New date: 29 March to 9 April 2021Italy

Please note that this tour has been postponed to 29 March to 9 April 2021 in an effort to control the spread of the coronavirus. Exact dates to be confirmed.

Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea and has a population of approximately five million.

It also has a very interesting and extensive railway system with most lines still in use, but several threatened with closure.

Our visit will be in the early spring to take advantage of the pleasant temperatures at that time of year. Sicily has seen a variety of different cultures, including the original Italic people, the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Saracens, Normans, Spaniards and French, each contributing to the island’s culture, particularly in the areas of cuisine and architecture.

Our tour of Sicily travels over almost every currently active railway line on the island, both standard and narrow gauge, with time to ride the new tramway systems in Messina and Palermo and visit the island’s railway museums.

From: Gatwick, Luton, Bristol, Manchester or by rail from London St Pancras. Escorted from Rome.

Tour Manager: Angelina   angelina@ptg.co.uk

Availability

Tour Highlights


  • Beautiful scenery
  • Best time to visit the island for mild temperatures
  • Off train activities to see ancient and natural wonders
  • Six nights in Palermo and six nights in Catania
  • Good quality rail system
  • Chance to travel on the whole rail system if you choose
  • Tour Itinerary
  • Prices & Options
  • Booking
  • Gallery
  • Transport & Accommodation

Day 1 Monday 29 March (B)

We fly out with direct flights to Catania. Upon arrival we transfer by tour coach to our centrally located 4-star hotel in Palermo. Or fly out from Manchester (and other UK airports) to Rome on Saturday 28 March for overnight in Rome and then on Sunday morning catch the train right through to Palermo which includes a train ferry between the mainland and the island of Sicily.

Day 2 Tuesday 30 March (B,D)

We enjoy a guided tour of Palermo in the morning and then by coach to Mondelo beach and Monreale in the afternoon. Palermo’s thousand-year history has given it a great artistic and architectural heritage ranging from the remains of the Punic walls to Art Nouveau villas.  Mondelo beach is a famous seaside resort and very crowded in summer, but fortunately not in March, and has Liberty style Art Nouveau villas and a wonderful setting. The Cathedral of Monreale is one of the greatest extant examples of Norman architecture and is a national Monument of Italy. We return to our hotel in Palermo for a welcome dinner.

Day 3 Wednesday 31 March (B)

Today we will take FS Trenitalia service trains on a return trip to Messina, (planned departure 10.05). Messina is located near the northeast corner of Sicily, on the Strait of Messina, opposite Villa San Giovanni on the mainland. We visit the local FS depot and have free time for lunch.  It is possible enthusiasts will have free time in Messina to visit the 7.7 km long light rail system (Tranvia di Messina), opened in 2003 and linking the central railway station to the city centre and harbour area. Arrival back in Palermo should be at 19.30

Day 4 Thursday 1 April (B)

Today, we explore the western side of Sicily as we travel to Trapani, stopping on the way in Segesta to visit the Greek Temple, the best preserved in Sicily, and in Erice, the old town located on a 750-metre hill. Weather permitting; we will reach the summit of Erice by cable car with a beautiful panoramic view of Trapani and the Egady Islands. Trapani sits on a low-lying promontory jutting out into the Mediterranean Sea in front of the Egady Islands and much of Trapani’s economy still depends on the sea; fishing and canning are the main local industries. From Trapani we return by train to Palermo.

Day 5 Friday 2 April (B)

Today we take a FS Trenitalia service train from Palermo Centrale at 08.41 to Agrigento, located two hours away on the southern coast of the island.  We will have a guided visit to the Valley of the Temples, one of the most outstanding examples of Greater Greece art and architecture. The area became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997 and includes the remains of seven temples, all in Doric style. The whole group returns by train to Palermo.

Day 6 Saturday 3 April (B)

Option of an early morning Palermo depot visit. This morning we travel by train across through the mountainous interior of the island. Departing Palermo at 09.38, we travel on the line through Roccapalumba, Caltanissetta and Enna to arrive in Catania, our base for six nights, in time for lunch. Catania is located at the foot of the active Etna Volcano and the city, founded in the 8th century BC, has had a long and eventful history. In the 14th century and the Renaissance, Catania was one of Italy’s most important and flourishing cultural, artistic and political centres. In the afternoon we will have a guided tour of Catania, Acicastello and Acitrezza by tourist open bus.

