- Food & Drink
- Design & Culture
- Cars, Jets & Yachts
By Chris | December 31 2012
Whether you’re seeking true extravagance or pure relaxation, we have chosen the perfect 14-day itinerary that has it all
Some of the world’s most startling and beautiful coastline is to be found along the Amalfi Coast, Sicily and the Aeolian Islands, and a fourteen-day luxury cruise is the perfect way to experience it all in style. As you relax on your lavish private yacht there are marvelous views and vistas galore, idyllic beaches and secluded coves for blissful sunbathing, and even fascinating medieval shipwrecks to explore. However the ocean towns and hillside villages, the vast and varied landscapes you will visit also offer a wealth of history and culture, world-class cuisine and sophisticated luxury, as decades of elite visitors before you have discovered.
The Amalfi Coast has long been the destination of choice for the world’s VIP travelers, who have delighted in its picturesque towns, cut into sheer hillsides and offering majestic views of the sea, palatial glamour, unique cultural experiences and one-of-a-kind shopping. Meanwhile the striking volcanic landscape of the Aeolian Islands offers outstanding opportunities for pampering, and a stylish VIP party scene on Panarea which is not to be missed. Sicily is an island with a melting pot culture expressed in strong local culinary traditions and magnificent architecture, and a dramatically varied landscape of towering mountains, green valleys and golden beaches lapped by the bluest of seas. Its many unique and fascinating towns include glamorous beach resort Taormina, a long-standing celebrity favorite, and Ragusa, a beautiful baroque village hemmed by valleys and a center of wonderful gourmet cuisine. All these magical destinations have inspired musicians, artists, writers and cinema stars, from John Steinbeck and Audrey Hepburn to Roberto Rossellini and Richard Wagner, and maintain rich cultural identities with regular film festivals, yacht races and spectacular concerts throughout the year. Our highlights and recommendations can help you sample the best of it all.
Day 1: Naples to Ischia
Day 2: Ischia to Capri
Day 3: Capri to Positano
Day 4: Positano to Amalfi and Ravello
Day 5: Amalfi to Stromboli (overnight)
Day 6: Stromboli to Panarea
Day 7: Panarea to Lipari, Salina and Vulcano
Day 8 – 9: Lipari to Taormina
Day 10: Taormina to Catania
Day 10: Catania to Syracuse
Day 11: Syracuse to Ragusa
Day 12 –13: Ragusa to Agrigento (overnight)
Day 14: Agrigento to Palermo and disembark
Fly to Naples Airport and step into the city of Naples where your yacht lies, her crew waiting to greet you onboard.
The ancient city of Naples is a jewel on the Tyrrhenian Sea that’s bursting with art, culture and history – and while there is enough to explore here to keep you busy for weeks, a trip to the iconic ruins of Pompeii is an absolute must. What’s more, Naples’s lavish Excelsior Hotel is a perfect luxury base for pre-cruise relaxation, and the city’s Michelin-starred cuisine is a sumptuous Mediterranean treat to be enjoyed with spectacular views.
Style / Ambiance: La Cantinella is the perfect place to unwind over a delicious pre-trip lunch or dinner, and an excellent way to sample Naples before setting sail.
This is a restaurant that offers a truly authentic Neapolitan experience: from splendid, sweeping views across the Bay of Naples to Mount Vesuvius, to Michelin-starred, seasonal cuisine that, using the freshest produce that the region has to offer, marries traditional Neapolitan flavors with innovative contemporary flair.
Head Chef: Agostino Iacobucci
+39 081 764 8684
42, Via Cuma, Naples
Just a 35-minute drive away from central Naples you will find the unforgettable ruins of Pompeii. Once a thriving Roman metropolis, this ancient city was buried under volcanic ash by the cataclysmic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD79, killing most of its flourishing community and utterly destroying the city.
Over the last two hundred years, archaeological excavators have filled in the ash-preserved outlines of Vesuvius’s victims with plaster or resin to create evocative true-to-life moulds of ancient Pompeians in the positions in which they died (and with expressions of panic and terror intact). These make Pompeii an incredibly evocative and moving place to visit and one of Italy’s most beloved and visited tourist attractions. As with all the other major Italian tourist sites Pompeii is packed with visitors all year round, so for a truly exclusive way to experience this memorable place, take a look at the various luxury and private tours on offer. These can include chauffeur-driven travel and private access to specific archaeological sites with trained archaeologists as guides, as well as gourmet food and wine options from the prestigious wine estates of the Naples region.
18 nautical miles
Having experienced some of the rich flavors of Naples, you’ll set off on a leisurely cruise to the beautiful volcanic island of Ischia. Greener than its rockier neighbour Capri, on Ischia you’ll find spectacular gardens, idyllic beaches and delicious, creative local food.
However, the real draw is the opportunity for relaxation and pampering: volcanic Ischia’s famous bubbling thermal springs offer some wonderful spa experiences, the health benefits of which have been known and enjoyed since ancient times. This is a truly indulgent way to kick off your Amalfi experience.
Style / Ambiance: This is the only double-Michelin-starred restaurant on Ischia and it is so lauded as a result of the originality and genius of its chef, Nino Di Constanzo.
You won’t find the most spectacular view on the island here – that can be enjoyed in abundance at the beach or from your opulent private yacht – but what you will find is food crafted with precision and exquisite skill. Fresh, local produce is transformed into something truly original and memorable while traditional textures and flavors are kept firmly at center stage.
Executive Chef: Nino Di Costanzo
+39 081 994 722
Terme Manzi Hotel & Spa, 4, Piazza Bagni, Casamicciola Terme, Ischia
Treatment and facilities: The best of Ischia’s thermal spa offerings, the Poseidon Gardens feature lush, sprawling gardens containing blissful pools of salt water that are fed by the island’s mineral-rich thermal springs.
With a guide to how long you should stay in each, according to its temperature, you can indulge yourself with leisurely, nourishing – and often practically private – dips that hydrate, stimulate and rejuvenate the body. The surroundings are idyllic and include waterfalls, green slopes and fragrant bursts of flowers.
Signature treatment: For a more structured pampering experience the on-site therapy center offers a range of indulgent, therapeutic treatments.
+39 081 908 7111
87, Via Giovanni Mazzella, Baia di Citara, Forio, Ischia
18 nautical miles
Set out from verdant Ischia and sail across the warm Mediterranean waters at a leisurely pace.
Enjoy a delicious breakfast on deck and anticipate the joys of Capri. Your next stop has been a destination for fun, sun and relaxation for around two thousand years and a place of human habitation for even longer. The allure of this remarkable island can be seen in its colorful and dramatic history: savagely raided by pirates for centuries; settled by Stone and Bronze Age peoples, as well as Greek colonists; passed between the Roman, Ottoman, French and British empires; and in recent years a haven for the rich and famous – from Mariah Carey to Leonardo DiCaprio – for its glamour and party atmosphere. This rich tapestry of history and culture, a reputation as one the coolest destinations on the Mediterranean and a dazzling heritage of natural treasures, have bedecked Capri with myriad places to see and be seen at, and all on a landmass just four miles long and two miles wide. The island has two main villages. Hilly Anacapri is where the lavish Capri Palace Hotel & Spa can be found, where indulgent spa treatments and world-class shopping complement elegant luxury living, and just a six-minute drive away lies the main square of Capri, which is the place to sip early evening cocktails in style before moving on to a glamorous party spot.
Style / Ambiance: This Michelin-starred restaurant serves exquisite Mediterranean fare in an elegant setting that is characterised by soft lighting and fabrics.
Striking black and white photographs of iconic stars who have visited Capri lend a touch of glamour as do the large, quirky film set lamps, which also enhance the warm and friendly ambiance.
Restaurant Manager: Fabio Raucci
+39 081 978 0111
Capri Palace Hotel & Spa, 2b, Via Capodimonte, Anacapri
+39 081 837 0591
Hotel Certosella, 5, Via Faraglioni, Capri
Two Capri institutions, Da Luigi and La Fontelina (just a ten minute walk apart) are both well-loved culinary spots and the island’s hottest beach clubs. Having spent the morning sunbathing at La Fontelina, head over to Da Luigi for a heavenly Mediterranean lunch at the edge of the Tyrrhenian’s blue waters. Da Luigi is set in a unique location underneath the towering Faraglioni sea stacks – these iconic columns of rock jut out from the sea and mark the island’s south-eastern coast. Alternatively, spend the morning luxuriating at Da Luigi and hop over to La Fontelina for lunch. Either way, both are exclusive celeb hotspots in a dramatic location offering delicious food, a blissful day of sun soaking with views of La Faraglioni and that unrivalled Capri atmosphere.
The most majestic of Capri’s many ancient Roman villas, the immense ruins of Villa Jovis span the summit of Mount Tiberio. This two-thousandyear- old palace was commissioned by the emperor Tiberius, who spent many of his latter years on the island, and was designed to combine eye-catching grandeur with the latest advancements of Roman society. Though today in ruins, Villa Jovis is nonetheless a fascinating example of the ambition and splendor of Roman architecture, and one of the most privileged vantages in Capri from which to watch the sun sparkle on the Tyrrhenian Sea.
+39 081 837 4549
A must-visit during your Capri stay is the otherworldly Blue Grotto. A startlingly unique and magical phenomenon, the water in this natural sea cave is flooded with sunlight from several sources to produce an intense, ethereal blue light. This awe-inspiring sight inspired the Romans to adorn the cave with statues of the sea gods and has been the subject of local folklore and legend for centuries. Take a look at the luxury tour options offered by Capritime Boats for a truly exclusive way to see this and the many other unique sights of Capri.
The starry heart of Capri’s famed nightlife, the Anema e Core tavern, does not initially seem like an obvious hub for the coolest party crowd on the island – it is relaxed and ordinary-looking – but that’s exactly what tempts the VIP visitors who flock here to let their hair down and let go. The bar has a legendary cabaret stage show with an unrivalled atmosphere that attracts an unbelievable roster of international names, from superstars Beyoncé and Naomi Campbell to politicians and Hollywood royalty. An eclectic soundtrack that includes traditional Italian music and fiery Latin American beats, as well as contemporary sounds, always sets the mood for non-stop partying and more than a little hedonistic abandon.
Locals and visitors alike gather in La Piazzetta, Capri’s main square, in the early evening to sip aperitifs, gossip, see and be seen. The Al Piccolo Bar, a charming and elegant spot that attracts a young, on-trend crowd, is the perfect hub for this. Start your evening here with a delicious cocktail or two, before partying the night away with gusto at Anema e Core.
+39 081 837 0325
Piazza Umberto I, Capri
The hottest place to buy the island’s famous Capri pants, La Parisenne has fitted a variety of stars – from Audrey Hepburn to Jackie Kennedy – with their own versions. A range of chic, ready-to-wear styles are for sale in its boutique, but the elite choice is have your own made-to-measure pair of Capris that are bespoke, on-trend and exclusive.
