it won’t be strenuous. All transfers are by private air-conditioned minibus allowing us to enjoy comfortable journeys. Please note that due to traffic restrictions in the historic centres, you may have to carry your suitcase over cobbled pavements, although the bus will be leaving you as close as possible to your hotel. Please also be aware that sometimes hotels don’t have a lift. There are also two excursions on foot included in this trip: on Mount Etna, we walk for up to two hours on hilly-to-steep terrain of old dried lava, rocky ash, and sand. A second walk will take place in the stunning Zingaro Nature Reserve, where we will walk for up to three hours (including stops) along the idyllic Mediterranean coast. Both of these walks are optional. Should you prefer not to join these walks, there is a café (Mount Etna) or seating area (Zingaro Nature Reserve) close to the trail where you can wait for the rest of the group.

Group

An Exodus local leader will be on hand throughout the week to help with your orientation and to make sure everything runs smoothly. However, due to Italian legislation, tour leaders are not allowed to guide groups in cities, museums and churches. Local licenced guides will accompany the group in Siracusa and Ortigia, Agrigento, and Palermo and Monreale. Our tour leader will also accompany the group on the two walking excursions on Mount Etna and in the Zingaro Nature Reserve. You will be free to sightsee at your own pace in Noto, Ragusa Ibla, Selinunte and Erice.

Adult min age: 16

Min group size: 6

Max group size: 18

Itinerary

Treasures of Sicily map

Land Only

  • Start City: Viagrande
  • End City: Taormina

Land Only Itinerary

Day 1
Start in Viagrande

Welcome to Viagrande, a traditional Catanian village with a privileged view of Mount Etna. From its lofty position above the sea, it offers views of Mount Etna. The current old town centre was founded in 1408 but the first settlement here was founded under Greek rule. The ancient Roman road that led to Messina gives the name to the village (Viagrande means big road).

Depending on the arrival time of the group, we have a welcome briefing at the hotel either this evening or tomorrow morning; a great chance to meet your tour leader and the rest of the group.

Accommodation: Grand Hotel Villa Itria (or similar)

Day 2
Excursion on Mount Etna; afternoon wine tasting

After breakfast we enjoy a spectacular guided walk on Mount Etna, the highest active volcano in Europe. We hike past several old lava flows to be rewarded with a dramatic panorama of the volcanic landscape and old craters (one to two hours’ walking, 3.1mi/5km). You are strongly advised to take a waterproof/windproof jacket, a warm top and to wear long trousers (pants). In the afternoon, we enjoy a wine-and-cheese tasting in one of the most-celebrated cellars in the area.

Accommodation: Grand Hotel Villa Itria (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 3
Drive to Syracuse to visit its archeological site; on to the Unesco-badged baroque town of Noto

This morning we drive to Syracuse (approximately 1hr 15min drive), the most powerful city-state in the ancient Greek world and briefly the capital of the Byzantine empire. Here we visit the superb Neapolis Archeological Park, home to a spectacular Greek theatre and well-preserved Roman amphitheatre, accompanied by a local guide. In the afternoon we drive to our next destination, the Unesco World Heritage site of Noto (approximately 45 mins), a beautiful town built in the Sicilian baroque style using honey-coloured stone.

Accommodation: Hotel Flora (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 4
Visit the hilltop town of Ragusa Ibla; transfer to Agrigento's Valley of the Temples

After breakfast we drive to the hilltop town of Ragusa Ibla (approximately 90 minutes), a maze of winding streets with remarkable baroque churches, and continue on to Agrigento (2hr 30min). Here we enjoy a guided visit of the Valley of the Temples: the Temple of Juno; the Temple of Concorde, one of the most well-preserved doric temples in the ancient Greek world; the Temple of Hercules; and the Temple of Castor and Pollux.

