Sicily Food Adventure

8 days
from
$2,649 USD
incl. taxes
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Activity level:
Leisurely
Activity Level: Leisurely
Trip code: 
ADY
Ways to Travel:
Guided Group, Private Group Adventures
Activity:
Culture
Group size:
6–18
Ages:
16+

Enjoy world famous Sicilian food while visiting the best heritage sites

From cannoli to arancini, Sicilian food is world famous, but on this tour prepare to be overwhelmed at how varied and diverse Sicily’s cuisine really is! The various civilisations that have occupied the island over millennia have not only left an unparalleled cultural heritage, but also a culinary history that sets Sicily apart from mainland Italy. Sample Palermo’s fragrant street food in its vibrant markets, practise hands-on cooking with local chefs in Trapani, sip the finest wines in Marsala and Etna and indulge in mouth-watering gelatos whilst relaxing in sun-kissed Baroque piazzas. Let food lead the way in this captivating journey through culinary and cultural highlights.

Highlights

  • Wander through colourful markets and try Palermo's unique street food
  • Enjoy a hands-on cookery class with a local chef in Trapani
  • Sample a variety of local specialities during the included produce and wine tastings
  • Visit unique heritage sites and Baroque cities, including Agrigento and Noto

Key information

  • 7 nights 3 and 4-star hotels with en suite facilities
  • 8 days land only / flight inclusive
  • Group normally 6‐18, plus leader. Min age 16 yrs
  • Travel by air-conditioned private minibus 
  • Countries visited: Italy

What's included

  • All accommodation
  • All breakfasts, 2 wine tastings, 1 cookery class and 5 food tastings/lunches included.
  • London flights (if booking incl. flights)
  • Airport transfers (if booking group flights or alternative flights arriving before or at the same time as the group)
  • Transport by private air-conditioned minibus throughout the trip
  • Special guided tours in main UNESCO sights and cities

What's not included

  • Travel insurance 
  • Single accommodation 
  • Visa or vaccinations
  • City taxes (approx. €10-15)
Call for general departures:
1 844 227 9087
Call for private group trips:
1 844 227 9087
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Responsible Travel

Tourism can be a real help to local communities, providing income, positive cultural exchanges and a financial incentive to protect their natural environment. Ours is a 'total approach' to responsible tourism, covering everything from the way we plan and operate our trips to the practices of Exodus as a company. 

As much as possible, we try to use accommodations that are locally owned or at least employs local staff and uses local produce. This ensures that our visit has a positive effect on employment levels and economy in the region.  Being on a trip that is primarily focusing on food, there are plenty of opportunities for clients to support local enterprises from their visits to street food vendors, local cafes and restaurants through the recommendation of our local guides.

In the Coastal town of Trapani, there is a hands-on cookery course with a local chef where clients get the opportunity to learn more about the interesting culinary fusions with the help of traditional regional recipes. When in Marsala, clients get to enjoy some of the best wines from the region and support local production. We also visit a family run farm in the countryside near Ragusa, to witness a cheese making demonstration and tour around the farm.

In March 2019, Exodus Travels launched the Exodus Travels Foundation where we support initiatives all around the world. But it cannot exist without travellers who care. Get involved or learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus here

Itinerary

Palermo
to
Catania
  • Day 1

    Start Palermo.

    This tour starts in Sicily's regional capital, Palermo. This busy port city situated on the north-western coast of the island encloses some very interesting and often overlooked attractions. There is some fine architecture to be admired, as well as good museums, palazzi and churches. It is the city's food scene, colourful local markets and long established food shops, however, that give the city a very original and eccentric character worth discovering.

  • Day 2

    Explore Palermo, its famous markets and indulge in the city's fabulous street food; afternoon optional visit Monreale and its Duomo.

    We start our week with a special guided foodie tour through the historic centre of Palermo, ranked amongst the best cities in the world for street food. During our walk we wander through carts and kiosks of street vendors, colourful markets and local bakeries whilst trying some of the best local specialities. These may vary depending on the season and usually include arancini (fried rice balls stuffed with meat sauce and cheese), panelle (fried chick peas pancake), and sfincione (Palermo’s traditional pizza) - all absolutely delicious. As we walk, the local guide will reveal some of the secrets of Sicilian street cuisine and explain the history of the city, while pointing out notable monuments and historic streets such as Piazza San Domenico, Vucciria, Quattro Canti. The rest of the day is free; you may decide to continue sightseeing in Palermo at your own pace or take an optional visit to Monreale, famous for the extraordinary Duomo, considered the greatest example of Norman architecture in the world. Overnight in Palermo.

