Trip Number: 13720A
Price: $4,345 (11-14)
$4,995 (or fewer)
Staff: Kathie Fowler
- Walk the ancient civilizations of Sicily
- Enjoy water sports and a boat excursion to the islands
- Learn about the age-old collision of diverse cultures, spirituality,
- All transportation to archaeological sites, natural parks, islands
- Double lodging
- All meals except one dinner (accommodates vegetarian and vegan)
- All gratuities
Photo: Kathie Fowler
Sicily, after 25 centuries of foreign domination by Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans,
Arabs, and Normans, is home to a diversity of architecture, art monuments, and
archaeological parks. This cultural combination is enhanced by the island's
incredible coastline, with more than 40 bird species that nest here, a variety
of local plants, and beautiful volcanic features. Our outing starts in Palermo,
Europe's grandest city of the 12th century, and ends in Catania, a city constructed
from volcanic lava. We will walk through Lo Zingaro coastal reserve and the
castle of Venus next to the Norman Gardens in Erice; both with panoramic views.
Our hikes will be leisurely and cover 3-5 miles each day, with gains of 1,000
feet at the most -- a moderately easy trip. A boat ride will take us out around
the Aeolian Islands of Lipari and Vulcano. During our trip we will behold the
artistic stonework of Cefalu and the island's finest Norman Cathedral in Monreale.
Our guides will entertain us with their friendly manner and engaging stories
during our journey. We will stay one to three nights at each small hotel and
enjoy delicious Sicilian food, including the incredible desserts of ricotta
and cream and the famed "cous cous" of San Vito lo Capo. Perhaps as
we explore the ancient history of the island and the fascinating mix of Islam
and Christianity, we can find a way to create peace in the modern world.
Photo: Jane Walton
Day 1: Our trip starts this morning at 10:00 a.m. in the heart
of Palermo. After meeting and stowing our bags on our motorcoach, we'll explore
the city: the amazing cathedral, the Palatine Chapel, Piazza Pretoria, its many
narrow streets and alleys, and markets that are packed with all sorts of pan-Mediterranean
merchandise. We will tour a famous produce market to learn about the spices
used in Sicilian cuisine. Our lodging that night will be near Palermo.
Day 2: We will enjoy a five-mile hike in the Madonie Mountains with a 900-foot elevation gain. Fauna includes foxes, hares, numerous birds of prey, and even the occasional wildcat. Native flora includes giant holly trees (some more than
300 years old), the local variety of Sicilian fir, and the flowering Manna Ash.
In the afternoon, we will behold the spectacular stonework of Norman and Arab
masons at the cathedral and Arab baths of Cefalu along the seashore. Lodging
Day 3: Today we will walk up through the small hilltown of
Monreale to see the mosaics of the Norman cathedral, which are among the most
extraordinary in Italy. This amazing monument is a dazzling mixture of Arab,
Byzantine, and Norman artistic styles all framed by traditional Romanesque architecture.
Nowhere else on the planet can you find such a perfect blend of the Christian
and Muslim artistic worlds of the 12th century. In the afternoon we will drive
to Erice, a delightful medieval village nestled on a 2,200-foot mountain. Walking
through its narrow streets, you can make your way to a traditional pastry shop,
where you will sample some of the best almond pastries in Sicily. But you must
also try the cannoli and the shop's famed cassata! These delicious treats will
augment the breathtaking views over the Egadi Islands below, where the region's
famed tuna harvest used to take place. Lodging will be near San Vito lo Capo.
Photo: Jane Walton
Day 4: Today is our day to explore Lo Zingaro, Italy's first
nature reserve. We will walk four miles of pristine Mediterranean coastline
(with a 400-foot elevation gain), and enjoy many fish-filled coves and unusual
indigenous plants (wild carob and bright yellow Euphorbia) on cliffs overlooking
the sea. There are also more than 40 nesting bird species in this area, including
the rare Bonelli's eagle. After lunch we will have the option of swimming in
the turquoise waters of San Vito lo Capo. Lodging near San Vito lo Capo.
Day 5: Today we will make our way to breathtaking Selinunte,
where we will enjoy one of Europe's largest archaeological parks set against
amazing views of the sea. Founded in the 7th century B.C., Selinunte played
a fundamental role in the spread of Greek culture, and viewing its glorious
restored columns will transport you back to the ancient civilization. Tonight
we will try the sweet and smooth Marsala wine while sampling some of the best
desserts of the region. We'll sleep near Agrigento.
Day 6: This morning we will visit the Ancient Valley of the
Temples World Heritage site in Agrigento, one of the richest archaeological
areas of the world. A passionate and knowledgeable art historian will take us
on a tour among the remains of several ancient temples constructed in the Doric
style in the 6th and 5th centuries B.C. Now excavated and partially restored,
they constitute some of the largest and best preserved ancient Greek buildings
outside of Greece itself. In the afternoon we will transfer to our countryside
villa. We'll sleep near Noto.
Day 7: We'll walk through a natural preserve along Golfo de
Noto, and then we will explore the attractive Sicilian hilltown of Modica to
enjoy its folklore and incredible chocolate-making traditions. In the late afternoon
we will visit the baroque jewel of Noto, a sophisticated city built at the end
of the 17th century after an earthquake almost entirely destroyed Old Noto.
