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Western Sicily, Palermo & the Aeolian Islands Tour

We would like to express our thanks for this holiday, which we enjoyed greatly, having been last year on the other Sicily trip.  It was very pleasing that again we had Rosario as our tour leader, and Marie Lou in Palermo.  As Sicilian nationals they each have a passion for their country which they communicated to us.  Rosario also has the gift of quickly enabling the group to bond, with his care for each person and his sense of humour.  It was appreciated that he arranged tickets at the last minute to a much enjoyed open-air performance of Madame Butterfly.  It goes without saying that his knowledge and enthusiasm for Sicilian art, history and wildlife is extensive, and he loves to discuss such things with learned members of the group.  One unforgettable moment in Castelbuono was when he stopped and chatted to three old men sitting on a bench in the sun, (just like the BBC series Last of the Summer Wine!), asking them about their lives.  On the whole, the hotels were good, though we did think that the shower room in the Alberi del Paradiso was small, and the wash basin soap dispenser difficult to work.  Food and swimming pool very good though!
We shall definitely recommend these holidays to friends.  What about a third one, covering the southern area ?
Thank you.

Review by John and Carol on 14 October 2016

A wonderful trip giving further insight into the many facets of the history and early people of this amazing island, led by our wonderful guide Rosario, so enthusiastic and well informed.
We all enjoyed going to two different restaurants during the first three days allowing us to sample the local specialties. The following four days equally fascinating and we were very pleased that during our visit to Palermo we saw areas we had not seen on our previous trip of Eastern Sicily a few years ago. We have to say that all the guides used on the trip were excellent as were the hotels. Perhaps it might be worth considering this trip with a three day optional extension, as we weren’t ready to come home.
Thanks Riviera.

Review by Diana Langford on 17 April 2014

Sicily lived up to expectations yet again. We were glad to be able to see places we hadn’t been to before. . A most enjoyable tour.  Both hotels were good, but the wonderful hotel, Le Calette, in Cefalu deserves a special mention. Stunning location, friendly staff, excellent food.
Can’t say enough about our guide, Rosario. Always willing to go the extra mile, together with a good sense of humour, makes him a guide to remember.
There’s a fair bit of coach travel, but this is what you sign up for. Our driver, another Rosario, was excellent.

Review by R and C Cope on 18 October 2014

Our guide Rosario was excellent. An excellent sense of humour, kind, concerned for all and very diplomatic. He should be cloned.
The driver, also Rosario, was superb, tackling heavy traffic and reversing on a sixpence with an ease which amazed us all.

Review by Christine Cope on 21 October 2014

This was a wonderful holiday. Unspoilt, no crowds, lovely people and good, plentiful food.  The hotels were very good and nicely situated.  We understand this is a new tour.  I do hope it has been successful and it continues for many years to come.  It is a part if Italy not to be missed.
We were fortunate to have very good weather and a good crowd.  A lot of praise must go to Rosario, our tour guide.  He has to be one of the best tour guides we have been fortunate enough to have met.  His care and concern for the few fellow travellers who were less able was much to his credit.  It goes without saying regarding his knowledge.  He was great fun.  Please pass a huge thank you to him.

Review by Anthony & Sandra Conrade-Marshall on 29 October 2014

I too had a wonderful holiday which exceeded my expectations .  We had a variety of things to do and sights to see, two excellent hotels and delicious food, not to mention the lovely weather.  The whole experience was enhanced by an interesting, friendly and fun group of fellow travellers, but most of all by the Tour Manager, Rosario.  Rosario was just a bundle of energy, seemingly untiring and unstinting in the way he looked after the group, informed us and made us laugh.  Praise must also go to Rosario the driver who drove us safely round some hairpin bends and patiently through city centre traffic.  The local guides were also excellent


Review by Pat Dixon on 29 October 2014

This is a fact filled tour of some of the lesser known areas of the island. I particularly enjoyed the smaller towns like Erice and Castelbuono rather than the manic bustle of Palermo. The hotel in Trapani perhaps needs a little more tweaking but was perfectly acceptable and is a very convenient centre. Cefalu is delightful and the Aeolian Islands trip a highlight, the early start being soon forgotten when faced with superb scenery on a beautiful day. Our guide Liljiana was amazing; kind and caring, extremely knowledgeable and very amusing. This tour needs plenty of energy but there is ample free time just to soak up the atmosphere.

