Sicily: Natural History, Antiquities, Culture & Cuisine  
April 7-17, 2011                                    ---On Request, please contact Sterling Tours---
A Pacific Horticulture Tour                                 
Escorted by Katherine Greenberg

Come with us to experience the rich history, beautiful
landscapes, ancient artistic traditions, and wonderful
climate of Sicily.  Natural wonders include a dramatic
mountain chain, undulating hills, an active volcano,
broad valleys and fertile plains brightly carpeted by
wildflowers in the spring. A highlight will be a visit  to
cookbook author Mary Taylor Simeti, who will entertain
us at lunch with a talk on Sicilian culinary and
cultural history.

April 7, Thursday:  USA - SICILY                   
 Recommended Reading for this Tour

April 8, Friday:  PALERMO
Individual arrivals. Check into the Hotel Principe di Villa Franca for a four night stay. The
afternoon is free to stroll through this fascinating city. Palermo, settled by the Phoenicians in the
8th century, has been home to the Romans, Arabs, and the Normans, and each left their mark.
The heart of the town is known as Quattro Canti, four corners that divide Palermo into quadrants.
Piazza Pretoria has a spectacular fountain and town hall and Piazza Bellini features the churches
of La Martorana and San Cataldo. Massimo Theatre, one of the most famous opera houses in
Italy, was built at the end of the 19th century. The Royal Palace, built by Arab emirs around the
ninth century was abandoned, restored, and transformed by the Normans into a sumptuous
palace. Frederick II of Hohenstaufen created the 1st Poetic School here. Today it is the seat of
the Regional Sicilian Assembly. The ancient Vucheria street market is one of the oldest in
Palermo, filled with stalls of fresh produce, flowers, vegetables, and sea creatures.   In the early
evening meet the other guests at our welcome reception in the hotel.

April 9, Saturday:  PALERMO-MONREALE
In the morning we will enjoy a city tour of Palermo which has the richest collection of medieval
monuments on the island. Our tour includes the Orto Botanico. The garden and buildings were
the work of Salvatore Attinelli and the French architect Leon Dufourny. The botanic garden
collection includes cycads, palms, succulents and medicinal and culinary plants. After lunch, we
continue our sightseeing to Monreale, a town dominating the green plain, Conca d’Oro, of
Palermo. The cathedral built by William II in 1174, is considered one of the world’s greatest
medieval monuments. The splendid interior has 130 shimmering mosaic panels and bronze doors
designed by Pisano. The abbey contains a peaceful cloister garden with a stylized palm tree
fountain and stunning glass mosaics.    This evening we sample the local cuisine at Trattoria
Biondo. (B, L, D)

After breakfast, we drive through ever-changing countryside
to the ancient town of Segesta to see the magnificent,
unfinished Doric temple and amphitheater carved into the
rock of Mount Barbaro. We will stop for a break to taste
the popular caffe and cannoli along the way. We continue
to the country home of cookbook author Mary Taylor Simeti,
where we will hear about Sicilian cuisine and cultural traditions
while enjoying a typical lunch. In the afternoon, we drive to Erice to see
two hilltop castles surrounded by a lush park. Pepoli Castle dates from the time of
the Saracens and Venus Castle was built on the ruins of the Temple of Venus.
The Duomo is considered a Romanesque masterpiece. We will have time to wander
through the charming town of narrow cobblestone streets, tiny churches, picturesque squares,
stone houses, and shops selling handmade wares. Return to Palermo, evening free. (B, L)

In the morning we will meet our escort for the day, Dr. Charles Sacamano, Professor Emeritus of
Plant Science, at the University of Arizona, now living in Sicily. Charlie will take us on a nature
walk through the beautiful Madonie Mountains while discussing the unique flora found in this
region. Charlie will join us for lunch prepared by the family at Tenuta Gangivecchio, an inn
housed in a former monastery, far off the beaten path. Later will visit Cefalù, a colorful fishing
village with narrow, twisting streets built on a rocky peninsula between the Tyrrhenian Sea and a
limestone promontory. Its Romanesque cathedral houses a remarkable collection of Byzantine
mosaics.  (B, L)

April 12, Tuesday:  PALERMO-AGRIGENTO
We depart Palermo and travel south to Agrigento, considered the best-preserved collection of
buildings from classical Greece in existence today. The city has a lovely setting surrounded by
wildflowers, between two rivers, and close to the sea. Our tour will include the Valley of the
Temples, a UNESCO Heritage Site, and the Archaeological Museum. Our accommodations for
the night are at Foresteria Baglio della Luna. We can relax in the peaceful geranium and ivy-filled
courtyard before dining on the Sicilian and Italian specialties in the intimate hotel restaurant. (B,
L, D)

