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


If you are considering a vacation to Italy — and you have deep reserves of tolerance — Sicily’s tourism place of work will pay for a chunk of your continue to be to incorporate the dreamy Mediterranean island in your plans.

Less than its See Sicily program, Go to Sicily features a totally free night’s remain, a complimentary tour and a price reduction on an airfare or ferry ticket. Just after the tourism office unveiled the travel promotion two many years in the past, it’s back for 2023.

Andiamo, correct? Not so quick.

The offer is riddled with puzzling details and caveats, which include two blackout months in the summer months. I expended days hoping to organize a examination booking right before producing any progress.

Stop by Sicily designed the package deal to improve tourism, which withered for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic. In comparison to 2019 figures, tourism in Italy fell by 61 p.c in 2020 and 58 percent in 2021, according to the U.N. World Vacation Group. In 2019, about 65 million individuals visited a person of the world’s top rated tourist locations.

The offer, which is outlined on Pay a visit to Sicily’s web-site, appears easy enough. Ebook two evenings at any of the dozens of collaborating accommodations and receive a third night time totally free. You can also double the benefits with two absolutely free nights on a six-night time stay.

Furthermore, you get to pick out a “tourist support,” this sort of as a guided walking tour or a diving journey. As a additional incentive, the tourism office environment will throw in a voucher that statements to address 50 per cent of your air or ferry expenses.

But never start out packing your Dolce & Gabbana caftan however. You’re about to begin trading e-mails with journey agents performing on Italian time.

The fine print for See Sicily offers

The advertising operates by way of Sept. 30, but July and August, two of Sicily’s most well-liked 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 gradual season covering sections of winter and spring.

1 of the most noteworthy — and burdensome — prerequisites is that you need to e book by a vacation agency in Sicily.

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The math for the vacation price cut also does not add up. In accordance to the web site, the rebate is capped at $109 for domestic or continental flights and $217 for worldwide airfare. That won’t go over 50 {d8a8d447f05f03c64398acf0d3c5a745c9c41fc784ba89cd5aecd37177dc7d51} of most transatlantic tickets, which can expense about $900 in the offseason and $1,600 or additional in the summertime.

“Overall, it is probably not really worth all the effort,” explained Steve Perillo, president and operator of Perillo Tours, a New Jersey-dependent tour operator that specializes in Italy, “and it has to be booked right with Sicilian travel brokers or inns, and who is aware what trade price they’ll cost your credit card.”

Of course, any vacation deal, in particular a single for Sicily, which is acknowledged for its historic ruins, silky seashores, caponata and Marsala wine, is worthy of some effort and hard work. Or at least an endeavor.

“To some persons this would be an beautiful advertising,” explained Ann Castagna Morin, an Italian American travel adviser centered in Massachusetts, “[like] unbiased vacationers who are cozy exploring on their possess.”

What happens when you check out to e-book

The tourism workplace offers a prolonged listing of journey agencies affiliated with the offer some even have “See Sicily” in their e-mail deal with. The businesses are organized by city, these as Palermo, Enna and Trapani. When I unleashed my initially dozen inquiries, I gained 1 reaction.

The company reiterated the package specifics, which include the confounding bit about the price cut, and requested me about my getaway type (lively, peaceful, foodie), chosen class of lodging (relying on the selection of meals) and selection of outings: an “exciting” trek up Mount Etna or a city strolling tour?

I promptly replied, but I by no means read back from the corporation that signed off as the “Take it little by little Team.” (The tourism place of work sporadically emailed me back again but numerous of my concerns stay unanswered, this kind of as even more clarification of the journey voucher.)

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I submitted an additional spherical of inquiries the following night, so Sicily would welcome the new working day with messages from me.

I eagerly opened an electronic mail from Ulisse Tour Operator in Palermo. Anna Maria Ulisse advised me to study flights and share my results with her, so that she could e-book it. But she by no means replied to my observe-up issues.

The subsequent night time, aware of the desperation creeping into my textual content, I experimented with yet again, hitting up a new batch of agents.

I scored the most success this time all around. One particular agent replied, confirming my e-mail handle. Dimensione Sicilia in Catania despatched me tantalizing films of the island and of a self-drive tour, as well as a couple itinerary tips.

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“You could commit the 3 nights in Palermo, the funds town, incredibly [rich] in artwork and monuments and have a cost-free go to of Palermo or spend the 3 evenings in Catania, the 2nd most crucial metropolis and get an tour on Mount Etna, the maximum energetic volcano in Europe or stop by the lovely Taormina,” Daisy, an personnel, advised.

With Shell Vacation Agency, the fog started out to lift, and I could truly see a getaway in Sicily forming on the horizon. An agent named Alessandra defined that though her company did not supply the travel voucher, she could organize my lodging and outing.

She advisable Taormina, the seaside town in close proximity to Mount Etna that seems in Period 2 of “The White Lotus,” and a handful of excursions, this kind of as a visit to Alcantara Gorges or a city strolling tour. She just wanted my dates, and then we could finalize the excursion.

Following the days-long pursuit, I had ultimately hooked a free of charge night time in Sicily.