Sicily Tour Self&Drive – 9 days / 8 nights
Day 1 : CATANIA – SYRACUSE : 48 min (54,4 km)
Arrival in Catania where you will meet your IO VIAGGI assistant which will give you all the B&B vouchers and informations for your tour .
Chance to visit Syracuse.
Syracuse (or Siracusa) was the most important city of Magna Graecia. It defeated the mighty Athens in 413 and was home to many a great Greek, including the inimitable Archimedes. At the height of its economic, political and military powers, the city had a population of 300,000 and, according to Cicero, was “the greatest Greek city and the most beautiful of them all”.
Opportunity to visit Ortigia Island.
Ortygia is a small island which is the historical centre of the city of Syracuse, Sicily. The island, also known as Città Vecchia (Old City), contains many historical landmarks. The name originates from the Ancient Greek ortyx which means “Quail”.The popularity of this small island is due to its antiquity, in fact, this place is the oldest part of Syracuse in Sicily. Among the main things to see on the Ortigia Island in Syracuse, there is the Temple of Apollo, dated a few centuries before Christ. The Temple of Apollo is located near the Pancali Square in Syracuse.One of the most fascinating things to see in Ortigia is the fish market. In fact, here you can see the catch of the day and the frantic work of merchants, fishermen and buyers. On the benches of the fish market of Ortigia it is easy to find shrimp, urchins, sea bream, sea bass, swordfish, tuna, prawns, shrimp, urchins, sea bream, sea bass, octopus. If still you wonder what to see in Ortigia, here is a short list: Church of the Holy Spirit on the seafront, Maniace Castel, Duomo Square.
Accommodation in B&b in Ispica and overnight stay.
Day 2 : ISPICA –MODICA : 29 min (17,5 km)
After breakfast we suggest to visit Modica or Ragusa.
Modica, like the other towns in the Val di Noto, was badly damaged in the 1693 earthquake and largely rebuilt in Sicilian Baroque style. It is divided into two parts, “higher” Modica and “lower” Modica, which are connected by numerous flights of steps. Palazzi and houses rise from the bottom of the gorge seemingly stacked one on top of the other. Magnificent churches, with their inspiring domes, bell towers and intricate facades, punctuate the red-tiled roofs and one is struck by the uniform beauty of the whole.The centrepiece is undoubtedly the beautiful Church of San Giorgio, though the “Castello dei Conti”, surveying the town from atop a rocky outcrop, is also very impressive.Typical of so many Sicilian towns, Modica has a long and varied history, complete with the usual toing and froing of successions of invaders. Modica is custodian of a 400 year tradition of Sicilian chocolate-making. Being part of the Spanish kingdom for so many years meant that Sicily was often one of the first recipients of the new foodstuffs being brought back from South America. Cacao was one of these and today Modica still specialises in making granulous chocolate, often flavoured with chilli pepper, cinnamon or vanilla, that is based on Aztec methods and recipes. Chocolate shops abound and, for the real chocoholic, it is sometimes possible to watch the “chocolatiers” at work.
MODICA – RAGUSA : 1 h 54 min (140,8 km)
We suggest the visit to Ragusa.
Ragusa is one of the most picturesque towns in Sicily. The view from the upper town over. Ragusa Ibla on its own separate hilltop is quite breathtaking. One of the UNESCO-listed Baroque towns of south-eastern Sicily, Ragusa is also one of the principal filming locations for the Sicilian detective drama Il Commissario Montalbano (Inspector Montalbano), a series which has done wonders for publicising the beauty of this area. After the earthquake of 1693, which destroyed many of south-eastern Sicily’s buildings, it was decided to rebuild Ragusa on higher, more level ground nearby. So nowadays Ragusa has two parts: Ibla (or Ragusa Ibla), the older nucleus on its hilltop, and Ragusa Superiore, the more modern upper town which spreads from the post-earthquake streets into more recent developments. The best activity in Ragusa is wandering; meandering along the character-filled lanes of Ragusa Ibla or clambering up the steps towards the upper town and enjoying the great, classic view over Ibla. This is an inviting town for even more leisurely pursuits – a long drink at a cafe table on the pretty sloping piazza in front of the Duomo, a wine-flavoured gelato, a splendid meal at one of the town’s small restaurants or a stroll in the park. Like neighbouring towns, Ragusa was rebuilt after the great earthquake in the Baroque style, and its palazzi and churches are elegant and covered with a profusion of florid detail. The grandest building in Ibla is the cathedral, the Duomo di San Giorgio,alongside the church is the small Museo del Duomo . At the end of Ibla’s rocky ridge is the town’s public park, the Giardino Ibleo.
