Tour description

SICILY SMALL GROUP TOUR

Experience authentic Sicilian lifestyle and culture with our small group tour. This tour allows you to fully immerse yourself in Sicily’s idyllic climate, from the stunning Mediterranean coasts and beaches to the fertile valleys and mountainous regions. Sicily has a diverse culture all its own, just waiting to be discovered. 

Fall in love with the dramatic vistas that paint the perfect backdrop as we travel from region to region, tasting locally grown authentic Sicilian cuisine. Our food is steeped in centuries of history and kept alive today, with many local seafood and vegetable markets prospering. This abundance of in-season produce allows the chefs and home cooks of Sicily to create some truly dynamic dishes. Learn to cook meals like Caponata or a fresh Pasta alla Norma, perfectly paired with a regional wine that will delight your senses. Homemade treats like rich cannoli and pistachio pastries are a must for dessert. 

Sicily boasts 7 UNESCO World Heritage sites and hundreds of archaeological treasures like the Byzantine mosaics in the cathedral of Monreale and the 5th-century ruins of Siracusa. See a bit of Greece in Italy at the Valley of the Temples, a cluster of Greek temple ruins that will transport you back in time. On this tour, there’s ample time to wander ornate churches, relax on scenic beaches, and soak in the Sicilian sun each day. Unique sites like these, a rich history, culture, and food accompanied by picturesque landscapes make Sicily “Italy’s best-kept secret.” This small group tour weaves these elements like a tapestry, along with some time to explore on your own to create an authentic Sicilian vacation and memories that will last a lifetime.

Check out what our friends are saying about this tour on Tripadvisor!

HIGHLIGHTS & INCLUSIONS: 12 DAYS/11 NIGHTS

Tour Highlights

  • Guided tour of Palermo and Monreale
  • Guided tour of Ortiga Island and the archaeological site of Neapolis
  • Tour of Taormina, a beautiful Mediterranean garden at the foot of Mount Etna
  • A tour of the majestic Greek Theatre
  • A cruise around Isola Bella, a small island off the coast of Taormina (weather permitting)
  • Visit the Siracusa open market and sample local wines
  • Tour multiple ancient sites, such as the Valley of the Temples, Segesta Temple, and other popular UNESCO World Heritage sites
  • Experience the charming countryside towns of Erice, Noto, Ragusa, hidden gems like Savoca, and the romantic fishing village of Cefalu’
  • Picnic lunch on the golden sand beaches of Giardini Naxos
  • A home-cooked meal in a quaint Sicilian village
  • Learn all about the Mafia and its history in Corleone
  • Learn about the history of salt mining at the Museum of Salt near Nubia
  • Personalized cooking class in an authentic Italian villa
  • Cable car trip to Erice with panoramic views (weather permitting)
  • Wine tasting in a local winery near Mount Etna

Included

  • Small group tour of 12-14 participants
  • Knowledgeable tour director in English
  • Entrance fees for all archaeological sites
  • Tour transportation in a private air-conditioned motor coach
  • Local guides in Palermo, Monreale, Corleone, Agrigento, Roman Villa, Siracusa, and Taormina
  • Hotel city and service taxes at all accommodations and restaurants are included
  • All breakfasts, four lunches, and five dinners are covered. Main meals include wine, mineral water, espresso, or tea
  • Transfers to your hotel and airport at scheduled times. We suggest arriving a day or two before the tour begins to acclimate to the time zone.
  • Baggage transfers or porters
  • Activity level: Light/Moderate
  • Terms & Conditions/single supplement and FAQ

Not Included

  • Travel insurance and visa fees/Trip Interruption & Cancellation Insurance
  • Any charges for extras not listed in the itinerary
  • Room services, telephone charges, laundry fees
  • Gratuities for the tour director and local driver
  • Single room supplement
OUR ACCOMMODATIONS
DAY-BY-DAY ITINERARY

 

Day 1 : STEP BACK IN TIME IN PALERMO

PALERMO sits perfectly around a sweeping harbor with a view of Monte Pellegrino from the city. The city was pivotal for the Arab Emirate in the 10th century, and their architecture and influence can be seen throughout the city. Palermo is best known for its stunning cathedrals and churches, palaces, and piazzas.We’ll begin our tour from the Centrale Palace Hotel at 13:00 with a guided walking tour of Palermo. Learn everything there is to know about this melting pot of civilizations as you wander the narrow alleys and marvel at the artistic Palatine Chapel and Royal Palace. Afterward, we’ll head to the Capo Market for a taste of authentic Sicilian life. Our last activity of the day is exploring the historic Opera House.We will enjoy a welcome dinner at a local tavern.

