Greek temples, Baroque cities, great museums—Sicily is justly renowned for all these. But of course, there is more: the life of the island, its cuisine, and its spectacular spring wildflowers.  All of these must be experienced. And that is what this journey will offer.

Joining me on this distinctive trip we will be Mary Taylor Simeti, the well-known author of In Persephone’s Island and other books on Sicily. She will tell us all about the life, the food, the customs and the flowers—the very essence of this beautiful island.

Ours will be a visit in depth. As we move from the Greek monuments of Syracuse and Segesta to the Norman glories of Palermo and Monreale, we will relive Sicilian history. We will stop at Piazza Armerina to see its spectacular Roman villa; we will place ourselves in the age of the Baroque—especially exuberant here—as we look at Noto, Ragusa and Modica.   Everywhere the island will be awash with wildflowers that so excited the travelers of the Grand Tour.

Then, there will be the cuisine and the wine, varying as we move from site to site. Mary Simeti, who has written about Italian cuisine for the New York Times, will comment on the island’s magnificent cuisine which, like its art and architecture, reflects the unique palimpsest that is Sicily.

I hope you will join us April 16-28, 2018 on this unique discovery of the most enchanting island in the Mediterranean.

Olivier Bernier
Center for Khmer Studies

P.S. You may also wish to mark your calendar for the program that comes before our Sicily tour – “A Connoisseur’s France with Olivier Bernier,” April 4-14.

Our third trip, “Ancestral Houses of the Irish Aristocracy,” is planned for June 2-12.


Sicily Revealed: Wildflowers and Masterpieces
April 16th – 28th

Day-by-Day Itinerary

Monday, April 16: Depart the U.S. to Catania airport

Tuesday April 17: Arrive in Catania and travel by private motor coach to Syracuse, which Cicero called the greatest and most beautiful of Greek cities. Lodging at the luxurious Hotel des Etrangers.  In the afternoon join Olivier Bernier and Mary Simeti for a walk through the old city.  After welcome remarks by our lectures, dinner is at the hotel.

Wednesday, April 18: Our visits today include the Duomo, an early Christian basilica that began life as a Greek temple and later gained a Baroque façade, and the Chiesa di Santa Lucia alla Badia, with its splendid painting by Caravaggio.  After lunch, we visit the rich collections of the Archeological Museum as well as the Roman and Greek theaters. A private reception at the Palazzo Beneventano overlooking the main square is planned. Dinner at leisure.

Thursday, April 19: Depart this morning for Noto, the first of three extraordinary Baroque towns. After seeing its exuberant monuments, lunch is at the Ristorante Crocifisso. We will spend the afternoon exploring Palazzolo Acreide, with its splendid Baroque church. Check in at the Donnafugata Resort in the charming town of Ragusa for a four-night stay. Dinner is at the hotel.

Friday, April 20: Spend a delightful day in Ragusa, the most important and richest of Sicily’s Baroque cities. Enjoy lunch at a two Michelin-starred restaurant. Return to the hotel for the evening and dinner at leisure.

Saturday, April 21: Depart for a half-day visit to Modica, to visit its magnificent churches and to discover the historic chocolate lab “Antica Dolceria Bonajuto,” famous for producing chocolate according to the ancient Aztec method.

Then proceed to the countryside for a cooking demonstration at Gli Aromi—an intriguing nursery garden producing a large variety of Mediterranean herbs and spices—with a rustic-style lunch and multisensorial itinerary of unknown flavors and forgotten fragrances. A quick look at enchanting Liberty architecture follows, then return to the hotel. Dinner at leisure.

Sunday, April 22: Visit in the late morning to Caltagirone and its Museum of Ceramics and ceramic labs, located in the historic center of town. Lunch on own (suggestions for restaurants will follow). Return and dinner at the hotel

Monday, April 23: Depart for Palermo, stopping en route at Piazza Armerina to marvel at its unforgettable Roman mosaics. Enjoy lunch at Al Fogher restaurant and then continue to Palermo’s Hotel Excelsior City, well situated in city center.  Dinner is at leisure. Or a light dinner is going to be provided?

Tuesday, April 24: Originally a Phoenician and then a Roman port, Palermo was the capital of Arab Sicily and then under the Norman kings in the twelfth century it became one of Europe’s largest and wealthiest cities, second only to Constantinople.  It was later the seat first of the Spanish viceroy and then of the viceroy of the Bourbon kings of Naples.  This succession of rulers has left a patrimony of unique monuments, the Norman churches where the combined skills of Arab, Norman and Byzantine workmen created magnificent mosaics, such as in the sumptuous Baroque churches of Casa Professa and Martorana. Lunch will be at Trattoria Corona, which specializes in seafood.  This restaurant to be confirmed.

Dinner at leisure

Wednesday, April 25: A short drive takes us first to Monreale to see the mosaicked cathedral and its cloister.  After stopping for coffee and cannoli, continue to Cefalù before returning to Palermo for the balance of the afternoon at leisure.

We plan to visit the Palazzo Alliata this evening. Whether for reception or dinner, to be decided.

Thursday, April 26: Segesta – Mozia

Morning departure for the ruins of the ancient city of Segesta, with its classical temple and theater, one of the most beautiful archeological sites in Sicily. Proceed to Mozia, a small island in a lagoon near the city of Marsala, formerly an important Phoenician port, to visit the Whitaker Museum, with its beautiful Giovinetto di Mozia statue.  Lunch at a restaurant in the salt pans area or nearby. Return to the hotel and dinner at leisure.

Friday, April 27: Choose this morning between a private tour of the glorious Botanical Garden, one of Europe’s oldest, or you may choose to join Olivier at the Regional Gallery of Sicily, which houses key works by Antonello da Messina as well as Renaissance majolica and an especially striking Triumph of Death fresco. Lunch and the afternoon are at leisure.  We will celebrate our Sicilian journey with a farewell dinner at Palazzo Lampedusa, the home of Mary Simeti’s friends the Duke and Duchess of Palma.  Our host is the adopted son of the novelist Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, and it is in this palazzo that the novel The Leopard was written.

Saturday, April 28: Depart for the Palermo airport for return flights to the US.

Trip Price: $8,475 per person, $1,200 single supplement

Please note: concert schedules and itinerary subject to change.

For priority reservations, please write a check in the amount of $2,500 (per person and non-refundable), payable to Indagare Travel.

Kindly mail this check to:

Indagare Travel
950 Third Avenue
16th Floor, New York, NY 10022
Attention: Cameron MacMillan

Trip Inclusions:

o   Lectures and on-site commentary by Olivier Bernier

o   9 nights hotel accommodations as per the itinerary

o   Meals: Breakfasts, lunches, and dinners (with wine) as noted

o   Concert tickets, Loire barge cruise, all entrances

o   Private receptions and hospitality

o   Airport/hotel group flight transfers

o   Local taxes and gratuities

Not Included:

o   International and Domestic Flights

o   Meals not specified

o   Alcoholic beverages other than those included in the meals

o   Personal items and expenses

o   Airport transfers other than those included in the itinerary

o   Trip insurance (highly recommended – please let us know if you   would like to see quotes)