Gastronomy Tour of Sicily: Food, Wine, Cooking Class

A 8 day trip to Italy 
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Puffs of smoke drift into the blue sky from the various craters of Mount Etna. Vineyards sweep across the foothills adding lush vines to the rugged landscape and absorbing the unique characteristics of the terrain. A local chef prepares artichokes in a farmhouse overlooking the lush prairie, and a decadent aroma fills the kitchen. Your gourmet Sicily tour shows you the flavors of the island, from brilliant wines to eclectic cuisine, ancient architecture to exquisite Mediterranean waters. Discover majestic Greek ruins and Norman mosaics, each day adding a wealth of pleasures for the senses. 

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General Information

Photos
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Palermo City, Sicily, Agrigento, Siracusa, Mount Etna, Taormina, Erice, Piazza Armerina

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: A Taste of the City

Palermo is a city of surprises, draped in energetic streets and buildings connoting a certain romance of Sicily’s history. The Old City blends the eclectic styles of past invaders, from Moors to Spanish, creating a vibrant melting pot. You arrive at the airport, and one of our Sicily travel companies will have a private transfer waiting. The aroma of citrus and olives emanates from the groves nearby. Craggy hills intersperse the golden grass and ripple along the clear blue sky.

Settle into your opulent hotel in the heart of the city and indulge in your first taste of the traditional Sicilian cuisine at dinner. After your meal, you venture out for a tour of the city by night. The entire landscape seems to change, empty of its original energy, and now filled with an ethereal and serene glow from the streetlights. Sporadic music spills out of popular cafes where locals enjoy a sip of limoncello or dessert wine.

Teatro Politeama was constructed in the 19th-century in a neoclassical style. In the evening light, the exterior columns surrounding the upper exterior shimmer, their textured frames more visible beneath the ornate swirl of their ionic styling.  

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

Day 2: Diversity of the Countryside

Sicily has become the central meeting point between Africa and Europe, Asia and the West. Sicily shimmers with Mediterranean heritage and hints of diverse cultures blending into the overall lifestyles of the people. At breakfast, the aroma of Turkish coffee filters through the air. The thick and rich drink brings pep to the morning.

After breakfast, your private transfer meets you at the hotel to escort you out of Palermo and on to Segesta, an ancient village at the Western edges of the island. The ancient roots of the city date back to the early Greek settlements. The earthen aroma of olive trees emanates from near the magnificent Doric temple. The temple grounds date back to the 420s BC and were built by an Athenian architect. The base of the temple measures approximately 67 by 179 feet on a platform elevated by three steps. The hills in the background have a mountainous quality, with small rocks protruding from the grass.

After your wine tasting tour in the afternoon, you arrive at an 18th-century villa. The scent of palm trees mixes with the rich aroma of olive trees and the sweetness of the vineyards surrounding the estate. Your guide teaches you about the main ingredients of a local specialty in the province of Trapani. Couscous alla trapanese is a fish and seafood-based dish mixed with the delicate grain to create a depth of luxuriant flavors.  

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

Day 3: Precious Landscape  

The morning stretches over the countryside to cast brightness over the hillsides and azure Mediterranean coastline. On the outskirts of the city, you can spot white windmills with red conical roofs. The fans twirl in the soft breeze and help desalinize the water, separating the salt from the sea, draining the water into the saltpans and draining the water slowly, leaving the minerals behind.

After breakfast, you make your way to Agrigento, once the fourth-largest city in the world and home to the island’s impressive Greek ruins, known as the Valley of the Temples. Greenery cuts through the craggy cliffs and adds lushness to the rustic landscape. When you reach the valley, you find a series of temples built on the ridge. The temples were meant to greet sailors after long journeys away from land.

The park encompasses over 3,212 acres with the most notable temples located on the western side of the archeological park. The Doric Temple of Tempio di Giove covers an area of 358 by 179 feet with columns standing as tall as 64 feet. At the base of the temple lies a copy of a 25-foot tall statue knocked over from an ancient earthquake; the original stands in the Museo Archeologico. The sheer size of the unfinished temple’s remaining columns shows the magnitude of possibility.

After your visit to a 3rd-century Roman villa, you continue to the farmhouse near Piazza Armerina where you can indulge in the rich, authentic flavors of a farm to table dining experience.

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

Day 4: Tasting the Mountain

After breakfast, you make your way to the modern city of Siracusa that connects effortlessly to its ancient roots. After your tour of the city, you visit Tenuta San Michele, located on the slopes of Europe’s highest volcano, Mount Etna, standing over 10,991 feet above sea level. A historic noble family runs the estate and the encompassing vineyard. The scent of rich soil and verdant vines rises from the vineyard. You have an amazing view of the smoldering summit.