If you are buying perfume on Capri then this is the place to go for something truly memorable and unmistakeably Caprisian. Carthusia’s lush, heady fragrances are made using the original methods of the Carthusian monks who once lived on Capri; they feature the natural scents of the island, from the wild carnations that bloom on the hillsides to the rosemary that grows on Capri’s highest peak. Carthusia’s beautiful scents make for an exquisitely pleasurable way to ensure you have Capri with you – even as you jet back home.
Family-run La Campanina specializes in exquisite luxury jewelry with a local flavor, inspired by the bold, intense colors and spirit of Capri. The collection’s striking, vibrant pieces have been tempting the island’s elite visitors for over 60 years, and today include Rolex watches especially designed for La Campanina. The boutique also offers a bespoke service that can create a personalised piece tailored to your style and specifications – ideal as an exclusive memento of your time in Capri or a spectacular romantic gift.
+39 081 837 0643
18, Via Vittorio Emanuele, Capri
20 nautical miles
Set out from Capri around mid-morning and cruise back to mainland Italy along the winding Amalfi Coast, enjoying the spectacular scenery as you go.
Positano, your next stop, so bewitched John Steinbeck that he wrote of it movingly as a ‘dream place’ that ‘bites deep’ – and it isn’t hard to see why. Positano is less crowded nowadays than Capri, but it is just as beautiful: rows of pastel-colored houses seem to defy gravity as they cling to a steep hillside that crashes down into the sea. This town has a dramatic history involving Roman emperors, pirate raids, mass emigration and economic decline. However, as Steinbeck recounted, the many thousands of Positanese who left for New York when the town faltered were determined to be buried back in Positano, so great was their love for this enchanting town. Discover it for yourself; with an ambiance that is both ethereal and enigmatic, this place is all about savoring your surroundings. Wander along the high cliff roads and rocky shoreline taking in the impossible color of the sea, and the atmosphere that inspired so many film directors and musicians (the Rolling Stones’ Midnight Rambler was written in one of the town’s many cafes). Enjoy a world class meal, scope out some authentic Positano fashion, watch the world go by from the comfort of an elegant bar and indulge in authentic Amalfi Coast life.
Style / Ambiance: A five-minute drive or a leisurely walk from Positano itself, the luxury tour de force that is the Il San Pietro hotel offers renowned traditional cuisine on a stunning terrace (if you can get the best seats in the house) with a startling view of the clear blue Mediterranean.
This truly is a Michelin-starred feast for the palate with a sumptuous feast for the eyes.
Executive Chef: Alois Vanlangenaeker
+39 089 875 455
Il San Pietro di Positano, 2, Via Laurito, Positano
An integral part of the Positano look is the famous Positano sandal. La Botteguccia is the place to pick up a stylish, bespoke, hand-crafted pair, perfect for stepping out in classic Amalfi Coast style.
+39 089 811 824
19, Via Regina Giovanna, Positano
Positano is world famous for its vibrant, casual yet chic summer style, known as the ‘Positano look’. Maria Lampo, a magnet for Hollywood visitors, is an elegant boutique offering quintessential Positano fashion that has epitomised the town’s style for the past 50 years.
The summer bar at Le Sirenuse looks out over the sublime, dreamlike sprawl of Positano, and offers gorgeous, candle-lit refinement, sumptuous cocktails, excellent champagne and a prime selection of seafood delicacies.
The name of this club gives away its spectacular setting: a stylish space cut out of the rocks at the edge of the Positano shoreline. Walls of bare cave rock contrast with a chic dance floor and elegant VIP areas, where international stars sip champagne and party to contemporary techno and dance beats.
+39 089 875 874
51, Via Grotte dell’Incanto, Positano
10 nautical miles
As you set off from Positano, enjoy the iconic coastal scenery that greets your yacht as it winds along the bay.
It is a short, gentle cruise to your next stop: the enchanting towns of Amalfi and Ravello. Docking your yacht in Amalfi allows you to explore both towns. Heading four miles inland to reach Ravello, you will find sublime luxury, stunning architecture and a vibrant cultural scene. Artists, musicians and writers have been attracted to this town for decades, notably Wagner and DH Lawrence who wrote parts of Lady Chatterley’s Lover here. Meanwhile the town of Amalfi is the heart of the Amalfi Coast, with beauty, culture and its own rich history as a dominant seafaring power in the Mediterranean (see our Featured Events section for details of its thrilling nautical celebrations).
Cuisine: Neapolitan fusion
Style / Ambiance: With two Michelin stars and a position high above the sea, Rossellini’s – at lavish luxury hotel Palazzo Avino – offers your palate the very best in the world of Italian haute cuisine.
A beautiful interior makes for a charming dining area in cold weather, but the real heart of this establishment is the terrace space, with its soft lighting, fragrant flowers, the vast sweep of the Mediterranean a thousand feet below and a marvellous view. For those who would prefer to have this delightful space for themselves, Rossellini’s accommodates exclusive private events for up to 70 guests.
General Manager: Aaron Kaupp
+39 089 818 181
Palazzo Avino, 28, Via San Giovanni del Toro, Ravello
Amalfi Cathedral, also known as the Duomo, is the pinnacle of the town’s grand medieval architectural heritage. Located in the center of town, the thousand-year-old building has been rebuilt in different styles throughout the centuries and reflects the various epochs of the town’s rich and dynamic history, with Arab-Norman, Romanesque, Baroque, Byzantine and Gothic influences. Majestic and magnificent, Amalfi Cathedral is visually stunning, and its crypt (which is rumored to hold the remains of Saint Andrew) is filled with exquisite religious art that rivals the best of Venice and Rome.
