Sicilian Secrets 2019 – Sant’Agata Tour of Sicily Special 8 Days
Guided Tour Catania/Catania – 8 days / 7 nights itinerary. Overnights in 4* hotels, half board basis.
Departure on Saturday February 2nd.
Day 1 – Saturday 02: CATANIA – (hotel in Catania)
Sicilian Secrets Tour of Sicily 8 Days Special Sant’Agata provides independent arrival at the hotel in the charming city of Catania (optional private transfer on request). In the evening you will meet with our tour-leader and your travel companions and enjoy a welcome dinner. Overnight in hotel.
Day 2 – Sunday 03: SYRACUSE – NOTO (hotel in Catania)
After breakfast in hotel we will visit Syracuse, the most beautiful and greatest Greek colony in Sicily and World Heritage Site! The visit will start with the Archaeological Park of Neapolis, with its Greek Theatre, the Roman Amphitheatre, the Latomie of Paradise and the Ear of Dionysius. We will continue visiting the splendid Ortigia, a small island which is the historical centre of Syracuse. In Ortigia you will admire the beautiful Cathedral which dominates the square with its authoritative presence. The present façade is a powerful Sicilian-Baroque composition but it gives no hint that this building was once a Doric temple! From Piazza Duomo you will reach a wide terrace on the waterfront surrounding the famous Arethusa’s Fountain, one of the most famous fresh-water sources of the Greek world. Free time for lunch. Departure to Noto, the capital of Sicilian Baroque, famous for its fine buildings of the early eighteenth century and declared Unesco World Heritage Site. Inspired by Baroque ideals of “open city”, Noto is a rare masterpiece and the most clear example of theatrical tastes in 18th century architecture whose local limestone has been burnt gold by the sun. Noto’s Baroque is in fact a game of elegant curves, floral weaves, perspective views palaces and gardens, capitals and ornaments that adorn the facades of churches and monasteries. We will visit Palazzo Nicolaci Villadorata, beautiful noble residence in Baroque style and once the residence of Don Giacomo Nicolaci, a patron of the arts. Back in Catania where you will have the chance to see the stunning fireworks in Piazza Duomo, as known as “I Fuochi del 3”, and you will get to the heart of the feast. According to popular belief, these fireworks help Agata “wake up” encouraging her to exit among the devotees. Dinner and overnight in hotel.
Day 3 – Monday 04: CATANIA – TAORMINA (hotel in Catania)
After breakfast, we will proceed to Catania. Visit of the city centre, stated Unesco World Heritage Site, with its original Baroque style and its unique streets built with black lava stone. The walking tour will start across the “Pescheria” (the ancient fish market) to reach the scenic Duomo Square with its magnificent Cathedral and the famous “Liotru” statue, antique lava-stone elephant, symbol of the city. Not far from here we will reach University Square and we will have a walk along the splendid Baroque Via dei Crociferi, the most representative 18th century street in Catania, where we will admire the famous S. Benedict Monastery, Unesco World Heritage Site. We will stop in a bar for a delicious tasting of Sicilian cannolo. The city tour will be even more impressive thanks to the warm atmosphere of the Feast. Transfer to Taormina, charming town renowned for its magnificent position above the sea commanding a celebrated view of Etna! Lunch in a nice restaurant where you will assist to a show-cooking lesson of some typical Sicilian cuisine dishes. In the afternoon we will visit Taormina’s fascinating Greek theatre, and then you will have free time for a nice walk among the picturesque Medieval typical narrow streets, go shopping and looking around the local handycraft (coral jewels, precious laces, ceramics, sweets and much more). In the evening, back to the hotel, dinner and overnight.
Day 4 – Tuesday 05: ETNA – CATANIA (hotel in Catania)
This morning we will leave to visit Etna the highest (c. 3350m) volcano in Europe and one of the largest and most active in the world, nowadays Unesco World Heritage Site. Its regional park protects 59.000 hectares of unique geology, flora and fauna, villages and farms, and traditional methods of forestry, bee-keeping, wine manufacture, stonework and carpentry. We will reach the “Crateri Silvestri”, small volcanic cones now inactive, surrounded by ancient lava flows. The view, beyond the mountain’s hundreds of subsidiary cones and craters, can extend across the whole of Sicily, the Aeolian islands and Calabria. The spectacle is unique! After free time for lunch, transfer to Catania, which today celebrates its patron Saint. On February 5th the ancient pall comes out from Catania’s Cathedral to start a long walk among the main streets of the city centre. The precious reliquary, adorned of jems and ex-voto, meets the devotees in the most popular locations in Catania: Piazza Duomo, via Etnea, Piazza Stesicoro and via San Giuliano. Free time in the evening to enjoy the religious celebration. Dinner and overnight in hotel.
Day 5 – Wednesday 06: CEFALU’ – PALERMO (hotel in Palermo)
After breakfast in hotel, the day is dedicated to the visit of Cefalù, a charming Medieval town situated at the northern coast of Sicily. We will visit its stunning Norman Dome and you will have free time to stroll through the town or to visit the famous and well-known Mandralisca Museum. We will proceed to Palermo, one of the richest towns in the Island for its history and art. Palermo stands on a bay at the foot of Mt Pellegrino, a headland described by Goethe as the loveliest he had ever seen. While the Baroque predominates, there is a profusion of different architectural styles reflecting the city’s multicultural past, including an elegant opera house! We will visit the wonderful Arab-Norman Cathedral, the astonishing Martorana Church and the amazing Cappella Palatina, mirable example from an historical and an artistic point of view, of how different cultures, religions and way of thinking apparently incompatible can coexist. Along the visiting day we will have a stop for a food surprise in the famous Antica Focacceria San Francesco. Continuing our walk, we will admire the Teatro Massimo and the debated fountain in Pretoria Square, situated in the ancient Kalsa area and adorned with XVI century sculptures. Back to the hotel, dinner and overnight.
Day 6 – Thursday 07: MONREALE – PALERMO (hotel in Palermo)
After breakfast in hotel, the morning will be spent visiting Monreale, its huge Norman Cathedral, proclaimed the Eighth Wonder of the World, and its splendid Cloister in Arab-Norman style: admirable masterpiece of art, sculpture, and semi-precious stones marquetry! Back to Palermo and free time available to enjoy the city centre. Accommodation in hotel, dinner and overnight.
Day 7 – Friday 08: AGRIGENTO – PIAZZA ARMERINA (hotel in Catania)
Breakfast and departure to Agrigento with the visit of the Valley of the Temples stated World Heritage Site, where among hundreds of almond trees, the rests of the ancient Akragas rise. It was defined by Pyndar “the most beautiful city of mortals”. Once one of the most prosperous of the ancient Greek cities on the Island, Agrigento presents a remarkable series of Doric Temples of the 5th century. You will see the “Temple of Hera”, the “Temple of Concordia” and the “Temple of Heracles”. Free time for lunch and transfer to Piazza Armerina. The splendid Villa Romana del Casale, World Heritage Site, is the complex which has some of the most extensive and most beautiful Roman mosaics known. This majestic villa, belonged to a member of the Roman Senatorial aristocracy, hosts prestigious mosaics representing mythological and historical episodes and scenes of hunting and entertainments. Proceed to Catania for dinner and overnight in hotel.
Day 8 – Saturday 09: CATANIA
Breakfast in hotel and end of services.For organizational reasons or due to force majeure, the itinerary may be modified.
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