Sicily in Depth - Waitlist Status
Explore the crossroads of the Mediterranean on this stellar 12-day small group journey. Begin with Palermo’s impressive architecture and world-class street food. Discover medieval Erice, Trapani’s salt pans, and stunning Monreale Cathedral. Marvel at Agrigento’s remarkable Valley of the Temples and Villa Romana del Casale’s magnificent mosaics. In Syracuse, explore Neapolis’ Archaeological Park and take a Sicilian cooking class. After a Mount Etna excursion, enjoy lunch at a private farm. The final destination is delightful Taormina.
We arrive today in Palermo, the capital of Italy’s autonomous region of Sicily. This evening we gather at our hotel for a briefing on the journey ahead, followed by a welcome dinner. Eurostars Centrale Palace (D)
On this morning’s walking tour, we discover 2,700-year-old Palermo’s twin claims to fame: impressive architecture and world-class street food. Highlights include Palermo Cathedral and Palazzo Reale, both part of ArabNorman Palermo, a UNESCO site comprising nine civil and religious structures dating to Norman rule in Sicily (c. 12th century). We also see Massimo Vittorio Emanuele Theater, one of Europe’s largest opera houses; and the Church of San Cataldo, another of Palermo’s Arab-Norman treasures. Along the way, we pass through vibrant markets selling arancini, cannoli, and other Sicilian specialties – which, of course, we stop to sample. Following our tour, we enjoy lunch at a local restaurant and then return to our hotel in the city center. The remainder of the day is free for independent exploration. With dinner on our own tonight, perhaps a culinary adventure is in order – and thanks to Sicily’s strategic Mediterranean location that lured many invaders, Sicilian food incorporates Italian, Arabic, and African influences into a singular, and delicious, cuisine. Eurostars Centrale Palace (B,L)
A full day of touring takes us first to the medieval walled town of Erice. Perched atop a mountain nearly 2,500 feet above sea level, Erice offers panoramic views of the valley below, the port town of Trapani, and the Tyrrhenian Sea beyond. We continue to Trapani, where we visit the region’s famed salt pans. Though the area is a designated Nature Reserve, Sicilians still harvest salt here using centuries-old methods; indeed, the oldest of the area’s 60 working windmills dates to the island’s Arabic regime. We tour the museum here then enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before returning to Palermo. Eurostars Centrale Palace (B,L)
En route to Agrigento today, we stop in nearby Monreale. Sitting on the slopes of Monte Caputo, Monreale looks over La Conca d’Oro, or “the Golden Shell,” a richly fertile valley studded with groves of orange, olive, and almond trees. Here we visit the city’s celebrated cathedral, another gem of ArabNorman Palermo and one of the finest examples of Norman architecture still in existence. The imposing main façade and ornate outer cloister serve to prepare us for the cathedral’s breathtaking main sanctuary, where every inch of wall and ceiling space is covered with painstakingly detailed mosaics. Crafted by artisans from Constantinople (now Istanbul), the dazzling mosaics contain some 4,850 pounds of pure gold. Next we visit a nearby family-owned winery, where we enjoy a wine tasting and lunch. Our journey then continues; late this afternoon we reach Agrigento and our hotel, where we dine together tonight. Hotel Baia di Ulisse (B,L,D)
This morning we visit the Valley of the Temples, a UNESCO site and archaeological zone whose ruins of fallen Doric temples and sanctuaries date to Greek rule in the 5th century bce. Known in its heyday as “the most beautiful city of mortals,” Agrigento was one of the leading cities during the Golden Age of ancient Greece. Our tour features both the eastern zone, where we see the beautifully preserved Temple of Concordia (c. 430 bce), and the western zone, with the massive temple of Olympian Zeus, believed to be the largest Doric temple ever built. From the outdoor sites, we then move on to Agrigento’s archaeological museum, with exhibits and artifacts that tell the story of this outpost of classical Greece. Then we return to our hotel for a cooking lesson and dinner. Hotel Baia di Ulisse (B,D)
We travel across Sicily’s southern reaches today to Syracuse (Siracusa), stopping along the way in Piazza Armerina to visit Villa Romana del Casale, an elaborate 4th-century ce villa and UNESCO site boasting one of the richest, and largest, collections of mosaics in the Roman world. Thanks to having been buried by landslides, the villa, its vivid frescoes, and the more than 3,200 square feet of mosaics survived the millennia in remarkably good shape. Following our tour here, we continue on to Syracuse, arriving late this afternoon. Once the largest city in the ancient world, Syracuse today is an alluring spot known for its superb archaeological sites and the relaxed seaside ambiance of its Baroque old town. Hotel Borgo Pantano (B,L,D)
