Breathtaking Eastern Sicilian Towns

 

 

Touring Eastern Sicily offers a captivating blend of history, natural beauty, and cultural richness. From the ancient ruins of Syracuse to the fiery spectacle of Mount Etna, and the charming towns of Taormina, Ortigia, Mazara del Vallo, and Noto, this region promises an unforgettable experience. Here are the highlights of a tour that encompasses these remarkable destinations:

  1. Taormina: Nestled high above the Ionian Sea, Taormina is a picturesque town renowned for its stunning views, medieval streets, and ancient Greek Theater. Enjoy a leisurely stroll along Corso Umberto, the main pedestrian street, lined with boutiques, cafes, and historic buildings. Visit the Greek Theater, which dates back to the 3rd century BCE and offers breathtaking views of Mount Etna and the coastline.
  2. Mount Etna: Embark on an awe-inspiring journey to Mount Etna, Europe’s largest active volcano. Explore the otherworldly landscapes shaped by volcanic activity, including lava fields, craters, and lava caves. You can ascend the mountain by cable car and jeep to reach the summit, where you’ll witness breathtaking panoramas of the surrounding countryside and, on clear days, even glimpse the distant islands of Lipari and Vulcano.
  3. Ortigia: Located in the historic center of Syracuse, Ortigia is a small island renowned for its Baroque architecture, winding streets, and vibrant atmosphere. Visit the Piazza del Duomo, home to the magnificent Syracuse Cathedral and the Fountain of Arethusa. Explore the narrow alleys, charming squares, and waterfront promenades, and indulge in delicious Sicilian cuisine at the island’s numerous restaurants and trattorias.
  4. Syracuse: Delve into ancient history with a visit to the archaeological park of Syracuse. Explore the Greek Theater, one of the largest in the ancient world, and the nearby Roman Amphitheater. Don’t miss the Ear of Dionysius, an impressive cave renowned for its extraordinary acoustics. In the Neapolis Archaeological Park, discover the remnants of the ancient city, including the Temple of Apollo and the Altar of Hieron II.
  5. Noto: Prepare to be enchanted by Noto, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a jewel of Sicilian Baroque architecture. Stroll along the elegant Corso Vittorio Emanuele, flanked by opulent palaces, churches, and balconies adorned with intricate stucco decorations. Visit the Noto Cathedral, Palazzo Ducezio, and the Church of San Francesco, among other architectural marvels.

Throughout the tour, savor the delectable Sicilian cuisine, renowned for its fresh seafood, flavorful pastries, and robust wines. Indulge in dishes like arancini (rice balls), cannoli, granita, and pasta alla Norma, a local specialty. Eastern Sicily’s fusion of breathtaking landscapes, ancient history, and vibrant culture promises an unforgettable journey for every traveler.

Western Sicily Marvels

 

 

A tour to Western Sicily is a captivating journey that combines ancient history, stunning landscapes, and mouthwatering cuisine. From the bustling city of Palermo to the charming coastal towns, amazing beaces and archaeological wonders, this region offers a wealth of highlights for every traveler. Here are just some of the key highlights of tours to Western Sicily:

  1. Palermo: Start your tour in the vibrant capital city of Palermo, where you can explore its rich history and cultural heritage. Visit the magnificent Palermo Cathedral, the Royal Palace, and the famous Capuchin Catacombs. Lose yourself in the bustling markets of Ballarò and Vucciria, where you can sample delicious street food and shop for local handicrafts.
  2. Monreale: Just outside Palermo lies the town of Monreale, known for its stunning cathedral. The Monreale Cathedral boasts breathtaking Byzantine mosaics, intricate designs, and magnificent architecture. Explore the interior adorned with biblical scenes and marvel at the panoramic views from its terrace.
  3. Erice: Perched on a hilltop overlooking the coastline, the medieval town of Erice is a charming gem. Wander through its narrow streets, visit the Norman Castle, and enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. Don’t forget to try the famous almond pastries that Erice is known for.
  4. Trapani is also an excellent base for excursions to the nearby Egadi Islands, where you can relax on pristine beaches and indulge in fresh seafood.
  5. Marsala: Wine enthusiasts will delight in a visit to the city of Marsala, famous for its fortified wine. Take a tour of one of the renowned wineries and sample the delicious Marsala wine varieties. Explore the historic center, visit the archaeological museum, and admire the beautiful baroque architecture.
  6. Scopello and the Zingaro Nature Reserve: Experience the natural beauty of Western Sicily with a visit to Scopello and the Zingaro Nature Reserve. Explore the charming village of Scopello, known for its picturesque Tonnara and crystal-clear waters. Hike along the scenic trails of the Zingaro Nature Reserve, where you can discover secluded coves, breathtaking cliffs, and diverse wildlife.

