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  • The salts-pans area in Nubia, Trapani
    The salt pan area in Nubia, Trapani
  • Citrons and tangerins at the market in Catania
    Citrons and tangerins at the market in Catania
  • A corner of the 18th century village of Marzamemi, Syracuse
    A corner of the 18th century village of Marzamemi, Syracuse
  • The stunning Scala dei Turchi near Realmonte, Agrigento
    The stunning Scala dei Turchi near Realmonte, Agrigento
  • A colorful wall again in Marzamemi, Syracuse
    A colorful wall again in Marzamemi, Syracuse
  • Local folklore in the Medieval town of Gangi, Madonie area
    Local folklore in the Medieval town of Gangi, Madonie area

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Beautiful gardens and landscapes of eastern Sicily


9 days – 8 nights

Abundant with colour and luminosity, this is a unique journey along Persephone’s island by to discover secrets gardens and spectacular landscapes hidden among the green of the Mediterranean pine trees and the blue cobalt of the sea and surrounded by the scent of the zagara. An exciting themed tour for all garden lovers, for those interested in landscape design, floral design and environmental sustainability. And for those who love culture, of course.
We will visit the fascinating private gardens and houses of the Gattopardo’s heirs and appreciate their exquisite hospitality, discover stunning landscapes from Greek Theatres, hidden among Baroque palazzos, taste Sicilian flavours and dishes washed the wines from the vineyards of Mt Etna, the biggest active volcano in Europe, and the perfumed Moscato wine from Syracuse.

Highlights
Syracuse
: Ortigia, Neapolis, Pupillo winery, il Biviere garden, San Giuliano garden
Modica:
Scicli, Gli Aromi nursery garden
Catania:
UNESCO Heritage city, Le Stanze in Fiore garden, Parco del Toscano garden
Taormina:
cooking classa with Michelin starred chef, Casa Cuseni
Etna:
top boutique winery

ITINERARY & PROGRAM

Day 1 – Welcome to Sicily
Arrival at Catania International Airport. Meet & greet with our assistant/guide and transfer to Syracuse area. Arrival at Pupillo winery for a visit, wine tasting and aperitif. Proceed to your Hotel in Syracuse. Welcome dinner. (D)

Day 2 – Syracuse
Breakfast at the hotel.
Departure for a full-day guided visit to Syracuse: first the local market and the Baroque-style historical centre located in the island of Ortigia to visit the Cathedral, former a great temple devoted to Athene, the Fountain of Arethusa planted with papyrus, the Jewish quarter, the Maniace Castle. After lunch, the ancient Neapolis, how the archaeological park is called, where the most interesting remains of the Graeco-Roman heritage of Syracuse are to be visit: the Greek Theatre, the Ear of Dyonisus, the Latomie. Then, Rest of the day at leisure to enjoy this beautiful Baroque town and get acquainted with Sicily. (B)

Day 3 – Il Biviere garden and San Giuliano garden / Syracuse
Breakfast at the hotel.
Today, you will visit to of the most interesting private gardens in Sicily.
Owned by one of the oldest noble Sicilian families, the Garden of Sangiuliano is located halfway between Syracuse and Catania, a 60 hectares estate reminiscing much of the story of the family as well as the history of the land it belongs to. The garden surrounds the fifteenth-century fortified manor farm occupying what was once the area devoted to the wheat, the olives and the grapes gathering. During the ‘90s, the Giardinetto was designed and realized into four different areas delimited by dry stone walls and including an Arab garden. A tropical garden and an aromatic herb garden complete the large garden area. The garden reaches its beauty during the blooming in May and June but September and October it gets a new lease on life and appears as it is, an articulated example of a contemporary garden in Sicily.
Proceed to the nearby Il Biviere, once a desolate place surrounded by stones and dust, today it has become – thanks to a passion for beautiful plant life – a unique and very special Mediterranean garden. Its story has something intriguing and adventurous, you will hear it directly by the word of the owner. The feudal estate was granted to the Borghese family by the Edict of King Martin that in 1392 and from that time today, the estate has undergone many transformations. The restoration work begun in 1930 and in 1968 the estate became the residence of Scipione and Maria Carla Borghese in 1968 the owners and creators of The Biviere’s Garden. Their adventure to create a beautiful garden from a once barren land began when they were both 37 years old and it was the beginning of what seemed to be an impossible dream. That area where once the lake Il Biviere extended, the ancient port facing south, now closed by massive boulders cut by hand, has become a charming green space, an invitation to the main entrance of “Case del Biviere.” On the restored piers, which were done with particular care and attention to detail, one finds an extraordinary collection of succulent plants — imported from diverse and distant countries – that almost forms a gangway of botanical statuary. Open spaces in harmony with the colors and fragrances of oranges, jasmine and the poetic flight of fancy known for centuries only to those who have loved this land. Light lunch at Il Biviere.
Return to Syracuse. Dinner at leisure. (B, L)