+39 089 871 059 or +39 089 871 324
Piazza Duomo, Amalfi
Piazza Duomo, Ravello Website: www.villarufolo.it VILLA CIMBRONE Phone: +39 089 857 459 Address: 26, Via Santa Chiara, Ravello Website: www.villacimbrone.com These two iconic villas, once the grand homes of powerful medieval families, are today famous for their stunning gardens. The terrace of the Villa Cimbrone, now a hotel, is a breathtaking sight lined with classical statues, and a view that Gore Vidal raved about. Meanwhile, the gardens of the Villa Rufolo enchanted Wagner so deeply that an annual Wagner Festival takes place here in the composer’s honor.
+39 089 857 621
Just a 12-minute drive along the coast from Amalfi is a legendary Amalfi Coast nightspot famed for its unique and breathtaking location. The Africana club is built into a natural sea cave on the ocean. On entry visitors enter through a walkway that is cut into the rock and descend down towards the sea into an atmospheric cavern. Here the floor is studded with glass plates showcasing the intense blue sea tossing and bubbling beneath and local fisherman catch fish from the edge of the dance floor. A VIP favorite, Africana is one of the most eccentric and memorable places in which to dance the night away.
Francesca De Lucia
+39 089 874 042 or +39 338 153 9207 (mobile)
2, Via Terra E Mare, Praiano
120 nautical miles
The long cruise from the mainland of the Amalfi Coast to the first of the Aeolian Islands is best done overnight, as much of it is open sea. You’ll enjoy blissful sleep in the sublime luxury of your yacht as it sails across the ocean.
Having savored the cultural and natural delights of Amalfi and Ravello, you’ll wake up in an entirely different world. The eight Aeolian Islands are the result of an explosion of volcanic activity in the Tyrrhenian Sea – shattered fragments of earth wrought by immense geological forces that were set in motion as humans were first evolving from apes. That is the draw and the wonder of these islands – the evidence of the elemental forces that continually shape and re-make the planet is all around. Their ancient volcanic heritage has given the Aeolians stunning otherworldly beaches of black sand, as well as exhilarating thermal springs and rich volcanic mud which make for truly unrivalled pampering opportunities that can’t be found anywhere else.
The first of the islands that you will come across, Stromboli, is home to one of the most active volcanoes in the world. It was showcased unforgettably in the classic Rossellini film Stromboli, forever associating the island with Hollywood star Ingrid Bergman, and inspiring American folk legend Woody Guthrie to imagine a life with Bergman on Stromboli in the shadow of the mountain. Experience Stromboli at your own pace – if you’re feeling energetic hike up to the crater with a local guide, and experience the ancient mountain’s continuous eruption up close. Alternatively, stroll along the dark beaches lapped by warm, clear water, enjoy fresh local fish in a chic bar or restaurant or party with the stylish jet-set. Sail around the island when it’s dark and see how different an eruption looks at night. Do everything you can to soak up the strange beauty of this island, which is like nowhere else on earth.
The exhilaratingly tough trek to the summit of Stromboli (or to the gentler 1,300 foot point of Sciara del Fuoco) will reward you with a dazzling 360 degree view of the sea and the islands, and a close-up of the crater that erupts every single day. For many visitors this is all the volcano they need. However, if you really want to see Stromboli in its true magnificence, the only way to do so is at night – either climbing with a guide or sailing around the island and watching it erupt from the water. What appeared to be fierce bursts of smoke and steam in daylight are, at night, fiery jets of flame-bright lava that shoot off into the sky with spectacular abandon, burning a dazzling, furious red against the night sky. The sight of Stromboli erupting at night is one of the most thrilling sights on the planet, let alone in Italy, and one that you cannot afford to miss.
+39 090 986 025
Sirentta Park Hotel, 33, Via Marina, Stromboli
Tartana is an elegant lounge-cum-club that oozes high-end cool and is popular with visiting glitterati. There’s freshly-caught fish on the menu and dancing on the terrace, which sports a front-seat view of Strombolicchio. When you’re tired of dancing relax in style, with a delicious cocktail at the water’s edge.
+39 090 986 025
Sirentta Park Hotel, 33, Via Marina, Stromboli
Style / Ambiance: One of the best restaurants on Stromboli, Punta Lena offers the perfect Aeolian culinary experience.
Enjoy delightfully fresh, expertly prepared seafood along with sensational ocean views across to Strombolicchio – a basalt sea stack born from the same volcanic rock as Stromboli, with a dramatically placed lighthouse at its summit.
+39 090 986 204
Via Marina, Ficogrande, Stromboli
12 nautical miles
A leisurely morning’s sailing from ethereal Stromboli will bring you to Panarea, the smallest of the inhabited Aeolian Islands, with a reputation for being the ‘it’ destination in the archipelago.
International superstars and VIPs adore Panarea, which has an unspoilt, unhurried vibe about it and an exclusive party scene that centers around chic but authentic Hotel Raya (the place to stay for people in the know). It’s not unusual to see Dolce & Gabbana or Leonardo DiCaprio sampling local delicacies at Raya’s bistro restaurant or partying in style at its hilltop disco. While Panarea certainly is the place to let loose and dance the night away, it has compelling cultural treats on offer too. The startling ruins of a Bronze Age village are well worth exploring, and English and Roman shipwrecks are within swimming distance of the shore, providing the perfect excuse for snorkelling and diving.
13 nautical miles
Fresh from the jet-set glamour of the Panarean party scene, enjoy the picturesque, gentle cruise to the Aeolian capital of Lipari.
