A few great reasons to visit Sicily! » All Tours & Excursions Listed
Golden Sicily (6 nights)
Sicilian Impressions (5 nights)
Red Sicily Tour (8 nights)
Peoples of Sicily (9 nights)
Scenic Transfers in Sicily
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Places:
Agrigento
Catania
Cefalù
Erice
Madonie Mts.
Marsala
Mount Etna
Palermo
Piazza Armerina
Segesta
Siracusa
Taormina
Trapani
Wine Region

Insurance:
Multinational
Travel Insure
Complete Travel
Travel Guard
World Travel
123 (UK)

Flights:
Alitalia
Alitalia UK
Alitalia USA
Air Malta
Ryan Air
easyJet
Other airlines


Chat & Tour is a member of the American Society of Travel 
Agents.
Chat & Tour

Chat & Tour is a member of the International Air Transport Association.
Chat & Tour

City Tax: Following the example of Rome, Paris and New York, a few Sicilian cities have begun to tax hotel stays. The law prohibits billing or collection of the "city tax" by travel agents, so you may be required to pay this tax of €2-€4 directly to the hotel at check-out.

TRAVEL AGENTS
Create your own customized selection of Sicily tours! We also do fully individualized tours of Sicily for groups of any size. Contact our director to find out how you can plan a unique tour of Sicily for your group (even if you're not a travel agent).

Major credit cards accepted.

TRAVEL TIPS
Visas: If you're an EU citizen you probably won't need a visa to enter Italy. Visitors from certain other countries can visit Italy for up to 3 months without a visa, though their passports must be valid for the entire duration of their stay. These countries include the USA, Canada, Japan, Australia and others. Check the Italian Foreign Ministry website or contact the nearest Italian consulate to see whether you need a visa to enter Italy.
Credit Cards: Some restaurants and shops only accept cash. Mastercard and Visa are the most widely accepted credit cards; fewer Sicilian establishments accept American Express.
Currency Exchange: Italy's currency is the euro (€). Banks cannot exchange large amounts of currency, usually limiting transactions to €400 at a time. Visit the currency converter for current exchange rates.
Dining: Lunch, the main meal of the day, is usually served around 1, dinner at 8. Expect exceptional Sicilian wines, but no poultry. Few restaurants in Sicily serve chicken, which is roasted on a skewer and sold at stands as a take-away meal. Pizza is an evening food, and coffees containing milk (cappuccino) are usually served in the morning.
Tipping: 10% is normal in restaurants.
Smoking: Not permitted in restaurants or in any buildings open to the public, including stores and hotels.
Safety: To discourage purse snatchers women should carry small purses, if any, Along streets, carry your purse on the side away from traffic, as some thieves steal them while riding motor scooters. Backpacks should not be worn (but instead carried) in crowded areas or on buses.
Dress: In churches, including Monreale Abbey, Cefalù Cathedral and Palermo's Palatine Chapel, women should not enter with uncovered arms or wearing miniskirts or very short pants. Men should not enter wearing short pants.
Weather: Visit Best of Sicily's weather page for forecasts and current conditions.
Business Hours: Most stores and offices are closed in the afternoon from 1 until 4, when they open until 7 or 8.

© 2013 Best of Sicily. Unauthorized use is illegal and prohibited.

(Please note that various tours offered by other companies use the name "Best of Sicily.")


Convert to your currency.RESERVE EARLY and SAVE: We're smashing prices! A golden opportunity for an exceptional price on our 2014 Golden Sicily tour, with almost-weekly departures. Reserve your Summer or Autumn tour right now for up to two hundred euros off the standard price. For tour dates from June through October, get a 100 euro discount. For tours in November and December, get a 200 euro discount (per participant based on double occupancy). Each tour has a maximum of only 16 participants, so reserve soon to guarantee your place. A hundred euros is around US $140 or GB £82. Click or tap on the shattered euro coin to convert your currency. Read more about Golden Sicily...

"Are all tours of Sicily the same?"
Planning, service and even your guide's knowledge spell the difference between an exceptional, memorable tour and an ordinary one

It's not just what you see but how you see it:
 "Very well thought-out tour, relaxing, intimate and time for individuals... very special. We will certainly share the experience with our friends..." — Julie C.
 "Our guide was delightful, well informed and knowledgeable of Italian history. He was friendly, courteous and always took good care of us. We enjoyed his company..." — Marjorie B.
Read more comments from people who enjoyed these tours >>>

Ten Reasons. Why choose a Best of Sicily Tour?
 Small group size – usually no more than 16 participants per tour.
 Convenient itineraries with just two hotel check-ins during a one-week tour.
 Tours scheduled every month of the year, with more start-dates than any other company.
 Good prices because there's no re-seller or travel agent between you and us.
 The "must-see" sights are featured, plus a few "secret" ones.
 Choice of various tours in addition to the three most popular ones described on this page.
 Exceptional tour leaders and guides make your experience special.
 Superior hotels and restaurants are selected.
 Personalized services like airport pick-up or extra nights before/after your tour are available because our staff of Sicily travel specialists is based in Sicily.
 These tours are offered by one of the (very) few Sicily-based firms registered as both a travel agent and tour operator.

