18212
Italy
Treasures of Sicily
Immerse yourself in the culture and cuisine of Sicily as you learn about important archeological sites, ancient towns, historic monuments and savor a meal on the slopes of Mt. Etna.
Rating (5)
Program No. 18212RJ
Length
16 days
Starts at
3,790
Flights start at
800
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16 days
15 nights
36 meals
14 B 12 L 10 D
Getting There
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DAY
1
In Transit to Program
In Flight
DAY
2
Arrivals, Welcome Reception and Dinner
Taormina
L,D
Hellenia Yachting Hotel

Activity note: Hotel check in from 2:00 p.m.

Lunch: At the hotel. Choose from a select menu. Plated table service. Water is included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Settle in and relax before meeting in the lobby at 5:00 p.m.to set out with the Group Leader on a short walk in town to point out bank (ATM), pharmacy and markets. Circle back to the hotel for an informal gathering and reception to welcome you to Sicily.

Dinner: At the hotel. Choose your courses from a select menu. Plated table service. Water is included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
3
Orientation, Taormina, Folklore and Traditions
Taormina
B,L
Hellenia Yachting Hotel

Activity note: Taormina is 8 miles from Giardini Naxos. The ride takes 20 minutes along a winding road. The streets of Taormina are traffic free. The walk to the ancient theater is along an inclined road. Once on top, the road is fairly level. At the archaeological site there are few handrails to assist walking up the steep and uneven stone steps. If you are unsure of the climb, you can take in the theater and majestic view of Mt. Etna from the proscenium.

Breakfast: Buffet at the hotel. Each day the buffet choices will include an egg dish, cold cut and cheese platter, fresh fruit, yogurt, cereal, muesli, pastries, cakes, breads, jams, honey juice, coffee, whole milk, tea, and water.

Morning: Coach to Taormina where we meet our local expert who leads the visit of the charming town on the crest of Mount Tauro. Our exploration 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 cafés.

Lunch: At a restaurant in the heart of Taormina. Set menu of Sicilian dishes, plated table service. Water is included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We board the coach back to the hotel for an Orientation Session. The Group Leader will review the up-to-date program schedule and any changes, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures including contact numbers for key staff, and answer any questions you may have. Unless otherwise specified and with the exception of breakfast, meals will be plated (each dish served to guests by waitstaff) from a set menu. Water is included with all meals and other beverages (wine, tea and coffee) will be available for purchase; some dinners include wine. Unless indicated differently, transportation will primarily be provided by motor coach. Free time is reserved for your personal independent exploration. Please note that program activities, schedules, and personnel may need to change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. Evenings at leisure offer opportunities to make the program more meaningful. After the Orientation Session and a short break, a local expert gives the first of a series of talks on Sicily’s history. Topics include the ancient Mediterranean colonizers--people from Greece, Phoenicia, Carthage and their impact on this area of Sicily.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
Reggio Calabria and the Riace Warriors, Messina
Taormina
B,L,D
Hellenia Yachting Hotel

Activity note: Coach to Messina (35 miles) takes 50 minutes. 20 minute ferry ride across the Strait of Messina to Reggio Calabria, a distance of 8 miles (as the crow flies). On the mainland 12 mile drive (20 minutes) to Reggio Calabria. Standing at the museum visit. Walk around the center of Messina over paved, level sidewalks.

Breakfast: Buffet at the hotel.

Morning: Coach to Messina and ferry across the Strait of Messina to Reggio Calabria to the newly renovated Archaeological Museum. The highlight of the collection is the Riace Warriors, full-size bronze statues cast around 450 BCE and discovered in the mud bed of the sea by a diver in 1972. Our expert will talk about their discovery, restoration and preservation. Also noteworthy is a 5th century BCE head of a bronze statue known as The Philosopher, whose furrowed brow and flowing beard indicate it was a portrait and not an idealized figure. At the conclusion of the visit we board the coach and head for Scilla.

Lunch: At a small family run restaurant in the ancient city of Scilla, named after the mythological marine monster from Homer's Odyssey. Enjoy some typical Sicilian dishes in the informal restaurant on the beachfront. Water and a glass of wine are included.

