11 days

Spirit of Sicily

Spirit of Sicily

Sicily’s baroque cities

Sicily's capital Palermo

Mt. Etna

Trip rating
  • Ancient civilisations, prehistoric caves, Byzantine churches, Baroque buildings and majestic landscape – the island of Sicily has it all. Immerse yourself in all the glory of Sicily including its mouth-watering cuisine!

    Why we love it

    • Ancient civilisations, prehistoric caves, Byzantine churches, Baroque buildings and majestic landscape – the island of Sicily has it all.
    • Immerse yourself in all the glory of Sicily including its mouth-watering cuisine!
    • Breathtaking walks with expansive views are the perfect way to experience the island's beauty.
    • Spend some time exploring the stunning Mount Etna

    Itinerary

    Day 1 - Palermo

    • Your journey starts in the bustling city of Palermo, the capital of Sicily. Palermo can easily be reached by boat, train or plane. Whilst at your discretion, we recommend arriving and departing by train where possible within Europe, as this method of transport minimises carbon emissions.
    • There are no activities planned today so you may arrive at any time. Please make your own way to the joining hotel (details are in your travel documents). In the evening you will meet your tour leader and fellow travelling companions at a welcome meeting (this is usually at 6pm, but you will be advised as to the exact time and place in a notice, located near the reception at our hotel), where your tour leader will give you a briefing on what lies ahead on the tour.
    • Afterwards you will dine together in a local restaurant.
    Hotel Joli or similar
    Dinner

    Day 2 - Monreale - Palermo

    • This morning you will take a stroll through the old heart of Palermo, admiring some of its main monuments such as the cathedral, which has a wonderful mix of styles.
    • Originally built in the 12th century, it has been modified a number of times, most notably in the 18th century with the addition of its dome. We also spend some time wandering through some of the city’s colourful markets.
    • Your private minibus then transfers you to nearby Monreale, situated in a panoramic position above Palermo with fantastic views over the city and the sea. From here you will take your time to visit its stunning cathedral, described as one of the ‘wonders of the medieval world’, and climb to its roof.
    • You will stroll through the old historical centre and have time to buy some picnic supplies before travelling on to the wonderful Zingaro Nature Reserve - the oldest in Sicily. You will find a spot to enjoy a picnic lunch before commencing a beautiful coastal walk along the pristine Mediterranean landscape.
    • Upon completion of the walk you will have time to relax on the beach or perhaps take a swim before transferring to the charming small village of Scopello, at the entrance of the reserve. You can enjoy an ‘aperitivo’ here.
    • You will return to your hotel in the centre of Palermo, where the evening will be free to enjoy an optional dinner in one of the nearby local restaurants that serve traditional Sicilian cuisine.
    • (Total walking time: sightseeing walks in Palermo and Monreale + ‘Zingaro’ walk: around 2 hours; approx. walking distance: 8 km. Total driving time today: around 2 hours)
    Hotel Joli or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 3 - Cefalù - Madonie Regional Park - Tyndaris - Montalbano

    • This morning you will take a short stroll through the old heart of Palermo, passing the famous fish market before we travel along the northern coast to the beautiful small town of Cefalù, one of Sicily’s ‘undiscovered treasures’.
    • You will be dropped off at the town’s Roca, the mountain with a castle built on top that overlooks the old city centre. From here you will embark on a wonderful short round walk before continuing down into the old town and discovering its charming narrow alleyways and imposing Norman cathedral.
    • After lunch you may have the opportunity to go for a swim before continuing your travels along the north coast to Tindari. After visiting the intriguing ruins of the old Greek city of Tyndaris, you can pay a short visit to the sanctuary - one of the most important places of worship in Sicily. At Tyndaris, you will take a wonderful afternoon walk through the ruins, overlooking the Mediterranean.
    • Energy levels permitting you can continue your walk down to the coast. You will walk along spectacular sand formations and green-blue lakes, before returning to the bus.
    • You will drive inland to the charming medieval town of Montalbano, dominated by its impressive castle, listed as one of the hundred most beautiful small towns of Italy. You will settle in a great hotel, overlooking the coast and the Eolian Islands. (Total walking time: around 3hours; approx. walking distance: 7 km. Total driving time today: around 3 hours)
    Hotel Federico II or similar
    Breakfast | Dinner