Are you tired of reading about tours of Sicily that all look the same? Then it's time to join one of our tours. The real difference is in the details. Best of Sicily tours are a great way to see Sicily because of better planning and service. That's because of the people behind them. Good guides, good hotels and great food. Each tour has a small group size and includes major places of interest, and each is easy to schedule around independent travel. In fact, they're perfect if you normally enjoy traveling on your own. Departures are guaranteed, so there's no need to book many months in advance, but it's best to reserve at least 30 days before your arrival.

A brief description of each tour follows and we offer several others described on other pages — personalized tours, scenic transfers, 4-day tours and Sicily-Malta tours. Each of our tours of Sicily (with departure dates and reservation details) is described in detail on a separate page, and a quick comparison of the three most popular ones follows toward the end of this page. The escort language is English; we have more guides and office staff who speak English as their native (first) language than any other Sicilian travel service. We're in Sicily, so you're purchasing from the tour's planners directly. For more information read our FAQs and Purchase Conditions. Yes, we also do shore excursions and we plan personalized itineraries, whatever the size of your group.

A few great reasons to visit Sicily.
Taormina's Greek amphitheatre and Mt Etna, Norman-Arab churches in Palermo, Segesta's Greek temple, Palermo's Palatine Chapel

Almost-Weekly 2014 Tours at a Glance
The Red Tour Sicilian Impressions Golden Sicily

Take a tour of Sicily. Most of Sicily – Ancient to Baroque. History, culture, cuisine and sunshine in an itinerary conveniently planned with just 3 hotel check-ins. 5-star lodging. Cross Sicily from Siracusa to Palermo to Taormina, with arrival/departure in Catania. Maximum group size is just 12. This 8-night tour begins on Saturday in Siracusa. From €1990.00. Read more...

Take a tour of historic Sicily. The principal sites of Sicily in one week. From Palermo to Taormina. Monreale, Piazza Armerina, Agrigento, Segesta, Erice, Siracusa, the Mt Etna region. Ancient and medieval Sicily plus visits to a winery and a working olive farm. Exceptional 4 star lodging with just 2 hotel check-ins. 5-night tour begins on Saturday in Palermo. From €1149. Read more...

See Sicily. The principal sites of Sicily in one week. From Palermo to Taormina. Monreale, Palermo, Piazza Armerina, Taormina, Agrigento, Siracusa, Erice, Segesta, the Mt Etna region. Ancient and medieval Sicily plus visits to a winery and a working olive farm. Exceptional 4 star lodging with just 2 hotel check-ins. 6-night tour begins on Saturday in Palermo. From €1199. Read more...

View Comparison Chart of 2014 Tours

TO CONTACT US... to reserve your tour of Sicily
Reservation and contact information (including our actual office address in Palermo) is indicated on the page describing each tour. Here's our primary contact info:
tours@bestofsicily.com
TEL: +39 091 626 9685, FAX: +39 091 380 9900
From the United States or Canada you may also contact us at 312-239-0420.
Please remember that there's a six-hour time difference between Central European Time here in Italy and North American Eastern Time in (for example) Toronto and New York. Or... you can pay online with a credit card (under "Notes" please indicate the tour, start date and number of participants). A 250 euro minimum deposit is required when you reserve.

Faqs – Questions and answers about hotels, guides, reservations, currency conversion and other details.

Conditions and Terms – Payment, refund and departure conditions.

Compare Tours – Compare our tours of Sicily. Departure dates, day-by-day itineraries...

Travel Tips – A side-bar guide for Sicily.

We also do Day Tours and Shore Excursions

Read about our eastern Sicilian shore excursions.Messina & Catania Excursions: Exceptional personalized day tours of Etna and Taormina, departing from Messina or Catania. Not just an excursion, an adventure! Uniquely planned for your small group, with your own driver and guide and a choice of 3 day tours, it's the best way to experience the natural wonders of eastern Sicily. Read more...

Read about our western Sicilian shore excursions.Personalized Palermo Excursions: Palermo, Cefalù or Segesta-Erice. Easily customized. The perfect day, planned your way from beginning to end, at your own pace. Whether your group includes two participants or twenty, a custom-designed itinerary, with your own driver and guide, is a great way to experience the real Sicily. Read more...

Excursions from Palermo.Scheduled Palermo Excursions: Weekly excursions for Erice & Segesta, or Piazza Armerina. These are regular departures from central Palermo with small groups (maximum 16 participants). Scheduled all year, they're the next best thing to a private excursion. Reserve at least a week in advance. Read more...