Afternoon: Ferry back to Messina. Notice the uniform early 20th century architecture resulting from the rebuilding 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. Coach continues to Giardini Naxos.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
Italy Today, Transfer to Syracuse, Ortygia
Syracuse/Island of Ortygia
B,L,D
Hotel Roma

Activity note: Syracuse is 75 miles from Taormina. The ride takes 1.75 hours on the road and is broken up by the farm visit and lunch. The Island of Ortygia is closed to coach traffic; the coach drop off point is on the mainland. Short walk to the hotel over a pedestrian bridge. Porterage service will be provided to transfer the luggage from the coach to the hotel.

Breakfast: Buffet at the hotel.

Morning: A morning session in the hotel's meeting room on the institutions that characterize Italy today. Check out of the hotel and board our coach to ride along the coast past the city of Catania to an agriturismo near Mt. Etna. We can observe the change in perspective of the looming mountain, the highest active volcano in Europe.

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. Water and a glass of wine are included.

Afternoon: Another hour of coach ride to Syracuse. Check into the hotel on the island of Ortygia.

Dinner: At Ristorante Manzu', the hotel restaurant.

Evening: At leisure to explore Syracuse on foot.

DAY
6
Ortygia, Archaeological Zone, Greek Theater
Syracuse/Island of Ortygia
B,D
Hotel Roma

Activity note: The archaeological site (2.5 miles from the hotel) includes the quarries and Greek theater. The quarries served as a source of stone, and the descent is slight, with uneven pavement and few handrails. The paths have some inclines and the theater tiers are steep, not unlike a modern stadium. You may rest on the stone 'bleachers.'

Breakfast: Buffet at the hotel. Each day the choices will include an egg dish, cold cut and cheese platter, fresh fruit, yogurt, cereal, muesli, pastries, cakes, breads, jams, juice, coffee, whole milk, tea, and water.

Morning: 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. Twenty six Doric columns from the 5th c. BCE temple to Athena are incorporated in the cathedral. Visit the cathedral's interior which was rebuilt in the 18th century with a distinctive Sicilian Baroque style when the ancient facade collapsed in an earthquake. Local artisan workshops, cafés and boutiques abound in Ortygia's pedestrian center of narrow streets and lively squares.

Lunch: On your own. There are a variety of snack bars, cafés, informal trattorias and more formal restaurants from which to choose. The group leader will have suggestions and give directions.

Afternoon: Short coach ride to the outskirts of Syracuse. Guided visit to the Archaeological zone in Syracuse, including the Greek theater and the Paradise Quarry, where 7,000 Athenian soldiers were imprisoned centuries ago. 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. Coach back to the hotel.

Dinner: At a local restaurant. Enjoy a glass of wine with the Sicilian menu served.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
7
Buscemi: Frozen in Time, Agriturismo with Sicilian Menu
Syracuse/Island of Ortygia
B,L
Hotel Roma

Activity note: Buscemi is 32 miles from Syracuse. The ride takes about 1 hour. The main road in Buscemi traverses a low hill, but streets leading up or down require some effort.

Breakfast: Buffet at the hotel.

Morning: Coach to Buscemi where we step back in time to visit a typical Sicilian town of a century ago, depopulated by emigration. A local expert lead our exploration of the town to visit houses, shops and grape and olive presses of the previous centuries, complete with furnishings of the period.

Lunch: At an 'agriturismo,' or farm restaurant. The multiple course lunch features local produce and wine. The dessert cannoli are filled on the spot with locally produced ricotta cheese.

Afternoon: Coach to Syracuse mid afternoon. Learn about the tradition of puppets in Sicily at a marionette museum in town and enjoy a puppet show.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own. The group leader will offer suggestions and give directions.

DAY
8
Archaeological Museum, Baroque Noto
Syracuse/Island of Ortygia
B,L,D
Hotel Roma

Activity note: The regional archaeological museum is 2 miles from the hotel. Extended standing while learning about archaeological items on display in the museum. Noto is 25 miles from Syracuse and the ride takes about an hour.

Breakfast: Buffet at the hotel.

