Sicily by request

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The astonishing cultural richness of Sicily is the legacy of millennia of invasions and occupations. The Phoenicians, the Greeks, Rome, Byzantium, the Saracens, the Normans and the Spanish prized this island at the heart of the Mediterranean for its location and fertility. Each left their mark and contributed to a vibrant culture greater than the sum of its parts.

‘Sicily by Request’ introduces you to the fusion of Norman, Arab and Byzantine art at Palermo, Monreale and Cefalu. At Segesta, Agrigento and Siracusa you will find the most magnificent Greek cities and temples in Magna Graecia and at beautiful Erice one of the vast castles created by the Norman kings. Piazza Armerina is the location of a Roman villa of astonishing size and luxury and the town of Noto in the south- east is a perfect example of the exuberant Sicilian Baroque made under Spanish Rule.   

 

Christ pantocrator, Monreale

Christ Pantocrator, Monreale

Itinerary

March 18th   London/Palermo

March 19th   At Palermo. The Palatine Chapel of the Palazzo dei Normani, the sumptuous private chapel created for Roger II by Norman and Arab craftsmen and Byzantine mosaicists. The monastery of San Giovanni degli Eremiti and the Cathedral with its marvellous exterior and the tombs of the Norman kings.

Afternoon. The Piazza Bellini for the tiny, domed church of San Cataldo and the beautiful mosaics in the 12th century Martorana Church. A visit to the Museo Archeologico Regionale which contains finds from Sicily’s archaeological sites including the relief sculptures from the temples at Selinunte.

March 20th  From Palermo. By coach to Monreale,the spectacular Cathedral begun in 1174 by William II of Sicily which contains the most extensive cycle of Christian mosaic work in the world. Behind the Cathedral lies the Chiostro dei Benedetti where the Arabic arches of the cloister spring from capitals sculpted with an infinity of pagan and Christian subjects.

Afternoon. By coach to the ancient, enchanting town of Erice with its great castle and on to Segesta and one of the best preserved Doric temples in the west.

March 21st  Palermo/Agrigento. A visit to La Zisa, William I of Sicily’s oriental pleasure palace complete with fountains, an air cooling system and a harem. On to Cefalu for a visit to the town and the Duomo, built for Roger II in 1148 and containing the earliest and perhaps the most beautiful of all Sicilian church mosaics.

Afternoon. To Agrigento.

March 22nd  The Valley of the Temples, the sacred site south of Greek Akragas, one of Sicily’s richest trading communities. Beginning with the eastern part of the site and the fine Temples of Ercole, Concordia and Juno the visit continues with a tour of the excellent archaeological museum and concludes with the ancient sanctuaries in the western valley and the massive Temple of Jove.

March 23rd  Agrigento/Siracusa. By coach to  Piazza Armerina where the remains of the 4th century CE Villa Romana del Castale contain spectacular Roman mosaics ranging from pictorial narratives of hunts and mythology to erotica and charming scenes of playing children and girl athletes.

Afternoon. By coach to Noto, an entirely Baroque city rebuilt after the earthquake of 1693. The Spanish Duke of Carnastra employed the best craftsmen in Sicily to realize his vision of an logically planned ideal city created in the most modern style. On to Siracusa.

March 24th Siracusa. A walk through Ortygia, the oldest part of Siracusa where a warren of streets crowded with Catalan Gothic and Baroque palazzi lead from the sea and the Fountain of Arethusa to the beautiful Piazza del Duomo and the Cathedral converted from a temple to Athena. On to the superb Archaeological Museum for finds from the Stone Age to the Roman occupation.

Afternoon.  The Archaeological Park, the site of Siracusa’s social and religious amenities including the spectacular Theatro Greco and the Anfiteatro Romano. Close by are the quarries from which building stones were taken and the caves of the Orecchio Dionisio and the Grotta dei Cordari.

March 25th  Siracusa/London. Depart Siracusa for Catania via the Castel Eurialo, the major Greek fortification in the Mediterranean. The planning of the castle is attributed to Archimedes, Siracusa’s General of Ordinance in the 3rd century BCE.  A visit to the market in Catania before continuing to the airport.

Christ Pantocrator, Cefalu

Christ Pantocrator, Cefalu

San Giovanni degli Eremiti

San Giovanni degli Eremiti

Siracusa

Siracusa

Catania

Catania - Piazza Duomo

Road to Bronte

Road sign in Randazzo

 


Palermo Cathedral

Palermo Duomo

Palermo cathedral apse end

Palermo Duomo

Monreale cloisters


Monreale Cloisters

cefalu duomo


Cefalu

Segesta Tempio

Segesta Tempio

Agrigento Temple

Agrigento - Valley of the Temples

Temple of Fortuna Agrigento

Agrigento - Temple of Fortuna

view from Erice

View from Erice

Erice Duomo interior


Erice Duomo

Etna

Mount Etna from Taormina