Frequently Asked Questions About Our Tours
 How much is a euro (€) worth?
 What's the new City Tax?
 Will Italy's ailing economy impact my visit?
 Which hotels do you use?
 What's "high" and "low" season?
 Is Best of Sicily a tour operator?
 Who are your tour participants?
 Is there much walking in these tours? What's the level of physical activity?
 Do you provide testimonials or references?
 Are all fees included in the price of the tours?
 What about tips (gratuities) to guides and drivers?
 What are "optional exursions" and how are they planned and priced?
 How many participants are there in each group?
 Is there personalized service when I book a tour over the internet?
 What's the difference between you and my local travel agent?
 Can you plan a customized tour for my group?
 Are the tours guided/escorted?
 What's the quality like?
 Are these "low budget" or "mass market" tours?
 How are these tours really different from others?
 Are airfare and transportation from the airport included?
 You don't book flights. How can I find one?
 Why are there so few departures in August?
 Can I deviate from the tour to visit a place off the itinerary?
 How can I extend my stay before or after the tour?
 Do you offer food and wine tours?
 What if I'm reluctant to purchase a tour over the internet?
 Tour prices seem to vary widely. What's your profit?
 What's the difference between a tour operator and a travel agent?
 Can you tell me more about the company – the legal stuff?
 What's your connection with Sicily Concierge?
 What if my question isn't answered on this page?

How much is a euro worth?
Consult our favorite currency converter for current exchange rates. The euro (€) is the official currency of Italy, Germany, Austria, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Greece, France and several other countries of the European Union.

What's the new City Tax?
Following the example of Rome, Paris and New York, a few Sicilian cities have begun to tax hotel stays. The law prohibits billing or collection of the "city tax" by travel agents, so you may be required to pay this tax of €2-€4 directly to the hotel at check-out. We oppose taxes of this kind but their application is beyond our control. Incidentally, Italy recently raised the value-added (sales) tax from 20% to 22%.

Will Italy's ailing economy have an impact on my trip?

No – though this is a good (and fair) question. Don't expect any particular difficulties. Serious as it is, Italy's economic situation won't make any difference in your visit to our sunny island. Public services won't be influenced in any significant way, and neither will air travel or lodging.

Which hotels do you use?
Hotels are rated at least 4-star by the Italian Tourism Board, being selected for their ambience, service and convenient location. Some are rated 5-star. Often overlooked by tour operators, convenient hotel location makes it easier to reach shopping and dining. While hotels are listed for each tour, the hotels actually selected for your tour may vary depending on the season, the number of participants and availability. In other words, there are occasional (rare) substitutions. Your accommodations (lodging) will be identical or comparable to the hotels indicated here. In Italy, incidentally, the differences between hotel rankings are often subtle and do not always reflect lodging quality but rather things like the size of the hotel's restaurant or its season of operation.

What's "high" and "low" season?
Used by hotels and airlines, these terms refer to pricing based on the differing volume of travel activity throughout the typical year. During promotions, some of our tours are priced lower from November through March (low season) than they would from April through October (high season). We sincerely believe that the winter is a perfect season to visit Sicily. Check out our weather and climate page for information on average seasonal temperatures and precipitation.

Is Best of Sicily a tour operator?
Best of Sicily is the most popular online travel guide for Sicily. We promote these tours (and other travel services) in response to numerous requests from our readers for interesting tours at a fair price. We've been receiving such requests since we went online in April 1999, and advertising some of these tours since 2004. Each tour is organized, conducted and sold by Chat & Tour (under the trade name "Tradizione Turismo"), a Sicily-based travel services company affiliated with the IATA (International Air Transport Association) and ASTA (American Society of Travel Agents). Best of Sicily itself is more than a destination guide; it's a general interest publication about Sicily and Sicilian-oriented topics, with over two million readers per year. Because we are not a travel company per se, we accept advertising from various (even competing) travel service companies and we maintain a free and independent editorial policy. This is not unusual; a number of organizations, museums and hard-copy magazines (dedicated to geography, travel, cooking, archaeology, etc.) sponsor tours of one kind or another, and they're usually good because the editors know what their readership wants. Incidentally, other tours having no association with us are also called "Best of Sicily."

Who are your tour participants?
Our scheduled tours are purchased by clients from around the world, rather than from a single country or community — though we also plan tours for specific groups (contact our director for details). By nature, most of our clients enjoy contact with others, including participants from different countries. It's one of the things that makes our tours different from those sold by most travel agents. The tour language is English.

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Is there much walking in these tours? What's the level of physical activity?
These tours are fairly active and feature at least "moderate" walking along stairs or over uneven surfaces. These are not hiking tours but the amount of walking, while not excessive, is substantial, and comfortable walking shoes are recommended. Though suitable to most people, these tours really are not appropriate for anybody whose walking ability is significantly restricted or challenged by a physical condition (chronic back pain, a leg or hip injury, etc.), or who requires the aid of a device for support to facilitate walking. Many of the places visited are full of steps or sloping pavement surfaces (Taormina and Erice are hilltop towns having cobble-stone streets, closed to traffic, and few actual sidewalks). In some cases motor vehicles simply are not allowed to transport participants to areas (such as archeological sites or medieval streets) frequented by visitors, so a certain amount of walking is necessary. Ramps and elevators (lifts) are the exception rather than the rule, and facilities for wheelchairs are limited. We understand that our observations may discourage some from joining our tours, but we would be misleading you if we did not bring these realities to your attention.

