Don’t miss the extraordinarily well-preserved ruins of Agrigento's three major Doric Temples, straddling a high ridge and beautifully illuminated at dawn and dusk. Another gem is the Valley of the Temples, site of Akragas, one of the most powerful cities of Ancient Greece, not forgetting Morgantina, featuring stunning mosaic floors from 5th century BC. Next, discover the huge temple of Segesta and the ruins of Selinunte (a town founded in 628BC) – yet more impressive feats from the Ancient Greek world and intricately carved with exquisite sculptures. In Palermo, see the curious jumble of Arab domes, Norman cathedrals, 19th century theatres and Baroque façades, a sign of the numerous invasions over the centuries, while its Capuchin Catacombs house a creepy collection of 8,000 embalmed bodies…
Towns and Cities
Spectacularly perched atop Monte Tauro, offering sweeping vistas down to the Gulf of Naxos and across to the snow-topped peak of Mount Etna, Taormina is simply magnetic. Here, in this incredibly chic town, you will find ample high-end shops, plus sophisticated restaurants and cool bars to while away evenings, Sicilian style. At the capital of Palmermo, stop by the famous food market , or head outwards for about an hour’s drive to find the pretty coastal town of Cefalù, a great spot to nab a table and linger over lunch at one of the many seafront restaurants. If you visit the coastal city of Syracuse, you will discover perhaps the most elegant and civilised city in present-day Sicily, with a beautiful Baroque cathedral and the stunning Temple of Athena.
At 3,323 metres high, Mount Etna is the highest volcano in Europe and one of the most active. For a close-as-possible encounter, there are sightseeing tours that take you along the Alcantara canyon, passing by wonderful waterfalls and villages and farms perched on Etna’s lower slopes, then climbing higher to some of the lava caverns, including ‘Grotta dei Ladron’. At Taormina Mare, you can see beautifully clear waters filled with marine life and delightful for a refreshing dip. There are sea caves to discover around the bay and there’s a wonderful walk to the island of Isola Bella, following a narrow path of sand that changes shape with the tides. The island is a protected nature reserve and area of outstanding natural beauty.
Sciacca is an old fishing port a little off-the-beaten track and easily explored on foot, its historical centre lined with churches, monuments and typical ceramics shops. Should you wish to explore further afield, local points of interest include thermal springs and baths (open in summer), the UNESCO Heritage-listed Valley of the Greek Temples at Agrigento, the Selinunte archaeological park and La Planeta winery.
Food & Drink
Go local and try ice-cream dolloped into a brioche-style bun, cannoli (fried wafers filled with ricotta cheese and candied fruit) and Pasta alla Norma, using tomatoes for lava, aubergines for cinders and ricotta for snow to replicate Etna. Seafood and shellfish are especially popular and menu picks include hot and spicy tuna or swordfish, or anything with sardines – like pasta, fennel, capers and pine nuts. Another favourite is cassata, a ricotta cake and ice-cream rolled into one. By far the best outdoor food market is La Vucciria in Palermo, overflowing with sun-ripened produce, freshly caught fish, pistachios, almonds and charismatic stallholders. Around Mount Etna, you will find fabulous wineries, such as La Planeta, which offers tours, tastings and lunches.
In Taormina, there’s a magnificent Ancient Greek amphitheatre that’s been lovingly preserved. During the summer months, it hosts a variety of outdoor shows and concerts, ranging from opera to pop. There’s something quite magical about the venue that encircles visitors, yet is open to the evening sky – not to mention Mount Etna as a resplendent backdrop.
Discover the island’s picturesque coastline aboard a traditional Sicilian boat, heading to places like the Blue Grotto, Isola Bella, the Gulf of Giardini Naxos, the Fortune Cave and Siren’s Bay. Just off the coast are the Aeolian Islands, a paradise of exceptional beauty surrounded by sparkling seas. Consider an outing by private yacht and discover the volcanoes of Stromboli, the lush foliage of Salina and picture-perfect Panarea. Then drop anchor in a secluded bay for a lazy lunch on deck, or head ashore to get to know these delightful islands better and sample authentic fish dishes in family-run trattorias.
