858.201.6424
☰ Menu
Slider Container
Slider Image Slider Image Slider Image Slider Image Slider Image Slider Image Slider Image Slider Image Slider Image Slider Image Slider Image Slider Image Slider Image Slider Image Slider Image Slider Image Slider Image Slider Image Slider Image Slider Image Slider Image Slider Image Slider Image Slider Image Slider Image Slider Image Slider Image

Easter in Sicily 12 Days


Easter Traditions in Sicily   •   March 19-30

Live and breathe the atmosphere of Eastertime in Sicily with us!

Watch centuries-old processions wind through the island’s narrow streets and ancient piazzas. Easter also marks the arrival of spring in Sicily. Indeed, Sicilian folk traditions fuse Christian rituals and earlier pagan rites celebrating the start of spring.

Easter is a perfect time to visit Sicily for food lovers as well. It is the season of the “Martorana” or “Pasta Reale” – local marzipan treats shaped to resemble fruits of all type. Here you can taste Cassata — Sicily's most famous dessert, which is made from ricotta, almonds and candied fruit. Fresh peas, fava beans and artichokes combine perfectly to create the wonderful “frittella” dish.


TOUR ITINERARY  { 12 days / 11 nights }

Saturday  March 19

Upon arrival into Catania Airport, collect your luggage. You will meet with your English-speaking assistant in the arrivals hall. Transfer by private minibus to your hotel in Catania’s city center.

Rest of the day to relax and freshen up from your journey.

A late afternoon briefing with our tour escort before dinner at a local restaurant.

Overnight stay at the Romano House Hotel or similar. Breakfast daily included.

Sunday March 20

Enjoy a guided tour of the port city of Catania, dramatically located between the Ionian Sea and Mount Etna, which every so often rains volcanic ash upon the streets. The town was rebuilt in Baroque style. During the Baroque period, many of the town’s finest buildings were constructed.

This morning you will have the chance to attend Palm Sunday Mass at the Duomo.

We will then stop at a seaside restaurant for lunch on the way to the towns of Acireale and Aci Castello. Aci Castello is home to a medieval Norman Castle, built in 1076 on a prehistoric lava terrace. Here we will admire the Rocks of the Cyclops, imposing, spiky shards of black lava that rise up out of the water. According to Homer’s Odyssey, it is here that the Cyclops Polyphemus threw rocks at Odysseus.

Return back to the hotel for your evening at leisure and overnight stay.

Monday March 21

This morning we will leave for Mount Etna, the tallest active volcano in Europe. Weather conditions permitting, we will cross a fascinating landscape and reach a height of 1,800 meters, where we will enjoy a fantastic view of the Ionian Sea.

Visit and lunch with wine tasting in an Etna DOC winery on the volcano’s slope.  Return to Catania for your afternoon and evening at leisure.

Tuesday March 22

Meet your tour manager and leave for Castello degli Schiavi, where we will visit the location of the movie “The Godfather.” We will then move to Savoca for a walking tour of the town. We will admire another movie location with the typical streets and the famous Bar Vitelli.

Lunch at leisure before our guided visit of Taormina, looking down onto the Ionian Sea from 200 meters above. Over the centuries, this city has lured poets, writers and painters. Be mesmerized by the beauty of the Greek-Roman Theatre with the sea and Mount Etna in the background.

Then head back to Catania for an evening on your own.

Wednesday March 23

Today you will enjoy a full day excursion to Siracusa and Noto.

Once arrived in Siracusa, meet your English-speaking guide and discover of the main highlights of the city. Of all the Greek cities that flourished on the coast of Sicily, Siracusa was the most important — a formidable seafaring power almost on par with Athens. In the heyday of its power, it dared to take on both Carthage and Rome. At one time, its wealth and size were unmatched by any other city in the ancient world, and today it is one of the richest historical sites in Europe. You can see the remarkable Greek and Roman ruins, including the Greek Theatre and the famous Ear of Dionysius.

Enjoy a visit to the elegant Island of Ortigya, where you will admire the architectural splendor of its ancient medieval streets, baroque buildings, and classic churches such as the Duomo, which was built upon the old temple to Athena.

Lunch on your own. 

In the afternoon, transfer to Noto, the capital of Baroque Sicily. Walk through its historical center, rich in Baroque style palaces. In 1693 an earthquake completely destroyed the town and nowadays, the new Noto is a masterpiece of Sicilian Baroque architecture and is listed among UNESCO's World Heritage Sites.

Here we will have the chance to taste local pastries at Caffe’ Sicilia, together with the Chef Corrado Assenza, who will explain about the islands famous Easter pastries.

