Expedition Overview

Expedition Overview

  • Discover Agrigento’s spectacular Valley of the Temples alongside a private guide, then enjoy dinner overlooking the Temple of Concordia.
  • Explore Taormina’s Greek Theatre with a Sicilian astronomer, hearing about associations between the constellations and the island’s archaeological sites.
  • See some of the best preserved mosaics from the Roman world at the Villa Romana del Casale.
  • Settle into the family-owned Susafa, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World that celebrates Sicily’s ancient farm-to-table culinary traditions.

Itinerary

Itinerary

Delve into the vibrant legacy of the Greeks and Romans on the stunning Italian isle of Sicily, and encounter traces of these two great civilizations mingling with a flourishing contemporary culture. Venture inland from the capital of Palermo and get immersed in the island’s rural heart, where ancient agricultural traditions are still practiced amid rolling fields and enchanting hilltop towns. See the Greek temples at Agrigento, the Roman mosaics near Piazza Armerina, and the baroque beauty of Ragusa; then trace the scenic coastline from legendary Syracuse to the cliff-side gem of Taormina.

Day 1: Arrive, Palermo, Italy

Arrive in Palermo—a UNESCO World Heritage site and the Italian Capital of Culture for 2018—and transfer to your hotel in the heart of the city. On a walking tour of the old town, step into the Cathedral of Palermo, an eclectic building that combines elements of Gothic, baroque, neoclassical, Moorish, and Norman architecture; and stroll across the Piazza Pretoria to view its marble fountain, a Renaissance masterpiece. Then hear from a representative of a local organization that promotes a Mafia-free economy in Sicily, and dine in a restaurant that belongs to the group’s business network.

Meals Included:Dinner
Accommodations:Grand Hotel Piazza Borsa
Day 2: Palermo/Monreale

After a morning at leisure in Palermo, travel to nearby Monreale for a visit to its Norman cathedral. Wander through Moorish-style arcades and cloisters and examine its exquisite Byzantine mosaics illustrating biblical tales. Return to Palermo and enjoy more time to explore the city on your own.

Meals Included:Breakfast
Accommodations:Grand Hotel Piazza Borsa
Day 3: Cefalù/Polizzi Generosa

This morning, head to coastal Cefalù. Edged by sandy beaches and turquoise waters, and backed by a soaring mountain, Cefalù is widely regarded as one of Sicily’s most beautiful towns. Explore the 12th-century Norman cathedral that towers over the cityscape, then continue inland to Polizzi Generosa and settle into Susafa, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World surrounded by rolling wheat fields and stately Roman ruins. This converted 19th-century farmhouse has been in the same family for five generations, and has now opened its doors to share the scenic and culinary splendors of Sicily with guests.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Dinner
Accommodations:This night includes a stay at a National Geographic Unique Lodge.
Perched on a green hilltop in Sicily, surrounded by rolling wheat fields and stately Roman ruins, you’ll find the 19th-century estate of Susafa.
Day 4: Polizzi Generosa

Tap into the rhythms of rural Sicily while luxuriating in the lodge’s stunning surroundings. Available activities may include a hands-on cooking class, a tasting of Sicilian wines, a cheese-making lesson with a local shepherd, or a garden tour. Spend the afternoon at leisure and, if you wish, explore the surrounding golden fields on foot or horseback. As a National Geographic guest, you’ll be exclusively invited to a special outdoor dinner showcasing Sicily's unique cuisine. The meal kicks off with a cocktail amid the ancient woodlands surrounding the lodge and continues with several courses crafted by the lodge chef and served under elegant tents as the sun sets over nearby fields.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations:Susafa
Day 5: Sutera/Agrigento

Travel to the village of Sutera, nestled at the base of Mount San Paolino. Climb to the 14th-century sanctuary that crowns the mountaintop, and take in spectacular views across the surrounding countryside. Enjoy lunch on your own in town before continuing to Agrigento, a prominent city in Magna Graecia before it was sacked and fought over by the Carthaginians and Romans in the fourth and third centuries B.C. Here, join your private guide to explore the incredible Valley of the Temples, where temples devoted to Zeus, Castor and Pollux, and Heracles dominate the landscape. Our hotel is situated within the archaeological complex, and tonight you’ll be treated to dinner with views of the striking Temple of Concordia.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Dinner
Accommodations:Hotel Villa Athena
Day 6: Piazza Armerina/Ragusa

Journey into Sicily’s mountainous interior to the World Heritage site of Villa Romana del Casale, near the town of Piazza Armerina. The villa’s exquisite mosaics—some of the best preserved in the Roman world—were buried in mud for centuries and only rediscovered in the late 19th century. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant, then continue to Ragusa Ibla. Meet a local guide to explore the winding lanes of this enchanting hilltop town, and see the baroque-style Duomo di San Giorgio and the Giardino Ibleo, the city’s oldest park. Later, settle into your hotel, an elegant 18th-century villa in the heart of the old town.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch
Accommodations:Relais Antica Badia
Day 7: Ragusa/Modica

Enjoy a morning at leisure in Ragusa, then travel to Modica, known for its exquisite baroque architecture and high-quality chocolate. Visit the laboratory of a local chocolatier to learn about the chocolate-making process and taste this master’s artisanal creations. Return to Ragusa for the evening.

Meals Included:Breakfast
Accommodations:Relais Antica Badia
Day 8: Syracuse/Taormina


After a leisurely breakfast, drive to Syracuse, a city that once rivaled Athens in culture and economic strength. Venture down the winding streets of the World Heritage–listed Ortigia, a tiny island linked to Syracuse by bridges, and see the cathedral and the ruins of the Temple of Apollo. Dating from the sixth century B.C., the ruins are believed to have served as a church, a mosque, and a military barracks. Meet a local artisan who handcrafts pupi for Sicilian puppet theater, and learn about these traditional performances—recognized by UNESCO as part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Continue up the coast to the lovely cliff-top town of Taormina and settle into your boutique hotel overlooking the Ionian Sea.

Meals Included:Breakfast
Accommodations:Hotel Villa Schuler
Day 9: Taormina

Set out on a walking tour through the upper town of Taormina. Called “a corner of paradise” by Goethe, this seaside gem has attracted visitors since its days as a key stop on the European Grand Tour. Alongside a prominent Sicilian astronomer, explore the celebrated Greek Theatre, and learn about the possible connections between the island’s archaeological sites and the constellations. Enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure, and toast your journey at a local restaurant this evening.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Dinner
Accommodations:Hotel Villa Schuler
Day 10: Catania/Depart

Transfer to the Catania airport and catch your flight home.

Meals Included:Breakfast