Mt. Etna, from the Greco-Roman theater in Taormina

The Magic of Springtime in

April 12 - 24, 2016

Sicily is at its most enthralling in mid-late April, when wildflowers carpet wondrous landscapes steeped in history.

An exotic combination of light and color, Europe's most imposing active volcano, compelling architecture, an enduring, delicious regional cuisine, and a recent explosion of excellent wines await you!

Enjoy it ALL, in the luxury of a small group!

The ancient Greeks believed that Persephone emerged each year in spring - in Sicily - from her captivity in the underworld. To this day, Sicily bursts into to bloom in April after months of dormancy during summer, fall and winter.

Join us on this once-in-a-lifetime exploration of "Persephone's island" at its most beautiful with long sunny days, comfortable daytime temperatures, cool evenings—and a profusion of wildflowers in the countryside. Our singular itinerary includes both the "must sees" of this legendary "Crossroads of the Mediterranean" and off-the-beaten path experiences: at archeological sites, in the countryside, and in Sicily's
vibrant art cities.

A hidden cove in western Sicily

April is the season for fresh artichokes in Sicily!

To discover Sicily's many treasures, we'll begin in Palermo, the capital of this semi-autonomous region—and, during the Belle Époque, one of Europe's most stylish cities.

Blessed with a spectacular natural harbor, a rich architectural heritage, good ristoranti, and colorful daily food markets, Palermo's unusual history and lively atmosphere never cease to fascinate. Unfortunately, most visitors to Palermo barely see the main sights. You will experience much more!

Our four-night stay will allow us to go off the beaten path with our top-notch local guide to explore the many threads of the intricate tapestry that is Palermo.

It is here, and in nearby Monreale, that we will find the wonderful religious and civic structures that are a unique fusion of Romanesque, Byzantine and Islamic styles, built when Sicily was the center of the glittering 12th century Norman kingdom that stretched from Apulia on the Adriatic to the coast of Africa.

The dazzling mosaics created to decorate them are among Europe's most sublime artistic achievements. The "crown jewel" is the exquisite Palatine Chapel of the Norman Kings. Years of careful restoration have returned it to its original splendor.

On one evening, we'll be guests at a gala dinner in a private home, an aristocratic 15th century palazzo located in the oldest part of the city, not far from the Norman Kings' palace. Not only will we be privy to the family's collection of paintings, fine porcelain, antique furniture and Venetian chandeliers from Murano, but, through conversation with our charming hostess and her friends, we will gain additional insight to what makes Palermo special.

Palermo - Palatine Chapel

Segesta in April

High above the temple and sharing its evocative setting
is one of the best examples in Italy of a 3rd century BC
Greek theater, with views of the Tyrrhenian Sea in
the distance.

Nearby is the medieval hill town of Erice, crowned by
its Norman castle. After a walk up into the town past
tidy stone houses, we will be rewarded with a delicious
repast of local specialties.

These are but a few of the delightful surprises we have
in store for you during our stay in northwestern Sicily.

Without having to change hotels, we'll revel in the gorgeous countryside west of Palermo, including an unrushed visit to the ancient Elymian site of Segesta, with its enchanting Doric temple in the midst of field flowers in bloom.


Our Segesta excursion will begin a succession of days
in which to savor artistic achievements associated with Magna Grecia, literally "Greater Greece"—the vast expanse of Greek city-states west of the Aegean of which Sicily was arguably the most important part.

Here - as we go off the beaten path again for enjoyable experiences difficult to have on one's own, not included
in conventional tours, and impossible on a cruise -


begin to understand the importance of Sicily as a vital crossroads to ancient Greek colonies in the western Mediterranean, as well as an agricultural and trade center of considerable wealth and power.

As we travel in a southeasterly direction, our unrushed itinerary will include:

  • Selinunte, where soaring Doric columns rise from vast fields of wild wheat interspersed with flowers overlooking an azure blue sea…
  • Agrigento, where we will spend two nights, to assure an unrushed visit to the legendary "Valley of the Temples", amidst ancient olive trees, and an outstanding archeological museum…
  • the extraordinary ruins of an aristocratic Roman villa inland, near Piazza Armerina
  • the Monti Iblei, with forested peaks, canyons, remote villages, and sweeping vistas, and…
  • magnificent Siracusa - Syracuse - Athens' great rival and the "New York" of the ancient Greek world.

