If you’ve been weighing a trip to Italy but don’t have the time (or the energy) to plan the logistics, consider hiring a team of travel pros who specialize in helping you avoid the guesswork. Established in San Diego two decades ago, Cultural Italy is the travel company willing to go above and beyond when it comes to creating bespoke itineraries. Along with offering pre-designed travel ideas, Cultural Italy draws from your personal preferences to suggest destinations and activities across Italy that satisfy your curiosity without pushing you too far past your comfort zone. Collaborating with a number of trusted local services, the company will arrange your accommodations, activity and transportation and remain on call should you have any issues or questions while touring Italy. If you are interested in designing a trip around activities specific to the island of Sicily, consider Sicily Activities, one of the local companies Cultural Italy works with. The collaboration between the companies makes planning excursions and specialized tours that lead you into the heart of the island seamless.
Established in 2014, Sicily Activities has grown into a full-fledged company focusing on the entire travel experience, as opposed to only the expected highlights. With a strong foundation in destination management, Sicily Activities collaborates with Cultural Italy to customize your itinerary and tie up all the loose ends in between, like transportation arrangements. Thanks to the collaboration with high quality local providers – like the company Sicily Activities – your excursion will be tailored by Cultural Italy travel designers according to your preferences, from gourmet dining, to sightseeing by bike, whether that means stepping out of your comfort zone or re-visiting your favorite activities in a new environment.
Taormina’s Greek Theater and Old Town
If you’re staying along Sicily’s northeastern coast, consider a private Taormina Walking Tour and Greek Theatre experience organized by Cultural Italy. With the help of a local guide, you’ll be able to take in the architecture, look for hints of the many different empires that once laid claim to the city, and enjoy the Old Town’s festivities. As you walk by restaurants, bars and music venues, you’ll likely be inspired to organize a night out after catching all the daytime attractions.
While walking through Taormina, pay close attention to the city’s dramatic history, including the 2nd century Odeon, and the iconic Greek Theatre, which was not discovered until 1892. After following the Corso Umberto to the waterfront for a photo-op with towering Mount Etna in the distance, stop by local attractions like the Del Carmine Church and the Duomo Stairs, which mark one of the city’s classic Piazzas.
Add a local food tasting and complete your introduction to Taormina with a classic Sicilian dessert before heading back to your hotel- or staying in town for a taste (and a sip!) of local nightlife. If you’re staying a little ways outside of town and planning to take a taxi into the city, it’s easy to turn the outing into an entire day trip, especially after you’ve gotten some local tips and recommendations from your hotel concierge.
Valley of the Temples
If you’re staying near Agrigento, on Sicily’s southwest coast, you won’t want to miss the nearby Valley of the Temples, one of Italy’s most cherished archaeological landmarks. Home to a number of ancient Hellenic temples, the valley is a testament to Sicily’s significance in ancient Mediterranean culture. Equally shrouded in mystery as they are elegant, the temples make it easy to imagine the landscape as it might have been thousands of years ago, when the area was one of the cradles of Greek and Roman civilizations. Book a private tour of the valley for an even richer experience, marked by historic facts, local lore and insight from your guide. The Valley of the Temples is a great day trip idea- you’ll need plenty of time to wander in between the temples.
If you’re staying anywhere on Sicily’s northeastern coast between Messina and Catania, chances are you’ve come to experience life at the foot of the island’s most stunning natural wonders. Mount Etna is an active volcano that measures well over 10,000 feet of elevation, making it a centerpiece of the island’s eastern panorama. From mountain biking to crater climbs, there are a number of ways to experience the volcano’s rugged terrain, expansive views and hiking trails. Private guided experiences are the best way to uncover the area’s secrets, but you can also explore on your own, with some limitations. If you’re renting a car, you can drive to Rifugio Sapienza, which, at 1900 meters of elevation, is your basecamp for stocking up on Etna souvenirs. Bus transportation is also available from nearby Catania. Rifugio Sapienza is also home to a cable car that transports visitors up to crater level.
As you wrap up your volcano tour, plan to sample local wines on the way back- the Mount Etna landscape is known for its volcanic minerals and abundance of crops. Local wineries like Barone di Villagrande combine fine craftsmanship with a profound love of the land, preserving Etna’s rich flavor profiles in each glass or bottle.
Cultural Italy offers excursions of varying lengths across the island, meaning your tours and other outings can be tailored to any existing itinerary. While many of the company’s experiences focus on Sicily’s larger cities like Palermo, Syracuse and Taormina, day trips will likely be available wherever you’re staying- the island is, after all, filled with historic sites, cultural curiosities and outdoor destinations.
If you want to see different regions of Sicily but are struggling with the logistics, consider organizing your trip around a common theme or framework- embark on a wine trail across the island, focus on archeological sites in different areas or tour large harbor cities and coastal communities.
Other experiences designed by Cultural Italy include a Cooking Class and Food Market Visit in Taormina, a Private Walking Tour of Palermo, and the Siracuse Wineries Tour. However, remember that bespoke tours are the companys’ specialty, meaning your imagination is the limit when it comes to delving into Sicily.
For more things to do in Sicily or anywhere in Italy, head to Cultural Italy.