After breakfast we drive through spectacular countryside of pine and eucalyptus woods and
farmland. Our destination is the tiny Baroque town of Piazza Armerina. Here we visit the
exceptionally well-preserved Imperial Roman Villa thought to have been the 4th-century hunting
lodge of the Emperor Maximilian. The mosaic floors in the Villa del Casale are exquisite. After
lunch we travel to Taormina where we check into the Hotel San Domenico Palace for our four
night stay. We will dine together this evening on typical Mediterranean dishes at Ristorante
Licchio, a favorite of the locals.  (B, L, D)

April 14, Thursday:  TAORMINA-MOUNT ETNA
This morning horticulturalist Charlie Sacamano will join us again for an excursion and nature walk
on Mount Etna. The fertile slopes of this active volcano have rings of vegetation that change as
we rise, from vineyards and pine trees, gradually giving way to broom and lichen. We will drive
through several Sicilian villages and see some old lava flows. Our light lunch will be on a family
farm where we will sample the region’s honey, almond pastries and olive oil. Next we  tour and
taste at a famous winery while enjoying views of the volcano and sea. Later we drive through a
pine forest to the charming village of Giardini Naxos before our return to Taormina. Evening at
leisure. (B, L)

We travel south today on a leisurely drive down the eastern coastline to Siracusa, built on an
ancient Greek settlement. Our visit will include archaeological sites; the Greek theater, Roman
amphitheater, and the Arethusa fountain with its Papyrus plants overlooking the Ionian Sea.
Later we will enjoy a walking tour of the heart of Baroque Catania, a small vibrant city. We will
stroll through the fascinating open market selling exotic fish, spices, and fruit. (B, L)

April 16, Saturday:  TAORMINA
Taormina is a beautiful city settled by the Greeks in the 6th-century B.C. It blossomed during the
Middle Ages which produced 14th-and 15th-century palaces. We will visit the most important
archaeological site, the open-air Greek Theater with stunning views of the sea and the Villa
Comunale garden. Afternoon free for strolling through the old medieval section or last minute
shopping. We will enjoy a sumptuous farewell dinner on the terrace (weather permitting) at the
San Domenico. The terrace is overlooking the gardens and the sea. (B, D)

April 17, Sunday:  TAORMINA-USA  
Independent departures, or optional extension.

Hotel Principe di Villa Franca is a charming four star property situated in the heart of Palermo, a
short walk from the picturesque Capo street market, and the cultural and historic monuments.
The hotel has the feel of a luxurious private home with fine Sicilian antiques, silk fabrics, creamy
marble floors and vaulted ceilings.

Hotel Foresteria Baglio della Luna This Italian style, four star hotel has a private beach and views
of the breathtaking Valley of the Temples. It has a series of courtyards, watchtower, and an
elegant restaurant featuring authentic Sicilian cuisine.

Hotel San Domenico Palace is a five star hotel, formerly a 14th-century convent, set in a romantic
walled courtyard, with bell tower, and beautiful sea view gardens. This centrally located property
has 4 restaurants and breathtaking views of the Mediterranean.

Food and Wine:  Sicily is renowned for its cuisine, and many of the ingredients used in Sicilian
cooking were brought to the island in past centuries by the Greeks, Arabs, and Spanish.  Well-
known dishes include caponata (a salad made with eggplant, olives, and capers), grilled
swordfish, and cannoli (a delicious pastry). Granita is a popular summer dessert made from
sweetened crushed ice flavored with lemons or strawberries. It is possible that ice cream was
invented in Sicily during Roman times, made from snow brought down from Mt. Etna. The soil and
climate in Sicily are ideal for growing grapes, and wine-making dates from the first Greek colonies
on the island. In addition to red and white wines, various dessert wines are produced, such as
the famous Marsala. Another typical Sicilian drink is limoncello.

Mary Taylor Simeti is the author of Sicilian Food:  Recipes from Italy’s Abundant Isle and On
Persephone’s Island:  A Sicilian Journal. She lives with her husband on an organic farm west of
Palermo and writes about Sicily’s culinary traditions and history.

Tour Escort:  Katherine Greenberg is a garden designer with a special interest in the gardens of
the Mediterranean region. She is a past president of Pacific Horticulture Society and the
Mediterranean Garden Society. She was elected president of the MGS at a meeting in Palermo,
and she is fascinated by Sicilian culture and cuisine.

9 nights select accommodations, all rooms fully en suite
All hotel taxes and service charges
9 breakfasts, 8 lunches, 3 dinners (lunch is the main meal in Sicily)
Deluxe private coaches and top drivers
Special guide from arrival Palermo until end of tour
Local guides where obligatory plus two days with Dr. Charles Sacamano
All sightseeing and entrances as per the itinerary
Porterage of 1 main suitcase in/out of all hotels
Deluxe portfolio of documents
Escorted by Katherine Greenberg, past President of Pacific Horticulture and the Mediterranean
Garden Society. Katherine has traveled widely in Europe.
Donation of $200 to Pacific Horticulture

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For further information and tour pricing please contact: SterlingTours™   
phone 619 299-3010    800-976-9497   
On Request, submit online form
2907 Shelter Island Drive Suite #105-262   San Diego, CA 92106   CST2023849-40
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