Abandoned ancient Greek quarry near Selinunte


In Siracusa, thanks to the location of our stylish, historic 5-star hotel for three nights, you will be able to explore serendipitously the island of Ortigia - the heart of the old medieval city and the site of the original Greek settlement - an almost entirely pedestrian-only district with many elegant palazzi, small shops, a vibrant morning food market, a great variety of restaurants and trattorie, and piazzas made to order for relaxing over a cappuccino or early evening aperitivo.

After much restoration in recent years, Ortigia is arguably Sicily's most elegant historic city center.

On our way up the east coast, we'll take in the fantastic landscape of Mt. Etna before checking in to our superbly located, historic 5-star hotel in Taormina—its private garden is a veritable oasis from the hustle and bustle of what is unquestionably one of southern Europe's most popular and colorful destinations. Three luxurious nights here will enable us to take in Taormina's many treasures in a leisurely fashion, including the dramatically situated Teatro antico, as well as to explore serendipitously this engaging hill town and to relax in the hotel's lush garden above the coast where the Greeks first landed in Sicily in 735 BC.

Excursion on Etna

"One on one" with our local guide in Taormina
Our singular journey in the Mediterranean land of myth and legend will be enhanced by top local guides, each of whom possesses an impressive command of Sicily's complex history and rich heritage.

Among our visits - in towns and in the countryside - will be several that would be difficult, if not entirely impossible, for you to experience on your own.

Two, three, or four nights at each of our superbly located
4-star and 5-star hotels
- in Palermo, Agrigento, Siracusa, and Taormina - will ensure an unrushed pace.

Three of our four hotels are historical properties, two have
their own gardens and outdoor pools, and two overlook the
water. A bountiful buffet breakfast is included each morning
in each of our hotels.

We'll also enjoy wonderful meals, some at mid-day, others
in the evening, in both elegant restaurants and charming,
family-run trattorie, prepared from fresh, local ingredients and based on centuries of tradition to which foreign rulers - Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Berbers, Normans, French and Spanish - all contributed to create one of Italy's most sophisticated and
complex regional cuisines.

The breakfast terrace of our hotel in Taormina

Siracusa harbor at sunset, from the rooftop
terrace of our hotel

The Magic of Springtime in SICILY tour will begin in Palermo
and will end in Taormina.

Note: The airport serving Taormina is Catania. There are no non-stop flights from the USA to Sicily; travelers to Sicily usually connect in Rome, Milano, or another European "gateway" city.

After a long, gray winter, Sicily in spring is the perfect tonic! Travel Designs has been taking discerning travelers to Sicily since 1993. Thanks to the enthusiasm of our past travelers, our tour of Sicily is our most popular trip, in large part because of our commitment to an in-depth itinerary and to small group size, which enables our travelers to truly experience this legendary island.

Space is limited to ensure a travel experience of the highest quality.

For detailed tour information, please contact us at:
or Tel. 607-587-8324.


A few comments from some of our past travelers in Sicily:

"How can we thank you for a memorable vacation that will be remembered as one of the best? You showed us Sicily as we never could have done on our own. We loved every minute of every day and are hungering for more."
Couple from Elmira, NY

"What a wonderful time we had with you in Sicily! I admire you for everything you did: the right order of towns, the right hotels, the right arrival times at destinations … a great sense of timing. Our down time was exactly when we needed it to rest and recoup.
Couple from Winston-Salem, NC

"The trip to Sicily was fabulous. I loved every temple and every theater. Thank you for arranging so many pleasures… The meticulous planning by TD and the rare congeniality of the whole group contributed to the overall success…"
Solo traveler from Austin, TX

"We have been regaling our friends with our tales of traveling through Sicily. You couldn't have planned a more comprehensive trip, while [staying] in only four hotels. We did so much, but never felt rushed. For the care you took of us all, we cannot thank you enough."
Couple from Brooklyn, NY

"We had a fabulous time…Sicily is fascinating. Our tour with you was full, rich, well paced and challenging. We felt secure, cared for, stimulated, well informed and guided. Thank you for your efforts and hospitality!"
Couple from Palo Alto, CA

"Thank you for all you did to make this trip one of the nicest experiences of my life. I can only imagine the amount of research, preparation and just plain hard work that go into such a project—it certainly paid off. Everything was just perfect."
Solo traveler from Charlotte, NC