    Day 4 - The Malabotta Forest & the megalithic site of Argimusco

    • Today you will have a relaxed day. After a leisurely breakfast in the morning morning, you will start the day with a short walk through the alleys of Montalbano Elicona, with its interesting medieval town centre and a visit to its impressive castle, recently restored.
    • You will then travel on by private bus to the forest of Malabotta, a beautiful and unknown nature reserve of inland Sicily. From here you will embark on a round walk, partly through the forest, partly along strange rock formations, locally known as ‘megaliti’. An ancient megalithic site, now known as the ‘Sicilian Stonehenge’ has recently been discovered here.
    • You will have a lunch of local specialties in the forest, with views of Mount Etna, in front of you. If energy levels permit you will continue your walk to Moio dell’Alcantara, where you can see the ‘Vulcanetto’, a small volcano just outside the village.
    • You will then return to your hotel, in time for a nice ‘aperitivo’ at sunset, before having dinner at the hotel. (Total walking time: approx. 4 hours; walking distance: approx. 9 km).
    Hotel Federico II or similar
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 5 - Taormina – Castelmola - Isola Bella

    • Today you will travel on to your next base, the wonderful resort town of Taormina, situated in one of the most dramatic spots of the whole Mediterranean.
    • Your bus will first take you to the charming hilltop town of Castelmola, a small fortified city, from where we enjoy stunning views over the surrounding area, the city of Taormina, Mount Etna and the Mediterranean Sea. After a stroll through its medieval streets, an optional visit to the castle and perhaps a drink on one of the terraces, you will walk down to Taormina, along a beautiful panoramic footpath.
    • Through pleasant agricultural landscape, with breathtaking views of the coastline and glorious Etna, you will reach the charming Taormina, one of Italy’s foremost resort towns.
    • The Greek influence is noticeable in the architecture and wandering the back streets is a great way to transport you back in time to the days when this part of Italy remained a stronghold of their Aegean neighbours. With picturesque ruins and the backdrop of Etna, the views are grand to say the least.
    • Here you will make a first orientation walk through the charming small streets of town, its gardens and of course to visit the world famous Greek/Roman theatre and the cathedral.
    • The whole afternoon will be at your leisure, so you will have plenty of time for another stroll along Taormina’s main boulevard, with its many beautiful shops, or to have a drink in the shade of an oleander tree. You may prefer to simply return to the hotel and enjoy its panoramic swimming pool.
    • Those who are interested can join an optional walk down to the sea, which you will reach in front of the beautiful Isola Bella (what’s in a name!). Here you will have time for a swim/ relax at the beach, and a drink in the Mediterranean sun.
    • In the late afternoon you will take the cable car back up to town and from there you will return to your hotel, passing along a spectacular medieval staircase. From the hotel you will have perhaps the best possible views on Mount Etna and the Mediterranean Sea, which can even be enjoyed from the swimming pool!
    • Tonight you will have dinner together in a great restaurant, with stunning views over Taormina and the Sicilian coastline. After dinner you can take a five minute walk to one of the most spectacular viewpoints of the area. (Total walking time: approx. 3.5 hours; walking distance: approx. 9-11 km).
    Hotel Sole Castello or similar
    Breakfast | Dinner

    Day 6 - The many faces of Mt. Etna: the Alcantara canyon, recent flows & old craters

