Explore Italy's fascinating island of Sicily in depth from two locations on the island. At this crossroads of the Mediterranean, you will discover a unique blend of cultural influences—from the Greeks, Romans, Moors, and Normans to later civilizations.

Starting at: $4,990 * Price includes special offer Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 The Greek theater of Taormina with Mt. Etna in the background  The Palatine Chapel, Palermo  The Greek temple of Segesta  The famous mosaics within the cathedral at Monreale  Palermo's Cathedral  The view of coastal Cefalú  Mosaic ceiling in the cathedral in Cefalú  The Romanesque cathedral of Cefalú  The castle of Erice   Temple of Concord, Valley of the Temples, Agrigento  Mosaics at the Roman Villa del Casale, Piazza Armerina  Mosaics at the Roman Villa del Casale, Piazza Armerina  Mosaics at the Roman Villa del Casale, Piazza Armerina  The baroque cathedral of Ortygia, Siracusa  The Greek theater of Siracusa  Coastal view near Taormina

Palermo and Taormina

A Stay in Sicily

10 days from $4,990

Explore Italy's fascinating island of Sicily in depth from two locations on the island. At this crossroads of the Mediterranean, you will discover a unique blend of cultural influences—from the Greeks, Romans, Moors, and Normans to later civilizations.

or Call 855-330-1542

Tour Details

TOUR BROCHURE

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WHAT OUR TRAVELERS SAY

Spending two weeks staying in two sites was really good... it meant far less packing and repacking and less fatigue. Our group was very congenial, and that was one of the high points if not the high point of our trip.

- Stephen B.

JOURNEYS DISPATCHES

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SPECIAL OFFER

Save $250 per person when you book by January 10, 2020!

Special Air Rates & Services: As part of our special air program, FlexAir, available with this tour, you can choose from a wide variety of flight options. Visit the Tour Details tab and click on "Special Air Rates/Services" drop down. 

Overview

At the crossroads of the Mediterranean, Sicily reflects a fascinating blend of cultural influences—from the Greeks, Romans, Moors, and Normans to later civilizations. Explore this fascinating island from two locations, staying in the upscale hotels of the Mercure Palermo Excelsior City in Palermo and the Grand Hotel Atlantis Bay in Taormina a Mare.

Highlights Include

  • Palermo and Environs: Stand in wonder before stunning Byzantine mosaics in Palermo’s Palatine Chapel and Monreale’s cathedral. Venture to the medieval hill town of Erice where you’ll see the Castle of Venus and panoramic sea views. Discover the picturesque fishing village of Cefalù, home to one of Italy’s most important Romanesque cathedrals.
  • Taormina and Environs: En route to Taormina, explore the Greek temples of Agrigento and the Roman Villa of Casale at Piazza Armerina. During your stay along Taormina’s beach, ascend to the upper village by cable car to visit the famed Greek theater. In the ancient Greek town of Syracuse, once a strong rival of Athens, tour the Old Town of Ortygia and the extensive archaeological park, featuring a Greek theater with perfect acoustics.
  • History and Cuisine: Gain insight into Sicily as a crossroads of cultures and learn about prize-winning virgin olive oil during a tour and lunch at a family farm.

Spending two weeks staying in two sites was really good... it meant far less packing and repacking and less fatigue. Our group was very congenial, and that was one of the high points if not the high point of our trip.

- Stephen B.

Itinerary

Day 1 & 2 – Depart U.S and Arrive in Palermo, Italy

Depart the U.S. on your transatlantic flight to  Palermo, Italy. Arrive at Falcone Borsellino -Palermo Airport and transfer to the Hotel Excelsior Palace Palermo. Upon arrival, you will be provided with a Welcome Package with information about the area. Your Smithsonian Journeys Travel Director will be available to assist you with independent excursions and restaurant recommendations.  