This is the ideal base from which to explore the culinary delights, picture-perfect seclusion, rich history and natural spa features of the closely clustered islands of Lipari, Salina and Vulcano. Hop between the three to experience a perfect Aeolian day. Taste fresh local flavors in Lipari town and discover its long and dramatic local history. On Vulcano – the legendary workshop of the Roman god Vulcan and where the word ‘volcano’ originated – climb the mountain’s forgiving slopes for a glimpse at the crater and an astonishing view, then reward yourself with some homegrown volcanic pampering. Succumb to the blissful escape of Salina, where you can get away from it all with an afternoon of unspoilt beaches and hidden coves, and where the sumptuous local wine is a must-try.
Cuisine: Local and Seafood
Style / Ambiance: For over a hundred years this well-loved family-run restaurant has been serving local delicacies and seafood dishes created with freshly-caught fish from the restaurant’s own boats.
Located in the heart of Lipari, the ambiance is warm, informal and welcoming, and a creatively stocked wine cellar and pretty seafront terrace make for island dining at its best.
Head Chef: Lucio Bernardi
+39 090 981 1002
Piazza Municipio, Lipari
The Museo Archeologico Eoliano is the ideal place to delve into the remarkable history of these spectacular islands.
There is something for everyone to marvel at – from history buffs to volcano enthusiasts, as well as those who simply enjoy beautiful objects. You’ll find fascinating glimpses of the earliest humans to inhabit these islands, beautiful Greek masks and vases from Lipari’s classical past, poignant artefacts from the shipwrecks that lie off the Panarean coast, and a section devoted to the immense volcanic activity that shaped the Aeolian archipelago in the distant past.
+39 090 988 0174
Via Castello, Lipari
Treatment and facilities: Vulcano’s most striking feature (other than its omnipresent volcano peak) is its strong-smelling pit of nourishing, sulphurous, volcanic mud, which is renowned for its curative applications for different ailments and for doing wonders for the skin. This is one of the most unique pampering experiences you will ever have – just don’t wear an expensive bikini and prepare yourself for the smell! After an indulgent soak in the mineral-rich mountain mud (having sought advice on how long you should stay in), plunge into the clear, warm sea, where underwater hot springs act as an exhilarating natural Jacuzzi to help you wash off in pure bliss.
Set within a working vineyard, and with an exquisitely unspoilt view of Stromboli and the sea, this is a beautifully chic hotel exuding simple island luxury. The romantic, elegant bar is the perfect place to finish off an indulgent few hours on secluded Salina. Try a bottle of wine from the vineyard, brimming with the intense flavors of island-grown grapes, and follow the sweep of the vast ocean over to where Ingrid Bergman’s volcano looms in the distance. Elite Traveler would understand if you never want to leave.
67 nautical miles
The cruise from Lipari to Taormina will take you across the open blue Tyrrhenian and down through the narrow Strait of Messina, hugging the north-eastern coast of Sicily as you go. Sicily is one of the most unique destinations in Europe.
A dizzying carnival of diverse cultural influences and traditions stem from a breathtakingly colorful history, all of which have jostled, blended and adapted through the centuries to give rise to the distinct Sicilian identity that exists today. Sicily’s island position has historically made it a crossroads within Europe. Continuously invaded, settled and influenced by distinct peoples and powers, its history is a microcosm of the great cultures and power brokers of the continent, and of the Mediterranean.
Sicily has been inhabited by humans since prehistoric times. It was colonised by the sea-faring Phoenicians and settled by Ancient Greeks, who built monumental cities such as Syracuse that became important centers of classical civilization. Sicily has been an important home to early Christian communities, it was conquered by the Roman and Byzantine Empires, and for over a hundred years it was an Islamic Emirate, ruled from Tunisia and Egypt. Sicily has been ruled by Norman, Spanish and Italian kings, and has been independent, wealthy and politically powerful at times, yet at other times in thrall to the dominant powers of the day. This rich history has left its mark on Sicilian art, literature, architecture, food, music and traditions, and made it home to stunning archaeological sites and uncommonly beautiful buildings. Sicily has developed a unique identity within Italy, with its own traditions and even its own language – the vocabulary of which is a patchwork of words from a variety of Mediterranean cultures. What’s more, this enthralling melting pot simmers in a spectacular natural setting of mountains and clear blue sea that can be experienced in true VIP exclusivity. There is so much to experience here that it is impossible to take it all in with just a few days’ cruising, but why not use your time to enjoy a taste of the best with our recommendations.
As you sail down the Strait of Messina you are nearing your first Sicilian destination – one of the most beloved towns on the island. As it will be afternoon by the time you get here, why not spend a couple of days immersing yourself in the many delights it has to offer. Taormina is a beautiful summer resort with idyllic beaches, riveting history and culture, and heaps of VIP glamour. The prestigious annual film festival ensures a high-end Hollywood crowd flocks here in the summer, in particular to the opulent Grand Hotel Timeo. However, as Audrey Hepburn and DH Lawrence would attest to, even without festival fever this would still be a place that enchants and entices the brightest and the best.
Style / Ambiance: San Domenico is a converted monastery that was founded on the island 600 years ago and its Michelin-starred summer restaurant is deeply rooted in Sicilian food traditions.
Enjoy exceptionally crafted dishes that blend traditional flavors with skilful contemporary flair. The restaurant’s strikingly elegant interior is ideal for indoor dining, but dinner on the terrace – with its pretty antique lamps and panoramic night-lit view of Taormina and the Ionian Sea – is highly recommended.
Head Chef: Massimo Mantarro
+39 094 261 3111
San Domenico Palace Hotel, 5, Piazza San Domenico, Taormina
Style / Ambiance: Casa Grugno’s striking 16th century architectural setting – where echoes of Gothic and Catalan traditions are contrasted with a clever contemporary interior – perfectly sets the scene for cuisine that is ambitious, creative and Michelin-starred for its efforts.
