Road Scholar : Home
Treasures of Sicily

Program Number: 18212RJ
Start and End Dates:
10/20/2014 - 11/5/2014; 4/2/2016 - 4/18/2016; 4/23/2016 - 5/9/2016; 4/30/2016 - 5/16/2016; 5/14/2016 - 5/30/2016; 9/10/2016 - 9/26/2016; 9/17/2016 - 10/3/2016; 10/1/2016 - 10/17/2016; 10/8/2016 - 10/24/2016; 10/22/2016 - 11/7/2016;
Duration: 16 nights
Location: Italy
Price starting at: $4,449.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type:
Meals: 39; 15 Breakfasts, 12 Lunches, 12 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian; Gluten Free    

Experience the dizzyingly diverse cultural influences that combined to create something totally unique in Sicily. Examine the ruins left behind as evidence of Magna Graecia, “Greater Greece,” including some of the most beautiful structures ever built by the Ancient Greeks; learn about the surprising, sometimes spectacular results of the clash between Norman and Arab civilizations; meet the proud, friendly Sicilians who are eager to share their villages, their cuisine and the beauty of their land.


• Visit the Norman Cathedral in Monreale; the Byzantine-style mosaics rival those of St. Mark's in Venice.
• Ferry across the Strait of Messina to Reggio to admire the bronze Riace Warrior statues.
• Discover the orchards and farms of the rich-soiled Mount Etna plains and share a lunch of freshly prepared Sicilian dishes at an agriturismo.

Activity Particulars

Walking up to two miles a day; uneven and hilly terrain at historic sites. Extended periods of standing.

Date Specific Information


The 2014 dates follow a slightly different itinerary: Arrival Giardini Naxos, 4 nights; coach to Syracuse, 4 nights; coach to Palermo, 7 nights; departure. All activities are as published, merely rearranged.
Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.

4-2-2016, 4-23-2016, 4-30-2016, 5-14-2016, 9-10-2016, 9-17-2016, 10-1-2016, 10-8-2016, 10-22-2016

Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.

Itinerary Summary

Arrival Giardini Naxos, 4 nights; coach to Syracuse, 4 nights; coach to Agrigento, 2 nights, coach to Palermo, 5 nights; departure.

Overnight flight from the U.S.A.
1 night
Arrival Giardini Naxos
4 nights

Learn about Sicily through expert history lectures on the island’s many colonizers. Journey to the charming mountainside comune of Taormina and investigate its stunning Greek theater ruins high above the sea. Examine the architecture of Messina, a city entirely rebuilt after its destruction by a 1908 earthquake.

Coach to Syracuse
4 nights

Feast on home-made dishes at an agriturismo prior to reaching Syracuse. Experience the rich history of Ortigia, the original site of the Greek colonizers, a city more than 2,700 years old. Visit the baroque Cathedral of Syracuse and the Paradise Quarry, where 7,000 Athenian soldiers were imprisoned. Venture to Noto, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its stunning churches.

Coach to Agrigento
2 nights

Journey across Sicily with a stop near Piazza Armerina to the Villa del Casale, a third c. villa complex, whose floors retain much of the mosaic decorations. Continue to Agrigento; explore with an expert the finest extant ancient Greek temple comple anywhere, including Greece.

Coach to Palermo
5 nights

Coach to Palermo 5 nights. Stop in Selinunte another Greek settlement, discover how columns are carved. Continue to Palermo, the capital of the region of Sicily. Join a local family for a traditional Sicilian lunch in their home. Discover Palermo, strolling past the colorful fruit and fish carts of the morning market. In Monreale, view magnificent mosaics inside the Norman cathedral, manifesting Byzantine, Romanesque and Arab influences. In town, sample what locals claim are the best cannolis in Italy.


“Dolce far niente,” the “sweetness of doing nothing.” This ode to leisure is a distinctly Italian phrase, and yet the expression does not do justice to the hard-work ethos of the nation’s inhabitants. The monuments, art and civilization bequeathed to the people of modern Italy are a testament to the industry of their forebearers, and the legacy lives on in today’s Italians, who work hard to better enjoy the sweetness of repose.

