This 17-day tour around Sicily has been designed to give the first-time visitor an overview of the island’s diverse and fascinating history, art and traditions. Explore prehistoric, Greek and Roman sites across the island. Enjoy the dramatic scenery of Sicily and the Aeolian Islands, with their volcanoes and steep coastlines. Visit medieval Norman cathedrals with fine Byzantine mosaics. Sample some of Sicily’s excellent wines and Arab-influenced cuisine. An optional five-day extension to Malta is also available.
The thriving colonies of the ancient Greek world – wealthy, cultured centres of literature and art
Ancient Phoenician, Carthaginian and Roman societies, and their struggle to control the Mediterranean
The lasting legacy of medieval Arab and Norman rule, expressed in the mosaics and architecture of Palermo
The distinctive period of ‘Sicilian Baroque’ architecture
Dramatic countryside, including active volcanoes
The natural beauty and traditional lifestyle of the Aeolian Islands
A private boat trip of the Aeolian Islands from Lipari to Stromboli and Panarea
Outstanding archaeological museums in Siracusa, Agrigento and Lipari
The Sicilian Baroque architecture of Noto and Ragusa
The 4th-century mosaics in the Roman villa at Piazza Armerina
The UNESCO World Heritage mosaics of Monreale and the Palatine Chapel in Palermo, undertaken by Byzantine masters for their Norman rulers
An excursion to the summit of Mt Etna
Optional pre-tour five-day extension to Malta.
Days 1–4: Arrive Siracusa and tour the archaeological sites and baroque architecture.
Days 5–6: Travel to the Greek temples at Agrigento via the Roman villa at Piazza Armerina.
Days 7–10: Sightseeing in the capital of Palermo, including the cathedral at Monreale. Visit the tiny island of Mozia.
Days 11–13: Continue on to Cefalù and take a private boat trip from Lipari to Stromboli and Panarea.
Days 14–17: In Taormina, visit the fine Greco- Roman theatre and enjoy superb views of Mount Etna.
A limited number of places remain on this tour and as such, internet bookings are not taken. Please contact our travel consultant listed above if you wish to make a booking.
Emirates offers regular flights to Rome. Contact us for quotes and bookings.
Included meals are shown with the symbols B, L and D.
Day 1 | Friday September 7: Arrive Siracusa
Passengers arriving or staying in Rome fly to Catania on a late afternoon domestic flight. Passengers coming from the Malta pre-tour extension arrive in Catania a short while later. Meet your tour leader Dr Estelle Lazer on arrival at Catania airport to commence the tour. Transfer together by private coach to our hotel in Siracusa. After checking in and time to freshen up we meet for a light dinner at a local restaurant. Overnight Siracusa (B, D)
Day 2 | Saturday September 8: Ancient Siracusa
After a talk in the hotel we visit the main archaeological site of the town. Highlights of our visit include the famed theatre of Siracusa, the altar of Hieron II, and the ancient quarries (where thousands of Greek prisoners were held during the Peloponnesian War). In the later afternoon we’ll visit the Museo Aretuseo dei Pupi, housing a collection of traditional Sicilian puppets, followed by a performance of traditional puppetry at the adjoining theatre. This evening we enjoy our welcome dinner at a local restaurant. Overnight Siracusa (B, D)
Day 3 | Sunday September 9: Paolo Orsi Archaeological Museum
This morning we make our way to the excellent Paolo Orsi Regional Archaeological Museum. Extensively renovated in recent years, the Paolo Orsi is one of the most important archaeological museums in southern Italy. Its artefacts, found throughout Sicily, survey the Greek, Roman, and early Christian epochs. In the afternoon we’ll visit the Byzantine-era Jewish baths which are over 1,500 years old. Overnight Siracusa (B)
Day 4 | Monday September 10: Sicilian Baroque in Noto and Ragusa
Today we take a round trip of the south-east tip of Sicily, visiting the towns of Noto and Ragusa. These towns are famed for their exuberant ‘Sicilian Baroque’ architecture, created after a devastating earthquake of 1693 destroyed the earlier towns. Overnight Siracusa (B)