A splendid view of Mount Etna and a symphony of Sicilian flavors and dishes leave you in no doubt of where you are.
Head Chef: David Tamburini
+39 094 221 208
Via Santa Maria dei Greci, Taormina
A stylish beach club right on wildly popular Mazzarro Bay, La Pigna is the place to spend a few hours luxuriating in the sun-kissed paradise of Taormina’s best beach. Check out the club’s exclusive private beach space, try a lunch of fresh, delicious seafood in the restaurant and relax with a cocktail as the evening draws in.
Taormina’s Greco-Roman heritage has gifted the town this immense ancient theater, one of the best preserved and most startlingly beautiful monuments in Sicily. With a history of over two thousand years, the theater was originally built by Ancient Greeks and later renovated, adapted and expanded by Romans. Carved into the hillside rocks, it sits in a truly spectacular elevated position looking out over majestic, snow-peaked Etna, the coastline of Sicily, the Ionian Sea and the far coast of mainland Italy. This view alone would make the theater worth visiting, but there is much to marvel at in the ruins themselves, and with its close proximity to the elite Grand Hotel Timeo, there is no excuse not to spend a remarkable morning or afternoon here. Visiting at night is a must-do too, as Taormina’s thriving summer arts festival regularly holds concerts, dance performances, theater and films in this beautiful setting. What’s more, you’ll spy more than a dash of Hollywood glamour here if you visit during film festival season, as the Teatro Greco is where world premieres are screened, and where stars pose and mingle in style on the festival’s exclusive red carpet.
40, Via Teatro Greco, Taormina
Chic celebrity haunt Déjà Vu is the place to kick off, finish or spend your night in Taormina. It offers elegant lounges, for relaxed cocktails or drinks before dancing, and a happening dance floor, where local and international stars party in style to contemporary beats with true Italian gusto.
+39 094 262 8694
Piazza Garibaldi, Taormina
20 nautical miles
Sailing on to Catania, you’ll find a fascinating city with a complicated identity.
Founded 2,700 years ago, this is a place that has had a turbulent relationship with its environment and history. An important political capital at times, which flourished through vibrant cultural and artistic innovation during the Renaissance, it has also been ravaged by violent natural phenomena. Catania reflects the wider history of Sicily, having been a Greek, Roman, Norman, Arab and Italian city in its time, taking on a succession of identities that have all left their mark. Strolling around Catania you will find medieval churches, classical monuments, castles, palaces, squares and museums to explore (one of the most notable is the eccentric Fontana dell’Elefante, a statue of an elephant carved from solidified lava and inexplicably topped with an Egyptian obelisk). However, many of these are no more than glimpses of Catania in its earlier incarnations: fragments that survived the 17th century earthquake, a volcanic eruption that flattened the city and the Baroque rebuilding that followed. Etna has not been so violent since, but it is still a looming presence on the horizon that feeds its valley with fruitful volcanic soil for uniquely delicious food and wine, which absolutely must be sampled.
You will see and hear about Mount Etna a great deal while on Sicily. There are beautiful views of it from Taormina, Acireale and Catania. You can savor the intense flavors of the vegetables and wine grown from the abundant soil of the Etna valley, or pamper yourself in the mountain’s rich sulphuric mud and warm, bubbling springs. However, there is nothing like experiencing this enormous volcano (which in Arabic is named ‘Mountain of Fire’) up close. Set within protected parkland a short drive from Catania, the extraordinary landscape of Etna and its surroundings offer something for everyone. You can summon the spirit of adventure and hike up the mountain with a local guide, passing green forests and extraordinary solidified lava from recent eruptions; take in the exhilarating view in a relaxed style by cable car and four-wheel drive; enjoy a sumptuous wine tour of the extensive vineyards within the Etna Regional Park; or visit the Piano Provenzana ski resort, which was destroyed in an eruption and has since been rebuilt. There are tangible reminders everywhere of the living, simmering Etna’s potential to wreak destruction, but right alongside are the plentiful rich tastes and awe-inspiring sights the volcano gives rise to – which are worth docking your yacht for, no matter how you experience them.
Style / Ambiance: This elegant hotel restaurant is a treat for gourmands. Sicilian ingredients are transformed into creative, mouth-watering dishes that are complemented with an excellent selection of local wines – many from grapes grown in the fertile Etna valley. The charming outdoor terrace is a delight in summer, offering carefree alfresco dining in pretty and fragrant surroundings. Dedicated foodies will find even more to enjoy at Il Cuciniere, as the restaurant offers excellent cooking classes with its talented team, as well as delicious gourmet tasting sessions.
Head Chef: Ylli Dedej
+39 095 747 0702
Katane Palace Hotel, 110, Via Camillo Finocchiaro Aprile, Catania
Treatment and facilities: A half-hour drive from Catania (or about half way on your gentle cruise to the town from Taormina), is a decadent pampering experience steeped in Sicily’s volcanic heritage. The charming town of Acireale has nearby Mount Etna to thank for its nourishing, sulphur-rich hot springs, the rejuvenating properties of which have been known and enjoyed for thousands of years (as seen in the nearby archaeological remains of an ancient spa). Built in 1873, the spa complex, complete with a solarium and swimming pool, uses the thermal water to offer blissful pampering and nourishment, along with other rejuvenating treatments and decadent relaxation opportunities. The adjacent hotel, Excelsior Palace Terme, is a charming place to stop for an authentic Sicilian lunch and some post-spa quiet time, with two excellent gourmet restaurants, lush gardens, a stylish poolside bar, and sumptuous views of Mount Etna.