Tonight, gather for a welcome reception and dinner at the hotel. (R,D)

Day 3 – Monreale & Palermo

A full American-style buffet breakfast will be served each morning during your stay in the hotel. Discover the influences of the various peoples who settled in Sicily, a great cultural crossroads. Visit Monreale’s Santa Maria la Nuova, a cathedral with splendid mosaics, and admire views of the Conca d’Oro, the Golden Basin.

Return to Palermo and experience a lively market. Indulge in regional favorites during lunch, then visit Palermo’s cathedral, a blend of Gothic, Moorish, and Norman architecture. Step inside the Palatine Chapel in the Norman Palace to admire unusual mosaics that contain both Christian and Islamic motifs. See the Arab-Norman domes of Saint John of the Hermits and the Teatro Massimo, Italy’s largest theater.

This evening gather in the Smithsonian Journeys Travelers Corner for conversation and insights about the program ahead. Then discover the passeggiata, the evening stroll. This age-old custom is a time for catching up on the latest news and socializing. (B,L)

Day 4 – Segesta / Erice

Travel to Segesta, to see a spectacular Doric temple and admire a theater carved into the side of Mount Barbaro. Continue to visit and have lunch at a family farm where award-winning olive oil is produced. There’s a sampling of the olive oil and travelers can ask questions about the farm and rural life. The excursion continues for a visit to the lovely town of Erice, perched high above Trapani harbor. See two medieval castles and walls that date from the Phoenician era, and marvel at the Romanesque architecture of the Norman Duomo. Stroll the village’s winding lanes and take in the aroma of biscuits and sweets from Erice’s many pasticceria or pastry shops.

In Sicily, the Mafia is known as Cosa Nostra. Gather in the early evening with a local expert to examine the legacy of the Cosa Nostra and its impact on Sicilian society. (B, L)

Day 5 – Cefalù

Travel to Cefalù in the early morning. The highlights of this pretty fishing village include a 12th-century cathedral, regarded as one of southern Europe’s greatest churches, and a Duomo with beautiful mosaics. Lunch is on your own, then there’s free time to explore the village before returning to Palermo. Dine on traditional cuisine during dinner with your fellow travelers. (B,D)

Day 6 – Agrigento / Piazza Armerina / Taormina

This morning you will check out of your hotel. Depart by motor coach for Agrigento which was founded in the sixth century B.C. and features an exceptional collection of well-preserved ruins. Visit the Valley of the Temples, and see sanctuaries dedicated to HerculesConcordia, and Jupiter. Enjoy lunch of local specialties in Agrigento.

Visit Piazza Armerina and the Villa Romana del Casale. Witness a display of mosaics that depict everything from scenes of daily life to flowers and plants. This visual delight is one of the best examples of Roman mosaics remaining in the world. Late in the afternoon check in to the Grand Hotel Atlantis Bay. Dinner will be served in the hotel. (B,L,D)

Day 7 – Taormina

Explore the city of Taormina, situated high atop Monte Tauro. Stroll past the shops and sidewalk eateries along the Corso Umberto, the main shopping street. Continue with a visit to Taormina’s ancient Greek theater, still used today due to its fantastic acoustics.

Visit a family-owned restaurant for a private pizza-making lesson, followed by a pizza lunch. Enjoy time to explore Taormina on your own. In the early evening gather in the Smithsonian Journeys Travelers Corner for conversation. (B,L)

Day 8 – Syracuse

Journey this morning to Syracuse for a close-up look at both the Old Town of Ortygia island and the exceptional antiquities located in the Archeological Park. First tour the Archeological Park then walk through the Latomia del Pardiso, an ancient quarry now planted with orange, lemon, and magnolia trees. See the cave known as the “Ear of Dionysius” as well as the 5th-century B.C. Greek theater and the Roman amphitheater dating from the first century A.D.

Enjoy free time in Syracuse for lunch and exploring on your own. (B)

Day 9 – Taormina

The day is free to pursue your individual interests in Taormina. Tonight, celebrate the conclusion of your adventure at a festive farewell reception and dinner. (B,R,D)

Day 10 – Depart Taormina for the U.S.

Transfer to the Catania Fontanarossa Airport for your return flight to the U.S. (B)

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)