    • After breakfast a private minibus will pick you up from your base for a full day visit to Mount Etna. You will drive into the valley of the Alcantara river first, irrigated by a complex system of basins and canals, dating back to the times of the Arab domination of Sicily.
    • You will stop at the unique canyon cut through an ancient lava flow of Mount Etna. Here you will take a short and easy, but spectacular walk through the canyon.
    • You will then travel on towards Francavilla, where you will walk along the river, through a pleasant terraced landscape of orchards and fruit trees and pass a few hamlets built of lava stone and will also have the opportunity to see many strange lava formations, sculpted by the Alcantara River.
    • You may also have the opportunity to dive into one of the ‘gurne’, natural ‘swimming pools’. You will then continue along the Alcantara river, up to the charming little town of Linguaglossa, where you can enjoy a typical ‘granita’ or a coffee and a wonderful sweet (almond/pistachio) cake from this area.
    • Your journey will then take you up along the scenic Via ‘MareNeve’, the road of the sea and snow. From here you can see the most recent lava flows, some of which date back only a few years, reminding you of the fact that the Etna is still an active volcano!
    • You will walk on one of these recent lava flows, with a visit to some of the spots where the lava burst. This walk really gives you the feeling of the immense forces still working beneath you.
    • Your bus will then take you to the Sartorius Mountains, a completely different landscape, and from here you will walk, partly through the forest, partly over older lava flows, ending at a mountain hut with spectacular views over the Strait of Messina.
    • You will also have time to enjoy a wine tasting in one of the renowned wineries of Mount Etna today. whilst overlooking the sea. It’s then on to the southern side of Mount Etna, perhaps the best-known part, again completely different in landscape.
    • You will settle into your next base, a charming hotel on the southern slopes of Mount Etna and the highest hotel on the Etna. (Total walking time: approx. 4 hours; walking distance: approx.7 km. Total driving time today: around 1.5 hours).
    Hotel Corsaro or similar
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 7 - The top of Mount Etna

    • Today you will travel towards the very top of Mount Etna, for a full day visit to the top of the volcano. After breakfast you will travel up by cable car and 4x4 vehicles, until you reach almost 3000 metres in altitude.
    • Then, together with a specialist volcano guide you will start the relatively easy walk towards the very top, which you will notice is not just one, but a series of crater peaks.
    • After a short stop for a snack and a drink you will visit the other highest craters here, a unique experience! From here you will start your downhill walk, passing along a marvellous viewpoint above the Valle del Bove, Etna’s largest valley, in which many lava flows can be seen, one atop of the other.
    • If there is volcanic activity going on your specialist guide can take you there, to allow you to observe these impressive forces of nature from a safe point. You will then walk back to the cable car.
    • Those who are after a longer walk – all downhill - can walk all the way back to the base. In case of adverse weather conditions, you will not go all the way to the top, but instead take a round walk over one of the most impressive cones, the Montagnola, and along the edge of the Bove Valley.
    • Back near your base, you can go for a short but spectacular walk along the Monti Silvestri, through the barren landscape formed by the explosion of 1892.
    • After a short stop for a drink you will then walk back to your base and spend another night on the top of Mt. Etna. Approximately 4-5 hours; walking distance: approx. 13-17 km. Different options available, according to weather conditions and fitness)
    Hotel Corsaro or similar
    Breakfast | Dinner

    Day 8 - Pantalica - Valle dell’Anapo - Ragusa

    • This morning you will drive south in the shadow of Mount Etna to the charming baroque town of Sortino, which dominates the Anapo River valley. After a short stop in Sortino where you can take a short stroll and buy picnic supplies, you will drive to the entrance of the canyon of the Anapo River.
    • This one of the most intriguing places in Sicily. The valley has been inhabited since prehistoric times and many civilisations have left their mark here.
    • You will take a walk through the valley, firstly through the higher parts along the various prehistoric burial sites, known as the necropolis of Pantalica, and its most impressive monument - the Palace of the Prince.
    • You will also encounter small chapels, Byzantine villages, and at the edge of the canyon, beautiful baroque churches. You will enjoy a picnic lunch on a nice spot in the valley.
    • After lunch you will continue your walk following the course of an old railway. Along the river there are several lovely spots for a rest and perhaps a swim in one of the small lakes.
    • At the end of the walk, you will be picked up by the vehicle and transferred to the town of Ragusa, one of the most scenic Sicilian towns, and one that blends wonderfully into its surrounding landscape.
    • The ‘new’ baroque city of Ragusa was completely rebuilt after the devastating earthquake of 1693, but the historic part of the town still features older monuments. Both parts of the town deserve a visit.
    • At night you stroll through the wonderful baroque streets and choose from a range of restaurant options for dinner. (Total walking time: around 3,5 hours; approx. walking distance: 9 km. Total driving time today is around 2.5 hours)
    Montreal Hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 9 - Ibla – Modica - Noto - Vendicari Nature Reserve

