Sicilia, an exotic island embedded in the sapphire blue Mediterranean, renown for its endless coastlines, fiery volcanoes, and eerily beautiful islands peopled by a mixture of cultures and bloodlines as diverse as the rugged landscape. Coveted and claimed by the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, Spanish, Bourbons, and finally the Italians, the island nation has absorbed and distilled the customs of all its past conquerors. Blessed with amazing variety of products from the land and sea, Sicilian cuisine bursts with flavor, color, and fragrance. Rich volcanic soil produces powerful spicy wines and also delicately sweet dessert wines. Once you’ve tasted Mama Maria’s cannoli and sipped Giuseppe’s wine you’ll understand why Sicilians are so proud of their island’s culinary heritage.
The Sicilian landscape provides dramatic and diverse vistas on our journey, from the verdant valleys and vineyards of the Mt. Etna’s slopes to the stark beauty of its fiery peak, from the seaside ambiance of the achingly beautiful Aeolian Islands to the historic surroundings of Taormina and its ancient Greek Theatre. Sicilia…a fascinating land of intense beauty, warm people, and dramatic contrasts. Taormina, Lipari, Vulcano, Etna…
You’ll relax in 4-Star boutique hotels with sea-view rooms, enjoy the company of your private guides, and dine on plenty of regional cuisine to help you recharge. Plan to fall in love with the landscape, the towns, the food, and most of all, the people!
Tour Dates & Pricing
Click the thumbnail to view larger image.
You should plan to arrive by midday at the latest at the enchanting city of Taormina, perched high on a mountainside overlooking the seaside beaches of the Mediterranean. This evening you'll relax and meet the others at the "get-acquainted" party and dinner. (When you book your tour, your guides will advise you how to transfer from your arrival airport of Catania to Taormina.) After checking into our hotel, the rest of the afternoon is free to explore and check out the local shops, or maybe visit the beach where you can soak up the warm Italian sun, relax in the shade of a beach bar with a chilled glass of Sicilian white wine, walk in the surf, or take a cool dip in the sparkling blue Mediterranean. Instead of the beach, you might prefer to make your way to the nearby Greek theatre, hewed out of the rocky slopes of Monte Tauro. Pre-dating even the Romans, the Greek theatre provides one of the classic views of Sicily, ancient ruins, Mt. Etna in the backround, and a beautiful coastline curving away to the horizon.
This evening we will meet in a beautiful garden veranda overlooking both the sea and Mt. Etna for an orientation and wine tasting of some of the excellent local wines. Afterwards we'll go to one of our favorite restaurants for a get-to-know-each-other dinner while enjoying some delicious local dishes.
Many regions of Italy are famous for a type of cooking known as cucina povera, a term used to describe simple dishes derived from peasant staples. Sicilian cooking is a different thing entirely! Here is one of the foremost kitchens of Italy, overflowing with an endless variety of seafood, vegetables, fruits, herbs, nuts, grains, and wines. Although the simple elegance of peasant cooking has contributed greatly to modern Sicilian cuisine, the culinary expertise and sophistication of the royal chefs of Sicilia have defined and refined the culinary art of this island nation. Considered to be the most coveted and valuable possessions of the nobles in the "Kingdom of the Two Sicily's", their private chefs were in great demand over all of Europe for hundreds of years. As if all this wasn't enough, Sicilia is also famous for its sumptuous desserts. Cannoli, tiramisu, and sorbet all originated here, and the ice cream and gelato of Sicilia is "poetry in the mouth!" Luckily we can enjoy this great heritage of incredible food every day that we're in wonderful Sicilia!
All of the great food and wine combined with a little jet lag will insure that you sleep well tonight!
Day 2 - Castelmola, Isola Bella
After breakfast this morning we'll make our way to the enchanting town of Castelmola, perched on a craggy peak overlooking Taormina with a beautiful vista of coastline and sea. The panoramic view from the walls of Castelmola encompasses the Pelitorani Mountains to the north, the Strait of Messina and Calabria on the Italian mainland to the east, Taormina and the Bay of Naxos at our feet, and to the south, the ever-present Etna.