Giardini Naxos: Four-star hotel with private beach. Syracuse: Four-star hotel in the center of town; Agrigento Four-star hotel with ocean views. Palermo: Historic, four-star hotel located in former Mercederian monastery.

Road Scholar Instructors
These instructors are participating on at least one date of this program. Please note that changes may occur.
Enrico Nucci

Enrico Nucci has been leading Road Scholar programs in Sicily and the Bay of Naples for more than a decade. He also serves as an Italian guide for the United Service Organizations (USO). Enrico graduated from the University of Maryland with a B.A. in Psychology and has worked at the Embassy of Italy in Washington, D.C. He has a special interest in volcanoes, developed early as a young boy who went to school in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius in Naples.
Angelo Fanara

Angelo Fanara is a retired high school English teacher who continues to practice his love of teaching by leading Road Scholar groups in his native Sicily. Enthusiastic, engaging and charming, Angelo loves sharing his extensive knowledge of Sicily’s most important archaeological sites and museums with participants.
Catherine Paige

Catherine Paige was born in England and received her master's degree in social work from the University of Sussex. After working as a social worker in Brighton, she transferred to Sicily where she is an English Language Assistant at the University of Palermo. Since moving to Sicily, Catherine has developed an interest in local literature that she will convey in her talk on Sicilian writers.
Laura Lanza

Laura Lanza received her degree in literature and philosophy from the University of Palermo. She taught Italian, Latin and Greek in local high schools and enjoys her present role as an excursion leader in the province of Palermo. Laura enjoys traveling to European destinations as well as other continents with her family, and resides in the city of Palermo.
Michele Gallo

Michele Gallo, a licensed excursion leader in Sicily, shares his knowledge of the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento. He has contributed to BBC and TBS documentaries featuring UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Elena Buscemi

Elena Buscemi, a native of Russia, is a licensed excursion leader. She lives with her family in Trapani, Italy, where she pursues her passion for sailing.
Meals and Lodgings
   Hellenia Yachting Hotel
  Giardini Naxos, Italy 4 nights
   Hotel Roma
  Syracuse/Island of Ortygia, Italy 4 nights
   Grand Hotel Piazza Borsa
  Palermo, Italy 7 nights
 Hellenia Yachting Hotel
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Description: The Hellenia Yachting Hotel is not in Taormina proper, but seaside just a few miles to the south in the quiet beach community of Giardini-Naxos
  Contact info: Via Jannuzzo, 41
Giardini-Naxos, NA 98035 Italy
phone: +39 0942 51737
  Room amenities: Each room is equipped with private bath, a television set, mini bar, hair dryer, complimentary toiletries, and safe box for valuables.
  Facility amenities: The hotel has elegant and modern decor. Situated on the shore, a small private beach for hotel guests and swimming pool, open May to September. Large dining room, elevators to all floors, laundry service. Free Wi-Fi connectivity in the lobby, rooms and on the terrace. For checking emails, an internet point is located in the lobby. Laundry service available.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: varies by season You can book additional nights directly through the hotel’s online reservation system Indicate to the hotel that you are with the Road Scholar group and every effort will be made to ensure continuity of room assignment. Another option is to use online consolidator services such as or Expedia.

 Hotel Roma
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Description: The ancient city was founded 2,700 years ago and was one of the great cities of the Greek ‘new world’ in Italy. At its peak it challenged Athens for control of the Greek colonial possessions, a rivalry that culminated in a war vividly described by the historian Thucydides. With power came contention, and Syracuse passed through the rule of numerous dictators and tyrants before capitulating to the expansion of Rome. Today the archeological ruins of its classical heyday are interspersed within a bustling, modern city which includes Ortygia, the small historic center and charming island overlooking the harbor. The Syracuse program site hotel is one of the few hotels located in the heart of Ortygia, very close to the magnificent center square.
  Contact info: Via Roma, 66
Syracuse, NA 96100 Italy
phone: +39 0931 465 626
  Room amenities: Satellite television, mini-bar, safe box for valuables, hair dryer and individual climate control.
  Facility amenities: Fine dining at the hotel's restaurant. Relax in the lounge with bar service; take advantage of the fitness room or the Internet point in the lobby.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes

 Grand Hotel Piazza Borsa
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Description: Formerly a Mercederian monastery (who facilitated prisoner exchanges during the 16th c.) it was combined with 2 adjacent buildings in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to form a bank and stock exchange. Newly restructured and updated in 2005 it is a modern business class hotel with full amenities. The old courtyard, supported by ancient columns, is a covered atrium. Centrally located in the heart of Palermo, near museums and opera theaters, this is an ideal location to explore the city. Enjoy the Liberty epoch decor in the common area and restaurants and modern rooms.
  Contact info: Via dei Cartari 18
Palermo, NA 90133 Italy
phone: +39 091-320-075
  Room amenities: Direct dial telephones from room; hair dryer, complimentary toiletries; mini bar; room safe for valuables; individual thermostat; Internet connection, satellite television.
  Facility amenities: Internet point in the lobby. Free Wi-Fi access. Laundry service. Conference center. Spa, massage, and aesthetic center (reservations required), Turkish bath, whirlpool, fitness center with resistance machines (free for guests). Bars, restaurants, boutiques.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights after: varies by season You can book additional nights directly through the hotel’s online reservation system Indicate to the hotel that you are with the Road Scholar group and every effort will be made to ensure continuity of room assignment. Another option is to use online hotel consolidators such as or Expedia.
  Check out time: 10:00 AM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Lunch provided for morning arrivals. Hotel check in 2:00 pm. Meet in lobby at 4:00 for neighborhood walk You will be staying at Hellenia Yachting Hotel that night.
  End of Program:
After breakfast, transfers to airport. Hotel check out 11:00 am You will be staying at Grand Hotel Piazza Borsa the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required.
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
  Train or bus availability: Bus service from Catania airport to Giardini-Naxos.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Giardini Naxos
  Nearest city or town:  Taormina
  Nearest highway: Autostrada
  Nearest airport:  Fontana Rossa, Catania
  Transportation to site: Transfers provided for group travelers. Independent travelers can request to join the courtesy transfer provided on group arrival day. To reach the program site on your own, there are two options - taxi or public bus. Taxi fare direct from the airport to the hotel is approx. EUR 100. More economical option is public shuttle bus operated by ETNA TRASPORTI; email: Service runs hourly from Catania airport to Giardini Naxos. The stop is to the right of the terminal exit. Purchase a one-way ticket to Giardini Naxos from the kiosk or directly from the driver. The stop closest to the hotel is Recanati. The ride should take just over one hour. Buses leave every hour from 7:00 am to 7:45 pm, reduced service on Sundays and holidays. Fare is approx. € 10 per person including luggage. When you get off at Recanati and gather your luggage from the storage compartment in the belly of the bus, walk in the direction the bus was going, turn right at the corner and the hotel is about 100 yards on the left side of the street. Prices are approximate and subject to change
  From End of Program
  Location:  Departure
  Transportation from site: Transfers provided for group travelers on group departure day. Independent travelers can request to join the courtesy transfer (on group departure day) by completing the Participant Information Form with their itinerary details. To reach the airport on your own, a taxi is the most convenient public transportation. Fare to Palermo airport is about 50 euros. Max. 4 passengers per taxi. Prices are approximate and subject to change.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Departure from points in North America.
(Monday, October 20)
 In Transit: Overnight flight crosses the Atlantic Ocean. Arrive in Catania, Sicily the following day.

Day 2: Arrival/Welcome Reception
(Tuesday, October 21)

Note: For baggage claim pay attention to the carousel number of your flight. One is for bags checked in at Schengen (European Union) countries and a separate belt delivers bags checked in elsewhere. The reason for the different baggage area is that luggage checked in at non-Schengen (including U.S. and Canada) countries need to pass through customs inspection at the final European destination. Pick up bag, go through "Something To Declare" or "Nothing to Declare" booth, and enter public terminal area.