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 3

    Transfer to Trapani; hands on cookery class with a local chef; continue to Marsala and sample the town's world famous wines.

    In the morning we transfer to our next destination, the coastal town of Trapani. The local gastronomy in this part of Sicily is strongly influenced by the Arabs, who occupied the area for many centuries until the Normans took over. A hands-on cookery course with a local chef will give us the opportunity to learn more about the interesting culinary fusions, while practising (and tasting!) traditional regional recipes. In the afternoon we head to the southern town of Marsala, internationally famous for its finest fortified wines. A wine tasting will be offered after a tour of one of the best local wineries. Overnight in Marsala.

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 4

    Morning visit to olive farm for olive oil and produce tasting; transfer to Agrigento for a guided tour of the Valley of the Temples.

    In the morning we leave Marsala and transfer to a traditional organic olive farm, run by the Centonze family, owner of the estate since 1953. We will learn of the cultivation and production methods and sample some of the world's finest olive oil accompanied by local produce. In the afternoon we transfer to the iconic sight of the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento. A guided tour will allow us to discover and learn of the history of this splendid archaeological park, which consists of eight temples (and various other remains) built between about 510 BC and 430 BC. Overnight in Agrigento.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 5

    To Piazza Armerina; guided tour of the famous Villa Romana del Casale followed by a delicious produce tasting; afternoon visit the charming town of Ragusa Ibla.

    Today's destination is Piazza Armerina, home of world famous Villa Romana del Casale. Built in the 4th Century AD as a hunting lodge by a Roman patrician, the villa is home to some of the best preserved Roman mosaics spread over around 3500 square meters. After a guided tour of this extraordinary UNESCO sight, we enjoy a delicious produce tasting of local sicilian delicacies. In the afternoon we transfer to the Baroque gem of Ragusa, without doubt one of the most beautiful cities in Sicily and Italy. The town is part of the Val di Noto UNESCO Heritage site and 18 of its buildings are protected by UNESCO patronage. After a short orentiation walk we will have time to enjoy a relaxing and well deserved aperitivo (word for the traditional Italian pre-dinner drinks and snacks) in one of the town's elegant piazzas. Overnight in Ragusa.

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 6

    Transfer to rural farm for cheese tasting; on to UNESCO Baroque town of Noto; time to explore and transfer to Catania.

    We start our day with a transfer to a family-run farm in the countryside near Ragusa, a province where cheese making traditions are stonger than anywhere else in Sicily. After a cheese making demonstration and a tour around the farm we will sample some delicous cheese, including the famous ricotta, hand-made by the proud owners. Later, we transfer to the other Baroque gem of the Noto Valley, the town of Noto itself. After a relaxing stroll through what is considered one of Sicily's most beautiful historic centres, we have the opportunity to enjoy another staple of Sicilian cuisine: the famous 'granita' (thin flakes of ice flavored with fresh fruit or nuts and sugared) accompanied by the traditional 'brioche' (a soft and fragrant sweet delicacy). In the afternoon we transfer to Catania, our base for the last two nights of the tour.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 7

    Visit the loud and fast-paced fish market; travel to Etna for an excellent wine and produce tasting and short walk; return to Catania.

    After breakfast we visit the famous Pescheria, the colourful, loud and smelly fish market, which is one of the oldest and biggest in Italy. Held every morning except Sunday, this market is everything one expects an Italian market to be: following the local traditions, fishermen will try to attract buyers with their loud voices and lots of gesticulations. Nearby there are also fruit and vegetable stalls as well as other delicious local produce from the mountain villages around Etna. Later this morning we transfer to a famous wine cellar on Mount Etna and enjoy a delicious wine and produce tasting for lunch, followed by a short walk around the highest most active volcano in Europe (1 to 2 hours walking depending on time, 5 km maximum). We return to Catania in the afernoon and in the evening our leader will recommend an excellent local restaurant where to enjoy a celebratory farewell dinner.

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 8

    End Catania.

    This tour ends in Catania in the morning of day 8.

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info

Visas

Vaccinations

Italy

There are no specific health risks.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts, 2 wine tastings, 1 cookery class and 5 food tastings/lunches included.