Review by Sheila Brooke on 17 May 2015

Thank you for yet another wonderful holiday. Our guide Lilijana was delightful with her fact filled excusions, a great sense of humour and nothing was too much trouble for her.
I have to commend the skills and patience of our driver Vencenzo.
It was very interesting to compare the fairly new holiday destination of Trapani with the established Cefalu. I liked both hotels but felt that the Crystal Hotel needed to iron out a few glitches, but it was the beginning of the season.
The highlights of the holiday for me were the excusions to the beautiful hilltop village of Erice and the memorable trip to Lipari. The minibus drive around the island was spectacular and shouldn’t be missed.

Review by Rosemary Holmes on 24 May 2015

Riviera’s tour of Western Sicily, Palermo and the Aeolian Islands was more wonderful in every way than I could have ever hoped for.  The tour guide Lilijana, ably assisted by coach driver Vincenzo, was incredibly knowledgeable about every aspect of Sicily enhanced by her obvious love of that Island.  She was very caring of our welfare, endlessly patient dealing with any inquiry, and thoughtful, humorous and loving.
The places chosen for us to visit were excellent and we felt privileged to sometimes go “off the beaten track” a little eg to Castelbuono.
I would be happy to comment in greater detail if that would help. The only sour note was having to be at Gatwick so early in the morning.

Review by Lorna Tyler on 28 May 2015

Just writing to say how very much we enjoyed this holiday, largely because of our guide, Lliljiana, who was not only efficient in her organisation of such a large group (50 in all)  but also in her brilliant commentaries while we were travelling around. Her English was exemplary, and her handling of the very few disgruntled group members when hotels turned out not what they expected was tactful and placatory. She has a lovely sense of humour! We’d love to go on any other of your tours where she was also the guide!  Her commentaries when we were travelling were interesting and informative, and through her, we learned a lot about the island, its history and its current political situation. 

Our driver impressed us very much with his re-assuring handling of such a large coach on sometimes very small roads, and he always made the effort to cut down the distance we had to walk to the various sites we visited.

We were very happy with our hotels, finding the food and accommodation very good indeed.

In short, we can’t praise the holiday highly enough!

Kind regards.

Patricia Morrison and Neil Burns

Review by Patricia Morrison/Neil Burns on 12 June 2015

Our guide, Lily (Liljhana?) was knowledgeable, informative and considerate and had a most delightful sense of humour. She was excellent.
The itinerary was, for us, just right. Escorted tours to fascinating places followed by much appreciated time to explore or to just relax
The Hotel Crystal (Trapani) was fine. Central, comfortable, and the food was good. Pre-ordering meals is inconvenient, but we understand the reason. A good base.
The late change to the Fiesta (Cefalu) worked well. Good location (and we understand that we would have been no nearer to central Cefalu had we stayed at Le Calette). The food was very good but the buffet was chaotic and totally illogical - the hotel might try to improve on this. But otherwise another good base.
Overall, a most enjoyable and well organised holiday. Recommended. Thank you.

Review by Dawn & John LOTT on 16 June 2015

Our fantastic guide Rosario, with his infectious smile & sense of humour, gave of himself 101% for the entire duration of our holiday.  The long coach journeys passed quickly as he imparted a huge amount of information about Sicily and the next place we were about to visit, his love of the country and his job, were very obvious.  Our coach driver Leonardo was an excellent driver negotiating busy traffic and hairpin bends with great skill - Rosario and Leonardo have to be the dream team!

The tour itinerary had so many highlights and the local guides added to the overall enjoyment of the tour.  The hotel in Trapani was in a good location and fitted the bill well, having dinner in two local restaurants was very enjoyable.

All in all, a tour MUCH to be recommended though I feel it is worth mentioning that there are some very long days with early starts, a good deal of time has to be spent in the coach getting from one place to another and inevitably there is quite a bit of standing involved while guides are talking.

Review by Sara Grant on 27 June 2015

I wish to let you know how much I liked my Western Sicily holiday.  The landscape was superb and the itinerary very well chosen.  The tour manager, Rosario, was very personable yet professional and had a remarkable knowledge of local history and customs, but also a lovely sense of humour.  Our driver, Leonardo, was most reliable and calm.
The hotels were very good, though the Athenee is perhaps more suited to a younger clientele that enjoys nightlife, than to groups wishing to relax and retire well before midnight after days spent travelling, walking and visiting sites.
The food was local, fresh and tasty wherever we eat and the group was wonderful too.  I would most certainly recommend this trip.