Day 4 – Gli Aromi plant nursery /Modica
Breakfast at the hotel.
Departure to the countryside of Scicli, located in the south-east of Sicily, further south of Tunis, in a valley shaped like an hourglass. Here, the “unique” is everywhere: in the air you breathe, in the astonishing natural scenery, in the baroque architecture of the old town, in the art of painting, in the flavors that fill the tables. Out of the love of this land and the passion for aromatic and therapeutic herbs, a garden nursery was born fifteen years ago. Gli Aromi farm is run in a familiar context that encourages the work to be done manually, thus always maintaining high standards in quality. Here the plant is valued as a fundamental part of a territory to understand, rediscover and respect, with the knowledge of finding yourself in the middle of the Mediterranean, melting pot of countless cultures for thousands of years. Enrico, the owner and manager, will guide you through a multisensorial itinerary of unknown flavors and forgotten fragrances that will end in the kitchen garden area. Here, a truly countryside aperitif will give you the possibility to taste unexpected culinary creations made with typical local products. In a fully equipped professional kitchen set in a such natural scenery and surrounded by several fragrances our Chef Rita will captivate you with a Cooking demo. The beauty of the Ragusano countryside overlooking the Mediterranean sea is always included!  
After lunch, proceed to the town of Modica part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Sicily for its beautiful baroque architecture. Divided into “Modica Alta” (Upper Modica) the area around the castle and “Modica Bassa” (Lower Modica) the historic center of town, Modica offers 100 spectacular churches and its baroque monuments are not the only attractions you can visit. The town has a long tradition in the production of chocolate whose methodology is still very close to that implemented by the Aztecs. The special “cold” processing which implies the cocoa to be worked at 40°C with custer sugar and no added butter or other substances, helps to keep the flavors that would otherwise be destined to disappear. This way of processing gives the cioccolato modicano its typical rough appearance with a grainy consistency, an irregular brown colour and a toasted cocoa aroma.
Nowadays it is traditionally flavored with chili, cinnamon, vanilla and orange and it can be eaten as it is or dissolved in water as a beverage. We will visit the Antica Dolceria Bonajuto one of the oldest and most important in Modica dating back to 1880 and producing a wide range of pralines and delicious local delicacies. Return to the hotel in Syracuse. Dinner on your own. (B, L)

Day 5 – Catania city tour/ Le stanze in fiore/ Parco del Toscano/ Taormina
Breakfast at the hotel.
Departure to Catania, the second biggest city in Sicily and the most lively one. Catania has had a long and eventful history, having been founded in the 8th century BC. In 1434 it witnessed the opening of the first university in Sicily, the 6th in Italy. Then in the 14th century and into the Renaissance, it was one of Italy’s most important and flourishing cultural, artistic, and political centers. Destroyed by a huge volcanic eruption in 1669 and then by a violent earthquake in 1693, the city was rebuilt in the Baroque architecture that nowadays characterizes it and for which it was listed as a UNESCO Wolrd Heritage Site. The city is also the home town of Vincenzo Bellini, the bel canto (opera) composer who gave us masterpieces such as Norma, I Puritani, Capuleti e Montecchi. A short city tour of the historical centre will let you discover the enchanting Piazza Duomo with the Cathedral dedicated to St Agatha and the lively historical market just nearby. Proceed to Le Stanze in Fiore located in the immediate surroundings of the city. This private garden surrounds the neoclassical villa built in the 19th century. In 2000 the owner had the idea to design and create a contemporary flowering garden where about nine hundred different rare species of tropical and sub-tropical plants. Step by step the sensory path reveals itself with its colours and flavours of climbing plants and flower shrub and the rhythmic sound of the water of ponds, small lakes and flowing waters. An oriental garden and a zen garden are also part of the property. Proceed for the visit of Parco Paternò del Toscano located at the foothill of Mt Etna, extending for about 3 hectares, a special rock garden terraces, designed by landscape architect Ettore Paternò. The manor house was built in the fifties of the twentieth century. The park consists of orchards and vineyards, typical of the Sicilian landscape, and the garden itself, composed of Mediterranean and exotic plants from around the world for a total of 42 different species. Proceed to Taormina. Arrival at the hotel, check-in and accommodation.
Dinner at leisure. (B, L)
Remark:
the sequence of the visit may change thus remaining all planned for this day.