    • Today you will start with a short stroll through Ragusa, which is equally beautiful by day as it is by night.
    • You will then travel on to Modica, yet another wonderful baroque city, famous for its precious chocolate, made for centuries according to the same secret recipe. A short coffee break allows you to soak up the local atmosphere.
    • You will then travel on to the nature reserve of Vendicari, one of the last remaining pristine bits of coastline in Sicily. Here you will do a relaxed coastal walk, with the possibility of a swim.
    • By mid afternoon you will leave for nearby Noto, perhaps the best known of the baroque cities, where you will admire the wonderful colours of its many monuments in the beautiful late afternoon light.
    • At the end of the afternoon, you will be picked up by your bus again and driven to in Siracusa. Siracusa is an ancient town on the sea, which was of immense importance as Greek Syracuse. Your hotel is located in the middle of the lovely historical heart, located on the island of Ortigia.
    • Here you will see that the much of its charm lies in wandering down the narrow medieval lanes, past romantically crumbling Baroque and medieval palaces and churches. You can eat something together in one of the lively restaurants in the historical centre, and if energy levels permit, you can make a nice round walk in the evening to savour its typical Mediterranean atmosphere. Total walking time: approx. 3.5 hours; walking distance: approx. 9 km. Total driving time today is around 2 hours.
    Hotel Alla Giudecca or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 10 - Syracuse - Ortigia - Neapolis

    • After breakfast you will walk directly from your hotel through the most interesting parts of the old town. You will discover many archaeological areas (some are amongst the world’s finest), countless baroque churches and many other important monuments.
    • The character of the city is enchanting with its crumbling facades and balconies supported for centuries by a host of stone lions, tigers, bears, dragons, Moors, satyrs, devils, angels, kings, paupers, wenches and cherubs.
    • You will also walk along limestone-paved streets overhung with drying laundry and ancient scaffolding and discover some of the most expansive piazzas that Italy has to offer. Passing some open doors will give you a glimpse of an ornate secret court yard, whilst others open right on to someone's dining room where lunch is being prepared.
    • You will have ample time to stroll around the old city, visit its monuments and enjoy a coffee or savour a granita in one of the lively bars. Syracuse’s superb archaeological zone boasts the largest Greek theatre, which is still used today for live performances.
    • The rest of the day will be free and your tour leader can help with some suggestions of things to see and do. Options include a boat trip around the island of Ortigia or a bike ride through the old city.
    • From Syracuse it’s easy to reach the nature reserve of Fiume Ciane, the only place in Europe where the papyrus plant grows, or a local beach. The city also has a great shopping district to explore.
    • This evening you can gather together for an optional farewell dinner - a great opportunity to reflect on your just-completed adventure. (Total walking time: around 2.5 hours; approx. walking distance: 6 km)
    Hotel Alla Giudecca or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 11 - Syracuse

    • Your trip will come to an end after breakfast in Syracuse. There are a number of shuttle bus and train services to onward destinations including Catania (airport) and Messina.
    • The bus station is within walking distance of the hotel and the train station is also close by. Arrivederci!
    Breakfast
  • What to Know

    What's Included

    • Peregrine tour leader
    • Transport
    • Sightseeing and entrance fees
    • Gratuities for essential services in tour package

    Not Included

    • International flights, visas, insurance, other meals, drinks, and tips.
    • Arrival and departure transfers
    • Departure taxes
    • Visas
    • Insurance
    • Other meals
    • Drinks
    • Optional additional tours or activities during free time
    • Gratuities for tour leader
    • Items of a personal nature
  • Map Itinerary

  • Past Travellers' Ratings & Comments

    At the end of each trip, we ask our travellers to provide feedback. We publish the positive, negative and neutral feedback on this page to give you an overall idea of what to expect on this trip.

    Spirit of Sicily

    Linda - Australia, 30 Apr, 2013
    5
    Overall Rating

    The trip was fabulous. A really good mix of cultural highlights, natural experiences, and lead by a wonderful leader who made sure we also experienced culinary highlights. The only comment I would add is that the trip notes underestimated how challenging some of the walks/climbs were - however, the tour leader made sure that all were safe and he accommodated different levels of fitness.

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Trip at a glance

Trip Code PESY
Group size 1 - 16
Start City: Palermo
End City: Syracuse
Style: Small Group

What to know

You'll need to be in good health and able to walk for a few hours, with some up-and-down, and on varied terrain, from well-defined paths to rocky trails.

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