30 nautical miles
Your next Sicilian stop, the UNESCO World Heritage city of Syracuse, has roots stretching back thousands of years and is renowned for its Ancient Greek heritage.
Considered to be the Athens of Sicily, Syracuse was one of the most important and beautiful cities of the Greek world. Prosperous, politically powerful and culturally influential in its day, Syracuse was the birthplace of Archimedes and was visited regularly by Plato. In later years it became home to some of the greatest poets in the medieval Arab world. This rich heritage and powerful identity is apparent as you walk around taking in the glorious classical monuments, evocative crumbling facades and the Baroque splendor that was built into the city after the devastating earthquake of 1693. Soak up these enchanting surrounds over a delectable gourmet lunch, enjoy the sublime island view from the panoramic ancient theater or head there in the evening to immerse yourself in some classic drama in breathtaking style.
One of the most celebrated sights in Syracuse is the Greek theater, a startling testament to the city’s strong identity as a thriving ancient cultural center, which dates back to the fifth century BC. Built into the slope of a hill, it looks out across the turquoise sea and over to the picturesque Ionian island of Ortygia, the legendary birthplace of the Greek goddess Artemis. An important hub of Syracusan cultural life in ancient times, today the theater is more than a remarkable relic – every summer it hosts performances of classic Ancient Greek comedies and tragedies, keeping the theater’s original purpose and Syracuse’s Greek heritage very much alive. This authentic theater experience in such a magical and time-honored setting is one not to be missed.
Style / Ambiance: Summertime at five-star oceanside Grand Hotel Minareto means the opening of the Roof Garden, a gorgeously chic dining space where idyllic candlelit Mediterranean fare can be enjoyed in showstopping elegance, complemented by the view of the Ionian Sea washing across the golden sand of the bay.
Head Chef: Roberto Donzella
+39 093 172 1222
Grand Hotel Minareto, 26, Via del Faro Massolivieri, Syracuse
38 nautical miles
On day 12 you will want to think about setting out from Syracuse early.
It is a good few hours of sailing to your next stop, and you will want to get there early to see as much of this UNESCO World Heritage site as you can in the daylight. Relax on deck with a cocktail and immerse yourself in the view as your yacht winds around the picturesque southern coast of Sicily. Your destination, Ragusa, is a city with over three thousand years of history, and was obliterated in the same 1693 earthquake that ravaged Catania and Syracuse, taking around 5,000 Ragusan lives. The medieval splendor of the Baroque rebuilding that took place in those other earthquake-struck cities reached its zenith here. Perched on a hill between two valleys, from a distance Ragusa is a striking ornate cluster, jutting out of the landscape like a pale jewel. A closer look reveals two distinct areas: Ragusa Superiore, built further up the hill, and Ragusa Ibla, the old town said to sit upon an ancient early human settlement. The two are separated by a deep, bridge-crossed ravine and both are marked by narrow, winding lanes that curl around opulent cathedrals and palazzos – ideal for long, idyllic mornings of exploration and people-watching from cafes. This town has a lower profile than glamorous Taormina, busy Catania or touristy Syracuse, but it is one of the most beautiful places on the island and offers a number of world class Michelin-starred restaurants. The undiscovered feel of Ragusa is reminiscent of the smaller Aeolian Islands and quieter villages of the Amalfi Coast, so enjoy getting away from it all, drink in stunning Baroque delights and treat your palate with award-winning food. As Ragusa is located a few miles inland, you can dock your yacht on the idyllic coast before heading in to the main town and immersing yourself in its picturesque escape.
Cuisine: Sicilian fusion
Style / Ambiance: Duomo is the only double-Michelin-starred restaurant on the flourishing Ragusan culinary scene.
The extraordinary food served here aims to represent the symphony of cultural influences and culinary traditions that define “Sicilian” food and “Sicilianness”. The emphasis is on rediscovering forgotten traditional flavors and celebrating the contradictions, contrasts and adaptability of the Sicilian identity. This ambitious concept makes for clever, highly praised and exceptionally delicious food.
Head Chef: Ciccio Sultano
+39 093 265 1265
31, Via Capitano Bocchieri, Ragusa
Style / Ambiance: Nestled in the heart of Ibla, Ragusa’s strikingly beautiful old town, Locanada Don Serafino offers Michelin-starred seasonal island food in an extraordinary setting.
Soft-lit classic elegance is contrasted with the rough, evocative allure of bare stone walls, in a building which was originally the stables of a Baroque mansion. Inventive meat and fish dishes inspired by regional traditions are complemented by a wine cellar stocked to the brim with wonderful Sicilian labels.
Serafino Head Chef: Vincenzo Candiano
+39 093 224 8778
Via Avvocato Giovanni Ottaviano, Ragusa
60 nautical miles (overnight)
Settle in for the night in lavish comfort and style as your yacht curls past the southern tip of Sicily and along wild and beautiful coastline to your next spectacular destination.
Though the ancient city of Agrigento has suffered its share of earthquakes, fortunately much of its ancient heritage has survived, giving the city what is arguably the richest archaeological legacy in Sicily. People flock from all over the world to see the supremely wondrous Valley of the Temples, the best known of Sicily’s ancient sites, which is counted alongside the splendors of Venice and Rome in the national heritage of Italy and protected by UNESCO. The Valley of the Temples alone makes a visit to Sicily worthwhile; we suggest it being the focus of your stop in Agrigento, so take a look at our recommendations to see how you can make your visit truly exclusive.
