Circumnavigation of Sicily

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Tour Description

Join us for our most in-depth Sicily expedition ever as we delve into one of the most fascinating islands in the Mediterranean. In Malta, visit Valletta, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an architectural masterpiece. Follow ancient trade routes aboard the Clipper Odyssey, charting a course for the Roman theaters and villas of Taormina, Piazza Amerina, and Lipari. And, of course, no Sicily and Palermo tour is complete without food and wine! We stop at several vineyards, sample olive oil straight from the press, visit local outdoor markets, and savor the best local cuisine. Cin, cin!

Circumnavigation of Sicily Expedition Highlights:

  • A Palermo tour, including ornate Baroque churches, domed Arab mosques, the 12th-century cathedral, and the Archaeological Museum with its Punic and Greek art.
  • An evening cruise near the active Stromboli Volcano for sunset photos and a chance to see the Stromboli “fireworks” from the ship’s deck.
  • Ample wine tasting and gourmet luncheons, including Marsala wines and vintages from the Licata region.
  • In true Sicily adventure travel style, a cable car excursion up Mt. Etna, then 4x4 vehicle tour to the main crater, at 9,000 feet.
  • The Saint John Catacombs, the Archaeological Park, and the oldest temple in Sicily, the 6th-century B.C. Apollo Temple, all in the Syracuse region.

What to expect:

For Sicily and Palermo adventure travel, a moderate level of exertion is required. Most of our excursions will include walking tours through archaeological sites or medieval villages, with uneven paths and cobblestone streets. For these Sicily expeditions, we ask that you can walk one to three miles unaided, navigate stairs, and stand for long periods of time. Optional hikes may require more exertion. We’ll travel during the spring, with optimum temperatures ranging from the mid-50°s to mid-70°s. With a spirit of adventure and moderate level of energy, participants are bound to love Zegrahm’s first-ever Sicily tour.

Itinerary

Day 1

Depart USA

Independent overnight flight to Valletta, Malta.

Day 2

Valletta, Malta

Arrive in Malta this afternoon and transfer to our hotel with the remainder of the day at leisure. Dinner and overnight at our hotel.

Day 3

Valletta / Embark Clipper Odyssey

After breakfast explore historic Valletta, Malta’s enchanting capital city built by the Knights of St. John in the 16th century. Their auberges—large inns where they lived—remain intact. We explore the fortress, ramparts, churches, and the national museum, then continue to the Tarxien Temples, monolithic edifices built between 3000 and 1900 B.C. We embark the Clipper Odyssey with dinner and overnight on board as we sail toward Sicily.

Day 4

Licata, Sicily / Agrigento

We disembark in Licata this morning for a scenic drive to the Butero Winery and Villa high in the hills. After an early lunch of delicious Sicilian fare accompanied by wines of the region we continue on to the World Heritage Site of Agrigento. Here we walk through the Valley of the Temples, where the exquisite architecture dates back to the 4th and 5th centuries B.C. and showcases the Temples of Juno, Concord, and Hercules, as well as the Temple of Zeus—the largest Doric temple from Greek antiquity. After visiting the Museum of Santa Nicola we enjoy leisure time in Agrigento, where pizza lovers can enjoy filled pastries known as sfincioni (a local specialty), before returning to the ship.

Day 5

Mazara del Vallo / Selinunte / Marsala

After breakfast we disembark in Mazara and drive to the sprawling 7th-century B.C. site of Selinunte. Local guides lead us through these Greek ruins to the Sanctuary of Demetra Malophoros and the Acropolis. We return to the ship for lunch as we sail north.

This afternoon we explore Marsala, situated on the westernmost tip of Sicily. The town was founded by the Carthaginians in 396 B.C. and was occupied by the Saracens who named it Marsa el Allah—Port of God. We visit the Regional Museum that houses the famous Carthaginian shipwreck found in the multi-hued Stagnone Lagoon. Our final stop is at Cantine Florio, one of Sicily’s ancient vineyards, where we enjoy local specialties accompanied by Marsala wines.

Day 6

Trapani / Erice / Segesta / Monreale / Palermo

This morning our ship will drop us at the thriving fishing town of Trapani. Once the site of ancient naval battles between Rome and Carthage it is now the setting for an ongoing underwater archaeological survey that discovered traces of one battle on the seabed.

From here we travel to Erice, a charming medieval village perched high on a mountain-top with stunning views of the Tyrrhenian Sea. Founded as Eryx by the Carthaginians, the town boasts a fertility temple and a mythical association with Hercules and Aeneas, along with its Norman castles and dramatic winding streets. Our drive continues to magical Segesta, a center of the ancient Elymian civilization and home to a magnificent Doric temple. Up above Palermo we enjoy a typical Sicilian lunch in Monreale and tour the fabled Cathedral, built in 1174. Hailed as Italy’s most beautiful Norman church, the interior is covered with mosaics, gold leaf, and stone intarsia. We also visit the Benedictine Cloister, whose courtyard arcade is made up of 228 sets of twin columns, each with a different design and richly-decorated capital. From Monreale we rejoin the Odyssey in Palermo with the opportunity to dine ashore as we overnight pier side.

Day 7

Palermo

After breakfast we tour Palermo, famous for its jumbled and picturesque streets punctuated with ornate Baroque churches, domed Arab mosques, and the glittering Byzantine mosaics that reveal a unique and diverse heritage. We visit the impressive 12th-century Cathedral and the Palatine Chapel in the Norman castle; today the building serves as the seat of the Sicilian government. The Archaeological Museum showcases one of the richest collections of Punic and Greek art in Italy. We depart this afternoon for sunset cruising along the north coast of Sicily toward our evening anchorage at Cefalù.

