Richard Hammond describes this 7-night, self-guided, rail trip from Ragusa to Catania via Noto and Siracusa, taking in UNESCO-listed towns, Baroque architecture and views of Mount Etna.
In a nutshell:
A self-guided journey by train across Baroque Sicily, taking in the palaces and churches beautifully rebuilt after a devastating earthquake in 1693. Trace the founding cultures of Greece and Rome and catch views of volcanic Mount Etna.
Price: £735 per person, incl. rail travel within Sicily but not including return travel to/from Sicily
What's included: 7 nights at four selected hotels (one boutique hotel; one 3-star hotel; two 4-star hotels); detailed cultural information; notes for city walking tours; 7 breakfasts; rail travel Ragusa-Noto-Siracusa-Catania.
Departures: May, June, July, August, September.
Nearest station to start of trip: Catania
Nearest station to end of trip: Catania
How to travel by train to Sicily: It is possibly to travel by train and ferry from London all the way to Sicily. Take the Eurostar to Paris then change stations in Paris from Gare du Nord to Gare de Lyon for the connecting train to Torino where you take the overnight sleeper train to Rome and then the morning train to Lamezia and the afternoon train to Catania. The total journey time from London to Catania is about 31 hours. The transfer in Paris can take 20-30 minutes on the Paris metro (9 stops), but we recommend you leave at least 50 minutes for the entire transfer (see our guide to How to transfer between train stations across Paris) depending on where you stay overnight. For more details on the train journey from London to Rome, including some suggestions for where to stay near the train stations if you want to break up the journey and spend more time in Paris or Rome, see our flight-free journey planner: Train from London to Rome.
Optional extra: you can book additional nights and/or hotel upgrades on to this trip.
What's the trip like:
On Day 1 explore the city of Ragusa, which falls over two hills, separating into two towns. Here you will find the Cathedral of St John the Baptist. Consider staying longer and venturing by bus to nearby Modica for scenic walks.
Board the train on Day 2 for a 1.5hr journey to Noto, the apogee of Sicilian Baroque with its beautifully formed cluster of convents, churches and palazzi, which glow pink in the late-afternoon sun. Here you will stay at the elegant Hotel La Dépendance.
Start Day 3 by relaxing in Noto’s many cafes, before taking the short (35min) train ride to Siracusa where you will spend the next two nights at the Alla Giudecca on historic Ortigia ‘island’. Spend the next day (Day 4) ticking off the many historic spots Siracusa has to offer including a its Baroque central square, Caravaggio’s Burial of Santa Lucia and the Archaeological Park of Neapolis home to a well preserved Greek theatre and Roman amphitheatre.
Day 5 involves an early-afternoon train ride to your final destination, Catania. The city has had a turbulent past, seeing it subject to volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and war. Today it is a monument to Baroque architecture. Stay for the final two nights at Hotel Il Principe, a stone’s throw from the cathedral.
Spend your last day (Day 6) following the self-guided walking tour, taking you through pretty streets to admire the Baroque buildings. Alongside the Baroque you will find the modern city with its gritty side streets, historic fish market and tasty street food scene. For almost panoramic views of Mount Etna, take the steady 110km Circumetnea railway ride. By no means luxurious, the small train, which dates back to 1898, offers stunning views of the volcano’s lava fields on a loop to the terminus of Riposto, a little farther up the coast. A stunning sight to end your sicilian adventure.
How to enquire/book this holiday:
This holiday is provided by Inntravel, one of the founding tour operator members of Green Traveller. One of the great things about this holiday is its flexibility: you have a choice of start/end dates and you can add additional nights on to the itinerary. If you'd like to know more about this holiday, please see more details on the relevant page given below and if you'd like to book it, do contact them directly or complete their booking form and a member of their team will be in touch with you: