Castles, Culture & Golf - Ciao Sicily!

Dec 06, 2016

Sicily is the largest of the Italian islands, one of the pearls of Southern Italy that can be discovered, understood and experienced through our itineraries dedicated to introducing you to the nature, history and traditions of this region.

Often, in Sicily the magic of ancient history blends with the beauty of nature as in Agrigento. The sea on one side, the old city-hill on the other. The "tufo" tones with which they are constructed create a picture-perfect setting.
Nature seems to have endowed all its wonders to this land: mountains, hills and above all the sea, with its incredible colors, its crystal-clear water, and the beauty of its sea beds.
Arrive at Catania Airport where your guide/driver will greet you upon your arrival at the airport and take you to II Picciolo Etna Golf Resort & Spa, about a one hour drive.
This resort's location lies in a natural amphitheater on the northeastern side of the mountain, part of sicily the Etna's natural park and close to popular tourist destinations such as Taormina, Siracusa and Catania. The Guest House has 15 comfortable double rooms, furnished in the traditional Sicilian style yet fully equipped with technological facilities. The rooms have a private balcony and a panoramic course view. The restaurant, in an old wine cellar has now been turned into an elegant and cozy environment where it's possible to enjoy traditional tastes and flavors.
Settle into your room, take some time to relax and refresh after your flight, then you will enjoy a welcome drink and dinner tonight at the Hotel restaurant.
Breakfast at the Hotel.
Golfers: Today you will play golf at II Picciolo Etna Golf Club. The course has been designed, meandering through ancient lava flows, by the renowned golf architect Luigi Rota Caremoli, the only Italian to be admitted into the association- "The British Golf Course Architects". In his design he followed the morphology of the land offering remarkable hints and variants thus creating a course which surely will not be forgotten. The holes are surrounded by hazelnut, oak, pine and eucalyptus trees and vineyards offering a special suggestive atmosphere. The last hole finishes right in front of the Clubhouse, leaving the player a breathtaking view of the Sicilian countryside.
Non-golfers: You will have the morning free for leisure (on request, we can include and price a nearby adventure and return to the Hotel for lunch) or you can use this time to enjoy the facilities at the Resort Spa or pool, or light lunch at the Club House Restaurant.
taorminaIn the late afternoon the golfers and non-golfers will join together to visit Taormina. With its medieval architecture, ancient Greek soul, and the colors and smells of Mediterranean foliage, Taormina is one of the most beautiful places to visit, and the Sicilian climate makes it an ideal destination any time of the year.
The Greek Theatre is the symbol of the city, and from here you have a spectacular panoramic view of the turquoise sea all the way to the Calabrian coast in the northeast, to Syracuse in the south, and to the smoking peak of Mt. Etna in the west.
santo_stefano_di_camastraLater stroll along Corso Umberto I, the main street in Taormina, ideal for shopping, or if you are looking for peace and quiet, you can wander the picturesque lanes and side streets, passing through the courtyards and tiny piazzas of the oldest part of Taormina.Take time to experience a coffee break at one of the characteristic cafes on Corso Umberto, and enjoy a very satisfying lemon Granita (sometimes even served inside a warm brioche) or a typical Sicilian cassata.
For dinner we suggest some tasty local seafood, accompanied by Sicilian Extra-Virgin Olive Oil and one of the Province's prestigious D.O.C. wines.
acireale-c7rfhyAfter breakfast at the Hotel you will transfer by private vehicle and driver to the Ragusa area. On the short journey from II Picciolo Golf Club to Donnafugata you will visit Acireale and Caltagirone. (English speaking guide on request)
Acireale, a typical late-medieval city of Sicily, depicts how culture, history, and religion, have planted centuries-old roots, especially in the main place of historical interest- the beautiful Piazza del Duomo.
58_caltagirone_sicilyCaltagirone is famous for its ancient ceramic art that supplied the decor for many of the churches and buildings in its center, and the highest expression of its Baroque soul is Santa Maria del Monte with an impressive stairway decorated with polychromatic majolica.
Lunch today will be in Caltagirone.
After the stop in Caltagirone, you will continue your journey and arrive at Donnafugata, a luxury Resort which covers an area of about 500 hectares featuring a private terrace from which to enjoy a splendid view of the inner garden and the countryside of Ragusa, a 900 square meter spa and fitness center, two swimming pools, and 3 restaurants offering authentic Mediterranean cuisine. If you are interested we can offer golf lessons for beginners to professionals, cooking classes or just take this time to unwind and relax. You will check into your rooms, enjoy a welcome drink, and later dinner- served at the Hotel restaurant.