Review by Ms S. Lambrughi on 28 June 2015

This tour was well planned and as usual had a very good variety of excursions. Rosario the main guide was extremely knowledgeable and looked after his clients very well too. The excursions do require some walking but not excessively. The local guides were very good too and I enjoyed talking to them a great deal. There was a late change of the second hotel which was not satisfactory from the point of view of food but not Riviera’s fault, but once again it was the diplomacy of Rosario which helped to smooth this over as much as possible. Riviera are lucky to have him.  The meals organised outside the first hotel were way above and beyond what we expected! Well done. Will definitely be going on another tour with them as you get everything you need: transport, great accommodation and fabulous excursions. So much easier than organising all this yourself!

Review by Delyse Silverstone on 29 June 2015

Following our Riviera Classic Sicilian holiday some years ago we wondered if the Western Sicily tour would hold the same appeal. To our delight we found the mountainous landscape and interesting varied sights more than up to expectation. The week was totally enhanced by Rosario, our tour manager whose unfailing good humour, professionalism and caring of all needs could not be faulted.  Also he was a fount of knowledge of Sicily and all we saw. The second hotel would not be one we would choose to stay at but understood the reason for the change from Le Calette. We are looking forward to our next Riviera trip later in the year.

Review by Gillian & Keith Sargent on 30 June 2015

Once again a glorious holiday made extra special by the kind, funny, knowledgeable Rosario. Such a mine of information. He kept us entertained and informed all the time. Nothing was too much trouble. When one of our party was injured he could not do enough to help. Running around looking for a pharmacy. Such a kind man. It was good to have him on our 2nd trip to beautiful Sicily.
Our hotels were good especially the 2nd one. Food generally very good and the weather glorious even when we had a dramatic storm!. It was a very busy week and quite tiring with the heat. Not for the faint hearted. Mind you Sicily is worth evry single moment. I love it and hope you and Rosario can arrange another holiday. Perhaps A Montalbano Tour!! Thank you again.
PS Please can we have a choice of flying from Manchester or Birmingham. Gatwick is such a long way from North Shropshire. Pat Pearson

Review by Pat Pearson on 21 September 2015

We would just like to say what a fantastic holiday we had in Western Sicily. The scenery was stunning and all the excursions we were taken on were superb and the local tour guides were excellent.The hotels were very comfortable and the two local restaurants we dined at in Trapani were really good. The icing on the cake was our tour manager Rosario. His knowledge of the history and culture of Sicily was incredible and he had a tremendous sense of humour and had us entertained the whole time. He was also very caring and he really made sure that everyone was taken good care of. His passion for Sicily really shone through and Riviera are very fortunate to have him as a tour manager.

Review by David and Jackie Manning on 24 September 2015

Naturally Sicily is always magical and even in torrential rain and thunderstorms did not disappoint but the real star of our recent trip to Western Sicily was our guide Lili.  She was attentive to our every need spoken and unspoken and upbeat on every occasion whether we were huddled under our umbrellas or trying to keep upright on very slippery cobbled streets.  The week ended with our drive to Palermo airport by Vincenzo smoothly avoiding the hundreds of commuters held up by floods and Lili calmly phoning the airport to ask them to keep the check in desk open for us -  which was refused, but we arrived at last, grabbed our cases ran to the desk and arrived with a minute to spare.  Lili deserves a medal for her cool, calm efficiency. A great ending to a great holiday!

Review by Pauline Tompkins on 19 October 2015

A wonderful holiday, made even more special by our tour guide Rosario, who went way beyond what we expected.
This is our fifth Riviera trip and he was by far the best tour guide we have had.
Fantastic sties visited, which will be long remembered.

Review by Paul and Jane Chapman on 26 October 2015

We returned just yesterday from Western Sicily, Palermo and Aeolian Islands .

Due to adverse weather conditions and subsequent flooding in Palermo , we almost missed our return flight to Gatwick . However, due to the diligence of our excellent guide Lilieyana , we made it by a whisker . As it was such a rush, we did not have a chance to thank her or to say a proper goodbye .

For the entire week, she looked after us amazingly well and her knowledge was superb. Nothing was too much trouble for her.
Obviously, I don’t have her email address, so I would be grateful if you would pass this message on to her.
Thank you.

Review by Stan and Elizabeth Williams on 3 November 2015

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