Telegraph tour goes Catania Airport - Zafferana Etnea (3 nights) - (4 hour drive to ) Cefalu (2 nights) - (via Palermo to ) Menfi (3 nights) - Modica (3nights) - Noto (2 nights) Catania Airport

Our Planned Itinerary


Caltagirone and Ragusa

Today you will discover the ancient Roman mosaics in Piazza Armerina, located inside Villa Romana del Casale, an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Caltagirone is a small city in the central Sicily, popular for its clay; it is known worldwide for handmade pottery, which are still committing hundreds of artisans. In the afternoon, Ragusa one of the most important Sicilian Baroque city, reveals its beautiful churches and gardens.

Ragusa owns 14 monuments which have been declared UNESCO World Heritage Site. Overnight in a former old beam, turned into a lovely 4 * hotel. just outside Ragusa, where the ‘hamlet hotel’ of Relais Cavalonga, complete with extensive gardens and a panoramic outdoor pool, lies in a valley of century-old olive and carob trees. We can also reserve accommodation at the delightful Locanda Don Serafino, situated in the centre of Ragusa, when, given the complicated one-way system, we recommend you leave your car in the carpark on the outskirts and walk the short distance to the hotel.

There are several options for your time in Ragusa. After exploring the town itself, drive to nearby Scicli, the Baroque parts of which are now UNESCO World Heritage Sites in recognition of the handsome architecture. Scicli was once an Arab stronghold and later a royal city under Norman rule, and boasts a ruined Arab castle and numerous mansions. It's also a short drive in the other direction to Villa Romana del Casale, close to Piazza Armerina, where the world's finest surviving Roman mosaics can be found.

Following eastern Sicily’s devastating earthquake of 1693, a lavishly ornamental style of Baroque arose from the rubble, with architects often using shades of grey and black from volcanic lava in their audacious projects. Splendid Ragusa – plus Ibla, its dreamy little counterpart – is much admired, and in sleepy Scicli you will almost have the churches and palaces to yourself. But the city of Noto (rebuilt in an entirely different location) is perhaps the most harmonious example of all, its twirling palaces and graceful squares dominated by an enormous Baroque cathedral.

Relais Cavalonga - 9.0 on Booking

Locanda Don Serafino - Relais on Booking

Duomo Relais - 9.8 on Booking

San Georgio Palace - 9.6 on Booking

Seven Rooms Villadorata - 9.6 on Booking

Basically lots over 9.5 and need dates to get further



Modica is a chest of countless Baroque architectural treasures, which are mostly part of Unesco World Heritage site. Noto, known as the “garden of stone”, is the capital of Sicilian Baroque: its buildings are part of Unesco World Heritage Site. After tasting the delicious granita, we suggest you to visit Palazzo Nicolaci, wonderful noble residence, and all the stunning lanes in the city centre.

Casa Talia - their own web site



At the end of the day, Syracuse welcomes you. The most beautiful and great Greek colony in Sicily houses an important Archaeological Park, the small island of Ortigia with a beautiful white cathedral, splendid Fountain of Arethusa. Syracuse boasts a rich Greek history and culture and is the birth place of Archimedes, the ancient Greek mathematician.

Option: visit of a famous chocolate company. Here you can experience the ancient Aztecs production and tasting the “nectar of Gods”.

boutique Hotel Cavalieri in Siracusa for three nights. (Pay locally for parking.) Siracusa & the Necropolis di Pantalica There’s certainly no shortage of things to see in Siracusa, remembered by Cicero as “the greatest Greek city and the most beautiful of them all”. Besides the magnificent ruins in the archaeological park, make sure you visit the old quarter on Ortigia Island with its peeling palazzi and narrow streets. The archaeological wonders of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the Greek Theatre dedicated to the Goddess Athena.And don’t miss the nearby Necropolis di Pantalica, where you can walk past the foundations of a Bronze Age palace and a 'village' of cave dwellings to discover the extraordinary Anapo Valley, characterised by orchards, willows and plane trees.

We recommend you spend one day in Siracusa visiting its superbly preserved Greek theatre and Roman ampitheatre, both so superbly preserved they evoke the distant past, and then exploring the intriguing streets of the old quarter on Ortigia Island. On the other day, take the short drive to explore the Cava Grande, Sicily's 'Grand Canyon', a wild and romantic gorge in which ancient burial chambers have been found in the limestone cliffs. At 280 metres, this is the deepest such canyon in south-east Sicily, requiring a stiff descent (and re-ascent) to reach the River Cassabile that connects a series of small lakes and emerald pools – perfect for swimming or paddling, depending on water levels.

