Private Shore Excursions for Cruise Passengers in Sicily, Palermo, Taormina, Agrigento, Mount Etna cooking lesson, wine tasting


Private Shore Excursions for Cruise Passengers in Italy
Palermo, Taormina, Agrigento, Mt. Etna, Cooking, Wine
 

If you are going to be on a Mediterranean cruise with stops at Civitavecchia, Livorno, Naples, Palermo, Messina, Venice and/or La Spezia, you can go with a large group of fellow passengers on a full-day bus tour, or you can spend the day with an affable guide, in your own private vehicle, chatting and learning about the wonderful Italian way of life as you see the artistic masterpieces that make it a major destination. A private tour costs more than a bus ride, but then again, you will have a knowledgeable world-class guide all to yourselves, and what better way to make every minute count in Rome, Tuscany, the Amalfi Coast, Pompeii, Cinque Terre, Venice and Sicily!
Palermo & Messina (Sicily)
Venice
Civitavecchia (Rome)
La Spezia & Portofino (Cinque Terre)
Livorno (Tuscany & Cinque Terre)
Naples (Pompeii & Amalfi Coast)

Palermo & Messina (Sicily)


FULL-DAY TOUR OF PALERMO & MONREALE

Meet your English-speaking driver-escort at the dock and choose with him the elements that will make up your ideal day in this fascinating city. You can concentrate on history, art and architecture, traveling back across the centuries to see spectacular vestiges of all the various cultures that have invaded and left their colorful marks on Palermo. Rub shoulders with the ancient Greeks, the Arabs, the Normans, the Anjovins, the French and the Spanish as you visit the immense 12th-century cathedral and the royal palace. Wander the narrow secretive alleys of the medieval quarter, turning a corner and stumbling upon the brick-red Islamic cupolas San Giovanni degli Eremiti church. See some of Italy's most extravagant stucco work inside the many ornate churches such as San Francesco d'Assisi and the Gesù. If you are a lover of gardening, be sure to include the 25-acre Botanical Gardens, which boasts a flamboyant collection of species from around the globe. And if you're a people watcher, then we urge you to include a stroll through the Mercato di Capo. Surely one of the most interesting outdoor markets in all of Italy, this conglomeration of stalls wends its way for miles through the narrow streets and tiny squares of the old city. You'll find absolutely every kind of merchandise on earth here, as well as an astounding assortment of unforgettable human beings. After time on your own for a typical Sicilian lunch, your driver will whisk you up the hill to see one of the greatest achievements of the Italian Middle Ages, the Cathedral of Monreale. Erected in the 12th century, it blends the Muslim, Byzantine and Romanesque styles as few other buildings on earth can do. On the way back to the ship, enjoy the views of Palermo's picturesque Conca D'Oro bay.

This tour starts at the cruise dock in Palermo and lasts up to nine hours. It is available daily. The price is for the total number of people, of all ages.

2016 Prices for the Full-Day Trip
  • 1-3 people:
  • 4-7 people:
352.00 EURO
374.00 EURO

Price includes private English-speaking driver-escort and transportation. Entrance tickets and meals are not included.

A shorter version of this tour, including quicker visits to Palermo AND Monreale, or an in-depth visit to Palermo OR Monreale, is also available daily and lasts five hours. The price is for the total number of people, of all ages.

This tour starts at the cruise dock in Palermo.

2016 Prices for the Half-Day Trip
  • 1-3 people:
  • 4-7 people:
244.00 EURO
266.00 EURO

Price includes private English-speaking driver-escort and transportation. Entrance tickets and meals are not included.





FULL-DAY EXCURSION TO TAORMINA

This private tour starts with an unforgettable boat ride along the spectacular Sicilian coast, past steep cliffs, seaside grottoes, sandy beaches, rocky coves, secluded villas, tiny marinas, and entire hillsides covered with tropical flowers. You will disembark at the picture-perfect islands of Mazzarò and Isolabella, where you can have lunch, or sunbathe on a beach equipped with sun loungers and umbrellas. Later, your English-speaking driver-escort will whisk you up to one of Europe's most renowned resort towns, Taormina. Perched on the summit of a hill overlooking an endless coastline to the east, and perennially snow-covered Mt. Etna to the west, Taormina enjoys a delightful climate that has attracted VIP travelers since the Roman Emperors. Its most famous attraction is the so-called Greek amphitheatre (a misnomer because it probably dates back "only" to the ancient Roman). Occupying a location of unparalleled beauty, it is one of the loveliest ancient ruins in the entire Mediterranean. After you have stood on its two-thousand-year-old stage and clambered up its many steps, be sure to take a stroll down the town's main street, lined with shops selling local artisanal crafts and delicious sweets you'll want to take back to the ship. The charm of Taormina is that although it's a world-famous resort, it has retained all of its original character, and the locals are as friendly as if you were the first tourist they had ever encountered. After a break to sip an aperitif and people watch, your driver-escort will take you back to the dock in Messina.