Sicilian cuisine is a melting pot of all the different cultures that have occupied the island, from the Arabs to the Normans. The island itself is incredibly fertile, enjoying a perfect climate which is ideal for the cultivation of fresh produce such as olives, oranges, lemons, eggplants, tomatoes, pistachios, almonds, grapes, and more—not to mention all of the seafood, tuna and swordfish fished right off the coast. The result? A cuisine that’s fresh, varied, and absolutely delicious! Sicilian wines are also superb and known to be strong and syrupy, like Marsala and Moscato. These are some of the regional specialities we recommend to try during this trip:

Caponata: a tasty salad made with eggplant (aubergines), olives, capers and celery, makes a great appetizer.
Sfincione: a local form of pizza made with tomatoes, onions and (sometimes) anchovies. Prepared on a thick bread and more likely found in a bakery than in a pizzeria.
Pane e pannelle: A favorite street food of Palermo, panelle—or chickpea fritters—are served between bread, like a sandwich.
Arancine: fried rice balls stuffed with meat or cheese.
Pani ca meusa: The name of this street food means, literally bread with spleen! But don’t let that scare you. It is delicious speciality of Palermo!
Cannoli: tubular crusts with creamy ricotta (made from sheep's milk) and sugar filling. A must!
Cassata: a rich, sugary cake filled with the same delicious filling.
Pasta alla Norma: it’s made with fried eggplant, tomatoes, basil, and salted ricotta.
Pasta with pistacchios pesto.
Pasta con le sarde: Sardines are popular in Sicily, so it’s common to see them as a topping for pasta. One common variety is bucatini with sardines, fennel, saffron, pine nuts, and raisins.
Frutta martorana: Other places call this 'marzipan' but here in Sicily, the almond paste is molded into little (incredibly realistic) fruits—hence fruits of Martora, or frutta martorana.
Cassata siciliana: A sponge cake is soaked in liqueur, its slices layered with sweetened ricotta, and the whole thing covered in almond paste, then icing. It is also studded with candied fruits and other goodies.
Granita: The perfect summer refreshment, granita, originally from Sicily, can now be found all over Italy. It’s just ground ice with sugar and fresh fruit, simple but truly delicious.
Involtini di Pesce Spada: Little rolls of thinly sliced swordfish are stuffed with pine nuts, raisins, bread crumbs, anchovy filets, orange juice and lemon juice, eggs and grated pecorino.
Tonno e Spada Affumicata: Smoked tuna and swordfish shaved paper thin, and layered on a plate. These can be accented with shaved fennel and oranges, or olives and sun-dried tomatoes, or can be served with just a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and some good crusty bread.

Weather

Sicily has a good all year round climate, with plenty of sunshine and warm/hot temperatures. The summer departures ought to have daily hot sunshine and temperatures can reach 30 to 35 degrees. The earlier and later departures are likely to be cooler with a slightly higher chance of rain. In late summer there is the possibility of heavy thunderstorms, but these are usually short-lived.

Is this trip for you?

Grade: 1 (Leisurely) This is a very relaxing week where you can enjoy excellent regional gastronomy while visiting the most beautiful and important heritage sights and towns of Sicily. All the transfers will be by private air conditioned vehicle. Due to the distance covered during the week some of the drives are quite long but should never exceed 4 hrs (including stops).  Please note that due to traffic restrictions in place in a lot of the historic centres visited you may have to carry your suitcase over cobbled pavements, although the bus will be leaving you as close as possible to your hotel. When this is not possible, portarage service will be provided and it has been included in the cost of the trip. Please also be aware that sometimes hotels don't have a lift. Sicily can also be very hot, possibly high 30s in the summer months from June to September. The excursion on Mt Etna is on foot and we walk for up to 1 hour on hilly terrain of old dried lava, rocky ash and sand. The walking isn't too strenuous and will be done at a leisurely pace. The overall Activity Level for this trip is 1 (Leisurely) meaning that it is suitable for all people who are in good health and fitness.

Following a review of all our trips we have categorised this trip as not suitable for full wheelchair users, but it may be suitable for other persons of reduced mobility. Please contact customer services to discuss the trip and your personal condition.

