Sicily: Crossroads of Mediterranean Civilizations



Located between Africa and Europe, between the Near East and the Atlantic, Sicily bore witness to a complex sequence of invaders from the 8th century BC until the Unification of Italy in 1859: Greeks, Phoenicians, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, German Hohenstaufens, French, and Spanish. These multi-cultural historical influences combine to create a fascinating range of art and architecture. We will be accompanied throughout our tour by local art historians with intimate knowledge of this island’s fascinating history and rich culture.


ITINERARY  (subject to amendment)

Saturday, October 17

We will gather in Catania via connections from Rome or Milan and transfer to Syracuse for our stay at the Grand Hotel Ortigia. Ortigia is an island separating Syracuse’s two harbours and the site of the original Greek settlement. Our Study Trip opens with a walking tour to the church ofSanta Lucia with its Caravaggio altarpiece, the Temple of Apollo, the Fountain of Diana, and the 18th-century Duomo, which incorporates parts of the Temple of Minerva. The day concludes with welcome drinks and dinner at our hotel.

D included
Overnight: SYRACUSE

Sunday, October 18

The morning begins with an opportunity to admire Syracuse’s Archaeological Museum, documenting 3,000 years of southern Sicilian history, the Greek and Roman Theaters, and the Latomie del Paradiso garden in the ancient stone quarry. We then head northwest by coach for lunch near Lentini at the Casa del Biviere as guests of the Principessa Maria Carla Borghese. Our afternoon will be spent in Catania visiting the state apartments of the Palazzo Biscari, the largest private palazzo built in Sicily in the 18th century. We then enjoy a reception in the private apartment of Principessa Giovanna Moncada with its superb painted Bird Gallery before returning to Syracuse.

B, L, D included
Overnight: SYRACUSE

Monday, October 19

By coach, we head southwest to Ragusa, a Baroque city rebuilt after the 1693 earthquake and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, to study the palace facades and tour the San Giorgio cathedral. Lunch is at the Fattoria delle Torre in nearby Modica, a spectacular hillside site above two rivers. After visiting the Bonaiuto chocolate laboratory, which has 19th-century roots, we reach the remarkably intact city of Noto, where we will encounter an ambitious series of Baroque monuments, palaces, churches and monasteries. We return to Syracuse and walk to drinks and dinner at the splendid Palazzo Beneventano del Bosco.

B, L, D included
Overnight: SYRACUSE

Tuesday, October 20

Leaving our base in Syracuse behind, we move on to the ancient city of Morgantina in central Sicily, a strategic Hellenistic and Roman trade center still hosting excavations. At the nearby museum in Aidone cultural repatriation will be the topic du jour as we examine a bronze statue of a goddess returned from the Getty Museum and the cache of 16 Hellenistic silver-gilt objects given back by the Metropolitan Museum. Lunch is at Piazza Armerina followed by a visit to the magnificent Roman mosaics at the Villa Romana del Casale, perfectly preserved by a mud slide in the 12th century and considered among the most exceptional in the world. We continue to the coastal town of Agrigento for one night at the Hotel Villa Athena, located in a beautiful Mediterranean garden with a spectacular view of the Temple of Concord.

B, L, D included
Overnight: AGRIGENTO

Wednesday, October 21

The Greek poet Pindar described Agrigento as “the fairest city inhabited by mortals,” and our day fittingly starts with a guided tour to the unforgettable Valley of the Temples, 5th-century monuments dedicated to the Greek gods and goddesses. After lunch near Vallelunga Pratameno at the Case Vecchie, part of the Regaleali wine estate, with chef and food writer Fabrizia Lanza, we continue north to Palermo. A guided visit to the Cappella Palatina with its glorious mosaics is an introduction to the Norman-Arab splendors of Sicily’s capital. Our accommodations for the remainder of the tour are at Centrale Palace Hotel, housed in an 18th-century noble palace near the Teatro Biondo.

B, L included
Overnight: PALERMO

Thursday, October 22

A walking tour with our guide takes us to three important churches: Norman-Baroque La Martorana, Arab-Norman San Cataldo, and uniquely Sicilian Baroque Santa Catarina. A visit to the Palazzo Abatellis picture gallery is especially interesting for its modern adaptation by the Venetian architect Carlo Scarpa. We are invited for drinks and refreshments with the Duca and Duchessa Lanza Tommasi at Palazzo Lampedusa, followed by a well-deserved afternoon at leisure. An early evening visit to Principessa Carine Vanni Mantegna’s stunning, 18th-century treasure chest Palazzo Gangi is followed by dinner at Osteria Ballarò.

