Treasures of Sicily Trip Notes

Ways to Travel:
Guided Group
Destinations:
Italy
Programmes:
Culture
Trip Code:
ADZ
Activity Rating - Leisurely/Moderate
Leisurely / Moderate

You are reasonably fit, enjoy the outdoors and are looking for some exercise. Some previous experience is preferable for activity based trips.

9 Days Flight Inclusive
9 Days Land only
Min age: 16

Trip Overview

Sicily is one of the most fascinating islands in Europe, thanks to the indelible marks left by the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Normans, and Spanish civilisations. This comprehensive tour explores its sophisticated cities, picturesque villages, well-preserved archaeological sites, and splendid scenery. It starts with an excursion on Mt Etna, continuing to the towns of Syracuse, Agrigento, and Selinunte - all listed as UNESCO heritage sites. There is also a day in Zingaro National Reserve with magnificent views of the Mediterranean.

 

Temporary changes due to COVID-security measures.

Last updated: 16th October 2020

At Exodus, we acknowledge our responsibility to have the most up to date information on anything that will affect our customers on holiday and to communicate this to our customers as effectively as possible.

Our general global COVID security measures are described in our Travel Safety Charter, and changes will be made to these measures as required by the global pandemic situation.

However, we also expect there to be requirements, measures and sometimes itinerary changes that apply to certain trips only, and may well be temporary measures. We have highlighted all known changes in the section below.

Entry requirements.

For all trips, having the correct documentation and visa, if required, remains the customer’s responsibility based on their own nationality. We, therefore, encourage all travellers to check entry requirements using the travel advice of their home nation for the relevant destination. For UK passport holders that is https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) currently advises against all non-essential travel to Italy. Information on local restrictions will be provided and updated in 2021, closer to the time when trips be operational again.

At a Glance

  • 7 nights in 3 and 4-star hotels and 1 night agriturismo
  • Sightseeing on foot and 2 day walks
  • Group normally 6 to 18, plus local leader. Min age 16 yrs
  • Travel by private air-conditioned minibus 

Trip Highlights

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

Is This Trip for You?

This is a comprehensive itinerary, with a few long and busy days due to the amount of distance that we cover. There is some gentle walking involved 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 place in a lot of the historic centres visited 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 Mt Etna, we walk for up to 2 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 3 hours (including stops) along the idyllic Mediterranean coast. Both of these walks are optional: there are cafés not far from the trails, where you can sit and wait for the rest of the group, should you prefer not to join these walks. Since we spend the first two nights in the same accommodation, you may even choose to spend the day exploring the wonderful baroque town of Acireale instead of Etna.
The overall Activity Level for this trip is 2 (Leisurely/Moderate) meaning that it is suitable for all people who are in good health and fitness.

Following a review of all our trips we have categorised this trip as generally not suitable for persons of reduced mobility. However if you are a regular traveller on such trips, please contact customer services to discuss the trip and your personal condition.

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 & Ortigia, Agrigento and Palermo & Monreale. Our tour leader will also accompany the group on the two walking excursions on Mt 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

Land Only

Start City:
Acireale
End City:
Taormina

Land Only Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Start in Acireale

    Our tour starts in Acireale, a charming historic town at the foot of Etna and overlooking the sea. The town is considered the birthplace of Sicilian baroque and boasts a magnificent Piazza del Duomo. Churches worth visiting include San Sebastiano, patron saint of the town, with its ten statues of old testament figures and the frescoes of the painter Paolo Vasta.

  • Day 2

    Excursion on Mt Etna, Europe's highest active volcano; afternoon wine tasting.

    After breakfast we enjoy a spectacular guided walk on Mt Etna, Europe's highest active volcano. We hike up past several old lava flows to be rewarded with a dramatic panoramic view of the volcanic landscape and old craters (1 to 2 hours walking, 5 km). You are strongly advised to take a waterproof/windproof jacket, a warm top and to wear long trousers. In the afternoon we enjoy a delicious wine & cheese tasting in one of the famous wine cellars of the area. Transfer back to Acireale.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 3

    Drive to Syracuse to visit its archaeological site; on to the UNESCO Baroque town of Noto.

    This morning we drive to Syracuse (approx. 1h 20 mins drive), the most powerful city-state in the Greek world and briefly capital of the Byzantine Empire. Here we visit the superb Neapolis Archaelological Park with its 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 (approx. 45 mins). This is an absolute gem: a beautiful town built in the unique Sicilian baroque style using beautiful honey-coloured stone.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 4

    Morning 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 (approx. 1hr 30 mins), a fascinating maze of winding streets dotted with remarkable baroque churches, and continue on to Agrigento (2hrs 30 mins). Here we enjoy a guided visit of its magnificent Valley of the Temples: the Temple of Juno, the Temple of Concorde, one of the most well-preserved Doric temples in all the Greek world, the Temple of Ercules and the Temple of Castor and Pollux. We then overnight in Agrigento.

