marsaxlokk fishing village malta

Sicily Circumnavigation

Aboard the Diana

Overview

Circle the rugged coast of Sicily, one of the most enchanting islands in the Mediterranean, and call at fantastic archaeological sites that reveal the 3,000-year history of its myriad civilizations, from Greek to Norman and Arab. As you circumnavigate the island, you’ll make two fascinating side trips: one to the dramatic volcano-island of Lipari and another to the tiny nation of Malta, influenced over time by the Romans, Moors, French, and British. Ports of call in Sicily include the hill town of Taormina, where you’ll stroll narrow lanes with panoramas of mighty Mt. Etna, and Siracusa, with its massive Greek theater and Temple of Apollo. Agrigento offers the chance to tour dramatic Doric temples along the sea, and Selinunte and Segesta shelter vast archaeological sites with beautifully preserved temples, altars, and sanctuaries.

Note: This cruise is not exclusive to, nor operated by, Wilderness Travel, who acts solely as agent in booking your reservation with the ship operator. The itinerary, lecturers, and all other arrangements are subject to change at the discretion of the cruise line.

Itinerary

Day 1
Palermo, Sicily

Arrive in Palermo and transfer to the elegant Grand Hotel Wagner, your home for the night.

Day 2
Palermo / Monreale / Embarkation

Palermo is one of the Mediterranean’s most enchanting cities. Founded by the Phoenicians in 827 BC and conquered by the Saracens in the 9th century, Palermo became one of Europe’s greatest cities in the 12th century, when the Normans took control. Visit the Cappella Palatina, the royal chapel built by Roger II between 1132 and 1143. A wonder of Byzantine-Arab-Norman artistry, it features dazzling mosaics, an exquisitely carved wooden ceiling, and magnificent inlaid marble floors and walls. You’ll also travel to nearby Monreale to visit its famed Norman cathedral and elegant cloister before embarking Diana in the late afternoon.

Day 3
Lipari

Lipari is the largest and most populous of the Aeolian Islands, and according to Greek mythology, the home of Aeolus, god of the winds. A panoramic tour of the island affords wonderful views and also introduces you to its unique volcanic features. Returning to Lipari town, visit the 16th-century Norman castle that sits atop the town's ancient acropolis and houses the Aeolian Archaeological Museum, displaying finds from all of the islands to illustrate the evolution of the archipelago as an active volcano system.

Day 4
Giardini Naxos / Taormina

Taormina clings to the side of Mount Tauro and offers superb views of the Mediterranean Sea with snow-capped Etna in the background. A maze of narrow streets, splashed with the vibrant colors of bougainvillea and oleander, the town has attracted many civilizations over the centuries. It is home to theaters and a gymnasium from the Greek period, an Odeon and baths from Roman times, buildings blending Arab and Norman traditions, traces of Byzantine, and villas belonging to European aristocracy in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Day 5
Siracusa

Colonized by Greeks in the 8th century BC, Siracusa became one of the most powerful cities of the ancient world, rivaling even Athens. Tour the 15,000-seat Greek theater, among the most impressive to survive from antiquity, the Roman amphitheater, and the Archaeological Museum. A walking tour of Ortygia, the old town, reveals the remains of the Temple of Apollo, the Fountain of Arethusa, and the Cathedral, which incorporates the Temple of Athena.

Day 6
Valletta, Malta

Valletta, the main harbor of Malta, is rich in historic sites that tell the story of the succession of its many rulers—Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, and the Order of the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem. Explore the Palace of the Grand Masters and the Co-Cathedral of St. John during a walking tour. Visit the National Museum of Archaeology, where an impressive array of artifacts dating from Malta’s Neolithic Period to the Phoenician Period are displayed. Then drive to the Tarxien Temples, dating to the Neolithic Era, and explore the UNESCO World Heritage site of Hagar Qim.

Day 7
Porto Empedocle / Agrigento

Arrive in Sicily’s Porto Empedocle for an excursion to the fabled temples of Agrigento. Set on a ridge facing the sea, Agrigento’s series of superb Doric temples are among the most captivating Greek ruins in the entire Mediterranean. Visit the Temple of Hercules, constructed in the 6th century BC; the remarkably well-preserved Temple of Concord; and the Temple of Juno, noted for its graceful proportions. Also visit the Archaeological Museum, whose extraordinary collection is devoted to finds from the surrounding area.

Day 8
Trapani / Selinunte

From the port town of Trapani, travel the short distance to Selinunte. Founded by Greeks in the 7th century BC, Selinunte enjoyed about two centuries of growth and prosperity before becoming entangled in a series of conflicts that ended in the destruction of the city in the First Punic War. Today it is the largest archaeological site in Europe, comprising over 650 acres of temples, altars, and sanctuaries constructed at various times during its history. Explore this evocative site focusing on temples dedicated to Hera, Athena, and Apollo.

Day 9
Trapani / Segesta / Erice

This morning’s excursion is along winding roads to Segesta for a visit to its magnificent Doric temple, built in 420 BC and among the best preserved ancient Greek sites in Sicily. Continue to the medieval town of Erice, which came to prominence under the Normans, whose influence is still visible in the town's towers and fortifications. Erice is also known for the residences of wealthy Sicilian families who would retreat here during summer and for the English gardens they took great care to maintain.

Day 10
Palermo / Disembark

After breakfast aboard, disembark and transfer to the airport for flights homeward.

Highlights

Highlights

Explore the volcano-isle of Lipari, the largest and most populous of the Aeolian Islands
Stroll the narrow streets of enchanting Taormina, and visit its ancient Greek theater
In Valletta, Malta, see the historic sites that tell the story of the succession of its many rulers
Tour the captivating Greek ruins of Sicily's Agrigento
Visit the magnificent Doric temple of Segesta

Details

Length: 10 days
Cost From: $8990  
Arrive: Palermo, Italy
Depart: Palermo, Italy
Lodging: 8 nights aboard a 192-passenger vessel, 1 night hotel
Meals: All meals included aboard ship, including wine, beer, and soft drinks with lunch and dinner
Activity: Archaeology, Small Ship Cruising
Trip Level:

8-day cruise, cultural explorations and walking tours