All of these services include a driver-guide who will meet you at your port-of-call or hotel. Prices are expressed in euros. The major ports of eastern Sicily are Messina, Catania and Giardini Naxos (Taormina's port). The principal port for western Sicily is Palermo, though a few cruise ships call at Trapani.

Eastern Sicily (from Messina, Giardini Naxos or Catania)

Taormina and Mt Etna
Full day from the ports of Giardini Naxos, Messina or Catania

 

On disembarking, you will be greeted by your driver. Your first visit will be of the beautiful town of Taormina, including the picturesque ruins of the Greek Theatre, which have inspired many writers, artists and musicians. From the theatre you can admire magnificent panoramic views over the Straits of Messina, the Ionian Sea and Mt Etna. After free time for shopping and exploring, you will drive up the slopes of Europeís largest active volcano, through vineyards and villages, to a height of 6,000ft over sea level, where you can explore some extinct craters and lava flows. Return to your ship in the afternoon.

Mt Etna to the Summit
Full day from the ports of Giardini Naxos, Messina or Catania

On disembarking, you will be greeted by your driver. You will then enjoy a comfortable drive up the slopes of Europe's largest active volcano, through vineyards and villages, to a height of 6,000ft above sea level. From this point you will proceed by cable-car or jeep to the highest possible point on one of the active craters, continuing on foot over the lava streams to observe the latest volcanic phenomena, accompanied by a mountain guide. Return to your ship in the afternoon.

Taormina and the Alcantara Gorge
Full day from the ports of Giardini Naxos, Messina or Catania (optional lunch 35 euros per person)

On disembarking, you will be greeted by your driver. The first part of the day will be dedicated to Taormina, including the picturesque ruins of the Greek Theatre, which have inspired many writers, artists and musicians. From the theatre you can admire magnificent panoramic views over the Straits of Messina, the Ionian Sea and Mt Etna. After free time for shopping and exploring, you will proceed to a local farm for a lunch consisting of delicious Sicilian dishes, prepared exclusively with local produce, and local wine. After lunch, a short drive will bring you to the famed Alcantara Gorge, a nature reserve at the point along the course of the River Alcantara where it was crossed by an ancient lava stream, creating impressive basaltic formations. Return to your ship in the afternoon.

Savoca and Mt Etna
Full day from the ports of Giardini Naxos, Messina or Catania

On disembarking, you will be greeted by your driver, before driving to the lovely little hilltop village of Savoca, where Francis Ford Coppola filmed The Godfather in 1972, and still quite unspoiled. Take a stroll along the blissfully peaceful street as far as the church of Santa Lucia, where The Godfather's son, Michael Corleone, marries Appolonia in the movie, and relax in the tiny square. Afterwards enjoy a comfortable drive up the slopes of Mt Etna, Europe's largest active volcano, through vineyards and villages, to a height of 6,000ft over sea level. Free time for exploring the extinct craters and lava flows and to have a snack, before returning to your ship in the afternoon.

Syracuse (Siracusa)
Full day from the ports of Giardini Naxos or Catania

On disembarking, you will be greeted by your driver, before departing for Syracuse, founded by Corinthian settlers in 733 BC, and which became one of the most powerful cities of Magna Graecia, with an enormous population. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. On arrival, you will visit the Archaeological Park, with the 1st century AD Roman Amphitheatre, the enormous Altar of Hieron II, built about 240 BC for the annual sacrifices to Zeus of 450 bulls, the Greek Theatre, inaugurated by Aeschylus in 476 bc, and the stone quarry known as the Latomy of Paradise, famous for its luxuriant vegetation and the strange man-made cave called the Ear of Dionysius. Continue over to the island of Ortygia, where you will find the medieval city and the splendid cathedral, originally the 5th-century bc temple of Athena. Free time for lunch, before returning to your ship.