Accommodation: Hotel Della Valle (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 5
Visit ruins of Selinunte, overlooking the Mediterranean; drive to the hilltop village of Erice

Our day starts with a transfer to Selinunte (90 minutes) to explore one of the most important archeological sites in the Mediterranean, set high overlooking the sea. We then move on to the mountaintop village of Erice (90 minutes), and stop en route for a view of the Mozia salt flats, which are dotted with characteristic windmills (time permitting). Once in Erice, we have time for a stroll through its narrow streets and will try the best almond biscuits on the island. We stay overnight in the town of Buseto Palizzolo or Trapani.

Accommodation: Baglio Fontana or B&B Trapani Crystal (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 6
Walk in the Zingaro Nature Reserve; afternoon transfer to Palermo

This morning head to the coast to explore the idyllic Mediterranean landscape on foot. Stretching along the coast for 4.3mi (7km) between the lovely village of Scopello in the east to San Vito Lo Capo in the west, the Zingaro Nature Reserve has walking trails with views out to the cliffs and the glistening sea, hidden coves and pristine beaches. We take a leisurely walk for up to three hours (including stops) along beautiful coastal trails, with the opportunity of a quick swim before returning to the bus. In the afternoon we make our way to Palermo (approximately 1hr 30min) where we can enjoy time at leisure to discover the vibrant historic centre and lively streets filled with restaurants and bars.

Accommodation: Hotel Posta or Hotel B&B Quattro Canti (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 7
Morning visit to Monreale Cathedral; guided tour of Palermo and free time

After a short transfer to Monreale (approximately one hour), we visit its extraordinary cathedral, considered the greatest example of Norman architecture in the world. We then head to Palermo (approximately one hour) where our local guide will show us the most important sites in this beautiful city, including Quattro Canti, Pretoria Square, the cathedral and Marina Square. In the afternoon, we have free time in Palermo to enjoy this eclectic city at our own pace.

Accommodation: Hotel Posta or Hotel B&B Quattro Canti (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 8
Drive to the fishing village of Cefalu to visit its Norman cathedral; on to charming Taormina; free time to explore

This morning we drive to the fishing village of Cefalu (approximately 1hr 15min), where we visit the impressive cathedral, home to elaborate Byzantine mosaics, and the lovely historic centre with its winding medieval streets. Our tour ends in one of the most renowned treasures of Sicily: the charming town of Taormina (approximately 2hr 40min drive). We have time to visit its Greek theatre and enjoy the spectacular views of Mount Etna and the sea.

Accommodation: Hotel Villa Esperia (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 9
End in Taormina

Enjoy your final breakfast of this Sicilian adventure, a perfect opportunity to reflect on the many wonders of this Italian island. Once you’re full, it’s time to start your return journey home.

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation

Three- and four-star hotels

Agriturismo Baglio Fontana, Buseto Palizzolo

On this cultural trip in Sicily, we use a varied selection of three- and four-star hotels. The places we stay are often near historic centres, allowing us to easily explore the towns in the evenings or during our free time.

Below are the accommodations we typically use:

Viagrande: Grand Hotel Villa Itria (nights 1-2)

Treasures of Sicily

With an outdoor pool, restaurant serving Mediterranean dishes made with local ingredients, and a cocktail bar-lounge, Villa Itria is an excellent spot to ease ourselves into the trip. There’s also a wellness centre for an additional cost.

Noto: Hotel Flora (night 3)

Treasures of Sicily

Our time in Noto is spent at Hotel Flora, which is ideally located in the historic centre of town. Noto Cathedral and the Piazza del Duomo are just a 10-minute walk away, while the hotel terrace offers views and a spot for a sundowner.

Agrigento: Hotel Della Valle (night 4)

Treasures of Sicily

Now well into the trip, Hotel Della Valle is a great place to relax as a group. When it’s hot, head to the swimming pool area, where you’ll find loungers, parasols and tables, plus a Mediterranean garden with palms and pines. Alternatively, you may prefer to find a shady spot for a drink.

