Sicily’s marquee attractions don’t have instant name recognition. Even fiery Mount Etna, its top draw, is better known to crossword aficionados than to prospective tourists. Yet Sicily rocks, enticing travelers who come for its relaxed ambiance and tight windy roads that lead to unexpected pleasures. This is an island where you could spend weeks – even months, but who has that time? Give us 10 days and we’ll take you on a private tour around much of the island, freeing you to experience wonders large and small while we handle the logistics. Much of Sicily is off the beaten path – ancient cities, provincial towns, and small villages; mind-blowing archeological sites that pre-date Rome; landscapes and seascapes of enormous natural beauty; a savory cuisine renowned throughout Italy, served in places that become part of the experience; and a rich and varied culture that mirrors centuries of conquest and colonization. Sicily is sparsely inhabited; likewise, it is sparsely visited. Imagine – sometimes you’ll be all alone at extraordinary sites! And you’ll always feel safe – decades of Godfather movies are not Sicily.
Palermo, Monreale, Cefalù. Trapani, Erice, Agrigento and the Valley of the Temples, Modica, Ragusa, Scicli, Noto, Siracusa, Taormina and Piazza Armerina.
Arrival at Palermo’s Falcone Borsellino Airport on Sicily’s north coast. Your uniformed driver will meet you outside Baggage Claim – look for your name on his sign. Relax as he whisks you to your hotel by private transfer.
In the afternoon:
Discover Palermo Walking Tour – 3 hours
Sicily’s 2700-year-old cultural (and tourism!) capital – fountains, gardens, palaces, and more!
Beautiful Palermo is renowned for its melding of Arab and Norman architecture. The 11th-century Palazzo dei Normanni, built for a Norman king on the highest point of the city, is the oldest royal residence in Europe (with Punic ruins in its cellar). Today it is the Sicilian Regional Assembly. The stunning Cappella Palatina was a royal Norman chapel, adorned with Saracen arches and luminous Byzantine mosaics. Walk past ancient palazzos to Our Lady of the Assumption Cathedral – part of its life, it was a mosque. Impressive Piazza Vigliena (Quattro Canti or Four Corners) is a gem of 17th-century city planning. It is an octagon of perfect symmetry with Baroque buildings on its four corners, four fountains heralding the four seasons, the statuary of four Sicilian kings, and four patronesses. Marvel at the impressive beauty of Teatro Massimo, the largest theatre in Italy.
Overnight in Palermo
Two contrasting towns for an interesting view of Sicily
Depart with your private driver to the ancient town of Monreale, where your local guide will take you on a two-hour tour. Located on the slopes of Monte Caputo, overlooking a valley of fragrant orchards, Monreale is renowned for its UNESCO-listed Norman-Byzantine cathedral, one of the premier sights of Sicily, as well as many other architectural gems. Later proceed to Cefalù, an ancient fishing village 73 km (43 mi) east of Palermo, pinned down between the sea and a massive rocky bluff. A popular destination for European vacationers, Cefalù offers scenic views, old churches and peaceful spots for lunch. Wander around before your transfer back to Palermo.
Overnight in Palermo
You’re so far west when the sky is clear you can see Africa!
With your private driver, head to the west coast fishing town of Trapani, an important port for the Carthaginians and the Crusaders. Trapani’s labyrinthine streets are lined with buildings from the Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Baroque eras. Take the cable car at the foot of Monte San Giuliano to the town of Erice, famous for its numerous churches and breathtaking views, all the way to Tunisia on a clear day. Virgil mentioned Erice in the Aeneid as a stop for Aeneas, a mythical ancestor of Romulus and Remus. Continue by car to a winery in the Marsala area for a delicious tasting, then drive south to the Agrigento area. The owner of the traditional farm stay, Masseria, will welcome you to a delicious dinner of local specialties.
Overnight in a Masseria in the Agrigento area
A perfect pairing – an eye-popping classical site and mouth-watering chocolates
Enjoy a private guided tour of the spectacular UNESCO-listed Valley of the Temples. Here you’ll wander amidst the remnants of seven Greek Doric temples from 500 BCE, including the magnificent Temple of Concordia, as perfect as Hephaisteion in Athens and the Temple of Hera in Paestum. Change gears completely in your tour to Modica in southern Sicily. This scenic town is famous for its rich dark chocolate, made from a New World recipe brought to Sicily by its then-Spanish rulers. At the oldest and most famous chocolate factory, learn the secrets of chocolate production and of course, enjoy the samples! Later depart for your overnight in Ragusa.