Messina and Milazzo
Full day from the port of Messina (optional lunch 35 euros per person)

On disembarking, you will be greeted by your driver, before proceeding along the panoramic north coast of the island as far as the fascinating old town of Milazzo, with its remarkable Citadel, where you will visit the castle, built by the Arabs in the 10th century on the site of the Greek acropolis, and some of the old churches. A beautiful drive along the peninsular called Capo Milazzo follows, as far as the tiny church suspended over the coast, said to mark the spot where St Anthony found refuge after a shipwreck in January 1221. After a delicious Sicilian lunch featuring the locally-caught seafood, return to Messina to visit the cathedral square. The cathedral, one of the grandest Norman churches in Sicily, was totally destroyed several times in the course of its history, by earthquakes as in 1908, or by fire, as when it was hit by a fire-bomb during World War II, but it has patiently and lovingly been reconstructed every time. By the church is the lovely 16th-century Fountain of Orion, built by a student of Michelangelo, and the Clock Tower, which chimes at noon. Return to your ship.

Messina and Cefalù (9 hour excursion)
Full day from the port of Messina (optional lunch 35 euros per person)

On disembarking, you will be greeted by your driver, before proceeding along the panoramic north coast of the island as far as Cefal, a beautiful old fishing town with a stunning cathedral, built by King Roger II in 1132. Inside the cathedral you will admire the exquisite mosaics, the oldest and best-preserved in Sicily, made by craftsmen brought from Constantinople by Roger himself. Free time to explore the tiny cobbled streets for shopping, or to visit the medieval laundry, or the Mandralisca Museum, the private collection of an aristocrat, with a famous portrait by Antonello da Messina of an Unknown Man, perhaps a sailor. Painted perhaps in 1470, the manís gaze is unforgettable. Lunch will include typical Sicilian fare, and locally-caught seafood. After lunch, return to Messina and drive through the centre to see the cathedral square, with the lovely church, the Clock Tower, and the Fountain of Orion, before returning to your ship. Please note that this is a nine-hour excursion.

Savoca and Forza d'Agrò
Half day from the ports of Giardini Naxos, Messina or Catania

On disembarking, you will be greeted by your driver, before proceeding to the two little hilltop towns, where Francis Ford Coppola filmed many parts of the Godfather movies. Savoca and Forza d'Agrò, with their quiet streets and peaceful atmosphere, are surrounded by beautiful mountainous scenery, and have several fascinating old churches. Free time for photos before returning to your ship.

Taormina and Castelmola
Half day from the ports of Giardini Naxos, Messina or Catania

On disembarking, you will be greeted by your driver before proceeding to the lovely hilltop town of Castelmola, recently voted one of Italy's most beautiful villages. After exploring the little streets and tasting the delicious local almond wine, you will continue to Taormina, where you will visit the picturesque ruins of the Greek Theatre, which have inspired many writers, artists and musicians. From the theatre you can admire magnificent panoramic views over the Straits of Messina, the Ionian Sea and Mt Etna. After free time for shopping and exploring, return to your ship.

Alcantara Gorge and Winery
Half day from the ports of Giardini Naxos, Messina or Catania (wine tasting 15 euros per person)

On disembarking, you will be greeted by your driver before proceeding through spectacular scenery to the nature reserve situated at the point along the course of the River Alcantara where it was crossed by an ancient lava stream, creating impressive basaltic formations. After free time for shopping at the farm shop, for local preserves, liqueurs, olive oil or honey, continue to a vineyard and winery high on the slopes of Mt Etna for wine tasting. Later, return to your ship, driving through ancient lava flows and thick forest.

Catania, the Fish Market and the Cyclops Riviera
Half day from the ports of Giardini Naxos or Catania

On disembarking, you will be greeted by your driver, before proceeding to the magnificent Baroque central square of Catania, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Symbol of the city is the lava-stone fountain surmounted by an elephant with an obelisk on its back, known as ëLiotruí, and thought to protect the city from disasters. In front of the fountain is the cathedral dedicated to St Agatha, the patron saint, who was martyred at the age of 13 in 251 AD. In the interior is the tomb of the composer Vincenzo Bellini. On the other side of the square is the famous Pescheria, the noisy, colourful fish market, held every morning except Sunday. A short drive along the coast will bring you to the Cyclops Riviera, lava rocks said to have been thrown by the blinded Cyclops Polyphemus at Ulysses, in front of the charming fishing villages of Acicastello and Acitrezza. Time for photos before returning to your ship.