B, D included
Overnight: PALERMO

Friday, October 23

We drive up to Monreale to see the great Duomo, a UNESCO Norman-Arab monument begun in the 12th century by William II and noteworthy for its remarkable interior with magnificent golden mosaics of Old Testament scenes, bronze doors, and beautiful cloister with 228 carved white marble columns. We continue to Bosco Falconeria for an informal lunch at the farm ofMary Taylor Simeti, author and chef. Returning to Palermo, we stop to see the extravagantCasina Cinese, the chinoiserie summer residence of King Ferdinand I in the Parco della Favorita. The afternoon concludes with a reception in the Art Nouveau Salone at the Grand Hotel Villa Igiea.

B, L included
Overnight: PALERMO

Saturday, October 24

Our final day commences with a walk to Palermo’s Duomo, begun in the 12th century but altered many times from a Norman Basilica to an Arab Mosque to a Spanish Gothic Cathedral. It contains the porphyry Royal Tombs and a Treasury where the tiara of Constance of Aragon is kept. We continue on foot through the Lo Capo Market past the 19th-century Teatro Massimo, one of the largest opera houses in Europe. Our visit to the Oratorio del Rosario di Santa Citaintroduces the amazing Baroque three-dimensional stucco work of Giacomo Serpotta, unique to Palermo. Following an afternoon at leisure, we gather for our farewell dinner at the Palazzo Alliata with Principessa Signoretta Alliata.

B, D included
Overnight: PALERMO

Sunday, October 25

Departures from Palermo for mainland Italy and then home.

B included

Terms and Conditions

Land Arrangement Cost:
$5,675 per person based on double occupancy. This cost is based on the current rate of exchange of €1 = $1.25. The final invoice will reflect changes in the currency rate.

Transatlantic airfare is not included. Please do not make your airline reservations until you have received written confirmation from the Trust.

A deposit of $1,400 per person is required by January 7, 2015. Reservations and deposits are taken on an “as received” basis. You will receive a written confirmation from the Decorative Arts Trust. Do not make any irrevocable airline reservations until you receive your verification. Please make your check payable to “The Decorative Arts Trust” and mail to: 20 South Olive Street, Suite 304, Media, PA 19063.

Single Supplement:
The single supplement is $895, to be paid along with the deposit.

Final Payment:
Will be due by May 1, 2015. Invoices for final payment will be mailed in early April.

A Benefactor-level membership is required for participation in Study Trips Abroad. Your membership contribution is fully tax-deductible. If an increase in your membership level is necessary, the Trust will invoice you for the appropriate upgrade with your final payment.

A donation to the Decorative Arts Trust of $500 per person is required for Study Trips Abroad. This gift is fully tax deductible and helps support the Trust’s mission and programs.

The schedule outlined in this itinerary is contracted for at this time but subject to change as necessary. A Study Trip reading list will be sent to you.

The trip is limited to a maximum of 25 members and requires a minimum of 15. The trip will be canceled if under-subscribed. We will organize and maintain a waiting list on the basis of the time registrations are received. This is a strenuous trip. We regret that we cannot be responsible for those needing assistance on this trip. By registering, you are certifying that you do not have any mental, physical, or other conditions of disability that would create a hazard for yourself or other passengers. The Trust reserves the right to decline anyone as a participant in this Study Trip should the person’s health, actions, or general deportment impede the operation of the study trip or the rights, welfare, or enjoyment of others.

Included in Trip Cost:
Hotel accommodations in 4–5 star hotels, 8 buffet breakfasts, 4 lunches, 4 dinners, private motor coach transportation, local guides, admission to museums, historic houses, and gardens, gratuities for professional guides and motor coach driver, and porterage for one suitcase only.

Not Included in the Trip Cost:
Airfare, airport transfers other than specified above, alcoholic beverages other than when provided, personal expenses, and trip insurance are not included.

Cancellation and Refund:
If you must cancel your reservation, you are urged to do so as soon as possible in writing to the Decorative Arts Trust. All cancellations are subject to a $250 administrative fee. Deposits are non-refundable after January 7, 2015.

  • Cancellations arriving by July 7, 2015, will receive a 50% refund.
  • Cancellations arriving by September 10, 2015, will receive a 25% refund.
  • There will be no refunds for cancellations received after September 10, 2015.

Travel insurance is strongly recommended to protect against cancellations. 

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