Do you provide testimonials or references?
We frequently review client satisfaction – based on questionnaires completed following each tour – to maintain quality, and a few remarks are included on our comments page

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Are all costs included in the price of the tours?
Fees and other costs are included as indicated in the description of the tour. All breakfasts are included. Otherwise, some, but not all, meals are included. Where beverages are not included, you can order them yourself. In our Golden tour, for example, beverages are not included. Gratuities (tips) to guides/escorts are not included (see the following question). In most cases, entrance fees at archeological sites are not included, and these average about €60 during a one-week tour. Optional excursion costs are not included (see below). The summary of each tour explains precisely what is (and isn't) included.

What about tips for guides and/or drivers?
This is customary but never obligatory. As a very general rule, for escort-guides we might suggest a minimum of four euros per day per person for a 7-day tour, slightly more if the group is very small (5 participants or less). The tip to a driver normally would be slightly less. If the guide is also the driver, the four-euro suggestion would apply. Any tipping should be done at the very end of a complete tour, rather than day-by-day. While we're on the subject of tipping, please note that about 10% is customary in restaurants, and about one euro per person for porterage of bags (or 50 cents per bag) at hotels.

What are optional excursions and how are these planned and priced?
Though the practice is rare on our tours, your guide or driver may occasionally offer you the possibility of planning or joining an excursion that is not included in the itinerary or cost of the tour. On a free day, for example, an excursion from Taormina to Mount Etna might be offered if this is not already included in your itinerary. The cost of such an excursion is paid in advance when you purchase your tour.

How many participants are there in each group?
Group size varies according to season. For most tours we guarantee a departure even with as few as two participants. Our groups never have more than sixteen participants, and they're usually from various countries. Most participants prefer to be part of a smaller group. In fact, the relatively small group size is one of the advantages of our tours. (When we have a large number of participants, we divide a potentially large tour into two or three smaller groups.)

Is there personalized service when I book a tour over the internet?
There is when you reserve it with us. When you contact us to reserve your place, we'll acknowledge your email and refer it to our representative (an actual travel agency here in Palermo), who will email you to process billing (prepaid by credit card) and other information, and of course answer any of your questions. This is not an automated online service but a company operated by experienced travel professionals. We can also book hotel days before or after the tour if you wish to extend your stay. The real deal — not a "virtual" agency.

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REAL travel agents.What's the difference between you and my local travel agent?
We're Sicily specialists based "on site" here in Sicily, we offer frequent departures, and in most cases our prices are more affordable than those of comparable tours offered at "retail" by a travel agent outside Italy. Our tours are not a "re-sale" product connected to an expensive advertising campaign, nor are they a generic "package" sold (or re-sold) by a mass tourism company. Instead, you're buying the tour directly from a registered tour operator and travel agent who oversees every detail of your tour directly. (These are the kind of companies that actually organize the various tours promoted by your local travel agent and by numerous firms which market tours.) You can reserve your place as little as twenty (20) days before the beginning of the tour. That's an option few local travel agents can beat – except for those selling mass market tours having more than thirty participants. Unlike a travel agent thousands of miles away from Sicily, we can address specific needs, whether it's getting ballet tickets at Palermo's opera house or finding you a driver for a special excursion on an extra day following the tour. The best travel agents provide useful, personalized services (and those who wish to offer this tour may contact us), but there's really no substitute for being present where the tours actually take place.

Can you create a customized tour for my group?
Yes! Contact us with your requirements and we'll provide you with a quote. This service is available to travel agents or to anybody who wants to organize a group tour. Best of all, your customized tour may not cost any more than one of our regular scheduled tours.

Are the tours guided?
Each tour is escorted by an English-speaking tour escort. The complexites of Italian labor law have created several confusing and overlapping "official" categories of "guides" including licensed guides authorized to lecture (in foreign languages) at archeological sites in particular regions of Italy, specialized (but usually monolingual) guides employed locally at specific historical sites, tour escorts who accompany groups around Italy, and so forth. Our approach attempts to simplify this. If your group has only 2 or 3 participants you'll have a driver/guide. Larger groups (at least 4 participants) have a minibus driver plus an escort. Certain excursions require specialized guides – for example the geologists who operate jeep excursions on Mount Etna – and we occasionally use the services of licensed or local guides. It's really a question of having the most practical, efficient solution for each situation.