Fans of 'The Godfather' trilogy will be thrilled to set foot in Savoca, around twenty minutes’ drive from Taormina. This pretty, hilltop village was featured in the first film as the tranquil backdrop for the courtship between Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) and his first wife, Apollonia. Trace their steps over a refreshing drink or lemon granita at Bar Vitelli, where Michael asked Apollonia's father to meet his daughter, then amble to the church of St. Lucia where the couple were married.
Guests of our featured hotel Belmond Villa Sant’ Andrea can enjoy a daily mini-cruise along the Sicilian east coast and the Ionian Sea, as well as a complimentary shuttle bus into the town of Taormina that is about a fifteen-minute drive away. Similarly, guests of Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo can take the shuttle bus to Belmond Villa Sant' Andrea's private beach during the summer months.
Food & Drink
Verdura Resort offers a great selection of authentic culinary experiences including a Sicilian Culinary Class, dedicated lessons in the art of making Sicilian Caponata (an aubergine dish), handmade pasta and Sicilian pastry, and wine-tasting sessions including Sicily’s famed Marsala wine.
Verdura Resort boasts two 18-hole championship courses set amongst a gently undulating landscape on the Sicilian coastline. Both are masterpieces created by world-renowned golf architect, Kyle Phillips – certain to challenge golfers of all abilities. The Verdura golf experience is enhanced further by excellent practice facilities.
Our Travel Consultants can advise on, arrange and pre-book many things to enhance your holiday. This includes everything from spa reservations and dinner reservations, to a range of special experiences available in our featured resorts that you may not know about
British Airways from London Gatwick to Catania in Sicily and Easyjet from London Gatwick to Palermo. UK regional departures and charter flights are also available.
From London Gatwick to Catania: 3 hours. London Gatwick to Palermo: 3 hours.
Travelling With Children or Without an Adult
Children travelling without both parents should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country (for example, South Africa) or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country. Please contact the relevant Embassy for the county you are travelling to for further information.
Visa and Advance Passenger Information
All passengers must ensure they have a valid, acceptable passport, any required visa and any other documentation for both the final destination and any stop-off points en route. Please make sure that Advance Passenger Information is submitted in advance to travel for all destinations. Failure to hold correct documentation or submitting incorrect details with Advance Passenger Information or Visa applications may result in refusal of carriage or entry into a country. Please check with the relevant Embassy regarding visa requirements well in advance of your travel date. Charges may apply for some visas.
Passengers not travelling on a British Passport are advised to contact their relevant Foreign & Commonwealth office for individual Visa requirements.
For up-to-date resort information, visit www.fco.gov.uk
Health facilities, hygiene and disease risks vary worldwide and you should take health advice about your specific needs from your general practitioner or a specialist clinic as early as possible before travel. Those planning to become pregnant should discuss their travel plans with their healthcare provider to assess their risk of infection with Zika. For information about Zika, other mosquito-borne diseases (such as Dengue fever and Chikungunya), Lyme Disease (caused by tick bites), and to receive advice on mosquito bite avoidance measures, please visit http://travelhealthpro.org.uk/insect-tick-bite-avoidance/
In addition, we highly recommend that you seek specialist advice from your doctor and, where recommended, obtain vaccinations or tablets for protection against, for example: Malaria, Hepatitis A, Polio and Typhoid. In some cases, treatments for Malaria should begin well in advance of travel. Travellers may also be required to show Yellow Fever Certificates on arrival in certain destinations ie, some African countries. Please note that you are strongly advised against scuba-diving for 24 hours before travelling by air. We would also like to draw your attention to the risk of DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) and recommend that you consult with your doctor before travelling.
Visit the FCO website and select your destination country for the very latest travel advice: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
Additional sources of information include: www.hpa.org.uk, http://nathnac.net,
www.fco.gov.uk, www.hpa.org.uk and www.nathnac.org, your General Practitioner or a specialised clinic.