Buseto Palizzolo or Trapani: Baglio Fontana or B&B Trapani Crystal (night 5)

Treasures of Sicily

In Buseto Palizzolo, we stay at either at Baglio Fontana (above) or in Trapani at B&B Trapani Crystal, depending on availability. The former is a historic agriturismo (converted farmhouse) with a working farm producing wines and olive oil, plus there’s an outdoor pool. The latter is a contemporary retreat with an excellent location, just a short walk from the ancient wonders of the historic centre of Trapani.

Palermo: Hotel Posta or Hotel B&B Quattro Canti (nights 6-7)

Treasures of Sicily

In Palermo, the group stays at either Hotel Posta (above) or Hotel B&B Quattro Canti. Hotel Posta has been run by the same family since 1921 and has an excellent location in the historic centre, just a five-minute walk from Teatro Massimo, plus there’s a sun terrace and bar. Our alternative stay, Quattro Canti, is within walking distance of the Quattro Canti piazza, where the four ancient quarters of the city meet, plus there’s a rooftop terrace with views over Palermo.

Taormina: Hotel Villa Esperia (night 8)

Treasures of Sicily

Our final night is spent at Villa Esperia. Get the group together by the outdoor pool to toast the adventure and admire the sea views. Alternatively, a cable car to Taormina town centre is just 330ft (100m) from the front door. The hotel also has one restaurant: Bacio di Dama, which serves Sicilian dishes.

Worth knowing

  • Some hotels require you to wear a swimming cap in the pool.

Single supplement from £ 430

Food & Drink

All breakfasts and a wine tasting on Mount Etna included.

Sicilian cuisine is a melting pot of all the cultures that have occupied the island, from the Arabs to the Normans. The island itself is incredibly fertile, enjoying a perfect climate for the cultivation of fresh produce such as olives, oranges, lemons, tomatoes, pistachios, almonds, grapes and more — not to mention all of the seafood, tuna and swordfish caught just off the coast. The result? A cuisine that’s fresh, varied and delicious. Sicilian wines, such as Marsala and Moscato, are superb and known to be strong and syrupy.

Transport

We use a private air-conditioned minibus for all transfers and excursions allowing us to enjoy comfortable, flexible and stress-free journeys.

Weather & Seasonality

Sicily has a good year-round climate, with plenty of sunshine and warm/hot temperatures. The summer departures ought to have daily hot sunshine and temperatures can reach 35C (95F). The earlier and later departures are likely to be cooler with a slightly higher chance of rain. In late summer, there is the possibility of heavy thunderstorms, but these are usually short-lived.

Joining Instructions

Key information

Start hotel: Grand Hotel Villa Itria, Via Antonio Aniante, 3, 95029 Viagrande CT
Phone: +39 095 226 6111

Recommended arrival time: You can arrive at any time today. There will be a welcome briefing in the evening or the following morning, but if you miss it the leader will update you separately
Airport: Catania (CTA)

Getting to the start hotel

The start hotel is approximately 35 minutes’ drive from the airport. Your options for this journey are:

Take an Exodus transfer

Exodus provides one group arrival transfer from the airport, which is timed to coincide with the arrival of a chosen flight from London, UK. You may join this transfer at no extra cost, provided you can be at the airport before the transfer leaves. Speak to your sales representative for the group arrival transfer times or to arrange a private transfer.

Make your own way

The start hotel is not easily accessible by public transport as there are no direct connections from either Catania Airport or the city centre, however you can reach the start hotel easily by taxi. A cab from the airport costs €55-€70. For information on joining this trip, please speak to your sales representative.

Catching your return flight

There’s a group departure transfer to the airport that’s scheduled to align with a flight to London, UK. Please speak to your sales representative if you wish to join. If the group departure transfer does not suit your flight time, speak to your sales representative to arrange an alternative transfer.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers will be sent to you as part of our Final Joining Instructions. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

Location start: Viagrande
Location end: Taormina

What To Take

Essential Equipment

  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Small backpack for camera
  • Guidebook
  • Sunscreen
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Waterproofs
  • For the walking excursion on Mount Etna you will need: long trousers, waterproofs, closed walking shoes/boots with sturdy soles
  • Water bottle: As appropriate, our tour leader will point out where we can refill our bottles with safe drinking water, so remember to bring refillable water bottles and keep hydrated during the day. Many hotels keep potable water in tanks, so it is advisable not to drink it.

