Yacht Itinerary for Sicily & Aeolian Islands
Why choose the Sicily & Aeolian Islands cruising grounds?
The Mediterranean luxury yacht charter grounds are an infallible choice for motor yachts and sailing yachts alike, and Sicily and the Aeolian Islands are an exciting blend of sprawling cities and natural reserves along dramatic coastlines incorporating ancient Roman-Greco ruins, castles, opera houses and lavish churches. The journey is interspersed with vineyards on the slopes of volcanoes, UNESCO World Heritage Sites and above and below water, and isolated beaches suited to relaxation and play using your full complement of water toys.
There is another advantage to an eight-day itinerary in Sicily and the Aeolian Islands: It is ideally placed to add to a Western Mediterranean or Eastern Mediterranean cruise for those who want to extend their stay among the aquamarine seas for two weeks or more.
Take your accommodation and onboard amenities with you as you cruise from one island to the next, savouring cocktails and three-course meals prepared by your expert on board chef as you dine alfresco or soak in your Jacuzzi at sundown.
Sicily and the Aeolian Islands Yacht Charter Itinerary:
Day 1: Palermo
At 2,700 years old, the Sicilian capital city of Palermo has a lot of history to discover - UNESCO World Heritage Sites are bountiful and range from ancient stone bridges to castles and numerous churches, all within city’s heart. Palermo has strong Norman and Arabic influences in its history and architecture, with Palazzo dei Normanni, the adjoining Cappella Palatina and Martorana being stunning examples well worth a visit.
The Palermo Botanical Garden (Orto botanico di Palermo) is the largest in Italy at 25 acres (10 hectares) and has some long-established exhibits since its founding in 1785.
South of the harbour is a warren of streets concealing some incredible museums, most notable of which is Palazzo Chiaramonte Steri that was once used as a prison by the Spanish Inquisition. The lack of torture devices places the stories of its unfortunate occupants in the spotlight, who used their stay to create some remarkable graffiti in English as well as Spanish and Italian.
For entertainment during your visit, the unusual Santa Maria Dello Spasimo was built in 1506 but never finished and is now used for hosting open-air events; find out if anything is playing during your visit for an enchanting evening under the stars. Alternatively, Teatro Massimo is one of the largest theatres in Europe and has a diverse selection of operas, concerts and ballets throughout the year.
There is a wonderful variety of bars, cafes and restaurants in town, the latter including the Michelin-starred restaurants Bye Bye Blues and I Pupi respectively. Galleries and bespoke shopping opportunities are also abundant before you set sail for the deserted beach paradise of Filicudi.
Location highlights: Palazzo dei Normanni, Cappella Palatina, Martorana, Santa Maria Dello Spasimo, Botanico di Palermo, Bye Bye Blues Restaurant, I Pupi Restaurant
Day 2: Filicudi
The small ports and stone-built hamlets of Filicudi are a paradise for those looking for serenity and solitude along the pristine shores, and it's the perfect time to sunbathe, catch up with friends and family or make use of the full collection of water toys stored on board: Snorkelers and scuba divers will be in their element with shallows filled with schools of fish, wreck dives and grottoes where the sunlight dances off the sandy seabed.
Grotte di Stimpagnato and Grotta del bue marino, the latter near Spiaggia del Perciato, are two beautiful grottoes that adults and children alike will enjoy, however, there are also numerous caves and pebble beaches to explore by kayak or paddleboard for those who want to stay above water.
Location highlights: Grotte di Stimpagnato, Grotta del bue marino, Spiaggia del Perciato
Day 3: Stromboli
The main attraction for Stromboli is its active volcano, which regularly throws out a hot and colourful display of lava against the purple evening sky as onlookers watch from a safe distance. Night-time visitors should take a torch for the trek up the mountainside, and a camera is recommended at any time not just to catch the display but also the magnificent views of the island at the windy peaks. Instead, see the action from the air on a helicopter tour.
Far below, black-sand beaches curve along the shores, and the clear calm waters are faultless for snorkelling, kayaking or playing with the inflatable and towable toys. Dine by moonlight on shore or on board with a sensuous three-course dinner prepared by your expert chef, who can create local delights from freshly-caught swordfish or tuna.
Location highlights: Stromboli Volcano, Forgia Vecchia
Day 4: Panarea
This tiny island is impeccably suited to the luxury yachting lifestyle, with cars and streetlights banned to remove noise and light pollution to preserve its natural tranquillity. One might feel as though they've stepped onto a Grecian idyll, where the streets of Panama are lined with white-washed houses and vivid bougainvillea spills over garden walls, however the cuisine still offers mouth-watering pizzas and gelatos as well as unique island dishes. Take a stroll along the harbour and stop off for lunch a one of the aromatic cafes, restaurants and bars such as Boutique Raya and Banacalii Panarea, then get in some boutique shopping while you avoid the midday heat.
The south of the island has two large crescent beaches in addition to Spiaggia di Cala Junco, where a trip up to the top of the headlands reveals a well-preserved ancient bronze settlement and a shipwreck lies beneath the transparent sea water.
The nearby smaller islands of Isola di Lisca Bianca, Bottaro, Lisca Nera, Le Guglie, Panarelli all provide an even more private location for sunbathing and playing on the water toys near the splendid bays and coves. Scuba dive sites vary in difficulty to satisfy novices through to those with years of experience.
