Saturday, April 23, 2022 DEPARTURE: Overnight flight
Departure from the US for overnight flight to Palermo. We’ll be flying into Palermo departing Saturday, April 23 and departing from Catania on Wednesday, May 3.
Airfare is not included but Celestial Voyagers can help you get the best airfare and schedule.
DAY 2: Sunday, April 24, 2022 WELCOME TO SICILY! | Meals: D | Hotel Plaza Opera 4*
Arrival in Palermo. English-speaking assistance and group transfer on arrival 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 Plaza Opera for 3 nights.
After lunch on your own, meet your travel companions for an introductory tour of Palermo. In the evening, get a taste of Sicily at a welcome dinner at a typical local restaurant, then relax and get a good night’s sleep.
DAY 3: Monday, April 25, 2022 MONREALE & SICILIAN PASTRY CLASS | Meals: B D | Hotel Plaza Opera 4*
In the morning, we drive to nearby Monreale where Arab-Norman art and architecture reached their pinnacle of glory. We will have a guided tour of its cathedral, begun in 1174 by William II, and see its famed dome covered with golden mosaics. Next, we meet the owner of a venerable bread bakery and sample the famed Pane nero di Monreale, crusty brown bread topped with sesame seeds, a legacy of Arab influence. Produced by artisan bakers by traditional methods, this bread has been designated a “traditional agri-food product of Italy”.
Return to Palermo for lunch on your own but be sure to leave room for dessert!
In the afternoon, we will participate in a traditional Sicilian Pastry Class at the Mama Corleone cooking lab. We will taste various local specialties like Frutta Martorana, exquisite marzipan sweets that perfectly reproduce vegetables and fruits artfully arranged in wicker baskets or wooden boxes. The most traditional of Sicilian sweets, Cannoli were originally prepared only during Carnival. We will learn how to make the justly-famous Sicilian Cassata Cake made from fresh ricotta studded with candied citrus fruits, layered with cake soaked in citrus liqueur, and chocolate or marzipan icing. Note that this class may be rescheduled for Tuesday, depending on availability at Mama Corleone.
In the evening, join the group for dinner at our hotel.
In the morning, we explore the lively Capo Market, a large open-air street market that captures the colors, aromas, and flavors of Palermo's Saracen Arab past. This hodge-podge of general confusion amidst a jumble of vendor stalls winds toward the old gate (Porta Carini) of what used to be the city wall. You will learn about seasonal products at the market and meet some of the vendors. Taste typical Palermitan Street Food like arancini (crispy-fried stuffed rice balls), panelle (chickpea flour fritters), potato crocchette and Sicilian beers.
After lunch with the group at a local spot, explore Palermo on a guided walking tour including the Cathedral, Piazza della Vergogna, Quattro Canti, the Politeama Theatre and the Massimo Theatre.
Free evening for dinner or a snack and a glass of vino on your own. We can make recommendations and reservations.
DAY 5: Wednesday, April 27, 2022 TRAPANI AND MARSALA | Meals: B L | Hotel Carmine Marsala 3*
After breakfast, check out and depart to Trapani on Sicily’s far western coast, about 1½ hours. We’ll have a private tour of Trapani followed by a cooking demonstration of Sicilian-style couscous, a legacy of its Arab inhabitants, today found in Sicily only in Trapani, which is close to the North African coastline where it is the national dish of Algeria and Morocco. Enjoy the couscous for lunch accompanied by local Trapani wine.
After lunch, we continue to the Marsala salt pans with its windmill, a charming place, where the "culture of salt" has shaped the territory in the wake of a tradition passed down through generations.
In the early evening, relax and take part in the rite of Italian Aperitivo served with olives and "bruschetta" facing the Salt Pans. Then proceed to our hotel in the Marsala city center.
Dinner, if you’re still hungry (!) is on your own in Marsala.
DAY 6: Thursday April 28, 2022 MARSALA VISIT & WINE CELLERS | Meals: B L | Agriturismo Feudo Muxarello (farm-inn)
We’ll stay two nights at Agriturismo Feudo Muxarello. With its extensive plantings of herbs, vegetables, fruits and olives, we will have the chance to experience the exquisite quality of locally-grown, seasonal, fresh-picked produce on a Sicilian farm. Upon arrival, lunch will be at our Agriturismo prepared from the products of the farm.
After lunch, visit Marsala, the charming city that gave birth to the world-famous fortified 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 will tour the fascinating baglio (Arab-style inner courtyard) and the modern underground barrique room, followed by a professional tasting at the historical wine cellars of Cantine Florio in Marsala accompanied by small tasting plates
During this trip, we’ll be sure to have the iconic Sicilian pasta dish, Pasta alla Norma created in Catania, Sicily and named for the Bellini opera Norma. The original recipe is made with large macaroni, tomato, fried or grilled eggplants, grated ricotta salata, and basil.
DAY 7: Friday, April 29, 2022 AGRIGENTO & SOUTHERN SICILY | Meals: B L | Agriturismo Feudo Muxarello (farm-inn)
We depart on a scenic drive to Agrigento 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 built from tufo (soft volcanic stone) in the center.