    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 (1hr 30 mins) to explore one of the most important archaeological sites in the Mediterranean, set high overlooking the sea. We then move on to the mountaintop village of Erice (1hr 30 mins) , and stop en route for a view of the famous salt flats of Mozia, dotted with characteristic wind mills (time permitting). Once in Erice, we have time for a stroll through its narrow streets and will try the best almond cakes (cassata) on the island. Overnight near San Vito Lo Capo.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 6

    Walk in the stunning Zingaro Nature Reserve; afternoon transfer to Palermo.

    This morning we take a break from the cultural highlights of the island and head to the coast to explore one of the best examples of idyllic Mediterranean landscape on foot. Stretching along the coast for 7km between the lovely village of Scopello in the east to San Vito Lo Capo in the west, the Zingaro Nature Reserve boasts some stunning 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 3 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 (approx. 2hrs) where we can enjoy some time at leisure to discover the vibrant historic centre and lively streets filled with restaurants and bars. We then overnight in Palermo.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 7

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

    After a short transfer to Monreale (approx. 1 hr), we visit its extraordinary cathedral, considered the greatest example of Norman architecture in the world. We then head to Palermo (approx. 1 hr) and our local guide will show us the most important sites of this beautiful city, including Quattro Canti, Pretoria Square, the Cathedral and Marina Square. In the afternoon we have some free time in Palermo to enjoy this eclectic city at our own pace. We overnight in Palermo.

    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 (approx. 1 hr 15 mins), where we visit the impressive cathedral, home to elaborate Byzantine mosaics, and the lovely historic centre with its winding mediaeval streets. Our tour ends in one of the most renowned treasures of Sicily: the charming town of Taormina (approx. 2hrs 40 mins drive). We have time to visit its Greek theatre and enjoy the spectacular views of Mt Etna and the sea. We overnight in Taormina.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 9

    End in Taormina.

    Our tour ends in Taormina in the morning of day 9. 

    Meals included:
    Breakfast

Accommodation

3 and 4-star Hotels and Agriturismo

Agriturismo Baglio Fontana, Buseto Palizzolo

On this trip we use different comfortable 3 and 4-star hotels and one agriturismo . Some of them have been chosen for their warm hospitality and typically Sicilian character and others for their convenient location. They are often located in proximity of the historic centres we visit so that we can easily explore the towns in the evenings or during our free time. Some hotels have a pool and WiFi.

List of hotels normally used:

  • Acireale: Grande Albergo Maugeri
  • Noto: Hotel Flora
  • Agrigento: Hotel della Valle
  • Buseto Palizzolo: Baglio Fontana
  • Palermo: Hotel B&B Palermo Quattro Canti
  • Taormina: Hotel Villa Esperia

Where a single supplement is available, paying for a single will only guarantee a room for single use. It does not necessarily mean a twin or double room will be provided for sole occupancy.

Please note that a member of the group may be allocated a single room by default if the make-up of the group means there isn’t anyone for them to share with. Paying the supplement in advance is the only way to guarantee a single room.

Single supplements cannot be refunded retrospectively.

Single supplement from £360.00

Food & Transport

Eating & Drinking

All breakfasts and a wine tasting on Mt Etna included.

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

Transportation

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

Weather & Seasonality

When to go

Sicily has a good all year round climate, with plenty of sunshine and warm/hot temperatures. The summer departures ought to have daily hot sunshine and temperatures can reach 30 to 35degC. 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.

Weather Charts

Joining Instructions

Travelling flight inclusive from London: 9 days

The group flight from London is a daytime flight departing on Day 1 of the itinerary.

Flights from London

We normally use the scheduled services of British Airways or Alitalia (depending on availability). As flight timings and schedules change regularly we recommend you call one of our specialist sales staff or your agent to confirm up‐to‐date timings. Please note timings may change at a later date and cannot be confirmed until approximately two weeks before departure.

Travelling land only: 9 days starting in Acireale and ending in Taormina

Your trip normally starts at our accommodation in Acireale in the afternoon of Day 1 of the itinerary. Details of how to reach the start point are provided in the Final Joining Instructions ‐ sent approximately two weeks before departure.

Regional Flights

The Flight Inclusive price is based on a London departure, but we are happy to tailor this to your local or regional airport. Please ask about flights from local or regional airports.