What's the quality like?
It's exceptional, at this price or any price. Consider that certain tours very similar to ours are sold for as much as twice these prices, while many travel agents sell "luxury" tours which, in fact, are nearly identical to ours – usually costing more than twice as much. You may find a few tours of Sicily priced for less, but we've ensured that our features, though affordable, are of high quality. The restaurants, for example, are superior to the typical "tourist" offerings, and the tour escorts and other personnel are selected for their exceptional professionalism. (This, in itself, distinguishes our services.) The planning is efficient, too, with lodging in just three or four hotels instead of numerous check-ins, and few stretches of travel lasting more than ninety minutes. These tours offer certain features typical of more expensive tours, such as small group size. (Unless you enjoy being part of a big crowd, smaller is better.) Each tour has its own particular features which make it a unique experience. Our entire approach to providing you with the best possible service sets these tours apart from others. This reflects a "young" attitude rather than the "conventional" generic mentality of mass-market tour operators who pack 50 people on a bus with a mediocre "guide." It's our special emphasis on quality that is often lacking in competitors' Sicily tours.

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Are these "low budget" or "mass market" tours?
No!!! If you search, you'll find many cheaper tours with larger group sizes and rather inconvenient itineraries, typically sold under creative names such as "Golden Endless Pleasures of Sicily Tour," or something simpler but equally enticing – fantasy, treasures, jolly, carousel, delight, charm (the list of descriptive names seems endless). In purchasing any tour, it's always best to compare features. For example, some offer meals that exclude all beverages (even water!) from the price. Others (such as those which feature Sicily as part of a general tour of southern Italy) entail hours and hours of tiresome travel time between cities. Our tours represent a different approach because they may be purchased directly from the organizing agency, and they are the only tours of Sicily promoted by Sicily's most widely-read international publication (this website), based on readers' real-life preferences rather than on what a tour operator guesses that clients prefer.

How are these tours really different from others?
Realistically, it's simple enough to compare basic features, but there's just so much that can be conveyed with charts, descriptions and figures. The real difference is that a team of seasoned Sicily-based travel experts has met the challenge of developing a satisfying travel experience at an affordable price in a market where impersonal "mass tourism" – not attention to detail – is the norm. In other words, the people behind the tour are as important as the places you visit and the hotels you stay in. Best of Sicily is a slightly different kind of destination guide, and we offer slightly different kinds of tours. We've fine-tuned our services over the years. The Golden Sicily tour (our most popular), has been offered for six years with exceptional success. According to the best statistics available (from a trade industry source), in 2010 we sold more tours of Sicily directly to the public than any other Sicily-based agency, and more than twice as many as our nearest competitor.

Are airfare and transportation from the airport included in the tour price?
Airfare is not included, but transportation from the airport is included in some tours. See the summary for details. For good flight prices, try our planning page, or an airline with frequent direct or connecting flights to Palermo and Catania (see the next question and answer), such as Alitalia or Ryan Air. From the airport, it's easy to get to your hotel in Palermo, with hourly bus and train departures or by taxi. Palermo is about thirty minutes from its airport. (See our arrival page for details.) We recommend Air Malta for flights to Valletta (Malta). In reserving flights, please bear in mind that for most tours arrivals and departures are not from the same city because most of our tours travel across Sicily instead of going around it in a circuit. You will probably have to arrive at Catania and depart from Palermo, or vice versa..

You don't sell flights. How can I find one?
For flights to Palermo and Catania, visit Best of Sicily's airline page (with links to airline sites), or search a flight using our planning page. The internet has many flight reservation sites.

Why are there so few departures in August?
Because it's the most chaotic month in Italy, when Italians go on vacation en masse, and northern Europeans flock to Italy. In August, you can expect delayed flights, long lines and crowds everywhere – particularly in favorite spots like Taormina. Worse, the middle of the month (Ferragosto) finds many shops and even restaurants in less popular localities closed. Here in Sicily, August is endlessly sunny but unbearably hot, too. As the vacation (holiday) season and heat actually begin in late July, we schedule fewer tours in August.

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Can I deviate from the tour to visit a place off the itinerary?
We generally encourage you, instead of cancelling a particular sight or stop and then catching up to the group further along the itinerary, to plan an extension of your stay in Sicily for a day or two following the tour. (See the following question.) We can arrange transportation to a specific sight or locality you'd like to visit.

How can I extend my stay before or after the tour?
In the description of each tour there's a section on pre-nights and post-nights; in other words, additional days before or after the tour. We can usually reserve lodging at the same hotel used for the tour at the priority rate. Otherwise, if you wish, it's easy to book a hotel on our hotel page, where flights, car rentals and other services are also available. Nowadays, many visitors prefer independent travel, often with an escorted visit such as our tours for a portion of their trip. When carefully planned, the two services complement each other very well.

Do you offer food and wine tours?
All our tours offer plenty of opportunities to sample Sicilian cuisine and wines, and some include wine tastings and (as options) cooking classes. We suggest that you carefully compare these tours to those promoted by various firms as "culinary tours" (food and wine tours reflect a growing international interest in Sicilian cuisine). You may actually prefer ours!