Messina and the Peloritan Mountains
Half day from the port of Messina

On disembarking, you will be greeted by your driver. Proceed to the Peloritan Mountains which rise behind the city, to the panoramic summit of Colle San Rizzo, for breathtaking views over the Straits of Messina and the Aeolian Islands. Return to Messina to visit the interesting museum (closed Wed), with its collection of works of art retrieved from the rubble after the disastrous 1908 earthquake. Among the masterpieces are paintings by Antonello da Messina and Caravaggio. Reach the cathedral square to see the beautiful church, the fountain of Orion, and the magnificent mechanical clock, which chimes at noon, heralding a series of scenes with figures relating historical episodes and religious recurrences, before returning to your ship.

Messina and Tindari
Half day from the port of Messina

On disembarking, you will be greeted by your driver, before driving through the city centre to see the lovely cathedral, the Fountain of Orion, and the famous Clock Tower, with its mechanical clock which chimes at noon, and continuing along the north coast to Tindari, a tiny village surrounded by breathtaking views. Visit the Archaeological Park with the ruins of ancient Tyndaris, founded in the 4th century bc, with its theatre which is still used in summer, and the Sanctuary of the Black Madonna, the modern church built in 1978 to house a much-venerated ancient wooden statue of the Madonna with Child Jesus, said to be miraculous. Free time for photos before returning to your ship.

Messina and winery
Half day from the port of Giardini Naxos or Messina (Wine tasting 15 euros per person)

On disembarking, you will be greeted by your driver, before driving through the city centre to see the lovely cathedral, the Fountain of Orion, and the famous Clock Tower, with its mechanical clock which chimes at noon, when gilded figures emerge to relate episodes of local history and religious events. Continue to a vineyard on the Peloritani mountains, where you will hear about the unique and prestigious red wines produced only in this small area of Sicily, and where you will have the opportunity of sampling the production, and visiting the ancient wine cellar. Time for photos before returning to your ship.

Western Sicily (from Palermo or Trapani)

Palermo and Cefalù
Full day from port of Palermo, including lunch

On disembarking, you will be greeted by your driver, before a panoramic drive around the city to see some of the greatest highlights, then proceed along the panoramic road along the north coast to the charming fishing town of Cefal, dominated by a great rock. Visit the stunning cathedral built by King Roger II in 1132, with its exquisite mosaics, the oldest and the best-preserved in Sicily, made by craftsmen from Constantinople. Close by is the Mandralisca Museum, with the famous portrait of an Unknown Man, painted by Antonello da Messina in 1470, and the medieval laundry. Free time for exploring and shopping before lunch in a local restaurant, featuring typical Sicilian fare and locally-caught seafood. After lunch, return to your ship.

Corleone and winery
Full day from port of Palermo, including light lunch

On disembarking, you will be greeted by your driver, before driving to the picturesque little town of Corleone, unfortunately notorious because of its connections with some of the Mafia bosses of the past. Free time for shopping and exploring, before proceeding to a famous winery, for tasting the production and a snack lunch. Later return to your ship.

Palermo and Monreale
Half day from port of Palermo

On disembarking, you will be greeted by your driver, before proceeding to Palermoís magnificent cathedral, with tombs of many of the kings and queens of Sicily. Continue to Palazzo dei Normanni, the royal palace, to see the exquisite Palatine Chapel with its golden mosaics, built for Roger II of Sicily in 1132. Next, you will drive to Monreale, on a hill behind Palermo, to visit the cathedral, one of the most splendid churches in the world, and the most important Norman building in Sicily. The interior glows with mosaics recounting the whole Bible, completed for William II in 1182 using 2,200kg of pure gold. The peaceful cloister next door, has arches supported by 228 marble columns with finely-carved capitals. Time for shopping before returning to the ship.

Monreale and the Capuchin Catacombs
Half day from port of Palermo

On disembarking, you will be greeted by your driver, before proceeding to the Capuchin Monastery to visit the famous, gruesome Catacombs, with thousands of mummified corpses hanging from the walls in the dimly-lit passages. The Capuchin monks were specialised in this activity, which was much requested by families when their relatives died. Later continue to Monreale, on a hill behind Palermo, to visit the cathedral, one of the most splendid churches in the world, and the most important Norman building in Sicily. The interior glows with mosaics recounting the whole Bible, completed for William II in 1182 using 2,200kg of pure gold. The peaceful cloister next door has arches supported by 228 marble columns with finely-carved capitals. Time for shopping before returning to your ship.