This tour starts at the cruise dock in Messina and lasts six hours. It is available daily from April through October, in English or Spanish, French, German, Polish, Russian or Italian. Tickets for the amphitheatre cost 8 Euro/person paid in cash in Italy. You may also reserve the services of a licensed guide to visit the amphitheatre in Taormina. This costs 110 Euro extra, paid in local cash on the day of the tour. This and the tour price are for the total number of people, of all ages.

2016 Prices for Taormina
  • 2 people:
  • 3 people:
  • 4 people:
  • 5 people:
  • 6 people:
  • 7 people:
  • 8 people:
370.00 EURO
388.00 EURO
409.00 EURO
427.00 EURO
465.00 EURO
498.00 EURO
521.00 EURO

Price includes private English-speaking driver-escort and transportation. Entrance tickets and meals are not included.





FULL-DAY TAORMINA & THE GODFATHER'S SICILY

Lovers of the Godfather movies will recognize the pretty hillside villages where Francis Ford Coppola filmed some of the immortal scenes set in Sicily.  Yet even if you are not at all interested in The Godfather, this tour is a fascinating way to visit an unspoiled, authentic part of the island to gain real insight into its lifestyle and the heart of its people.

Your English-speaking driver will meet you at the cruise dock and drive you south for about an hour to the first village, where you'll visit the bar where Michael sat down to ask the owner for the hand of his beautiful daughter Apollonia. You'll make your way through the string curtains to see the inside of the bar, also completely unchanged. Then you'll reverse the movie sequence, strolling up the main street to the church where Michael and Apollonia were wed. Before leaving town, you'll enjoy a lemon granita at the bar, still run by the same family. While you sip the delightful iced drink, you can browse through the owner's collection of photos taken during the filming of The Godfather II. You will also have time to explore the quiet streets and piazzas of this classic, off-the-beaten-track Sicilian hill town.

More sights are to be found at your second stop, the nearby hill town where Michael showed his American wife the house where his father was born, from which Vito escaped to the US hotly pursued by Don Ciccio's men. This little village overlooks an Arab-Norman castle which has featured as the backdrop in countless films. Your walking tour through the old medieval historic center starts at the central piazza and proceeds up a dramatic flight of steps, through a crumbling arch and up to a beautiful church where some of Godfather III was shot. The layout today is still as it was in the Middle Ages, a warren of narrow streets and tiny houses leading up to the ruined castle. The spectacular view from the top, overlooking the whole valley below, is bound to stay with you on the 15-mile drive to the next stop, picturesque Taormina, Sicily’s premier resort. You will have time on your own here to admire the stunning views as you wander the picture-perfect cobblestone streets, winding medieval alleys and tiny passages, each with its own secrets and an abundance of quaint shops, boutiques, restaurants, cafés and ice-cream bars. You may want to visit the truly majestic Greek Theatre, with its wonderful backdrop of the ever-active Mt. Etna.

This tour starts at the cruise dock in Messina and lasts up to eight hours. It is available daily. The price is for the total number of people, of all ages.


2016 Prices including Taormina
  • 2 people:
  • 3 people:
  • 4 people:
  • 5 people:
  • 6 people:
  • 7 people:
510.00 EURO
538.00 EURO
556.00 EURO
566.00 EURO
603.00 EURO
614.00 EURO

Price includes private English-speaking driver-escort and transportation, licensed tour guide, and granita tasting. Entrance tickets and meals are not included.

A shorter version of the tour without Taormina is also available daily and lasts up to six hours. The price is for the total number of people, of all ages.

This tour starts at the cruise dock in Messina.
2016 Prices without Taormina
  • 2 people:
  • 3 people:
  • 4 people:
  • 5 people:
  • 6 people:
  • 7 people:
440.00 EURO
453.00 EURO
467.00 EURO
489.00 EURO
551.00 EURO
563.00 EURO

Price includes private English-speaking driver-escort and transportation, licensed tour guide in the villages, and granita tasting. Entrance tickets and meals are not included.