Return to B&b in Ispica and overnight stay
Day 3 : ISPICA – AGRIGENTO : 2 h 59 min (172,6 km)
Chance to visit Agrigento temples.
One of Sicily’s most famous historical attractions is without a doubt the Valley of the Temples, just outside Agrigento.This splendid archaeological park consists of eight temples built between about 510 BC and 430 BC: the Temple of Hera, the Temple of Concordia, the Temple of Heracles, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, the Temple of Castor and Pollux, the Temple of Hephaestos, the Temple of Demeter, and the Temple of Asclepius (the God of Medicine). While not being the prettiest city in Sicily, modern Agrigento is worth a brief visit, if only for the wonderful views of the Valley of the Temples and the sea.
AGRIGENTO – MARSALA : 2 h 1 min (134,2 km)
Accommodation in B&b in Marsala.
Day 4: MARSALA – ERICE :1 h 2 min (48,4 km)
We suggest to visit salt pans in Marsala and the Salt Museum.
Marsala is internationally famous for one thing: wine. Its inhabitants, however, while being extremely proud of their amber nectar, are equally enthusiastic about their town’s long, illustrious history.The present-day name, deriving from the Arabic “Marsa Allah”, meaning “Port of God”, gives us an idea of just how strategically important the town once was. A few hundred years after roman domination it was the turn of the English, who did not, however, come to conquer, but rather to make wine. The first man on the scene was John Woodhouse, who stumbled across the local wine in 1773. He liked it (and by some accounts drank copious quantities of it!) and thought that it might be popular in his native country. If the wine was to survive the long ocean voyage, however, it would need to be fortified with the addition of alcohol – thus was born Marsala wine. It proved as popular in England as Woodhouse had hoped and he moved permanently to Marsala to begin mass production in 1796. Several other Englishmen followed, including Ingham and Whitaker. Wine was not the only thing to link England with Marsala, however. The Cathedral, built on the site of an old Norman church, is dedicated to that most famous of English Saints, Thomas Becket.The next big date on Marsala’s curriculum vitae is 1860, the year in which Garibaldi and his “thousand” landed in the town to begin their unification of Italy. The townsfolk welcomed him with open arms and hundreds of them joined his army as they sped across the island.Today, Marsala is a pleasant, relaxed place to visit and the lovely, recently restored, mainly Baroque old town centre is pedestrian friendly and easy to walk round.
In the afternoon, chance to visit Erice .
Towering over the west of Sicily at 751m above sea level and often covered in its own personal cloud, Erice is a wonderfully preserved Mediaeval town offering the most breathtaking views and a palpable sense of history.Amongst the most visited sites are the two castles, Pepoli Castle and Venus Castle. The former was built by the Arabs while the latter was a Norman construction with imposing towers that derived its name from the fact that it was built on the site of the ancient Temple of Venus, allegedly founded by Aeneas.Other attractions include the sixty (yes 60!) churches including the Gothic Chiesa Madre (1314) and the Mediaeval Church of Saint John the Baptist.
ERICE– PALERMO : 1 h 48 min (114,2 km)
Accommodation in B&b in Palermo.
Day 5 : PALERMO – MONREALE : 10,6 km 27 min
Chance to visit Palermo.
