Sicily's Ancient Landscapes and Timeless Traditions

Terms & Conditions

Trip Date
Number of Days
16
Highlights & Inclusions
  • Explore in a small group of 8-16 travelers (average group size of 13)
  • International airfare, airport transfers, government taxes, fees, and airline fuel surcharges unless you choose to make your own air arrangements*
  • All land transportation
  • Accommodations for 14 nights
  • 31 meals—14 breakfasts, 8 lunches, and 9 dinners (including 1 Home-Hosted Lunch)
  • 24 small group activities
  • Services of a local O.A.T. Trip Experience Leader
  • Gratuities for local guides, drivers, and luggage porters
  • 5% Frequent Traveler Credit toward your next adventure

*Airport transfers are only available for travelers arriving and departing to/from the same airport and on the same arrival/departure dates as the main trip

 

Please note:
Deposit requirement on land trips is $350
Past traveler savings of 5% if you traveled from 2018 onward
New travelers get $100 savings

Itinerary

On this Sicily travel experience, you'll discover an Italian island with more than 3,000 years of history. Once home to a Greek colony, a Roman province, an Arab emirate, a Norman kingdom, and more, traces of ancient conquerors can still be found in Sicily’s well-preserved ruins, elegant architecture, and gastronomic delights. And thanks to our expert Trip Experience Leader and small group size—just 8-16 travelers, with an average of 13—you can go behind the scenes and off the beaten path, where you’ll discover authentic cultural experiences with the friendly, fiercely-proud Sicilian people.

Zip along Modica’s narrow streets in an iconic, vintage Fiat 500; spend the night in an agriturismo, a traditional Sicilian farmhouse; and even sit down to a home-cooked meal with a farming family in the pastoral Sicilian countryside. The island beckons… so bring an open mind, a spirit of adventure, and a hearty appetite. And whenever you’d like, you have the freedom to explore more of Sicily on your own: Break off from the group for independent discoveries—like learning about honey production in Zafferana or trying your hand at ceramics in Cefalu—during your free time.

DAY 1

Depart U.S.
You depart today on your overnight flight from the U.S. to Palermo, Sicily. You will most likely have one connection in Rome, with about a 2-hour layover.

DAY 2

Arrive in Palermo, Sicily • Transfer to Cefalu
Destination: Cefalu
Accommodations: Victoria Palace Hotel or similar

Morning: You’ll arrive in Palermo, Sicily’s capital city, in the late morning or early afternoon, depending on your specific flight arrangements. Upon arrival, expect to spend about 45 minutes clearing customs and having your temperature checked. An O.A.T. representative will then meet you in arrivals and escort you to your hotel in Cefalu. Travelers in groups of 1-2 will ride in a 5-passenger private car, or 3-4 in a 7-passenger private minibus for the approximately 1.75-hour drive (with traffic) to our accommodations.

In Cefalu, we’ll be joined by travelers who took our optional Puglia: Italy's Undiscovered Heel or New! Bologna, San Marino & Florence: Gastronomic Delights & Architectural Genius extension.

Lunch: On your own in Cefalu around noon. Your Trip Experience Leader can recommend some of their favorite options. Perhaps you may decide to sample some of Sicily's famous seafood at a waterfront restaurant.

Afternoon: Upon arrival, you will check in and receive your room assignments. We stay for three nights in our centrally located hotel—the Victoria Palace Hotel or similar. Depending on where we stay, the hotel will likely be set along the beach, a short walk from Cefalu’s historical center. Typical amenities might feature an outdoor pool, rooftop garden, and bar. Your room may include a minibar, satellite TV, Wireless Internet, and a private bath with hair dryer.

After checking in, you’ll have some time to settle into your room and unpack, or begin getting acquainted with Cefalu on your own.

Dinner: On your own. Your Trip Experience Leader will be happy to share their recommendations, if you’d like. With many restaurants in Cefalu to choose from, you should be able to find whatever suits your mood—from simple friggitoria (fried food) favored by the locals or a typical Sicilian trattoria, to more upscale Sicilian restaurants.

Evening: Your evening is on your own—you are free to rest in your room after your flight to prepare for tomorrow’s discoveries or reach out to your Trip Experience Leader for recommendations on things to do in the area.

DAY 3

Explore Cefalu
Destination: Cefalu
Meals included: B D
Accommodations: Victoria Palace Hotel or similar

Breakfast: Served at the hotel beginning at 7:30am, with Sicilian and limited American options available.

Morning: We’ll meet our Trip Experience Leader around 9:30am for a Welcome Briefing at the hotel. During this briefing, we will review our itinerary in more detail (including any changes that may need to occur). Our Trip Experience Leader will also discuss logistics, safety and emergency procedures, and answer questions we may have. Then, around 10:15am, we’ll embark on a walking tour of Cefalu.

Cefalu is a picturesque coastal town set along the shores of the Tyrrhenian Sea. Its town center is filled with narrow winding alleyways, where you can discover its rich history and culture, including colorful homes draped with fishing nets. In the company of a local guide, we’ll explore the cobbled streets and make a visit to the twelfth century Norman cathedral that lies at the town’s center; sturdy and imposing, the cathedral features soaring twin towers and mosaics with Byzantine influence. We’ll also spend time exploring the lavatoio medievale, or medieval washing house. According to local lore, the washing house was built over a river formed by the tears of a nymph whose lover had been killed; it was used for centuries by the town’s residents as a communal place to do laundry.

We’ll end our discoveries with a tasting of some local street foods, such as arancini (fried rice balls) or granita (a sugary frozen dessert).

Lunch: On your own around 12:30pm—you might like to continue sampling more street foods, or seek out a local trattoria for a bowl of pasta. If you prefer a sit-down environment with an extensive menu, head to Antares Cefalu, where you can enjoy outdoor seating just steps from the sea.

Afternoon: Free for you to spend as you wish. If you’d like to visit Palermo, your Trip Experience Leader can arrange a private motorcoach (at no cost to you), or provide train information if needed.

Travelers who prefer to stay close by might choose to hike La Rocca, an imposing rocky promontory that offers panoramic views of the town and sea below. Or, consider sunbathing at the beach with a good book in hand.

Around 6:45pm, our small group with gather at our hotel and walk about 5-10 minutes to our Welcome Dinner.

Dinner: Enjoy a Welcome Dinner around 7pm at a local restaurant featuring Sicilian cuisine.

Evening: We return to our hotel from dinner after a 10-minute walk around 8:30pm. You have the freedom to spend the rest of the evening as you wish, whether you want to enjoy a sweet treat such as gelato or stroll the promenade.