FULL-DAY TOUR OF PALERMO & CEFALU'

After your morning in Palermo, you may elect to have a typical local snack instead of a sit-down lunch, and let your driver take you 70 km east to the seaside town of Cefalù. Founded by the ancient Greeks, the city is now mostly Baroque, and occupies a stunning position between the silvery Mediterranean and a precipitous cliff. A classic Sicilian town, it boasts elegant streets shaded by tall palm trees, as well as one of the most important cathedrals in Italy. The austere stone façade, topped by two squared-off towers, belies the extravagance of the Byzantine mosaics that decorate the immense, silent interior. Anyone who saw Franco Zeffirelli's Brother Sun, Sister Moon will never forget the gigantic image of Christ slowly emerging on the screen, overwhelming the viewers just as it did the humble friar from Assisi who would later become St. Francis.

This tour starts at the cruise dock in Palermo and lasts up to nine hours. It is available daily. The price is for the total number of people, of all ages.

2016 Prices for the Full-Day Trip
  • 1-3 people:
  • 4-7 people:
386.00 EURO
442.00 EURO

Price includes private English-speaking driver-escort and transportation. Entrance tickets and meals are not included.

A shorter version of the tour to Cefalù (without Palermo) is also available daily and lasts five hours. The price is for the total number of people, of all ages.

This tour starts at the cruise dock in Palermo.

2016 Prices
  • 1-3 people:
  • 4-7 people:
278.00 EURO
300.00 EURO

Price includes private English-speaking driver-escort and transportation. Entrance tickets and meals are not included.



FULL-DAY TOUR OF AGRIGENTO

Your English-speaking driver-escort will drive you today to what is perhaps Sicily's most famous archeological destination, the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento. On UNESCO's list of cultural heritage sites since 1997, it is one of the world's most outstanding examples of greater Greek architecture and art, dating back to the 5th century BC. There are no less than seven temples, in various states of ruin, for you to visit. T he Temple of Concordia is ranked amongst the most notable edifices of ancient Greek civilization existing anywhere, inside or outside Greece -- but each temple has its bragging rights, and the ensemble of the whole cluster, especially when viewed from the hill above the valley, poignantly evokes a culture that dominated the entire Mediterranean a very long time ago.

This tour starts at the cruise dock in Palermo and lasts up to nine hours. It is available daily. The price is for the total number of people, of all ages. Because of the distance from Palermo, you will have only three hours at the site itself. A private guide at the temples is available and must be reserved in advance by us. The cost is 80 Euros for a two-hour tour, paid in cash to the guide.

2016 Prices for the Full-Day Trip
  • 1-3 people:
  • 4-7 people:
386.00 EURO
442.00 EURO

Price includes private English-speaking driver-escort and transportation. Entrance tickets and meals are not included.



FULL-DAY EXCURSION TO MT. ETNA WITH WINETASTING

You might picture an active volcano as a jumble of charred, dead lava. Well, there certainly is a lot of lava on Mt. Etna! But there are also a dozen classic Sicilian villages (whose homes and palaces and churches are mostly built of lava, not surprisingly!) and there are picturesque vineyards producing award-winning vintages, as well as dark green chestnut forests where wild mushrooms abound. This tour will introduce you to the extraordinary variety of microclimates and sub-cultures that thrive on the slopes of the perennially smoking, snow-covered giant. As your English-speaking driver-guide takes you up the winding road lined with dry walls handmade of -- what else! -- lava, you'll encounter some of those lively villages, after which the panorama broadens to include terraced wheat fields, citrus groves, fruit orchards, vineyards and forests. Here you'll be joined by an English-speaking nature guide who will explain the workings of the volcano itself. Afterwards, everyone will enjoy a stop at one of those historic wineries, where you will taste five different controlled-denomination wines accompanied by homemade appetizers. The unforgettable views never stop on this day trip, and continue all the way back to your ship.

This tour starts at the cruise dock in Messina and lasts six hours. It is available daily from April through October, in English or French or Italian. A windproof jacket and shoes for rugged terrain are essential for this tour. Please also bring along several layers of clothing, because temperatures at the summit of Mt. Etna range from hot to cold, even in summer. The price is for the total number of people, of all ages.

2016 Prices
  • 2 people:
  • 3 people:
  • 4 people:
  • 5 people:
  • 6 people:
  • 7 people:
  • 8 people:

440.00 EURO
473.00 EURO
502.00 EURO
550.00 EURO
578.00 EURO
607.00 EURO
638.00 EURO

Price includes private English-speaking driver-escort, English-speaking environmental guide, winetasting and transportation. Meals are not included.