The town of Castelmola is as enchanting and quaint as any small village in Italy. Winding streets, tiny squares, and unique shops provide plenty of opportunities for exploring this morning. Your guides will take you to a few of their favorite haunts, too! Eventually we'll leave Castelmola and meander down through the mountainside villages and winding streets toward Taormina. This section of the walk often provides excellent views of brooding Mt. Etna and great photo ops of the coastline and postcard-perfect Isola Bella, just offshore.
Our morning walk will end in Mazzaro, where our private coach will be waiting to drive us to Mt. Etna. The lower slopes of this massive volcano mountain are home to dozens of villages and countless farms and vineyards where families have braved the wrath of Etna for generations to produce the fruits, vegetables, and wines that supply much of the region. After a short drive through the beautiful Sicilian countryside, the road will become too small for our vehicle and we’ll continue on foot to our destination, a small family farm at the base of Mt. Etna.
Weather and conditions permitting, the farm hopefully has grapes ready for harvesting! Armed with knives and instructions from the vineyard workers, we’ll head into the grape arbors and try our hand at the “vendemmia” or harvest, in the same style that grapes have been picked for thousands of years in Sicily. To reward our labors we’ll have a wine tasting of the farm’s vintages and then sit down to a typical (enormous) farm lunch. Course by course, plate by plate, we’ll be introduced to traditional foods from the slopes of Monte Etna.
After lunch we have a fascinating afternoon ahead of us. Our hosts will show us how they have worked to preserve the ancient methods of harvesting, crushing the grapes, and making wine. At their palmento, (antique harvesting barn), we’ll learn how generations of contadini worked the grapes into their primary product, wine. To contrast the ancient with the modern we’ll also take a tour of their newer wine making facility, one that incorporates all the ancient knowledge and passion for winemaking that is the hallmark of the Italian vintner.
Tonight you are free for dinner. Taormina boasts an abundance of excellent restaurants and cafes, each with its own interpretations of classic Sicilian fare and usually featuring a “house specialty” seafood or pasta dish. Your guides can recommend some of their favorite haunts, or you can wander the streets and enjoy your own discovery! If shopping is your thing, tonight would be a good time to wander through the shops in Taormina and pick up those gifts for the folks back home. There’s no shortage of shops in Taormina, clothing, shoes, crafts, and of course, wine shops abound!
Day 3 - Mt. Etna
Today we have a local volcano guide accompany us on our exhilarating trek on Sicilia's greatest natural attraction and one of the world's largest and most active volcanoes, Monte Etna. The ancient Greeks viewed it as the home of Vulcan, god of fire, and home of Cyclops, the one-eyed monster. Etna continually reminds us that she is far from dormant. In 2002 Etna put on an awesome, dramatic display of volcanic fireworks that spewed ash and smoke over a mile in the air, while new flows of lava traced her slopes. As recently as October of 2006 Etna was producing new ash cones and a river of lava on her eastern flank. Etna is also the tallest mountain in Sicily, with a landscape that changes dramatically from vineyards and farms to stands of pines that give way to alpine scrub as the altitude increases. Eventually the surreal views of ash, lava, and steam dominate the land.
The route of our walk today will depend partially on the weather and partially on Etna's ever-changing mood! We'll use 4WD vehicles and our own two feet to explore the incredible landscape and breathtaking vistas the volcano rewards those who dare to tread her slopes. This is one of the few places in the world you can experience an active volcano…along with all of the fascinating effects that go with it…lava fields, columns of steam and gasses, rift chasms, and smoking craters. At times irregular explosions deep underground can make the ground tremble and shudder…no wonder the ancient Greeks deemed it the home of Vulcan! Bring your camera, today the panoramic views will astound you!
Tonight you are free to explore Taormina to try to find a meal that will top last night's! An after-dinner passegiatta, or perhaps a late night aperitif at a sidewalk café will be just the thing to relax you after your exciting day. Get a good night's sleep, though, because tomorrow we have another beautiful area to explore…we’re off to the islands!
Day 4 - Aeolian Islands
After a typical Italian breakfast, we'll hop on our private coach and head north toboard our ferry at the port of Milazzo, the jumping-off point to reach the fabled Aeolian Islands. Ancient Greek sailors believed these seven islands were the home of Aeolus, god of the winds. He supposedly lived in a cave on Vulcano, keeping the winds of the world in a bag to be opened only with great caution.