DAY 4

Explore Palermo • Controversial Topic: The Sicilian Mafia with expert Gino Felicetti & son of former crime boss • Optional Castelbuono tour & Folk Music experience
OPTIONAL TOUR
Destination: Cefalu
Meals included: B
Accommodations: Victoria Palace Hotel or similar

Exclusive O.A.T. Activity: Today's activities feature a conversation surrounding the Controversial Topic of the Sicilian mafia, led by two speakers with intimate ties to the crime syndicate. This eye-opening dialogue is a unique opportunity to better understand the far-reaching impacts of Cosa Nostra, as well as examine its origins and complexities. Hear firsthand from those whose lives were forever changed and how they continue to cope. Read more about this conversation below.

Activity Note: Today's explorations in Palermo include a walking tour of approximately 2 hours and the Optional Tour in Castelbuono includes a walk of about 1 mile along steep cobblestones.

Breakfast: Served at the hotel starting at 7:30am, with Sicilian and limited American options available.

Morning: Around 9am, our small group will meet in the hotel lobby and board a private 40-passenger motorcoach operating at half capacity for our 1.5-hour drive to Palermo.

Upon arrival at a local business center around 10:30am, we'll discuss the Controversial Topic of the Sicilian Mafia (Cosa Nostra), the terrorist-like and omnipresent crime syndicate. We’ll go deep beyond the headlines, myths, and legends about this organization and learn about it on a personal level from two people that are intimately familiar with it—an experience made possible only because of O.A.T.’s local connections in Sicily.

First, we meet Gino Felicetti. Born in Corleone, Gino fled to England at the young age of 11 after a family member was killed by the Sicilian Mafia, where he stayed with close family friends who also hailed from Corleone. He has since returned to Corleone to raise a family of his own, and has become an expert on this criminal society. We’ll get an overview of the Mafia’s history and inner workings—from its 19th century roots that sprung from cynicism and distrust of public institutions, to its rise and spread to America during World War II, and the shadow it casts over Sicilian business, politics, criminal justice, and day-to-day life today.

However, this will be more than just a lecture. As someone whose life was forever changed by the Mafia early on, and who lives in Corleone today—where he estimates 10-15% of the population has Mafia ties—he will share his personal stories of what it’s really like to live shoulder-to-shoulder with mafiosi in Sicily. He’ll also give us raw, unflinching views of the terrible acts of violence they are responsible for—such as the 1992 murder of two Italian judges who led a high-profile anti-Mafia crackdown—and the uneasy peace that exists between criminal and civilian in everyday Sicilian life.

Next, we’ll get an incredibly unique perspective of the Mafia when we’ll be joined by a second speaker, the son of a former crime boss—a controversial and exclusive connection that is only available on this O.A.T. adventure. He’ll share with us stories of the strange and sheltered childhood that he and his brothers had. Constantly on the run from police, media, and rival mafiosi, he never went to school, made friends, or stayed in one place for very long. As a youth, he never knew what his father did; he grew up like any child, looking up to his father as a man who loved him and would do anything to keep him safe. We'll also hear about his mother and how she navigated her roles as wife and parent amidst such controversial and often dangerous circumstances.

He’ll talk about what it was like to learn the truth about his father as an adult; to read headlines detailing horrendous acts of murder and bloodshed, and to cope with the revelation that the man he looked up to all his life was reviled across all of Sicily as public enemy number one. We’ll learn about how he is branded by the sins of his father, affecting his ability to find work or function as a private citizen, and how he lives with the emotional contradiction in his heart: How can you reconcile the love you hold for your father as a man, while acknowledging the countless lives he has ruined as a Mafia boss?

These may be hard conversations, and we will confront ugly truths about Sicilian history and culture—about the progress that has been made to untangle the Mafia from Sicilian life, and about the work that still needs to be done. However, no adventure in Sicily would be complete without understanding the Mafia’s role in society, and this experience offers a personal perspective that no newspaper or history book can provide. We’ll hear these experts’ stories for about 30 minutes, and then have around 1 hour to ask any additional questions we may have.

Around 12:15pm, we'll board our private motorcoach for a 30-minute drive to Ballerò Market.

Lunch: On your own around 1pm. From an abundance of fresh seafood to an array of artisanal meats and cheeses, perhaps you'll choose to enjoy delicacies at one of the innumerable food stalls in Ballerò Market.

Afternoon: At about 2pm, we’ll set out to explore the Sicilian capital during a 2-hour walking tour with our Trip Experience Leader and a local guide. Our 2.5-mile exploration will reveal the city’s eclectic cacophony of architectural styles, the legacy of a storied and complex past.

Throughout its history, Palermo’s strategic position in the middle of the Mediterranean drew the attention of a regular succession of invaders. The Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Greeks, Romans, Normans, Swabians, and French are among those who came, conquered, and left their mark. The cityscape, particularly its civic and religious structures, reflects a strong Baroque influence dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries. And, more recently, reconstruction after heavy World War II bombing added more modern elements to the mix. During our tour, we'll explore landmarks such as the Piazza Pretoria, where we'll learn why its 16th-century fountain is referred to as the "Fountain of Shame," and the Teatro Massimo Vittorio Emanuele, a prominent opera house located on the Piazza Verdi.

Around 3:45pm, you'll have approximately 45 minutes to explore the area on your own. Then, at about 4:30pm, we'll board our private motorcoach and make the roughly 1.5-hour return to Cefalu. The rest of the evening is free to explore on your own, or you may choose to join an evening Optional Tour to Castelbuono, which includes a traditional Sicilian dinner.

Those who choose to take part in the Optional Tour will board our private motorcoach around 6pm for a 20-minute drive to the 14th-century town of Castelbuono. This tiny municipality is set against the dramatic backdrop of the Madonie Mountains, one of the principal mountain ranges on the island, and punctuated by a striking castle, formerly belonging to a powerful noble family that ruled the town from the 14th to 16th centuries. Of particular interest here is the abundance of ancient Manna, a sap extracted from the bark of certain endemic plant species. This highly sought-after commodity is commonly used throughout traditional Sicilian cuisine, and to begin our explorations, we'll learn about it during a 1-hour discovery walk. Along the way, we'll also have the opportunity to speak with locals and sample this treasured ingredient.

Dinner: For those who do not join the Optional Tour, dinner is on your own. Perhaps you'll return to a favorite dining spot discovered during your time here in Cefalu—or you'd like to try Kentia Cefalu, a restaurant overlooking the sea and specializing in fish and meat dishes. If a sit-down dinner doesn't appeal to you, just grab a couple of slices of sfincione, a pizza-like snack loved by locals. For those who do join the Optional Tour, we'll take a short walk to a traditional Sicilian restaurant, where we'll enjoy rustic cuisine and listen to live local folk music. Get ready to mingle with locals—and if you're up for it, take a spin around the dance floor.

