- Classical Sicily
The biggest island in the Mediterranean, Sicily is a delightfully diverse spectacle brimming with the world's finest assembly of Baroque architecture and pristine Greek temples. Journeying through quaint piazzas and charming seaside towns, immerse yourself in historic charm, idyllically situated in the shadows of Europe's highest Volcano, Mount Etna.
Depart London on your scheduled flight to Catania. Upon arrival, meet your local guide and transfer to Ragusa for your three-night stay.
Experience the grandeur of Sicily's most scenic and historically noteworthy towns. Perched atop a soaring hilltop, begin today's exploration in 'Montalbano Country', or as it is more formally known, the province of Ragusa on Sicily's picturesque South Eastern coast. Having famously been divided by a devastating earthquake in 1693, the re-built and lovingly restored neighbourhoods of Ragusa, characterised by charming avenues and stunning baroque architecture, has more recently been put on the map as a filming location for the popular television series 'Inspector Montalbano'. Next, journey to the nearby town of Modica, renowned for its delectable chocolate production, created using traditional Aztec recipes, and later discover a golden display of resplendent baroque Piazzas and churches, which line the streets of Noto. After a guided walk around this enchanting town, make a final stop in Syracuse and enjoy some time at leisure to explore the authentic Sicilian sights of Ortygia. Dominating the expansive marbled Piazza Duomo, marvel at the district's distinctive Cathedral of Syracuse, whose arresting white facade is lavishly adorned with intricate carvings and columns.
Enjoy a guided tour of Agrigento's fascinating Valley of Temples, a captivating archaeological complex comprising of eight temples and other ancient remains, dating from between 510BC and 430BC. Regally assembled on the site of where an ancient civilisation once stood, wander through a landscape of ruins and excavations scattered amongst a tranquil green oasis. Marvel at the spellbinding UNESCO World Heritage structures, including the impressive Temple della Concordia, arguably the best-preserved temple of the collection, as well as the Temple of Heracles, whose crumbling eight columns, partially destroyed by wars and natural disasters, are all that remains of the oldest construction in the Valley.
Travel towards to the charming seaside town of Aci Castello, stopping en route in Sicily's second largest city, Catania. A compelling guided tour through the heart of Catania's Old Town leads to the Piazza Duomo, whose vast centre, wide streets and collection of grey baroque buildings wear the effects of a substantial volcanic eruption in 1669. Concealing former Roman baths, the imposing Cathedral of Saint Agatha, which was restored most noticeably in baroque style after the 1693 earthquake, stands majestically at the centre of the old town, overlooking the city's striking but emblematic U Liotru elephant fountain - a truly unique sight to behold. Journey to Aci Castello for your four-night stay.
Relax in your hotel or take the opportunity to explore Aci Castello at your own pace; to experience a laidback ambience, unwind in one of the town's copious teeming cafes, restaurants and bars, or alternatively, immerse yourself in rich Sicilian history with a visit to the commanding 11th century Norman Castle, positioned on an extraordinary basalt crest protruding from the sea. A prospering botanic gardens and civic museum, exhibiting historical artefacts, ranging from the prehistoric ages to the medieval era, are obscured within the grounds of this fascinating former fort and are accessible merely through a stone stairway which connects the ridge to the mainland.
A grandiose feature of Sicily's backdrop, head to Mount Etna this morning - Europe's highest smouldering Volcano. A striking ascent with breathtaking panoramas over the emerald Ionian Sea, wind through old lava flows and across a unique terrain of black lava rock to reach the Silvestri craters, positioned nearly 1,900m above sea level. From the summit of this rock-strewn landscape, climb on board a Circumetnea train and travel along a path that showcases the sheer beauty of this natural phenomenon, passing small villages, rustic landscapes and fertile greenery along the way. Arriving in 'the black town' of Randazzo, characterised by a large majority of historically significant structures which were constructed with volcanic lava stone, explore this medieval village nestled in the foothills of Mount Etna and discover the magnetic charm which attracts guests to the closest town to Etna's summit. Later today, return to tonight's hotel by coach.
Breakfast & Dinner
Affording incredible views of the ocean and Mount Etna, embark on a guided walking tour to discover the stylish resort of Taormina, whose idyllic mountainside location is just one of its many draws. Admire aweinspiring views overlooking the 'pearl of the Ionian Sea' from an impressive vantage point at the Piazza IX Aprile, before heading to the Corso Umberto, a vivacious promenade lined with boutiques, jewellery and clothes stores. Not to be missed, catch a glimpse of the remarkable St Nicolas Cathedral of Taormina situated at the top of this quaint avenue. An afternoon at leisure follows, offering the perfect opportunity to take in some of the magnificent coastal views or heading to the 3rd century Theatre of Taormina (at an additional cost). Framed by arched openings and Corinthian columns, the theatre's main stage, which spectacularly overlooks Sicily's azure shoreline, is a majestic exhibition of Greek architecture.
Depart your hotel after breakfast and transfer to the airport for your scheduled return flight to the UK.
A visa is not required for your trip to Italy. Further advice should be sought from the applicable tourist authority for other nationalities and for general queries. We strongly advise you check your destinations' Tourist Board or Embassy for the most up-to-date guidelines regarding passport validity.
We strongly recommend that you and all members of your party are suitably insured as soon as you book your holiday. It is a condition of booking that you must have suitable travel insurance. It is important that you purchase travel insurance that suitably covers your participation in whatever activities you may undertake at the time that you make your booking. To assist you with this, we have arranged travel insurance in partnership with Holiday Extras. To arrange your travel insurance with Holiday Extras, please call 0800 781 4237 and quote 'WK830' for preferential rates. Please ensure you provide us with the name of your insurer, policy number and their 24-hour emergency contact number as soon as possible. Mercury Holidays will not be liable for any costs incurred by you due to your failure to take out suitable travel insurance from the date of booking.
If booking more than 10 weeks before departure a deposit of £250pp will need to be paid at the time of booking with the full amount payable at 10 weeks prior to departure. The deposit applies to adults and children. If you are within 10 weeks of travel then the full balance of the holiday will be payable.
Your flight to Catania Airport is with British Airways (BA), departing from London Heathrow, Terminal 5. Each passenger is entitled to 23kg of hold luggage plus 1 item of hand luggage not exceeding in size and 1 personal item such as a handbag, briefcase or laptop case. Weight restrictions will be finalized on e-ticket receipt. Should you wish to take additional luggage you will need to pay extra at Check-in. Check-in should be at least 3 hours before departure. Please note that all flight times are subject to change. Final flight details will be confirmed on your e-ticket and final documentation which will be sent to you approximately 10 days before departure.
It is your responsibility to check any health and vaccination requirements applicable to your booked arrangements. We can only provide general information about this. Health and hygiene facilities and disease risks vary from country to country. You should take health advice about your own needs as early as possible and in good time before your departure. Sources of information include; www.fco.gov.uk, http://travelhealthpro.org.uk/, www.hpa.org.uk, your General Practitioner or a specialist clinic.
This tour is accessible to most people with an average level of fitness and normal mobility. It involves moderate days of walking on uneven paths and small hills, and getting on and off coaches. This tour is not suitable for anyone with walking difficulties.
The currency in Italy is the Euro (EUR). We recommend that you exchange your currency before you leave the UK, however cash machines are available in all the major cities to withdraw money in the local currency.