Morning: Coach to the Archaeological Museum in Syracuse for an expert-led visit. The collection includes artifacts of the Greeks, Romans and early Christians who settled in Sicily. At the conclusion of the visit board the coach and set out for Noto.

Lunch: At an agriturismo or farm restaurant. Set farm to table menu. Water and wine are included

Afternoon: A local expert leads the walk in Noto, UNESCO World Heritage awarded because of the unique urban planning undertaken in the 1700s when the town was completely rebuilt after a devastating earthquake in 1693. The widest streets are laid out east to west to capture the most sunlight. You will be struck by the harmonious Baroque style of the churches and homes and the local expert will point out whimsical features in the wrought iron balconies or sculpted elements adorning facades. Coach back to Syracuse late afternoon.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure. Be sure to prepare for tomorrow's departure.

DAY
9
Western Sicily , Roman Villa Casale in Piazza Armerina
Agrigento
B,L,D
Colleverde Park Hotel

Activity note: The drive to the town of Piazza Armerina (92 miles) takes about 2 hours. The walk around the Roman villa is not strenuous. Some steps to climb to reach the catwalks set up for viewing the mosaic pavements from above. The ride to Agrigento (62 miles) takes 1.5 hours.

Breakfast: Buffet at the hotel.

Morning: Check out of the hotel. Coach departs for the western part of Sicily. On the way enjoy excellent views of the diverse terrain in the mountainous heart of the island of Sicily.

Lunch: At a restaurant in the town of Piazza Armerina, a fixed menu of various Sicilian dishes, including local cheese. Enjoy a glass of wine included with your lunch.

Afternoon: Piazza Armerina is a small, nondescript town outside of which were discovered, by pure chance, the ruins of a private Roman villa comprised of 63 rooms containing a most extensive and impressive series of floor mosaics (c. 377,000 sq.ft.) The expert leads the way along a path of catwalks describing the mosaics and their significance, providing the most interesting theories of the unidentified owner who commissioned the construction of the villa. Recently restored, the mosaics are protected by a Plexiglas canopy. Board the coach again and continue to Agrigento. Check into the hotel and settle in.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
10
Agrigento and the Valley of Temples
Agrigento
B,L
Colleverde Park Hotel

Activity note: Uneven dirt path connects the temples and museum, distance about one half mile down a slight incline. Few handrails at archaeological sites.

Breakfast: Buffet at the hotel. Each day the choices will include an egg dish, cold cut and cheese platter, fresh fruit, yogurt, cereal, muesli, pastries, cakes, breads, jams, juice, coffee, whole milk, tea, and water.

Morning: Expert-led visit of the Valley of the Temples. 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. Short coach ride back to the hotel.

Lunch: At the hotel's restaurant.

Afternoon: The expert-led visit in the Valley of Temples continues at the archaeological museum where artifacts and plastic models illustrate the history of the territory from prehistoric times to the end of the Greek- Roman period.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy the food and budget of your choice. The group leader will offer suggestions and give directions.

Evening: At leisure. Be sure to prepare for tomorrow's departure.

DAY
11
Greek Settlement of Selinunte, Continue to Palermo
Palermo
B,L,D
Grand Hotel Piazza Borsa

Activity note: Selinunte is 60 miles from Agrigento; the ride takes 1.5 hours. The archaeological area has uneven paths with few or no handrails. Selinunte is 75 miles from Palermo; the coach ride takes 1 hour and 45 minutes. Leisurely walk around Palermo.

Breakfast: Buffet at the hotel.

Morning: Check out of the hotel. Board the coach and set out for Selinunte. A local expert leads the visit of the ancient Greek settlement of Selinunte. The large archaeological park affords panoramic views of the Mediterranean sea. The local expert will illustrate how columns were chiseled our of solid stone and used in the building of temples.

Lunch: At a local restaurant. Fixed menu of typical Sicilian fare; plated table service. Enjoy a glass of wine included with the meal.

Afternoon: We board the coach and continue to Palermo. Check in and settle in. At the set time we meet in the lobby for a short orientation walk in the neighborhood of the hotel. We circle back to the hotel and gather in the hotel meeting room where a local expert presents One Thousand Years of History in Sicily.