These are just a few of the highlights that await you on a tour to Western Sicily. With its blend of history, natural beauty, and culinary delights, this region offers a truly unforgettable travel experience. Whether you’re an art enthusiast, a history buff, a food lover, or a nature seeker, Western Sicily has something to offer for everyone.

Top 10 Tips for traveling to Sicily

You’re a seasoned traveler. You’re always up for an adventure and you return with fantastic stories. You’ve got your sights set on traveling to Sicily and you want a unique, off-the-beaten-path experience. 

Below, you’ll find our Top Ten Tips to help you discover the best of Sicily 

 

We are delighted to provide you with essential tips for an incredible journey to the enchanting island of Sicily. With its rich history, breathtaking landscapes, and delectable cuisine, Sicily offers a truly unforgettable experience. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a food lover, or a nature explorer, these ten tips will ensure that your trip is a remarkable one:

  1. Let us plan ahead for you: We research and plan your itinerary in advance to make the most of your time in Sicily. We will include must-visit attractions, hidden gems, and local events happening during your stay.
  2. Weather and Clothing: Sicily boasts a Mediterranean climate with hot summers and mild winters. Pack lightweight, breathable clothing suitable for warm temperatures. Don’t forget a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun.
  3. Explore Beyond Palermo: While Palermo is Sicily’s capital and a vibrant city, make sure to venture beyond and explore the island’s diverse regions. Visit charming towns like Taormina, Syracusa, Agrigento, and Erice to experience their unique charm and cultural heritage.
  4. Cultural Etiquette: Sicilians are known for their warm hospitality. Embrace their customs and traditions by greeting locals with a friendly “Buongiorno” and observing basic etiquette, such as dressing modestly while visiting religious sites.
  5. Feast on Sicilian Cuisine: Indulge in the flavors of Sicilian cuisine, which blends influences from Greek, Arab, and Norman cultures. Savor the iconic dishes like arancini (rice balls), cannoli, fresh seafood, and the world-famous Sicilian pizza, sfincione.
  6. Ancient Ruins and Archaeological Sites: Sicily is a treasure trove of ancient ruins and archaeological sites. Explore the awe-inspiring Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, the Roman mosaics of Villa Romana del Casale in Piazza Armerina, and the well-preserved Greek Theater in Taormina.
  7. Take a boat tour to explore these the caves of Ortigia and the island of Isola Bella, enjoy stunning beaches, and immerse yourself in their unique charm.
  8. Enjoy Mount Etna: No visit to Sicily is complete without experiencing Mount Etna, Europe’s most active volcano. Hike its slopes, visit lava caves, and marvel at the breathtaking panoramic views. Consider booking a guided tour for a safe and informative adventure.
  9. Wine Tasting: Sicily is renowned for its excellent wines. Embark on a wine tasting tour in vineyards around Mount Etna, Marsala, or the countryside of Trapani to sample Sicily’s exceptional varietals, such as Nero d’Avola and Marsala wine.
  10. Embrace the Dolce Vita: Take time to relax and enjoy the slow-paced Sicilian lifestyle. Sip a refreshing granita, stroll through colorful local markets, and embrace the joy of “dolce far niente” (the sweetness of doing nothing) as you bask in the island’s captivating ambiance.

