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A Unique Christmas Markets Trip to Sicily  December 4-12 2014
With Christmas Markets, Holiday Street Processions, Archaeological Sites, Wineries Shopping, Farmhouse Food
$2599 land only (until July 1 2014, then $2799) Single: $525 Shares guaranteed for early bookings.

December 4 -12 2014

Some of us will overnight in Rome on Dec. 4, staying at the Rome Airport Hilton. (The Rome Airport Hilton has a free shuttle into town and is connected to the airport, making it an easy place to rendezvous.) Phyllis Stoller will meet those who arrive Dec. 4 for an optional mini group dinner. On Dec. 5 we plan to arrive in Palermo around noon with a transfer at 1PM – details TBA.

Day 1- Thursday December 4 Depart USA for Sicily (Palermo)
Sicily is an exquisite island with Greek, Roman, Arab , Norman, Spanish and Italian sites. Mt. Etna, the largest active volcano in Europe, has frequent light shows. Weather in early December is 60-65 daytime, and Christmas decorations /markets will be up. Sicily is home to gelato, canoli, red sauce, and more.

Day 2 – Friday December 5 Arrival Palermo. Upon arrival collect your luggage, meet our Italian escort, transfer by private bus to the hotel. Our group transfer is 1PM; private transfers available optionally. Explore on your own this afternoon. Our hotel is in Old Palermo with 4 ½ stars (Tripadvisor). Enjoy welcome dinner at a local restaurant. (dinner with wine).

Day 3 – Saturday December 6 Palermo/Monreale: After early breakfast we visit the Ballaro market in Palermo, a do-not-miss profusion of food and people . Then a guided tour of Palermo, Sicily’s capital, featured one of the newest tourist-trend cities and lit up festively this time of year. Architecturally, Palermo flourished in the 17th-18th centuries; Baroque buildings evoke this period. Visit Palazzo dei Normanni, Palatine Chapel & Cathedral. Visit nearby Monreale, with its spectacular Duomo famed for its 12th and 13th century mosaics. We will have time for shopping and wandering this afternoon and early evening until dinner at a restaurant. (breakfast, dinner/wine).

Day 4 – Sunday December 7 Marsala, winery and Erice, Salt Road & Country Lunch. After breakfast, a full day in the hilltop town of Erice then Marsala. Erice is a medieval town, built on Monte San Giuliano with incredible walls, fine paved streets, Middle Age stone houses and famous pastries originally made by nuns. On to an Oil Mill and Farmhouse, Baglio Fontanasalsa, for a country lunch with simple Sicilian food at a working olive farm. After lunch drive along saltpans and Sicilian windmills, Return to Palermo late afternoon- as we are near the holidays we believe most shops will be open late. (Breakfast, lunch with wine tasting).

Day 5 – Monday December 8 Cefalu, Castelbuono, Palermo
After breakfast visit Cefalu, on a hill facing the sea with amedieval appearance and a center around a 12c Norman cathedral. We continue to the region between the Northern Coast and Central Sicily, with ancient villages and old traditions. The area is famous for cheese and we visit a cheese factory and taste products during our lunch. Return to Palermo. At 6PM we will witness the procession of St Francis in the streets of Palermo at the Basilica an ancient tradition. Dinner at local restaurant. (breakfast, country lunch, dinner).

Day 6 – Tuesday December 9 Agrigento, Villa Del Casale At Piazza Armerina, Naxos/Taormina. After breakfast depart for Naxos / Taormina. On the way, visit Agrigento and Piazza Armerina with a guided tour of the archaeological site named the “Valley of the Temples”, a UNESCO World Heritage site. This archaeological park includes temples built in the 5th and 6th centuries B. C. of Greek civilization in Sicily. There are also early Christian ruins and catacombs. Next visit Villa del Casale at Piazza Armerina, a Roman Villa known for well-preserved Roman mosaics, only excavated in the 20th century and now considered one of the most important sites. Continue to Taormina check in at our hotel. Dinner at local restaurant tonight (breakfast, dinner with wine) Tours of Agrigento and Piazza Armerina

Day 7 – Wednesday December 10 Naxos And Taormina
After breakfast enjoy a guided tour of Taormina, Sicily’s first resort built on a cliff. It has amazing views of the sea from lovely cafes covered in bougainvillea. Visit The “Teatro Greco”, a Greek amphitheater, has spectacular views of Mount Etna, the largest and most active volcano in Europe. Enjoy the afternoon at leisure. Explore the local shops specializing in fine embroidery, coral, and lace and enjoy delicious seafood in the local restaurants in both Taormina and Naxos. (breakfast) Guided tour of Taormina

Day 8 – Thursday December 11 Siracusa
After breakfast depart for Syracuse for a full day (120 km – 1.20 hrs) Visit the Neapolis archaeological park featuring the well-preserved Roman Amphitheatre and the Greek theatre. See the excavations including the “Ear of Dionysius” and the Roman Temple. Walk through the historical center on the Ortigia Island to admire the Cathedral, the Aretusa fountain and the ancient streets. Modern Syracuse is a lovely city winding streets and magnificent Baroque buildings. Return to Taormina.
(breakfast, farewell dinner/wine) Guided Tour of Siracusa

Day 9 – Friday December 12 Catania USA
After breakfast at the hotel, transfer to airport for your flight back home. (Breakfast). Group will leave for the airport early in time to catch 8AM flights, private transfers available optionally if leaving later. (Many 8AM flights have direct connections to US cities).

Included Features:
• Professional Tour Manager
• Private deluxe bus for all transfers, tours, and excursions
• 7 nights hotel with buffet breakfast daily. 4 nights Palermo, 3 nights Taormina
• 2 lunches and 5 dinners including (1/2 mineral water. 1⁄4 wine per person)
• Cheese tasting, wine tasting
• Guided Tours: as mentioned in the itinerary.
• Entrance fees: Palatine Chapel, Monreale Cathedral, Valle dei Templi, Villa del Casale, Greek Theatre Taormina, Archeological Park Siracusa
• All VAT and local service taxes including city taxes.
• Baggage handling one piece of luggage per person

Early Bird tour price $2,599 per person land only ($2799 after July 4, 2014), double occupancy. Shared rooms are guaranteed for early bookers. Single occupancy, add $525 (limited availability). ***Tips and travel insurance are not included.

Our Hotels: Palermo Palazzo Sitiano 4* and Taormina: Villa Diodoro 4*
Our Meals: our dinners will all include wine and optional meals will have a meeting place so no one eats alone! www.thewomenstravelgroup.com