Isola Bella, Taormina
Isola Bella, Taormina

Gardens and Villas of Sicily

8 days From £1,895

27 March 2019

Sicily has become one of Europe’s best-loved destinations in recent years and it is truly an island of the senses. As soon as you step on to its warm and fertile shores you’ll understand why. Experience its many highlights with us, and be sure to do this unique location justice.

Our eight-day tour takes in the best that the island has to offer, from the popular beach-side city of Taormina to the rugged landscapes of the Madonie Mountains. We begin on the slopes of Mount Etna, Europe’s highest active volcano, as we visit an elegant garden which thrives on the fertile soil here and then ascend the mountain itself, observing the change from lush groves to stark, desert landscapes. In Taormina we visit a private garden which boasts spectacular views across the bay before exploring the Greco-Roman remains of the city itself.

Heading south we gain an exclusive insight into Sicilian gardening with the head gardener at Villasmundo and visit the private garden of a Sicilian aristocrat. A treat for the senses awaits at Gli Aroma Sicily as we discover an extensive selection of herbs and spices and we also enjoy lunch at a monastery high in the mountains. We conclude in Palermo, a melting-pot of architectural styles with both Norman and Arabic influences.

What's included?

  •  Flights
  •  Accommodation
  •  Services of a professional tour manager
  •  Comfortable coach travel throughout
  •  Meals - as per the itinerary
Book Now £1,895
Includes deposit: £200 Single supplement: £275

Tour highlights:

  • Driving up the slopes of Mount Etna
  • Head gardener tour at Villasmundo
  • Lunch at a Benedictine Monastery
  • An eclectic mix of cultures at Palermo

Tour details

Dates 27 March 2019 - 3 April 2019
Duration 8 days
Cost £1,895
Single supplement: £275
Deposit: £200 , balance due by 2 January 2019
Activity Level Moderate
Tour code BWGVS19A

Book Now or call 01334 657155 if you have any questions

27 March 2019: Itinerary

We fly from London to Catania this morning. Upon arrival we transfer to our hotel in Taormina. Here we settle in with a welcoming drink, followed by dinner.

Meals include: Dinner

Following breakfast we visit Villa Trinità, an elegant garden born from lava, which thrives on the slopes of Etna. Its design features both native and exotic species – picture gangly cacti peering above vibrant citrus trees.

After lunch here, we travel to the volcano proper, in an afternoon excursion to Mount Etna, Europe's highest active volcano and greatest natural wonder, where we will venture as far as we can take our coach up the winding roads. Depending on the weather we should reach 2000 metres (7000ft.) where we will see the ‘Silvestri’ craters dating from 1986, and some of the latest lava flows from 2002/2003, in an amazing lunar landscape of black rock and steam. The views across the island are truly breathtaking, but please remember that Etna is a highly active volcano so things may have changed by the time this holiday happens!

Dinner will be served in the evening.

All meals included

Following breakfast, today is ours to explore Taormina and its many highlights. We begin with a trip to the private garden of Casa Cuseni, which boasts spectacular views across the city and the sea. Created by Robert Kitson, a British painter of the early 20th century, its house and exuberant plantings demonstrate clear links with the Arts and Crafts movement.

Following this is a guided walking tour of old Taormina, featuring Greco-Roman ruins, winding streets, and a host of medieval architecture. It's easy to see why the town is Sicily's most popular tourist destination.

Dinner will be served in the evening.

Meals include: Breakfast, Dinner

We check out of our Taormina hotel this morning and pay a visit to the gardens of Princess Maria Carla Borghese, which were created out of barren ground almost fifty years ago. Evocative scents of jasmine and rose intermingle with the fragrance of a Roman-style stone pine avenue.

After an opportunity for lunch (not included) at a nearby Cactus Nursery we head south, stopping at the San Giuliano estate in Villasmundo, where the head gardener gives us an exclusive insight into Sicilian gardening. As part of our tour we observe the estate's traditional Arabic irrigation channels in action, as well as the 15th century farmhouse's distinctive “gardenette”.

We then continue to our accommodation in Ragusa. Dinner is served in the evening.

Meals include: Breakfast, Dinner

This morning we discover an extensive collection of herbs and spices with a multisensory tour of Gli AROMI. We will explore varieties both native to Sicily and imported to the island by the garden's passionate owners – one of whom will be our highly informative guide. Lunch here makes for today's biggest highlight: a home-made feast prepared with an abundance of fresh herbs and devotion.

The afternoon is free for us to enjoy Ragusa at our own leisure. Discover the archaeological museum or enjoy a delightful exploration of the many local churches. We return to our hotel, where dinner is served in the evening.

All meals included

This morning we travel between the remote villages of northern Sicily, pausing for an authentic lunch at a former Benedictine monastery, in the heart of the verdant Madonie Mountains.

Our afternoon involves a visit to the crowning glory of Monreale village: its amazing Cathedral and Abbey, complete with 70,000 square feet of mosaics in gold leaf and colourful glass. This astounding display echoes the opulence of the Alhambra, and is a sight not to be missed.

Following our visit, we continue to our hotel in Palermo. Dinner will be served in the evening.

All meals included

Palermo was once known as Sicily's “garden city”. We find out why during our morning visit to the local Botanical Gardens, one of the oldest and most significant centres of plant research in the Mediterranean. The public garden of Villa Giulia sits next door, its beautiful trees and flowers a lasting testament to the 18th century viceroy's wife after whom it was named.

We end the day, and our trip, on a high, with a full guided tour of Palermo that features the impressive Norman Palace, an architectural gem encapsulating both Norman and Arabic influences.

We return to the hotel, where dinner is served in the evening.

Meals include: Breakfast, Dinner

This morning, after breakfast, we check out of the hotel – once again, please ensure any extras are paid for before taking your luggage to the coach. We then travel to Palermo airport in time to check in for our return flight.

Meals include: Breakfast

27 March 2019: Additional Info

27 March 2019: Accommodation

27 March 2019: Enquiries

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