 Arrive To: Transfer from Catania airport to hotel in Giardini Naxos. Notice imposing Mt. Etna, the tallest active volcano in Europe.
 Lunch: Lunch at the hotel.
 Afternoon: Settle in and relax before meeting for an informal gathering and reception to welcome you to Sicily. At the sea side resort you can walk along the rocky beach or wander around the main street of the seaside resort community.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.
Accommodations: Hellenia Yachting Hotel
Meals Included: Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Orientation/Neighborhood Walk / History of Sicily
(Wednesday, October 22)

Note: Minimal exertion on the walk past the archaeological park to the village of Naxos.

 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast in the hotel.
 Morning: The group leader distributes the most updated program schedule and goes over logistics. A short walk in the vicinity of the hotel points out banks, shops, pharmacies and markets. First of a series of lectures on Sicily’s history. Topics include the ancient Mediterranean colonizers--people from Greece, Phoenicia, Carthage and their impact on this area of Sicily.
 Lunch: Lunch at the hotel.
 Afternoon: After a briefing for the next day's Taormina excursion, a guided walk to discover Giardini Naxos.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.
Accommodations: Hellenia Yachting Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Taormina / Sicilian Folklore
(Thursday, October 23)

Note: The way to Taormina is a 20 min. coach ride to the parking lot of Mt. Tauro and continues with a 400 yard walk up an inclined road. Once on top, the road is fairly level. The walk down to and up from the public garden requires some effort. Note that there are few handrails in the archaeological site.

 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: The guided visit of Taormina, charming town on the crest of Mount Tauro, begins at the open air Greek theater. The location is optimal to view the expansive slopes of Mount Etna as its backdrop. The traffic-free streets of the town are lined with shops, boutiques and cafes. It has long been a resort destination for nobility, artists and actors.
 Lunch: Lunch on your own. Many choices among restaurants and cafes in Taormina.
 Afternoon: Free time to stroll, shop, or relax in the welcoming piazzas of Taormina. The public garden offers a splendid view of the coastlines below. The manicured garden has numerous flowering plants, bushes and trees. It is a good place for a picnic if you prefer. Meet at the appointed place for short coach ride back to the hotel. Late afternoon presentation on Sicilian Folklore and Traditions.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.
Accommodations: Hellenia Yachting Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 5: Reggio Calabria/Archaeological Museum/Scilla/Messina
(Friday, October 24)

Note: Minimal walking in Reggio Calabria. Walk around the center of Messina over paved, level sidewalks.

 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Coach from the hotel to Messina, board ferry for crossing of the Strait of Messina, to Reggio Calabria at the very tip of the Italian peninsula's boot. The bronze Riace warriors have been restored and returned to the museum in Reggio Calabria for visitors to admire.
 Lunch: Lunch at a seaside restaurant in Scilla, town of origin of the sea monster Scylla from Greek myth.
 Afternoon: Ferry back to Messina, a modern city from an architectural point of view. The city was rebuilt following the disastrous 1908 earthquake that leveled the city. A brief stop at the main square in Messina where you can enjoy a Sicilian gelato or cannoli.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel restaurant.
Accommodations: Hellenia Yachting Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Transfer to Syracuse/Ortygia
(Saturday, October 25)

Note: The Island of Ortygia is closed to coach traffic; we will disembark on the mainland and walk to the hotel. Porterage service will bring the luggage to the hotel.