Overnight in Ragusa
Pssst… These towns are not typical tourist destinations. You’re seeing authentic Sicily!
The UNESCO-listed town of Scicli is off the usual tourist track – enjoy the luxury of crowdlessness as you experience the Baroque and Neoclassical architecture of this historic southern Sicily town. Though it has an impressive castle, Scicli is best known for two things: its many lovely churches and being the real-life stand-in for the imaginary city of Vigata, the fictional home of writer Andrea Camilleri’s Inspector Montalbano, a popular Italian television program. Later drive east to another UNESCO-listed town, Noto, where you’ll have leisure time to wander its walkable center. Noto is renowned for its extravagant Baroque buildings, especially its cathedral, and its delectable cuisine – try it!
Overnight in Ragusa
Ancient Greece and Classical Italy combined
With your private driver, depart for UNESCO-listed Siracusa, a 2700-year-old city of elegance and charm on the Ionian Sea. A powerful city-state in the ancient world, it was allied with Sparta and Corinth and it was the birthplace of Archimedes. Syracuse is in two parts – on the mainland and on the island of Ortygia, where its magnificent and well-preserved 7th-century Duomo can be found. Also in Ortygia is the Temple of Apollo, one of the oldest Doric temples in Western Europe, and a huge ancient Greek theater, 67 rows (!) carved entirely from stone and still used for performances.
Overnight in Siracusa
Inland, out of the way, and hard to get to on your own – but unmissable!
Depart with your private driver to the inland town of Piazza Armerina, dating from the Norman domination of Italy (11th century). Its massive Baroque Duomo and Aragonese castle preside over ocher-toned buildings clinging to the hillsides. The town’s highlight is the Villa Romana del Casale, a UNESCO World Heritage site 3 km southwest of the town, built by a wealthy Roman family in the 4th century CE. Enjoy a two-hour guided tour of this magnificent rural home, famous for its excavated mosaics, considered among the most beautiful and best preserved in all of the Roman Empire. After the tour, drive to your next hotel in Taormina.
Overnight in Taormina
Every perfect trip should have a volcano or two
Between the coastal cities of Messina and Catania lies Western Europe’s tallest active volcano – Mount Etna – with Vesuvius and Stromboli, one of Italy’s Big Three stratovolcanoes. Travel to Etna with your private driver to look with wonder upon the massive power of this sentinel, on the UNESCO World Heritage list for geological peculiarities of planetary relevance. Mount Etna is at the intersection of the African and Eurasian tectonic plates. Its lava flows have rained down on Sicily for millennia. Past eruptions have made the soil very fertile – stop at a local vineyard to enjoy a traditional lunch accompanied by wine born of lava.
Overnight in Taormina
Enjoy Taormina at your own pace, taking the time to discover the city that perfectly combines breathtaking natural beauty with rich history and culture.
Alternatively, we can arrange for your a Cooking Class of local Specialties or a visit to a nearby local Winery.
Overnight in Taormina
Your Private Driver will pick you up from your Taormina Accommodation and transfer you to Catania’s Vincenzo Bellini Airport.
Arrivederci a presto, from Selected Tours Italy!
Private Vehicles with Expert Local Drivers, as stated in the Itinerary
Private Sightseeing with professional English-speaking Drivers-Guides in air-conditioned luxury vehicles, as noted in the itinerary
Private Airport Transfers in luxury vehicles to and from your hotel
All planning, handling, and operational charges
Assistance for the complete duration of the itinerary – we are based in Rome and available to you 24/7 with no time zone issues
Accommodation in centrally located hotels in the category you select. We can offer 3*, 4*, and 5* hotels, boutique hotels, apartments, and B&Bs.
Services of professional English-speaking local Guides, as detailed in the itinerary
All entrance fees as per the itinerary
Meals as per the itinerary – daily breakfast (B), lunch (L) on day 8, dinner (D) on day 3
Food and wine tastings as detailed in the itinerary
Other inclusions as noted in your itinerary
Baggage handling for 1 large bag (62 in. total) and 1 carry-on bag (22x14x9 in) per person. Please note that any additional luggage may require modification in vehicle size.