Palermo's intriguing past unfolds through several one-of-a-kind attractions, including an eerie catacombs and 12th century Arab-designed royal residence.
Your tour begins with a scenic drive through Palermo, Sicily's capital and largest city. Originally a Phoenician and then a Carthaginian colony, Palermo was later ruled by the Romans, Arabs and Normans until Sicily finally became part of Italy in 1861. Over the centuries, the conquerors and inhabitants left their marks on the city's architecture and personality.
For instance, after discovering the preservative effects of the air in the passageways under their monastery, the Capuchin monks in Palermo allowed thousands of Sicilians to be buried there in the open air so they could be mummified. Touring the corridors of the macabre Catacombs of the Capuchins, you'll see countless mummies, some hundreds of years old, dressed in finery and arranged according to social status. While certainly a bit unusual, it's also an immensely fascinating experience.
Next, you'll visit beautiful Zisa Castle, a 12th century summer residence for the Normans. Its Moorish design is captivating, as is the interior, which is adorned with fabulous mosaics and Islamic art. The root of Zisa is Arabic and means "luxurious house." A very fitting name for this marvelous castle to.
More 12th century mosaics await you during a visit to the Church of Martorana, which is covered with these vibrantly colored works of art depicting Christ, archangels and the apostles. Afterwards, you will transfer directly back to the pier.
Please note: This tour includes just over 2-hours of moderate to strenuous walking and has a significant number of steps to negotiate as well as some uneven surfaces. The tour is not available to wheelchair guests or those with mobility concerns. Weather appropriate clothing; sun caps; sunglasses; and flat, comfortable walking shoes are recommended. When visiting the monastery and church, conservative dress is required and shoulders and knees must be covered. Shorts are not allowed. The order of the sites viewed or visited can vary.