What if I'm reluctant to purchase a tour (or other travel service) over the internet?
Millions of people do so with confidence every day. Our travel services page is a good example of this trend. Best of Sicily is an example of the kind of online publication (a travel guide) which makes information readily available to people over the internet. With over a million readers annually, our online magazine is Sicily's most widely-read English-language periodical. We would like to encourage everybody to take advantage of what the Web has to offer, but if you are truly reluctant to purchase a travel service from a company advertised on the internet you would probably be more comfortable working directly with a local travel agent. There's nothing wrong with that; travel agents are hard-working people who provide a valuable service. Some of our tours are sold by travel agents, but we're the only Sicily-based company that offers tours directly to you at a competitive price. Here is an interesting "review" from an American gentleman who participated in one of our tours in 2007:

After evaluating a lot of tours, in October 2007 my wife and I chose a Best of Sicily tour. We chose that tour for several reasons: they promised small groups (maximum 20 people but they said it would typically be 14 or 16); they guaranteed departures provided at least two people sign up (so my wife and I met that qualification); they went to the areas we were interested in seeing during our week in Sicily; the hotels were okay based on TripAdvisor reviews; they had a mix of meals that were included with the tour package as well as meals that we would purchase on our own (we have been burned by tours that provide all your meals in the hotel where you are staying); and their website made it clear that they really understood Sicily. Initially, I was uncomfortable working through a tour company that was only located in Sicily rather than a larger company, but Vincenzo at Best of Sicily was extremely responsive to my many e-mail questions, so I became more comfortable over time. The tour was great! We had only six people on our tour, and we traveled with our tour guide, Giuseppe, in a mini-van. That meant that he could maneuver down the narrow streets of Palermo, Catania, etc. and go to places the large tour busses couldn't. Although I grew up in New York City where I drove a taxi for a while, I would not have been comfortable driving in the larger Sicilian cities where they just don't seem to have any rules. On the other hand, it sure was a lot of fun sitting in the passenger seat. Giuseppe was fantastic and I would highly recommend him as a tour guide due to his personality and comprehensive knowledge of Sicily. We purchased the optional "transfer package" which included someone picking us up and dropping us off at the Palermo airport, as well as the entrance fees to the places we visited. The overall pace of the tour was great. We covered a lot of ground but didn't feel rushed. Giuseppe's restaurant selection (he frequently gave us options for lunch or dinner) was outstanding. Because we were in a small group, we were able to go to small restaurants that could not accommodate bus loads of tourists. During our scheduled free day in Taormina, four of the six of us opted for an excursion from sea level to the top of Mount Etna, which is nearly 11,000 feet in elevation and was reached by a combination of our mini-van; a cable car ride; and special all-wheel drive buses for traveling over the volcanic ash at the top. The trip to the top of Mount Etna, which was spewing large clouds of smoke into the air, was a great experience. Lunch on a working olive farm and a trip to Erice, located on the top of a high mountain, on our last day was the perfect ending to a great tour. I managed to take 1,525 digital pictures during our seven days in Sicily. It was beautiful!

Tour prices seem to vary widely. What's your profit?
A good question that few agents and operators would answer. First, let's consider it generally. For reselling a scheduled "mass market" (or package) tour, your local travel agent probably earns the industry standard commission of 10 percent, but slightly more (as much as 20 percent!) if they plan the tour themself with a foreign-based tour operator such as those who sell the tours described on this page. (In reality, very few local travel agents in the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Australia or elsewhere actually plan their own tours; most purchase these from an intermediary agent or "broker.") Nowadays few airlines pay any commissions at all, so selling flights is not profitable for most travel agents. In 2006 the Italian-based companies that sell our Sicily tours earned an average 9 percent profit. This means that if you pay much less than these prices you're not getting comparable quality. If you pay much more, you're probably paying for something other than quality.

What's the difference between a tour operator and a travel agent?
Today, when there are various kinds of travel service sellers, the distinctions are often blurred and may actually overlap. Speaking generally, a tour operator organizes a tour and sells it to local travel agents (who sell it to you), while a receptive agent handles logistics "on site" (in Sicily in our case). The internet has changed much of this because "virtual" travel agents (perhaps lacking large offices or full-time staff) now flourish. Meanwhile, some larger tour operators sell their tours (typically at low cost, perhaps including airfare, with 40 or 50 people stuffed into a large bus) directly to the public. The company that organizes our tours (Tradizione Turismo of Palermo) is one of very few in Sicily registered as both a tour operator and travel agent. In addition to these scheduled tours, they offer specialised travel services through Sicily Concierge.

Can you tell me more about the company — the legal stuff?
Tradizione Turismo by Chat & Tour, Via Generale Sirtori 25, 90145 - Palermo, Italy. Full Travel Agency Licence Number: 996/VII/Tur-Sicily • IATA Tids 96 27583 0 • VAT (Partita IVA): IT04943140824 • ASTA Member Number: 900166379 • Site Member: ID 9310610 • NTA Member: TID 034 250.

