SICILY with 4 days in Mainland Italy

  • Duration:10 NIGHTS / 11 DAYS
  • Countries Visited: Italy

DAY 1: DEPARTURE FROM NORTH AMERICA

Depart from your hometown on a scheduled international flight to Rome and then to Palermo.

DAY 2: PALERMO, SICILY

Welcome to Sicily! We  are greeted at the airport by our English speaking tour guide and we board our own private bus and transfer into Palermo, a city whose ancient roots reach back to the Phoenicians. This afternoon, we have a tour of the  Old Palermo, commencing in front of San Giovanni degli Eremiti, and ending in Piazza Marina. During our walk we will visit Palazzo dei Normanni, a mammoth palace and artistic treasure, constructed by the Arabs over the ruins of a Roman fort in the 11th century. We also see  the Church of San Giovanni Degli Eremiti, built in 1132 and surrounded by tropical gardens with 13th Century cloisters.  Overnight Palermo. (D)

DAY 3: PALERMO – SEGESTA – AGRIGENTO

This morning we leave Palermo and travel to Agrigento. En route, we will visit the ruins of the ancient city of Segesta, destroyed by the Saracens in the 11th century. We will view the Temple, probably dedicated to Apollo, which was once one of the largest in the ancient world and is one of the most impressive ancient monuments outside of Greece, as well as the Theater, before continuing to Agrigento to see the ruins in the Valley of the Temples, which straddle a low ridge to the south of Agrigento. Our tour will include: the Temple of Juno, the Temple of Concord, the Temple of Hercules and the so-called Temple of Castor and Pollux. Meet your coach and take a tour by night of the Valley and continue to the ‘Teatro Della Posta Vecchia’ for an amazing show, featuring Sicilian folk dances, local music, history and songs. Overnight Agrigento. (B.D.)

DAY 4: AGRIGENTO – PIAZZA ARMERINA – RAGUSA- SIRACUSA

Our destination this morning is Villa Romana del Casale, a magnificent villa, which is one of the largest dwellings of its kind to have survived from the days of the Romans. Its 40 rooms are “carpeted” with some of the greatest and most magnificent mosaics in Western Europe. We continue to the nearby town of Piazza Armerina, where we will explore the treasures of the main plaza, and visit the baroque Cathedral, then we have  a bit of free time to explore or shop in Ragusa our next stop before , we continue to Siracusa, beautifully situated at the head of a lovely bay on Sicily’s east coast. Siracusa was founded in the 8th century BC by Greeks from Corinth, and at the height of its power; its splendor rivaled that of Athens. Overnight Siracusa. (B.D.)

DAY 5: SIRACUSA –TAORMINA

This morning we will explore the ancient treasures of Siracusa. We begin with a visit to Siracusa’s Archaeological Park, which contains the town’s most important attractions. Our afternoon commences with a visit to the Catacombs of St. John, honeycombed tunnels of empty coffins, including the crypt of St. Marcianus, which lies under what was reportedly the first cathedral erected in Sicily. The remainder of the afternoon will be free to explore Siracusa’s city center.

In the afternoon take a tour of  Mount Etna, the tallest active Volcano on the continent of Europe , which includes the highest and largest active volcano in Europe, which looms menacingly over the coast of eastern Sicily. We continue to Taormina, dating from the 4th century B.C. it hugs the edge of a cliff overlooking the Ionian Sea, while constantly in the shadow of Mount Etna. Overnight Giardini Naxos. (B.D.)

DAY 6: TAORMINA-ROME

This morning we visit the  Greek Amphitheater, which in the Hellenistic period, the Greeks hewed out of the rocky slope of Mount Tauro. We will explore what remains today, as well as the Antiquarium, which contains artifacts from the classical and early Christian periods. In the late afternoon we take a flight to Rome Fumaccino airport and transfer to Sorrento for overnight.   (B.D.)

DAY 7:  DAY TRIP TO CAPRI –POMPEII

We start from the port of Sorrento and journey to the beautiful Island of Capri. The highlight of the day is the boat ride to the Blue Grotto, one of the best-known and most beautiful natural sights in Italy.Our day continues from Marina Grande, where we will take a Funicular or coach to the town of Capri. The heart of the town is Piazza Umberto I, which is like a grand living room, lined with cafes and elegant shops. Our afternoon commences with a walk down Via Vittorio Emanuele to the Giardini di Augusto, the choice spot on Capri for panoramic views.  We then  ascend Mt. Vesuvius, a dormant volcano that dominates Campania. Continue with a visit to one of the most spectacular sights in the world, the remains and excavations of Pompeii. This once thriving Roman city was completely buried during the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD, and today provides archaeologists and visitors with a fascinating look at life in a Roman merchant city. We will have a local guide take us through the excavations within the city walls, including the Basilica, Forum, Baths, Theater and Amphitheater. Overnight Sorrento. (B.D.)

DAY 8: HERCULANEUM – NAPLES

This morning we take a guided tour through the ruins and excavations at Herculaneum, where the people were still working to repair the damage caused by an earthquake in A.D. 62, when Mt. Vesuvius erupted on that fateful August day in 79 AD. Herculaneum is not completely dug out today, due to the fact that the town was buried under lava, which is much heavier than the ash and pumice stone that piled onto Pompeii. This however was beneficial, in that it formed a greater protection for the buildings buried underneath, many of which are more elaborately constructed than those at Pompeii. We continue to Naples, where we will visit the NationalArchaeological Museum, one of the finest antiquities museums in the world. Overnight Naples.  (B.D.)

DAY 9: ANCIENT ROME

Today we will explore Rome’s most spectacular remains from the powerful Roman Empire,  starting with a visit of the  Colosseum, considered the symbol of Rome’s eternity. Completed under Titus in 80 AD, over 55,000 spectators could watch the gladiatorial games. We continue with a walk through the ruins and excavations of the Roman Forum, featuring the remains of magnificent temples, basilicas and triumphal arches, which once formed the heart of the Empire. Our tour concludes with a brief visit to the Mamertine Prison, where St. Peter and St. Paul were imprisoned, and the grandiose Vittorio Emmanuelle Monument.  We then continue to Piazza Navona,  designed in the 17th century by Bernini. We then visit the Pantheon, one of the grandest and the best-preserved Roman monuments, which today houses the tombs of Raphael, Vittorio Emmanuelle II, and Queen Margherita and on  to the Spanish Steps, the stairway of the Church of Trinita dei Monti, and “the sitting room” of the city. Our day concludes at the romantic Trevi Fountain, where it is traditional to toss a coin into the fountain to ensure a return to the Eternal City. Overnight Rome. (B.D.)

DAY 10: CHRISTIAN ROME

Today we will explore the Vatican, the world’s smallest independent nation, and home of St. Peter’s Basilica.  We have a guided tour of the Vatican Museums, including the map rooms, the tapestry rooms, and the magnificent Raphael Rooms, as well as the spectacular Sistine Chapel, highlighted by Michelangelo’s ceiling and his Last Judgment. We continue with a visit to St. Peter’s Basilica, the largest church in the western world and the most important point of pilgrimage in the Catholic world. Afternoon finds us at the Catacombs, where the early Christians buried their dead.   Overnight Rome. (B.D.)

DAY 11: DEPARTURE FROM ROME

Our enjoyable and rewarding tour will come to an end as our guide accompanies us to the airport for the return flight home.

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