Palermo, Syracuse & Taormina - A part of Italy, Sicily is a unique island with a distinct character. Alongside fine G reek temples, Arab inspired gardens and superb Norman architecture you will find magnificent scenery and of course great food and wine. Explore the Island’s history with local guides, discover Sicily’s ancient salt reserves, see the fascinating Baroque town of Noto, visit Europe’s most active volcano, Mount Etna, and dine on local Sicilian food.

The Splendours of Sicily

Land Only Small Group Tour

Duration : 7 DAYSCountry : ITALY
Book now
Agrigento's Valley of the temples © Angelo Nocera / http://www.visitagrigento.it/
Santissimo Salvatore Church, NotoHotel Domus Aurea, Agrigento ***Taormina, SicilySicilian Cannoli © Kym CortigianoFontana Pretoria in Palermo, SicilyConcord temple in Agrigento © Angelo Nocera / http://www.visitagrigento.it/

Palermo, Syracuse & Taormina - A part of Italy, Sicily is a unique island with a distinct character. Alongside fine G reek temples, Arab inspired gardens and superb Norman architecture you will find magnificent scenery and of course great food and wine. Explore the Island’s history with local guides, discover Sicily’s ancient salt reserves, see the fascinating Baroque town of Noto, visit Europe’s most active volcano, Mount Etna, and dine on local Sicilian food.

Included in the price

  • 6 nights’ accommodation
  • Back-Roads tour leader
  • Driver & mini-coach transportation
  • Local guides in Valley of the Temples, Villa del Casale & Syracuse
  • European breakfast daily
  • 3 x evening meals
  • Included Entrances: Salt Pan at Trapani, Valley of the Temples & Villa del Casale

Day 1: Palermo

Arrive in Palermo at your leisure. After a pre-tour briefing with your LaCity Travel tour leader, enjoy an evening stroll in one of the most conquered cities in the world. The streets of old Palermo are an intriguing maze of alleyways and squares, and the churches, castles and palaces are a mix of classical, medieval and baroque styles. Back at the hotel enjoy a welcome dinner together. (D) Accommodation: Grand Hotel Piazza Borsa (or similar)

Day 2: Palermo – Erice – Trapani – Valley of the Temples

Today we leave the capital of Sicily behind and make our way to the beautifully preserved medieval village of Erice, one of the unknown pearls of Italy, with ancient origins dating back to Etruscan times. We then make our way to the Nature Reserve of Trapani and Paceco, which was established to protect one of the last coastal wetlands in western Sicily. The primary activity in the lagoons of this region was the production of salt and this morning we visit a restored salt mill. Later we travel to a winery in the Marsala region, to sample the distinctive and eponymous wine, not dissimilar to Port or Madeira. Tonight’s accommodation is located between the Valley of the Temples and Agrigento. (B, D) Accommodation: Hotel Domus Aurea (or similar)

Day 3: Valley of the Temples – Syracuse

Agrigento’s Valley of the Temples is one of the greatest legacies of ancient Greece and is, not surprisingly, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Your local guide brings the past to life as we explore this stunning historical site, which consists of eight temples built between 510 BC and 430 BC. We then visit Piazza Armerina, a charming town where we will find Villa Romana del Casale. One of the largest Roman dwellings of its kind to have survived antiquity, this villa has 3,500 square metres of mosaics on its floors. Our final stop today is in Syracuse, an ancient town by the sea that once rivalled Athens as the most important city of the Greek world. (B) Accommodation: Grande Albergo Alfeo (or similar)

Day 4: Syracuse

This morning we explore the island of Ortigia in Syracuse with our local guide. The best way to appreciate Ortigia is to just wander as it is packed with over 2,500 years of history. Highlights on our walking tour include Arethusa’s Spring, the Piazza del Duomo and the 6th century BC Temple of Apollo, which is the oldest known Doric temple in Western Europe. This afternoon is free for you to explore more of this ancient town at your own pace. (B) Accommodation: Grande Albergo Alfeo (or similar)

Day 5: Syracuse – Noto – Taormina

Our first visit today is to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Noto; a Sicilian Baroque town built in the wake of a 17th century earthquake. Here we simply wander the length of the Corso towards the beautiful facade of the Chiesa di Montevergine. We will also see the Palazzo Villadorata, where wrought iron balconies support a pantomime of figures from horses to cherubs, which jut out from a Classical facade. After wine and olive oil tasting this afternoon, we travelnorth to Taormina, a delightful town built high on the cliffs, offering breath-taking and memorable views over the Mediterranean. (B) Accommodation: Hotel Ariston (or similar)