Dinner: At the hotel. Choose a first and second course from a select menu.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
12
Origins of the Mafia, Family Lunch, Palatine Norman Chapel
Palermo
B,L
Grand Hotel Piazza Borsa

Activity note: Short walk in Palermo. Extended standing during site visits.

Breakfast: Buffet at the hotel. Each day the choices will include an egg dish, cold cut and local cheese platter, fresh fruit, yogurt, cereal, muesli, pastries, cakes, breads, jams, juice, coffee, whole milk, tea, and water.

Morning: In the hotel meeting room the group leader presents Origins of the Mafia, a look at the economic conditions in the 1800s that favored the formation of the secret society and how the Mafia has evolved to the present day. Some free time before lunch.

Lunch: Sample Sicilian dishes at a buffet style lunch at the home of a family just outside Palermo center.

Afternoon: We meet our local expert who leads us on an exploration of important churches, chapels and museums in town, e.g. La Martorana, originally commissioned by a Greek Orthodox admiral in 1140. Our exploration of Palermo continues to the Palatine Chapel, decorated with mosaics from the floor to the ceiling. Return to the hotel mid-afternoon. Gather in the meeting room late afternoon to learn from a local expert about the architecture of religious spaces and learn what characterizes a church as a basilica or a cathedral.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy the food and budget of your choice. The group leader will offer suggestions and give directions.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
13
Erice & Trapani
Palermo
B,L,D
Grand Hotel Piazza Borsa

Activity note: Erice is 70 miles from Palermo. The ride takes about 1.5 hours. The walk up to the traffic-free heart of Erice through the ancient gate is somewhat steep, similar to Taormina.

Breakfast: Buffet 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. We visit a former windmill, now a museum with a small exhibition that describes the history of salt harvesting.

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: Return to Palermo and the hotel mid-afternoon.

Dinner: At a local pizzeria. Sicilian antipasto is served family style. Choose your personal pizza and enjoy the glass of wine included with the meal.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
14
Sicilian Writers, Arab Civilization in Sicily
Palermo
B,D
Grand Hotel Piazza Borsa

Breakfast: Buffet at the hotel.

Morning: Gather in the meeting room to learn about Sicilian Writers: the playwright Luigi Pirandello, contemporary Leonardo Sciascia, and Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, author of The Leopard.

Lunch: Choose the place for lunch from the many offerings in the vicinity of the hotel. The group leader will have suggestions.

Afternoon: Free time until we meet before dinner in the classroom for a presentation on the Arabs in Sicily, a fascinating look at the way the culture made its way into Sicilian life.

Dinner: At a local restaurant. Fixed menu of Sicilian dishes, plated table service. Wine is included with this meal.

DAY
15
Baroque Walk, Monreale's Splendid Norman Cathedral
Palermo
B,L,D
Grand Hotel Piazza Borsa

Activity note: Monreale is 7 miles from Palermo. The ride takes about 30 minutes. Minimal walking in Monreale, hill town with unevenly paved streets.

Breakfast: Buffet at the hotel.

Morning: Meet the local expert at the hotel and set out on foot to explore the magnificent Baroque churches and the Abatellis Museum, where a masterpiece by Antonello da Messina is on display. The walk circles back to the hotel where we board our coach for the short ride to Monreale, in the hills above Palermo.

Lunch: At a restaurant in Monreale.

Afternoon: The expert-led visit continues to the interior of the massive Norman cathedral, adorned and decorated in Byzantine medieval mosaic style of the highest workmanship. The town is also known for its cannoli, reputedly the best in Italy. Coach back to Palermo in the late afternoon.

Dinner: Recap your adventures and share your favorite memories with your fellow participants tonight at the farewell dinner at the hotel.

Evening: At leisure. Be sure to prepare for departure in the morning.

DAY
16
Program Concludes
In Flight
B

Activity note: Hotel check out by 10:00 am.

Breakfast: Buffet at the hotel. Continental style (roll or croissant, fruit and juice) for participants with very early morning departures.

Morning: This concludes the program. If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!