Evening: Free for your own discoveries if you do not join the Optional Tour. Your Trip Experience Leader will be happy to share their recommendations. For those who took the Optional Tour, we'll board our private motorcoach around 9pm for the 20-minute drive back to our hotel.

Castelbuono & Folk Music experience - $90/person

This half-day optional tour takes us to the tiny municipality of Castelbuono. Set against the dramatic backdrop of the Madonie Mountains and lush chestnut forests, the town is punctuated by the battlements and towers of a striking 14th-century castle, formerly belonging to a powerful noble family that ruled from the 14th to 16th centuries. Of particular interest here is the abundance of ancient Manna, a sap extracted from the bark of certain endemic plant species. This highly sought-after commodity is commonly used throughout traditional Sicilian cuisine, and to begin our explorations, we'll learn about it during a discovery walk. Along the way, we'll also have the opportunity to speak with locals and sample this treasured ingredient. We'll then round out our evening in Castelbuono with a traditional Sicilian dinner, accompanied by live, local folk music.

DAY 5

Overland to Monreale • Segesta • Overland to Mazara del Vallo • Local interaction
Destination: Mazara del Vallo
Meals included: B L D
Accommodations: Mahara Hotel or similar

Activity Note: Today includes about a 3-hour private motorcoach journey, with stops along the way. Our visit to Monreale requires a walk up almost 100 steps to reach the cathedral. Our hike in Segesta is along a country road and we will view the ruins from an adjacent hillside. On departures where this day falls on a Sunday, travelers will depart the hotel by 7am so that we may arrive at the Duomo in Monreale before it closes for scheduled Sunday services.

Breakfast: Served at the hotel starting at 7:30am, with Sicilian and limited American options available.

Morning: We’ll check out of our hotel in Cefalù around 9am and board our private motorcoach to for a 3-hour drive to Mazara del Vallo. Along the way, we’ll make two stops—the first being Monreale, a town perched on hills overlooking Palermo and the lush valley known as La Conca d’Oro (the Golden Shell). At about 10:15am, a local guide will take us on a walking tour of the town. We'll pass by a twelfth-century Norman cathedral known for its Byzantine mosaics and have the chance to observe daily life in this small town.

At about 11:45am, we’ll set off to the Segesta area by private motorcoach, arriving at about 1:15pm. Here, in a region that was once home to the ancient Elymians—one of Sicily’s indigenous peoples—we’ll arrive at an agriturismo, a traditional Sicilian farmhouse sanctioned for dining and lodging by the Italian government.

Lunch: At the agriturismo around 1:30pm, featuring fresh and local northern Sicilian fare. While we eat, we’ll have a chance to learn about local wine and olive oil production from the agriturismo’s owner.

Afternoon: After lunch, we’ll set off by foot around 2:30pm into the neighboring countryside to revel in views of olive groves, vineyards, and temple ruins. In a reminder of Segesta’s ancient Greek heritage, the columns of a well preserved (and unfinished) Doric temple still stand proudly in a remote hilltop location.

We depart Segesta around 3pm, reboarding our private motorcoach for a 1-hour journey on to Mazara del Vallo. We’ll arrive at our hotel around 4pm, at which point we will check in and get our room assignments for our three-night stay. Depending on where we stay, our hotel may feature on-site amenities including a bar and a restaurant. Typical rooms may feature air-conditioning and a private bath with a hair dryer.

The rest of your afternoon is on your own. You’re free to relax and get settled into your room, or to explore the area on your own.

Dinner: At our hotel around 7pm, featuring local cuisine.

Evening: Free for your own discoveries. You can retire to your room for the night or ask your Trip Experience Leader for recommendations.

DAY 6

Mazara walking tour • Tunisian Kasbah • Home-Hosted Lunch
Destination: Mazara del Vallo
Meals included: B L D
Accommodations: Mahara Hotel or similar

Exclusive O.A.T. Activity: This afternoon we'll venture into the home of a family in Mazara, where we'll enjoy a Home-Hosted Lunch. This is a special opportunity afforded to us by our small group size and made possible by the regional connections of our local Trip Experience Leaders. During our shared meal, you'll learn more about daily life in the region from these residents, and take part in the customs and culinary traditions of the region. Read more about this experience below.

Breakfast: Served at the hotel beginning at 7:30am, with Sicilian and limited American options available.

Morning: Around 9am, we’ll either walk or drive (depending on our hotel) approximately 20 minutes to Mazara’s city center, where our Trip Experience Leader will take us on a 1.5-hour walking tour of the city's historic Kasbah quarter. Here, some 3,000 Tunisians and other Maghreb Arabs live and work. During our explorations, we’ll learn about the challenges and opportunities encountered while intermingling Sicilian and Arab cultures, and the co-existence of Muslim and Christian faiths.

At around 11am, we'll stop to visit the Museum of the Dancing Satyr, home to a mysterious Greek bronze statue with a noteworthy past. In 1998, local fishermen brought the treasure to land, after it had spent 2,000 years resting on the seabed off Sicily’s southwestern coast.

Then, at around 12:45pm, we'll break into smaller groups of less than five and transfer approximately 15 minutes by car to the homes of some local families. This is a unique opportunity to learn more about life in the region—so come hungry for your home-cooked meal, and bring plenty of questions for your generous hosts.

Lunch: Around 1pm, our small group will be welcomed into the house, apartment, or small villa of a local family to enjoy a traditional Sicilian lunch. O.A.T. is the only travel company that includes a Home-Hosted Lunch in this unique city so strongly influenced by North African culture. While Mazara del Vallo has Phoenician origins, we’ll see during this meal that the city’s modern-day cuisine owes much to the Arabs, who ruled Sicily from 827 to 1061.

As we dine with our hosts, we’ll slip seamlessly into daily life here, as well as gain insights into how the city’s identity continues to evolve. Long one of Italy’s most vital fishing centers, Mazara has faced a shift in recent years, with fewer workers interested in the industry and continued debates with neighboring countries over fishing rights. Our hosts are connected to the fishing industry (mainly retired fishermen and their housewives), giving us the opportunity to learn about this historically significant, yet slowly disappearing profession.

During our time here, we'll enjoy the company of at least two generations of family members, providing a wide-ranging perspective of life in the region. Our meal will consist of typical western Sicilian fare, which will likely include a traditional seafood dish (vegetarian options will also be available), along with pasta with prawns or couscous. For dessert, we might enjoy Muccunetti (meaning "morsels"), which consist of pumpkin, almond, sugar and eggs. Of course, it wouldn't be an Italian meal without the wine: Accompanying our home-cooked feast will be local wines such as Grillo, Nero D’Avola, Cataratto or Zibibbo.