Day 5 | Tuesday September 11: The Villa Romana
We depart Siracusa this morning, heading westward through the geographic centre of Sicily. Today’s highlight is the Villa Romana del Casale at Piazza Armerina, featuring a series of intact floor mosaics from the 4th century AD, created by North African artisans. After lunch we continue to Agrigento, located on the south coast of Sicily, arriving in the late afternoon. Dinner tonight is in our hotel. Overnight Agrigento (B, D)
Day 6 | Wednesday September 12: Agrigento temples and museum
Agrigento – ancient ‘Akragas’ — was founded in the 6th century BC and enjoyed a reputation as one of the wealthiest colonies of the Greek world. The extensive and well-preserved sacred area is testament to these riches, comprising four major temples in excellent preservation as well as a number of smaller structures. Today we tour the temple site with a local guide and visit the nearby archaeological museum. The afternoon is free to relax. Tonight we enjoy dinner in a local restaurant. Overnight Agrigento (B, D)
Day 7 | Thursday September 13: Romanticism at Selinunte
This morning we travel along the south coast of Sicily. Our first stop is to see the over life-size Dancing Satyr of Mazara del Vallo, a Greek bronze statue that was found by a Sicilian fisherman in 1998, in the waters of the Mediterranean. We continue on to Selinunte (ancient Selinus), the last of the important Greek cities on our itinerary. At its peak, Selinus had a population of 25,000 but it was comprehensively sacked and its ruins inspired generations of Romantic poets and artists, such as Goethe. In the afternoon we travel north to our hotel in Palermo, our base for the next four nights. Tonight we enjoy dinner in a local restaurant. Overnight Palermo (B, D)
Day 8 | Friday September 14: Palermo
Palermo is a colourful city, with the atmosphere of North Africa or perhaps Asia rather than of Europe. Its heritage as a meeting point between European civilisation and the Arab and Byzantine worlds is borne out in the splendid medieval buildings of the Norman kingdoms. Today we tour some of the main historic sites of the old city, including the Norman Palace and Palatine Chapel, with its gold mosaics, and the Byzantine-influenced church of La Martorana. After lunch we visit the 12th-century retreat of La Zisa, inspired by Moorish pleasure palaces, and stroll through some of the markets and characteristic back streets of the old city. Overnight Palermo (B)
Day 9 | Saturday September 15: Glittering Monreale
The cathedral and abbey of Monreale, in the hills overlooking Palermo, were founded by the Norman King William II in the 12th century to demonstrate the power of the Norman Kingdom of Sicily. There are more than 6,000 square metres of mosaics here, using 2,200 kg of real gold. We spend the morning visiting the cathedral and enjoying the surrounding medieval hill town. After returning to Palermo, the afternoon is at leisure. Overnight Palermo (B)
Day 10 | Sunday September 16: Segesta & Mozia
Today we take a ferry to Mozia where, among the salt pans, we explore the ruins of the former Carthaginian settlement. The island also houses a small museum with some unique pieces. We Continue on to Segesta, an evocative ruin in a hilltop location. Sacked in the 4th century BC and later abandoned, this rugged setting was home to the mysterious Elymian people. The theatre and temple here are truly memorable, and have inspired artists and writers for centuries. In the late afternoon we head back to Palermo. Overnight Palermo (B, L)
Day 11 | Monday September 17: Cefalù and the Aeolian Islands
We depart Palermo this morning, heading along the north coast. We spend the greater part of the day in Cefalù, a fishing town dominated by a splendid Norman cathedral, reputedly built after King Roger II survived a shipwreck near the town. There is also a Greek sanctuary above the town (steep walk) and an idiosyncratic art gallery with some fine works. These include a wonderful portrait by Antonello da Messina. After lunch we travel to Milazzo where we take a ferry to the island of Lipari, our base on the Aeolian Islands for the next three nights. Dinner is served in our hotel. Overnight Lipari (B, D)