Hotel Cavalieri - 8.6 on Booking



The tour goes to Catania, whose city centre is a Unesco World Heritage Site. Starting from the “Pescheria” (old fish market), you will reach the spectacular Piazza del Duomo, with its splendid Cathedral and the “Liotru”, the lava stone elephant and Piazza Università. The walk approaches to the majestic Via Crociferi (Unesco World Heritage Site) with the famous Monastery of St. Benedict, made known by Verga’s novel “History of a Capinera”. In the afternoon we suggest you to stroll along the picturesque Cyclops Riviera, so called because of the rocks which emerge from the sea; the legend tells that Polyphemus, after been blinded, thrown them against Ulysses. We suggest that you to visit Aci Castello. This sea village, owes its name to its Norman Castle which gives a stunning view of the whole coast: lemon trees, agaves and palm trees enrich one of the most suggestive corners of East Sicily.



No stay in Sicily would be complete without a visit to the highest active volcano in Europe – pre-book our Etna Sunset excursion to see it at its most spectacular.


Your destination is Zafferana Etnea, at the foot of the slopes of Mount Etna, where you stay for three nights at the aptly named Monaci delle Terre Nere where, historically, the black volcanic earth was toiled by monks resulting in extensive vineyards still evident today. There are also gardens full of the organic produce that is expertly cooked before finding its way to guests' plates.

The Bronte Pistachio Known as the ‘green gold’ of Sicily, the pistachio is a key component of the island’s long-standing culinary heritage. A legacy from the Arab conquest, it lends itself to anything from pasta to sauces and desserts, and nowhere is this humbler-but-distinctive nut more revered than among the huddle of buildings in Bronte, a town on the flanks of Mount Etna. There’s even a festival here each October when various pistachio-based dishes are showcased during a somewhat nuttily entertaining weekend.

On your days here, discover the nearby town of Bronte, famed for its pistachios, or Nicosia with its renowned pasticceria. Alternatively, we suggest a walk (4km, grade 1) along a nature trail across the north-eastern slopes of the Etna Park. Observation posts along the way allow you to view the volcanic craters of Mount Sartorius, dating from the eruption of 1865. If you don't wish to follow our suggested walk, drive around the impressive bulk of Mount Etna, past various old lava flows, and along the coast to Taormina, a famous Grand Tour resort that balances above the sea, its medieval streets hiding a Greek theatre and a Norman mansion. Or you might just wish to stroll around the extensive gardens of your hotel before relaxing by the pool.

Mount Etna is the highest active volcano in Europe and UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can reach the Silvestri craters, inactive volcanic cones, dated back to 1888, which are surrounded by lava sediments. Along the way back, do not forget to visit the several local honey producers. In the afternoon, we suggest that you visit the charming Taormina; the lovely Aeonian pearl, is popular for its natural landscape, beautiful sea, its ancient monuments and an unforgettable view of Etna! Make sure to see fascinating Greek Theater, the ancient Cathedral and Palazzo Corvaja.

Fly into Catania - it’s an easy 40-minute drive from here to Relais Monaci delle Terre Nere, a laid-back, eco-friendly boutique hotel on an ancient Sicilian country estate, with an excellent farm-to-table restaurant.

Monaci dell Terre Nere - 9.1 on Booking (only opens 27 Mar)

Domus Verdiana - 9.7 on Booking



There’s plenty to keep you busy in Taormina. Visit the ancient Teatro Greco, an al fresco amphitheatre with views of Mount Etna, or take the cable car down to the beach for a few hours.

Writers, aristocrats and celebrities have flocked to the fashionable Grand Tour resort of Taormina since the great poet and philosopher Goethe extolled its virtues in the 18th century. Indeed, sitting on one of the original limestone benches in the ancient Greek theatre, it is hard to contend with his assertion that “no audience in the world had a better view”. From this magical, cliff-top setting, you can gaze right down the coast, fringed by a turquoise sea and backed by the looming presence of magisterial Mount Etna.

Maison Blanche Taormina - 9.8 on Booking

Villa Le Terrazze - 9.7 on Booking


San Anastasia

To reach your next destination, you head round the northern flanks of Mount Etna and head along the coast to the hillside village of Santa Anastasia, where you spend two nights at the Relais Santa Anastasia.

Relais Santa Anastasia - 9.2 on Booking



Take time to visit the town's best-known landmarks – the Norman cathedral with its early mosaics, and La Rocca, the northernmost spur of the Madonie Mountains. You can even climb to the ruined 13th-century castle which tops La Rocca and affords marvellous views to the Aeolian Islands.

