How to book a free night in Sicily through a travel agent


If you are contemplating a vacation to Italy — and you have deep reserves of patience — Sicily’s tourism business will spend for a chunk of your stay to contain the dreamy Mediterranean island in your plans.

Beneath its See Sicily application, Stop by Sicily gives a absolutely free night’s keep, a complimentary excursion and a price reduction on an airfare or ferry ticket. Just after the tourism office unveiled the travel advertising two yrs back, it’s again for 2023.

Andiamo, correct? Not so fast.

The deal is riddled with bewildering specifics and caveats, together with two blackout months in the summertime. I expended times attempting to arrange a examination reserving just before building any progress.

Stop by Sicily designed the offer to enhance tourism, which withered for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic. When compared to 2019 figures, tourism in Italy fell by 61 percent in 2020 and 58 per cent in 2021, in accordance to the U.N. Globe Vacation Business. In 2019, about 65 million people today visited a person of the world’s prime tourist locations.

The offer, which is outlined on Take a look at Sicily’s site, appears to be straightforward sufficient. Reserve two nights at any of the dozens of collaborating accommodations and acquire a 3rd night time free of charge. You can also double the rewards with two absolutely free nights on a 6-evening remain.

Additionally, you get to decide on a “tourist services,” these as a guided going for walks tour or a diving excursion. As a even more incentive, the tourism business office will toss in a voucher that statements to deal with 50 per cent of your air or ferry costs.

But never start off packing your Dolce & Gabbana caftan nonetheless. You are about to start out trading emails with journey brokers doing the job on Italian time.

The good print for See Sicily features

The advertising operates as a result of Sept. 30, but July and August, two of Sicily’s most well-known months, are blacked out. Some of the lodgings, which vary from lodges and condominium rentals to mattress-and-breakfasts and campsites, are shut in the course of the slow time masking pieces of winter and spring.

One particular of the most noteworthy — and burdensome — requirements is that you have to guide by means of a travel company in Sicily.

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The math for the travel price cut also does not insert up. According to the web page, the rebate is capped at $109 for domestic or continental flights and $217 for international airfare. That will not cover half of most transatlantic tickets, which can expense about $900 in the offseason and $1,600 or far more in the summer.

“Overall, it’s most likely not worthy of all the exertion,” mentioned Steve Perillo, president and proprietor of Perillo Excursions, a New Jersey-primarily based tour operator that specializes in Italy, “and it has to be booked directly with Sicilian travel agents or lodges, and who is familiar with what trade level they’ll cost your credit card.”

Of system, any travel offer, particularly a single for Sicily, which is recognized for its historic ruins, silky shorelines, caponata and Marsala wine, is well worth some effort and hard work. Or at least an try.

“To some people today this would be an beautiful promotion,” claimed Ann Castagna Morin, an Italian American journey adviser based mostly in Massachusetts, “[like] unbiased tourists who are relaxed exploring on their individual.”

What happens when you test to guide

The tourism business delivers a extensive list of vacation agencies affiliated with the deal some even have “See Sicily” in their e mail tackle. The corporations are structured by city, these kinds of as Palermo, Enna and Trapani. When I unleashed my initial dozen inquiries, I obtained a person reaction.

The company reiterated the package information, including the confounding bit about the price reduction, and requested me about my trip model (lively, relaxed, foodie), most well-liked class of lodging (dependent on the range of foods) and choice of outings: an “exciting” trek up Mount Etna or a town strolling tour?

I quickly replied, but I never ever listened to again from the firm that signed off as the “Take it slowly and gradually Workforce.” (The tourism office environment sporadically emailed me again but many of my inquiries continue being unanswered, these as more clarification of the journey voucher.)

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I submitted a further spherical of inquiries the next evening, so Sicily would welcome the new day with messages from me.

I eagerly opened an electronic mail from Ulisse Tour Operator in Palermo. Anna Maria Ulisse advised me to exploration flights and share my findings with her, so that she could guide it. But she never replied to my stick to-up questions.

The future evening, knowledgeable of the desperation creeping into my text, I tried using all over again, hitting up a new batch of brokers.

I scored the most accomplishment this time around. Just one agent replied, confirming my e-mail tackle. Dimensione Sicilia in Catania despatched me tantalizing videos of the island and of a self-drive tour, as well as a number of itinerary strategies.

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“You could devote the 3 nights in Palermo, the capital town, extremely [rich] in art and monuments and have a absolutely free check out of Palermo or expend the 3 nights in Catania, the second most critical town and get an tour on Mount Etna, the greatest energetic volcano in Europe or go to the lovely Taormina,” Daisy, an staff, advised.

With Shell Vacation Agency, the fog started off to elevate, and I could basically see a vacation in Sicily forming on the horizon. An agent named Alessandra discussed that while her company did not give the travel voucher, she could prepare my lodging and outing.

She suggested Taormina, the seaside city around Mount Etna that seems in Time 2 of “The White Lotus,” and a couple excursions, such as a take a look at to Alcantara Gorges or a metropolis going for walks tour. She just necessary my dates, and then we could finalize the vacation.

Soon after the times-extensive pursuit, I had lastly hooked a free of charge evening in Sicily.