Afternoon: After lunch, we'll drive back to our hotel, departing around 3pm and arriving back at the hotel around 3:30pm. You are free to enjoy approximately 2.5 hours of free time—check with your Trip Experience Leader for suggestions.

Around 6:15pm, we’ll embark on a short walk or a 30-minute drive to a local restaurant, depending on where we dine.

Dinner: At a local restaurant around 7pm, featuring authentic regional cuisine.

Evening: Free for your own discoveries or relaxation. Your Trip Experience Leader will be happy to share their recommendations, if you’d like.

DAY 7

Museo del Sale visit • Boat ride to Mothya Island
Destination: Mothya Island
Meals included: B L D
Accommodations: Mahara Hotel or similar

Activity Note: Weather permitting, today’s journey to Mothya Island will include a 20-minute ride on a small boat. We’ll also walk along uneven footpaths during a one-mile walk on the island. Depending on where we stay, dinner may be in our hotel or at a local restaurant.

Breakfast: Served at the hotel beginning at 7:30am, with Sicilian and limited American options available.

Morning: Around 8:30am, we’ll board our private motorcoach for a 45-minute ride along a windmill-dotted landscape. Our destination is Museo del Sale, a semi-working salt museum in the province of Trapani. Upon arrival at the museum’s 17th-century mill, a member of the museum staff will tell us how the region has been shaped by the age-old Trapani tradition of salt production and refining. We'll also view historic photos of salt workers, highlighting the division of labor between the skilled elders who maintained the windmills to the young apprentices who hauled water.

Around 10:30am (weather permitting), we’ll then board a small boat for a bracing and windswept 20-minute ride to the small island of Mothya. Some 2,700 years ago, the Phoenicians built a settlement here, and it was once a thriving trade outpost. We’ll delve into the island’s history while our Trip Experience Leader takes us on a walking tour of the island and its ancient fortress. Included in our discoveries will be insight into the ingenious causeway with which the island—now only accessible by boat—enjoyed easy access to the mainland.

Around 11am, we'll also visit the Giuseppe Whitaker museum, which houses numerous ancient artifacts, including the fifth century Motya Charioteer sculpture. Believed to have been commissioned by a wealthy chariot racer, it was constructed by a leading Greek artist in the period following the defeat of the Persians.

Lunch: At about 12:15pm, we’ll make the most of the island’s scenic views and settle in for a light picnic lunch, featuring a variety of Sicilian dishes.

Afternoon: Around 1:30pm, we’ll explore the island in greater detail with our Trip Experience Leader, this time via a 1-mile walk along a network of footpaths connecting Mothya’s interior to the shore. Along the way, we’ll witness the ongoing excavation projects that continue to reveal new insights into how the island’s relatively small amount of real estate was developed and used to its full potential.

We'll depart the island around 2:30pm for the 20-minute ride back to the mainland, at which point we’ll reboard our private motorcoach for a 45-minute ride back to our hotel. The rest of the afternoon is free to relax at the hotel or do some independent exploring.

A little before 7pm, we’ll gather at the hotel for a short ride via private motorcoach to a local restaurant.

Dinner: Tonight’s meal features regional Sicilian fare served around 7pm.

Evening: The evening is yours beginning around 8:15pm, with the freedom to enjoy your final night in Mazara as you’d like. Ask your Trip Experience Leader for recommendations.

DAY 8

Valley of Temples • Agrigento • Overland to Piazza Armerina
Destination: Piazza Armerina
Meals included: B L D
Accommodations: Vecchia Masseria or similar

Activity Note: We will travel a total of about four hours on a private motorcoach today, with stops along the way include walking through ruins, stone steps, uneven paths, and archaeological sites.

Breakfast: Served at the hotel beginning at 7:30am, with Sicilian and limited American options available.

Morning: We will depart our hotel around 8:30am as we begin our journey inland, toward Sicily’s center. After about two hours of travel via private motoroach, we’ll stop at the Valley of Temples, situated just outside the city of Agrigento. Agrigento was once the Greek city of Akragas, one of the most culturally advanced cities of the ancient world. Here in the Valley of Temples, we’ll set off by foot with a local guide to explore the archaeological remains of the Greek temples, each built between 510 and 430 BC. In addition to the honey-colored architecture, the area provides sweeping views of the neighboring hillsides, where homes and agricultural plots form a patchwork display of green, brown, and white.

We'll then take a 15-minute ride via private motorcoach to a local restaurant around 12:30pm.

Lunch: Around 1pm, at a local restaurant in Agrigento, featuring regional fare.

Afternoon: We resume our private motorcoach ride around 2:30pm, traveling another two hours deep into the Sicilian hinterlands to Piazza Armerina. Next, we will reach our adventure’s agriturismo—this time it will be our home for the night. We’ll check in and get our room assignments upon arrival, which gives us a few free hours to enjoy the space before dinner. Depending on the agriturismo we stay in, typical rooms contain a television and private bath. Perhaps you will relax in your room or take in the expansive views of surrounding mountains, forests, and farmland. Or, enjoy the farmhouse’s amenities, which may include an outdoor pool and outdoor terrace.

Dinner: Around 7pm, in the agriturismo’s restaurant, with cuisine that features locally grown ingredients.

Evening: On your own—you’re free to explore the agriturismo and its amenities as you wish.

DAY 9

Overland to Villa Romana del Casale • Winery Tour • Overland to Ragusa
Destination: Ragusa
Meals included: B L
Accommodations: Hotel Il Barocco or similar
Breakfast: Served at the hotel beginning at 7:30am, with Sicilian and limited American options available.

Morning: At about 8:30am, we’ll board our private motorcoach for a 30-minute ride to the ruins of Villa Romana del Casale. Constructed in the middle of the fourth century AD as a hunting lodge, the villa was covered by a landslide in the twelfth century. Nearly 800 years later, 20th-century excavations began to reveal some of the finest examples of Roman mosaics in all of Europe—scenes range from Homeric escapades to insightful depictions of daily life. The villa is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Around 11:15am, we’ll depart for an approximately 1-hour ride to Tenute Senia Winery, a family-run estate. There, we'll meet the Mortilla sisters, Angela and Valentina, who inherited the business from their father (whom inherited the business from his father). Wine-making is a male-dominated industry in Sicily; therefore, when it came time for their father to retire, the sisters were unsure whether or not they would carry on the family legacy. Emboldened by their cherished childhood memories on the estate, they decided not to part ways with it, and today, the business thrives under their strong, progressive leadership. In fact, even the bottle packaging was reimagined to represent womanhood and link it with Sicilian mythology. Since the transfer of leadership, the winery has won numerous awards, and the sisters have grown empowered by guiding the winery into a new era. During our time here, we'll embark on a 1-hour guided tour of the grounds and learn about the evolution of the family business. We'll even see the homes of the families, which are also located on the estate.