Palermo, the regional capital of Sicily, is one of those cities with its own very distinct, almost tangible atmosphere, a place of mystery where reality often outperforms the traveller’s imagination and preconceived stereotypes. It is a buzzing Mediterranean centre whose 1 million inhabitants are a fascinating cocktail of apparently conflicting characteristics.Palermo’s history has been anything but stable as the town passed from one dominating power to another with remarkable frequency. Its strategic position in the middle of the Mediterranean brought wave upon wave of invaders including the Phoenicians, the Carthaginians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Saracen Arabs, the Normans, the Swabians, the French and the Spanish Bourbons just to name the most influential. The result of this quilted history is evident today in the vast range of architectural styles, the intriguing fusion of ingredients used in many local dishes and in many place names which are obviously not of Italian origin.The often faded grandeur of many of Palermo’s wonderful palaces and churches in the centre gives way to popular areas whose way of life doesn’t fully belong to the 21st Century. This is particularly true of the markets, whose Arabic origins are still evident today thanks to their noise, smells, colours, narrow labyrinthine streets, the splendid array of food and other goods on display and the general ‘souk’ atmosphere.
After lunch, we suggest to visit Monreale.
Surveying Palermo and the Conca D’Oro from its panoramic hill-top position, Monreale would be a fairly non-descript town were it not for the presence of one of the world’s most stunning architectural treasures: the Duomo.The story of how this splendid cathedral came into being starts when the Arabs took control of Palermo in 831. They transformed the cathedral into a mosque and banished the Bishop of Palermo from town. Outside the Cathedral, adjoining its south side, is another artistic and architectonic masterpiece: the cloisters. In 2015, the cathedral of Monreale granted status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The cathedral of Monreale is an outstanding example of a socio-cultural syncretism between Western, Islamic, and Byzantine cultures.
Accommodation in B&b in Palermo and overnight stay.
Day 6: PALERMO – PIAZZA ARMERINA : 2 h 9 min (163,0 km)
Chance to visit Piazza Armerina and Villa Romana del Casale.
Situated deep in the Sicilian hinterland, at 721 metres above sea level, stands Piazza Armerina, one of Sicily’s most frequented tourist spots.However, it is not the town that most people come to see, but the famous Villa Romana del Casale. Built in the middle of the 4th Century AD as a hunting lodge by a Roman patrician (it is not known for sure who the owner was) the Villa is home to some of the best preserved and extensive examples of Roman mosaics spread over around 3500mt.These extraordinarily vivid mosaics, probably produced by North African artisans, deal with numerous subjects, ranging from Homeric escapades and mythological scenes to portrayals of daily life, including the famous tableau of girls exercising in their “bikinis”. It is now a UNESCO Heritage site.
PIAZZA ARMERINA – ETNA: 1 h 33 min (116,5 km)
Accommodation in B&b in Nicolosi or Pedara and overnight stay.
Day 7: NICOLOSI – ETNA : 35 min (18,4 km)
Breakfast and departure for the excursion to Etna .
Cassata tasting .
Return to B&b in Nicolosi or Pedara and overnight stay.
Day 8: NICOLOSI- CATANIA: 30 min (20,2 km)
Breakfast and visit to Catania and Taormina. We suggest to visit the historical city center and the fish market.
Catania is Sicily’s second largest city, with a population of around 300,000. It lies on the Ionian Sea, under the shadow of Mount Etna, or “A Muntagna” as the locals refer to it. Mount Etna is ever-present and has to a large extent shaped both the history and the actual existence of Catania. On several occasions volcanic eruptions destroyed the city, the most devastating of which happened in the 17th Century. In 1669 Catania was covered in lava and then, just 24 years later in 1693 an earthquake shook the town down to its foundations. The reaction to this latter catastrophe was amazing: the entire old part of town was rebuilt in Baroque style, with large, wide open squares and avenues. The most remarkable aspect, however, was the building material used: lava! Catania is essentially a “grey” city and unique in the world for this. Catania was founded in the 8th Century BC by Greeks from Chalcis. It subsequently became a Roman city and amazingly, considering the dramatic series of volcanic eruptions and earthquakes that have so afflicted the area, three theatres have survived from this period. The Museo Belliniano is dedicated to Catania’s most famous son, the composer Vincenzo Bellini. A short walk north east will take you to another building dedicated to his memory, the opera house Teatro Massimo Bellini.