Today we discover what this city is best known for: the Archaeological Park of Neapolis, a UNESCO site that comprises a range of ancient monuments. We begin our explorations at the 5th-century bce Greek theatre, the 16,000-seat amphitheatre where the tragedies of Aeschylus were staged – in his presence – and still in use today. Next: Latomia del Paradiso (Paradise Quarry), the now overgrown shaft from which the white limestone used to build Syracuse was cut. Because it has excellent acoustics, the quarry also is known as the Ear of Dionysius. We continue on to the Roman amphitheatre, the 1st-century bce arena that once held gladiator spectacles; today it hosts musicals on its ancient stones. After lunch on our own, we take a walking tour of Ortigia, the “white pearl” of Sicily, the historical center of Syracuse, and a UNESCO site. Hotel Borgo Pantano (B,D)
This morning we embark on a cruise along Sicily’s Ionian coast dotted with tiny islands and caves. We see historic Ortigia Island, the Spanish Wall, and 13th-century Castello Maniace which served as a bulwark against invaders in the Middle Ages. We have some time to explore Ortigia before returning to our hotel, where we dine tonight. Hotel Borgo Pantano (B,D)
a We depart Syracuse this morning and make our way up the coast to Mt. Etna, one of Europe’s largest active volcanoes. The ancients believed conical snow-topped Etna to be the forge of Vulcan, god of fire; today, modern-day Sicilians have a very personal relationship with the volcano, which frequently erupts but is seldom destructive. Descending from the volcano, we stop at a private farm set amidst acres of lemon and kiwi groves, where we enjoy a small group highlight: a homemade lunch prepared by the family who lives here. To accompany our meal, we sample some excellent Sicilian wines. Then we resume our journey to Taormina, arriving late this afternoon. This evening is at leisure, with dinner tonight on our own. Hotel NH Collection Taormina (B,L)
This morning we embark on a walking tour of this delightful medieval town set on a rocky terrace overlooking the Ionian Sea. Highlights include the 3rd-century bce Greek theatre, where gladiators once battled; the 13th-century fortress-like Duomo; and grand Piazza Vittorio Emanuele, site of the ancient agora and today an inviting plaza. This afternoon is at leisure to enjoy Taormina as we wish; tonight we celebrate our Sicily adventure over a farewell dinner at a local restaurant. Hotel NH Collection Taormina (B,D)
We transfer today to the Catania airport for our return flight to the U.S. (B)
Cost and Details
San Francisco, Los Angeles, Denver, Portland (OR): $5,474
New York: $5,074
Prices are per person based on double occupancy and include airline taxes, surcharges, and fees of $579, which are subject to change until final payment is made.
Land Only: $4,295 (transfers not included)
Single Room Supplement: $895
Airline upgrades on round-trip Trans-Atlantic flights:
Business Class - $3,795 per person (upgrades are subject to availability and pricing is subject to change). Premium Economy upgrade to $1,595. Upgrade prices are in addition to the costs above.
Included in Tour Price
Round-trip air transportation from listed cities; 10 nights’ accommodations in Deluxe, Superior First Class, and First Class hotels; 22 meals: 10 breakfasts, 5 lunches, 7 dinners; Extensive sightseeing as described, including all entrance fees; Services of an Odysseys Unlimited Tour Director; Educational program throughout the trip; Commonwealth Club representative at 15 guests; Private motor coach transportation throughout your trip; Luggage handling for one bag per person; Gratuities for local guides, dining room servers, airport and hotel porters, and all drivers.
Not Included in Tour Price
Airfare when purchasing a Land Only package; costs of passports and visas; personal expenses such as beverages, laundry, room service, and meals not specified; airport transfers when purchasing a Land Only package; communication charges; gratuities to your Odysseys Unlimited Tour Director, which are at your discretion (suggested gratuities: $10-$15 per traveler, per day); optional sightseeing; and travel protection insurance. Additional baggage fees may apply and are subject to change at any time. You should confirm directly with your airline(s) prior to departure.
This is a moderately active tour and participants must be able to keep up with an active group of travelers. There is a considerable amount of walking on this trip. For the safety and enjoyment of each participant and the group, participants must be able to:
- Walk on average 1-3 miles in cities and towns at a steady pace for approximately 2-8 hours of touring (with breaks).
- Walk with good balance on cobblestone, paths and uneven surfaces that may be slippery. Be able to walk uphill for certain excursions.
- Stand for up to approximately 2 hours at a time each day.
- Walk up and down stairs without handrails, without the assistance of another person.
- Get off and on tour vehicles without assistance.
Hear from our expert local guide and tour director. Learn from guest speakers along the way.
