With a new direct connection from the US to Sicily launching in May 2020, get set to discover the island’s marvelous landscapes, famed cuisine and spectacular coastline.
Starting in May 2020, a new direct flight will link New York to Palermo, making it that much easier and inviting to take advantage of Italian packages in Sicily—and to make your dreams of small tours with Discover Your Italy a reality.
Sicily—the Mediterranean island that’s positively made for discovery and romance—beckons thanks to a new direct air connection from Newark to Palermo. You can say goodbye to time lost in transit with multiple flights and layovers and enjoy more time on the ground during a vacation to remember. Now more than ever, Sicily is experiencing a renaissance that features new hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions just waiting to be discovered by curious travelers.
On your tour in Italy and Sicily, all roads on the island lead to Palermo. The vibrant capital has been gaining much tourist attention of late thanks to cultural initiatives that are placing the city squarely among Europe’s top travel destinations.
In 2019, Palermo was lauded as the cultural capital of Italy and played host to the 12th edition of Manifesta, an event that’s considered the most important nomadic art biennale in all of Europe. The Salinas Archaeological Museum recently reopened in Palermo with much fanfare; its new exhibit halls showcase a smart new layout that works to preserve the Greek Temple of Selinunte and its metopes, unique elements of classical architecture.
Getting around Palermo these days is faster and easier than ever thanks to the inauguration of the city’s three fast new surface tram lines that zip riders around town and to all the important tourist sights. All across the historic center—including at Via Maqueda, Corso Vittorio Emanuele, Piazza Bologni and Piazza San Domenico—it’s clear that great strides are being taken to preserve these public areas integral to the city’s lively pedestrian life.
Visitors will delight in Baroque palaces that have been reopened to the public, including Palazzo Grandi. Palazzo Butera, the most majestic palace of all, has been restored thanks to the visionary project of the Milanese tycoon, Massimo Valsecchi. In 2020, Palazzo Butera will welcome an impressive new collection of European contemporary art.
In exciting hotel news from Palermo, 2020 will see the reopening of the Grand Hotel Villa Igea, one of the beloved symbols of Palermo’s Belle Epoque, which was dominated by the rise and fall of the Florio family. Other exciting debuts on the city’s hospitality scene include the brand-new Palazzo Sovrana, located right in front of the Opera House (the “Massimo”). And be sure to put Palazzo Brunaccini on your radar, too, as it has one of the best locations in the city. The hotel is tucked between the Baroque delirium of Casa Professa, the Jesuit church, and all of the lively colors, voices and flavors of the historic Ballarò market.
Another perk of the new direct flight connecting New York and the city of Palermo is that it affords you more time to get out and about, to venture beyond Palermo and into the three stunning Sicilian archipelagos. Here, more culinary adventures, dream beaches and some of the most postcard-pretty villages in Italy await. Discover Your Italy leads the way to a favorite island in each of the three archipelagos, so you can dive right in and make the most of your luxury tour of Italy.
In the Pelagie archipelago, our favorite escape is the island of Pantelleria, which actually lies further south on the map than Tunis in North Africa. Giorgio Armani and other Milan jetsetters have long had this spectacular hidden Italian island on their radar; it’s known for its iconic boxy homes made from volcanic stone, called dammusi. How you decide to spend your luxury vacation in Italy here is up to you. Perhaps you will visit the Lake of Venus, enjoy a wine tasting in the Donnafugata vineyards or spend some time in the very special Pantelleria garden—an irrigation miracle that rises around a single orange tree.
Moving on to the Aeolian islands, Stromboli may be the most famous. But since it’s been quite the active volcanic spot of late (with the second-most famous Sicilian volcano, after Mt. Etna, found here), we prefer to direct tours in Italy and Sicily to the island of Salina instead. A more geologically mellow locale, Salina, home to two extinct volcanoes, is famous among Italians as the setting for the 1990s film Il Postino, inspired by the exile of the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda (he’s played by Massimo Troisi and Philippe Noiret). Ever since its arrival on the mainstream radar in the 1990s, Salina has been luring visitors for its tranquility and unique landscapes known for blooming broom, heather and caper flowers. With its growing popularity in recent years, Salina has also seen the arrival of charming new hotels with striking contemporary architecture that the island is known for. For visitors who love to get around on foot, Salina is a delight—the island’s small size makes it particularly appealing for walking tours and simply strolling between the sights.
Finally, we come to the fabulous island of Favignana, accessed by a short ferry ride (just over an hour) from the town of Trapani on Sicily’s west coast. Part of the Egadi archipelago, the island has seen much conquering and colonization over the centuries by Phoenician populations that arrived via the North African coast. The story of their passage is told at a museum on the nearby islet of Mozia. But there’s more than enough to keep you entertained right on Favignana itself. Home to scenic Sicilian nature, Favignana is also a delightfully urban island, full of little cafes and historic landmarks to explore. Make a stop at the elegant Florio Establishment, named after the 19th-century family who first brought prosperity to the Egadi islands with tuna fishing. The historic building is at once a museum and an entrepreneurial success story that brings to life one of the most thriving periods in recent Sicilian history.
Some fine new hotels have also opened around Favignana, including the Cave Bianche, housed inside a stone tuff quarry. Along with the tuna fishing industry, the quarrying of this volcanic ash rock has been big island business and a major economic booster for Favignana. Finally, when on Favignana make your way to the Grotte di San Nicola. This cave is an important archaeological site with traces of prehistoric man; it’s also home to a fascinating women’s bathroom dating back to the Roman era, with a set of hot tubs fed by underwater canals.