Location highlights: Spiaggia di Cala Junco, Caletta dei Zimmari, Baia di Drautto, Boutique Raya Bar, Banacalii Panarea Bar, Isola di Lisca Bianca, Bottaro, Lisca Nera, Le Guglie, Panarelli
Day 5: Salina
Salina is an attractive island and has excellent eateries and wineries between the main ports of Rinella and Santa Marina Salina, however, it's the coastline and its impressive arches and coves that visitors come to see. The glassy waters at Spiaggia di Pollara are home to a wide variety of fish, and the shallow waters will give confidence to beginner swimmers, snorkelers and Scuba divers. Stop by for lunch in Malfa at the Michelin-star restaurant Signum.
Nature lovers and fitness fanatics can take on the challenge of hiking to the summit of Monte Fossa delle Felci, the highest point in the Aeolian Islands. End your day with a well-deserved feast back aboard your luxury yacht and if you still have the energy, party under the stars from your sundeck and savour the sparkle of village lights dancing on the sea.
Location highlights: Spiaggia di Pollara, Punta Grottazza, Monte Fossa delle Felci, Signum Restaurant
Day 6: Lipari
Verdant hills and long stretches of fine sand beach could easily become your backdrop on Lipari, where half the island is left to nature and the other half is a hedonistic haven for the rich and famous. Shop in the boutique stores along the waterfront then take in some local culture with Basilica Concattedrale di San Bartolomeo, Museo Archeologico Eoliano L. Bernabo' Brea' and the ruins of Castello di Lipari, then dance until the early hours on Spiaggia di Bianca.
As well as the excellent bays and coves for water sports with family and friends, Lipari has a circular track that stretches a total of 26 kilometres.
Location highlights: Basilica Concattedrale di San Bartolomeo, Museo Archeologico Eoliano L. Bernabo' Brea', Castello di Lipari, Spiaggia Bianca, Spiaggia Praia di Vinci, Spiaggia Valle Muria
Day 7: Taormina
Return to Sicily and cruise down the eastern coast to Taormina, making sure to stop off along the way to explore picturesque villages, fine sand beaches and unique landmarks. Directly south of Lipari is the Riserva dei Laghetti di Marinello, a reserve where sea lakes surrounded by beach are untouched by any development for uninterrupted views of the Aeolian Islands.
As you pass by Capo di Milazzo, artists and photographers in your group may want to capture the vibrant colours of nature surrounding Piscina di Venere (The Pool of Venus) due to its crystal clear waters and stunning rocky surrounds.
Cruise down the coast at your leisure, sampling wine at local vineyards before arriving at the twin curved bays beneath the clifftop city of Taormina. Between the two crescent beaches is stunning Isola Bella, encompassed in turquoise waters and linked to the coast by a single sandbar, making it an excellent place to explore either by land or tender. Rest on the beach, get out the kayaks and paddle to the nearby Grotta Azzurra, or explore the amazing local Scuba diving sites including the wreck of a Roman ship that was carrying marble columns and now home to a family of moray eels.
The ancient Greco-Roman amphitheatre Teatro Antico di Taormina hosts musical performances and has incredible views of Mount Etna, while farther in town there are bespoke shopping opportunities and a string of restaurants and cafes among the scenic squares. Pavone Francesco offers the chance to pick up a souvenir of your Sicily and Aeolian Islands luxury yacht charter in the art galleries, or keep up your culture tour with a visit to Palazzo della Badia Vecchia and its archaeological museum, Palazzo Ciampoli di Taormina and the nearby Duomo di Taormina, Casa Cuseni and Villa Comunale.
Fine diners will be in their element with three Michelin-starred restaurants among the selection: La Capinera, St. George by Heinz Beck and Principe Cerami.
Location highlights: Riserva dei Laghetti di Marinello, Capo di Milazzo, Piscina di Venere, Isola Bella, Grotta Azzurra, Teatro Antico di Taormina, Pavone Francesco, Palazzo della Badia Vecchia, Palazzo Ciampoli di Taormina, Duomo di Taormina, Casa Cuseni, Villa Comunale, La Capinera Restaurant, St. George by Heinz Beck Restaurant, Principe Cerami Restaurant, The Roman Colums of Cape Taormina dive site, Isola Bella Nord and Sud dive sites
Day 8: Catania
End your cruise in the vibrant metropolis of Catania, where a short stroll from the marina you will have the whole UNESCO World Heritage Site Centro Storico to explore. Towards the end of the 15th Century the city was struck by an earthquake and considerable areas were rebuilt in the baroque style of the time, resulting in some of the finest examples of the architecture anywhere in Italy mingled in with ancient Roman amphitheatres and castle ruins.
Tour Castello Ursino, Cattedrale di Sant'Agata and the baroque-styled Monastero dei Benedettini di San Nicolò L' Arena and Palazzo Manganelli, then dine in style at Michelin-starred Sapio. If you've arrived on a Friday and are staying for the evening, there is a free concert by local musicians at Teatro Massimo Bellini.
South of Catania there is the Riserva naturale Oasi del Simeto for some final fun in the sun along the gorgeous golden beaches as Mount Etna towers in the background.
Location highlights: Cattedrale di Sant'Agata, Castello Ursino, Monastero dei Benedettini di San Nicolò L' Arena, Palazzo Manganelli, Teatro Massimo Bellini, Riserva naturale Oasi del Simeto, Sapio Restaurant
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