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Sicily with Go Ahead Tours

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We took a 12 day tour of Sicily with Go Ahead Tours this July. We had always travelled independently and weren't sure we would like a group tour but the final results were good. We considered a fly/drive but when the guide books say things like you can drive in Palermo but it will take years off your life I was a little deterred. We chose Go Ahead because you had a lot of free time on your own if you wanted it, the price was good and the company got generally good reviews on the internet. We also knew this was not a luxury tour.
Some of the best things are obvious- they transport you everywhere, check you in at the hotel and move your luggage-no stress.
The single most impressive part of ths tour were the guides. The tour director was excellent-she did suggest some additional group activities- we passed on two and did one which was fun-she didn't pressure. The local guides were fabulous. We have had some terrible guides in the past and were surprised at the high qulality of the five different guides. We agreed we could never go back to the earphone recorded guides that are available at so many tourist sites today.
Worst -Go Ahead changed the hotel in Agrigento and didn't tell anyone in advance. This hotel was in a terrible location and not the same quality as the one in the brochure. It was several miles from the center of Agrigento and on a very ugly strip of commercial buildings and next to a MCDonalds. We had to pay 40 Euros for a cab to take us to the historic center of Agrigento and eat dinner. Name is the Kore hotel and I reviewed it on Trip Advisor.
Best- The upgrade to the Hotel Villa Diodoro in Taormina. A fabulous hotel- see Trip Advisor.
The other two hotels- the Mecure in Palermo and the G Tourist Hotel in Siracusa were both good hotels-see trip advisor.
The three dinners included in the tour price were all excellent-and all included wine.
We took two optional tours- Segestra and Erice- don't miss them and a lunch at a contessa's farm outside Siracusa- the single most fabulous meal of the trip -we couldn't eat dinner that night.Everyone else in the group took the Mt. Etna tour- we didn't- some loved it others thought it wasn't worth it.
We really enjoyed all the places the tour went. Palermo is dirty and noisy but as the guide said-look up- lots of beautiful architecture and the two included trips to Monreals and the Norman Palace are great.
Valley of the Temples in Agrigento is fabulous and the historic center of Agrigento is very charming.
Don't miss the mosaics at the Roman Villa near Pizza Armerina.We've never seen anything like them.
Archeological park and Ortygia Island in Siracusa are both fascinating and charming.
Taormina is breathaking and beautiful. We spent the last two days there wandering the streets, going to the beach and pool. Very relaxing.
Food- there are no bad meals in Sicily and there is a lot of fabulous past and fish and wine.
Cost- When we ate on our own lunches ran 20-25 Euros with wine/beer-dinners 50-65 Euros with wine. Most dinners were pasta and/or fish-usually one course. Not cheap but not as expensive as some of the horror stories you hear about travel in Europe.
Nicest gesture from Go Ahead- the rest of the group-20 people- had to get up at three in the morning to catch their flights from the Catania airport- our flight was the only later one and they sent us in a taxi at seven.
Sicily is hot in summer- we had to go then but if you have a choice go in the spring.
Will we take another go ahead tour- probably- we think we can do cities on our own but we like some of their other tours- we keep wondering if we would ever get the excellent guides that they had. I also didn't miss trying to find hotel on our own or getting lost while driving which has happened more that I want to remember in the past.
Our flight were excellent and everyone except one member of the group agreed. For some reason she was routed through Frankfort, then Rome then Palermo by Go Ahead- arrived late and had to find the hotel on her own.

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