Sicily Tour  

Artisanal Italy Tour

Sicily's Hidden Treasures

A Personal Discovery of Life in Sicily: Culture, Tradition, Artisans, Food, Wine & Friends

13-days in Enchanting Sicily!
September, 2006

This is a very special "small group" Sicily tour exclusive to Global Philosophy Travel. We would love for you to join us in discovering authentic Sicily! Limited to 12 travelers.

Sicily Tour Highlights:

•Discover well know Sicilian sites and cities as well as off-the-beaten-path villages.
•Artisan craftsman visits such as Papyrus Paper Making; Sicilian Carts; Embroidery Visit; Wrought Iron Craftsman; Puppet Artisan.
• Unique accommodations: 16th-century converted paper mill; a beautiful villa; a quaint countryside hotel; a centrally located boutique hotel build into the stone of a mountain among others!
•Picnic lunch at an orange grove
•Tour the coast by private boat at sunset
•Sicilian dessert cooking lesson
•Wine tasting
•Enjoy antipasti at a restaurant partially covered by lava on Mt. Etna.
•Full day at leisure in beautiful Taormina
•Aperitif and dinner at one of the most stunning private residences in Palermo
•And much more!

What makes our Sicily tour different than other tours?

•Our tours are small and personalized with a group size of 10-14 travelers.
•We include unique excursions and hands-on activities to familiarize our travelers with the customs and traditions of Italy/Sicily.
•We venture off-the-beaten-tourist-track to see how the locals live and to experience their country the way it really is.
•We are able to overnight in unique, locally-owned establishments, we are able to dine in smaller, family-owned restaurants where the locals frequent, experience personalized attention from each guide, minibus driver and tour escort among other advantages, since our groups are so intimate.
•We utilize the most reputable incoming tour operators who have a local office for emergencies or needs while traveling.
•Our small group tours are customized exclusively for our company, making our itineraries unavailable outside our agency.
•The owner of our agency accompanies each departure as an extra personal touch.
•And much more!

Sicily Tour Itinerary:

Day 1    Arrival - Valderice  

Benvenuto! After meeting at Palermo airport we are privately transferred to our magnificent country manor near Trapani. Check-in to our historic 4-star waterfront hotel and time to relax and explore the grounds at leisure before dinner. ( D)

Day 2      Erice / Saltpans/ Valderice

After a hearty breakfast are our hotel, we depart for Erice, a nearby medieval town, located at the top of a mountain set 751 meters above the sea. This lovely town overlooks the Western region of Sicily, the Mediterranean Sea as well as the Egadi Islands. Erice is the only Sicilian town that has been inhabited since pre-history! Enjoy a walking tour of its charming historical center.
Lunch on your own.
In the afternoon we will stop for a fascinating visit of the saltpans in Trapani, learning the method for making sea salt. Trapani is known for beautiful sunsets and views, as well as the extensive salt deposits that are ground into usable form by windmills, which scenically dot the coastline. Our tour escort will recount the different stages involved in collecting the salt and will display the various tools adapted for its extraction and its harvest. Dinner at our historic waterfront hotel. Overnight (BB, D)

Day 3     Agrigento / Piazza Armerina and its Villa Romana del Casale

After breakfast at the hotel, we depart for Agrigento to visit the beautiful Valley of the Temples, one of the most impressive and important sites of Greek civilization in the Mediterranean. Visit the Temple of Hercules, the Temple of Juno, the Temple of Castor and Pollux as well as the Temple of Concord.  
After our visit, we'll enjoy a picnic lunch in a garden amid orange trees.
In the afternoon we will stop at Piazza Armerina, a small town in the south-central part of Sicily, and visit Villa Romana del Casale, a spectacular Roman country villa of the 3rd century, famous for its precious mosaics. Check into our manor house. Dinner and overnight ( BB, L, D )

  Day 4   Caltagirone / Ragusa

After breakfast at the hotel, we depart for Caltagirone, considered the capital of Sicilian ceramics, nicknamed the "Faenza of Sicily." Caltagirone's name is derived from the Arabic word "cal'at ghiran" meaning castle of vases.
Lunch on your own.
In the early afternoon we will depart for Ragusa to enjoy a guided tour of this magnificent town. After our guided tour, free time is provided for personal discoveries. Lower Ragusa, known as Ragusa Ibla, or simply "Ibla," was the ancient city rebuilt after suffering heavy damage due to the infamous 1693 earthquake that devastated south eastern Sicily. Upper Ragusa, or Ragusa Superiore, is the main part of the new city built on the ridge across from the old city of lbla. Check into one of the most stylish and unique centrally located hotels in the city center. Dinner and overnight ( BB, D )