Lunch: At approximately 1:30pm, we'll enjoy a wine tasting and lunch at Mortilla, during which we'll have the opportunity to personally experience its renowned products.

Afternoon: We’ll reboard our private motorcoach around 2:45pm for an hour-long ride to Ragusa. This city with ancient roots was devastated by an earthquake in 1693, and the aftermath changed the city significantly. Wealthier members of the population decided to build their new town higher up a cliff, while the rest of the inhabitants rebuilt on the original site, at the bottom of a gorge. These two distinct towns remained separate entities until 1926, when the higher and lower sections became one (along with a jumble of homes and churches that cling to the walls of the ravine that divide them).

We’ll arrive at our hotel around 3:45pm, at which point we’ll check in and receive our room assignments. We stay for three nights in Ragusa. Depending on the hotel we stay in, it may feature a bar, lounge, and Wireless Internet. Typical rooms may include a minibar, safe, satellite TV, and private bath with hair dryer.

You’ll have a couple hours free to settle into your room or explore as you wish before we gather at 6:30pm for a 30-minute orientation walk around the vicinity of the hotel. This is a great time to ask your Trip Experience Leader for restaurant recommendations.

Dinner: On your own around 7pm. Check with your Trip Experience Leader for ideas.

Evening: Your evening is on your own—you are free to rest in your room for the evening, begin to discover the city’s charm, or people watch from an outdoor table at one of Ragusa’s cafés. You can also ask your Trip Experience Leader for recommendations on things to do in the area.

DAY 10

Old Town Ragusa • Fiat ride through Modica
Destination: Ragusa
Meals included: B D
Accommodations: Hotel Il Barocco or similar

Activity Note: This morning's walking tour includes numerous flights of steep steps—we will take our time and include several stops along the way.

Breakfast: Served at the hotel beginning at 7:30am, with Sicilian and limited American options available.

Morning: At 9am, we’ll set off on a 3-hour walking tour with a local guide to discover the Baroque splendor of Ragusa. Ragusa is home to one of Sicily’s best-preserved old towns—Ragusa Ibla—and O.A.T. is one of the very few travel companies to include this special locale. As we explore this UNESCO World Heritage Site, we’ll behold richly ornamented Baroque structures, elaborate balconies, and sumptuously decorated churches. A highlight among highlights is the 18th-century Duomo di San Giorgio: Set in the center of town, it features a neo-classical dome added in 1820.

Then, at about 12pm, we'll board a local bus for the 15-minute drive back to our hotel.

Lunch: On your own beginning around 12:15pm. Ask your Trip Experience Leader for recommendations on the best places for local fare. Fans of the Inspector Montalbano TV series may wish to check out A Rusticana, a local eatery where some scenes were filmed.

Afternoon: You have several hours of free time after lunch to explore Ibla as you’d like, whether you’d prefer to stroll the picturesque alleys and stairways, or sample a treat from a local shop that specializes in delicious wine-flavored ice creams. You may also wish to visit La Bottega di Maristella, a local shop that specializes in the art of Sicilian sfilato—an ancient style of embroidery.

At 5pm, we’ll drive about 30 minutes to Modica, where we'll break up into even smaller groups of 3 and board an iconic form of transportation: vintage Fiat 500s. These small Italian cars are not only immediately recognizable—they’re also ideal for maneuvering the narrow streets and lanes of Modica, as you’ll discover during our 1-hour ride. Along the way, you’ll see how Modica was also shaped by the 1693 earthquake. Like Ragusa, it is divided into upper and lower sections and features Sicilian Baroque architecture.

After our ride, we'll take a short walk to a local restaurant.

Dinner: Around 7:30pm at a local restaurant in Modica, featuring local dishes.

Evening: At about 9pm, we’ll travel 30 minutes back to Ragusa by private motorcoach. You’re free to spend the rest of the evening as you’d like—and your Trip Experience Leader is ready with recommendations.

DAY 11

A Day in the Life of a Ragusan farm
Destination: Ragusa
Meals included: B L
Accommodations: Hotel Il Barocco or similar

Exclusive O.A.T. Activity: Our activities this morning feature a A Day in the Life experience on a Ragusan farm, including a traditional farmhouse lunch. This intimate opportunity allows us to venture onto the family-owned farmsteads of local villagers, where we'll immerse ourselves in daily life and gain a better understanding of regional traditions, cultivation techniques, and customs. Read more about this experience below.

Activity Note: The farm you visit today and the activities available will vary by departure. During your time on the property, expect to be exposed to a variety of smells and activities that may be intense or atypical for some travelers. Approach the experience with an open mind, spirit of fun, and appreciation for the family that is welcoming us onto their farm and into their home.

Breakfast: Served at the hotel beginning at 7:30am, with Sicilian and limited American options available.

Morning: We will depart our hotel by private motorcoach this morning around 8:30am, traveling about 45 minutes into the Sicilian countryside. Our destination is the province of Ragusa, where we will spend A Day in the Life with a local family on their farm. Set against the rugged peaks of Modica, Ragusa is both an agricultural oasis and powerhouse. Home to a mix of small-scale and large-scale production, this area is one of the biggest exporters of greenhouse produce in all of Europe, as well as one of the primary sources for milk, dairy, and meat production. However, as we’ll learn throughout our discoveries, the methods of cultivation and animal husbandry vary greatly from producer to producer. Today, we’ll focus on a sustainable, environmentally conscious, farm-to-table style of farming—the kind that can be traced back centuries and for which Sicily is famously known. Interestingly, it seems that new generations of farmers—most of whom are former post-war urban migrants—are ditching the city streets for the fertile countryside to revive the work of their ancestors and rekindle their entrepreneurial spirits.

Upon arrival around 9:30am, we’ll be greeted by Salvatore Bussello, third generation owner of the 80-acre farm, and his 29-year-old daughter, Jessica, who helps run the operation. He, along with his wife, daughters, and son, live and work here to carry on the work of his grandfather, who started the farm in 1944. We’ll begin with an introduction to the property, its history, and cultivation philosophy, as well as get to know our welcoming hosts. Salvatore’s journey in the agricultural business has been anything but linear: Although he currently supports small-scale, direct-to-consumer type farming, we will come to learn that for more than 20 years he worked almost exclusively with industrial distributors. During this period, he grew keenly aware of the harmful, unsustainable, and substandard practices he was supporting and made the difficult decision to go in another direction—one that he can now be proud of. Since that time, Salvatore has transformed his business and joined the “Zero Miles Producers Association,” a farmer’s union that works to protect and advocate for small-scale producers.