 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Morning presentation on Life in Italy Today, followed by Q & A. Check out of the hotel and board coach for a ride along the coast through the city of Catania to Ortygia Island in Syracuse. Observe the change in perspective of the looming Mt. Etna.
 Lunch: Lunch at an agriturismo, a working farm on the slopes of Mt. Etna. Visit the estate and the garden and orchards that thrive on the fertile volcanic soil and enjoy freshly prepared Sicilian dishes.
 Afternoon: Check into the hotel on the island of Ortygia. Orientation walk explores the oldest part of the city of Syracuse. The Cathedral is a living example of the different cultures that colonized Sicily, each lending its own architectural style. The present Cathedral incorporates architectural elements from a 5th c. BCE temple to Athena. Twenty six of the temple's Doric columns are still in place.
 Dinner: At hotel restaurant and free time to walk around the pedestrian friendly zone.
Accommodations: Hotel Roma
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Greek Theater / Archaeological site
(Sunday, October 26)

Note: The quarries served as a source of stone, and the descent is slight, with uneasy footing and no handrails. Ascent is a little steep, not unlike a modern stadium. Sit on the stone 'bleachers' while the guide describes the history of the outdoor theater.

 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Guided visit to the Archaeological zone in Syracuse, including the Greek theater and the Paradise Quarry, where 7,000 Athenian soldiers were imprisoned. The Greek theater, carved out of the rocky hillside in the 5th century BCE, was one of the most important theaters in the ancient world.
 Lunch: Lunch at the hotel.
 Afternoon: Visit the Cathedral which was rebuilt in the 18th century with a distinctive Sicilian Baroque style when the ancient facade collapsed in an earthquake. Local artisan workshops, cafes and boutiques abound in Ortygia's pedestrian center of narrow streets and lively squares.
 Dinner: Dinner on your own.
Accommodations: Hotel Roma
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 8: Buscemi, Village Frozen in Time / Puppet Show
(Monday, October 27)

Note: The main road in Buscemi traverses a low hill, but streets leading up or down require a little effort.

 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Step back in time to visit Buscemi, a typical Sicilian town of a century ago, depopulated by emigration. A local escort lead us through the streets, where we visit houses, shops and grape and olive presses of the previous centuries, complete with furnishings of the period.
 Lunch: Enjoy lunch at local restaurant in the countryside.
 Afternoon: Coach to Syracuse late afternoon in time to visit a small puppet museum and watch a short performance of the traditional Sicilian performance art.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.
Accommodations: Hotel Roma
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Archaeological Museum / Baroque Noto
(Tuesday, October 28)

Note: Standing while learning about archaeological items on display in the museum. In Noto a short, easy walk brings you to the center of town, which is closed to traffic.

 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Guided visit to the Archaeological Museum in Syracuse. The collection includes artifacts of the Greeks, Romans and early Christians who settled in Sicily.
 Lunch: Lunch at a restaurant en route to Noto.
 Afternoon: Rebuilt after a devastating earthquake in 1693, Noto finely represents the rich architectural and artistic achievement of the late Sicilian Baroque style.
 Dinner: Dinner at hotel restaurant and pack for the next day's departure.
Accommodations: Hotel Roma
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: Transfer to Palermo / Roman Villa Casale
(Wednesday, October 29)

Note: The walk around the Roman villa is not strenuous.

 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: A coach ride across the island.
 Lunch: Lunch at a trattoria in the town of Piazza Armerina.
 Afternoon: Piazza Armerina is a small, non-descript town outside of which were discovered, by pure chance, the ruins of a private Roman villa containing a most extensive and impressive series of floor mosaics. The guide will lead us through the villa and explain the meaning and significance of the mosaics, as well as give the most recent theories of the who the owner was. Arrival at hotel in Palermo.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.
Accommodations: Grand Hotel Piazza Borsa
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11: Free Morning / Lunch with a Local Family / Explore Palermo
(Thursday, October 30)

Note: Leisurely walk around Palermo, some stairs to climb in historical buildings.

 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Some free time in the morning before a late morning coach ride just outside Palermo.
 Lunch: Sample Sicilian dishes at lunch at the home of a family on the outskirts of the city center.
 Afternoon: Coach drop off in the center for a guided visit of the Palatine Chapel, covered from floor to ceiling with mosaics commissioned in the 12th century. The visit continues to the church of St. John of the Hermits, and La Martorana, originally commissioned by a Greek Orthodox admiral in 1140.
 Dinner: Dinner on your own.
Accommodations: Grand Hotel Piazza Borsa
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 12: Erice, Marsala and Trapani
(Friday, October 31)

Note: The walk up to Erice through the ancient gate is somewhat steep, similar to Taormina.

