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Sicily in Spring Time

(Tour code: PTE17)Soaking up the beauty of the Sicilian spring

Spend 8 days soaking up the beauty of the Sicilian spring, on a delightful holiday by rail. Take in ancient ruins and quaint Italian villages, circle the base of imposing Etna by train, and immerse yourself in the lively colours and long heritage of the splendid Carnival of Acireale, on this charming spring break.

Tour Highlights
  • Palermo & Monreale
  • The Circumetnea Train
  • Agrigento
  • The Valley of the Temples
  • Taormina
  • The Carnival of Acireale
  • Mount Etna
What’s Included (Full details)
  • Heritage Rail Excursion
  • 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.

Palermo
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 to 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 enjoy lunch together in a typical trattoria, before continuing 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 its 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.

Includes:
  • Breakfast, Lunch
Agrigento
Day 3

Agrigento and the Valley of the Temples

Today our tour takes us to Agrigento, one of Sicily's oldest towns. Once known as Akragas under Greek rule, the town is famous 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. Following the tour, you have time to explore the archaeological site at your own pace. After time here to explore, we enjoy lunch together in a local restaurant, before returning to Palermo.

Includes:
  • Breakfast, Lunch
Palermo
Day 4

At leisure in Palermo

Your day is free to spend as you wish. Palermo is a delightful town to explore, known for its stunning architecture, including the incredible 12th century Capella Palatina, a magnificent chapel famed for its ornate interiors. Gilded mosaics, marble flooring and an intricately-carved wooden ceiling are highlights of this opulent church. Designed by Roger II, the breathtaking mosaics were created by skilled Byzantine Greek artists, and portray theological history and Biblical scenes, such as key moments from the Old Testament and depictions of Palermo's role in the Crusades. Alternatively, perhaps take the time to visit the nearby Teatro Massimo, an Art Nouveau theatre that ranks amongst Italy's finest opera houses. Dating back to the late 19th century, the theatre is still a working stage, hosting ballet, opera and other musical performances from September to June each year. Guarded by a pair of stately lions at the front entrance, and surrounded by busts of famous composers, the theatre's striking features allow the Teatro Massimo to be considered a work of art in its own right.

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. Best known for the well-preserved Teatro Greco, a traditional Greek-style amphitheatre, Taormina also boasts a charming ruined castle, the Castelmola, public gardens at the Villa Comunale, and typical ancient Italian streets, perfect for a leisurely stroll.

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
Acireale
Day 6

The Carnival of Acireale

Today we take in one of Sicily's brightest and best-loved festivals - the beautiful Carnival of Acireale. Featuring horse-drawn carriages traipsing through Acireale's Baroque centre, the carnival has Renaissance origins, making it one of the oldest annual celebrations in Sicily.

The traditions of the carnival have evolved over generations, with new customs introduced and upheld - from the folk poets who became common in the 17th century, to the cascade of confetti and sweet treats scattered by nobility riding on horse-led floats in the 19th, and the distinctive papier mâché masks that appeared only in the 1930s, this is a celebration steeped in Acireale's history and heritage. A light-hearted fusion of flower-covered floats and a hint of irony, parodying politicians and local authorities through humorous masks and comic displays, bring the parade to life, lending a playful and mischievous air to the proceedings. Your time here is free to explore the colourful carnival and uncover the magic of this long-standing festival.

After time to enjoy the celebrations, we return to Catania, where we enjoy dinner together in our hotel this evening.

Includes:
  • Breakfast, Dinner
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, peeking out from melting winter snows, 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 from the train. Afterwards we return to Catania for our final dinner together, taking the opportunity to share our favourite memories from a wonderful spring 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

Please note

Please note that while every departure of this tour features the same excursions, they may not necessarily be in the order listed above.

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