Return to the hotel in the early evening. Dinner at leisure and overnight stay in Catania.

Thursday March 24

Today we visit Piazza Armerina, with the famous “Villa Romana del Casale.” The villa still contains one of the richest and most complex collection of Roman mosaics in the world, thanks to a flood that covered them in mud in the 12th century.

We will then continue our day in Enna for a guided tour of the town and lunch at leisure.

On the first day of the Holy Tritium, namely Holy Thursday, Enna starts preparing for the celebrations of the Holy Week. Art displays are set up in all confraternity churches, while the altar of repose is set up in the Parish churches.

Starting from sunset, the inhabitants of the town will head from church to church until late at night. Some count the number of the churches they visit, since — according to folk customs — this number should be odd. However, the meaning of these celebrations is rooted in faith and tradition.

Transfer to Agrigento and accommodation at Baglio della Luna Hotel or similar 4-star hotel. Overnight stay.

Friday March 25

Today we will meet our guide who will take us to admire the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) in Agrigento.

We will also visit the Valley of The Temples, which house the remains of a Greek colony. These ancient Greek structures have miraculously survived 24 centuries of history. We will see the Temple of Juno, Concord, Heracles, Zeus, Castor & Pollux and finally the rocky hill where the medieval town was built.

Lunch in a restaurant with a view of the temples included.

In the afternoon we will drive to Caltanissetta to admire the Black Christ procession.

The Black Christ is certainly the oldest simulacrum of Caltanissetta, the principal protector of the town until 1625, when the title was given to Saint Michael the Archangel for saving the town from plague. But the unchanged feeling of veneration, generation after generation, still proclaims the Black Christ as the “Lord of the Town”. According to tradition, the crucifix was found by two countrymen in a cave between two lit candles. Since then, the little crucifix has attracted so many votive candles their smoke darkened it over the centuries – so  much that is now known as the “Black Christ”.

On Holy Friday, at sunset, the crucifix, is placed in a golden crown-shaped canopy. It is then carried on the shoulders of the bare-footed figliamari-fogliamari (pickers of wild plants) from the sanctuary. This is the most important tradition of the entire community: the whole Real Maestranza, the Bishop, the entire Clergy, including the various religious congregations, and the town administration, open the way to the Black Christ. The procession slowly crosses the streets of the town center, as the fogliamari spread incense and break the silence with their sorrowful ladate, biblical lamentations in an archaic dialect.

Dinner is included. Return to Agrigento and overnight stay.

Saturday March 26

Breakfast at the hotel and departure for San Biagio Platani, where you will admire the imposing Archi di Pane (Bread Arches) hanging in the old town center. This typical and unique event dates back to the mid-17th century.

The brotherhoods of Madonara and Signurara decorate a part of the town with huge artistic bread arches. These decorations are dedicated to the Virgin Mary and Christ. These arches are made using reeds, willow, cereals, rosemary and bread. Every detail of the arch is an important religious symbol.

Family lunch in a private home and transfer to Palermo.

Arrival and check-into the Excelsior Palace Hotel or similar and overnight stay.

Sunday March 27

Today we will explore the town of Piana degli Albanesi just south of Palermo. As the name suggests, Piana degli Albanesi was founded by Albanian immigrants fleeing a Turkish invasion in 1488. Being somewhat isolated, the town has managed to maintain much of its original identity and traditions, one of which is its Orthodox Easter celebrations (it has been a Greek Orthodox Bishopric since 1937). On Palm Sunday, there is a procession through the streets to mark Jesus' arrival in Jerusalem. Festivities continue all week until Easter Sunday when the townsfolk put on their traditional 15th century costumes and hand out blessed, hand-painted eggs. After Mass, there is the procession of the Holy Veil, a piece of cloth in which believers can discern the face of Christ.

Lunch at a local restaurant included.

A completely different event takes place on Easter Sunday in the hills south of Palermo, in the small town of Prizzi. This is the Dance of the Devils, another unique blend of Christian and pagan beliefs. It features the characters of Death, dressed in yellow, and two red devils in ghoulish masks. They dance around death randomly snatching innocent onlookers and trying to avoid the statues of the Risen Christ and Mary, which free the imprisoned souls. In the struggle that ensues between good and evil, it is Christ and the Madonna who triumph, along with other locals dressed as angels. During the ensuing celebrations, cannateddi, typical Easter sweets, are offered to the public.

Return to Palermo. Overnight stay.

