Departure from the U.S.A. Airfare is not included but Celestial Voyagers will be happy to help you select the best air fare and schedule. We’ll be flying into Palermo departing Friday, May 8 and returning from Catania on Thursday, May 21.
Arrival in Palermo. Upon arrival, assistance and group transfer is included. If you will be arriving on a different flight, private transfer to your hotel in Palermo is available at an additional cost.
Check-in at Hotel Porta Felice for 3 nights. After lunch, take the remainder of the day to settle in and rest or perhaps stroll through the nearby streets. Meet your travel companions at a welcome dinner in a local restaurant specializing in Palermitan cuisine within walking distance from your hotel.
In the morning, we will explore the lively Capo Market, a large open-air street market that captures the flavor of Palermo’s Saracen Arab past. Capo Market is a blend of general confusion in a jumble of vendor stalls, winding toward the old gate (Porta Carini) of what was once the city wall. During the tour, you will learn about typical products sold there. Enjoy Palermitan Street Food. Meet local vendors and experience traditional foods like Arancini (crispy-fried stuffed rice ball), panelle (chickpea flour fritters), potatoes crocchette and Sicilian beers.
After lunch, we will enjoy a guided walking tour of Palermo including The Catedral, Piazza della Vergogna, Quattro Canti, Politeama Theatre and the Massimo Theatre.
Enjoy the rest of the evening and dinner on your own. We will be happy to make recommendations and reservations.
Today we will drive to Monreale, which is about 30 minutes, where Arab-Norman art and architecture reached the pinnacle of its glory. We will have a guided tour of its cathedral and the cloister. Begun in 1174 by William II, its famed dome covered with golden mosaics depicts scenes from the Old and New Testaments. After a short walk to a venerable bread bakery, we will meet the owner. Here the famed Pane Nero di Monreale, a crusty brown bread finished with sesame seeds (a legacy of Arab influence) is produced using a careful slow process. Thanks to the tenacity of artisan bakers in Monreale, the bread is still made according to traditional methods and has been awarded the designation “traditional agri-food product of Italy” by the European Community
We will return to Palermo where you will have some free time for lunch.
In the afternoon, we will visit a local bakery in Palermo and participate in a traditional Sicilian Pastry Class at the Mama Corleone cooking class lab. We will taste various local specialties including Frutta Martorana, an exquisite marzipan sweets that perfectly reproduce vegetables and fruits and artfully arranged in wicker baskets or wooden boxes. Frutta Martorana appears in almost every Sicilian pastry-shop window, especially during the Festival of the Dead, on November 2, along with Cannoli, the most traditional of all Sicilian confectionery products originally prepared only during carnival season. We will learn in detail how to make the justly-famous Cassata Cake made from fresh ricotta studded with candied citrus fruits, layered with cake soaked in citrus liqueurs, and chocolate or marzipan icing.
Spend the remainder of the day on your own to enjoy and explore Palermo.
Dinner at the hotel or local restaurant.
After breakfast, check-out and depart to Trapani: 68 miles drive, about 1 ½ hour.
Enjoy a private cooking demonstration of Sicilian-style couscous (another legacy of Arab inhabitants) accompanied by local Trapani wine (Baglio Soria or similar). Couscous spread throughout the Mediterranean following the route of the Arabian spice and fabric merchants.
We will continue to the Marsala salt pans, a charming place, where the “culture of salt” has shaped the territory in the wake of a tradition passed down through generations.
Before departing, take part in the rite of Italian Aperitivo served with olives and “bruschetta” facing the Salt Pan. Then we will continue to Hotel Carmine in Marsala city center where you will check-in for your 2-nights stay.
Enjoy our next fascinating tour of the baglio (Arab-style inner courtyard) and the modern underground barrique room with a professional tasting at the historic cellars in Marsala (Cantine Florio or similar ). This world-famous fortified wine will be served at lunch to accompany traditional Sicilian dishes. After lunch, visit Marsala, the charming city that gave birth to this famous wine. Here, civilizations following one another over the centuries left important architectural remains including the Thermal Baths dating from Roman times. The historic center of the city, whose main monument is the cathedral dedicated to St. Thomas of Canterbury, was founded by the Normans.
We return to the hotel. Enjoy the rest of the evening and dinner on your own.
Depart to Agrigento for a 2 ½ hours drive where we will meet our guide to visit the Valley of the Temples (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). Here, the fascination of ancient history is enhanced by the beauty of its location with the sea on one side, the old city-hill on the other, and the majestic Doric style temples rising in the center. The subtle tones of the tufo (soft volcanic stone) from which they are constructed create a picture-perfect setting.
