“In the East of Sicily, the sun rises over the Ionian sea and sets behind Mt Etna or the Iblean Mountains. From dawn, when the early morning sunshine paints the panorama of hills, through the diamond intensity of the midday sun, until the last silhouette of scenery fades away at dusk, Eastern Sicily is a palette of colour unlike any other in the Mediterranean. Join our Highlights of Eastern Sicily to experience this wonderful festival of light.”
Arrival and onward to Piazza Armerina
We rendezvous at Catnia airport in the early afternoon and transfer by minibus (2 hours) to our hotel in Piazza Armerina.
Welcome aperitif, dinner and overnight in Piazza Armerina.
We being the day at the Roman Villa del Casale at Piazza Armerina (1 hour) – a hunting lodge from Roman times endowed with the some of the most incredible Roman mosaics anywhere, quite breathtaking in their scope and in the imagery they portray.
After lunch we transfer to Modica.
Evening meal and overnight in Modica.
The Sicilian Baroque: Modica and Scicli
The landscape of South Eastern Sicily is characterised by a wide limestone plateau scarred by deep and often spectacular ravines. It is this beautiful and unique scenery which provides the backdrop for some of Sicily’s most charming towns – many of which were completely destroyed in an earthquake in 1693 and subsequently rebuilt in a flamboyant style characteristic of Sicilian Baroque.
Modica was known as the “Venice of the South” for being built on the confluence of two rivers. But after catastrophic floods in the early twentieth century, the rivers were diverted and their courses turned into streets, lending the town a feel unlike any other in Sicily.
We spend the morning exploring exploring Modica before moving after lunch to Scicli.
Scicli was almsot totally ignored backwater until a few years ago when it was chosen as a location for much fo the filming of the now famous Montalbano TV series. The result has been a huge surge of much deserved interest in the town. We spend a pleasant couple of hours exploring the town before relocating for the evening to Sircausa.
Dinner and overnight in Siracusa.
Guided tour of Ortigia & the Neapolis archaeological park, Siracusa
We start the day strolling through the streets of Ortigia – enjoying the vibrant food market, rubbing shoulders with Greek Mythology, contemplating temples and admiring stunning Baroque and Renaissance architecture and marvelling at Sicily’s most beautiful piazza. We visit the cathedral, once the temple of Athena, and thus arguably the oldest building in the world in use for Christian worship. We also have time to see the splendid painting of the Burial of Saint Lucy by Caravaggio in the church of the Badia di Santa Lucia.
After lunch we visit one of the largest and best preserved of all Greek theatres in the whole of the Hellenic world and a remarkable cavern known as L’Orecchio di Dionisio – which, according to a legend started by Caravaggio no less, was used as a prison by the tyrant Dionysius and allowed him to eavesdrop on his captives.
There is free time in the late afternoon – perhaps for visiting the archaeological museum (where the finds include the skeletons of Sicilian dwarf elephants), or the city art gallery or maybe just shopping or enjoying an ice-cream in spectacular Piazza Duomo.
We depart Siracusa in the morning and head for the slopes of Mt Etna (2 hours). For those who wish, there is an opportunity to take the cable car and jeeps to within 300m of the summit (ticket not included in the tour price).
After our ascent of Etna, we have lunch in a local winery before heading for the charming town of Castelmola, perched on a rock above Taormina and with splendid panoramic views of Etna and the Ionian sea.
Evening meal and overnight in Castelmola.
In the morning we head down to Taormina (15 mins) to explore this justifiably famous town. We visit the Greek/Roman theatre, originally built by the Greeks in the 3rd century BC it was expanded by the Romans to the size and dimensions it is today. Still in a remarkable state of preservation, and with fine vistas to Mt. Etna beyond, the view from its auditorium is one the archetypal images of Sicily,
After a lunch in a local restaurant, we visit the local village of Savoca.
Though only a small village, Savoca was made famous after being chosen as a location for the filming of the Godfather in the 1970s. Though the book was set in Corleone, outside Palermo, Francis Ford Coppola considered the town too developed in the 1970s to protray a 1950’s Sicilian town and so Coppola decided to relocate the filming of the Godfather to Savoca in Eastern Sicily. We spend the afternoon exploring this fascinating village.
Evening meal and overnight in Castelmola.
Onward and departure
Transfers for your flights from Catania airport.