Meals: Breakfast & lunch on your own, Dinner included

Accommodations: Overnight in Palermo

Day 2 : ANCIENT SEGESTA TO TRAPANI SALT PANS

Our second day begins with a panoramic road trip through the hilly countryside to visit the ancient ruins of SEGESTA, most famous for its unfinished 5th-century Doric temple. Marvel at the well-preserved ruins that have stood the test of time as you walk through the site.  Afterward, we’ll continue to the medieval hill town of ERICE, which boasts stunning panoramic views of the landscape and the Tyrrhenian Sea. Enjoy lunch at a local trattoria before descending the mountain by cable car (weather permitting) over the Trapani countryside. The last activity for the day is the Museum of Salt, where you’ll learn all about the rich salt pans and cultivation in this region. Later on, we will return to Palermo.

Meals: Breakfast & lunch included, dinner on your own

Accommodations: Overnight in Palermo

Day 3 : HISTORIC MONREALE TO BELLA CEFALU’

Day three of the tour starts in the hills of Palermo to discover the fruitful town of MONREALE. Most known as the home of one of Sicily’s greatest sites, the 12th-century Norman Cathedral. We’ll have some time here to wander inside toward the golden mosaics that depict intricate biblical stories. After that, we’ll head to the seaside and visit the romantic fishing village of CEFALU’. Everywhere you look is postcard-worthy, from the streets to the churches and squares, you’re sure to fall in love with its beauty. In the afternoon, we’ll return to Palermo for an evening of exploring on your own.

Meals: Breakfast included, lunch and dinner on your own

Accommodations: Overnight in Palermo

Day 4 : THE HISTORY OF THE MAFIA IN CORLEONE TO ANCIENT GREEKS IN AGRIGENTO 

Today, we move on from Palermo and head towards Agrigento. As we drive southwest, we’ll make a stop in CORLEONE, the birthplace of several mafia bosses. A local community member will give a talk on the history of the mafia and the role they play today. When we arrive at the ancient city of AGRIGENTO, we will visit the UNESCO World Heritage site, the Valley of The Temples. This concentration of Ancient Greek temples was once one of the most important cities in the ancient world and a prime example of the grandeur of the Magna Grecia (Great Greece).Tonight’s overnight stay is in Benina and Roberto’s family hotel Baglio Caruana Relais. The couple will prepare a delicious home-cooked dinner accompanied by their own production “Vino Siciliano. “

Meals: Breakfast and dinner included, Lunch on your own

Accommodations: Overnight in Agrigento

Day 5 : MIRACULOUS MOSAICS & ELEGANT SIRACUSA

The day begins with a road trip through the Sicilian countryside. We’ll stop at our second UNESCO World Heritage site, the ROMAN VILLA, built in the early 4th century. This unique villa contains some of the largest and richest collections of Roman mosaics in the world.After a hearty local lunch, we’ll continue to SIRACUSA for the next three nights at the charming Algila Hotel or similar. You have the evening at your leisure to discover the wonders of Siracusa.

Meals: Breakfast and lunch included, dinner on your own

Accommodations: Overnight in Siracusa

Day 6 : TAPESTRY OF CULTURES IN SIRACUSA

In the morning, we will visit a significant outpost of the Greek Empire with a local expert. The city has an incredible historical heritage, including the Greek Theatre, the Latomie del Paradiso, and the Ear of Dionysus. We’ll see numerous Baroque townhouses that were rebuilt after the 1693 earthquake and the Piazza Duomo, which is dominated by the Cathedral and its Baroque facade and the Temple of Athena behind it. After exploring the archaeological site, we will head to a lively market to taste local fruits, vegetables, meats, and cheeses. Following this, you can wander around Siracusa and enjoy the warm evening. 

Meals: Breakfast included, Lunch and dinner on your own

Accommodations: Overnight in Siracusa

Day 7 : BAROQUE TREASURES OF NOTO & RAGUSA

On a full-day trip from Siracusa, we will venture southeast to see beautiful Sicilian Baroque architecture. First, stopping in the town of NOTO, part of a UNESCO World Heritage site, we will discover its unique limestone structures, which were part of the rebuild after the 1693 earthquake. Fall in love with Noto’s stunning honey-colored buildings and famous domed cathedral. Afterward, we’ll drive to the ancient town of RAGUSA IBLA to get lost in it’s labyrinth of crooked lanes and tiny piazzas. We’ll then pause at an ancient Palazzo with some time on your own for sightseeing and lunch.Dinner this evening is included in Siracusa at a local trattoria. 