Optional Equipment

  • Swimwear
  • Walking poles
  • Reusable lunch box and cutlery (to reduce plastic waste when lunches are purchased from local delis and bakeries)

Practical Information

Passport

Remember to check the expiration date of your passport if travelling internationally. Many countries require your passport to be valid for at least six months after the date of your scheduled return.

Visa

Italy

Travellers from the UK, US and EU normally do not need a visa to enter Italy. Please note, visa requirements often change and it is your responsibility to obtain any required visas for this trip. Therefore, we recommend that you check with the nearest embassy or consulate of your chosen destination(s), including any countries you may be transiting or transferring through.

Some local governments provide guidance on what visas their citizens need. To help, we’ve gathered a selection of useful links below.

• Australia: www.smartraveller.gov.au/destinations/europe/italy
• Canada: www.travel.gc.ca/destinations/italy
• United Kingdom: www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/italy/entry-requirements
• USA:  www.travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Italy.html

Please note: it is compulsory to carry ID with you at all times in Italy.

Vaccinations and Health

Italy

There are no required vaccinations. However, you may want to consider vaccinations for tetanus, rabies and tick-borne encephalitis. Please confirm with your doctor or travel clinic.

If you’re a UK citizen, please note that your UK-issued European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC) are still valid and offer the same cover as the Global Health Insurance Cards (GHIC) in the EU. This gives you medical care at a reduced cost, and in some cases for free, in many European countries, but should not be considered a substitute for adequate insurance. Once your EHIC has expired, replace it with a GHIC.

Local Time

Italy's time zone: Europe/Rome (UTC +02:00)

Electricity

Italy's electricity: Plug types C (two round pins, European standard), F (two round pins), and L (three round pins in a row) – 230V, 50Hz

Treasures of Sicily

Money

Italy's currency: Euros (EUR)

ATM Availability

ATMs are available in all major towns. Credit cards are accepted in large supermarkets and at the hotels in Palermo and in Taormina.

Extra Expenses & Spending Money

For the meals not included, allow €8‐€20 for lunch and €20‐€35 for dinner. The exact amount spent depends entirely on the type of restaurant visited and the menu chosen.

Optional excursions

  • Etna summit craters by cable car and 4×4 bus: €78
  • Greek theatre in Taormina (including cable car): €12 entrance ticket plus €6 each way for the cable car
  • Visit to Selinunte by golf cart: €8

Local taxes: many Italian cities have recently introduced a tourist tax for non‐residents. The local administration is in charge of the tax, which will be collected by the accommodation provider at check‐in or check‐out. This fee varies depending on the hotel category, the season and number of days of stay. It is usually between €1 and €4 per person per night. For this trip, please allow approximately €15 for the week.

Tipping

Our local staff are paid well and fairly for their work with Exodus. Most of our clients wish to give a tip to their guides in appreciation of their help and friendliness. This, of course, is in no way compulsory and depends on the service received. For this trip we recommend a starting point of €35 per person for the leader, €10 per person for the driver and €5 per person for each local guide.

People, Places & Planet

We work hard to create trips that have a positive impact on the people and places we visit and look after the planet we explore. Learn more about our sustainable travel ethos and practice here and find out about the work of the Exodus Travels Foundation here.

Some sustainable travel highlights of this trip include:

People

How this trip helps improve life for local communities.

  • Local guides keep you well informed about local traditions and cultural-social sensitivities.
  • This trip brings income and opportunity to the destination community through the inclusion of locally owned hotels, restaurants, and other enterprises, and by championing locally produced food wherever possible.
  • For several years we have accommodated guests in an ancient “Baglio” (Masseria or Casale, old manor house) located in the countryside which enables our groups to experience Sicilian culture while contributing to the economy of a rural family.
  • Read more about our other initiatives here.

Places

How this trip helps protect and conserve local landscapes and nature.