The Temple of Concordia is the most well-preserved of the temples, having been transformed into a church. The Temple of Juno still boasts 25 of its original 34 support columns. The Temple of the Dioscuri is considered the most symbolic, while the Temple of Hercules is the oldest of them all. Together with the Temple of Zeus, these five giants dominate the Valley.
Then, continue to a local farm for a Ricotta cheese demonstration (Feudo Muxarello if available). Learn how it is produced and used in Sicily’s most iconic desserts such as cannoli, and cassata. The experience continues with lunch at the farm made from typical seasonal produce such as eggplant, tomatoes, capers, fragrant herbs, etc.
After lunch relax during the 3-hours scenic drive to Agriturismo Kallikoros Resort & Spa, located 30 minutes away from Syracuse and 15 minutes from Noto.
Check-in at Agriturismo Kallikoros for the next 3 nights. Enjoy the rest of the evening and dinner on your own.
After an early breakfast, depart to Scicli, it’s a 50 miles drive.
This wonderful day begins with a walking tour of the historic center of Scicli and a visit to a beautiful herb farm where an aromatic tour will inspire cooks and gardeners alike. The visit will conclude with a tasting of local products on a terrace overlooking the beautiful southern coast.
Proceed to Modica, about a 20-mile drive, and enjoy lunch on your own.
In the afternoon we will stroll through the streets of Modica and witness a demonstration of traditional Modicano chocolate making, (Vico dei Santi if available). We will have plenty of opportunities to taste this chocolate in its many delicious flavors along with other delectable temptations. In the afternoon return to Kallikoros, via Noto. Dinner and overnight at the resort.
After breakfast, we depart to the beautiful island of Ortigia, known as “the white pearl of Syracuse”, about 30 minutes away. We will enjoy a private cooking class of traditional cuisine beginning at the market where the chef-instructor will explain, select and demonstrate fresh seasonal Sicilian vegetables, fruits and seafood. On the tour we will have a tasting of savory and sweet Sicilian specialties and we’ll decide what to cook for lunch according to what is the best at the market. Possibilities include fresh pasta like ravioli with pesto made from deep-green Bronte pistachios for “primo”. The “secondo” could be scabbard fish rolls with crab or eggplant meatballs with basil accompanied with a salad of oranges and fennel, and a dessert like cassata siracusana or ricotta ravioli fried with honey and cinnamon. The cooking class will take place at the warm and welcoming cooking school in the heart of charming Ortigia. After lunch, we will have free time to stroll through Ortigia with its artisan shops and walkable streets. Back to the resort. Dinner at leisure if you still have an appetite!
In the morning depart to Taormina, about 2 hour’s drive. We will meet our local guide for
a walking tour through the Corso Umberto and the narrow medieval lanes of Taormina. We will visit the Greek Theatre, which overlooks Mount Etna and the Bay of Giardini Naxos.
Next, we will have a cooking lesson at a renowned pizzeria in Taormina (Villa Zuccaro if available).After a welcome toast with Sicilian Prosecco, we will learn about yeasts and flours and how to make pizza dough. After topping and baking our own pizzas we will share them at lunch with some local appetizers. Our finale will be a tasting of Granita (sorbet or as those of us from Philly know it “water ice”). Flavors include Sicilian lemon and mandarin orange, jasmine, coffee, almond, mint, and even wild strawberries and black mulberries. The granita is accompanied by Brioche, a light-rich yeast pastry likely of Norman origin.
Spend the rest of the afternoon at leisure in the charming little town which offers great shopping. Then, leave Taormina and the hills to go to Giardini Naxos, 6 miles away along the coast, and check-in at Sant Alphio Garden and Spa Hotel for 3 nights.
In the morning, we will depart for Etna (up to 1800mt, Rifugio Sapienza). We spend the morning walking around the craters on Mt. Etna accompanied by our expert guide with incredible views all around. Afterwards we will visit a local winery and enjoy lunch under the trees accompanied by the award-winning wines that thrive on Etna’s slopes with the help of an expert Sommelier. After lunch, we will have a pleasant interlude at a beekeeping family-run business and its honey-extracting lab to taste a selection of honey, wines, extra-virgin olive oils and other typical Etna produce. Back to your hotel and dinner at leisure
Depart to Catania (about 1 hour drive). Walking city tour including Catania Fish Market brimming with the daily catch of local fishermen. Enjoy a light lunch of market food with fresh fish right on the market. (Scirocco Fish lab if available). Free time in Catania for last minute shopping before returning to your hotel for our group Farewell Gala Dinner.
Transfer to the airport. Departure for home.
Group transfer is included. Individual transfers would be additional.
Itinerary is subject to possible changes or adjustments due to weather and traffic conditions or other unpredictable events.