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 (4.91)
Program No. 18212RJ
Length
16 days
Starts at
4,099
Flights start at
800
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16 days
15 nights
35 meals
14 B 12 L 9 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
Excelsior Palace Hotel

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

Lunch: At the hotel. Set menu; plated table service. Water is included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Settle in and relax before meeting in the lobby at 6:00 p.m. for an informal gathering and reception to welcome you to Sicily.

Dinner: At the hotel. Set menu, plated table service. Water and a glass of wine are included.

Evening: At leisure. Take a stroll in town or enjoy the view from the hotel's garden and bar.

DAY
3
Orientation, Taormina, Folklore and Traditions
Taormina
B,L
Excelsior Palace Hotel

Activity note: The streets of Taormina are traffic free. The walk to the ancient theater along a gently inclined road is 7/10 mile. Once on top, the road is fairly level. At the amphitheater 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, juice, coffee, whole milk, tea, and water.

Morning: Meet the Group Leader in the lobby and set out on a short walk in town to check out the location of bank (ATM), pharmacy and markets. Circle back to the hotel for an Orientation Session in which we 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 indicated lunches and dinners will be plated (each dish served to guests by restaurant waitstaff) from a set menu. Water is included with all meals; other beverages such as wine, tea and coffee will be available for purchase. Some meals include wine. Unless indicated differently, transportation will primarily be provided by motor coach. We have set aside some free time in the schedule for your personal independent exploration. The Group Leader will always be happy to offer suggestions. Evenings at leisure offer opportunities to make the program more meaningful and memorable through personal independent exploration, attending performances or other events, or simply relaxing and making new friends among fellow participants. 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. After a short break following the Orientation Session 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.

Lunch: At the hotel restaurant.

Afternoon: Meet the guide who leads the walk to the Greek Theater along Corso Umberto, the pedestrian only main street lined with shops and cafes. The amazingly well preserved amphitheater with stone 'bleachers' carved out of the rock dates back to the 3rd century BCE. The guide will point out the elements that were added in the 2nd century CE by the Romans. The view of the sea and Mt. Etna is framed perfectly by the columns behind the proscenium.

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
Excelsior Palace Hotel

Activity note: Coach ride to the port of Messina takes about 1.5 hours. 20 minute ferry ride across the Strait of Messina to Reggio Calabria. Extended standing during the museum visit. Brief walk in 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 see 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. The archaeological museum that houses the statues is undergoing restoration and the expert will maximize our time there.

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. The guide will point out the uniform early 20th century architecture style of the city due to the reconstruction 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 Taormina.

Dinner: At the hotel or local restaurant.

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

DAY
5
Italy Today, Transfer to Syracuse, Ortygia
Syracuse/Island of Ortygia
B,L,D
Antico Hotel Roma 1880

Activity note: The coach ride to the restaurant is 1.5 hours; the ride to Syracuse an additional hour. 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 transfer luggage from the coach to the hotel.

Breakfast: Buffet at the hotel.

Morning: A morning session at the hotel's meeting room on the institutions that characterize Italy today. Check out of the hotel. Coach drives along the coast past the city of Catania to an agriturismo near Mt. Etna. 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 the hotel restaurant. Plated table service. Choose from a select menu.

Evening: At leisure to explore Ortygia on foot.

DAY
6
Ortygia, Archaeological Zone, Greek Theater
Syracuse/Island of Ortygia
B,D
Antico Hotel Roma 1880

Activity note: The Greek amphitheater, carved from limestone, is part of a large archeological park, located less than 4 miles from Ortygia. The park is strictly pedestrian only. We begin our walk past the quarries that served as a source of stone. The path goes slightly downhill with uneven pavement and few handrails. In the amphitheater we can climb a few of the stone seats to sit on the stone 'bleachers' for a view of the proscenium as spectators would have done centuries ago.

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, juice, coffee, whole milk, tea, and water.

Morning: Orientation walk explores Ortygia, the oldest district 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: Coach to the outskirts of Syracuse. Guided visit to the Archaeological zone in Syracuse, including the Greek amphitheater 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 the hotel. Enjoy some traditional Sicilian dishes.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
7
Buscemi: Frozen in Time, Agriturismo with Sicilian Menu
Syracuse/Island of Ortygia
B,L,D
Antico Hotel Roma 1880

Activity note: Buscemi is 32 miles from Syracuse; the ride takes about 1.5 hours along country roads. The main road in the town of Buscemi traverses a low hill and we encounter some rises and uneven pavement on our walk with the local expert.

Breakfast: Buffet at the hotel.

Morning: Coach to Buscemi. Step back in time to visit 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. Contrast the foreman's house from that of the day laborer.

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 and enjoy a puppet show.

Dinner: At a local restaurant.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
8
Archaeological Museum, Baroque Noto
Syracuse/Island of Ortygia
B,L
Antico Hotel Roma 1880

Activity note: The museum is located in the newer part of Syracuse, just a few miles from Ortygia. Extended standing while learning about archaeological items on display in the museum. Noto is 25 miles from Syracuse. The coach ride takes about 1 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. Coach sets out for Noto.