Day 6 – Taormina cooking class / city tour and Casa Cuseni
After breakfast, meet your Michelin starred chef for a cooking class at his cooking lab located downtown. He has been one of the first Sicilian chef to acquire the Michelin star for his personal way to combine creativity and regional specialties and give birth to the best reinterpretation of the Sicilian gastronomic tradition.
From fresh food to vegetables, from Slow Food presidia to a wise use of local extra-virgin olive oils, it’s always the quality of ingredients which gives the basis for its key of success. In his food academy you will enjoy method and healthy creativity, knowledge and techniques, genuine food and genuine thoughts. Our chef will drive you along the secrets of Sicilian ingredients and cuisine, for an effective though elegant culinary class, never to forget (Remarks: it is not possible to have a hands-on cooking class but participants will be asked to help the chef).
After the cooking class, meet your local guide and short visit of Taormina, the ancient Tauoromenion, founded by the Greeks on the slopes of Monte Tauro, now the most famous Sicilian tourist resort. Its Greek-Roman Theatre, the second largest in Sicily, surpassed only by that of Syracuse, is truly magnificent with its gorgeous view over Mt Etna and the sea. Rest of the time at leisure. Special private visit of Casa Cuseni, with aperitif. Casa Cuseni, designed and built by Robert Hawthorn Kitson between 1905 and 1907 below the Rocca of Taormina, is one of several fine villas built by Englishmen who chose to add to the beauty of the town whose prospects of Mount Etna and the local coastline had captivated them. The terraced gardens of Casa Cuseni are a remarkable feat of careful design, sound construction and skillful engineering. To hold the winter rainfall until the summertime, Kitson designed a set of large cisterns under the front terrace and the pergola, for which several wells and the swimming pool made further provision. The gardens were filled with citrus and other fruit trees as well as roses, vines and wisteria, some of which still adorn the terraces. They were an integral part of Kitson’s overall design, lined up on the axis of the house and enlivening the steep access to it. At every level there is a major feature to catch the eye, both from above and below the entrance court with its basin of papyrus and tall coloured stucco piers and pavement; the patterned-brick ramps and steps sweeping up around the lower parterre; the tribune and the tribune and bastione with their with stucco strap-work and bold caricatures; the rococo stucco seating in the pergola; the noble stairway up to the main terrace with its sculpted fountain niche – all provide interest, diversion and even excitement in one’s ascent to the front of the house.
Dinner at your own leisure in town. (B, L)

Day 7 – Etna / Barone di Villagrande /Taormina
Morning visit to Mt Etna the biggest active stratovolcano in Europe included since 2013 in the UNESCO world Heritage List. Mt Etna is an iconic site encompassing 19,237 uninhabited hectares on its highest part. The eruptive history of the volcano can be traced back 500,000 years and at least 2,700 years of activity has been documented. The almost continuous eruptive activity of Mt Etna continues to influence volcanology, geophysics and other Earth disciplines. The volcano also supports important terrestrial ecosystems including endemic flora and fauna and its activity makes it a natural laboratory for the study of ecological and biological process. The diverse and accessible range of volcanic features such as summit craters, cinder cones, lava flows and the Valle del Bove depression have made the site a prime destination for research and education.
Mt Etna is definitely one of the most exciting wine destination worldwide, too. The land around Mt Etna is a large area extending from the furthest slopes of the volcano to its peak. The cultivation of grapevine has always played a fundamental role in the area. It dates back to several centuries ago and over the years has been a typical feature of this area, being a source of income to those inhabitants who have settles at the foothills of the volcano and symbolize the strong human determination to enhance a steep and wild soil which seems to be inapt to be exploited by man. The magnificent terracing realized with stone walls is only an example. These terraces are real works of art whose extraordinariness makes them rare in the world and admired both by Italian and foreign visitors. The peculiar environment on Mt Etna that mixes the particular climate to the nature, altitude and exposure of the soil has as result the production of special wines. Nerello Mascalese is the most prized grape in this area. Harvested in mid-October it is with large clusters, large berries, thin skins and is thought to have arrived from ancient Greece, brought to Italy along the same route followed by the mythical hero Odysseus. Nerello Cappuccio is another important Etna variety and some experts believe it is genetically linked to Carignan. White wines are made primarly from indigenous Carricante and Catarratto. At the slopes of Mt we will visit Barone di Villagrande, a boutique winery set at an altitude of 700mtabove sea level. The vineyards dominated by the estate slope down towards the sea into a natural amphitheatre. After a tour of the winery we will enjoy a typical countryside lunch washed by their d.o.c. wines. For more than 10 years now, the company has taken up a project on the island of Salina, Aeolian islands, for the production of the passito wine Malvasia delle Lipari made from sun-dried grapes. Return to Taormina. Dinner on your own. (B, L)

Day 8 – Taormina
Breakfast at the hotel. Enjoy your last day at leisure in Taormina and be prepared for our farewell dinner at a local restaurant. (B, D)

Day 9 – Saturday: Farewell to Sicily
Breakfast at the hotel. Transfer to Catania International Airport and departure.

Meal legend: B (breakfast)   L (lunch)   D (dinner)

FEATURES

General info: “Beautiful gardens and landscapes of eastern Sicily” is an escorted trip. It is a private tour for a small group of travel companions. It is available all year round on request. It is designed to create a good comfort and let participants enjoy all the areas at best. Accommodation provided is first-class, strategically located. The food is always typically local, with a blend of regional delicacies and top wines. Transportation is top quality. Your drivers/escorts or tour escort is qualified, pleasant and with a long experience in the field.

Departures & Prices: all year-round, upon request

Flights: we generally recommend that our travellers to arrive one day before the trip starts in order to get their bearings and ease in to the new surroundings.

Travel Services: we would be happy to assist travellers in case of any further services: i.e. pre-post nights in Sicily, Amalfi Coast or Malta. Do not hesitate to ask for info.

Reservation & Payment: a deposit of 30% per person is required at the time of reservation. Final payment of the tour is due 60 days prior to departure.

Book this tour OR ask for a customised proposal info@isolabella.it
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