• The "Great Hunt" mosaic at Villa Romana del Casale, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Piazza Armerina.

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  • Unique sets of columns line the cloister at Monreale Cathedral.

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  • Spectacular 12th-century mosaics await at the Palace of the Normans. Palermo.

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  • Segesta, Sicily, ancient settlement of the mysterious Elymian people.

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  • Taormina. Now you know what the jet-setters see in this resort.

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History Writ Large. A Sicilian Odyssey.

"All our guides were great. Not one was a disappointment. They were so informative and passionate. Same with the hotels—exquisite. Agrigento was magnificent, and we had great views in Taormina."

—Rita & Chris,  journey to Italy & Sicily


Who among the ancients didn’t flock to Sicily? Come see what the fuss is about. Begin in the capital city of Palermo on the island's northwest coast. Then see the elaborate architecture of both Cefalù and Monreale. Visit Erice, historic Segesta, Agrigento (a UNESCO World Heritage site). To Piazza Armerina, seaside Taormino, Siracusa, Catania, and Mount Etna.


Type:Custom Journeys


Sample Journey

This is a 10-day sample itinerary. Remember that R. Crusoe can create a Sicily journey of any length to meet your exact specifications.

Day 1: United States
• Overnight flight to Italy.
Overnight in flight
Day 2: Palermo, Cefalù, Sicily (Italy)
• Arrive in Palermo.
• Arrival time permitting, walking tour of Cefalù including fishermen's quarter and Norman cathedral.

Overnight in Palermo

Day 3: Monreale, Palermo
• Drive to Monreale to view cathedral mosaics, treasury, and cloister.
• Return to Palermo for tour including Quatro Canti di Città, cathedral, Palace of the Normans and Palace Chapel, Catacombe dei Cappuccini.

Overnight in Palermo
Day 4: Segesta, Erice
• Drive to Segesta, Greek ruins, Doric temple.
• Drive to Erice, medieval town tour
Overnight in Palermo
Day 5: Agrigento
• Drive to ancient Agrigento, UNESCO World Heritage site  including temples, necropolis, and sarcophagus of Phaedra and Hippolytus.
• Pietro Griffo Archaeological Museum.

Overnight in Agrigento

Day 6: Piazza Armerina, Taormina
• Roman Villa del Casale in Piazza Armerina.
• Drive to Taormina, remainder of day at leisure.

Overnight in Taormina

Day 7: Taormina
• Walking tour including Teatro Greco, public gardens.
Overnight in Taormina

Day 8: Siracusa, Taormina

• Walking tour of old Siracusa (Ortygia) including cathedral, Fonte Aretusa, Castello Maniace.
• Archaeological park including Greek theater, Roman amphitheater, "Ear of Dionysius,"  and ancient quarries.
Overnight in Taormina

Day 9: Catania, Mount Etna, Taormina
Drive to Catania, fish market, walking tour of old town.
• Drive to Mount Etna, winery lunch, Silvestri Craters.
Overnight in Taormina

Day 10: Catania: United States
Fly home.

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Sample Pricing

Per person sharing room from $10,490 for this 10-day sample itinerary.

For more information, to book, or to speak to an R. Crusoe & Son tour specialist, please call us at 800-585-8555.

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Taormina: The German Connection.

Tucked into the craggy east coast of Sicily is the small town of Taormina, hard on the Mediterranean. History stretches far back in this region, back even before Greeks from the island of Naxos first landed on Sicily in 734 B.C.

     Over the ensuing centuries, Taormina changed hands, as did the rest of the island—from the Greeks to the Roman Empire (where it was celebrated for its fine wine and excellent marble) to the Arabs, the Normans, the Angevins, the Spanish crown, and the French.

     In the 18th century, Taormina began to attract European tourists, in large part due to the writing of Johann Wolfgang Goethe, who made a grand tour of Italy in the 1780s. Goethe adored Sicily, and especially Taormina. “To have seen Italy without have seen Sicily is not to have seen Italy at all, for Sicily is the clue to everything,” he wrote. Taormina he called “a patch of paradise.”

     Before long, other Germans headed to Sicily—and Taormina—to see for themselves what Goethe warned them not to miss.

     One of those Germans was a 20-year-old Berlin-based painter, Otto Geleng (1843-1939). Like many young artists, he went Italy to train, and on a visit to Taormina, he, too, fell in love with the town.

     His paintings, exhibited in Germany and France, captured the scenic views, lush vegetation, azure hues of the sea, and the looming peak of nearby Mount Etna—all things Europeans were not accustomed to seeing in paintings exhibited on the Continent. In fact, many critics accused Geleng of having an “unbridled imagination.” At that, the painter challenged them to go to Taormina with him, promising that he would pay everyone’s expenses if he were not telling the truth.

     Back in Taormina, Geleng became the mayor and then founded the town’s first hotel, now called the Timeo, a move that encouraged a first wave of visitors. (Geleng, by the way, spent the rest of his life in Sicily.)

     Another German, Wilhelm von Gloeden (1856-1931), furthered Taormina’s reputation on the Continent. Von Gloeden was a photographer who settled in Taormina hoping to ameliorate a chronic lung ailment with the temperate local climate. He would come to call his adopted hometown “heaven on Earth.”

     A pioneer in the nascent art of photography, von Gloeden shot sensual portraits of nudes and young shepherds against a backdrop of the area’s classical ruins. His work was picked up by popular European publications of the time—travel magazines, scouting periodicals, even Baedeker.

     The die was cast. By the turn of the 20th century, poets, actors, painters, and socialites flocked to Taormina as part of a Grand Tour of Italy. Alexander Graham Bell and his wife, Mabel, visited von Gloeden there in 1898 and bought two of his photographs, which they gave to the National Geographic Society. Others came, too: Prince August Wilhelm of Prussia; King Alphonse of Spain, King Edward VII of England; the Rothschilds; J. P. Morgan; Richard Strauss; Rudyard Kipling, Oscar Wilde, Thomas Mann, D. H. Lawrence…

     By the mid-20th century, Taormina had become a magnet for well-known jet-setters, movie stars, and directors, among them Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Cary Grant, Elizabeth Taylor, Gregory Peck, Federico Fellini, and Woody Allen. This was the place to see and be seen in Europe.

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