The spectacular four-hour drive’s the thing on this transfer day: take the high road to Linguaglossa via the ski resort of Mareneve, across petrified rivers of black lava, then head west to Randazzo on the panoramic SS120 A-road, via some of Etna’s top wineries (Passopisciaro, Graci, Fessina), before heading coastwards to Capo d’Orlando and Cefalu. If you started late, stop for lunch at Cave Ox in the hamlet of Solicchiata, 10km west of Linguaglossa, where good-value pizzas help to absorb a stellar wine list. Stay at Kalura for the next two nights, a classic Italian seaside hotel that punches above its three-star rating, perched on a low cliff above a private beach.

Without Roger II, Cefalu would be no more than a pleasant gelato-stop on the road to Palermo. But the ruler of the European-Greek-Arabic cultural crucible that was Norman Sicily ennobled the town by giving it one of Sicily’s great cathedrals, its apse mosaic of Christ Pantocator perhaps the most striking single Byzantine image in Italy. Nearby, don’t miss the absorbing little Museo Mandralisca with Antonello da Messina’s deliciously enigmatic Portrait of an Unknown Man.

A Casa della Nonna - 9.7 on Booking

Kalura - 8.4 on Booking



The whole day will be spent visiting the hidden treasures of Palermo: the wonderful Arab-Norman Cathedral, the astonishing Chiesa della Martorana and the amazing Cappella Palatina inside Palazzo dei Normanni. And more… Chiesa di San Giovanni degli Eremiti, Casa Professa and Chiesa del Santissimo Salvatore. During the afternoon you will proceed to Monreale, to visit its huge Norman Cathedral, proclaimed the Eighth Wonder of the World, and its splendid Cloister. Later, you can enjoy a romantic walk in the Mondello seafront, a popular sea location close to the city, with beautiful Liberty-style villas, bars and restaurants where you can taste delicious sea food dishes.

Palermo is a treasure trove of Moorish, Norman and Baroque art but not one to attempt lightly in a hire car. But one sight - handily placed on the ring road - is worth a stop: Villa Tasca, a grand aristocratic residence belonging to the Tasca d’Almerita wine family that is today a green enclave amidst encroaching suburbs, one that conjures up the spirit of twilight-of-the-Sicilian-aristocracy novel The Leopard. Book ahead for a private tour of the landscaped park with its cycads, palms and bamboo-fringed ‘Swan Lake’, which can be followed by a light lunch in the villa. Next stop is Monreale Cathedral on the heights above Palermo, another refulgent Norman masterpiece of mosaic art



You continue westwards past the charming capital Palermo (which you can choose to visit) to reach your next hotel, the delightful Torre Bennistra in Scopello, which stands beside the sea and close to the Zingaro Nature Reserve. Days 12 & 13 There are numerous places of interest to visit from Scopello, including Salemi, a medieval hill-town with a castle, a number of churches and a maze of ancient streets. Alternatively, use your car to reach the white-sand beach at nearby San Vito lo Capo, or enjoy one of a number of walks in the spectacular Zingaro Nature Reserve, where fragrant paths lead down to secluded coves where you can swim. The Zingaro Nature Reserve Much of the long, craggy finger of the Capo di San Vito is now a stunning nature reserve – a truly unspoiled stretch of Mediterranean coastline. Take a dip in the impossibly blue sea from one of a number of rocky coves, and venture inland where the slopes are home to a wealth of flora and fauna, including 700 plant species and various birds of prey, including peregrine falcons, buzzards, Bonelli’s Eagle (named after Italian naturalist Franco Andrea Bonelli), and the even rarer Golden Eagle.

Torre Benistra - 8.6 on Booking

Santina B&B - 9.8 on Booking


Segesta ed Erice

Moving towards the extreme part of Western Sicily, it is worth a visit to Segesta and its extraordinary Temple Solitario, one of the best preserved Doric temples. Later you will be amazed by Erice, a charming Medieval village, on the summit of Monte San Giuliano, with its lovely alleys and craft shops. Last but not least, the view of Trapani salt pans with its emblematic mills and the Salt Museum. Do not forget to taste the typical sea food cous cous, a traditional Arab dish imported to Sicily. Overnight in Marsala in a lovely hotel in the old town, a former XVIIth century monastery.

Pay homage to the magnificent 2,500-year-old Doric temple at Segesta on your way to Florio, where Baglio Donna Franca, a fine agriturismo surrounded by vineyards, is your next base for two nights. Astonishing Segesta See Segesta and gasp! Emerging like a mirage from a green and tranquil valley, this great Doric temple and its 36 columns, which have stood here for two-and-a-half millennia, makes an immediate and everlasting impression. This curiously roofless edifice (no-one quite knows why, but it is thought to have been left incomplete) is framed by Monte Bernardo and Monte Barbaro; and a short walk up the slopes of the latter brings you to a superb Greek theatre, offering a fabulous vista over the hills and coast.