FULL-DAY TOUR OF SEGESTA & SELINUNTE

Meet your English-speaking driver-escort at the dock and travel with him to one of Sicily's most magical sites, the Greek temple of Segesta. Thanks to the utter tranquility of the spot, you will immediately feel you've left the 21st century behind and stepped into faraway antiquity. The elegant Doric temple is just about all that's left of the ill-fated Greek colony who settled here, as mentioned in the Aeneid. Eternal enemies of the other colony you will visit today, the people of Segesta were constantly besieged. The story goes that 2600 years ago, they felt their only chance of survival was to erect a temple so imposing that its very stature would strike terror in the hearts of any invader, thus inducing them to flee. Alas, it seems the ruse was unsuccessful because there was not enough time to finish the building before the city was destroyed in 307 BC. You can clearly see that the columns were never completed, but nonetheless this is one of the most striking ancient ruins in the entire Mediterranean. After a pause for lunch on your own, your driver will take you to the very southern shore of the island, just across from the ancient city of Carthage. Here you'll visit the site of Selinunte which, unlike Segesta, was one of the most important Greek colonies in Sicily. Its great wealth made it a prime enemy of Carthage, which eventually destroyed the city and deported all its citizens during the first Punic War. The huge temples of Selinunte are mighty testimony to the difference between a serene, backwater outpost such as Segesta and a prosperous coastal trading colony such as Selinunte, and seeing both sites in the same day is a striking way to make ancient history come alive today.

This tour starts at the cruise dock in Palermo and lasts up to nine hours. It is available daily. Because of the distances, there are at least five hours of driving in this trip. The price is for the total number of people, of all ages.

2016 Prices for the Full-Day Trip
  • 1-3 people:
  • 4-7 people:
386.00 EURO
442.00 EURO

Price includes private English-speaking driver-escort and transportation. Entrance tickets and meals are not included.

A shorter version of this tour to Segesta (without Selinunte) is also available daily and lasts five hours. The price is for the total number of people, of all ages.

This tour starts at the cruise dock in Palermo.


2016 Prices for the Half-Day Trip
  • 1-3 people:
  • 4-7 people:
278.00 EURO
300.00 EURO

Price includes private English-speaking driver-escort and transportation. Entrance tickets and meals are not included.






FULL-DAY TOUR OF SEGESTA & ERICE

After your visit to Segesta, you may elect instead to continue on to Erice, the only true medieval hilltown in Sicily. To get there you wind your way up a slope covered by a delightful, cool pine forest where the only sound you'll hear is an occasional bird call. Once at the summit, the first thing Erice has to offer is a breathtaking view of the sprawling bay and valley below. When you can bear to turn your back on this panorama, you'll venture into the pristine stone alleyways of the town, off-limits to cars and, it would seem, to all the modern world. Like any perfect vantage point, Erice boasts not one but two castles, one dating all the way back to the Saracens and the other, "newer" one attributed to the 12th-century Normans. If you'd like, you can take the cable car back to the foot of the hill where you'll meet your driver for the trip back to the ship.

This tour starts at the cruise dock in Palermo and lasts up to nine hours. It is available daily. The price is for the total number of people, of all ages.

2016 Prices for the Full-Day Trip
  • 1-3 people:
  • 4-7 people:
374.00 EURO
408.00 EURO

Price includes private English-speaking driver-escort and transportation. Entrance tickets and meals are not included.



FULL-DAY TOUR OF MARSALA & ERICE

Another variation on this day is to precede your stop in Erice with a visit to what we consider one of the most interesting small towns in Italy. Nowhere else does such a tiny village offer such a vast selection of historical sites! For starters, Marsala is the only place on the planet where you can see a longship dating from the Punic Wars, considered the oldest archeological remains of a warship in the world. From there we move "forward" in time to peer down at the ruins of a Carthaginian city next to what's left of a Roman city; stroll across the water to a Phoenician island; then cross back to the village, where the streets are paved with polished marble and lined with elaborate Baroque churches, inside one of which is a priceless collection of 16th-century Flemish tapestries. After all this exploration, the pièce de resistance is the Salt Museum, which occupies a 500-year-old windmill exactly like those invented by Archimedes. You can climb all over the interior and learn how it works, then see the mounds of pure sea salt that are protected from the winter weather by terracotta roof tiles. Be sure to buy some -- it is as different from our own table salt as Sicilian Marsala wine is from the supermarket variety!

This tour starts at the cruise dock in Palermo and lasts up to nine hours. It is available daily. The price is for the total number of people, of all ages.

2016 Prices for the Full-Day Trip
  • 1-3 people:
  • 4-7 people:
374.00 EURO
408.00 EURO

Price includes private English-speaking driver-escort and transportation. Entrance tickets and meals are not included.


Venice
Civitavecchia (Rome)
La Spezia & Portofino (Cinque Terre)
Livorno (Tuscany & Cinque Terre)
Naples (Pompeii & Amalfi Coast)