Winter in Italy: Palermo & Sicily’s Architectural Wonders

Though the architecture of Palermo normally draws a crowd, explore the Byzantine, Arab and Norman influences of the city’s grandest structures when the tourists have all gone home.
Program No. 23488RJ
8 days
Starts at
Flights start at

At a Glance

From the early 800s to 1100s, the Sicilian town of Palermo was ruled by two great forces: first the Arabs and then the Normans. Both claimed this coastal city as their capital and erected grand structures and elaborate churches during their rule. Though it may seem like this would result in a disjointed city, actually the opposite was true. Instead of knocking down the Arab structures upon invasion, the Normans had a fascination with their architecture and vowed to keep the Arab influences intact. This resulted in a melting pot of cultures, one where Norman buildings were designed by Arab architects and Islamic art could be found inside Norman façades. Come to eastern Sicily in the off-season when the temperatures are mild and the tourists have gone home. Alongside local experts, explore the culture of Palermo through the incredible architecture when the normally crowded streets are quiet. As you study the history behind each cathedral, palace, opera house and monument, learn how a city with so many influences came together to create one of the most beautiful towns in Sicily.

For an easy travel experience...

We offer extra hotel nights before or after this program.

Lodging in Rome, Italy

Book your airfare through Road Scholar and we’ll give you two free hotel nights in Rome before your program to start your European adventure in this beautiful country.
Activity Level
Keep the Pace
Our Flex learning adventures offer more flexible schedules than our traditional programs, with ample independent time and several meals on your own. Enjoy the camaraderie of the group while also getting time to explore on your own.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • Study the history of the Palazzo dei Normanni, the oldest royal residence in Europe, once housing the Kings of Sicily during the Norman era.
  • Join a local expert on a field trip to Monreale, where you’ll explore the Cathedral and its beautiful mosaics representing the Old and the New Testament.
  • Learn about the Arab-Norman origins of Palazzo Conte Federico and discover the priceless art inside with a descendant of Frederick II, former King of Sicily.

General Notes

Give us a call to combine this learning adventure with select dates of "Winter in Italy: Taormina & Sicily’s Culture & Cuisine" (#22850) for even more learning in Southern Europe! We’ll even transfer you for free between locations.
Featured Expert
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Jacqueline Alio
Jacqueline is one of Sicily's leading historians with a specialty in medieval Jewish communities. She is one of just a few whose work has been published in English for an international readership, and both of her books are landmarks in their fields. Jackie has consulted for The History Channel and other media, and, in addition to her research and publishing, she lectures on Palermo, Monreale and other places of historical interest. Jackie is multilingual and has been educated on both sides of the Atlantic.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

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Jacqueline Alio
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Suggested Reading List
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