If booking regional flights other than with Exodus, you must allow a minimum connecting time (in addition to the international check-in time) of 1 hour at Gatwick, and 1.5 hours at Heathrow; this is longer than the official minimum, but baggage handling is known to be subject to delays.

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.

Transfers Details

Airport transfers are included for those on the group flights. Please note that transfers are not included for clients arriving on any other flight, even if Exodus has booked it.

If you require airport transfers, you may (by prior arrangement only) be able to join the group transfer. Transfers are arranged to coincide with the arrival time of the group flight - please check the group flight details 2 weeks before departure. If you do not take this transfer, or miss it, you must make your own way to the joining point at your own expense.

Reaching San Biagio resort in Acireale from Catania airport is relatively easy. From outside the Arrivals terminal, located on the right, you have to take the bus Nº 457 (A.M.T.‐ orange colour) and get off at Stazione Centrale. Tickets can be purchased at the SAIS tickets office nearby the bus stop. Buses run every 30 minutes. From Stazione Centrale take the bus Catania‐Acireale (AST blue or white colour) Tickets can be purchased on board for €4. Once in Acireale, please ask the driver to drop you at the Basilica of San Sebastiano. Please visit http://www.aziendasicilianatrasporti.it/ for timetables. From the square there is a 10‐15 minutes' uphill walk throughout narrow streets, which most of the time have no pavement. Alternatively, a private transfer can be booked through Exodus. Please contact us for a quote.

Location start:
Acireale
Location end:
Taormina

What to Take

Essential Equipment

Comfortable walking shoes

Small daypack for camera

Guidebook

Sun cream

Hat

Sunglasses

Waterproofs

For the walking excursion on Mt Etna you will need: long trousers, waterproofs, closed walking shoes/boots with sturdy sole.

Water bottle: while mineral water is available in restaurants and shops, it’s safe to drink the tap water in hotels in Sicily, so remember to bring refillable water bottles and keep hydrated during the day.

 

At the time of writing the standard weight limit for hold baggage on the recommended international carrier for this trip is 20kg. We recommend packing only one piece of checked baggage.

As advice about luggage allowances for both hand and hold luggage is subject to change, we suggest you check the airline's website for the latest information prior to your departure.

Optional Equipment

Swimming costume

Walking poles

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

Reading List

Robert Andrews and Jules Brown (2008), Sicily: The Rough Guide
Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa (1958), The Leopard
Giovanni Verga (1881), I Malavoglia

Beautiful village of Ragusa, Sicily, italy

Practical Information

Passport

Italy

All nationalities require a full passport that must be valid beyond the intended length of stay. It is your responsibility to have the correct personal documents and to obtain your own visa, if one is necessary, in accordance with the regulations of the country you are to visit. The information offered below is to help you with that process. We are not responsible for the actions of local immigration and customs officials, whether at points of entry or otherwise, and any subsequent effects.

Certain European nationalities may be able to travel within Europe on their national identity card. Check carefully with the relevant authorities if you intend to do this.

Visa

Italy

Visa regulations can change without notice: please check the current regulations in good time to obtain a visa if one is required.

There are no specific health risks on this trip.

Vaccination

Italy

There are no specific health risks.

Travel health can often be something people forget about before going away, but a little preparation and knowledge can go a long way to help you stay fit and healthy while abroad.

The above information can change at short notice; as we are not qualified to answer all your questions about travel health we strongly recommend you contact your Medical Professional or a Travel Health Clinic at least 8 weeks prior to departure for up-to-date information. Please note: vaccinations that are routinely recommended to residents of the UK, North America or Australasia are not considered to form part of the travel health advice, and you should ensure these are kept up to date where necessary.

For additional information please visit: https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/countries

Insurance - are you adequately covered?

It is a condition of joining any of our holidays that you must be fully insured against medical and personal accident risks (to include repatriation costs and air ambulance or helicopter rescue services where appropriate). On arrival in destination for your trip, you will be asked to present details to your leader or local representative of your policy.

If you are resident in the UK we strongly recommend the Exodus travel insurance policy, this is specifically designed to cover all activities on your trip. If arranging your own policy please ensure that you are covered for all activities that are part of the trip, optional activities that you intend to take part in and/or on high altitude itineraries, that you are covered up to the maximum altitude of the trip.

Please note that European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC) will only be valid for most UK citizens up to 31st December 2020.  This gives you medical care at a reduced cost, and some cases for free, in many European countries, but should not be considered a substitute for adequate insurance. After 1st January EHIC cards will no longer be valid for most UK citizens.

