- Historic Palermo
- Villa Romana del Casale
- Visit Cefalu
- Capella Palatina
- Taorminas Greek Theatre
Historical Tour through Sicily
- New holiday
- VIP door to door
- Small group 30 or less
"Sicilians build things like they will live forever and eat like they will die tomorrow." Plato
Boasting a total of seven UNESCO-listed sites, Sicily is home to Greek temples, Roman villas and Norman cathedrals showcasing more than 3,000 years of civilisation, from the indigenous Siculans to modern day.
As you travel from Palermo to Syracuse, trace the history of the island and see how the culture of its varied inhabitants is today reflected in the archaeological sites, architecture, people and cuisine. Accompanying you will be a specialist historian and archaeologist, who will provide a series of insightful lectures.
- Included travel insurance
- Return flights and transfers
- 22 meals: 10 breakfasts, 4 lunches in local restaurants and 1 on board ship, 3 dinners at your hotel and 4 dinners in local restaurants
- Wine (1/4 litre) with all included lunches and dinners
- Specialist lectures
- Saga Tour Manager
- Local guides
- All excursions and visits listed
- Porterage at your hotel
Dr Jamie Sewell
Historian and archaeologist, Jamie has 15 years’ experience in supervising excavations across Britain, Germany, Romania and Italy – including Pompeii. He has written books and articles on the archaeology and history of towns of Hellenistic Italy and in the broader Mediterranean. His ongoing research is focused on how and why larger Italian settlements transformed as a result of the Roman conquest of the Italian peninsula.
Jamie has lectured at Durham University in UK, Humboldt University in Berlin, and has more than a decade’s worth of experience working as a historic guide.
- Norman Sicily
- Classical Sicily: Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans
- The History of Syracuse
- Day 1 UK to Palermo
- Day 2 Norman Palermo
- Day 3 Monreale Cathedral and the castles of Palermo
- Day 4 Cefalu and Bagheria
- Day 5 Palermo to Syracuse, via Piazza Armerina
- Day 6 Syracuse Archaeological Park and Ortigia
- Day 7 Taormina
- Day 8 Ragusa Ibla and Modica
- Day 9 Mount Etna and wine tasting
- Day 10 Historic Catania
- Day 11 Syracuse to Catania to UK
Hotel Federico II
Hotel Parco delle Fontane
Day 1 UK to Palermo
Fly to Catania and transfer 130 miles, with a break en-route, to Palermo where you’ll stay for four nights at the Hotel Federico II.
A welcome drink and dinner will be served at the hotel tonight, along with your first lecture. D
Day 2 Norman Palermo
On your first full day set off on a walking tour of historic Palermo with a local guide. You’ll visit sights including the piazzas of Quattro Canti and Pretoria, the Norman churches of La Martorana and San Cataldo, the Cathedral of Palermo, and one of the oldest street markets in the city.
The afternoon is free to continue exploring the city independently, with dinner included at Osteria Ballarò, a Sicilian restaurant housed in the stables of a former royal palace.
This evening, look forward to a private visit to the Cappella Palatina, the royal chapel of Palermo’s Norman palace. B, D
Day 3 Monreale Cathedral and the castles of Palermo
A full day tour the next day reveals the Arab-Norman architectural highlights surrounding Palermo. Begin with a guided tour of UNESCO-listed Monreale Cathedral, considered the finest example of Norman architecture in Sicily.
In the afternoon, visit the 12th-century Castello della Zisa and the Palazzo Chiaramonte, ending your tour with an aperitif in the marina. B
Day 4 Cefalu and Bagheria
The following day you’ll visit the coastal towns of Cefalu and Bagheria. In the popular resort of Cefalu, see the impressive Norman cathedral, and visit Palazzo Mandralisca – the town’s only museum, housing a collection of art and antique furniture.
Next, visit Bagheria’s beautiful 18th-century Villa Valguarnera, then return to Palermo where you will see a traditional Sicilian puppet show. Featuring handmade, wooden marionettes dressed in elaborate costumes, these shows are steeped in rich history and tradition and were once performed by numerous family troupes. Only a few of the theatres remain, including this one in Palermo.
This evening you can enjoy your second lecture and dinner in a local restaurant. B, D
Day 5 Palermo to Syracuse, via Piazza Armerina
Journey through Sicily’s rolling hills and valleys to Syracuse, a key city for culture and the arts dating back to the ancient Greeks. En route, visit Villa Romana del Casale in Piazza Armerina, an archaeological site housing one of the richest and varied collections of Roman mosaics worldwide.
Check into the 4-star Hotel Parco delle Fontane (4Q) for a six-night stay and enjoy your third lecture this evening. B, D
Day 6 Syracuse Archaeological Park and Ortigia
The following day you’ll visit Neapolis Archaeological Park. Here you’ll see the remains of temples, tombs, a Roman amphitheatre and one of the largest Greek theatres in existence.