Day 12 | Tuesday September 18: Lipari
This morning a local guide shows us the main archaeological site of Lipari, an island inhabited since at least 5,000 BC. The middle of the day is free to explore the town or relax in our hotel. Later in the afternoon we take a trip around the island by coach, enjoying the landscape and views to the other islands. Overnight Lipari (B)
Day 13 | Wednesday September 19: Boat trip to Panarea and Stromboli
Weather permitting, today we take an afternoon boat excursion to the islands of Panarea and Stromboli, 20km from Lipari, enjoying the natural beauty and unspoilt traditional lifestyle of these islands. A highlight of the excursion is the chance to view the volcano of Stromboli. We have a light dinner on Stromboli before returning to Lipari early evening. (Alternative plans, such as a visit to the nearby island of Vulcano, or to Milazzo, will be made if the weather is too rough for the excursion) Overnight Lipari (B, D)
Day 14 | Thursday September 20: Messina
Returning to the mainland, we travel to the city of Messina to visit the fine Norman cathedral and the Regional Museum of Messina, housing paintings by Caravaggio and Antonello da Messina. We continue on to Taormina on the west coast of Sicily. After checking into our hotel we enjoy a welcome drink on the terrace. Overnight Taormina (B)
Day 15 | Friday September 21: Taormina
Sitting above the sea with superb views to Mount Etna, Taormina is a memorable final destination for our journey. We spend this morning visiting the Graeco-Roman theatre and other highlights of the town. This afternoon and evening are at leisure. Overnight Taormina (B)
Day 16 | Saturday September 22: With the gods on Mount Etna
Today we join our coach for an excursion to the summit of Mount Etna itself. Europe’s largest and most spectacular volcano Mt Etna is still very active. Assuming conditions are safe we will explore the south side of the volcano, travelling by coach, cable car and finally jeep to a height of 2,900 metres. The landscape and the views are unforgettable. (Please note that the last part of the excursion involves walking over uneven surfaces. It may not be possible for all passengers to undertake this segment.) Returning to Taormina there is time for a stroll around the town before we meet in the evening and for our farewell dinner at a local restaurant. Overnight Taormina (B, D)
Day 17 | Sunday September 23: Departure
Our flight departs mid-afternoon for Rome, arriving in time to meet the late evening departing Emirates flight for Australia. (B)
Dr Estelle Lazer
An archaeologist who has worked on site at Pompeii for seven seasons and has an international reputation for her research on the city's skeletal remains.
Dr Estelle Lazer is an archaeologist with an international reputation for her work on the human victims of Pompeii, with more field seasons in the Bay of Naples than she cares to remember! Her PhD studied the site’s human skeletons, and her current project is to CT scan and X-ray the unique casts of these victims. Estelle’s book, Resurrecting Pompeii, was published by Routledge and her work forms a core part of the Ancient History syllabus for the NSW Higher School Certificate.
Estelle is an Honorary Research Associate in the Department of Classics and Ancient History at the University of Sydney. In October 2017, the University of Sydney and the Pompeii Archaeological Park signed an historic Memorandum of Agreement to partner in an important new scanning project led by Estelle. Her research has received considerable media attention in print, radio and television, with two documentaries (one for the BBC and Smithsonian, and another in production for Britain’s Channel 5) ensuring a wide audience for her fascinating findings.
Her other main field of research is historical archaeology in Antarctica and the Sub-Antarctic. Estelle spent four summers working on Mawson’s Huts, and has spent another summer studying evidence of the sealing industry as well as Australia’s first post-war Antarctic base at Heard Island. She has also worked on archaeological sites in Bahrain, south-eastern Italy, Cyprus, the UK and Australia.