Day 7 Sunday 4 April (B, L)

Our charter bus takes us to Villarosa station to see the railway collection in the Treno Museo and to visit the Folk Museum at Villapriolo village where we have typical lunch in a local restaurant.    After this we continue our trip to Piazza Armerina to visit the Roman Villa del Casale, famous for its splendid mosaics. Our bus then takes us back to our hotel in Catania.

Day 8 Monday 5 April (B)

Today our charter bus takes us to the hilltop town of Taormina. The town is known for the Teatro Antico di Taormina, an ancient Greco-Roman theatre still used today. Near the theatre, cliffs drop to the sea forming coves with sandy beaches. Visit the city and the famous Greek theatre. After our lunch break we continue our trip to Messina Marittima Ferry station to cover the line Messina-Catania in our return to Catania with a regional train.

Day 9 Tuesday 6 April (B)

Today we travel to Syracuse by train where we will enjoy a whole-day guided tour of Syracuse – Ortigia and the Parco Archeologico Neapolis. Syracuse is located in the south eastern corner of the island of Sicily on the Ionian Sea. The city is notable for its rich Greek history, amphitheatres, architecture and as the birthplace of the pre-eminent mathematician and engineer Archimedes. This 2,700-year-old city played a key role in ancient times, when it was one of the major powers of the Mediterranean world.

Day 10 Wednesday 7 April (B, L)

Today we board our FCE special train with the 1937 Fiat railcar Aln 56 and travel from Catania to Riposto. The Ferrovia Circumetnea (FCCE) is a 950 mm narrow-gauge railway line constructed between 1889 and 1895 and now is the only one remaining of the narrow-gauge network. As the name suggests, the line (110 km length) follows a route which almost encircles the Etna Volcano. From its terminal in Catania the line starts off in a westward direction and loops around Etna in a clockwise manner, eventually reaching its other terminal at the seaside town of Riposto, approximately 28 km to the north-east of Catania. The original terminal was at Catania Porto, although Catania Centrale was the last stop for trains.  At the end of 2016 new sections of FCE underground opened, the section from Catania Stesicoro (town centre) and to Catania Nesima converted, as the other tracks, to standard gauge and moved underground as a metro line now 8km in length. We will take the metro at Piazza Stesicoro and will explore the metro system to the end of the line at Nesima and back to Borgo station for a depot visit before boarding our special train leaving Catania, stopping at Bronte to see the depot and have snacks before continuing to Randazzo to have an included lunch in a local restaurant. We continue to Circumetnea station of Giarre, then a short walk to Trenitalia station Giarre Riposto to take the service train, closing the circle, and arriving back in Catania.

Day 11 Thursday 8 April (B, L)

Today our coach will take us to 1,935 metres a.s.l. to the Rifugio Sapienza on Mount Etna, which is as far as you can get by car. We will have a guided hike along the path that passes near the cableway crossing the lava fields of 2002/03. We visit the Silvestri Craters, eruption of 1892 and from here we can admire the wonderful volcanic landscape. After the hike our bus will take us to the well-known Gambino winery for our farewell meal and a guided tour of the winery before returning with our bus to the hotel in Catania.

Day 12 Friday 9 April (B)

Free morning or Catania FS depot visit. In the early afternoon coach transfer to Catania Airport from where we take flights back to London Gatwick, Bristol, Luton or Manchester. You can, if you wish to, stay on in Catania for a few more days.

Prices (per person)

  • From Gatwick: £2,225
  • From Luton: £2,195
  • From Bristol: £2,195
  • From Manchester (into Rome): £2,375
  • From Catania or Palermo: £2,025

Options

  • Single room supplement: £390
  • Outward to Rome (on 28th): add £150 double/twin, £190 single

Deposit

  • £500
Please note that you cannot book a flight inclusive trip on our website but if you select the flight option you prefer then we will contact you with the flight details and convert your booking into a flight inclusive package.

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