Monday March 28

Leave for Erice, a wonderful and mysterious medieval town perched 2000 feet above sea level with sweeping views of the Mediterranean Sea. Walking through the cobblestoned streets, we will smell a variety of aromas radiating from local pastry shops. Admire the Norman Castle and the Duomo.

Then we will stop at the world famous pastry shop by Maria Grammatico to taste her almond sweets, genovesi, and nougat while toasting with a glass of Marsala wine.

Lunch at an olive estate with Extra Virgin Olive Oil tasting.

We will then drive along the Salt Road and its Salt Pans located on the coastline between the cities of Trapani and Marsala. Locals extract the salt from the seawater following the same procedure used by the ancient Greeks and Phoenicians who colonized this part of Sicily. Once dried, the salt is heaped into mounds and covered in tiles—just like the ones used on our roofs—so the rain cannot melt the salt before it’s packaged.

On the way back to Palermo, we will visit the Greek temple in the middle of the countryside in Segesta. As the major Greek city in western Sicily, ancient Segesta was besieged and conquered by Dionysius and Agathocles, and eventually fell to the Romans. Here we will see this beautiful Doric temple, dating back from the fifth century B.C., perched on a hill of wild fennel. Although never completed, it is in an excellent state of preservation, and commands a majestic setting.  Return to Palermo. Dinner at leisure and overnight stay.

Tuesday March 29

This morning, meet your English speaking-guide in the lobby and get ready for a private tour of Palermo and Monreale.

You’ll be enchanted by Palermo’s wide boulevards, the traditional Sicilian Old Quarter, and baroque palaces. Admire the city’s main highlights including the so-called Quattro Canti (the Four Corners), Palermo’s extravagant baroque square. The square is ringed by four buildings with baroque sculptures that depict the Four Seasons, Spanish kings, and the patron saints of four old quarters of the city. See the twelfth-century Cathedral, housing a pantheon of royal tombs.

Then visit Palermo’s food market “La Vucciria,” an explosion of colors, sound and voices. Here you will taste typical street food such as pani ca meusa, panelle, arancini.

Our day continues as we discover the Arab-Norman splendor of the Monreale Cathedral and Cloister. This nearby treasure dates from the 12th century and shows the diverse architectural influences of both the Normans and the Arab population.

Lunch and rest of the day at leisure.

Wednesday March 30

Check-out and private transfer to Palermo airport for your onward travel arrangements.

+ DAY 1

Saturday  March 19

Upon arrival into Catania Airport, collect your luggage. You will meet with your English-speaking assistant in the arrivals hall. Transfer by private minibus to your hotel in Catania’s city center.

Rest of the day to relax and freshen up from your journey.

A late afternoon briefing with our tour escort before dinner at a local restaurant.

Overnight stay at the Romano House Hotel or similar. Breakfast daily included.

+ DAY 2

Sunday March 20

Enjoy a guided tour of the port city of Catania, dramatically located between the Ionian Sea and Mount Etna, which every so often rains volcanic ash upon the streets. The town was rebuilt in Baroque style. During the Baroque period, many of the town’s finest buildings were constructed.

This morning you will have the chance to attend Palm Sunday Mass at the Duomo.

We will then stop at a seaside restaurant for lunch on the way to the towns of Acireale and Aci Castello. Aci Castello is home to a medieval Norman Castle, built in 1076 on a prehistoric lava terrace. Here we will admire the Rocks of the Cyclops, imposing, spiky shards of black lava that rise up out of the water. According to Homer’s Odyssey, it is here that the Cyclops Polyphemus threw rocks at Odysseus.

Return back to the hotel for your evening at leisure and overnight stay.

+ DAY 3

Monday March 21

This morning we will leave for Mount Etna, the tallest active volcano in Europe. Weather conditions permitting, we will cross a fascinating landscape and reach a height of 1,800 meters, where we will enjoy a fantastic view of the Ionian Sea.

Visit and lunch with wine tasting in an Etna DOC winery on the volcano’s slope.  Return to Catania for your afternoon and evening at leisure.

+ DAY 4

Tuesday March 22

Meet your tour manager and leave for Castello degli Schiavi, where we will visit the location of the movie “The Godfather.” We will then move to Savoca for a walking tour of the town. We will admire another movie location with the typical streets and the famous Bar Vitelli.

Lunch at leisure before our guided visit of Taormina, looking down onto the Ionian Sea from 200 meters above. Over the centuries, this city has lured poets, writers and painters. Be mesmerized by the beauty of the Greek-Roman Theatre with the sea and Mount Etna in the background.

Then head back to Catania for an evening on your own.

