- David’s Blog
My Best of Sicily Tour takes you on a route visiting my best destinations on the island. We will visit all the main tourist sights but often it is the cultural experiences, small villages, and unique destinations that make the most vivid travel memories. I think we’ve come up with a balanced mix of both. Beginning in Palermo, you’ll experience a lively and vibrant city full of colorful characters, ancient churches, and bustling markets. Then we will get out of town visiting the ancient Greek sites of Segesta, Agrigento and Syracuse. Along the way you’ll experience the culture, cuisine, and sense of community only found in small villages and hilltowns. Additionally, there are plenty of opportunities to slow down and enjoy some free time on your own to make your own travel memories. Sicily will provide an intense dose of Italian culture supercharged with a Sicilian flair. - Your Adventure Starts Here!
Palermo – 2 nights
Erice – 2 nights
Agrigento – 1 night
Syracusa – 2 nights
Taormina – 2 nights
Catania – 2 nights
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Exploring Europe – 4036 Hidden Acre Rd. – Middleburg, FL 32068 FAX 800-570-1351
DAY 1: WELCOME TO PALERMO! – Let’s plan to meet for drinks and introductions at 4:00 p.m. in our hotel. Then, we will set off to explore the streets and neighborhoods of Palermo. After an orientation walk, enjoy a true Sicilian dinner at a local restaurant. Sleep 2 nights in Palermo. Walking: Light. Dinner.
DAY 2: MONREALE AND THE MARKETS – We will begin the day with a visit to the hill town of Monreale and its cathedral. Here you’ll have an opportunity to visit the cathedral’s interior featuring Arab-influenced mosaics and lavish decorations. Back in Palermo, we will take a strolling tour through the backstreets and a local outdoor market. You’ll have the remainder of the afternoon and evening to poke around and do some exploring on your own. Walking: Strenuous.
DAY 3: GREEK TEMPLES AND HILLTOP ERICE – Sicily was dominated by the Greeks long before the Romans settled here and we’ll get our fair share of “Greece” on our tour around Sicily. Leaving Palermo, we will drive west to Segesta, the site of a magnificent Greek temple and theatre. Later, enjoy a scenic drive into the mountains to Erice, a mountain-top town dating from the middle ages with a fortress, castle, and fantastic views of the sea and islands. After a short orientation, enjoy lunch and a free afternoon for sightseeing. Later, we will head down the hill to Trapani, a bustling seaside town on the far west coast. Here, enjoy an orientation walk around the harbor and a free evening on your own. Sleep 2 nights in Trapani. Driving: 3 hours. Walking: Moderate. Lunch.
DAY 4: THE SALT FLATS AND MOZIA – Heading south, we will visit a coastal area where salt has been harvested for thousands of years. We will have a look at the salt harvesting process and then visit nearby
Mozia, a small coastal island and the home of an ancient Phoenician civilization. Later, we’ll return to Trapani for a free evening on your own. Driving: 2 hours. Walking: Moderate.
DAY 5: AGRIGENTO “VALLEY OF THE TEMPLES” – Enjoy another scenic drive along the southern coastal road enroute to the “Valley of the Temples.” Agrigento was founded by the Greeks some 2,500 years ago as an outlying colony of their empire. During the Greek era, the hills along this valley were prime spots for building temples, just like the Parthenon in Athens. Today, you’ll experience some of the best preserved of all Doric Greek temples in the world. Later, we will arrive at our hotel for a relaxing evening and a fantastic dining experience. Sleep 1 night near Agrigento. Driving: 3 hours. Walking: Moderate. Dinner.
DAY 6: A ANCIENT ROMAN MOSAICS & SYRACUSA – We will spend most of the day visiting a Roman Villa that had been lost until just 60 years ago. The Villa Romana Casale was covered with mud and debris by a landslide in the 12th century. What we’ll see today are wonderfully preserved and detailed mosaic floors dating from the 4th century. Then travel to Syracuse, known by the Greeks as their most beautiful city. We will take an orientation walk and have dinner together on the island of Ortygia. Sleep 2 nights in Syracuse. Driving: 3 hours. Walking: Moderate. Dinner.
DAY 7: GREEK THEATRE - Enjoy a visit to a archaeological park for a look at an impressive Greek theatre carved out of solid rock. The remainder of the day is event-free to allow you to experience Syracuse and Ortygia on your own. Walking: Moderate.