Meals: Breakfast and dinner included, lunch on your own

Accommodations: Overnight in Siracusa

Day 8 : CAPTIVATING CATANIA TO TIMELESS TAORMINA ALONG THE CYCLOPS COASTLINE 

Today, we depart from Siracusa for Taormina, one of the most ancient destinations in Sicily. On the way, we will pass the vibrant city of CATANIA with some time to explore. Consider visiting the Cathedral of St Agatha, the Bellini Theatre, or the Villa Gardens for beautiful examples of Baroque architecture. We will continue along the Cyclops coast, named for Homer’s “The Odyssey,” onto the village of Giardini Naxos.Here, we will enjoy lunch on a private beach before heading to TAORMINA for a guided tour of the old town and stunning ancient theatre that dates back to 400 BC. Taormina is filled with elegant mansions and palaces that date back to the Middle Ages, as well as several ornate churches.This includes the 15th-century cathedral of St Pancras’.Enjoy dinner and wander the town at your leisure.We will spend the last four nights at the wonderful Hotel Villa Paradiso or similar.

Meals: Breakfast and lunch included, dinner on your own

Accommodations: Overnight in Taormina

Day 9 : ISOLA BELLA CRUISE & SECRET SAVOCA

Our tour begins in one of Sicily’s hidden gem towns: SAVOCA-this quaint little town is perched near the Peloritani Mountains and is home to alluring stone cottages and haunting churches that dominate the skyline. It has remained unchanged since medieval times. We will visit the 18th-century Bar Vitelli and the church of St Lucia before returning to Taormina. Once in Taormina, we will depart for a private boat tour around the ISOLA BELLA, followed by lunch in the home of a Sicilian family.The afternoon is yours to continue discovering Taormina.

Meals: Breakfast and lunch included, dinner on your own

Accommodations: Overnight in Taormina.

Day 10 : TRAVERSING MOUNT ETNA & WINERY TOUR

Today’ journeys see us venturing out to discover the majestic MOUNT ETNA, the highest and largest volcano in Europe. Currently, she sits at 11,000 feet above sea level and is one of the world’s most active. We will explore the landscape and see the endemic flora and fauna of this region before heading to the village of LINGUAGLOSSA to visit a locally owned winery. Here, we will sample the unique wines that flourish in this volcanic region, accompanied by some Sicilian appetizers.

Meals: Breakfast and light lunch included, dinner on your own

Accommodations: Overnight in Taormina

Day 11 : DOLCE FAR NIENTE IN TAORMINA & AN AUTHENTIC COOKING CLASS

You’ll have the morning on your own to shop, explore and relax in Taormina.We recommend sitting in a quiet cafe or bar and enjoying the time pass sweetly and slowly, or in Italian we would say “Dolce Far Niente”.Relax by the ocean or explore the nearby mountaintop village of Madonna Della Rocca.In the evening, we will meet to celebrate this magnificent Sicilian tour with an authentic cooking class with our friend Luisa. What better souvenir to take home than a beautiful Italian meal you can eat repeatedly? 

Meals: Breakfast included with cooking class lunch or dinner

Accommodations: Overnight in Taormina

Day 12: ARRIVEDERCI SICILIA

Today, we will depart from our tour with morning transfers to Catania airport and train station. You might like to extend your trip to the Northern Italian Lakes, Amalfi Coast, or Puglia

TOUR DATES & PRICING

2024 TOUR PRICE: € 4,200           SINGLE SUPPLEMENT: € 800  Currency Converter   

Price is per person based on double room occupancy for 12 days/11 nights

REVIEWS
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Rated 5.0 out of 5
5.0 out of 5 stars (based on 16 reviews)
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The BEST SICILY TOUR