Day 6: Taormina – Mount Etna – Taormina

Our morning destination today is Mount Etna, a slumbering, though certainly not dormant, volcano that dominates the landscape for miles around. Our drive will take us through several Sicilian towns and we will visit some old lava flows along the way. This afternoon we return to Taormina, the capital of Byzantine Sicily in the 9th century, where you may wish to visit the splendid Greek Theatre, or perhaps the 13th century Cathedral of San Nicola. As this beautiful town is reminiscent of Capri or an Amalfi coastal resort, you may choose to spend the afternoon simply relaxing. This evening we will come together for a farewell dinner. (B, D) Accommodation: Hotel Ariston (or similar)

Day 7: Taormina

Our tour of Sicily ends in Taormina after breakfast. (B) [Pick-Up: The tour commences from Grand Hotel Piazza Borsa, Via dei Cartari, 18, 90133 Palermo, Italy at 4:00pm. Please ensure you are at the meeting point at least 15 minutes prior to departure.] [Drop-off: 10:00am at Hotel Ariston, Via Bagnoli Croci, 168, 98039, Taormina, Italy.]

Sicily

Sicily

The largest of the Italian islands is one of the pearls of Southern Italy and can be discovered, understood and experienced through a series of itineraries dedicated to areas of interest ranging from nature to history and traditions.Nature seems to have endowed all its wonders to this land: mountains, hills and above all the sea, with its incredible colors, its crystal-clear water and the beauty of its seabeds, in no way inferior to those of other seas.
LaCity Travel - Traveller Tips for Italy    

VISAS: Italy tourist visa is not required for citizens of Australia for a stay up to 90 days, although you will need to have a return ticket. All passports must be valid for 6 months from the date of the arrival. Some other nationalities may require a visa. For further information please contact the Italian consulate website or your travel consultant   

MONEY: You always get a better exchange rate in-country, though it’s a good idea to arrive with enough local currency to take a taxi to a hotel if you have to. Carry as little cash as possible while travelling around. Major credit cards are widely accepted by stores in Italy. Smaller cafes and shops may not accept credit cards, so ensure you carry enough cash to cover small purchases. ATMs are common in Italy, so finding one won't be a problem in most towns and cities. You can change money in banks, at the post office or in a cambio (exchange office). Post offices and most banks are reliable and tend to offer the best rates. Commission fluctuates and depends on whether you are changing cash or cheques. Generally post office commissions are lowest and the exchange rate reasonable. The main advantage of exchange offices is the longer hours they keep, but watch for high commissions and inferior rates.   

ELECTRICITY: Type C (European 2-pin), Type F (German 2-pin, side clip earth), Type L (Italian 3-pin)   

CLIMATE / WEATHER: The climate varies considerably from the north to the south of Italy.  In the north of the country - the area between the Alps and the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines - the climate is harsh, with very cold winters and very hot, particularly humid summers. In central Italy the climate is milder, with a smaller difference in temperature between summer and winter and a shorter and less intense cold season than in the north; summers are longer, but the sultriness of the northern cities is mitigated by the sea. In southern Italy and the islands winters are never particularly harsh, and spring and autumn temperatures are similar to those reached in the summer in other areas of Italy.   

TIME DIFFERENCE: (GMT+01:00) Amsterdam, Berlin, Bern, Rome, Stockholm, Vienna   

BEST TIME TO VISIT ITALY: Italy enjoys a temperate climate most of the year, with June, July and August being the warmest months. Popular tourist spots can get very busy and crowded during the European summer, but the sun is shining and the weather is hot so it's still a great time to go. April - May and September - October (while not as hot) still offer great conditions for travel, with milder temperatures and fewer crowds at the sights and beaches. It can get quite cold in the winter months, especially in the north, with cities like Milan, Turin and Venice often seeing snow, fog and rain in December and January. Major coastal tourist spots like the Amalfi Coast and Cinque Terre all but close (except to locals) during winter and are truly best seen in the warmer months.   

LANGUAGE: It'll come as no surprise that Italians all speak Italian. Many also speak English and one or more other languages. When in doubt, you can find out whether someone speaks English by asking "Parla inglese?". One interesting feature of Italy's linguistic development is that almost every town and small region has it's own distinct language or dialect. As little as 50 years ago many Italians didn't speak Italian, but rather their own regional dialect. Now all speak standard Italian with many people speaking dialect as well. Several dialects closely resemble standard Italian (which is based on the Tuscan dialect), while others are in a league of their own. The Sardinian dialect, for example, is an ancient patchwork of a language, influenced by the Turkish, Latin, Basque and Corsican languages. Sicilian is a mix of Latin, Greek, Italian, French, Arabic and Norse languages, owing its history to the long line of conquerors of the most strategically important island in the Mediterranean.   

POSTAL SERVICES: Post Offices are usually open from 8:30am - 5:00pm. On Saturdays they close at noon. Post Offices at airports and the main Post Office in large cities are usually open 24 hours a day for registered mail and telegram services. If you have something you plan on sending back to Australia and you are going to be in Rome, you would be better served by taking your mail to the Vatican post office which can be found near St. Peter's Basilica, as the Italian postal service is notorious for delays in sending and delivering mail.   