Day 8

Cefalù

Situated on the northern coast, Cefalù is of Greek origin; its name, meaning “head,” derives from its perch on a precipitous rocky headland. A morning walking tour includes the splendid Norman-Arab Cathedral, begun in 1131 and famous for its mosaics, including a superb image of Christ Pantocrator. We also visit a medieval wash-house and the Osterio Magno, the 11th-century residence of King Ruggiero II. Enjoy free time to explore this photographic town on your own before we return to the ship. In the afternoon we cruise north through the rugged volcanic Aeolian Isles.

Day 9

Lipari / Stromboli, Aeolian Islands

We wake this morning anchored in the bay below the towering cliffs of the World Heritage Site of Lipari. Via Zodiacs we head into the marina and from there our walking tour takes us through the town center and up to the walls of the fort, built in 1556 upon the ruins of an ancient Greek acropolis. Within the fort we find the Aeolian Archaeological Museum and the Norman St. Bartolomeo Church. Afterwards there is ample time to stroll through town and have lunch on our own, or perhaps sample the famous Malvasia di Lipari, a sweet wine introduced by the Phoenicians in the first millennium B.C. In the early evening we cruise near the active Stromboli Volcano for sunset photos, and then linger after dinner to watch for the Stromboli “fireworks” out on deck.

Day 10

Cruising the Strait of Messina / Taormina / Mt. Etna

We come alongside at Giardini-Naxos, found-ed by the Greeks in the 8th century B.C. and presided over by 9,500-foot Mt. Etna, Europe’s largest active volcano. Our morning excursion takes us up Etna’s pock marked slopes via cable car, then continues in 4x4 vehicles until we reach the main crater at 9,000 feet.

In the afternoon we explore Taormina’s 3rd-century Greco-Roman Theater, renown for acoustic effects that make it a favorite concert venue to this day. We also stroll the lively pedestrian-only Corso Umberto and its many off-shooting narrow lanes lined with shops and pretty piazzas.

Day 11

Catania / Morgantina

Today we visit the World Heritage Site of Catania, with a visit first to the famous morning fish market in the town square. Our walking tour winds around the Piazza del Duomo crowned by the cathedral. From here we set off for a drive inland through a series of photogenic villages to Piazza Armerina, famous for its superb Roman mosaics in the Villa Romana del Casale. Enjoy lunch at a Sicilian restaurant near the Greek site of Morgantina.

We return to Catania to enjoy free time before returning to the ship for dinner. Or choose to enjoy the local cuisine on your own in town, and perhaps sample some of the wines from the many vineyards nourished by the rich volcanic soil of Mt. Etna.

Day 12

Syracuse / Ortygia

Syracuse / Ortygia
Founded by the Corinthians in the 8th century B.C., Syracuse was one of the most powerful Greek cities—defending its sovereignty against such rivals as Carthage, the Etruscans, and the Romans, who later overtook the city, followed by the Arabs. We begin at the Saint John Catacombs with their maze of underground passageways then drive to the Archaeological Park, a World Heritage Site. Highlights include the Roman Amphitheater of Augustus; the Ear of Dionysius, a grotto with an extraordinary echo; and the massive 15,000-seat Greek Theater.
We return to the ship, at port in Ortygia, for lunch, before striking out for a walking tour of the old town. Highlights include the ruins of the 6th-century B.C. Apollo Temple—the oldest in Sicily and the Piazza Duomo, built around the ancient Temple of Minerva (Athena).
Join us on deck as we cast our lines and enjoy the city lights as we say farewell to Sicily and head for Malta.

 

Day 13

Valletta, Malta / Disembark Clipper Odyssey / USA

Disembark in Valletta this morning and transfer to the airport for your independent flights homeward.

Departures

Pricing Information

Clipper Odyssey

One of the finest adventure ships afloat, the Clipper Odyssey is a 110-passenger luxury expedition vessel, ideally suited for cruising in off-the-beaten-path locales. On all Clipper Odyssey expeditions, guests have access to a fleet of Zodiacs, which allows remote landings anywhere nature or curiosity dictates. All cabins on a Clipper Odyssey cruise have an ocean view, safe, minibar, individually controlled heat/air conditioner, in-room music system, and sitting area with sofa. Beds can be configured for twin or queen-size sleeping arrangements, and all cabins have an en suite bathroom complete with shower and small bathtub. In the comfort of their cabin, passengers can track the progress of their expedition on the Global Positioning System broadcast—a highlight of a Clipper Odyssey voyage for adventure-minded guests. Additional facilities include a gourmet kitchen featuring American and international cuisine, dining room, lounge, small library and gym, outdoor pool, and gift shop. An elevator services all passenger cabin decks. Ship registry: Bahamas.

All prices are in US dollars and do not include international airfare, unless otherwise noted.

Prices displayed are based on the lowest season base price and assume double occupancy. Prices are shown in U.S. dollars and may or may not include administrative fees, taxes, meals, airfare (where applicable) and Single Supplements. Cancellation penalties, blackout dates and other restrictions may apply.

Options and Extras

Tour Notes

Flights are not included in the cost of expeditions; however, Zegrahm Expeditions has a fully-staffed air department that can assist you with flight arrangements. Since many of our expeditions embark and disembark from remote destinations, the airports that serve these areas often have limited carriers and/or daily flights. As such, our air team is well-versed in planning complex routings for our travelers.