Call for general departures:
1 844 227 9087
Call for private group trips:
1 844 227 9087
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

3 and 4-star hotels

On this trip we use 6 different comfortable 3 and 4-star hotels. Some of them have been chosen for their warm hospitality and typically Sicilian character and others for their convenient location. They are often located in proximity of the historic centres we visit so that we can easily explore the towns in the evenings or during our free time. All rooms have en suite facilities and some hotels have a pool and WiFi.

List of hotels normally used:

Palermo: Hotel Posta 3*

Marsala: Hotel Carmine 3* (on 16th October 2022 departure we use Hotel Villa Favorita 4*)

Agrigento: Hotel Dioscuri 4*

Ragusa: Hotel dell'Orologio 3*

Catania: Hotel 20 Miglia  4*

Call for general departures:
1 844 227 9087
Call for private group trips:
1 844 227 9087
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Call for general departures:
1 844 227 9087
Call for private group trips:
1 844 227 9087
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

  • Reviewed May 2022

    Well worth waiting for: the first post-Covid trip!

    We first booked this trip to travel in April 2020, and had postponed it 3 times before we heard it would happen - and with fewer restrictions/requirements as the departure date approached, for which we were most grateful.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Too many to mention, but street food in Palermo markets, lunch in Piazza Armerina, and all the incidentals associated with visits to local producers (meeting water buffalo herd, cookery lesson near Trapani). Visits to cultural sites were a good contrast: it was interesting to see how they had developed and changed since we visited over 15 years ago. The fact that, despite its being the first tour for over 2 years, it all seemed to run smoothly.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Rosario was really enthusiastic about the history and culture of his home island, and ready to transmit this in his good English; he also has a good sense of humour, which may have been tested at times. He managed to deal with the varying requirements of the group, and was always ready with recommendations of ways to spend any spare time, or places to eat. Our driver, Maurizio, was excellent, both at negotiating some of the roads and dealing with slight changes to the route, in particular being led through Piazza Armerina by a police car, rather than having to wait for an hour while the Giro di Sicilia passed through.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't expect a restful holiday! Apart from at the beginning and end, with 2 nights each in Palermo and Catania, we stayed somewhere different every night; that provides a challenge for sensible packing. if you're going in early April as we did, you may need some warmer clothes to deal with the time in Ragusa, Noto and Mt. Etna: while the UK was having a heatwave, we were all scrabbling for extra layers to cope with the cold winds!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    It would have been good to visit Siracusa (as in the original itinerary) and possibly Taormina, which would mean a longer tour - and perhaps slightly more relaxed. if you make the trip longer, would it be possible to arrange a trip from Palermo to Cefalu? It was the original French capital of Sicily, and has the first cathedral, which is like a mini-Monreale.
  • Reviewed May 2022

    Food and culture

    As we'd first booked to travel in April 2020, this was a much-anticipated break, and our first one travelling abroad, and it really went well. It was the first post-Covid trip, so we weren't sure that everything would happen as expected, but it was well organised, and all eventualities catered for. We were impressed by the range of food tasting opportunities (too many to mention), particularly the chance to visit small producers who are obviously diversifying from their original production - and the street food in Palermo was a revelation! We also enjoyed the cultural visits, but would have liked to visit Siracusa (on the itinerary when we originally booked).

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the range of produce in local markets, and tasting regional products in their locality.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Rosarios was great fun, but well organised, and took account of the various requirements (particularly dietary) of our varied group. His English was pretty good, and he was extremely knowledgeable about the history and culture of Sicily - and eager to share it. He was also helpful in suggesting where to go in the limited spare time, and on places to eat (though there were some evenings when we didn't need to, after the tastings of the day). Maurizio, our driver, was extremely good, and very patient with us and the odd hiccup with traffic conditions. He did a wonderful job on some intersting roads.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't expect this to be a restful holiday! There's a lot of travelling, even with stops for tastings or cultural sites, and it's only at the beginning and end that there are 2 nights in the same place. Palermo airport seemed very well organised; Catania not so much. Be prepared for much waiting around in between check-in and boarding. Gatwick was extremely well run on our departure, but earned a few black marks on our return: no staff to move a stairway to the plane for disembarcation, and long waits before baggage arrived.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I think it would be worth making this a slightly longer tour, to include Siracusa and Taormina in the east, and possibly a day trip to Cefalu from Palermo/. Cefalu was the original French capital, and has an earlier, scaled-down version of Monreale with its own cathedral.
  • Reviewed May 2022

    An excellent return

    This was my first holiday outside the UK since the first covid lockdown and it was excellent. The group remained covid-free for the entire week - a bonus! Rosario was enthusiastic and energetic throughout. As his first group in 2 years, he was determined to ensure we enjoyed ourselves!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I loved the quality and quantity of fruit and veg in the different food markets we visited in Palermo (and watching the non-veggies attempting to eat certain local delicacies).

