Small group Sicily grand tour
Description of Small group Sicily grand tour
This two week small group tour of Sicily takes you around the entire coastline in a clockwise direction starting in Catania.
After an exciting experience on Mt Etna, the highest active volcano in Europe, you’ll head south to Syracuse where the Neapolis archaeological park allows access to some spectacular Greco-Roman ruins. Continuing south from Syracuse leads to the Baroque beauty held within the UNESCO-listed towns of Noto and Ragusa; breath taking balconies and fabulous facades await.
More Baroque influence and some sensational ceramics can be seen en route to the Piazza Armerina where a guided tour also includes a visit to one of the Roman Empire’s best preserved properties: Villa Romana del Casale. As you head onwards and upwards to Agrigento and the Valley of the Temples archaeological park you’ll spend the night in Selinunte before breaking from the mainland the next morning as you take a short boat ride to the island of Mozia.
Rounding the San Vito Lo Capo and Zingaro Nature Reserve on Sicily's east coast you'll make your way to the Norman, Byzantine and Islamic influenced city of Palermo. Palermo’s historic centre is a real find with Baroque buildings fringing large piazzas to promise plenty on guided sightseeing tours and free time strolls. After two nights in Palermo you’ll undertake the last leg of the tour eastwards along Sicily’s sun-kissed north coast. The seaside towns of Cefalu and Taormina make ideal locations to complete the tour with Ionian views overlooking red hot Mount Etna bound to live long in the memory as you finally head for home.
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PlanetAccommodation and Meals:
On this trip, we will spend nights in various locally owned hotels to ensure that most income generated is reinvested into the area and the community. Most lodgings are located in proximity to the UNESCO historic sites we visit, which reduces further the need for carbon producing transfer vehicles on the trip. Sicilians are very proud of their local produce and so where meals are provided, fresh, locally sourced ingredients are used as much as possible- which benefits suppliers in the area. Free mealtimes are a valuable chance to explore the wide variety of cafes and restaurants on our route, serving tasty and authentic dishes. Guides can also direct clients to the daily market in Syracuse, which sells seasonal fruit and vegetables, fresh fish and regional cheeses, sausages and preserves.
We try to operate on a ‘leave no trace’ basis, which involves being vigilant with proper disposal of waste and being sure to leave any flora, fauna and historical sites undamaged. By using local drivers for transfers, local restaurants and small shops, we make daily contributions to the economy and the community. Using local guides also has the mutual benefit of creating employment opportunities in the region, whilst clients have the advantage of in-depth expertise of the country. By visiting a number of archaeological sites, baroque temples, honey coloured towns and areas of natural beauty, we generate funds which support the maintenance of these important historical and natural places.
This is a small group tour, meaning that we have a low impact on the environments and communities we visit and are able to ensure that we do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. The small number also allows us to stay in unique, family-run hotels that cannot benefit from coach tours and other mass tourism due to their limited sizes.
It all starts at home where we work towards reducing our carbon footprint in our offices through energy conservation measures, recycling policies and the promotion of cycling and walking as a means for our staff to commute. Our head office has become a plastic-free zone with the use of plastic bottles being banned in our head office and we distributed reusable water bottles and tote bags to every staff member. We also support a large number of community and environmental projects in different parts of the world and try to give something back to the places we visit.
PeopleLocal craft and Culture:
Cuisine is a huge part of Sicilian culture and so we include frequent stops at locally owned businesses to introduce traditionally crafted produce and customary specialties. For example, the Modica region has a very long history of small, family run chocolate factories. So before leaving, we have the opportunity to taste its famous chocolate with chilli, which is still prepared using the original Aztec recipe, brought over by the Spaniards in the 1500s. Additionally, at Mount Etna, we arrange a wine and cheese tasting in one of the famous wine cellars of the area. Made at local vineyards, we can sample a range of wines, including the famous Sicilian desert wine, Marsala. Locally crafted cheeses including ricotta and pecorino are also prominent. By purchasing these products and other handmade items (paintings, ceramics, embroidery), we help to sustain traditional methods of craftsmanship.
A fair deal:
We work closely with our local operator and ensure that all of our guides are local and that in exchange for their expertise that they are paid and treated fairly. The leaders will give a briefing on Responsible Tourism issues to help you understand how you can help reduce your impact and maximise the benefits to the local community from your visit.