We'll sleep near Noto.
Day 8: Today we will travel to Siracusa, birthplace of Archimedes
and the most important colony of ancient Greece. You will explore the beautiful
Piazza del Duomo and the poetic Fonte Arethusa in the morning, and in the afternoon
you will enjoy the amazing archaeological park of Neapolis, with its incredible
Greek theatre, limestone quarries, and the famous Ear of Dionysus. We'll sleep
Day 9: Today we will travel back across the island to catch
a boat that will take us to the Aeolian island of Lipari -- the most diverse
of the islands -- where we will spend two nights. Streets wind from Lipari Town
and past fortress walls to Castello, a site that was been continuously occupied
since Neolithic times and has enabled archaeologists to date other Mediterranean
cultures. We'll sleep in Lipari.
Photo: Jane Walton
Day 10: After taking in the artistic and architectural wonders
of Lipari, we will cruise to the island of Vulcano. Here we can hike to the
top of a spent volcano and peer down into its smoking crater. This is a five-mile
hike with a 1,200-foot elevation gain. Later, after our walk, we can enjoy a
refreshing and therapeutic mud bath in Vulcano's sulphur hot springs and swim
from its black sand beaches. We'll sleep in Lipari.
Day 11: We will cruise back to Sicily this morning and make
our way to the village of Taormina, perched on a hillside overlooking the Ionian
sea. Taormina is considered one of the pearls of the Mediterranean Sea. We'll
walk Taormina's colorful cobblestone streets, which are lined with hanging gardens,
to its historic Greek theatre. Shopping opportunities abound. We can end the
day with a true Sicilian classic: iced coffee with cream. We'll sleep in Catania.
Day 12: After breakfast, we will make a morning transfer to
We will meet at 10:00 a.m. at a meeting place in Palermo, and on our last
day together we'll end mid-day at the airport in Catania. You can catch a flight
back to the States or you can spend more time on your own in such lovely places
as Syracusa and Ragusa. There are no direct flights from Catania to the U.S.,
so you may have to connect through Rome or another gateway.
Accommodations and Food
Photo: Jane Walton
We will be staying in small inns and small hotels. The lodging is double-occupancy,
with bathrooms in each room. Singles will be assigned roommates. If the accommodations
have a single room available and you prefer a single room, it will be an extra
charge of $400. All meals are included except one dinner, when you will have
the choice of exploring various restaurants.
This is a moderately easy trip with two relatively steep hikes. Daily hikes
will be 3-5 miles, with elevation changes of up to 1,200 feet. As with all trips,
the better shape you are in the more you will enjoy it.
Equipment and Clothing
A detailed equipment list will be sent to each participant. Plan to bring
summer/fall clothes for hiking, a day pack (with water bottle, first aid kit,
sunscreen), raingear, and perhaps walking sticks.
- Richards, Charles, The New Italians.
- Di Lampedusa, Giuseppe, The Leopard.
- Benjamin, Sandra, Sicily: 3,000 Years of Human History.
- Guido, Margaret, Sicily: An Archaeological Guide.
Photo: Kathie Fowler
We will visit an organic farm with a chance to taste some of the delicious
food created with the organic ingredients. At another stop, an ornithologist
will tell us about raptors and the migratory patterns of the birds that fly
from Africa to the Alps. Sicily is an important Mediterranean stopover for a
wide variety of birds, including the Black Stork. The guides for our trip are
ardent conservationists and cultural preservationists in Italy. They are eager
to talk with Sierra Club members about their efforts to develop sustainable
eco-tourism and educate the locals in the value of preserving both the natural
and cultural heritage.
This trip requires a $200 per-person deposit. An additional payment of $300 per person is due six months prior to trip departure. International trip prices are subject to change and are based on double-occupancy or group accommodations as described above. Single rooms may not be available or may cost more than the listed price. If you have any questions regarding double occupancy, please contact the trip leader.
See the How to Apply for an Outing
section for more details on registering for this trip and details
about our Reservation and Cancellation
The payment of a deposit does not confirm you as a member on the
trip. Participants must be approved by the trip leader. After signing
up for this trip, you will be sent a confirmation packet containing
approval materials (Participant Approval Questionnaire, Medical
Form, Liability Release Form). Each applicant (including those on
the waitlist) must fill out these forms and promptly mail them to
the trip leader. The leader will review the approval materials and
notify you of your acceptance in a timely manner.
The Sierra Club accurately and fairly budgets and prices our trips. However, unforeseen costs such as devaluation of the dollar compared to other currencies and fuel surcharges assessed by our international providers may necessitate adjustment in trip price. We will make every effort to mitigate and absorb these fees. If a price increase is necessary, however, you will have 14 days after announcement to cancel without penalty.
An outdoor enthusiast all of her adult life, Kathie Fowler has traveled extensively in the Himalayas, both privately and with the Sierra Club, and has also led trips in California's Sierra Nevada, Costa Rica, and Ireland. Kathie's travel opportunities increased after her retirement as Director of Communications from a Napa Valley winery, and she was excited to be given a trainee position on the Sicily trip in 2012. She fell in love with the beautiful, ancient island and very much looks forward to leading the trip in 2013.
General Notes About Sierra Club Trips