We hope these tips enhance your journey and make your Sicilian adventure truly unforgettable. Should you have any further questions or require assistance, our dedicated team is here to ensure you have a fantastic travel experience.

Wishing you an incredible time exploring Sicily!

Email Gianfranco@culturalislandtravel.com or info@culturalislandtravel.com or call us at 800-494-1945 to book your own custom tour today, we will answer any questions you have about Sicily. 

 

Truly grateful

As the new year started, we find ourselves overwhelmed by touching messages and words of thanks from our clients, now our cherished friends, who have truly felt the magic of Cuba.

We would like to share with you some of the kind words our clients have said of CIT over the years along with photos that bore witness to their unforgettable adventure.

Roberta Newlon, 5 stars

I’ve traveled to Cuba five times with Cultural Island Travel (CIT) beginning in 2015 (and just recently two weeks ago) and each trip was more exciting and memorable than the previous.  For a photographer, Cuba is sublime and CIT successfully creates an atmosphere of amazement, creativity, and excitement. 

..it’s been an amazing experience learning about the Cuban people.  The CIT staff that creates the itinerary does a great job; but our Guide, Ebony O Reilly, makes it magical.  She’s extremely knowledgeable, professional, resourceful and creates an amazing experience for her people.  My friends and family ask me why I keep going back to Cuba.  I tell them to look on my Instagram and FB pages and they will see why.

My next trip with CIT will most likely be September 2020!

 

Lesley Wilson, 5 stars

Had a great time in Cuba!! Cultural Island Travel provides a great experience. All the tour guides are great but ask for Naomi If you have a choice. You will feel like she’s your best friend before your trip is complete. Can’t wait to visit again!!

Angela Sellers, 5 stars

I would like to send a sincere thank you to Cultural Island Travel (CIT)and Laura Gonzalez Chau, our amazing host and tour guide for creating such an amazing and affordable experience for our group. If you are considering traveling to Cuba, I would strongly encourage you to use this travel agency. Many people are hesitant to travel to Cuba, (CIT) will walk you through the steps and provide everything you need to travel. They communicated ensuring that every traveler had all documents. It does not matter if I return with 2 or more, I will return to Cuba and will ONLY go this route. Our itinerary was customized to maximize our every moment in Cuba.

If you want to travel without the stress of figuring out what to do, safety and an amazing vacation, choose Cultural Island Travel. They exceeded our expectations.

Robert Fierer, 5 stars

We had a great trip with our family. Theresa helped organize everything we wanted and was very helpful. Our guide, Fernando was awesome, helpful and interesting! All the special events, lodging and food were wonderful. Cuba is a wonderful place to visit and we can’t wait to return!

Paula Zackeru, 5 stars

As a single, female traveler, I had no idea what to expect when I arrived there. Was I going to be safe? Was I going to be able to go out at night and enjoy the music and nightlife that I had planned originally? I was treated like a princess and the answer is YES!

…this was a fantastic experience and I feel lucky to have found CIT. I am a travel agent and will be using CIT to book all of my future Cuba trips for my clients. I cannot wait to return to Cuba again and explore all of it’s beauty…people, sights and culture.

 

 

To read more of our customer feedback and to add your own, please check out the Google reviews at:  https://goo.gl/maps/7EjzBQDXc9RHy9wg8

 

Next stop…Mexico!

Discover the Magic of Mexico

Explore the legends and history of Mexico on this 7-day tour designed by CIT’s very own Irma Gonzalez! Immerse yourself in this colorful, ancient, and mystic culture and discover why Mexico City is considered the cultural capital of Latin America. 

You will enjoy some of the best Mexican food and try authentic tequila, pulque, and mezcal. You will sing with Mariachis, explore the ancient pyramids at Teotihuacán, and visit the magical towns of Puebla and Cholula. You will visit Frida Kahlo’s home and float down the canals at Xochimilco. Irma will show you everything she loves about Mexico in an authentic and personal way!