    What did you think of your group leader?

    As before - he was excellent. Not only was he knowledgeable but also his spoken English was really good. Maurizio the driver deserves praise too for safely negotiating spaces scarcely wider than his vehicle.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't think that holidays are restful in any way! If you fancy a rest, I'd recommend extending the holiday by a few days. Arriving a day or two early ensures you start the holiday well-rested rather than tired from rising very early for the group flight. Plus add a day or two at the end if you'd like to see Taormina which sadly isn't included in the current tour.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I'm sorry that covid led to small changes in the tour - for example I was looking forward to tasting the range of local cheeses near Ragusa and was sorry we didn't go to Taormina. However having any holiday at all post-covid was a thrill!
  • Reviewed May 2022

    Great mix of food and culture packed into just 8 days

    Great way to spend a week in Sicily. The trip is pretty busy, moving on most days, packing in the main sights and a lot of food! I enjoyed the mix of history (valley of the temples and the roman villa) with the food and culture aspect, particularly the visits to the local producers and food market trips.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    For me the valley of the temples, made even better by the great guide.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Rosario was a great guide, very knowledgeable of all aspects of Sicilian history, culture and food. Organised us well and provided good options for what to do with any spare time we had, allowing me to make the most of these limited times.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Not much time to unpack in each location so dont take too much! Catania airport is a crazy place, be prepared to queue.
  • Reviewed April 2022

    Sicily Food Adventure

    We booked this trip to go in 2020 and finally made it in 2022. It was well worth the wait. It was everything we'd hoped for and more. Bustling local markets, stunning Greek/Roman temples, fascinating architecture (the baroque balconies), a chance to walk on Mount Etna and of course all the amazing food and wine. There were certainly plenty of opportunities to sample the delights of Sicilian food and wine with our superb guide, Rosario.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were so many great moments on the trip but for me it was all about the food: meeting the buffalo before sampling the mozzarella cheese; the cooking lesson where we ate what we had prepared; the olive oil tasting and seeing the olive trees which were still producing the olives even though they were hundreds of years old; the wine tasting at Mount Etna and the sumptuous lunch that went with it; sampling the Marsala wine; several buffet lunches where we had the chance to eat the local produce and trying the street food from the market in Palermo. It truly was an indulgent week.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Rosario has a great sense of humour and obviously enjoys his job. He has clearly put in the time to research all the activities and would give guidance on what to see in our free time and recommendations of restaurants in the evening. We couldn't have asked for a better guide.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Try everything, even some of the strange street foods - you never know you might like it!
  • Reviewed December 2019
    Diana Barker

    Sicily Food Adveenture

    Our week in Sicily was the highlight of 2 months in Europe. The places we visited, and stayed, and the food experiences we enjoyed were well planned to make for a varied tour: a mixture of popular tourist sites and low-key personal off the beaten track ventures all designed to keep a group of 6 well-travelled 70s year olds stimulated but not over taxed. Guide Rosario was a wonderfullyorganised yet relaxed companion who who treated us as friends not customers (and driver Giuseppe was great to be with as well. Thoroughly recommended.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The picnic of market-bought treats, in a Palermo pub. Cooking lesson. Exploring Greek, and Roman, remains. Gelato. 'Climbing' Mt Etna.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Absolutely the best. It was like being with a favourite member of the family, one who knew his stuff inside out.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Just do it.
  • Reviewed December 2019
    John Daley

    Sicily Food & Wine Tour

    With 6 in our group and with our guide Rosario and our driver we did a one week tour of Sicily. It was magic. We saw wonderful sights, were taken into old medieval homes, learned how to make pasta, climbed Mt Etna, saw great cathedrals, learned of the Mafia and ate wonderful food. Our guide and driver were wonderful and we had such fun together. All our needs were attended to and we became good friends. I can heartily recommend this tour.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    See above

    What did you think of your group leader?

    See above

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If possible keep to a small group. This allows you to be more involved with the guide

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Wonderful
  • Reviewed September 2019
    Delia Forester

    Well done Rosario & Guiseppe!