+ DAY 5

Wednesday March 23

Today you will enjoy a full day excursion to Siracusa and Noto.

Once arrived in Siracusa, meet your English-speaking guide and discover of the main highlights of the city. Of all the Greek cities that flourished on the coast of Sicily, Siracusa was the most important — a formidable seafaring power almost on par with Athens. In the heyday of its power, it dared to take on both Carthage and Rome. At one time, its wealth and size were unmatched by any other city in the ancient world, and today it is one of the richest historical sites in Europe. You can see the remarkable Greek and Roman ruins, including the Greek Theatre and the famous Ear of Dionysius.

Enjoy a visit to the elegant Island of Ortigya, where you will admire the architectural splendor of its ancient medieval streets, baroque buildings, and classic churches such as the Duomo, which was built upon the old temple to Athena.

Lunch on your own. 

In the afternoon, transfer to Noto, the capital of Baroque Sicily. Walk through its historical center, rich in Baroque style palaces. In 1693 an earthquake completely destroyed the town and nowadays, the new Noto is a masterpiece of Sicilian Baroque architecture and is listed among UNESCO's World Heritage Sites.

Here we will have the chance to taste local pastries at Caffe’ Sicilia, together with the Chef Corrado Assenza, who will explain about the islands famous Easter pastries.

Return to the hotel in the early evening. Dinner at leisure and overnight stay in Catania.

+ DAY 6

Thursday March 24

Today we visit Piazza Armerina, with the famous “Villa Romana del Casale.” The villa still contains one of the richest and most complex collection of Roman mosaics in the world, thanks to a flood that covered them in mud in the 12th century.

We will then continue our day in Enna for a guided tour of the town and lunch at leisure.

On the first day of the Holy Tritium, namely Holy Thursday, Enna starts preparing for the celebrations of the Holy Week. Art displays are set up in all confraternity churches, while the altar of repose is set up in the Parish churches.

Starting from sunset, the inhabitants of the town will head from church to church until late at night. Some count the number of the churches they visit, since — according to folk customs — this number should be odd. However, the meaning of these celebrations is rooted in faith and tradition.

Transfer to Agrigento and accommodation at Baglio della Luna Hotel or similar 4-star hotel. Overnight stay.

+ DAY 7

Friday March 25

Today we will meet our guide who will take us to admire the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) in Agrigento.

We will also visit the Valley of The Temples, which house the remains of a Greek colony. These ancient Greek structures have miraculously survived 24 centuries of history. We will see the Temple of Juno, Concord, Heracles, Zeus, Castor & Pollux and finally the rocky hill where the medieval town was built.

Lunch in a restaurant with a view of the temples included.

In the afternoon we will drive to Caltanissetta to admire the Black Christ procession.

The Black Christ is certainly the oldest simulacrum of Caltanissetta, the principal protector of the town until 1625, when the title was given to Saint Michael the Archangel for saving the town from plague. But the unchanged feeling of veneration, generation after generation, still proclaims the Black Christ as the “Lord of the Town”. According to tradition, the crucifix was found by two countrymen in a cave between two lit candles. Since then, the little crucifix has attracted so many votive candles their smoke darkened it over the centuries – so  much that is now known as the “Black Christ”.

On Holy Friday, at sunset, the crucifix, is placed in a golden crown-shaped canopy. It is then carried on the shoulders of the bare-footed figliamari-fogliamari (pickers of wild plants) from the sanctuary. This is the most important tradition of the entire community: the whole Real Maestranza, the Bishop, the entire Clergy, including the various religious congregations, and the town administration, open the way to the Black Christ. The procession slowly crosses the streets of the town center, as the fogliamari spread incense and break the silence with their sorrowful ladate, biblical lamentations in an archaic dialect.

Dinner is included. Return to Agrigento and overnight stay.

+ DAY 8

Saturday March 26

Breakfast at the hotel and departure for San Biagio Platani, where you will admire the imposing Archi di Pane (Bread Arches) hanging in the old town center. This typical and unique event dates back to the mid-17th century.

The brotherhoods of Madonara and Signurara decorate a part of the town with huge artistic bread arches. These decorations are dedicated to the Virgin Mary and Christ. These arches are made using reeds, willow, cereals, rosemary and bread. Every detail of the arch is an important religious symbol.

Family lunch in a private home and transfer to Palermo.

Arrival and check-into the Excelsior Palace Hotel or similar and overnight stay.

