Easter Festivals of Sicily

Christianity in Sicily goes back to two decades after the death of Christ and Easter ("Pasquale") is celebrated with exceptional passion here. Medieval Spanish, Byzantine, pagan, and contemporary influences blend together to create a colorful and unique series of festivals during Easter Week that stretch across the island. On this tour we will follow the most beautiful Easter events from one corner of Sicily to the other, and in addition to the celebrations there will be special Easter foods to sample, including "turrunari", "cubbaita", "giuggiulena", “cicirata", and "pignoccata". On our way around the Island we will visit some of the highlights of Sicilian history and culture.

2017 ITINERARY

April 8, Saturday --  Arrive in Catania. We meet you at the airport and take you to Siracusa (incl). We check in at a charming hotel in Ortigia, the heart of ancient Syracuse.  We’ll have a welcome and group meeting. As you will be arriving jet-lagged, the first day will be settling in and getting oriented with a walk around the incredible island-peninsula of Ortigia, its rich history, palaces, narrow lanes, Jewish Quarter, and shops. Welcome dinner at a great Siracusa restaurant (incl) and overnight in a charming hotel with views over the sea in Siracusa  (Hotel Livingston and/or Hotel Royal Maniace)

April 9, Palm Sunday –  We look at the glories of of Siracusa, at its height, the greatest of ancient Greek cities, visiting the Greek Theatre, Ear of Dionysius, and Roman Amphitheatre. Possibility to attend the Palm Sunday services at the amazing Cathedral of Siracusa, still incorporating the columns of a ancient Greek Temple to Athena. Dinner at a favorite Siracusa restaurant  (incl)  and overnight at Siracusa (Hotel Livingston and/or Hotel Royal Maniace). 

April 10, Monday – We travel south of Siracusa to visit some of the charming small Baroque towns made famous by the filming of Italian hit detective series Inspector Montalbano written by Andrea Camilleri. First Modica and its chocolate brought to the island by the Spanish. Then we visit a dairy farm where Ornella and her farmer husband treat us to their produce. Then we visit Scicli and Punta Secca, where Montalbano’s seaside home is. Then off to Ragusa Ibla and overnight.  (Hotel Il Barocco)

 

April 11, Tuesday – Depart Ragusa for Piazza Armerina.  We will make an early start in order to route ourselves through the scenic Hyblean Highlands, seeing some splendid scenery  (deep gorges and wildflowers) of the interior of Sicily.  We’ll stop for a look at Caltagirone, home of Sicilian ceramics, with the famous stairs decorated for Easter. At Piazza Armerina, we will have lunch, and visit one of the greatest of Roman Imperial villas (Villa Romana del Casale).  Then we take an afternoon drive on scenic roads to Agrigento. Here we find the Greeks again, and temples the equal to those in Greece which we walk in the company of a great local guide.  Seafood dinner (incl) and overnight in Agrigento. (Colleverde Hotel)

April 12, Wednesday   - We move along the coast to the Greek city of Selinunte, a splendid group  of temples on lovely rolling seacoast. We continue to Marsala, for a winery tour and tasting at Donnafugata winery (incl).  Pizza dinner  (incl) and overnight in Marsala.  (Hotel Carmine)

April 13, Maundy Thursday – We visit the salt flats off Mozia where salt has been harvested for three thousand years. In Marsala, we'll see the re-enactment of Christ's passion, an extremely moving experience of his trial, torture and crucifixion.  Overnight in Marsala.  Hotel Carmine.  

April 14, Good Friday – Today we have a leisurely start. We go up the mountain of Erice to tour the town founded by Aphrodite and prominent in the stories of Hercules, Æneas, and Carthaginian and Roman history and religion.  We’ll pay a visit to the confectionary shop of Maria Grammatico, made famous by Mary Simeti’s book Bitter Almonds. After lunch (incl), we descend to Trapani where occurs one of Sicily’s more famous processions. “I misteri” is a parade of a group of 20 sculpted religious statues from 17th and 18th centuries.  For over sixteen hours they process, through the night, from Good Friday to Holy Saturday.  Overnight at Hotel Carmine.  

April 15, Holy Saturday – Early start to travel to Segesta, one of the most beautiful temples in the world, then to Norman Palermo and the great cathedral of Monreale.  After lunch, we visit other sites in Norman and Spanish Palermo.  Dinner at Altri Tempi restaurant (incl) and overnight in Palermo in an historic hotel ( Grand Hotel Piazza Borsa).  

April 16, Easter Sunday – We go to Piana degli Albanesi, the Greek Orthodox village where the girls and women of the town parade in 15th-century costumes.  After the mass, there's a moving parade of the holy veil. Over to Mount Etna and then onto Taormina. Overnight in a wonderful hotel with views over the sea and of Mount Etna. (Hotel Villa Belvedere)

April 17, Easter Monday –– We visit the Greco Roman theatre and then you have the rest of the day to enjoy this lovely town. Farewell pizza dinner (incl) (Hotel Villa Belvedere)

April 18 Tuesday - We will take you to Catania airport for your flight home (incl).  

Tour Details

Price: €2690 per person
Minimum tour participants: 4

Tour Cost Includes:

  • Bed and Breakfast accommodation on twin-sharing basis.  All accommodation will be of a three-star or higher standard, specially selected by us for quality, ambience, and the friendliness of the staff.  All hotels & B&Bs have websites for your inspection.
  • 10 breakfasts and 8 other meals as indicated in the itinerary. 
  • 1 wine tasting. 
  • All entrance fees. 
  • Dairy farm visit. 
  • An English-speaking Sicily Tour host / guide to be with you throughout the tour. 
  • All presentations will be in English or an interpreter will be present. 
  • Air conditioned chauffeur-driven bus or car throughout the tour.
  • All applicable government taxes, service charges, and paperwork.
  • Ground transport to and from airports.

Tour Cost Does Not Include:

  • Airfare to and from Catania Fontanarossa Airport 
  • Passport applications and fees.  Passports are required for entrance into Italy. 
  • Travel or health insurance. 
  • Single supplement charges (30%).  
  • Meals or beverages not specified. 
  • Items or concerns of a personal nature.