Your guide leads you through the rows of vines, letting you touch the leaves and feel the supple grapes, dig your fingers into the arid dirt, and breathe in the aroma of the landscape. You make your way into the cellar where you can see the wine barrels resting in the cool climate of the underground storage facility. There you can sample the celebrated wines, known for their mineral qualities from the vines absorbing the characteristics of the terrain. The Etna Roos has a light body and elegant perfume. The peppery note adds a delicate spice on your tongue letting the wine accompany slightly richer flavors.

When your wine tour finishes, you go to the gourmet farmhouse for a cooking lesson. Your chef specializes in the provincial cuisine of Catania, an area looking out to the sparkling waters of the Ionian Sea. You notice the Greek influence in the food, from the pistachio to olives. You learn from the chef that the most popular dish in the province is manicotti.

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

Day 5: Along and Away from the Crater

Take in the enormity of Mount Etna and the beauty of nature’s power with an exploration of the National Park around the crater. Your guide meets you at the hotel and takes you up to Rifugio Sapienza, the southern point situated around 6,000 feet above sea level. In the winter, snow is on the mountain slopes reminiscent of a ski resort. In the summer, the lush grass blankets the undulating slopes.

Your guide urges you upwards to approximately 9,344 feet above sea level. You can see the perfect conical shape of Bocca Nuova, spouting a black hue, and the youngest of the four surrounding craters in the area. Your guide leads you as close to the crater as safety allows. Smoke billows out of the earth like a chimney, puffing into the empty sky. In 2013, the crater known as Torre del Filosofo was covered by the volcanic eruption. The wonders of the landscape continue to inspire you as you head down the mountain.

Once down the foothills, you transfer to Taormina, a chic, comfortable city situated on a hillside filled with medieval churches, an ancient Greek theater, and panoramic views stretching from the peak of Mount Etna to the transparent azure waters of the Gulf of Naxos. 

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

Day 6: Rustic Sicily

In the morning, you can hear the calm waters lapping at the pebbled shores near town. The sunlight turns warm quickly and glistens off of the sea. You make your way to the classic province of Castellana Sicula, known for the medieval towns speckling the green pasture. Many of the locals maintain an innate sense of Sicilian tradition. You arrive at a farm encompassing verdant fields for an unparalleled cooking class using traditional methods to create regional cuisine. The rich aroma of garlic and fresh artichokes fills the kitchen. You can hear goats bleat and cows moo from the pasture.

You follow your chef’s lead and dip the artichoke hearts into a pan of simmering olive oil. You toss the cooked spaghetti into the pan with the artichokes and oil, adding pepper and Parmesan cheese to create a tangy and savory dish that is both light and refreshing in the Sicilian afternoon sun. The rustic ambiance adds to the flavors of your lunch, taking you beyond the meal and into the traditions of Sicily and those sharing your meal.

Continue to the artistic and ancient village of Polizzi Generosa situated on a hilltop overlooking the lush valley and rolling mountains along the Madonie Mountains Natural Park.

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

Day 7: Precious Palermo

The morning moisture creates a layer of clouds circumventing the valley below. You can look out over the valley and see sporadic peaks poking through the mist. For a brief moment, it looks like a cloud blankets the landscape beneath the town before dissipating in the warming sunlight. After breakfast, your private transfer takes you back to Palermo for a tour of the marvelous city and the continuing grandeur of its ancient sites.

The Norma Palace was built in the 9th-century and stands at the highest point of the city’s ancient center. Arabic characteristics are present in the historic vaults before the Normans conquered the city in the 11th-century and built the royal chapel. The chapel combines Arabic, Norman, and Byzantine architectural styles between the doors, arches, dome, and mosaics. The mosaics texture the ceiling and dome with colors and historic figures. On the north wall, you find the image of St. John in the desert. The gilded arches encompass saints glinting in the soft light pouring through the upper tiers of the nave. Vendors fill the streets with local delights, from arancini, stuffed rice balls coated with breadcrumbs and fried, to sfincione, a thick and soft dough baked with a layer of tomato sauce and onion creating a unique blend of mild flavors and intoxicating aromas.

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

Day 8: Strong Flavors Remain

In the morning, you indulge in your last Sicilian breakfast, filled with the aroma of strong black coffee and a brioche brushed with sweet homemade jam. The zesty scent of fresh oranges drifts through the cobbled streets blending with the rich stone walls. The coastline undulates between the shallow indigo water and the white hues of the pebbled beach pressing against the city. Ballaro Market fills with people in search of fresh produce. The market erupts with activity, from vendors calling out the fresh catch of the day, to shoppers gazing at the rainbow colors of the squash and lemons.

After breakfast, your private transfer meets you at the hotel and escorts you to the Palermo International Airport for your flight home. Your time in Sicily has shown you how elegant history and tradition can be, showcasing the current culture and cuisine of the island.

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.