The islands themselves are volcanic in origin, and with a mix of history, small town atmosphere, intensely flavored cuisine, and natural beauty, each of these islands has its own character. The islands' culture extends back 6000 years, and there is evidence of trade with virtually every important Mediterranean culture, from the Etruscans to the Greeks. Our first stop, the island of Vulcano, juts from the crystalline waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea 34 miles from the mainland of Sicilia. In ancient times the island was known as Thermessa, and due to the constant activity of its volcano was thought to be the gateway to Hades, the afterworld. Three dormant craters exist on the island, but we'll have a walking excursion to the lip of the remaining active Gran Cratere, also known as the Vulcano della Fosse. It hasn't erupted since 1890, but one look inside the sulphur-belching hole makes you understand the hellish legends surrounding it. From the crater's edge you'll also have one of the most panoramic views of the Aeolian archipelago…need I say it…bring your camera?
Following our volcano trek, we’ll have some time to wander the quaint town on Vulcano and relax in a seaside café for lunch. Later this afternoon, our private boat will pick us up and give us a tour of the coastline and tiny islets as we motor to the nearby island of Lipari, our home for the next two days. We’ll land on Lipari at the smaller fishing port, avoiding the bustle of the main tourist ferry dock. The main town on Lipari, (also named Lipari), sits on a plateau of red volcanic rock framed by two beaches. Lipari island is known as the "white island" from the huge deposits of pumice which have been mined since ancient times. Pumice is so plentiful you'll find little bits of it washing up on the beaches, bobbing in the water, and for sale in the shops. Thanks to pumice dust on the seabed, the water refracts gorgeous colors, from turquoise to bright emerald.
Tonight the guides will be taking you to dinner at one of their favorite local haunts. All of the dishes that Sicilia is famous for can be found on the islands, with the addition of the incredible fruits of the sea caught by the local fisherman. The seafood that you'll be served tonight was swimming in the ocean just a short time before it appeared on your plate! The guides will also introduce you to more of the excellent Sicilian vintages. Experiment and Enjoy!
Day 5 - Quattropani, Quattrocchi
Today we'll journey to the other side of Lipari island, for a walk along the dramatic cliffs of the western coast. Banks of long abandoned terracing high over the windswept coast precede the curious ancient spa named after San Calogero, the popular saint associated with spas and mineral waters and revered throughout Sicilia. It is here that he is attributed with causing the hot therapeutic waters to flow from the rock flanks, not to mention banishing all the devils of Lipari. Furthermore the saint miraculously extinguished the flames during an eruption of the island's volcano. (During that occasion the womenfolk of the island vowed to never let wine touch their lips again if the fires would only cease.)
The spa itself is believed to have been built in the 15th century BC by the Myceneans, and then remodeled by the Romans in the 4th century BC. It is the oldest known spa in the entire Mediterranean.
Our path will take us along wild cliffs overlooking the sea far below, through olive groves and gardens filled with dwarf palms, grape vines and caper plants. Windswept ruins, stunning views of rocky pinnacles and cliffs, lonely huts, and deserted coves thick with seabirds will provide ample photographic opportunities.
Near the end of our route we’ll stop in the town of Pianoconte for our well-deserved lunch break at a local café. After hanging out with the locals for a bit, our walk continues on shaded paths to back to Lipari town.
Tonight you'll have the evening free to wander the streets and seaside lanes of Lipari town as you follow your nose to a local trattoria for dinner. As usual, your guides can direct you towards some of their favorites. An after-dark stroll through Lipari town to admire the stars and seaside beauty will be the perfect cap to an active and exciting day.
Day 6 - Go Get Lost Day
Today it’s all about freedom, exploration, and getting lost on your own! Your guides will offer LOTS of popular options for the day’s activities and you can choose to do as little or as much as you want.
Of course you could easily fill an entire day shopping and exploring the byways of Lipari-town. Lipari has lots of lovely cobblestone streets and hidden neighborhoods waiting to be discovered by the curious walker. The town also abounds with shops that cater to visitors and locals alike.
The island also boasts one of southern Italy's finest museums, the Aeolian Archaeological Museum, which houses original artifacts from the original Neolithic settlement and includes obsidian knives and fabulous Greek vases. Located on a seaside rocky promontory overlooking Lipari-town, the museum is a fascinating way to spend the day.