Rated 5.0 out of 5
03/10/2023

Hello Aldo and Katrin,

Abigail Harman, my wife has recently emailed you telling you of our marvelous experiences on our recent ‘Secret Sicily’ tour. Basically, Abbe has stolen my thunder in that she has said pretty much what I was going to say. However, I have a few tributes to add.First and foremost, Ambra was amazing. As Abbe says: always cheerful and absolutely full of the history and folklore of Sicily. She was often on her phone, when we were with local guides or fully occupied with something else; clearly, she was phoning ahead to make sure we had a seamless experience with hotels, guides, and buses. Which we did.But anyone can look good when things are going well; it’s when things fall apart that one can tell who are the professionals and who the amateurs. We had an issue with a bus breaking down which Ambra handled superbly. No fuss—no panic—just a smooth transition along with her ever-smiling face and capable demeanour. Without doubt she is a class act. We were very lucky to get her. You are very lucky to employ her. Whatever you do… don’t let her go.Secondly, the tour was very comprehensive in its coverage. I’m a writer and a historian. I have read, among other books on Sicily, John Julius Norwich’s ‘History of Sicily’ so I was anxious to see all the great historical sites—from the Phoenicians through to the Bourbon Kings—that he mentions. I reckon we saw them all—certainly, most of them. I had wanted to book a cultural tour of Sicily with Martin Randall, a British tour group, but they were fully booked. I’m glad now that they were as I reckon your tour covered almost as much as theirs—and we had so much more fun.Of course, we were lucky with the group: firstly, because not only were there so few of us (nine) but also because everyone in the group was a kind and caring individual. No one was loud; no one was selfish; no one wanted to dominate and be top dog. We had twelve days of very warm and smooth relations. We were collegiate yet also allowed each other space. The people you get on a group is, of course, luck… but we felt sorry for the big groups or 30 or more. We were like a family.There were too many excellent experiences for me to list them all, but I do want to highlight our last evening when we had a cookery class and dinner at Villa Britannia. I’m not a cook, and I didn’t go to Sicily for the food but for the history, so I was the worst at the food preparation—which amused everyone immensely. What made the evening memorable was the fact the Villa Britannia is next to the house rented by the great English writer D H Lawrence when he was in Taormina. Louisa Vittorio, has recently inherited the house and she showed us around the place—including the room where D H Lawrence wrote some of his most famous poems. It’s still pretty much as it was almost 100 years ago. For me that was a wonderful, spine-chilling experience. I may be able to help Louisa in a small way by putting her in touch with D H Laurence appreciation societies.I could keep going with this email, but I think I’ve said all I need to say. For Abbe and me the holiday was the experience of a lifetime. We’ve had some excellent historically themed holidays—Iran, and twice in Turkey but I think Secret Italia might just be the best one we’ve ever had.

So… thank you. And please thank Ambra when you are next in touch. Send her love and hugs from Abbe and me.

John Harman Australia

A tour of Sicily FAVOLOSO

Rated 5.0 out of 5
03/10/2023

Hello Aldo,

I’ve been in education my whole life- and yet my wife and I were both “wowed” by this wonderful trip.

First, the mix of activities- archaeological sites, churches and historical places was very good. However, the highlights of the tour focused on the real secrets of Sicily- the people. Our stay at the winery (by Argimento) was nothing short of amazing. The same for the visit to Gambino Winery (home of my grandfather), the dinner with Rita and Susana, and the farewell dinner with Lucia. Bravo!

But the tour would not have been the same without Ambra. She is so knowledgeable about the history and culture of Sicily that we take away a deep appreciation for beautiful Sicily. What’s more, she went out of her way to make all the passengers comfortable. She was a true friend while we were here. I think there were tears all around when we said goodbye last night.

Also, we were very glad to take this tour and hopefully we have an opportunity to take another one.

Bravo!

John and Shirley Zappala USA

A Wonderful Treat

Rated 5.0 out of 5
03/10/2023

This trip exceeded my expectations. Each destination was a gem, with so much to discover and learn from our guides along the way. Ambra, our guide, was brilliant in every way, taking care of the myriad details involved with utter transparency, care and charm. There was nothing she wouldn’t do for our group members. Our driver, Mario, was always prompt, careful, and attentive to comfort and safety. Sicily was the real star of the show. What a trip to savor. Grazie Aldo and Karen and the SecretItalia team.

Jeremy Nash

Perfect

Rated 5.0 out of 5
27/09/2023

So glad to have booked this tour. Our guide, Giuse, was knowledgeable about all things Sicily and ensured our transportation, hotels, and restaurants were smooth and top notch. Aldo was a good communicator before as and, always prompt.

W Anderson

A Great Tour of Sicily

Rated 5.0 out of 5
06/11/2022

We traveled with the same group that included Joe and Judi, who left a separate evaluation of the Sicily tour. My wife and I agree with Joe and Judi’s comments. Giusi was a phenomenal tour guide – always on top of everything and very helpful with ideas and planning. The meals arranged for the group on the tour were outstanding, and the tour pace was just right. We were able to see and experience a lot of Sicily but not feel pressed. This was very well balanced between touring, experiencing local culture and having time to ourselves. Hotels were all top notch. It is very apparent that Aldo and Katrin have taken close personal interest in making these tours very well-planned and fulfilling. We would definitely be enthusiastic about doing another tour with Secret Italy – extremely good value for the cost.

Stephen and Barbara Foxman (USA) October 2022




SICILY

SICILYSicily-An island touching different worlds Sicily is full of beguiling contrasts. The untamed west vies with the flawless Greek classicism of the east and every Mediterranean civilization has passed by, bequeathing marvels fit for the gods and a rich gastronomic heritage.Palermo has bustling markets and grand architecture. Sample fish couscous and the typically Sicilian atmosphere Read more