What's your connection with Sicily Concierge?
Sicily Concierge is the personalized travel division of Tradizione Turismo, housed in the same offices in Palermo, promoted through Best of Sicily. This is one of just a handful of Sicily-based firms registered as both travel agent and tour operator that works with a clientele from around the world — boasting more (native) English-speaking staff than any other Italian travel company south of Rome.

What if my question isn't answered on this page?
Email us right now at: tours@bestofsicily.com. You'll have a reply in a day or two – maybe sooner. Or phone us during office hours (Italy is on CET or GMT+1, same as Germany and France) at one of the numbers indicated in the green box in the following section.

Reservations
It's easy. Email us at the address indicated on the page describing the tour (indicating the date of your departure and number of persons in your party) to reserve your place(s). Major credit cards are accepted, as are bank wire transfers. You can pay online with a credit card (under "Notes" please indicate the tour, start date and number of participants). A 250 euro minimum deposit is required when you reserve.

TO CONTACT US... to reserve your tour of Sicily
Reservation and contact information (including our actual office address in Palermo) is indicated on the page describing each tour. Here's our primary contact info:
tours@bestofsicily.com
TEL: +39 091 626 9685, FAX: +39 091 380 9900
From the United States or Canada you may also contact us at 312-239-0420.
Please remember that there's a six-hour time difference between Central European Time here in Italy and North American Eastern Time in (for example) Toronto and New York. Or... you can pay online with a credit card (under "Notes" please indicate the tour, start date and number of participants). A 250 euro minimum deposit is required when you reserve.

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Conditions and Terms for 2014 Tours
Client will be advised of specific hotels to be used in his/her tour 20 (twenty) days before the tour's start date. Payment may be effected by bank wire transfer or major credit card. Prices are indicated in euros and valid through 31 December 2014. In the event of currency conversion to euros, the conversion rate shall be that of the day of payment; in the event of several payments for a single service the conversion rate may vary slightly based on the day's current exchange rate. All services are to be prepaid at least sixty days prior to the beginning of the tour ("start date" herein also referred to as the "departure"), with an initial payment or deposit (of at least 20% of the total cost) required to reserve a place in the tour, and in any event the balance or full price made payable within 60 (sixty) days of departure. In the event of cancellation by the client, the following portion of the total tour price will be claimed by the agency: €100.00 fixed fee 60+ days prior to departure, 25% 45-59 days before departure, 50% 15-44 days before departure, 80% 8-14 days before departure, 100% within 7 (seven) days of departure. At its discretion, the tour operator agency may waive such claims.

If purchased directly from the Italian tour operator (i.e. Tradizione Turismo by Chat & Tour Srl) via this website, service shall be governed by the laws of the Italian Republic and the European Union. Local laws may also apply for any tour purchased through a travel agent outside Italy. It is the responsibility of each participant to be in possession of the necessary travel document, such as a valid passport. Basic services are insured in compliance with Italian law. Certain fees indicated (i.e. costs cited which are outside the actual tour price), particularly admission fees at archeological sites, are understood to be beyond the tour operator agency's control and therefore subject to change without notice.

Hotel ratings are those established by the Italian travel commission and may differ from those indicated in privately-published travel guide books or websites. Tours begin in Palermo or Taormina, as indicated, on the dates specified. Unless the tour is purchased by a travel agent representing us, billing is processed through the tour operator, based here in Palermo, Italy (i.e. Chat & Tour's Tradizione Turismo). In the event that the tour operator agency effects cancellation of a tour at any time prior to departure, its sole responsibility and liability is limited to refunding the client the amount it has received in payment for the tour up to that date. The tour operator reserves the right to cancel or reschedule any tour departure in accordance with operating requirements or circumstances beyond its control (force majeure).

LEGAL STUFF: Tradizione Turismo by Chat & Tour, Via Generale Sirtori 25, 90145 - Palermo, Italy. Full Travel Agency Licence Number: 996/VII/Tur-Sicily • IATA Tids 96 27583 0 • VAT (Partita IVA): IT04943140824 • ASTA Member Number: 900166379 • Site Member: ID 9310610 • NTA Member: TID 034 250.