DAY 8: MONT ETNA & TAORMINA: Heading north, travel the slopes of Mt. Etna, an active volcano, enroute to Taormina. In Taormina, enjoy a delightful evening passiggiata and dinner. Sleep 2 nights in Taormina. Driving: 3 hours. Walking: Moderate. Lunch or Dinner.
DAY 9: GREEK THEATRE– This morning, we will visit a very well-preserved Greek theatre that is still used today for open-air performances. Enjoy a free afternoon on your own to shop, relax in a café, take a walk in the park or visit the cliff-top village of Castelmola. Walking: Light.
DAY 10: CATANIA– After breakfast, travel down to Catania where we will visit the Museum dedicated to the 1943 Allied Landings in Sicily (Museo dello Sbarco). Later, you’ll be free to wander through Catania’s fish market and enjoy the beautiful Baroque city center. We’ll gather for a farewell dinner at a local ristorante to cap off your Sicilian tour experience. Driving: 2 hours. Walking Moderate. Dinner.
DAY 11: HEADING HOME – Breakfast is provided this morning but there are no planned activities. Cantania’s airport is just a short taxi ride away. Arriverderci!
Transportation provided by coach and/or minibus from your hotel in Palermo to the airport in Catania.
10 night’s accommodation in centrally located hotels, guesthouses, and B&B’s. All rooms have private en-suite bathes.
All tips and gratuities to guides, drivers, restaurant and hotel staff.
Guaranteed Small Group consisting of no more than 24 travelers.
All breakfasts and six of your dinners or lunches.
Traditional and gourmet dining experiences at some of David's personal favorite restaurants. Eating well is a priority and you’ll enjoy fine regional fare featuring the best the locale has to offer.
Tours and admissions to the following attractions, experiences, and sights: Walking tour in Palermo ·Entrance and tour at Monreale Cathedral · Segesta Temple · Erice orientation walk · Visit to the Salt Flats · visit to the island of Mozia · Valley of the Temples tour · Villa Romana Casale · Ortygia neightborhood walk · Syracuse · Neopolis Archaeological Park tour · WWII Landing Museum · Taormina walking tour · and much more (itinerary specifics are subject to change).
A fulltime Exploring Europe guide and local experts dedicated to bringing to life the art, history, and culture of the tour destinations.
David’s printed tour handouts detailing each day’s historical and cultural experiences.
Free luggage tags and David’s custom designed drawstring backpacks.
Our Unconditional Tour Price Guarantee that once locked in, will never change.
Comprehensive Travel Insurance providing full coverage for emergency medical, baggage loss, and trip delay from the moment you depart for your tour.
$50 Tour Alumni discount for each David McGuffin tour you’ve taken prior to 2018.
$100 discount if making all payments by check, cash or bank draft. The $400 initial deposit may be made by credit card and still qualify for this discount.
Single rooms for solo travelers are available for an additional cost of $575.
Water is included with all group meals. Sodas, wine, beer and other drinks are your responsibility.
Walking and Physical Activity: We have planned this trip to provide maximum tour experiences. The basic nature of Europe does require some degree of physical activity to get out and see the sights, especially in the big cities. To help you plan, we’ve included a daily projection of physical activity. Here is our key for our walking activity ratings:
Light – Walking done on level surfaces with some hills and elevation gains. Two miles or less of required walking during the day.
Moderate – Walking done on paved and gravel paths and city cobbled sidewalks. To enjoy the full tour experience, some up and down hill walking is to be expected as is standing while viewing sights or museums. Four to six miles of walking per day.
Strenuous – Walking done on rugged and rocky paths and city cobbled sidewalks. There will be steps and stairs. Up to three hours standing in museums or experience sites. Up to eight miles of walking per day.
Your Choice – No matter what your walking ability, we will help you find alternative ways to enjoy and experience all Europe has to offer. To get the most out of our tours you should be able to operate at the light level everyday with spurts of moderate and strenuous.
