Ancient Wonders of Sicily
Let us introduce you to Sicily: seductively beautiful and perfectly placed in the heart of the Mediterranean. Discover this fertile prize, coveted by countless cultures, including the Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans.
The island is home to wonderfully-preserved Greek temples, Roman villas and Norman cathedrals - many filled with glorious mosaics. Its dramatic coastal, volcanic and mountain scenery once provided the backdrop to many ancient battles. On this week long tour we introduce the very best of Sicily’s archaeological sites. Those who wish to delve a little deeper into the island’s past should turn to our eleven day Sicila Antiqua tour.
- Explore a landscape of ancient civilisations; from Greek temples to Roman villas, Norman cathedrals to the ruins of age-old fortresses
- The perfect week long introduction to ancient Sicily, travelling from Norman Palermo to Ancient Greek Siracusa (and everything inbetween!)
- Enjoy a special access at the Capella Palatina in Palermo
- Visit Piazza Armerina, the villa of a Late Roman aristocrat with a taste for expensive mosaics
- Historic Churches
- Ancient Greek
- Special Access
- All Inclusive
We arrive in Palermo, Sicily’s glittering capital. An architectural pastiche of different artistic cultures, it wears its marriage of many heritages proudly on its streets, with Byzantine domes rising above Norman chapels.
On our first full day, we start in Monreale and visit the Norman Cathedral. Built in the 12th century, the cathedral is particularly famed for its cloisters - each banded with gold inlay and uniquely carved.
Later this afternoon, we have a specially arranged early evening visit to the Cappella Palatina of Roger II, a glittering jewel of Norman architecture.
Our morning is spent at the temple and theatre of ancient Segesta. The iconic fifth-century Doric temple here, set against a beautiful sunlit valley, is one of the best-preserved in the world. We enjoy lunch at a restaurant before travelling to Selinunte, a coastal Greek colony that was frequently engaged in conflict with its rival Segesta. We explore the remains of the five major temples here, including the re-erected temple of Hera. Finally we depart for Agrigento.
We spend a full day exploring Agrigento — first its excellent museum, then its splendid Valley of the Temples. Agrigento was founded as Akragas by Greek colonists, who probably chose the site for its natural fortifications — two nearby rivers and a ridge to the north. It was one of the richest and most famous colonies of Magna Graecia, and remains a beautiful site.
We spend our day first travelling to and then discovering Piazza Armerina, the extraordinary Roman villa with its wealth of mosaics. A World Heritage Site, the villa is in fact a large complex of buildings that have been under excavation since the 19th century. If we are lucky, we may see archaeologists and conservators at work among the mosaics. This evening we continue to Syracuse.
This morning we enjoy a special guided tour of the Neapolis Archaeological Park in Syracuse.
We explore the exhibits of the Paolo Orsi Archaeological Museum. After lunch, we visit the ruined Greek fortress of Castello Eurialo, seated on a ridge on the edge of the Hyblean hills. However, many elements of the ruins remain remarkably intact, including the walls of the five defensive towers.
We tour Ortygia, Sicily’s ‘green heart’, taking in the Piazza del Duomo and the Fountain of Arethusa.
We enjoy an idyllic special boat trip from the Grand Harbour.
The afternoon is yours to spend as you wish: at leisure, or in exploration.
We fly home from Catania.
We arrive in Palermo, Sicily’s heady capital. An architectural pastiche of varying artistic cultures, it showcases its marriage of many heritages proudly on its streets, with Moorish domes rising above Norman chapels.
On our first full day of touring, we begin in Monreale and visit the Norman cathedral, which was built in the 12th century. This cathedral is famed for its uniquely carved and gold-accented cloisters. Later this afternoon, we are treated to an exclusive visit to the Cappella Palatina of Roger II. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a particular highlight as it boasts incredible mosaics and carvings, and its interior is truly a sight to behold.
Our morning is spent at the temple and theatre of ancient Segesta. The iconic 5th century Doric temple here, set against a sun-drenched valley, is one of the most impressive ruins in the world. We enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before travelling to Selinunte - a coastal Greek colony which frequently engaged in conflict with its rival, Segesta. We explore the remains of the five major temples here.
Today we enjoy a full day of touring in Agrigento, which is home to a variety of thrilling sites. First, its excellent archaeological museum and then its splendid Valley of the Temples. This area was founded as Akragas by Greek colonists in the 6th century BC, and they probably selected the site for its natural fortifications - namely the two nearby rivers and ridge to the north. It was once one of the richest and most famous colonies of Magna Graecia and remains a beautiful site even today with its amazing Doric temples and other impressive sites.
Today we travel to and discover the Piazza Armerina and the extraordinary Roman villa that is located there with its wealth of intricate and striking mosaics. Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the villa is in fact a large complex of buildings that have been under excavation since the 1930s.
If we are lucky, we may see archaeologists and conservators at work among these fabulous mosaics, which depict scenes of Roman life including bikini-wearing girls, hunting partys and circus imagery and animals.
After arriving in Syracuse last night, we take in the area this morning and begin with a special guided tour of the Neapolis Archaelogical Park. Later, we pore over exhibits at the Paolo Orsi Archaeological Museum and then visit the ruined Greek fortress of Castello Eurialo. Many elements of the ruins, remain remarkably intact, including the walls of the five defensive towers. We spend our final afternoon exploring the ancient town or Syracuse.
Today we say goodbye to our group and return to the airport to catch our flights home.
- Expert Guide Lecturer
- Tour Manager
- Local Travel - Private a/c coach
- Meals - All meals included with wine at dinner
- Entries & Tips - Entry to all sites in programme; tips included
- Field Notes
2 nights in Palermo staying in a 17th century building situated in the heart of the historical city centre
2 nights in Agrigento, known for the Valley of the temples
3 nights on Ortygia Island with an attractive rooftop restaurant with views over the harbour
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