The Temple of Concordia is the most well-preserved of the temples because it was transformed into a church. The Temple of Juno still boasts 25 of its original 34 columns. The Temple of the Dioscuri is the most symbolic, while the Temple of Hercules is the oldest. Together with the Temple of Zeus, these five giants dominate the Valley of the Temples.
After lunch at a local restaurant in Agrigento, we return to our agriturismo to explore the extensive grounds and have a demonstration on the making of fresh ricotta cheese with a tasting and learn how it is used in iconic Sicilian desserts like cannoli, and cassata.
DAY 8: Saturday, April 30, 2022 SCICLI, MODICA & NOTO | Meals: B L | Hotel Ferro 4*, Modica
After breakfast early in the morning, we depart for Scicli, a 50-mile drive through spectacular scenery. We begin a wonderful day with a walking tour of the elegant historic center of Scicli set in a large valley between rocky hills where three valleys come together.
We proceed to Gli Aromi, a farm that specializes in growing fragrant culinary herbs where we will tour their fields and then taste their products at lunch at the farm.
We’ll stop in Noto, with its famous cathedral, designated the UNESCO European Capital of Baroque as seen on the Corso Vittorio Emanuele with its fabulous mansions.
After, we drive to Modica where we see a demonstration and tasting of traditional chocolate In Modica, stone-ground as was done in Mexico and brought directly to Sicily by the Spanish in the 16th century.
Our overnight stay is at the centrally located Hotel Ferro in the heart of baroque Modica.
DAY 9: Sunday, May 1, 2022 SYRACUSE & ORTIGIA | Meals: B D | Hotel Villa Fiorita 3*, Taormina
After breakfast, we depart for Syracuse and visit the important sites of this town that dates back to the ancient Greeks.
On to Ortigia, about 30 minutes away, for a private cooking class beginning for lunch using seasonal products of the region. Possibilities include 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 and a salad of oranges and fennel. For “dolce” perhaps cassata siracusana or ricotta ravioli fried with honey and cinnamon.
After lunch, we will have free time to stroll through the town with its artisan shops and walkable streets.
We travel on to Taormina on Sicily’s east coast and check into our hotel for our last two nights.
In the evening, wander the narrow medieval lanes of Taormina and then choose a restaurant for dinner on your own. Perhaps you will order delicate, ultra-fresh anchovies fried or grilled, a dish enjoyed throughout Sicily
DAY 10: Sunday, May 2, 2022 MT. ETNA & TAORMINA | Meals: B L | Hotel Villa Fiorita 3*, Taormina
After breakfast at your hotel, we depart for a cable car ride over the slopes of Mount Etna, best seen early in the day. We then visit a local beekeeping company with a tasting of their honey and other local products. We then meet our local guide for a walking tour back in Taormina through the Corso Umberto to see the Greek Theater overlooking Mount Etna and the Bay of Giardini Naxos. We’ll have a tasting of granita, known in Philly as “water ice”. Typical flavors include Sicilian lemon, mandarin orange, jasmine, coffee, almond, mint, black mulberries and even wild strawberries. Granita is always accompanied by brioche, the light-rich yeast pastry familiar from French cuisine and likely of Norman origin.
We’ll enjoy a Gala Farewell lunch at Gambino Wine Cellars on the slopes of Mt. Etna.
After lunch, we tour Taormina with time afterwards to explore on our own and grab a bite and a glass of wine for our last day in Sicily.
DAY 11: Monday, May 3, 2022 ARRIVADERCI SICILIA | Meals: B |
After breakfast, drive to Catania Airport for flights home (or extend your stay in Sicily--we can help).
INCLUDED ON THIS TOUR
- Nine night’s accommodation, double occupancy
- Daily breakfast at the hotels
- Welcome dinner (drinks not included)
- Six lunches (drinks not included) at restaurants and as part of cooking classes
- Four dinners (drinks not included for most meals)
- Bottled water on coach and with meals
- Coffee and tea with meals
- Expert commentary, culinary advice and background by Chef Aliza Green
- All culinary activities and excursions in the program.
- Three cooking classes and two wine tastings at wineries
- English-speaking assistance for airport arrival and departure
- Professional English-speaking local guide for the visits in the program
- All entrance fees to museums and historic sites
- Luxury, private coach for transfers and excursions
- Daily city tax at the hotels
- VAT and Local taxes
NOT INCLUDED ON THIS TOUR
- Single room supplement
- International flights between US and Palermo and between Catania and the US for the return
- Beverages (other than bottled water, coffee and tea) with lunches and dinners
- Meals not mentioned in the program
- Gratuities to guides and drivers (we will help with suggested amounts)
- Trip cancellation and travel insurance (travel insurance is required)
- Passport and visa fees as needed (Note: if you are not a US citizen a visa may be necessary; a green card is compulsory.)
All passports must expire at least six months after the trip end date
so after November 3, 2022
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