Lunch: At an agriturismo or farm restaurant. Set regional menu with plated table service. 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 but 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: On your own.

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

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

Activity note: The walk around the Roman villa partially in ruins is not strenuous. Some steps to climb to reach the catwalks set up for viewing the mosaic pavements from above.

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: The archaeological park is 2 miles from the hotel. 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 offers 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: Before we set out for the visit of the Valley of the Temples, the local expert presents The Greek Colonies in the meeting room of the hotel. The illustrated presentation provides historic information to better appreciate the visit of the archaeological area. 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: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Expert-led visit of the Valley of Temples museum continues.

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 check out and departure.

DAY
11
Temples of Selinunte, Transfer to Palermo, Mafia Origins
Palermo
B,L,D
Grand Hotel Piazza Borsa

Activity note: The ride to Selinunte is 60 miles and takes about 1.5 hours. The Selinunte Archaeological area has uneven paths with few or no handrails. Palermo is 65 miles from Selinunte; the ride takes about 1.5 hours.

Breakfast: Buffet at the hotel.

Morning: Check out of the hotel. We board the coach to Selinunte to visit the temples set on a promontory with a panoramic view of the Mediterranean sea, Selinunte was an ideal site for the Greeks to settle. The local expert will fill you in on how columns were chiseled out of solid stone and used in the building of the 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: Board coach and proceed 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 followed by a classroom presentation on the Origins of the Mafia.

Dinner: At the hotel. Select from a limited menu.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
12
History, Family Lunch, Norman Art in Palatine Chapel
Palermo
B,D
Grand Hotel Piazza Borsa

Activity note: Extended standing during the visit of the Norman Palace.

Breakfast: Buffet at the hotel. Each day the buffet 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: Meet in lecture hall to learn about modern Sicilian history.

Lunch: On your own.

Afternoon: We meet our local expert who leads us on an exploration of important churches, chapels and museums in the heart of Palermo. La Martorana was originally commissioned by a Greek Orthodox admiral in 1140. Highlight of the visit is the Palatine Chapel of the Norman Kings, adorned floor to ceiling with dazzling mosaics of precious stones and gold.

Dinner: At a local restaurant.

Evening: At leisure.

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

Activity note: The coach ride to Erice (70 miles) takes 1.5 hours. The coach drop off point is at one of the town's ancient gates. A local expert leads the walk in the traffic-free town. The streets have rises with uneven pavement of cobblestones. The excursion continues to Trapani, 8 miles away. The coach ride back to Palermo takes 1.5 hours (70 miles).

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. We continue by 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.

Lunch: At a trattoria located in an old salt harvesting warehouse and wind mill. We will taste simple but delicious food seasoned with Trapani sea salt, renowned for its pure mineral content and unprocessed method of harvesting. Enjoy a glass of local wine with lunch.

Afternoon: We board our coach back to the hotel mid to late afternoon. In the meeting space of the hotel a local expert presents Sicilian Writers, a look at some of the island's renowned authors and playwrights.

Dinner: On your own.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
14
Form & Function of Cathedrals, Baroque Churches of Palermo
Palermo
B,L
Grand Hotel Piazza Borsa

Activity note: Afternoon walks in Palermo with the local expert are along uneven sidewalks and pavement and will cover just over 2.5 miles with frequent stops at sites where we can sit and rest before circling back to the hotel.

Breakfast: Buffet at the hotel.

Morning: In the lecture hall a local expert presents The Architecture of Religious Spaces in which we learn what features define a basilica and a cathedral.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: The local expert accompanies us on foot to complement the morning lecture with an exploration of magnificent Baroque churches in the heart of Palermo. We also visit the Abatellis Museum where a masterpiece by Antonello da Messina is on display. Short walk back to the hotel.

Dinner: On your own.

Evening: At leisure.

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

Activity note: Minimal walking in Monreale, hill town with unevenly paved streets. Monreale is 10 miles from the hotel and the coach ride takes about 20 minutes.

Breakfast: Buffet at the hotel.

Morning: We board our motor coach and head for Monreale in the hills above Palermo. The interior of the massive Norman cathedral is adorned and decorated in Byzantine medieval mosaic style of the highest workmanship. The local expert will describe the stories the golden mosaics represent. The town is also known for its cannoli, reputedly the best in Italy.

Lunch: At a restaurant in Monreale that features Sicilian dishes.

Afternoon: Some free time in Monreale. Coach to Palermo in the afternoon.

Dinner: Recap your adventures and share your favorite memories with your fellow participants tonight at the farewell dinner at the hotel. Choose from a select menu. Plated table service.

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

DAY
16
Program Concludes
Departure
B

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

Breakfast: Buffet at the hotel. Continental style 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!






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