Breakfast at the Hotel.
Golfers: Today you will play one of two golf courses at Donnafugata Golf Club, a true paradise for golf enthusiasts.
The "Parkland" style course designed by Gary Player, requiring you to come up with new and different solutions and strategies of the game, winds through the typical olive and carob countryside of Ragusa, giving the player the feeling of being completely surrounded by nature. The 18 holes are set in an archaeological site and a hundred meters from the 6th tee, you can visit a Greek necropolis of the sixth century, B.C.-which is part of the property. This course also features insidious greens well defended by deep bunkers and the greens for holes 9 & 18 lie in a natural amphitheatre bowl overlooked by the clubhouse.
The second course, immersed between two nature reserves and with the sea and the island of Malta on links-donnafugata-golf-resort-spa_2the horizon, is the 18-hole course designed by Franco Piras winding through two large valleys. Between the seasonal colors and scents, it resembles a links layout, and includes two large reservoirs that serve as irrigation reserves and a natural oasis for migratory birds. The terrain with its gentle slopes and high grasses has the players either isolated while walking between mounds or on top looking at incredible views of the course and the sea.
ragusa-sicily-photosNon-Golfers: This morning you will be taken to Ragusa for a tour. This fascinating UNESCO town with its Baroque Architecture is divided into two sections – the upper town and Ibla.In 1893, an earthquake destroyed most of the town and after that half of the residents decided to build on the ridge above the town, and the other half renovated the old town.
You will then return to the hotel for lunch, and to reunite with the golfers.
In the afternoon the golfers and non-golfers will join together to visit, with a private English speakingchurch-of-san-bartolomeo guide, nearby Sicli and Modica. Sicli is one of the central highlights of the Sicilian Baroque and Ragusa coast. Finely-decorated balconies display their ironmongery and flower decorations, while portals are carved with elegant moldings. Frames and friezes complete the design, mainly characterized by refined city buildings- of which Palazzo Beneventano is one of the best examples. Here you will find three structures assembled together in a pyramidal form composing the exterior of the monumental Church of San Bartolomeo, the "Queen" of Sicli.
Cathedral of San Giorgio, Modica, Sicily, Italy, Southern EuropeRefined and richly decorated buildings grace the streets of the city of Modica. Atop a great stairway floats the imposing facade of the San Giorgio Church, a symbol of this beautiful city. The town opens out at the foot of the cliff hugging the ancient part of the town; picturesque alleys, roads and small stairways lend to its character, and visiting the Cathedral of San Giovanni is a must.
A look upwards reveals the impressive, elaborate adornments, and the flowing and sprightly perspective of its facade. Modica is the birthplace of Salvatore Quasimodo, winner of a Nobel Prize for literature. The house where he spent a part of his life has remained exactly the same, with his memoirs and his photos.
We will return to the Hotel for dinner and overnight stay at the Hotel.
Day 5 - CONTRADA PIOMBO (Ragusa Area)/ SCIACCA (Agrigento Area) - (BLD)
After breakfast at the Hotel and checkout you will transfer with your driver to Agrigento.
valley-of-temples-sicilyWhile on the way from Donnafugata to the Verdura Resort, you will visit Temples Valley. In Temples Valley (an UNESCO World Heritage Site) the fascination of ancient history blends with the beauty of nature. The sea on one side, the old city-hill on the other, the majestic Doric style temples rising in the center of it all, and the tones of the natural stone with which they are constructed, create a picture-perfect setting.
verduraliolasicilianrestaurantContinuing on you will arrive and check in at the Verdura Resort, spread out on over 550 acres and nearly two kilometers of private Mediterranean coastline. There are three Kyle Phillips golf courses, a 60-metre infinity pool, six clay tennis courts, a world-class spa, four restaurants, five bars and much more. It's a place where your room will seem woven subtly into the landscape and you'll enjoy a true sense of space and uninterrupted views of the azure waters from your private terrace. Above all, it's a place where you'll discover an outstanding level of service. This afternoon relax and enjoy all that the resort has to offer.
Dinner and overnight at the Hotel.