2014 Sicily Tours Compared
(tours scheduled from January through December 2014)
Tour
The Red Tour
Sicilian Impressions
Golden Sicily
Itinerary
day-by-day

(Outlines only. Link to each tour's full description for details.)
Saturday: Self-transfer to Siracusa (from Catania). Afternoon at leisure, welcome dinner. Overnight at Siracusa.
Sunday: Siracusa's Ortygia district and archaeological park, boat ride. Overnight in Siracusa.
Monday: Excursion to Ragusa and Noto, lunch, medieval watermill visit. Overnight in Siracusa.
Tuesday: Agrigento temples, arrival in Palermo. Overnight in Palermo.
Wednesday: Palermo, lunch, Monreale Abbey. Overnight in Palermo.
Thursday: Segesta, Erice, light country lunch at olive farm, wine tasting. Overnight in Palermo.
Friday: Piazza Armerina roman villa, lunch. Overnight in Taormina.
Saturday: Day at leisure in Taormina, optional excursions to Mt Etna or cooking class. Overnight in Taormina.
Sunday: Check-out and independent transfer to Catania airport.
Read more...
Saturday: Self-transfer to Palermo. Overnight at Palermo.
Sunday: Palermo and Monreale. Overnight at Palermo.
Monday: Sicilian wine country, Segesta and Erice, light lunch on olive farm, wine tasting. Overnight in Palermo.
Tuesday: Departure for Agrigento and lunch, then Piazza Armerina (ancient Roman villa). Overnight at Taormina.
Wednesday: Day at leisure in Taormina, optional excursions to Mt Etna or cooking class.
Thursday: Check-out and independent transfer to Catania airport.
Read more...
Saturday: Self-transfer to Palermo. Overnight at Palermo.
Sunday: Palermo and Monreale. Overnight at Palermo.
Monday: Sicilian wine country, Segesta and Erice, light lunch on olive farm, wine tasting. Overnight in Palermo.
Tuesday: Departure for Agrigento and lunch, then Piazza Armerina (ancient Roman villa). Overnight at Taormina.
Wednesday: Excursion to Siracusa archeological site and old city (Ortygia). Lunch. Overnight at Taormina.
Thursday: At leisure in Taormina, optional excursions to Mt Etna or cooking class.
Friday: Check-out and independent transfer to Catania airport.
Read more...
Duration 8 nights. 5 nights. 6 nights.
Meals Included Breakfasts, wine tasting, 1 dinner, 4 light lunches (beverages not included in tour price). Breakfasts, wine tasting, 1 light lunch (beverages not included in tour price), 1 snack. Breakfasts, wine tasting, 2 light lunches (beverages not included in tour price), 1 snack.
Special features Winery visit, medieval mill, olive farm visit, boat excursion (Ortygia), optional excursions (Etna) and cooking class. Winery visit, olive farm visit, optional excursions (Etna) and cooking class. Winery visit, olive farm visit, optional excursions (Etna) and cooking class.
Entry fees at sites Not included. Not included. Not included.
Fully Escorted Yes. Yes. Yes.
Local Site Guides Yes. With at least 6 participants. With at least 6 participants.
Gratuities for Escorts/Guides Not included. Not included. Not included.
Hotel check-ins 3 2 2
Accommodations (lodging) 5-star or superior 4-star hotels. Superior 4-star hotels. Superior 4-star hotels.
Tour begins in Siracusa (Catania Airport). Palermo (Palermo Airport). Palermo (Palermo Airport).
Tour ends in Taormina (Catania Airport). Taormina (Catania Airport). Taormina (Catania Airport).
Must confirm reservation 45 days before start 30 days before start 30 days before start
Lodging (hotels may be substituted by similar ones) Grand Hotel Ortygia, Antico or Royal Maniace in Siracusa, Piazza Borsa, Hilton Excelsior or Principe Villafranca in Palermo, Grand Hotel San Pietro, Imperiale or Ashbee in Taormina. View here. Hilton Excelsior, Plaza Opera or Principe Villafranca in Palermo, Villa Diodoro, Villa Angela or Miramare in Taormina. View here. Hilton Excelsior, Plaza Opera or Principe Villafranca in Palermo, Villa Diodoro, Villa Angela or Miramare in Taormina. View here.
Vendor Tradizione Turismo Chat & Tour Srl. Tradizione Turismo Chat & Tour Srl. Tradizione Turismo Chat & Tour Srl.
Price in euros €1990 double, €2490 single. €1149 double, €1390 single. €1199 double, €1490 single.
Departures Throughout 2014, beginning Saturdays. 11 start dates Mar-Nov. Throughout 2014, beginning Saturdays. 25 start dates Jan-Dec. Throughout 2014, beginning Saturdays. 25 start dates Jan-Dec.
Guide Language English. English. English.
Group size 2 to 12 2 to 16 2 to 16
Baggage Porterage Not included. Not included. Not included.
Airport pick-up/transfer No, but can be arranged separately. No, but can be arranged separately. No, but can be arranged separately.
Other costs Some lunches & dinners. Beverages with meals. Entry fees at sites totaling approx. €65. Optional excursions. Some lunches & dinners. Beverages with meals. Entry fees at sites totaling approx. €55. Optional excursions. Some lunches & dinners. Beverages with meals. Entry fees at sites totaling approx. €60. Optional excursions.
More Info & Reservations: Red Tour of Sicily
Sicilian Impressions
Golden Sicily
Organized by Tradizione Turismo, Palermo (Italy), with Best of Sicily.
Tradizione Turismo, Palermo (Italy), with Best of Sicily.
Tradizione Turismo, Palermo (Italy), with Best of Sicily.

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