This gay group tour celebrates the movie settings of the second season of the vibrant series ‘White Lotus’, in Sicily. The biggest island of the Mediterranean Sea is the backdrop of this complex thriller, where the characters’ story entails with the hotel staff plots and intrigues.
The stunning 'San Domenico Palace' - the five-star hotel in Taormina - is the first setting and your first home. The 'Four Seasons' hotel was an enchanting 14th century Convent, which has preserved its old-fashioned, charming style of gardens, arches and architecture, which mesmerize every visitor here.
Your guide will show to the town center and to 'Giardini Naxos', which have been elected as the ‘beach club’ of the series. Enjoy a boat tour in the afternoon taking to the 'Isola Bella Beach', dive into the crystalline waters around Taormine and taste the local flavour of the Mediterranean cuisine at one of the many restaurants along the coast (the Michelin-starred ‘Principe Cerami’ or ‘Otto Geleng’, the ‘Anchovi’ or ‘La Cambusa’).
On the following day, on your way to Noto, stop at ‘Tenuta Planeta Feudo di Mezzo’ for a wine tour, in the place which did enchant Harper, Ethan, Cameron and Daphne. Altitude and sunlight on this Northern slope of Volcano Etna make the terroir an inimitable place for winemaking.
You arrive in Noto, which valley is a jubilation of baroque style, together with Modica and Ragusa. During your stay in Noto, you will learn about this stunning town of yellow sandstone, almost frozen in time. Here, enjoy the best ‘cassata’ at Caffè Sicilia!
Jacques Garcia, interior designer who transformed an old monastery into the princely ‘Villa Elena’, says that this residence is the place where a monastery meets the sea. It’s the place of imagination, half way to Modica. In ‘The White Lotus’, it represents Quentin’s house falsely in Palermo. It is a private property and it is not open to visitors, unfortunately.
From Eastern to Western Sicily means moving in almost lunar settings: the landscape of central Sicily – your route from Noto to Palermo – is beyond imagination. Lands of silence and winding roads, hills and small villages along the way give the colors of authentic views from the inside.
Yo will have a pit - stop in Catania for a ‘granita’ or a ‘cassata’. Catania is a stunning example of Baroque and the most lgbtq+ friendly town in Sicily, together with Palermo.
Amazing Cefalù is one-hour drive further: a celebrated resort for its clear waters and beaches of Mazzaforno and Settefrati. The Normans left their heritage here, with a marvellous Cathedral. In Cefalù you will relax for a couple of days, before heading to your final destination, Palermo, on the Western coast of Sicily.
A private transfer will take you through the inland of Sicily on the way to the Capital of the Reign of the Two Sicilies. Phoenicians, Arabs, Normans, French invaded Palermo and different cultural layers coming from a number of different conquerors found their fertile soil here. The city center is surrounded by century-old streets and markets, such as the most famous ‘Ballarò’ or ‘Vucciria’ where fresh food and typical recipes on – the-go are always at hand. Here, colors, people, language are the very heart of Sicilian life-style.
Your guide will invite to a walking tour to the Cathedral, to the Norman Palace, to the Teatro Massimo, where Tanya takes in ‘Madama Butterfly’.
On the way to Monreale, UNESCO Site for its Cathedral, is Villa Tasca, as the Noto villa where Daphne and Harper spent the night.
Villa Tasca is plunged into a wide park, English and Italian Style, which dates back to the 19th century architectural Romanticism. Its interiors are covered with frescoes and the atmosphere is magic, out of time. Its botanical garden is a precious gem of Mediterranean lush nature.
On the last night, do not miss the ‘Arrivederci’ dinner, to pair traditional entries to Sicilian robust wine. Let’s invite your taste and smell to this joyous closing of great Sicilian memories! The tour ends in Palermo.
Day 1 - Thursday, October 05, 2023
Catania Fontanarossa Vincenzo Bellini International Airport (CTA) is the closest airport to Taormina. There is a direct bus service between Catania airport and Taormina provided by the Etna Trasporti bus company. Alternatively, you can go to Taormina by train. Thanks to the new railway station 'Catania Aeroporto Fontanarossa', inaugurated in 2021, it got easier to get to Taormina by train.
• Check in at Four Seasons San Domenico Palace Hotel, 5* in Taormina.