+ DAY 9

Sunday March 27

Today we will explore the town of Piana degli Albanesi just south of Palermo. As the name suggests, Piana degli Albanesi was founded by Albanian immigrants fleeing a Turkish invasion in 1488. Being somewhat isolated, the town has managed to maintain much of its original identity and traditions, one of which is its Orthodox Easter celebrations (it has been a Greek Orthodox Bishopric since 1937). On Palm Sunday, there is a procession through the streets to mark Jesus' arrival in Jerusalem. Festivities continue all week until Easter Sunday when the townsfolk put on their traditional 15th century costumes and hand out blessed, hand-painted eggs. After Mass, there is the procession of the Holy Veil, a piece of cloth in which believers can discern the face of Christ.

Lunch at a local restaurant included.

A completely different event takes place on Easter Sunday in the hills south of Palermo, in the small town of Prizzi. This is the Dance of the Devils, another unique blend of Christian and pagan beliefs. It features the characters of Death, dressed in yellow, and two red devils in ghoulish masks. They dance around death randomly snatching innocent onlookers and trying to avoid the statues of the Risen Christ and Mary, which free the imprisoned souls. In the struggle that ensues between good and evil, it is Christ and the Madonna who triumph, along with other locals dressed as angels. During the ensuing celebrations, cannateddi, typical Easter sweets, are offered to the public.

Return to Palermo. Overnight stay.

+ DAY 10

Monday March 28

Leave for Erice, a wonderful and mysterious medieval town perched 2000 feet above sea level with sweeping views of the Mediterranean Sea. Walking through the cobblestoned streets, we will smell a variety of aromas radiating from local pastry shops. Admire the Norman Castle and the Duomo.

Then we will stop at the world famous pastry shop by Maria Grammatico to taste her almond sweets, genovesi, and nougat while toasting with a glass of Marsala wine.

Lunch at an olive estate with Extra Virgin Olive Oil tasting.

We will then drive along the Salt Road and its Salt Pans located on the coastline between the cities of Trapani and Marsala. Locals extract the salt from the seawater following the same procedure used by the ancient Greeks and Phoenicians who colonized this part of Sicily. Once dried, the salt is heaped into mounds and covered in tiles—just like the ones used on our roofs—so the rain cannot melt the salt before it’s packaged.

On the way back to Palermo, we will visit the Greek temple in the middle of the countryside in Segesta. As the major Greek city in western Sicily, ancient Segesta was besieged and conquered by Dionysius and Agathocles, and eventually fell to the Romans. Here we will see this beautiful Doric temple, dating back from the fifth century B.C., perched on a hill of wild fennel. Although never completed, it is in an excellent state of preservation, and commands a majestic setting.  Return to Palermo. Dinner at leisure and overnight stay.

+ DAY 11

Tuesday March 29

This morning, meet your English speaking-guide in the lobby and get ready for a private tour of Palermo and Monreale.

You’ll be enchanted by Palermo’s wide boulevards, the traditional Sicilian Old Quarter, and baroque palaces. Admire the city’s main highlights including the so-called Quattro Canti (the Four Corners), Palermo’s extravagant baroque square. The square is ringed by four buildings with baroque sculptures that depict the Four Seasons, Spanish kings, and the patron saints of four old quarters of the city. See the twelfth-century Cathedral, housing a pantheon of royal tombs.

Then visit Palermo’s food market “La Vucciria,” an explosion of colors, sound and voices. Here you will taste typical street food such as pani ca meusa, panelle, arancini.

Our day continues as we discover the Arab-Norman splendor of the Monreale Cathedral and Cloister. This nearby treasure dates from the 12th century and shows the diverse architectural influences of both the Normans and the Arab population.

Lunch and rest of the day at leisure.

+ DAY 12

Wednesday March 30

Check-out and private transfer to Palermo airport for your onward travel arrangements.


Price per person in Double/Twin room     $ 5,325.00
* $ 835 USD supplement for individual travelers / single rooms


INCLUDED:

  • English speaking Tour Manager for the whole tour
  • Private Luxury bus for all tours and transfers
  • 5 nights in a 4-star Hotel – Classic room  in Catania
  • 2 nights in a 4-star Hotel – Classic room  in Agrigento
  • 4 nights in a 4-star Hotel – Classic room  in Palermo
  • Daily breakfast included
  • Entrance fees in Taormina, Siracusa, Piazza Armerina, Palermo and Monreale, Segesta and Erice, Valley of the Temples,
  • Meals as per program
  • Pastry Tasting in Erice and Noto
  • Visit to Castello degli Schiavi
  • Luggage handling


NOT INCLUDED

  • Cable car excursion on Mount Etna
  • Insurance
  • Hotel city tax
  • All other services not indicated above