Around 10:15am, Salvatore and Jessica will lead us to the farmhouse—which maintains much of its original structure since Salvatore’s grandfather erected it—where we’ll roll up our sleeves and learn how to make traditional dishes such as scaccia Ragusana, stuffed focaccia, and pane de casa, whole grain bread. We may also have the opportunity to make Ragusano cheese, a firm stretched-curd cheese made with unpasteurized whole milk and originating here in Ragusa. We’ll spend about 1 hour mastering these time-honored recipes before grabbing an aperitif and venturing out for a 1.5-hour walking tour of the grounds.

Beginning around 11:15am, we’ll make our way past the production facility and animal stalls to witness the agricultural convictions at the heart of this family-run operation. While we stroll, we’ll learn how Salvatore and his family manage to reap abundant, quality harvests, all while working with nature—not against it. We’ll also have a chance to observe the animals living on the farm, including pigs, cows, and depending on the season, sheep. The cows here are a special breed called La Mucca Ragusana, or more commonly known as Modicana. These bovine are a result of selective breeding practices over the centuries here in Sicily. They are well-suited to free-range grazing, and most importantly, able to thrive in arid regions. Modicana generally have a red coat and are considerably smaller than most breeds used in industrial farming. Because of this smaller stature and relatively low milk productivity, they are not the preferred cattle for most farmers, and therefore, their population is in decline. However, as we’ll learn, small-scale farmers like Salvatore are not tempted to increase production at the risk of compromising quality and heritage.

At about 12:45pm, we’ll conclude our walk in the garden, where we’ll begin harvesting produce for our lunch today. Our menu will be dictated by the season, as well as the quality of the yield for that year. In April, we may pick peas and fava beans, while in May, we may pick onions and black cabbage. Come winter, we might enjoy squash and pumpkin. Seasons aside, our bounty will be fresh and ripe for consumption, and while we harvest, we’ll learn the cultivation methods unique to each produce.

Lunch: Around 1pm in the farmhouse, where we’ll dine with Salvatore and his family. Although the dishes will vary, our meal will consist of an assortment of fresh cheeses, the produce we picked minutes ago, hearty pastas, tender meats, and of course, a variety of wines.

Afternoon: Around 2:30pm, we’ll round out our meal with coffee and dessert, such as the iconic Sicilian staple of cannoli. While we savor in these jovial moments, we may listen to tarantella music or hear stories about Salvatore’s grandfather. We may also take this time to ask our hosts about some of the challenges they face in running the farm or what their plans are for the future.

At approximately 3pm, we'll board our private motorcoach for our 45-minute trip back to Ragusa, arriving around 4pm. Then, the rest of the day is on our own. You are free to enjoy the hotel’s amenities, or take in the view from one of Ragusa’s sun-soaked piazzas.

Dinner: You're free to dine at the hotel or at a local restaurant in Ragusa—ask your Trip Experience Leader for dining options.

Evening: On your own. Your Trip Experience Leader can provide recommendations on how to best spend your final evening in Ragusa.

DAY 12

Overland to Syracuse • Explore Ortigia • Overland to Zafferana
Destination: Zafferana
Meals included: B D
Accommodations: Airone Wellness Hotel Etna or similar

Activity Note: Today we'll walk about two miles as we explore Ortigia, where some of the streets feature uneven cobblestones.

Breakfast: Served at the hotel beginning at 7:30am, with Sicilian and limited American options available.

Morning: Around 9am, we say goodbye to Ragusa, departing by private motorcoach for a 1.5-hour ride east to Syracuse. Known as the birthplace of the famed mathematician Archimedes, Syracuse was one of the most powerful ports of the ancient Mediterranean world. Now more than 2,700 years old, the city boasts a rich and storied history—evident in the Greek, Roman, and Baroque architecture that has helped earn the city UNESCO World Heritage Site status.

When we arrive around 10:30am, we’ll meet with a local guide and set off on a 1-hour discovery walk of Ortigia, a small island in the city’s historical center. Here, a blend of architectural styles awaits, from Greek and Roman ruins to Medieval Norman structures and Baroque buildings. Highlights include the fountain of Arethusa, the Temple of Apollo, and the Piazza del Duomo, the pedestrian square that serves as the heart of Ortigia.

Beginning around 11:45am, you'll have a little over 2 hours to explore on your own and enjoy lunch. Check with your Trip Experience Leader for ideas.

Lunch: On your own. You have the freedom to seek out a spot yourself, or ask your Trip Experience Leader for recommendations. There are plenty of family-run trattorie lining the alleys here, or you could pop over to Ortigia's famous outdoor market for some deep-fried sardines or other Sicilian favorites.

Afternoon: Around 2pm, we’ll board our private motorcoach and drive about 1.25 hours north to the small village of Zafferana, a quaint town off the tourist track that sits among green hills between Mount Etna and the Ionian Sea. We’ll stay here for four nights, with ample opportunity to enjoy the attractions of the elegant town and a variety of outdoor recreational activities.

Upon arrival, we’ll check into our hotel—the Airone Wellness Hotel Etna or similar—and receive our room assignments. Our hotel is one of the few to be located within Mount Etna National Park. Amenities likely include an outdoor pool, a spa, several on-site restaurants, and a bar, while typical rooms feature minibar, satellite TV, air-conditioning, and a private en suite bath.

The remainder of the day is free for you to settle into the hotel, beginning at about 3:45pm. Around 5:30pm, we will take a 15-minute shuttle ride to the village of Zafferana, where our Trip Experience Leader will lead us on a 30-minute orientation walk and acquaint us with our new surroundings.

Dinner: At a local restaurant around 6:15pm, featuring regional cuisine.

Evening: Following dinner, we'll take the short shuttle ride back to Zafferana, arriving around 7:45pm. Your evening is then free to begin exploring the area on your own, or return to your hotel for some rest.

DAY 13

Visit Catania • Controversial Topic: The foster and adoption system in Italy with Simona Marciano • Grand Circle Foundation visit: Casa di Maria
Destination: Zafferana
Meals included: B L
Accommodations: Airone Wellness Hotel Etna or similar

Exclusive O.A.T. Activities: Today’s discoveries feature a visit to Casa di Maria, an organization that fosters Italian and migrant children—supported in part by Grand Circle Foundation. We’ll also engage in a Controversial Topic about the foster and adoption system in Italy with social worker Simona Marciano, the daughter-in-law of Casa di Maria’s founders. These emotionally affecting activities will shed light on Italy’s complicated response to its most vulnerable residents. Read more about these experiences below.

Breakfast: Served at the hotel beginning at 7:30am, with Sicilian and American options available.