Don’t miss out on this incredible experience! Ask about our 2020 dates for CIT-Mexico today!

 

 

Somewhere over the rainbow in Ireland

Cultural Island Travel is excited to share some photos of our first Ireland tour taken by tour leader Ebony! Traveling with 12 lovely people, she shared some of the tour’s highlights. From authentic farm-to-table Irish meals to tours around a historic cemetery, an abbey, an actual castle and an island, this tour certainly delivered on all the points CIT is defined on – rich culture, lively music, history, beautiful and breathtaking landscapes, great food and lots of fun! We hope you’ll join us on our future Ireland tours in 2020!

Somewhere over the rainbow indeed! Truly a sight to behold.

This lovely Guinness chocolate cake is too beautiful to eat.

Everyone was excited to arrive in Carlow County to visit the Huntington Castle.

This was a day well spent in Galway City. The group went on a Claddagh ring tour learning about the history and the art that go into making these magnificent symbolic rings, and then ending the day in Katie’s Cottage where they had tea and scones as they listened to traditional Irish music.

As of this writing, the tour has not ended yet but looking at the smiles on their faces, they are having a great time!

 

Colors of Cuba : A Photo Album

Sharing these amazing photos that captured the beauty of Cuba. Photo credit to our guests and CIT staff.

Colors of Cuba!

Shabi in Trinidad, Cuba

Fusterlandia

Fusterlandia

Fusterlandia

Fusterlandia

Fusterlandia

Dry house for tobacco leaves surrounded by a variety of palm trees

View of a little bit of the sunset from Plaza Mayor in Trinidad, Cuba

Memories of Cuba

One of our clients sent photos from her trip and we couldn’t be happier to see the smiles on their faces!

Thank you so much to Teresa at Cultural Island Travel and our wonderful tour guide Ebony for making our trip to Cuba so memorable!!

Liza

I left my heart in Cuba

We are super happy to share a wonderful review from Michael Di Mauro of the Tibetan Museum in New York who is returning to Cuba with us very soon!

Kristen, I am still mentally not home yet. Very difficult to come right back to work after a 24 year old dream is realized. I have been to 15 countries for pleasure, business and cultural exploration, but Cuba has far surpassed them all. Our guide(s) were excellent. Our drivers were excellent. I have new friends and brothers for life. We met so many people there from the States on their own without a guide. How short sighted of them! Every turn of the corner is rich with history and it would be so foolish to walk those streets without guidance. Two women flew in from Chicago and were just hanging out by the pool all day. Imagine! You can go in a pool anywhere in the world and they wasted the day away in Havana. Nuts. We met two young guys at the Hemingway House whose guide only met with them in the morning to give them advice and then sent them out on their own! They were shocked to learn that Ari was with us all day from morning to night. Your service is flawless and I especially appreciate arranging the cars for us to use instead of a tour bus. I know this was an issue in the beginning.

By no fault of Ari, we did not get to see a working cigar factory because it was closed when we could have gone. I did visit the Partagas factory one afternoon, however. My only recourse is to plan another trip, which I am already working on by the way. Our visit to the Montesino farm allowed me to grasp the hands of both Marcelo and Eulogio Montesino, men who have actually had a significant impact on the Cuban cigar industry, and on my life personally. This experience was so surreal. It’s like loving Ford cars and being able to shake hands with Henry Ford. Mario and his family were awesome. He could not be more kind. We were so happy to see his good work in the community and we happily bought art, made donations and left well fed and feeling like family. Our visit to the Cuban art museum with Laura will be unforgettable. Cuba’s history is a story truly told through its artists. I felt like I was experiencing every decade and Laura could not be a better guide in there.

Restaurants were comparable to NYC quality restaurants. Whoever had the homemade pasta at the Italian restaurant will surely agree that it ranks as one of the best out there. (my mouth is watering now)

With much love to my travel partners for putting up with me…

Michael