ACCOMMODATION: Travelling with LaCity Travel is a little bit different. We endeavor to provide travelers with an authentic experience to remember so we try to keep accommodation as unique and traditional as possible.   

FOOD / DRINK: LaCity Travel believes that one of the best ways to experience a country is by eating! Whether you're sampling street food, savoring a cheap eat or indulging in a banquet, there are endless options to choose from wherever you are in the world. Italy is famous for its food and rightly so! Carb-addicts will enjoy the bounty of pasta and pizza on offer, foodies will love the parmesan and olives, and those with a sweet tooth won't be able to resist the desserts and sweets. From fine dining to street carts, aperitivo and family-run kitchens, Italy's got cuisine covered.   

HISTORY
Early History: The rise of the Roman Empire has been the subject of much fascination, intrigue and interest from scholars, artists, travellers and students around the world, and through the ages. Dominating the world for many centuries, the modern world can pay great respect to the fruits of this mighty civilisation, with many important scientific inventions, art movements, architectural triumphs and philosophical ideas being born during Roman civilisation - most notably during the Renaissance.  Founded sometime around 750 BC, Rome endures as one of the most important cities in the world. Home to such famous citizens as Julius Caesar, Emperor Augustus, Claudius, Nero, Mark Antony and Marcus Aurelius, Rome has enjoyed the great highs of dominating the Mediterranean region and the artistic triumphs of the Renaissance, but also the lows of the Great Fire of Rome, which ended up destroying a large part of the city. Rome has survived natural disasters, political turmoil, feuding families, the plague, war and more, to be the great city that is it today. Still a cultural and political powerhouse, any visit to Italy needs to include Rome's major sites in order to understand the birth of this nation. The Colosseum, The Pantheon, Circus Maximus and Palatine Hill are all great places to start.  Lasting centuries, the amazing history of Ancient Rome is full of dramatic twists and turns, and we suggest you read up on it before visiting. 
Recent History: After the Renaissance, Italy was unified with Sardinia in 1861, becoming the Kingdom of Italy. After World War I, Italy came under the fascist rule of Benito Mussolini, who ruled until 1943. Siding with Nazi Germany in World War II, the Italian Army suffered many losses and ultimately surrendered in 1945. After a referendum in 1946, Italy became a Republic and flourished well during the 1950s and 1960s. The post-war period marks a time of economic progress for Italy, also largely reflected by the rest of the world's increased economic stability during this period of relative peace.From the 1970s, Italians have lived with political upheaval and uncertainty. Corruption, organised crime, terrorism and government debt have created times of turmoil and concern. In 1994, media mogul Silvio Berlusconi was elected into office as Prime Minister but was forced to step down later in the year after losing support from his political partners. Undeterred, Berlusconi regained power in 2008 and has continued to rule Italy amid much controversy and scandal.   

SHOPPING: Italians are known for their style and this is reflected in the designer fashion and furniture of Italy. Be prepared to part with money - shopping in Italy can get quite expensive - but the quality of handmade and tailored items is generally exceptional. It's a good idea to check with your local customs officials to ensure that you are able to bring certain items back into your home country. Australia and New Zealand generally have strict quarantine laws.   

PUBLIC HOLIDAYS  
Jan 1 New Year's Day 
Jan 6 Epiphany 
April 1 Easter Monday 
April 25 Liberation Day 
May 1 Labour Day 
June 2 Anniversary of the Republic 
August 15 Assumption 
November 1 All Saints' Day 
December 8 Immaculate Conception 
December 25 Christmas Day 
December 26 St. Stephen's Day   

HEALTH: No vaccinations are required to travel to Italy.   

SAFETY / SECURITY: Pickpockets and bag-snatchers operate in most cities, especially Naples and Rome. Reduce the chances of such petty theft by wearing a money belt (with money, passport, credit cards and important documents) under your clothing. Wear bags or cameras slung across the body to make it harder to snatch them. If your hotel has a safe, use it. Watch for groups of disheveled-looking women and children asking you for money. Their favourite haunts are train stations, tourist sights and shopping areas. If you’ve been targeted by a group take evasive action (such as crossing the street) or shout ‘Va via!’ (Go away!). Again, this is an issue mainly in Rome and Naples.   

TIPPING: Tipping isn't customary in Italy; however, if restaurant service is particularly good or if you're feeling generous, a tip would be welcomed by most. Some restaurants charge a 'cover charge' which will be added to your bill.   

TRAVEL INSURANCE: All passengers must have comprehensive travel insurance. You can complete this with LaCity Travel if you wish. Check your Travel Insurance Policy for an Emergency number and details of services to be provided, Carry these details with you.   

Australian Embassy 
Via Antonio Bosio, 5, Rome   
Telephone: 06 852 721 
Fax: 06 8527 2300