Spend the afternoon exploring the island of Ortigia with a local guide. Syracuse’s historic centre is connected to the mainland by only three bridges, and is home to numerous archaeological sites, including the cathedral, whose 18th-century baroque facade hides the original 5th-century Temple of Athena. B, D
Day 7 Taormina
The next morning you’ll head for Sicily’s oldest ‘resort’ town, Taormina, for a tour led by a local guide. Inhabited by the early Sicilians, Greeks, Romans, and Byzantines, you’ll see a historical spread of ruins in the town, including the impressive Greek theatre.
After lunch at a local restaurant, visit Casa Cuseni, a prestigious villa built by British artist, Robert Kitson, housing the town's art gallery. B, L
Day 8 Ragusa Ibla and Modica
The following day visit the baroque towns of south-east Sicily. Many were destroyed during the earthquake of 1693 and rebuilt entirely in the style seen today. Take a guided tour of Ragusa Ibla, home to 14 UNESCO-listed monuments including the Duomo of San Giorgio, then visit Modica, famed for its chocolate production. Visit the Antica Dolceria Bonajuto for a chocolate workshop and tasting session. B, L
Day 9 Mount Etna and wine tasting
Discover Europe’s highest active volcano on a visit to Mount Etna, to witness how its activity has shaped the surrounding countryside. Drive along roads carved though deep, solidified, black lava flows to the Rifugio Sapienza. From here, the Silvestri Crateri are within walking distance and you can enjoy panoramic views on clear days.
Continue to Cantina Murgo, a nearby vineyard producing wine from DOC Sicilian grapes, benefitting from the high mineral content of Etna’s soil. Enjoy a light lunch and a tasting session here before an afternoon at leisure. B, L, D
Day 10 Historic Catania
Your tour continues with a guided walk through the historic centre of Catania, to see the architectural sights remaining from the Roman, Saracen and Norman rule. Included is entrance to the 11th-century Saint Agatha’s Cathedral, the Massimo Bellini opera house, and Palazzo Biscari, once a private stately home.
After sampling the traditional street food of Sicily for lunch, enjoy time to explore the city independently.
A farewell dinner is included in a local restaurant in Syracuse. B, L, D
Day 11 Syracuse to Catania to UK
Your final day in Syracuse begins with a relaxing harbour cruise to view Ortigia and Syracuse from their best vantage point, the sea.
After a late lunch on board, transfer to the airport for your evening flight home. B, L
Traditions of Sicilian food
Known for its fresh produce, Italy has a high reputation with food lovers, with Sicilian cuisine additionally showing traces of the varied cultures from the island’s complex history. During your tour, you’ll dine in a selection of hand-picked local restaurants to sample the Arab, Greek, Spanish and French influences.
Also included in your tour is a wine tasting on the slopes of Mount Etna, a tasting of Modica chocolate created following Aztec methods imported by the Spanish, and a day trip to Catania includes the chance to sample local favourites, such as arancini and cannoli, during a street food experience.
Included on 10 nights itinerary
Marvel at Villa Romana del Casale
Found by accident by a local farmer, the Villa Romana del Casale boasts some of the finest Roman mosaics on display in the world today. The origins of this aristocratic villa can be traced to the 4th century AD. It was in use for over 800 years until it was completely covered by a landslide, which ensured an excellent state of preservation.
Four distinct zones have been identified: a grand entrance and courtyard, a central villa built around a courtyard garden, a large room with three apses, and a thermal bath complex. One of the most intriguing mosaic’s uncovered has been called ‘Chamber of the Ten Maidens’ and features young women performing sports.
Included on 10 nights itinerary
Behind the scenes at the Capella Palatina
A visit to the Royal Palace of Palermo offers the unique opportunity to explore the Cappella Palatina during a private evening tour.
The UNESCO-listed Norman palace was the seat of the Kings of Sicily during the Norman domination, with the chapel commissioned by Roger II of Sicily in 1132. It is considered one of the best examples of Arab-Norman-Byzantine architecture from 12th-century Sicily. The building harmoniously combines the styles, with Norman architecture and door decor, glittering gold Byzantine mosaics and domes, and Arabic arches and a wooden ceiling featuring murqarnas – a form of ornamented vaulting used in Islamic architecture – perfectly illustrating Sicily’s ‘melting pot’ culture.
Included on 10 nights itinerary
Located in the older part of the city, this 4-star hotel is a short walk from Palermo Cathedral, and the shopping district. The historic building is elegantly furnished, and facilities include the Aromi restaurant specialising in Mediterranean cuisine, a lounge bar, and a spa with a mini pool, Finnish sauna and Turkish bath.
The 60 en-suite bedrooms are stylish and functional, and are equipped with air conditioning, television, minibar, telephone, safe, and free Wi-Fi.
This 4-star hotel is housed in a 19th century building with a modern interior which boasts extensive grounds and is located in a quiet area of Syracuse. Facilities include the Eduard restaurant serving Sicilian and international cuisine, an outdoor swimming pool, sun terrace, bar, gardens and a lobby with a grand piano.
All 51 en-suite bedrooms are equipped with a television, safe, fridge, hairdryer, air conditioning, and free Wi-Fi.