Fried fish tasting .
Chance to visit the Greek Roman Theatre in Taormina .
CATANIA – TAORMINA : 56 min (54,4 km)
Idyllicly perched on a rocky promontory high above the sea, Taormina has been the most popular tourist destination in Sicily for a couple of hundred of years, ever since it became an integral part of the Grand Tour. Beautifully restored mediaeval buildings, breathtaking views around every corner and a giddy network of winding streets strewn with shops, bars and restaurants make for a perfect holiday spot.Taormina’s past is Sicily’s history in a microcosm: Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, Swabians, the French and the Spanish all came, saw, conquered and left.Today, Taormina lives on tourism. Visitors flock from all over the world to see its Greek-Roman theatre, to amble along its perfectly preserved Mediaeval streets, to admire its dramatic views of Mount Etna and to immerse themselves in the archetypal Mediterranean atmosphere.The main attraction is, without doubt, the theatre. Now home to all manner of events, including plays, fashion shows, concerts, and cinema festivals, the Teatro Greco, as its name suggests, started its life in the 3rd Century BC hosting performances of works by Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides and Aristophanes. Originally quite small, it was enlarged by the Romans to accommodate their own particular brand of theatrical extravaganza. The views from the theatre are spectacular, taking in a (usually) smoking Mount Etna and the Bay of Naxos down below.
Return to B&b in Nicolosi or Pedara and overnight stay.
Day 9: NICOLOSI/PEDARA – ACI TREZZA : 41 min (22,2 km)
Chance to visit Acitrezza and Aci Castello .
Aci Castello is a small village on the Ionian coast of Sicily and known for its black Norman castle and picturesque square. The views from the castle, built of lava stones from Mount Etna, are spectacular.The castle was founded by the Normans in the second half of the eleventh century and is perched on the top of a volcanic rock.If you keep walking few kilometres north along the rugged coast you will encounter another fishing village. Aci Trezza is mainly known as the scene of the events in Giovanni Verga’s famous novel “Malavoglia”. The Faraglioni or Scogli dei Ciclopi (Rocks of the Cyclops) are, according to legend, huge pieces of lava rocks that the one-eyed giant Cyclops threw at Ulysses. Both villages are located at the most picturesque part of the coastline between Catania and Taormina. Travellers who want to plunge in Sicilian daily life will find a good range of holiday apartments, B&Bs and hotels in the area.
ACI CASTELLO – CATANIA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT : 35 min (29,2 km)
Transfer to the airport, car rental drop off and end of services.
TOTAL PRICE FOR THIS TOUR PER PERSON:
- € 550,00 3* B&B – low season (from the mid of Sept to the mid of May)
- € 675,00 3* B&B – high season ( May 15th – Sept 15th)
- € 655,00 4* B&B – low season (from the mid of Sept to the mid of May)
- € 735,00 4* B&B – high season ( May 15th – Sept 15th)
The price includes:
- Eight-nights stay at a three or four stars B&b.
- Car rental ( Fiat 500 or Panda 2 /4 doors)
- Wine tasting: 4 € of wine and local products such as bread, cheese and cured meats.
- Tasting of the typical Sicilian cake, the “Cassata
- Variety of fried fish and a drink tasting in Catania
- Panelle and a glass of wine tasting in Palermo
The price do not includes:
- All that is not expressly mentioned in “the price includes”, city taxes, tips.
- Car rental insurance – This is an optional coverage item that can be invaluable. Rental reimbursement or extended transportation expenses coverage can pay for a rental car if your car is damaged in a covered accident and is out of service for longer than 24 hours. Without it, you can be forced to pay full-price for the rental car as opposed to a reduced insurance or shop rate.Optional coverages will add to your premium, but the cost is often affordable, depending on which insurance companies you get your quotes from.
***Prices may vary depending on the season.