Morning: Around 8:30am, we'll depart by private motorcoach for the 45-minute ride to Catania, an ancient port city on Sicily's east coast. At around 9:30am, we'll meet a local guide and begin a 1.5-hour walking exploration of Sicily’s second-largest municipality.

Founded in the eighth century BC, Catania was once among Italy’s most important cultural centers, particularly during the Renaissance period. Sicily’s first university opened here in 1434, and Catania’s tradition of education and industry continues to thrive here today. You’ll also witness the city’s spirit of tenacity, well-represented by the Cathedral of Catania: Originally erected in the eleventh century, it has endured damage from numerous earthquakes over the years. It has been repaired or restored every time, and today features a rich blend of Norman and Baroque architecture.

Then, at about 11:15am, we'll drive to nearby Biancavilla. After a 45-minute ride in our private motorcoach, we will arrive at the Casa di Maria, an organization—supported in part by Grand Circle Foundation—that fosters young Italian and migrant children.

Together with our travelers, Grand Circle Foundation has provided Casa di Maria with a route tiller for the vineyard, as well as funding for a solar-powered water wheel. Beginning around noon, we'll be welcomed with snacks and refreshments, before joining our hosts for lunch.

Casa di Maria is nestled within the rolling Sicilian countryside, just east of the austere and towering Mt. Etna. In addition to extensive living quarters, the property features an operating vineyard and rows upon rows of olive trees. Founded in 2009, the organization is run by an extended family who relocated here from Catania in order to establish a loving, welcoming home for children, many of whom are victims of neglect and domestic violence or suffer from some form of disability. Upon its inception, the organization was intended to solely service Italian children—however, following the escalation of the 2013 migrant crisis, Casa di Maria opened its doors to unaccompanied migrant children and adolescents fleeing war, poverty, and human trafficking. Today, Casa di Maria receives support from local authorities, as well as international NGOs, in order to sustain and further its mission. This crucial funding enables the sponsorship of a slew of other services, including: international volunteer camps, a local food bank providing sustenance to more than thirty families in the surrounding area, recreational opportunities for children and disabled people, second-hand toy distribution, as well as an on-site agriturismo and catering service providing the children with job training and employment opportunities.

You'll spend a few hours at Casa di Maria, dining with family members and sitting down for a conversation about Italy's foster and adoption system. Read more about these activities below.

Learn more about the sites we support »

Lunch: Around 12:15pm, we'll dine with family members living at Casa di Maria, featuring authentic local cuisine and time for intimate conversations.

Afternoon: Beginning around 1:15pm, we will participate in an illuminating conversation about the dynamics of this "foster family," adoption in Italy, migration, and the contemporary problems surrounding these highly emotive topics.

This afternoon, we’ll sit down with Simona Marciano, the daughter-in-law of the founders, and Suzanne, a Nigerian immigrant who grew up here, to discuss the Controversial Topic of Italy’s foster and adoption system, as well as to better understand the vital services provided here. In addition to a lifetime of firsthand experience, Simona and her husband, Rocco, are both professional social workers and have a comprehensive understanding of the obstacles these children face—as well as the added complexities for migrants.

We’ll hear from Simona about some of the contentious adoption laws in Italy, such as the fact that siblings are prohibited from being adopted together—one of the reasons Casa di Maria is often less of a transitional house for these children than it is a permanent home. We will also discuss the glaring disparities in the treatment of Italian children versus migrant children. For example, the state provides financial support in the amount of 80 Euros per Italian child, whereas each migrant child receives just 35 Euros. Also on the subject of migrants, we’ll learn about human trafficking in sub-Saharan Africa, as well as the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1992—two major factors that precipitated the massive migration patterns Italy has seen over the past several decades. In fact, since 2016, Italy is home to more than 6 million migrants, ranking it 4th in the list of nations home to foreign-born inhabitants.

Our small group will get a local perspective on this issue from Suzanne, who came to Sicily from Nigeria when she was a young girl, gave birth, and now permanently lives at Casa di Maria with her child. Many, if not most, of her fellow nationals did not receive the assistance that she did. Unfortunately, a large percentage of young women coming from Nigeria—including many who were lured with the promise of education and opportunity—are either forced into the illegal sex trade or coerced into farm labor and exposed to abhorrent conditions.

Today's conversation will address a complex and emotionally charged subject here in Italy. The topic is layered with sensitive cultural elements, which may lead to conversations that some travelers find difficult. Approach the conversation as a unique and respectful discourse. We’ll hear the firsthand experiences of these admirable and strong women for approximately 30 minutes, before opening up the conversation to a 1-hour Q&A session around 2:15pm. After our conversation, we'll then enjoy coffee together and have more opportunities to get to know our hosts.

Around 4pm, we'll depart Casa di Maria and drive 45 minutes back to our hotel in Zafferana. Then, you'll have the rest of the day and evening free. Perhaps you'll take a walk via the numerous hiking trails available in the surrounding area. Alternatively, you may wish to consult with your Trip Experience Leader for activity ideas.

Dinner: On your own in Zafferana. You can ask your Trip Experience Leader for dinner suggestions.

Evening: You’re free to spend the rest of the evening as you wish.

DAY 14

Visit Taormina • Controversial Topic: The Antimafia movement with the son of former journalist Giuseppe Fava & Massimo Blandini • World War II Museum • Greek theatre
Destination: Zafferana
Meals included: B D
Accommodations: Airone Wellness Hotel Etna or similar

Exclusive O.A.T. Activity: Today we'll gather to discuss the Controversial Topic of the antimafia movement with the son of former journalist, Giuseppe Fava, who was murdered by the Sicilian mafia. During our conversation, we'll learn how his son keeps his memory alive by continuing the fight against Cosa Nostra. This is a unique opportunity to examine the impacts of the crime syndicate through firsthand account, as well as come to understand the dangers in speaking out against it. Read more about this conversation below.

Activity Note: If this day falls on a Monday, the World War II Museum is closed. In that instance, we will visit the museum on another day during our time in Zafferana. Our visit to Taormina will include walking for about two miles along pedestrian-only roads with an uphill walk to the amphitheater.

Breakfast: Served at the hotel beginning at 7:30am, with Sicilian and limited American options available.

Morning: Around 8am, we’ll depart our hotel by private motorcoach for a drive of about one hour to the Museo Storico or historical museum, arriving around 9am. This museum delves into the history of "Operation Husky," the invasion of Sicily by the Allied forces in July 1943. The displays here primarily contend with the effect of the invasion on the civilian population, and in doing so, provide a visceral rendering of what it was like to be subjected to bombing raids and invasions. We'll also have the opportunity to view detailed historical documentation of the operation, as well as actual weaponry and uniforms of the warring armies.