In addition to her teaching work at the University of Sydney, University of New South Wales and University of Technology, Sydney, Estelle gives frequent public lectures at the invitation of universities, schools and museums, such as the Australian National University, Oxford University, the British Museum, University of Trondheim, Norway and the British School at Rome.
Estelle has led tours to Italy and the Mediterranean for Academy Travel since the company’s inception in 2004, and also works extensively with our Academy Schools program for teachers and students. In addition to her obvious archaeological expertise, she particularly enjoys explaining the place of mythology in the landscape – especially in Sicily and southern Italy.
What is included in the tour price? Unless otherwise stated in the itinerary, our tours include the following:
Any flights mentioned in the itinerary that take place during a tour
Land travel by private air-conditioned coach. Where appropriate public transport is also used for short distance travel on some tours
All accommodation in hotels or apartments as stated in the itinerary
Breakfasts, lunches and dinners specifically stated as included in the itinerary
Drinks at welcome and farewell meals. Other meals may not have drinks included
Background talks on tour, site notes and online resources
Services of tour leader throughout tour
All entrance fees to sites mentioned in the itinerary
Local guides at some sites
Tips for drivers, local guides and restaurants for included meals
Tours begin either at the arrival airport or the first hotel, depending on the itinerary. If you have booked your international flights with Academy Travel and arrive before the tour commences, we will provide airport to hotel transfers to the closest main city on your arrival, and to the closest airport at the end of the tour. These may be either individual or group transfers.
What is not included in the tour price? Open-age tours do not include the following:
Return international/domestic air travel unless those flights take place during the tour
Special taxes and airport levies that can only be paid in cash at the destination. We will advise you of these charges (if any) before you depart
Costs involved in obtaining visas for countries visited, where required
Travel insurance. We require all participants to have comprehensive travel insurance. A typical policy for one of our tours will cost from $160 upwards, depending on your age, pre-existing medical conditions, the countries you are visiting and the overall length of your trip
Lunches and dinners not specifically mentioned as included in the itinerary
Personal expenses such as laundry and phone calls
Costs associated with any activity mentioned as “optional” in the itinerary, or any suggested free time activity
You will be asked to sign an acknowledgement of these conditions when you book a place on a tour.
A deposit of $500 per person is required to confirm your booking on a tour. Final payment of the tour fee, insurance and any additional travel will be due 60 days before departure.
If you decide to cancel your booking the following charges apply:
More than 60 days before departure: $500*
60-45 days before tour start: 25% of total amount due
44-15 days before tour start: 75% of total amount due
14 days or less before departure: 100% of total amount due
*This amount may be credited to another Academy Travel tour within 12 months of the original tour you booked.
Unused Portions of the tour
We regret that refunds will not be given for any unused portions of the tour, such as meals, entry fees, accommodation, flights or transfers.
Academy Travel requires all participants to obtain comprehensive travel insurance. We offer a comprehensive policy with a reputable insurer if required.
Passport and Visa
A valid passport is required for all international travel. If you do not hold an Australian passport you may require a re-entry permit. Some countries require a visa to be issued before you depart Australia. We will advise you of all passport and visa requirements, but it is your responsibility to ensure that you meet passport and visa requirements before you depart.
Will the tour price change?
If the number of participants in a tour is significantly less than budgeted, or if there is a significant change in exchange rates Academy Travel reserves the right to amend the advertised price. If this occurs you will be given the option of cancelling your booking and obtaining a full refund. If an Academy Travel tour is forced to cancel you will get a full refund of all monies paid.
Will the itinerary change?
Occasionally circumstances beyond the control of Academy Travel make it necessary to change airline, hotel or to make slight amendments to daily itineraries. We will inform you of any changes as soon as they occur.
Full and final payment for the tour, airfare travel, insurance and any additional travel you book is due 60 days before departure. Payment may be made by bank deposit, cheque, cash or credit card. Please note there is a surcharge for payments made by credit card.
Academy Travel reserves the right to decline the booking or terminate the holiday of any traveller.