• 06:30 PM – Meet & Greet with your tour leader and briefing.
• Free evening.
Day 2 - Friday, October 06, 2023
• 9.30 AM – Meet your tour leader and guide in the lobby
• Walking tour to Taormina
Taormine was the elected place for many nobles travelling for the ‘Gran Tour’ of Europe. Since 19th century, it has been a ‘buen retiro’ for members of the LGBTQ+ community, for example the artist Wilhelm Van Gloeden, who dedicated his life to the celebration of homoeroticism by photography and paintings. Taormine lies in the shadows of the Mt. Etna Volcano, the town is known for its sweeping beachfront and nightlife, as well as its museum and ancient excavations.
• 11:00 AM – Transfer by van to Giardini Naxos (Capo Taormina)
• 11:30 AM – Departure for boat tour along the coast, including Isola Bella.
Snacks and wine on board. The boat tour lasts two hours and includes the Lovers’ Cave, The Fig Stone, Isola Bella, Blue Grotto, Mazzarò Bay, The Mermaid’s Bay. Time for diving and snorkeling. Do not forget your swim suit, towel, cap and sun-screen!
• 01:30 PM – Back to Giardini Naxos harbor and transfer to hotel;
• Rest of the day free.
Day 3 - Saturday, October 07, 2023
• 09:00 AM – Check out at hotel.
• 09:30 AM – Meet your tour leader and driver. Transfer to Farm ‘Planeta Feudo di Mezzo’ in Sciaranuova.
• 10:30 AM – Meet your guide at ‘Feudo di Mezzo’ and enjoy the tour ‘Flavors of the Volcano: Wines, Breads and Cheeses’, in the place which did enchant Harper, Ethan, Cameron and Daphne.
Wine and food are cultural elements, which helps to understand local history and identity. The game of combinations of wine, bread and cheeses speak to the senses and explore the Etna culture. You visit the vineyards and have a guided wine tasting of four wines with traditional cheese and local bread paired with three extra-virgin olive oils.
• 12:00 PM – Transfer from Sciaranuova to Fiumefreddo/Castello degli Schiavi.
• 12:30 PM – Visit to the movie setting of ‘Il Padrino’- Castello degli Schiavi (mentioned by Grandfather Di Grasso).
• 01:30 PM – Lunch at local restaurant.
• 03:00 PM – Departure for Noto.
• 05:30 PM – Arrival in Noto and check in at Simon Bolivar Hotel, 4*
Noto, the town whose architecture from the early 18th century are considered among the finest examples of Sicilian Baroque style. The town is the fictional setting for Meghann Fahy and Audrey Plaza’s girl trip (though the actual Villa Tasca, where they stay, is in Palermo).
• Rest of the day free.
Day 4 - Sunday, October 08, 2023
• 09:30 AM – Meet your tour leader and guide. Transfer to Modica.
• 10:30 AM – Visit to ‘Antica Dolceria Bonajuto’, including chocolate tasting (Modica is famous all over the world for its special chocolate).
• 11:00 AM – Walking tour in Modica, including the outdoor of Villa Elena, which is Quentin’s residence in Palermo.
Villa Elena is not visitable inside. In the Middle Ages, and until the early nineteenth century, Modica was the capital of the homonymous County, one of the richest fiefdoms in Sicily. Despite the destruction of 1693, traces of its flourishing past from the Middle Ages and Renaissance are still visible. Most of the buildings and churches visible today were built after the earthquake of 1693 and give the city its predominantly baroque appearance. Along the main street, Corso Umberto, you will encounter beautiful examples of civil construction of the Baroque age and the church of San Pietro, patron of the city.
• 01:00 PM -Transfer back to Noto hotel
• Free time for lunch.
• 04:00 PM – Meet your tour leader and guide at the hotel.
• Walking tour in Noto.
• 07:00 PM – End of walking tour and rest of the evening free.
Day 5 - Monday, October 09, 2023
• 9:00 AM – Check out at hotel.
• 9:30 AM – Meet your tour leader and driver- transfer to Catania and Cefalù.
• 10:45 AM – Arrival in Catania. Start walking tour in town center.
Catania, a UNESCO World Heritage Site whose “old town” features late- baroque architecture. The town is considered one of the most LGBTQ+ friendly in Sicily.
