Rugged rolling hills, broody volcanoes, ancient olive groves, vintage cities and incredibly atmospheric ancient villages makes Sicily the most irresistible – and authentic – of all Mediterranean countries.
Add a choice of included Cannoli making, Mount Etna and Alcantara plus Godfather vs Mafia excursions and The Spirit of Sicily is an offer you just shouldn’t refuse.
#4 The Spirit of Sicily: Day One
Cruise from Malta’s historic Grand Harbour to the Sicilian port town of Syracuse. Set on Sicily’s Ionian coast, Syracuse was founded by Greeks from the Peloponnese city of Corinth some 2,700 years ago. It is the largest and most fascinating city of the ancient world and a must-stop on all serious Mediterranean charter itineraries.
From the old quarter islet of Ortygia, which connects to the mainland shores via Ponte Umbertino bridge, to Syracuse’s rural outskirts you’ll find Greek temples, Roman amphitheatres, Byzantine castles, Baroque churches and many other historically significant marvels that have earned the city UNESCO World Heritage Site status.
Another marvel is the Sicilian cuisine, which is out of this world. Find a spot near the fabled Fountain of Arethusa and try a Sicilian specialty, ice cream cake! Known as cassata, it's a creamy dream sprinkled with a rainbow of glace fruits, such as cherries, ginger, apricots and pineapple.
For something more savoury, saunter down to Ortygia’s historic street market Mercato di Ortigia on Via de Benedictis and seek out Caseificio Borderi. This little sandwich shop, run by the bubbly Burgio brothers, has become a local legend. The brothers are Panini artists, hand-making the sandwiches in front of you, with every massive mouthwatering creation the work of real maestros.
Later on, if you're looking for some evening entertainment with a difference, try to recall the numerous puppet scenes in the Godfather films. Sicilians of all ages simply adore puppet shows – think The Sopranos set in the Middle Ages.
Unsurprisingly, Sicily has a proud history of puppet opera dating back to the 1800s and Syracuse has two eminent puppet operas to choose from, Compagnia dei Pupari Vaccaro Mauceri and Compagnia Marionette Don Ignazio Puglisi.
Today, we boat east to the hilltop town of Taormina, one of Sicily's best-loved sailing destinations, watched over by Mount Etna. You can explore the town on your own, or choose from three very different, but very rewarding, included excursions.
For people of all fitness levels who like feeling new ground under their feet and amazing changes of scenery all round, the full day (9am to 6.30pm) Mount Etna and Alcantara Tour is right up your path.
Millenia ago, Mount Etna erupted and sent thick lava flowing into the Alcantara river system. The lava cooled quickly, causing it to crystallise in columns.
Strange and beautiful rock formations, rapids and waterfalls began to emerge over the following 300,000 years, with the river’s natural flow eroding a channel through the columns and sculpturing a masterpiece in the process.
Our hike will take us to the Alcantara River Park for awesome panoramic views of the gorge, cliffs and Ionian coastline. We'll also descend beneath the earth, into ancient volcanic caves filled with wonders you'll see courtesy of included helmet with caving light.
As we continue to the Eastern slopes of Mount Etna, we stroll pass lush secluded beech woods and glistening ferns and come to what looks like the plains of Mordor, the jaw-dropping Valley of the Ox, a 7km wide, 6km long sea of solidified lava.
If you wish, take an optional cable car up to the top of what Sicilians call Mama Etna, and peer into her fiery heart, subject to Mama behaving herself on the day, of course.
If culture’s more your thing, with a bit pop culture to boot, the five-hour Godfather vs Mafia Tour & Sicilian Lunch is a cracker. A passionate, knowledgeable guide will keep you rapt with a rolling commentary about the real story of the Mafia, it’s birth, structure and wars.
When you reach the small village of Savoca, you’ll enjoy a guided walk through the old town, visiting places that haven’t changed since The Godfather was filmed in 1972.
The second stop is a pretty hilltop village, which a bodyguard with young Michael Corleone points out and names as. . . Corleone.
Welcome to Forza D'Agro, chosen over the actual town of Corleone as the main film location in Sicily, as director Francis Ford Coppolla found the latter too modern looking.
Forza D’Agro features prominently in all three Godfather films. It’s where the funeral procession was ambushed in a dry riverbed in The Godfather II.
It also seen in The Godfather III, when an older Michael visits the birthplace of his father Vito (played by Robert De Niro and Marlon Brando) and watches a wedding at the cathedral of Maria S. Annunziata e Assunta.
After a fascinating walking tour with many made for Instagram views, we'll treat you to lunch in a charming, authentic Sicilian restaurant, aptly named Il Padrino (The Godfather). Enjoy a plate of delicious homemade swordfish parmigiana or seafood linguine and wash down with Sicilian wine from the Etna region, while enjoying outstanding panoramic views over the Sicilian coast and the turquoise Ionian sea.
Alternatively, if you like to make your cake and eat it, join our Cannoli Making jaunt to the heartwarming and critically acclaimed Porta Messina Restaurant.
Here, passionate chefs will show you the secret to preparing the perfect sweet so beloved by Sicilians, it was famously referenced in The Godfather with the line ‘Leave the gun – take the cannoli’.
Learn precisely how to make the dough with fresh eggs, knead it and shape it into different shapes. Discover how the heavenly fillings are made, from the traditional sweet ricotta to the custards, with wine, water, coffee or soft drinks to assist your creativity.
By the end of the cooking class, you’ll be making delicious cannoli with exquisitely crusty shells. You’ll get to taste them and take them back to your luxury Sunseeker, along with a certificate declaring your cannoli-making skills for all to see.
Overnight, we'll berth in the marina of Riposto, loomed over by Mama Etna.
On morning three of your vacation, we cruise to the fishing village of Marzamemi, home of Campisi, one of the finest, most atmospheric seafood restaurants in all Sicily set right on the quay.
We depart Marzamemi shortly after lunch, arriving at Birgu harbour for an overnight berth.
Your short cruise, which will live long in the memory, comes to an end as you check out in the morning after a continental breakfast on board.
We hope you've enjoyed our 4-week medley of Mediterranean charter itineraries as much as our guests have. Remember, these are just four out of our eight most popular itineraries. In addition, we can even tailor aspects of these itineraries to fit your exact yacht vacation needs. For any questions or to start creating your dream Mediterranean yacht fantasy, just speak to one of our friendly charter executives today.