The Travellers' Club - Holidays for discerning travellers Halnaker Park Cottage, Chichester, West Sussex, PO18 0QH
Telephone 01243 773597

SICILY

26 March – 3 April 2012

with Anthony Earl

To book this tour, click here

PROVISIONAL COST: Including flights to Palermo, return from Catania; 8 nights Bed &  Breakfast in twin rooms with private facilities at 3* and 4* hotels; [dinner is included on the first night at each hotel]  transfers and touring by private coach; guided visits: £1345

EXTRAS: Insurance; Single Room £265 (but very few single rooms); additional meals; entrance fees [some free or reduced for those over 65].

Castellamare Harbour and Segesta

Phoenicians, Greeks with their Doric architecture, Romans with palatial villas, Arabs with domed mosques, Normans with palaces, Spaniards with baroque palaces and churches… Sicily is a multi-layered treasure chest of many civilisations, enriched by its crossroads position in the Mediterranean, by its fertility and its mineral wealth. Vincent Cronin called it ‘The Golden Honeycomb’ in his book of the same name, which evokes the cultural wealth that seems to pour out of its cities and monuments. Its rich, if parched soil, its mineral wealth in sulphur and, long ago, silver, its once dense forests, all attracted invaders and conquerors. The Romans treated the island as a grain bowl, the Arabs found in it an earthly version of paradise, and the Spaniards embellished the towns and exploited the countryside. Overpopulation, malaria and sheer banditry and criminal domination despoiled the island in the late nineteenth century. The economic renewal of Italy and lavish European funding have made Sicily today an autonomous region within the Italian constitution, a combination of astonishing modernity and chrome-plate, with a chaotic Mediterranean surround. The countryside opens into sweeping views, with a backdrop in the west of pine-covered hills, and in the east, the majestic profile of Etna.
Cultural offerings include the best-preserved Doric temples in the Mediterranean, superb Norman-Saracenic mosaics in the Palermo region, and masterpieces by the fifteenth century painter Antonello. All of these will be included in our tour.
Sicily has good things to eat and drink: antipasti assortiti of remarkable variety, delicious fish, excellent lamb and kid steaks, and the best desserts and pastries in Italy. (Sicilians have a habit of consuming cream pastries for breakfast). Sicily is the home of ice-cream. The wines, under-appreciated until recently, have depth and flavour, and Marsala – the dark, sweet fortified desert wine - is a treat.


Monday 26th March: arrive Palermo airport; coach to Hotel Al Madarig, Castellamare; dinner included.
Tuesday 27th March : tour of Greek temples at Segesta and Selinunte, with stop to see the quarries of Cusa Lunch opportunities by the seashore ( or picnic foodstuffs from local shops in Castellamare). Dinner in Castellamare by choice from quayside restaurants.
Wednesday 28th March: day in Palermo: am the Regional Art Gallery; and Norman palace of La Zisa; light lunch available in bars; pm: Palazzo dei Normanni ( Cappella Palatina), la Martorana and San Giovanni degli Eremitani. Note; this  visit will inevitably include some trudging through city streets. Dinner in Castellamare   as for Monday.
Thursday 29th March:depart from Castellamare for Monreale, cathedral and cloisters; on to Cefalu for absidal mosaics and Antonello portrait in local museum ( lunch  to be found in local bars and hostelries);  drive to Agrigento: Colleverde Park Hotel. Dinner included.
Friday 30th March: am: Valley of the Temples and major archaeological site; light lunch will be provided by hotel , included in price .pm free for strolls round the town, visit to the Archaeological Museum . Arrangements will be made for  those interested to be taken to Pirandello’s birthplace. Dinner at personal choice.
Saturday 31st March: am; leave Agrigento, for drive via Piazza Armerina  to see the Roman Imperial Villa   (exceptional mosaics); picnic lunches can be ordered from the Colleverde Park Hotel;pm onwards to early Greek settlement  at Morgantina, and thence to Castello Euryalo, (designed by Archimedes) before arrival at Hotel Villa Politi, Syracusa. Dinner included  in the hotel.
Sunday 1st April :. morning free, am: on Ortygia,ancient Peninsular town,  to see Regional Gallery ( palazzo Bellomo), Cathedral, converted from a Greek temple,  the fresh water  spring known as the Fontana Aretusa; cafes for lunch; pm  walk round Neapolis, the archaeological zone  which includes the Greek theatre, the altar of Hieron,  and the quarry gardens known as the Latomie, with the strange cave of Dionysus’Ear. Catacombs can also be visited . For dinner travellers may choose to book in the hotel or to eat out.
Monday 2nd April:). Coach tour of the baroque towns, with plateresque architecture, of Noto, Modica and Ragusa. Evening dinner included at a local restaurant. (Advice will be given for those wishing to see Etna independently of the group)
Tuesday 3rd April: depart from hotel for Catania airport.