First stop, the Duomo (the Cathedral) and the Elephant Fountain in the historical center of Catania (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). Then, up to the ‘Ursino Castle’, which oversees the town and has been the meeting point for the ‘arrusi’ (passive) and the ‘masculi’ (active) for generations. Crossing the neighborhoods of the historic center, all the gay people until 1939 used to meet in one of the first Italian ballroom for only men: an element that distinguishes Catania from other Italian cities.
• You will travel to the infamous ‘red light district’: The San Berillo District, where prostitution was the only way to fight against harassment and the only possible income for many gay men. The tour then proceeds up the flight of steps in Via Alessi, an obscure meeting point for gay couples and for cruising, to the ‘arvuru russu’ (the ‘red tree’, in Sicilian dialect). This old tree was the symbol of the largest gay community in Italy during the 30s. Here, many gay men were killed and 45 deported by the Fascist Army. A long, deep fracture in the tree trunk still bears witnesses to that tragedy.
• 01:30 PM – End of walking tour & free time for lunch.
• 03:00 PM – Back to transfer to Cefalù
• 06:00 PM – Arrival at Alberi del Paradiso Hotel, 4* in Cefalù
• Check in and free evening.
Day 6 - Tuesday, October 10, 2023
• You can relax on the beautiful beaches in Cefalù, enjoy the crystal waters and visit the nice shops of local artisans. The town reminds of a fortress for its architecture and twin towers. Also, its Cathedral is famous for its Byzantine mosaics.
• The best beaches are Mazzafrati and Settefrati, west of Cefalù.
• Do not forget to sit at the beach for one of its evocative sunsets!
Day 7 - Wednesday, October 11, 2023
• 09:00 AM – Check out at hotel.
• 09:30 AM– Meet your tour leader and driver – transfer to Palermo.
• 10:30 AM – Arrival in Palermo & start of walking tour.
The capital of Sicily, Palermo, is a crossroad of cultures. Its Norman Cathedral dates back to the 12th century and conserves royal tombs. Also the Teatro Massimo – Politeama – is famous for its lyric performances. It is mentioned and visited by Tanya in ‘The White Lotus’. Also, the imponent Norman Castle (XIth century) and the Palatine Chapel, withs its unique Byzantine mosaics.
Your guide will also take you to one of the famous open markets ‘Vucciria’ and Ballarò, where you can try some of the best Sicilian street-food and enjoy the colors of fresh fruits and vegetables, the smell of ‘arancine’ and try a refreshing ‘granita’or a lavish ‘cassata’.
• 01:30 PM – Transfer to Rocco Forte Villa Igiea Hotel, 5*
• 03:00 PM – on request – free transfer to Mondello Beach – pick up for return at 06:00 PM.
• Rest of the day free.
Day 8 - Thursday, October 12, 2023
• 09:30 AM – Meet your tour leader and driver.
• 10:00 AM – Transfer to Villa Tasca and Monreale.
• 10.30 AM – Start visit at Villa Tasca
Here Daphne and Harper spend the night on their way to Noto (falsely). The villa dates back to the 16th century and after many refurbishments, today it is exactly like it was restored in the 18th century. Many protagonists of past and present times enjoyed the frescoes of the interiors and the green nature of its gardens: from Borbon kings to General Bismark, from composer Wagner to Jaqueline Kennedy. The Mediterranean botanic garden is enriched by small lakes and fountains: you can sit along the way and get enchanted by the intense colors and natural scents.
• 12:00 PM – Departure for Monreale.
• 12.15 PM – Arrival in Monreale. Visit to the Cathedral (by 12.45 PM) with your guide and the nearby San Benedetto Monastery. Then the ‘Belvedere’ with the panoramic view on the ‘Conca d’oro’ (Golden Conch), where Palermo lies.
• 02:00 PM – Free time for lunch in Monreale.
• 03:30 PM – Transfer back to Palermo Villa Igiea Hotel
• Free afternoon in Palermo.
• 08:00 PM – Transfer to Restaurant ‘I Cucci’ Palermo for a lavish ‘arrivederci’ dinner. A tasty menu, to experience the real flavours of Sicilian cuisine and wines’.
• 10:30 PM – Transfer back to Villa Igiea Hotel
Day 9 - Friday, October 13, 2023
• Check out at hotel (in compliance with your departures, by 10:00 AM).
• End of services.