 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Coach to Erice. Guided visit of the ancient mountain-top city reputedly established by Elymian refugees from the fall of Troy. Eryx, the founding king, introduced the worship of Aphrodite to Sicily and we see ruins of the temple. Also noteworthy are the church and Norman walls. Coach to Trapani for a visit and lunch at the Salt Works. Used since antiquity, the sun and wind provide the ideal location to evaporate sea water through a series of large water basins. Visit the old sea mill and enjoy a typical lunch served to the salt harvesters.
 Lunch: Lunch at a trattoria located in an old salt harvesting warehouse and wind mill. Taste simple but delicious food seasoned with the famous Trapani Sea Salt.
 Afternoon: Field trip continues to Marsala to visit the archaeological museum which houses the remains of a Punic era ship probably dated to mid 3rd c. BCE. Marsala figures prominently in the Italian Unification, General Garibaldi landed there with his invading army in 1860. The fortified wine Marsala, prime ingredient of "chicken or veal Marsala" and various mixed drinks and desserts, originated here. Opportunity for a Marsala tasting.
 Dinner: Coach to Palermo late afternoon. Dinner at a local pizzeria.
Accommodations: Grand Hotel Piazza Borsa
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 13: Form and Function of Cathedrals / Discover Palermo / Free Afternoon
(Saturday, November 1)

Note: Uneven pavement on urban walks in Palermo center.

 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: A local expert illustrates the features of constructing churches and cathedrals from the 1st century to the Renaissance. After a short break, a walk to explore Baroque Churches in the heart of Palermo.
 Lunch: Lunch on your own.
 Afternoon: Some free time early afternoon. Later at the hotel, a classroom session on the multiple cultures that have left their mark in Sicily.
 Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant.
Accommodations: Grand Hotel Piazza Borsa
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 14: Agrigento and the Valley of Temples
(Sunday, November 2)

Note: Uneven dirt path connects the temples and museum, distance about one half mile down a slight incline. No handrails in the archaeological site.

 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Coach to the southwestern coast of Sicily for an expert led visit to the temples and ruins in Agrigento. The area boasts the finest extant Greek temple complex anywhere (including Greece) lined along a plateau above the water, as well as a fascinating archaeological museum with artistic and votive finds from the area.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Guided visit in the Valley of Temples continues in the archaeological museum. Coach to Palermo.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.
Accommodations: Grand Hotel Piazza Borsa
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 15: Modern Sicily / Sicilian Writers / Monreale
(Monday, November 3)

Note: Minimal walking in the small town of Monreale.

 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Learn about Sicily's role in the birth of the modern Italian republic. After a break, a presentation on notable Sicilian writers. Coach to Monreale.
 Lunch: Lunch at a restaurant in Monreale.
 Afternoon: Just above Palermo, the massive Norman cathedral at Monreale is adorned in the interior with Byzantine medieval mosaics of the highest workmanship. The town is also known for its cannoli, reputedly the best in Italy. On the way back to Palermo, a brief guided visit to the Abatellis Museum (Galleria Regionale della Sicilia), contains a marble bust of Eleanor of Aragon by Laureana.
 Dinner: Dinner on your own.
Accommodations: Grand Hotel Piazza Borsa
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 16: Origins of the Mafia / Market Walk / Free Afternoon
(Tuesday, November 4)

Note: Uneven pavement and sidewalks in Palermo street markets.

