Sicily and the Gattopardo's secret gardens

A truly unique journey to discover the last Gattopardo’s secret gardens, surrounded by the zagara’s and wild flowers’ scent, among the green of the Mediterranean pine trees and the cobalt blue of the sea. We will appreciate the exquisite hospitality of the Gattopardo' s heirs, visiting their fascinating secret private houses and gardens. During the tour we will taste the delicious Sicilian fish dishes and the strong red wine from the vineyards of volcano Etna or the white perfumed fresh wine made in small wineries along the coast, looking at the shape of ancient greek temples, baroque cathedrals and Cyclop’s Faraglioni. This 5 days tour can be combined with our 5 days tour of Rome and Lazio and will be leaded by our botanic and landscape expert Prof. Trontelj Bitetti, teacher of botany and landscape architecture at the La Sapienza University of Rome, and escorted by a Sicilian professional English speaking guide.


1st day : in the morning meeting with Prof. Trontelj Bitetti at the Rome airport, check in procedures and flight to Fontanarossa Airport, by scheduled flight, included with supplement. After meeting our professional guide, transfer by our private coach to Catania, the beautiful city founded in 729 BC by the Greeks, with a millenary history characterized by various dominations whose vestiges now enrich its artistic, architectural and cultural heritage. The baroque old town is a UNESCO World Heritage. After a short stop at our central 4 star hotel, and a quick free snack if needed, we will have a guided tour of Catania and of its very interesting Botanical Garden, with a very rich collection of thousands rare succulent plants: almost all of them grown to open air with no climate problems, belonging to the Crassulaceae, the Cacti, the Aizoacee and the Euphorbiaceae. Particularly interesting among the hundreds of varieties, the greatest Cereus, the secular Echinocactus grusonii, the Mammillaria schiedeana, herrerae and thereseae, the tiny Blossfeldia lilliputana , the Euphorbia candelabrum, the very rare Caralluma europaea, the Crassula falcata and the purple Gymnocalicium.
At the end of the visit, private coach transfer to the hotel and free time before dinner and overnight.

2nd day : early in the morning, we will drive, stopping in the most interesting and scenic places on route, to reach Milazzo area, where we will visit one of the richest, interesting and important plant nursery in Sicily, whose owner will deserve us a very friendly reception. The quantity and richness of “unusual” plant collections in the nursery make it one of the most renowned in Italy especially with regard to rare and exotic plants. Among these - just to give You just a little example among the about two thousand species grown - some old varieties of fruit trees such as the "Tree of Nutella" (Diospyros ebenaster), the “Tree of soap ", the “Cotton Tree”, and then rare orchids, the "pimiento" characterized by the strong scent of cinnamon, profusion of palms and shrubs, including a more than 50 years old Cycad, many fruit plant, as mango, avocado, black sapote, anona (cherimoya), macadamia , casimiroa, and so on and so forth .... After the visit, and after tasting some of the tropical fruits produced by the nursery, we will move to Taormina having a stop for a free snack and then to visit the beautiful city that, in the last two thousand years, was a melting pot of races, cultures and different civilizations who left their mark here, as Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Greeks, Romans,Byzantines, Arabs, Normans and so far…! Among the many spectacular Taormina’s attractions, the famous dramatic greek theater. At the end of the guided visit of Taormina, we will return to Catania, on the panoramic coastal road, with stops in the most beautiful places for taking some picture or having a delicious caffè, or cappuccino, or tasting the true world famous ice cream “Cassata Siciliana”. Dinner and overnight in hotel’s restaurant in Catania.

3rd day : In the morning visit to a nursery and to a “secret” garden, both memorable not only for the beauty and variety of plants but also for the exquisite, profound and sincere hospitality reserved to our
Friends (as You are now !) from the Owner, one of the most creative and expert landscapers Italy. Every year his experienced researchers select in Argentina, Guatemala, Mexico, Uruguay and India the healthier and most beautiful plants and bring them back here in Sicily, with great success, we must say, even taking into account only those splendid examples of brachyton rupestris. After lunch, included, in the afternoon of this amazing day, we will visit an extraordinary private residence and it’s precious secret garden, which, to comply with the duty of confidentiality towards our guests, we will disclose only on the spot. In this case too, the heat of the legendary southern hospitality is at least equal to the beauty of the place that the Owner will allow us to visit with him. In this very special garden the intense colours and shapes of rare exotic plants coexist with many examples of endemic lush and bursting flora, with vivid colour’s contrasts, but always with a harmony of they all, that makes unforgettable the warm and fragrant atmosphere surrounding the lucky visitor in this botanical wonder garden. After the visit we will get back to the hotel for dinner and overnight.

4th day : in the morning, we will move to Villa Romana del Casale di Piazza Armerina. The villa was built at the turn of the third and fourth centuries AD and, with its marvelous mosaics, is one of the most valuable evidence of Roman artistic Civilization in Sicily. Nowhere in the world You will ever see, just in the same one place, such a display of mosaic art and painting with so many different visual representations of impressive lively scenes from antiquity. There are over forty different rooms alternate with vivid, lifelike images of animals depicted on the floor and the walls are covered with decorative paintings depicting hunting scenes spectacular, graceful dance sequences, mythological characters and profusion of fruits and plants. The colors are still alive, though melancholically shrouded by the “patina” of the time passed since then. After the visit, we will enjoy a “menù degustazione” lunch, tasting a little bit of many different culinary specialties of the area, including four different types of Sicilian wines, white and red, to match perfectly with our delicious food and then, after lunch, we will continue toward Caltagirone, to admire its famous handmade pottery and tiles, before reaching Catania for a free dinner and overnight.

5th day : departure in the morning to visit a private Villa, lying on the slopes of Vulcano Etna, surrounded by a botanical garden of rare beauty and by a rich citrus forest, in which sophisticated and robust subtropical and tropical plants live in a perfect and beautiful symbiosis with Mediterranean vegetation: here You will be in the condition to do an instinctive comparison between oaks such as the Sicilian “Roverella” (Quercus pubescens) and the mighty Grevillea robusta, the “Australia's silky oak”, and a no less interesting comparison between the “aromatic Pistacchio” or the fragrant “wild Finocchio” and the scented “Rosary’ Tree” , of Asian origin. Among others beautiful plants, we will admire notable specimens of Jasmine, Begonias, Passion flower, Plumbago, Jacaranda mimosifolia, Phytolacca dioica, Scilla Peruvian, etc. After the garden’s visit, guided by the Owner, we will have a mouthwatering sicilian lunch in the premises, surrounded by the flowers’ perfumes and colors, before reaching the airport to fly back to Rome. Good bye Sicily, we will come back soon…we know You hide some more Gattopardo’s secret gardens, and we will discover them in our next Best Gardens’ Tour.

This group tour can be adapted for two/four guests in a limousine chauffeur driven car, or for six/ten guests in a luxury van with driver. This is a “true garden tour”…if You are searching for a “normal” touristic tour of Sicily, just ask and we will be glad to give You a tailor made quotation for it : it will still be a very nice trip, but ......will not be the same thing !


Best Gardens' Tours

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