At about 11am, we'll reboard our private motorcoach and depart for the 45-minute drive to Taormina, a chic resort town perched on the side of a mountain. Founded in the fourth century BC, Taormina prospered under the Greek ruler Gelon II and also under the Romans, but was eventually conquered by the Normans in 1087. It wasn't until the 18th century that Taormina gained popularity as a tourist destination. Today, visitors flock from all over the world to see its remarkably preserved Greek ruins, stroll its Medieval streets, gaze out at its impossibly blue coastline, and admire the dramatic views of nearby Mount Etna. We'll begin exploring its varied history and iconic architecture with an orientation walk around noon, led by our Trip Experience Leader. During this time, we'll have the opportunity to ask questions and glean recommendations for the free time that will follow.

Lunch: On your own around 12:15pm. For fresh seafood with a view, check out Tratorria Don Ciccio, located just up the street from the duomo. The dining terrace provides unparalleled views. Alternatively, you may wish to seek recommendations from your Trip Experience Leader during the orientation walk.

Afternoon: At around 2pm, we'll reconvene for a tour of the Teatro Antico di Taormina or ancient Greek theater. Led by a local guide, we'll discover this remarkably preserved third century construction, which was formerly used as a performance venue, game arena, and gladiatorial battle center. This is the second-largest theater in Sicily, after the one in Syracuse, and a must-see for anyone visiting the area. Since the mid-20th century, it has continued to serve as a venue for operatic and theatrical performances.

Following our discoveries, we'll depart by private motorcoach around 3:15pm for the 45-minute drive back to our hotel. Then, at about 4:15pm, we'll meet either Claudio Fava, son of former journalist Giuseppe Fava (1925-1984), or Massimo Blandini, longtime collaborator and friend of Claudio's, to discuss the Controversial Topic of the antimafia movement and the forces which still seek to silence it. Giuseppe was an investigative reporter, playwright, antimafia activist, and founder of I Siciliani monthly magazine. All his life, he denounced the mafia and sought to expose Cosa Nostra for its widespread infiltration of politics and business—in particular those of Sicily's biggest Catania-based construction firms. Tragically, Giuseppe was murdered by the mafia—like so many others before him—in 1984 when he was just 59 years old.

Giuseppe's son, Claudio, is formerly a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) and acting president of the Sicilian antimafia commission. Perhaps most notably, he was even nominated as the left candidate for the presidency of the Sicilian region in 2017. In addition to numerous other political group affiliations, Claudio is a writer—in fact, he co-wrote a screenplay about the life and death of antimafia activist Giuseppe Impastato, which won best script at the Venice Film Festival in 2001. Like his father, his life's work has been driven by the singular desire to expose and dismantle the Sicilian crime syndicate. We'll hear about the heroic efforts of his father, his own experiences on the front lines, and ultimately, come to learn where he finds the strength to continue the fight, even after losing so much.

When Cladio is unavailable, our conversation will be facilitated by Massimo, his close confidant and collaborator. Like Claudio, Massimo is also actively involved in the movement for democracy. He is an active member of the editorial staff for I Siciliani monthly magazine, and over the years, has reported on Claudio's career as a European and national parliamentarian, as well as the various antimafia campaigns he continues to be involved in. Massimo is also one of the founders of the Giuseppe Fava Foundation, which seeks to raise awareness of the antimafia movement. The organization holds community events, spearheads public initiatives, and even conducts workshops in local schools.

After about 30 minutes of hearing either Claduio or Massimo speak, we'll open up the dialogue to a 1-hour Q&A session around 4:45pm, during which we'll have the opportunity to ask questions and seek clarity on the topic. Around 6pm, we'll make the short walk back to our hotel, where we'll have about 30 minutes to freshen up. Then, at about 6:30pm, we'll regroup in the hotel bar for a farewell drink, toasting to the adventure we've had.

Dinner: Around 7:30pm we'll sit down to a Farewell Dinner at a nearby restaurant, featuring the Sicilian cuisine we've come to know.

Evening: You’re free to spend the evening as you’d like. Perhaps you’d like to rest and enjoy the hotel's amenities. Your Trip Experience Leader will also be happy to provide recommendations.

DAY 15

Zafferana • 4-wheel-drive excursion to Mount Etna
Destination: Zafferana
Meals included: B L D
Accommodations: Airone Wellness Hotel Etna or similar

Activity Note: Today’s activity may be altered due to snow or inclement weather. While it also includes about 2 miles of hiking—at an altitude of approximately 6,000 feet—travelers can elect not to participate in the hiking portion of the excursion if they feel it may be too difficult.

Breakfast: Served at the hotel beginning at 7:30am, with Sicilian and limited American options available.

Morning: Around 9am, we’ll depart our hotel by 4-wheel-drive vehicles to explore nearby Mount Etna. The highest Italian mountain south of the Alps, Mount Etna stretches to a height of more than 10,000 feet. It’s not only the tallest active volcano in Europe, it’s also one of the most active volcanoes in the world—with rich volcanic soil that brings abundant vineyards and orchards to its slopes.

Our Etna exploration begins with a half-hour drive to the volcano in the company of a local nature guide who will set the stage for what awaits us. Upon arrival at the northern slope, we’ll go off the beaten path to explore some of Etna’s craters. We’ll pause on occasion to get out of our vehicles and hike along the volcano’s slope to take in the commanding views.

Around 12pm, we'll hop back on our 4-wheel-drive vehicles for a half-hour drive to a local restaurant along the slopes of Mount Etna.

Lunch: Around 12:45pm at a local restaurant, featuring local Sicilian fare.

Afternoon: At around 2:15pm, we'll make our way back to Zafferana, a roughly 1-hour drive. Upon our return to the hotel, the rest of the afternoon is yours. If you’d like to return to Catania for independent explorations, a shuttle will be available.

Dinner: Around 7pm at the hotel, featuring local cuisine.

Evening: On your own. You may choose to return to your room to rest before your return flight home tomorrow, explore the city a little more, or join fellow travelers in the main hotel area for a nightcap to chat about the highlights of your adventure.

DAY 16

Return to U.S. or begin your post-trip extension
Destination: U.S.
Meals included: B
Breakfast: Served at the hotel beginning at 7:30am, with Sicilian and limited American options available.

Morning: Depending on your specific flight arrangements, you will board a private motorcoach or small car with your luggage and take a 1-hour ride to the airport this morning. Return flights will likely feature one connection in Rome, with about a 2-hour layover.

Travelers taking the post-trip extension to Calabria: Southern Italy’s Hidden Heartland or New! Amalfi & Naples: Terraced Cliffs, Turquoise Waters & Ancient Ruins will depart via private motorcoach around 8:45am.

Europe
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