Day 6- GOLFERS ROUND 3: / SCIAC - CA (Agrigento Area) (BD)
Breakfast at the Hotel.
verdura-resortGolfers: Today you will be playing golf at Verdura Golf Club - a world-class all-year-round golf destination. The 570-acre site, with almost two kilometers of private coastline, offers the perfect environment for golf. The three world class championship links-style golf courses, with two 18's and one of nine hole course all designed by Kyle Phillips, use the natural, green contours of the landscape and are planted with indigenous trees and shrubs.
Warmed by the Mediterranean sun and refreshed by the sea breeze, the courses are free from any buildings, offering uninterrupted views of the azure waters from the undulating greens. You'll enjoy the personal service and attention to detail. You'll find the facilities to also be world-class, including a double-ended driving range, lessons from PGA qualified professionals, and an exceptional golf academy for budding young golfers.
torre-verdura-fortThe clubhouse lies at the historic Torre Verdura Fort, built around a small piazza overlooking the sea; it's the perfect spot to compare scorecards after a day on the fairways. You can take a quick break for lunch or cool down with a chilled beer or juice at the Torre Bar.
piazza-angelo-scandaliatoNon-golfers: Today, your guide will meet you at the hotel to take you for a tour of Sciacca, nestled on a high plain, spread over three levels, and a historic fishing port renowned for its ceramics, thermal baths and festivals. The historic and panoramic Piazza Scandaliatois on the middle level looks down over the wharf and port, and on the upper most ancient level you will find the Luna Castle Ruins and the Church of St. Michael. The town is full of quaint alleys, small streets and courtyards to explore. You will return back to the hotel for lunch, and to meet up with the golfers.
In the afternoon the golfers and non-golfers will join together with your guide to visit Mount Kronio near Sciacca home to famous thermal baths and a panoramic view over the sea. Next you will visit the "Enchanted Castle," an original exhibition of faces sculpted into rocks and into the bark of trees by Filippo Bentivegna.
Then on to Menfi, pleasant land set among the archaeological sites of Selinunte and Eraclea Minoa, surrounded by the charm of the past where art, nature and history are mixed. This section of the coast is about 10 kilometers long and is characterized by beautiful sandy beaches with the natural phenomenon of the adjoining dunes running inland for several hundred meters. They are also part the beautiful beach of Porto Palo and the natural reserve at the mouth of the river Belice.
Day 7- GOLFERS ROUND 4: I SCIACCA (Agrigento Area) (BLD)
Breakfast at the Hotel.
Golfers: Today you will play your second round of golf at Verdura Golf Club, and have a light lunch at the Club House Hotel.
roman-villa-of-durrueliNon-Golfers: Your guide will meet you at the hotel, where you will depart for Eraclea Minoa and the nearby Realmonte. This small archeological site is situated at the end of Capo Bianco where the white cliffs meet the turquoise sea. This site is tied both to the legends of Hercules and Minos. Then you will continue on to visit Realmonte with its scenic and enchanted beauty and historical features including the Scala dei turchi and the Roman Villa of Durrueli, where sections of the original mosaic flooring are still visible.
eraclea-minoa The Scala, a white limestone rock with a distinctive white color, has eroded over the years and formed natural steps leading up the cliffs. Turkish Barbary Pirates used these “stairs” to plunder the surrounding area. From the top of the cliffs you can view the coast of Agrigento all the way to Cape Rossello.
You will then return to the hotel for lunch, and to meet up with the Golfers.
winIn the afternoon the golfers and non-golfers will join together for a wine experience. You will spend time with an oenologist in the countryside near Sciacca, between the rows, with the opportunity to help the workers harvest or prune a vineyard (dependent on the time of year). After this you will have a tasting from the barrels of slowly maturing Chardonnay before it is bottled or the Nero d’Avola, just decanted from the large barrels.
wineThen you will visit the ancient cellar, now a tasting room, waiting while the chef prepares your dinner of traditional Sicilian dishes that will be paired with the great wines.
After dinner you will be returned to the Hotel for the night.
Day 8 - SCIACCA (Agrigento area)/ PALERMO (B)
palermoAfter breakfast at the Hotel you will check out, gather your memories and be transferred to your departure from Palermo Airport. Based on your flight time, we can organize the visit to Monreale (guide included). This is another precious spot to add to your itinerary. Monreale, located in a panoramic position with respect to the Conca D'Oro, is just a few miles from Palermo and is one of the most renowned touristic spots of Sicily and all of Italy.

Europe unguided
By Dan Krull