Local Time

Italy's Timezone:
Europe/Rome CET (GMT +01:00)

Electricity

Italy's Electricity:

European plug ‐ 2 round pins.

Money

Italy's Currency

The national currency of Italy is the Euro (EUR), with an exchange rate at the time of publication of approximately 1.2 to the UK£ and 0.9 to the US$.

Exchange rates are correct at the time of publication.

 

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 and Spending Money

For the meals not included, allow €8‐15 for lunch and €20‐30 for dinner. The exact amount spent depends entirely on the type of restaurant visited and the menu chosen.

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 approx. €15 for the week.

Optional Excursions 

Etna summit craters by cable car and 4x4 bus: €80-85

Greek Theatre in Taormina (including cable car): €12

Visit to Selinunte by golf cart: €6

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 to budget approx. €15-20 per person for the leader.

Responsible Tourism

Tourism can be a real help to local communities, providing income, positive cultural exchanges and a financial incentive to protect their natural environment. Ours is a 'total approach' to responsible tourism, covering everything from the way we plan and operate our trips to the practices of Exodus as a company. 

As much as possible, we try to use accommodations that are locally owned or at least employs local staff and uses local produce. Our small group size allows us to support smaller hotels and restaurants that do not usually benefit from mass tourism, bringing a positive impact on the overall employment levels and economy in the region. Sicilians are very proud of their local produce and so where meals are provided, fresh, locally sourced ingredients are used wherever possible. On Mount Etna, clients get to enjoy a wine and cheese tasting session as an introduction to traditional produce and to support local craftsmanship. Additionally, our visit to archaeological sites, baroque temples, honey coloured towns and areas of natural beauty, helps generate funds that support the maintenance of these important historical and natural places.

In March 2019, Exodus Travels launched the Exodus Travels Foundation where we support initiatives all around the world. But it cannot exist without travellers who care. Get involved or learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus here

Exodus Community

Join the Exodus online community

Don't forget to visit the Community area on our website. You can view the range of Exodus videos and podcasts, read trip write-ups which have featured in the national media and take advantage of some special deals on travel gear and equipment.

In the Community Travel Forum you'll find the Departure Lounge where you can discuss your trip with fellow travellers before you depart. When you get back from your holiday remember to upload your images to the relevant trip page on our website. This helps other people see what our holidays are really like and you'll be entered automatically into our monthly photo competition.

To make full use of the Community you'll need to join My Exodus. It's free, registration is simple and easy, so what are you waiting for?

Important Information

On all guided trips

Although our leaders are well trained to deal with different capabilities, if they have any concerns about someone’s ability to safely partake 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.

Although rarely enforced, by booking this trip you agree to section 14 of our Booking Conditions which clearly states that our leaders have the authority to do this. In these circumstances 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.

On all trips

In 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 you should call the Exodus office and ask to speak to one of the experts on this itinerary.

In an emergency, please contact our 24 hour out of hours service on +44 (0) 844 326 7041.

Every time that you travel abroad you should take the time to read the warnings in the essential information in the brochure.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers, and details of how to reach the start point, will be sent to you approximately 2 to 3 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.

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; in order to enjoy them you should be prepared to be flexible where necessary. Occasionally, as stated in our brochure, 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.

As fuel prices, airport taxes and exchange rates fluctuate, and airlines manage their rates to match demand, it is proving harder than ever to guarantee our Flight Inclusive prices. Although we endeavour to keep our website as accurate as possible, daily fluctuations mean that our Flight Inclusive price may be out of date. For accurate prices we recommend that you contact one of our Travel Experts, or your Travel Agent.

This trip includes time by a lake, river or sea, where there may be opportunities to swim. Swimming results in more tourists deaths than any other activity. All customers should always seek local advice before deciding whether to swim, and are requested to treat the sea with extreme caution if they choose to enter the water. Details on how to keep yourself safe while swimming are shown here.

TRAVEL AWARE – STAY SAFE & HEALTHY ABROAD

 

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office and the NHS have up-to-date advice on staying safe and healthy abroad. For more on security, local laws, plus passport and visa information, see https://travelaware.campaign.gov.uk/

Keep informed of current travel health news by visiting https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/

Advice can change so check regularly for updates.

For all latest travel information about your holiday, please visit our Travel Safety Advice page.

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. Book with confidence: 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 monies paid to us for your trip are fully protected.

TRIP NOTE VALIDITY

These Trip Notes are valid from the "Current as" date on page one. They will occasionally be updated post booking and pre-departure; if there are any updates that significantly impact the inclusions or itinerary bookers will be written to separately. All customers will also receive a link to the most up-to-date version of the Trip Notes with their Final Joining Instructions pre-travel.