Or, if you prefer, you can grab your bathing suit and head to one of the beaches in the nearby town of Canneto! A few hours spent frolicking in the cool waters of the Mediterranean might be just the antidote to the hot Sicilian sun!
One of the most popular options on your Go Get Lost day is to board one of the local ferry boats and visit the nearby islands of Panarea, Salina, Alicudi or Filicudi. Each island has a slightly different atmosphere which makes for a great day of exploration. The island of Panarea also features an excellent walk for those so inclined.
Private charter boats are also available for special sightseeing itineraries of the other Aeolian Islands. Adventurous souls can boat over to the tiny island of Stromboli to hike to the top of the volcano for a spectacular and unforgettable nighttime explosion of lava!
If time permits the guides may offer another morning walk on one of the spectacular coastal paths, or perhaps one of their favorite walks on one of the nearby islands.
Yet another option is to take your own island tour with a rental car on Lipari's winding seaside roads. Villages and windswept coastlines will provide ample scenery for your road trip around one of the most beautiful islands in Europe!
Whatever you choose to do today, be sure to take plenty of digital photos to share with the gang tomorrow!
Day 7 - Catania
This morning we bid the islands goodbye as we board our ferry for the short trip to Milazzo, where our private coach awaits. A relaxing drive along the coast soon brings us to the bustling city of Catania, where you'll check into your 4-Star hotel in the city center. This afternoon you'll enjoy a walking tour of the historic sites of Catania, followed by a final night wine tasting where the guides will feature their favorite vintages from all over Italy! We’ll also have a spectacular farewell dinner tonight to cap off our wonderful adventure in Italia! Adventures (and misadventures) from the trip are re-lived and laughed about, everyone and everything is toasted, addresses and e-mails are copied, and heartfelt goodbyes are exchanged with all your new lifelong friends that you "Got Lost" in Italy with.
Day 8 - Arrivederci Sicilia
Your Go Get Lost tour ends after breakfast this morning. Your guide can help you arrange your onward transportation to the nearby Catania airport.
- 3 Nights Double Occupancy Accom in Taormina at Listed Hotels or Similar
- 3 Nights Double Occupancy Accom in Lipari at Listed Hotels or Similar
- 1 Night Double Occupancy Accom in Catania at Listed Hotels or Similar
- Meals as Specified: 7 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 3 Dinners, 4 Wine Tastings
- Sicilian Farm Lunch
- Mountain Lunch on Etna
- Café Lunch on Lipari
- Welcome Dinner in Taormina
- Group Dinner in Lipari
- Farewell Dinner
- Castelmola Walk
- Mt. Etna Walk with Vulcanologist Guides
- Gran Cratere Walk on Vulcano
- Quattropani Walk on Lipari
- Guides Welcome Night Wine Tasting in Taormina
- Grape Harvesting at an Etna Vineyard (Season Permitting)
- Tours and Wine Tastings at Etna Vineyard
- Wine Tasting in Castelmola
- Guides Wine Tasting
- Opportunities to Visit to Lots of Unique Villages – Panarea, Giardini Naxos, Marina Corta, Mazzaro, Cannetto, Pianoconte, Quattropani, etc.
- Transportation once the tour has begun. The motorcoaches and vans we use are modern, air conditioned and roomy. Our tour groups are usually between 8-18 people so we always have plenty of room to get comfortable.
- All train, ferry, hydrofoil, coach and taxi transfers as specified in itinerary.
- Sightseeing and entrance fees as specified in itinerary
- Completely escorted by a Go Get Lost group leader with local guides at specified sites throughout itinerary.
- A lifetime of unforgettable memories!
What´s not Included
- Airfare package
- Arrival and departure transfers, tour begins at the hotel in Taormina on the afternoon of Day 1, and the tour ends at the hotel in Catania on the morning of day 8.
- Gratuities for meals, porterage, local guides, coach drivers, etc.
- Any costs associated with options on Go Get Lost Day.
- Visa fees, if applicable
- Meals not specified in itinerary
- Beverages at meals unless specified in itinerary (water and wine included in all group meals)
- Trip Cancellation/Interruption and Medical Insurance (strongly recommended), call for details
- Single supplement charge
- Items of a personal nature; phone calls, laundry, etc.