Flavors of Sicily Tour: Wines, Private Cooking Classes & Excursions

A 8 day trip to Italy 
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On the volcanic hills of Mt. Etna grow luscious vines absorbing the varied nutrients of the soil. Orange and olive groves run through the valleys. Farmhouses produce dishes equally as enchanting as award winning restaurants. On your custom tailored Sicily tour, your senses will come alive, enhanced by the gourmet gastronomy and traditional heritage derived from an amalgamation from around the Mediterranean. The wine has succulent notes, the pastries practically melt in your mouth, and the coffee is deeply layered with flavor, every moment bringing another treasure of both cuisine and history for you to savor. 

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General Information

Photos
olive oil with bread and green olives on a gingham tablecloth
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Palermo City, Sicily, Agrigento, Siracusa, Mt. Etna, Taormina, Piazza Armerina, Erice

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: In the Cool of the Night

The beauty of Palermo shimmers in the Mediterranean Sea and along the cream-colored stone constituting the Norman Palace in the heart of the historical city center. The scent of oranges blossoms from the orchards that encircle the city. Cobblestones pave the streets and alleyways underneath rustling palm trees. You arrive at the Falcone-Borsellino Airport, where your private transfer is waiting to greet you. You find your luxurious hotel situated near the heart of Palermo, surrounded by the lush history, where a multitude of cultures has added their particular charm to the skyline and cuisine for millennia.

After dinner, your guide greets you at your hotel and escorts you through the city streets for an evening tour of Palermo to introduce you properly to the antique city. Consider learning more about your highly rated tour operators for Sicily, and read for yourself how they work carefully to craft this trip to be the most memorable one you will ever go on. At dusk, a small marine layer washes over the streets, providing a cool atmosphere to the often-warm days. The streetlights have a radiant glow against the stone and narrow lanes of the old city. When you reach Vucciria Market, the quiet streets turn raucous, filled with the vibrancy of youth. Locals sit in cafes with tables crowding the walkways. They sip wine and coffee, nibble on Sicilian cannoli filled with ricotta sprinkled with pistachio, and watch what feels like the entire city pass by them.    

What’s Included: transfer, dinner, tour, accommodation

Day 2: Sampling the Classics

In the morning, the aroma of foamy cappuccino blends with the fresh pastries, including ciambelle, an enticing gigantic donut with a soft texture dipped in sugar. The scent of orange zest is prevalent around the island, which brings brightness to the day, whether in the big city of Palermo or the countryside near Segesta. The ancient city sits on the edge of a deep canyon amidst desolate mountains rolling into the distance.

The ruins date back to the 5th century BC and create a majestic atmosphere against the rugged backdrop. There are 36 giant columns that represent the remains of the marvelous temple that once stood in the city. When the wind blows, you can hear the whistle cast by the columns, producing an array of sounds similar to an organ. The outline of the temple remains, stretching 68 feet by 183 feet. The Doric temple was never completed but remains an inspiring sight, even when the wind isn’t blowing.

In the afternoon, you continue to Marsala and arrive at a villa outside of the city, where your private chef and instructor greets with you an enthusiastic welcome. He leads you into the kitchen where an abundance of fresh, local produce absorbs the countertops filling the room with an eruption of color and soon to be traditional regional flavors. When the class is over, you have a beautiful sarde a beccafico before you, a Sardinian Warbler with the aroma of pine nuts and lemon filling the kitchen.  

What’s Included: breakfast, dinner, guided tour, transfer, accommodation

Day 3: Remnants of the Romans 

In the morning, the unique landscape around the island’s western province shines with a jade quality around Marsala. It is the largest contiguous grape-growing region in Italy. Marble paves the streets of the city, and baroque buildings linger along the walkways leading to elegant piazzas. The history of Marsala dates back to the Phoenicians in the 4th century BC. The inspiring past of Sicily radiates around you, from the Greek temples at Agrigento to the lavish Villa Romana del Casal outside of Piazza Armerina. The Roman country villa dates back to the 4th century AD and primarily served as a hunting lodge.

With more than 37,673 square feet of mosaics around the villa, the lives and lavish lifestyle of the inhabitants becomes clear. Your guide leads you through the villa, pointing out the difference in rooms. Some were residential; others had a specific purpose, including thermal baths and a basilica. One of the main mosaics known to the villa is informally called “The Bikini Girls.” The artwork depicts a series of women in the midst of activity, from throwing a ball to lifting weights. Another character in the scene holds a crown in her hand. The vivid colors of the mosaic bring the artistry to life.    

What’s Included: breakfast, dinner, guided tour, transfer, accommodation

Day 4: Tasting the Volcano

In the morning, the sweet smell of baked brioches fills the air, accompanied by the slightly bitter and milky waft of a frothy cappuccino. After your visit to the ancient city of Siracusa, which was once the largest city in antiquity, you continue to the estate of Tenuta San Michele, located on the slopes of Mt. Etna. The mountain is the largest active volcano in Europe, rising to 10,922 feet above sea level. The estate of Tenuta San Michele is located on the hillsides near a little village between Catania and Taormina, with exceptional views to the volcanic summit.