Mothia island and Marsala

Sicily tour continues with the charming little island of Mothia. This ancient Phoenician colony, founded in the VIIIth century. B.C. is located in the centre of the Marsala Lagoon.
The XVIIIth century villa of Whitaker, in the centre of Mothia, houses several archaeological objects, found on the island, in Lilybaeum (Marsala) and in the necropolis of Birgi, in front of Mothia. Furthermore we suggest to visit “The House of Amphorae“, behind the museum.

Marsala well worth a visit during the afternoon, to see its artistic and architectural elements. It also has vivid colours: yellow tuff, blue sea, red sunset, white salt and green vineyard. Famous for its sweet wine. Alternatives are the small island of Mozia, with its Phoenician settlement, or a longer boat ride to Levanzo for a gentle walk. There is another wondrous temple just an hour’s drive away at Selinunte. Marsala’s sweet delight Marsala’s name is derived from the Arabic Marsah el Allah (‘Port of God'), and, like many of Sicily’s strategically important settlements, has been ruled by various invaders over the years – Romans, Carthaginians and Vandals, to name but a few. In the 18th century, though, it was the turn of the English; but they came not to conquer, but to make wine. The town’s eponymous fortified tipple was ‘discovered’ by merchant John Woodhouse in 1773, and comes in both dry and sweet varieties – the latter pairing nicely with the classic Italian dessert zabalglione, for which it is also a key ingredient.

Baglio Donnafranca Wine Resort 8.7 on Booking



The tour brings you in the ancient Greek city of Selinunte. You will be amazed by the enchanting landscape in front of the Mediterranean Sea where you can stroll among the ruins of ancient acropolis, located in the largest archaeological site in Europe! Moving towards Agrigento, along the coast, we suggest to take a break at one of its sea village: Sciacca, Eraclea Minoa, Porto Empedocle. Do not forget to taste the local recipes: sardines meatballs, fava beans soup and “stigghiole”. If you’re in the mood for archeology, you will be enchanted by the beauty of Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, an UNESCO World Heritage Site.



The wine region of Menfi. Your hotel for two nights is the aptly named Ristorante Il Vigneto Resort, situated inland between the fishing village of Porto Palo and the town of Menfi itself. From here, do no more than relax and pop down for lunch in Porto Palo, or drive into the scenic interior where you will find the atmospheric ghost town of Poggioreale, from where, following 1968’s earthquake, the entire population was moved when the town was rebuilt nearby.

Afterwards, head to Partinico, then west on the A23 motorway towards Trapani, exiting at Segesta, where a splendid, unfinished Doric temple stands in glorious seclusion. It’s just an hour from here to your lodgings for the next three nights at Foresteria Planeta near Menfi, a bright, contemporary hotel surrounded by the vines of the Planeta estate, with an inviting infinity pool.

Ristorante Il Vigneto Resort - 9.2 on Booking

Verdura Resort - 9.2 on Booking

Domus Maris - 9.6 on Booking

Foresteria Planeta - 9.3 on Booking



Leaving Menfi you head east for to spend your final two nights at the delightful Baglio della Luna in the handsome town of Agrigento. You are perfectly placed to explore the nearby Valley of the Temples today, a fitting end to your discovery of this remarkable land. Valley of the Temples The great Greek temples of ancient Akragas, occupying a splendid location on a ridge near the modern town of Agrigento, date back to the 6th and 5th centuries BC and are the finest Doric temples to be found outside of mainland Greece. The Valley of the Temples, as the wider area is known, is one of the Mediterranean’s greatest ancient sites – a beautiful rural landscape characterised by century-old olive and almond trees – and the nearby Archaeological Museum is also well worth a visit.

8.30am opening. Park at the Temple of Juno entrance at the top to beat the crowds. Don’t bother with the uninspiring official audio guides; you’ll get all the context you need from the first chapter of John Julius Norwich’s erudite yet entertaining Sicily, published in 2015.

Check in to the 17th-century Villa Athena, situated in the Archaeological Park of The Valley of the Temples (Valle dei Templi), and admire the views over the ancient temples from the hotel's terrace. Thanks to an exclusive entrance to the Valle dei Templi, it’s just a 200-metre stroll from your hotel to the Temple of Concordia, the nearest of the complex’s 10 temples. Once you’ve toured the temples, stop by the archaeological museum, which showcases statues and ceramics from the area.

Baglio della Luna - 8.9 on Booking

Villa Athena - 9.2 on Booking

Alba Palace - 9.3 on Booking