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Christmas in Sicily

(Tour code: PTX17)An unforgettable Italian escape.

Explore stunning Sicily in winter on a relaxing 8-day holiday by rail. Discover Grecian ruins and Italian traditions, explore the charms of Erice and the 'living Nativity' of Custonaci on Christmas Day, and witness the majesty of Mount Etna as we circle the volcano's base on the Circumetnea Train, all during our unforgettable Italian escape.

Tour Highlights
  • Palermo
  • Monreale
  • Agrigento
  • Custonaci’s live nativity scene
  • Catania
  • Mount Etna
  • Circumetnea train
What’s Included (Full details)
  • 4* Hotel Accommodation
    Breakfast Every Day
  • Return Scheduled Flights

Itinerary & Map

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Departure Times

Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with our dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We write to all booked customers approximately 10 weeks prior to the start of their tour to advise the exact departure and return time for their particular group.

Flights
Day 1

London to Palermo

Our tour begins in London today, where we board our scheduled flight to Catania in Italy. From here we transfer to Palermo by coach, checking in on arrival to the 4-Star Centrale Palace Hotel, our base for the next four nights. Situated close the splendid Palermo cathedral, the Centrale Palace Hotel was once an 18th century noble residence, and has been restored in recent years to its former glory. After settling in, we enjoy dinner together tonight.

Includes:
  • Scheduled flights
  • Dinner
Palermo
Day 2

Palermo & Monreale

After breakfast today, we begin our explorations with a guided tour of Palermo. During our introduction to Sicily's capital, we discover both the medieval quarter and the 'new' city, which dates back to the 17th century. With a long history of invasion, Palermo features a number of different architectural styles vying for attention, each revealing a little of the city's past by its age and design. After time to admire Palermo, we continue to nearby Monreale, for a guided tour of this charming hilltop town. Featuring winding lanes and alleys, with fine views out to sea, Monreale is best known for is incredible cathedral, which legend says was inspired by a vision of the Virgin Mary - a point of interest on our tour. We discover the intriguing fusion of Byzantine, Norman and Arabic architectural styles, as well as the lavish interiors, decorated with superb mosaics depicting scenes from Biblical scripture. After our tour, we return to Palermo in time for dinner.

Includes:
  • Breakfast, Lunch
Agrigento
Day 3

The Valley of the Temples on Christmas Eve

Today is Christmas Eve, and our tour takes us to Agrigento, one of Sicily's oldest towns. Agrigento is famed for its outstanding Valley of the Temples - an incredible complex of Greek Doric structures built in the 5th century BC. On arrival we enjoy a guided tour of the valley, which enjoys UNESCO World Heritage status, and its array of striking remains. Some of the temples are in remarkable condition, and during our tour we see the Temple of the Concord, which is the best preserved Doric temple in the Greek world. After time to enjoy Agrigento, we return to Palermo, where we enjoy a delicious Christmas Eve dinner - a traditional way to celebrate Christmas in Italy.

Includes:
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Erice
Day 4

Custonaci’s live Nativity scene on Christmas Day

Today is Christmas Day, and to celebrate, we take a tour of some of Sicily's most famous Christmas displays. Our first stop is Erice, a charming ancient town with medieval walls, perched atop Mount Eryx. Each year in December, the spirit of the season takes over the winding streets and quaint architecture of Erice, transforming the town into a delightful Christmas village, filled with delicate Nativity scenes and a bustling Christmas Market. During our time here, we take in some of the intricate Nativity scenes dotted around the town, before continuing our Christmas celebrations in Custonaci. Custonaci is famed for its 'living Nativity scene', a popular Italian custom where residents or actors take on the roles of traditional figures found in the Nativity story. Known as 'presepi viventi', these special pageants are often on display for several days over the Christmas period, sometimes featuring hints or allusions to local customs in the props or scenery. Custonaci's presepi viventi, housed in a large cavern, is considered one of the best in Sicily, with over 160 costumed participants creating an immersive Nativity - the perfect way to celebrate Christmas. After time to explore this fascinating scene, we return to our hotel for a delicious Christmas Day dinner.

Includes:
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Catania
Day 5

To Catania

Our tour of Sicily continues today, as we travel to Catania, an ancient city with a UNESCO-listed centre. After breakfast, we take the train to Giardini Naxos, close to the Ionian Sea. From here we transfer by coach to Catania, pausing en-route to visit Taormina. Dating back to the 4th century BC, Taormina is a mountainside city that has grown in popularity as a holiday resort, owing to its delightful architecture and breathtaking views of Mount Etna. After free time here, we continue to Catania, checking in to the 4-Star Il Principe, our base for the next three nights. Nestled amidst the Baroque architecture of Catania's centre, the hotel features an American-style piano bar, the perfect place to unwind after a day of discovering Italy's charms.

Includes:
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Catania Free Day
Day 6

At leisure in Catania

You are free to explore Catania at your leisure today. Sicily's second city, Catania has a long and fascinating history, reflected in its incredible range of architecture, from its 18th-century monuments and Baroque buildings, to the ancient ruins that bring visitors here. Agrigento Mount Etna Catania Nativity To tailormake this tour visit CHRISTMAS 31 Perhaps take in some of the city's attractions today as you discover Catania at your own pace. The Fontana dell'Elefante, an 18th-century fountain located in the heart of the Piazza del Duomo, is a local treasure, with the eponymous elephant affectionately referred to by residents as 'Liotru.' Liotru also features as Catania's official symbol, stemming from the elephant's appearance on this charming statue. The Graeco-Roman Theatres are also well worth a visit; some of the city's best ancient sites, these traditional amphitheatres remain untouched, despite the rise of residential housing around them in more recent centuries. Alternatively, ask your Tour Manager for their tips on how best to spend your time in Catania.

Includes:
  • Breakfast
Mount Etna
Day 7

Mount Etna and the Circumetnea Train

For our final excursion, we travel to glorious Mount Etna, a true Italian icon. Boasting the title of Europe's largest active volcano, Mount Etna is the highlight of any Sicilian adventure. We approach the awe-inspiring mountain by rail, travelling around the base of the mountain on the Circumetnea Train. The summit is not accessible at this time of year, though we take in the enormity of Etna's imposing form as we travel around the bottom of the volcano, enjoying superb views of the mountain from the train. Afterwards we return to Catania for our final dinner together, taking the opportunity to share our favourite memories from a wonderful winter holiday.

Includes:
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Homeward bound flights
Day 8

Return to London

We bid a fond farewell to Sicilian shores today. After breakfast, we transfer to Catania airport, where we board our scheduled return flight back to the UK. On arrival in London, your Tour Manager departs, and you are free to make your own way back home.

Includes:
  • Scheduled flights
  • Breakfast
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