The rugged terrain of Mt. Etna is visible beyond the lush grass and gentle swaying trees surrounding the 64-acre vineyard. The volcanic properties of the land provide fertile and unique nutrients for the vines, which in turn create the delectable flavor of the wine. You tour the grounds with your guide, noticing the open views to the Mediterranean in the foreground and Etna’s summit in the background. In the tasting room, your guide pours you a sample of the Etna Rosso. The aroma of dark cherries and cranberries lifts from the glass. The flavor of balanced tannins lingers with a smoky, earthy quality you can’t help but savor.

What’s Included: breakfast, dinner, guided tour, transfer, accommodation

Day 5: Earth to Sea

There is something satisfying about looking onto the rugged mountaintop of Mt. Etna from a distance, holding a freshly brewed cup of espresso to start your day. The emerald grass and vines around the estate soon fade into a craggy volcanic landscape of the upper reaches of Etna. Your guide leads you to Rifugio Sapienza, situated at 6,233 feet above sea level. You can reach the nearby inactive Silvestri craters. The peak of the mountain looms above you. The colors of the Silvestre craters glow a rustic red against the sporadic blossoming greenery. A local expert can guide you higher up the mountainside. The volcano has experienced various types of eruption styles, including voluminous lava flow.

Your guide leads you to the eruption points from which dark plumes rose from the mountainside in 2002. The pure power of the mountain gives way to utter beauty, from the quality of the encircling terrain to the decadent flavors of the food produced in the area. The air is crisp and pure the higher up the mountain you go. You can see fissures caused by the 2002 eruption winding down the highlands. When you return to the Rifugio Sapienza, you continue down the mountain and onward to the resort style town of Taormina, terraced on the cliffs with an unparalleled view of the azure waters of the Ionian Sea.  

What’s Included: breakfast, dinner, guided tour, transfer, accommodation

Day 6: Tasting the Traditions of the Countryside

The scent of the sea litters the air with a bit of salt, and the confections of breakfast combine together to a perfect harmony of sweetness. Take in your panorama of the seaside sweeping into the foothills of Mt. Etna. After breakfast, your guide leads you out of Taormina and into the internal region of the island filled with small ancient villages, each dedicated to their cultural heritage, showcasing their strong Sicilian traditions. In Castellana, you find the golden hills rolling across the skyline, an image of a distant time and a treasured slower pace. The herbaceous aroma of the countryside lingers in the gentle breeze.

You arrive at a farmhouse where your local chef extraordinaire is eager to share his traditions with you in the best way to learn about his culture, with food. Your chef offers you some Carolea olives. The scent is fruity, but the flavor has a quick bitterness, which subsides into a savory finish. The first dish your chef introduces to you is simple but classic for the region: baked rice seasoned with mortadella and packed with eggs, eggplant, pork, cheese, and ladled with vegetable soup. The aroma in the kitchen grows stronger and makes your mouth water. Each dish you prepare embodies the essence of the community around it, from the hillsides to the history, creating an inherently authentic Sicilian meal in the end. 

What’s Included: breakfast, lunch, dinner, guided tour, transfer, accommodation

Day 7: Crossroads of the Mediterranean

After breakfast, you return to Palermo, the city at the crossroads of the Mediterranean, having seen the likes of Norman conquerors and Spanish kingdoms, Arab sailors and Byzantine artists. The familiar sight of the Norman Palace remains the historic center. The base of the palace dates back to the Phoenicians in the 8th century BC. The palace stood as the tallest point in the historic city center as an Arab castle, transformed by Norman kings around the 11th century. The cultural symbols and architecture somehow blend in the grandeur of the palace today.

When you enter the grounds, you find the Cappella Palatina, designed and constructed in the 12th century. Stunning mosaics decorate the interior outlined in gilded frames. Marble floors sit beneath the vaulted wooden ceiling resembling a honeycomb, an image of the interior Arab origins. The south wall of the nave depicts a series of saints and biblical stories, telling tales in radiant color along the Moorish arches. The graceful atmosphere stems as much from the Norman artistry as the Arabic architecture, combining to create something unique, and truly symbolic of Palermo. After your journey through Palermo, you make your way to Monreale in the afternoon to visit the ancient village and visit the exceptional Norman Cathedral.

What’s Included: breakfast, dinner, guided tour, transfer, accommodation

Day 8: Sweetness of the Morning 

Morning washes over Palermo and gives the historic streets a golden sheen. The cobalt waters of the Mediterranean lap against the natural harbor. The enticing aroma of mulberry granita begins to fill the city. Almond cookies fill bakery windows and richly colored espressos set down on café tables. The delicious qualities of the city come to vigorous life in the Mercato di Capo, the marketplace lining Via Volturno, known for the delectable vendors along the street. After breakfast, your private transfer meets you at the hotel and escorts you to the Falcone-Borsellino Airport for your flight home, where the sweet flavors and succulent aromas of Sicily are sure to follow.

What’s Included: breakfast, transfer 

Price

Starting Price 

$2,195
This trip is customizable for your private travel.

What's Included 

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.