  • By travelling in a small group we ‘tread lightly’ to minimise our impact on local resources and the environment.
  • We work with our partners on the ground to proactively reduce waste; this includes eliminating all single-use plastic water bottles by providing refills for reusable bottles.
  • The payment of entrance fees to natural reserves and archaeological sites generates income which is used for upkeep and development of these important sites. On this trip we visit the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Mt Etna, Syracuse, Agrigento and Selnunte. We also spend a day in Zingaro National Reserve.
  • We rewild 100 square metres per passenger to compensate for all trip and flight emissions.
  • Read about our commitment to nature protection and restoration here, including our rewilding commitment for every customer who travels with us.

Planet

How we seek to keep the carbon footprint of this trip low.

  • Accommodation and restaurants in the itinerary use locally sourced food which has not been transported long distances.
  • We do two walks on this trip at Zingaro and Etna which reduces the use of private transport.
  • Read about our climate action here, including our carbon reduction and compensation commitments.

Tips for sustainable travel on this trip

  • Leave no trace: we do all we can to ensure we leave no rubbish in the wild and beautiful places we visit; we ask that you do the same. If there are no recycling facilities in-country, consider bringing recyclable materials home with you.
  • Plastic waste reduction: please bring a reusable water bottle on this trip, also consider avoiding single-use hotel toiletries, which generate a large amount of plastic waste.

Important Information

Water safety

This trip includes time by a lake, river or sea, where there may be opportunities to swim. You should always seek local advice before deciding whether to swim. Open-water or wild swim spots should be treated with extreme caution. Information on how to keep yourself safe while swimming is shown here.

Important Information

Your safe participation 

When booking this trip, you should be confident in your ability to participate in all activities described in these Trip Notes. If you have any doubt about your suitability, please call the Exodus office and ask to speak to one of the experts on this itinerary. 

Although our leaders are well trained to deal with different capabilities, if they have any concerns about someone’s ability to safely take part in an activity, or their impact on other people’s enjoyment, we authorise them to take necessary action which, in some circumstances, may involve asking someone to miss that activity. 

By booking this trip you agree to our Booking Conditions which clearly state that our leaders have the authority to do this. In these rare instances we will ensure anyone sitting out is safely provided for and offered alternative options where possible. Refunds will not be provided for activities missed and customers may be liable for additional costs incurred. 

How to Book

  1. Check availability: Go online to check availability, or contact us by phone or email.
  2. Secure your place: You can provisionally hold a place on this trip, usually for between three and seven days.
  3. Complete your booking and payment

When you’re ready to book, go to our website for online bookings, book over the phone or you can complete a booking form (available online or on request by calling us). We accept all major credit and debit cards, or you can pay be cheque.

After booking

You will receive your booking confirmation letter and invoice, which includes extra information and guidance about your travel arrangements.

Full joining instructions, including local emergency numbers and details of how to reach the start point, will be sent to you approximately two to three weeks prior to departure. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier, please contact our office or your travel agent.

Trip Note validity

These Trip Notes are valid from the “Current as” date on page one. They will occasionally be updated after booking and before departure; if there are any updates that significantly impact the inclusions or itinerary, customers will be written to separately. They will also receive a link to the most up-to-date Trip Notes with their Final Joining Instructions before travelling.

The information in these Trip Notes is given in good faith. Where differences exist between the Trip Notes and our current brochure or website, the Trip Notes supersede the brochure and website. All holidays can be subject to unexpected changes; to enjoy them you should be prepared to be flexible where necessary. Occasionally, it may not be possible to follow the itinerary as planned. This may be for a variety of reasons – climatic, political, physical or other. In these circumstances we will make the best-possible alternative arrangements that maintain the integrity of the original itinerary.

Licensing

Exodus is fully licensed and bonded as a tour operator. We hold Air Traffic Organisers Licence (ATOL) number 2582, issued and bonded with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are also bonded to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and we are members of the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) and ABTA – The Travel Association. This means you can book your Exodus holiday with confidence, as all money paid to us for your trip is fully protected.