Day 5                Modica / Noto and Syracusa

After breakfast at the hotel, we depart for Modica, the ancient capital of Contea, a city full of fascinating architectural, artistic and scenic attractions, unique among those pertaining to the splendid Sicilian Baroque period. We will enjoy a walking tour of the town ending with a stop at an antique bakery, where we will learn to prepare Sicilian desserts during a cooking lesson. We will prepare desserts made of chocolate as well as cassata including cannoli where we'll learn the secret ingredient that makes Sicilian cannoli taste so different than those in the states.
Lunch on your own.
In the afternoon we will depart for Noto, a wonderful baroque town protected by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Dinner and check into our magnificent villa estate. ( BB, D)

Day   6             Syracusa and Papyrus Paper Making

After breakfast at the hotel, we will dedicate our day to the splendid town of Siracusa, which during the Greek Age was one of the more powerful cities in Sicily. We will visit the archaeological zone: the Greek Theatre, the Roman Amphitheatre, the Ear of Dyonisus and the Latomie. Afterwards, we will walk through the historical center to Ortigia Island to admire the Cathedral, the Aretusa fountain and the ancient streets.
Lunch on your own
In the afternoon we will discover the ancient art of papyrus making. This area of Sicily has always been perfect for producing papyrus as the area around the Ciane River is the only area where this rare and valuable plant grows. The shop we will visit still specializes in producing papyrus paper following ancient methods that were invented many centuries ago by the Egyptians. The paper can be bought plain, or painted, with subjects that are mostly of Greek or Egyptian inspiration. We will learn how the paper is made beginning with the stalks of the plant right through to the finished product. Time for shopping will be available before our dinner and overnight. ( BB, D)

Day 7                Etna / Acireale

After breakfast at the hotel we will depart for an excursion to Mt. Etna, 1.900 m. above sea level, where it will be possible to visit the small, inactive Silvestri craters. We will stop for refreshments at a one of the most unique restaurants in Sicily, a restaurant partially covered by lava where we'll enjoy a buffet of antipasti.   After our refreshments, we will travel to the evocative villages of Santa Venerina, the village where the last eruption of lava stopped. The Romans and Byzantines who built numerous thermal baths and churches once populated Santa Venerina; the views from the village are breathtaking and provide perfect opportunities for picture taking.

Afterwards, we will transfer to an ancient wine estate located on the slopes of Mt. Etna. The vineyard estate, which belongs to the noble family of the Baron Scammacca del Murgo, is surrounded by extensive vineyards and has a panoramic view of both Mt. Etna and the Sea. Mt. Etna is the highest volcano in Europe and the climate and volcanic soil gives the wine a unique taste typical of the region.

Check into the estate followed by a lesson in traditional Sicilian Carts at the oldest workshop in the area. Our host is the only artisan remaining of this important Sicilian tradition. We will have the privilege to see how he customizes each cart with his paintings.

On the way back to our wine estate, we will pass Acireale, a quaint fishing village on the eastern coast in the shadow of the Mt. Etna. We will have time for a fascinating guided tour as well as free time to savour the atmosphere of an authentic Sicilian small town. Dinner on your own in the village. Overnight ( BB , L)

Day 8     Taormina and Wine Tasting  

After breakfast at our wine estate we will depart for a day   at leisure in enchanting Taormina ! Taormina has been an exclusive Sicilian hotspot, since the beginning of the 19th century, and is where many noble and rich families of Northern Europe spent winter due to its mild climate. Nowadays, Taormina is famous for its "dolce vita" life style, its beautiful beach, and its shops.
Lunch on your own
In the late afternoon, we return to our wine estate to sample some of the best wines of the area: Etna Rosso, Etna Bianco and the extraordinary Murgo Brut.   We will enjoy a wine tasting and guided visit of the cellar with a member of the family. Dinner this evening at the estate with Sicilian folk music

Day   09    Madonie Park/Olive Oil/ Embroidery Visit

After breakfast at our wine estate we will travel to the beautiful Madonie Mountains National Park and the small village of Polizzi Generosa, which is surrounded by gorgeous countryside and green pastures. We will enjoy a guided tour, a break to sample typical foods of the area as well as a visit the park's museum to learn more about the ancient villages and traditions of the area. This internal region between the Northern Coast and Central Sicily has a wealth of ancient small villages, where many people still live according to the Sicilian traditions. We will stop at an oil mill for a visit and tasting before checking in to our impressive country hotel.
Lunch on your own.
Dinner this evening in a typical village trattoria. Overnight ( BB , D)