 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Morning session at the hotel; a local expert describes the reach of organized crime in Sicily today and traces the origins of the Mafia to the early 18th c. when displaced peasants faced the loss of feudal common rights and turned to banditry. After a short break, explore Palermo's main market, where fruit, vegetables, fish and home goods are displayed on typical or traditionally decorated carts.
 Lunch: Lunch on your own.
 Afternoon: Free time to explore Palermo at your own pace.
 Dinner: Farewell dinner at the hotel.
Accommodations: Grand Hotel Piazza Borsa
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 17: Departures
(Wednesday, November 5)
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel; continental style for participants with early morning departures.
 Morning: Coach to and Depart from Palermo airport.
Meals Included: Breakfast

Free Time Opportunities
  Palermo Explore Palermo
Palermo is a city rich with history, art and culture. Many of the highlights are located within a short walk of the hotel. You may wish to take a tour of the famed Teatro Massimo, visit the Archeological Museum or stop into one of the beautiful Baroque churches in the neighborhood. Or, stroll down the Via della Libertà and take in Palermo’s Liberty-style architecture. For additional information, visit
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

Ancient Sicily, Monuments Past & Present

Author: G. Messineo, E. Borgia

Description: In this illuminating overview, ingenious overlays depict 17 important sites as they appear today and how they may have appeared in the past.

Blue Guide Sicily

Author: Ellen Grady

Description: This in-depth guide to Sicily's ancient history and archaeology features detailed maps and site plans.


Author: Roberto Saviano, Virginia Jewiss (Translator)

Description: Savaiano's expose of the Naples mob documents in graphic detail the depredations and violence of the killers, criminals and thugs of the Camorra.

Midnight in Sicily, On Art, Food, History, Travel and La Cosa Nostra

Author: Peter Robb

Description: Combining interviews, research and essays on Sicilian history and culture, this vivid report by journalist Peter Robb is a superb introduction to Italy's glorious, corrupt and troubled south.

On Persephone's Island

Author: Mary Taylor Simeti

Description: Strong on the delights of rural life, Simeti's portrait of Sicily takes the form of a yearlong journal, capturing the spirit of the people, daily life, traditions and the land.

Palmento, A Sicilian Wine Odyssey

Author: Robert V. Camuto

Description: An American journalist living in France, Robert Camuto roams the vineyards and visits with vintners from Palermo to Marsala and the volcanic slopes of Mount Etna in this year-long celebration of the culture and spirit of Sicily, Italy's largest and oldest wine region.

Seeking Sicily, A Cultural Journey Through Myth and Reality in the Heart of the Mediterranean

Author: John Keahey

Description: Taken with Sicily, its culture and its literature, Kehey explores the food, history and pure pleasure of the place, using his heroes Giuseppe di Lampedusa, Leonardo Sciascia and other of Sicily's literary greats as a his guide

Sicily Map

Author: Touring Club Italiano

Description: A detailed map of Sicily (1:200,000), printed on water and tear-resistant paper.

Sicily, An Illustrated History

Author: Joseph Privitera

Description: Privitera covers the scope of Sicily and its diverse civilizations in lively prose and well-chosen illustrations in this succinct history.

Sicily, Through Writers' Eyes

Author: Claire Horatio (Editor)

Description: Homer, Herodotus, D.H. Lawrence, Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa and Elio Vittorini Peter Robb are also represented in this magnificent tour of Sicily, its history, culture and allure.

The Greek Cities of Magna Graecia and Sicily

Author: Fausto Longo, Lorena Jannelli, Luca Cerchiai

Description: An engaging history of the Western Greek colonies in Sicily and southern Italy in the eighth and seventh centuries B.C., featuring 240 magnificent color illustrations, maps and a site-by-site review of major archaeological sites.

The Leopard

Author: Giuseppe Di Lampedusa

Description: Evoking a lost world of privilege and tradition, Giuseppe Di Lampedusa's memorable tale, set on a rural Sicilian estate during the days of independence, follows the world-weary Don Fabrizio, Prince of Salina. A classic, now in a 50th anniversary edition.

The Shape of Water

Author: Andrea Camilleri

Description: The first of Camilleri's wildly popular Inspector Montalbano mysteries, nicely translated and shot through (pun intended) with not just memorable characters but also with Sicilian lore and politics. If you like the series, it continues in 12 more installments -- and counting.

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