THE BEST OF ITALY TOUR – The reason we chose David and this tour is because we wanted to be able to take advantage of David’s extensive knowledge of the areas visited to be sure we saw the best Italy had to offer. Having David take care of hotel and travel reservations and many of the meals was a huge benefit to us. Traveling with this size group (13) was great because we met some wonderful people and David is a delight to travel with. – Bill, Daytona Beach, FL
THE ESSENCE OF ITALY TOUR – David’s tours are a wonderful way to see and explore Europe. He does as promises in giving everyone a true local experience and getting you immersed in the culture. You not only get to see the “must see” attractions but he also gives you a look at “real life” in each destination. The dinner’s he provides are outstanding and are all ‘grand feasts”. We found all the accommodations he provided to be wonderful. No complaints whatsoever! – Becky, Panama City, FL
THE BEST OF ITALY TOUR – David’s tours are always very relaxed & friendly, with much walking, touring the best of each city, but allowing time on travelers own to explore or to relax. Being in a smaller group, we became better acquainted while enjoying wonderful evenings of group dinners. David is a very easy-going and relaxed guide who is willing to share his free time with the group. I have never experienced another tour guide who would spend his free evenings with the group, joining with anyone who wished for dinner or for additional entertainment in the evening. – Ramona, Sarasota, FL
THE BEST Of ITALY TOUR – The David McGuffin tour experience was fantastic! I would not have changed a single thing about the experience! I thought we covered all the best cities, tours, etc. that were really important to anyone who may never have the opportunity to go but once. Although we covered a lot I never felt it was a “whirlwind” tour. Always had the time to see what was in each place. – Linda, Gainesville, FL
THE BEST OF SICILY TOUR & THE ESSENCE OF ITALY – As my passion is archaeology and ancient history I was hoping and planning to see many ancient sites, and I was not disappointed. Most tours going to Sicily only cover two or three locations, but David’s itinerary covers pretty much the entire island. Good health and good walking-legs are required, as the terrain is steep and rocky in many places. It is always a plus when a tour leader is knowledgeable and a safe driver, as David is, but more importantly it is essential that he likes good food and wine, even though we couldn’t always eat all four courses. And in one hotel we even had a cooking class especially for us: So much fun! – Mette, Orange, CA
THE ESSENCE OF ITALY TOUR & THE ESSENCE OF IRELAND TOUR- This was my second tour with David McGuffin’s Exploring Europe. It was an amazing trip. A very relaxed pace during the delay that allows you to see the sites and plenty of time to take pictures. Of course, the dinners and meals were amazing. It’s so very nice travel with all lodging, schedules, and transportation already planned. I’d like to add that possibly our group had just too good of a time! Our small group really enjoyed every minute and had an absolute blast with Charlotte (our guide). We just laughed and had fun every day. While that makes for a fantastic vacation…it does make the ‘re-entry’ to normal life just painful. – Patti, Atlanta, GA
PRIVATE CUSTOM TOUR IN TUSCANY – Overall experience was outstanding. David picked us up at the train station in Florence and drove us thru the Tuscany area. He reserved a wonderful place for us to stay in the countryside, a little outside the city which was very relaxing, vineyards surrounded us. Very nice. The guides and tours that were set up for us could not have been better. Not only did he take us to places and explain the sites the guides he set up were outstanding. We have been to Florence before – but our guide Paola who took us thru the Accademia and the Uffizi gallery was so good that she made this experience the best that I have ever had. Overall our experience was just outstanding and I wish we could just do it all over again. – Joe, Jacksonville, FL
THE ESSENCE OF ITALY – This tour allowed us to experience different regions of Italy from small villages to big cities. Andy and his wife, Mary Ada, were the perfect tour guide couple! I can’t imagine learning as much or having as much fun without them! The flexibility and organization of this tour was amazing! We can’t wait to go on another tour! The dinner in Volterra was the best food I have ever eaten! I was not so keen on the seafood mix in Monterosso, I quickly became a vegetarian! I was shocked at how nice our lodging was. The breakfasts, accommodations and staff were great! – Sandra, Port Orange, FL
Now that you’ve decided to join this tour, we are sure you’ll have some questions. Don’t worry, we are here to help you through each aspect of your tour from start to finish.
David and his team have produced an episodic video series detailing many of the destinations on this tour itinerary. They are all neatly organized on his YouTube channel. Watch the complete series or view one episode at a time on his Best of Italy Playlist.
Join David as he shares impromptu moments from his travels in Italy. Watching these short 60 second segments are a great way to experience David’s travel style and adventures. Watch David’s Explore Italy.
David and his team have answered many travel related questions and they are all tucked away on his blog. But, no need to go there, just type in a keyword in the search box at the top or bottom of this page (it’s the gray rectangle with a small magnifying glass icon) and you will get results for your query.
We are happy to answer your travel questions and give advice and suggestions. firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-570-1351.