Day 10    Castelbuono and Cefalù

After breakfast at our impressive country hotel, we will travel through the national park to Castelbuono , a charming locality about 25 kilometres from Cefalù. Castelbuono is a small, rustic medieval village in an attractive wooded location within the mountains. A castle dominates the whole of this picturesque storybook town and its sweeping valley. After our visit of this enchanting village, we will discover the dying tradition of wrought iron craftsmanship at local artisan's studio. Afterwards, we will transfer to Cefalù where you will have lunch on your own. After lunch, enjoy a guided tour of Cefalù, which is famous for its rich historical center, mainly for its impressive Norman Cathedral and the medieval quarter as well as for its beautiful beach and blue sea. Our visit will conclude with a special sunset tour of the coast by private boat. Dinner on your own. Overnight at our country hotel.   ( BB)

Day 11    Monreale

After breakfast, the morning is dedicated to relaxation and possibly a swim if weather permits.
Lunch on your own.
In the afternoon, we will transfer to Monreale, an ancient village near Palermo, famous for its wonderful Norman Cathedral and the adjoining cloister, an architectural masterpiece of King Roger II with exceptional mosaic work. We will check into our charming four-star hotel, a 16th century paper mill built by a Spanish noble family. Dinner this evening will feature a duo of classical music. Overnight. ( BB , D)

Day 12    Palermo and the Puppet show   shop

After breakfast at our lovely hotel, we will dedicate half of the day visiting the ancient town of Palermo; the town has been a crossroads for civilization in the Mediterranean for ages and we will visit and seek out signs of its ancient grandeur: the Norman Palace and the Palatine Chapel, the church of San Giovanni degli Eremiti, the Cathedral, Quattro Canti Square, etc. We will walk through the streets of the historical center, and visit the town's popular Vucciria market.
Lunch on your own.
In the afternoon, we will visit a famous puppet artisan to learn about one of the most typical objects of Palermo the famous " pupi ," puppets, which UNESCO has declared to be "masterpieces of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity." The "pupi" are the characteristic Sicilian marionettes that the " pupari ," the master puppeteers use to put on shows inspired by the French "Chansons de Geste" and "Orlando Furioso." We may see a marionette being created by true artists, who are part carpenters, part blacksmiths, part painters but, most importantly, actors. The Palermo pupi are 80 cm high, they weigh about 15 kg (keep that in mind when you are buying one!) and wear sparkling armour on a wooden and clay body and their faces are painted with very strong expression, to emphasize their role in the shows."

Free time for shopping.

This evening, we will have a special farewell dinner at a popular local restaurant and an aperitif in one of the most beautiful palaces in Palermo: Palazzo Alliata. Reception is personally taken care of by the Palazzo's owners. We are free to wander in the XV century loggia or the garden terrace, which open towards two ample courtyards, full of exotic palms, oleanders and banana trees. Overnight in our hotel   (BB , D)

Day 13            Departure

After breakfast at our hotel, we will transfer to the Palermo airport where our tour escort will assist with check-in and departure. Ciao Italia!

Dates: 9/15 - 9/28/06 (US Departure and Return Dates)

Sicily's Hidden Treasures Tour Includes :

• Native Sicilian, English speaking tour escort for 13-days
• Transportation by private minibus
• Roundtrip airport transfers
• Accommodations for 12-nights per above itinerary
• Breakfast daily
• 10 dinners as per program (including those listed below)
• 2 Lunches as per program (including those listed below)
• Picnic lunch at an orange grove
• Olive oil mill visit and tasting
• Guided walking tours of the following: Erice; Agrigento; Piazza Armerina; Ragusa; Modica; Noto; Syracusa; villages of Santa Venerina; Acireale; Polizzi Generosa; Castelbuono; Cefalù; Monreale; Palermo
• 1 Sicilian dessert cooking lesson
• Refreshments and antipasti at a restaurant on Mt. Etna
• 5 visits to Artisan shops with lessons: Papyrus Paper Making; Sicilian Carts; Embroidery Visit; Wrought Iron Craftsman; Puppet Artisan
• Wine tasting and tour
• Traditional folk music during dinner day 8
• Classical music during dinner day 11
• Sunset tour of the coast by private boat
• Tour of the Saltpans in Trapani
• Full day at leisure in Taormina
• Private visit of Palazzo Alliata with cocktail and dinner day 12
• Remaining items as listed in above itinerary

Sicily's Hidden Treasures Tour Excludes :

•  International airfare (discounted rates available)
•  Drinks during meals
•  Meals not mentioned  
•  Entrance fees to archaeological sites and museums
•  Travel Insurance
•  Tips and extras of a personal nature

Rate: $3115USD per person, double occupancy. Single Supplement: $350

Rates based upon current exchange rate. $200 non-refundable deposit per person is necessary to secure this tour. Limited to 12 participants so please inquiry promptly to guarantee space!

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