Just outside the main sprawl of modern Agrigento, within a vast protected archaeological park, are the ruins of a number of colossal Ancient Greek temples, including the largest Doric temple ever envisioned, which are variously dedicated to the gods and goddesses of fire, medicine, marriage and thunder, and to ancient heroes of classical legend. Goethe declared the site “stupendous” when he visited in the 18th century and the scale and scope of these astonishing monuments cannot be appreciated until they are seen. These architectural and historical wonders would, in their day, have marked out Agrigento as one of the most spectacular cities of the ancient world and while the modern city has lost much of its magic and prominence, its archaeological legacy is not to be missed. There’s a chance for some VIP exclusivity too as local experts Sicily TravelNet have long running links with the archaeological park authority and are able to offer elite after-hours private tours or arrange exclusive parties in the spectacular setting of the temples. The company can organise all kinds of events – from lavish corporate functions to memorable private celebrations, including the catering, decor and music – for any number of guests. This would be a truly privileged and elite way to enjoy one of the planet’s most magnificent sights.
+39 092 240 2257 or +39 360 397 930 (mobile)
49, Via Dante, Agrigento
Cuisine: Sicilian fusion
Style / Ambiance: A few miles before you reach Agrigento is a culinary experience worth stepping off your yacht for, or making a short chauffeur-driven trip.
Given two stars by Michelin for its precisely crafted and playful gourmet creations, La Madia wants you to fall in love with the colors, textures, aromas and flavors of Sicily. If you haven’t already, this surprising and delicious Sicilian food experience is likely to do the trick.
La Madia Head Chef: Pino Cuttaia
+39 092 277 1443
22, Corso Filippo Re Capriata, Licata
48 nautical miles
The western coast of Sicily is known for being less polished than the east, but you will discover it to be just as breathtaking as your yacht winds its way around the coast towards Palermo, your final destination.
As the capital of Sicily, Palermo offers every modern convenience, including a large airport with private jet facilities for travelling home in style. This beautiful and bewildering city is the heart of the island and sits on an area first inhabited an astonishing ten thousand years ago, exuding a cultural and historical richness that represents just about every era of Sicily’s long history. For that reason, it is the perfect place to round off your time in Sicily in style, although it is infinitely worth exploring for longer. Should you choose to stay on for a few more days there are a wealth of luxury options to choose from, including the marvellous Hilton Villa Igiea that sits majestically by the panoramic harbor. Take a look at our recommendations on where to eat, drink and be pampered in and around Palermo, but don’t forget to simply walk around and breathe in your environment; duck into ancient winding alleys, step into stunning medieval churches, and sit down over a lunchtime cocktail to watch the fast sprawl of people barreling through Sicily’s chaotic, charisma-laden capital.
Palermo’s Regional Archaeological Museum (also known as the Antonio Salinas Museum), is an extraordinary collection of Sicilian treasures, displayed within a beautiful medieval monastery. There’s an entire section devoted to displaying artefacts found underwater, including evocative everyday objects such as lamps and vases, and also wonderful inscriptions from the range of cultures that have made Sicily their home, from Phoenician sailors to Roman soldiers. Other rooms display breathtaking classical art, Greek statues and Roman mosaics, and tantalizing physical glimpses of the prehistoric peoples who were the original Sicilians. Having sailed around this vibrant, patchwork island and experienced its rich legacy of art, architecture and history, stop by this wonderful museum at your final Sicilian destination to see all these different aspects spectacularly brought together under one roof.
+39 091 611 6806
24, Piazza Olivella, Palermo
Treatment and facilities: The town of Termini Imerese is a few miles east of the center of Palermo and home to the Grand Hotel delle Terme, which offers a genuine pampering treat worth making the short drive for. The hotel sits on ancient hot springs, lauded and enjoyed for thousands of years, and incorporates them into a wonderful thermal spa.
Signature treatment: An extensive range of treatments are offered here and you can indulge yourself in mineral-rich spring-water, steam and mud baths, and a variety of relaxing therapies.
Style / Ambiance: This sweet little restaurant is just outside Palermo, and has been noticed by the Michelin Guide for its clever take on traditional food.
The chic minimalist interior is elegant and welcoming, and there is an extensive list of excellent wines to savor.
Head Chef: Patrizia Di Benedetto
+39 091 684 1415
23, Via del Garofalo, Mondello, Palermo
If you’re in the mood for something a bit different, Palermo’s ghoulish but fascinating Capuchin Catacombs make for a memorable afternoon’s exploration. At the end of the 16th century the monks at the city’s Capuchin monastery began to embalm the bodies of their friars when they died and place them in the catacombs. This practice soon became fashionable among the city’s wealthier inhabitants and for the next few hundred years, until as late as 1920, thousands of Palermo’s elite paid for their relatives – or asked in their wills – to be mummified and positioned in the catacombs. Today there are 8,000 mummies on display, many of which have been arranged into unsettling poses. Though not for everyone, this bizarre but unique site is deeply mesmerizing and an enthralling insight into Palermo life over the centuries.
+39 091 651 475
1, Piazza Cappuccini, Palermo
This sexy bar, a well-loved hub of Palermo nightlife, is set within an atmosphereladen baroque palazzo. It hosts live jazz for a hip young crowd, serves excellent wines in its beautifully intimate courtyard and channels Palermo’s Arab heritage, with decadent silk furnishings and Arab cuisine, upstairs.
As a large and energetic capital, Palermo has its fair share of luxury shopping options. It is fun to wander through the city’s gorgeous curving alleys to see what you find, but for elite designer fashion and all the top names, head to prestigious Viale della Libertà and treat yourself to your heart’s content.