Terms and Conditions
Cancellations, Refunds and Changes
If you must cancel your trip, the effective date of cancellation will be upon our receipt of your written notification. Refunds for cancellations are subject to the following per person charges:
Cancel 95 days or more before departure: full refund
Cancel 94-65 days before departure: 25% of tour price
Cancel 64-45 days before departure: 50% of tour price
Cancel 44-30 days before departure: 75% of tour price
Cancel 29-0 days before departure: No refund.
If a guest makes any changes to their reservation within 94 and 30 days prior to departure, Odysseys Unlimited, Inc. will apply a $100 per person administrative fee, in addition to any fees or penalties imposed by third parties. Changes are subject to availability and cannot be guaranteed. If your reservation changes from double occupancy to single occupancy for any reason, you will be charged the single supplement. No changes are allowed within 30 days of departure. Upon reservation, you must provide your full legal name as it appears on your passport as well as your date of birth and gender. In the event an airline ticket is issued with incorrect information you have provided, you will be responsible for charges associated with the ticket’s reissue.
We require membership to the Commonwealth Club to travel with us. People who live outside of the Bay Area may purchase a worldwide membership. To learn about membership types and to purchase a membership, visit our membership page or call (415) 597-6720.
We strongly recommend the purchase of trip cancellation insurance, which is available for coverage of expenses in conjunction with cancellation due to illness or accident. Baggage insurance is also recommended. In the event you must cancel your participation in the travel program, trip cancellation insurance may be the only source of reimbursement. Information will be sent upon registration and can be viewed Travel Insurance Services website
The liability of the Commonwealth Club, as sponsor, and Odysseys Unlimited, Inc., as tour operator, is strictly limited. Odysseys Unlimited, Inc. purchases transportation, hotel accommodations, restaurant and other services from independent suppliers not under our control. We serve only as agents for these suppliers in securing tour arrangements, and therefore will not accept responsibility for wrongful, negligent or arbitrary acts or omissions of these independent contractors, their employees, agents, servants or representatives. The Commonwealth Club and Odysseys Unlimited, Inc. are not liable for injury, damage, loss, accident or delay that may be caused by events not within our control, including without limitation, acts of terrorism, war, strikes, the defect of any vehicle, or the negligence or default of any third party. All coupons, receipts and tickets issued are subject to the terms and conditions specified by the air carriers, cruise line and other independent suppliers. We will make every effort to operate our tours as planned, but we reserve the right to make itinerary changes as necessary. If unforeseen circumstances require us to change a hotel, we will select alternative accommodations of the same or better quality.
Health and Medical Issues
We request that you be in good health to participate in this tour. There is a considerable amount of walking, and you must be able to get on and off motorcoaches and all boats on your own. We regret that we cannot offer individual assistance; in such cases you must be accompanied by a companion who will assist you. Please note that our itineraries cannot accommodate wheelchairs. We reserve the right to remove anyone whose physical or mental condition, in our opinion, compromises the operation of the tour or detracts from the enjoyment or safety of the other passengers. In that event, Odysseys Unlimited and the Commonwealth Club assume no financial responsibility for any unused portion of the tour.
Air Transportation – Important Information
Odysseys Unlimited, Inc. includes in its tour price round-trip economy air from designated gateway cities as shown and contracts with those airlines the company feels provide the level of service, routings, and value necessary for your entire trip. While another airline may offer a more direct connection, it may be at a price unavailable at the lower group rates. You will receive your preliminary air schedule approximately 2½ months prior to departure. Please note that seat assignments on your international flight are usually done at airport check-in. Odysseys Unlimited is unable to guarantee any seat assignments. Due to the nature of tour operator tickets, other restrictions apply, including, but not limited to, frequent flyer mileage accrual, stopovers, alternate travel dates, upgrades, and airline taxes and fees. If you prefer to make your own travel arrangements, Land Only is available on most tours. Since international and domestic air schedules are subject to change at any time, we recommend that if you choose to make your own airline reservations, you do not purchase non-refundable tickets or those with high penalties for changes. If you choose to make your own flight arrangements and not use those provided by the tour company, we recommend that you do not do so until making your final payment to the tour company confirming details of your trip’s scheduled departure. However, if you choose to make your own flight arrangements, Odysseys Unlimited, Inc. shall not have any liability for any loss resulting from tour cancellations or changes in this tour.
COVID-19 Health and Safety Protocols: The well-being of our guests and staff members on tour will continue to be our highest priority. To maintain a healthy environment for travel, we will be establishing and adhering to a detailed set of health and safety protocols for all facets of your tour. We are committed to following the guidelines of the State Department, CDC, WHO, and authorities of respective countries regarding travel to a particular destination. Detailed protocols for this tour, based on conditions at the time, will be provided to you departure.
Commonwealth Club of California-CST# 2096889-40
Odysseys Unlimited, Inc. CST #2077973-40