    If you idea of a Mediterranean holiday involves languorous lie-ins & bobbing about on a Lilo with a spritzer, forget it! We were an international group of 16. We were very busy. We visited places we could not have found independently, and discovered the secrets of wine, olive & cheese production. We sampled lots of lovely Sicilian foods, visited food markets, feasted on caponata & pesto made by ourselves, tried street food ("what IS that?" - "Cow spleen-its very popular...."). The trip was quite hectic, Rosario our excellent guide had us whipped into shape from the start- NO lie-ins, no matter how much we consumed the night before. We were on the coach by 8 or 9 am, ready to face what the day presented. It was also full of contrasts, from busy markets to gentle countryside, from chi-chi resorts to the blackened slopes of Mount Etna, we got a real flavour of Sicily, including even a bit of Inspector Montalbarno. Rosario joined in with us and was both helpful and caring of our various needs, and Guiseppe our driver was just brilliant. A kind, friendly, helpful, careful driver who lugged our suitcases as well as driving and looking after us. The relatively small coach easily negotiated roads that would have been tricky for a bigger bus. Most of the hotels were perfect for our needs, and mostly very well located.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Too many to mention- The excellent Archaeologist/guide at the Valley of the Temples, smoky Mt Etna, sunsets over the Mediterranean, the clubby atmosphere around the street bars of Palermo, the Roman mosaics, paddling across the Causeway to Isola Bella, the amphitheatre at Taormina.....

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Rosario was an excellent leader, fully involved with our varied group, caring, fun, sympathetic, well-organised. His English pretty much perfect, and his knowledge of Sicily beyond compare. Crucially he always managed to find us a clean toilet stop without anyone having to ask!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    A hat & comfortable shoes, suitable for walking city streets AND climbing Mt Etna, are essential. Don't over pack, you are unlikely to UN-pack. Drink plenty of water. There is a fair amount of time spent on the coach, but it's well divided up. Beware Catania Airport, which is much too small to handle all those passengers.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Just to thank Rosario and Guiseppe for their kind professionalism.
  • Reviewed May 2019
    Christine Meusz

    Lots to see and lots of food

    This is a busy week with a lot crammed in to a short space of time. As you would expect, a lot of the scheduled activities are food and drink related but there's also some sightseeing. After two nights in Palermo, you transfer to a different hotel every night so there's little in the way of down time but you certainly get a flavour of Sicilian life and culture - and, of course, food! The hotels were a bit of a mixed bag - some better than others but all of them were adequate for one night - we particularly liked the Hotel Carmine in Marsala.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Probably the (optional) walk at the top of Mt Etna with stunning views. And, although I wouldn't describe it as inspirational, we really enjoyed the cookery lesson - and eating the results!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Rosario was friendly, helpful and knowledgable, ensuring everyone got the best out of the trip. As the only vegetarian/pescatarian on the trip, he had made sure that the organisers of the scheduled food tastings and activities (such as the cookery lesson) were prepared with suitable options for me.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Travel light - there are lots of opportunities to purchase food and drink to take home so you'll need room in your suitcase.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This is quite a hectic, whistle-stop tour which could easily occupy ten days at a more leisurely pace. If we'd had the time available it would have been good to stay on for a few days relaxing at the end.
  • Reviewed May 2019
    David Gartside

    An enjoyable week with lots to see, do and taste!

    We chose the trip after seeing an advert in the Guardian and decided that it sounded fun - mixing food and drink experiences with archaeology, history and geography. We weren't disappointed. Though we don't normally go for group holidays, this trip worked well. The opportunity to share food and drink tastings with the group added a dimension that would have been missing if we had been on our own. Rosario, our guide, and Maurizio, our driver, both worked dilgently to ensure we really enjoyed the trip - getting us to everywhere we needed to be without fuss or bother, and handling queries and minor problems with unfailing patience and good humour. In a relatively short time, we saw a good cross-section of the island, and came back with happy memories and a much stronger 'mental image' of Sicily. Thanks to all concerned who made this work.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Hard to choose....! The cathedral at Monreale (Palermo) with seemingly every surface covered with mosaics was amazing. Similarly the temples at Valle dei Templi near Agrigento. Ragusa Ibla was a fascinating hilltop village which repaid careful exploration. The trip up Etna was well worthwhile - the snow and gale-force winds a stark contrast to conditions at sea-level. On the food side of things the market visits in Palermo and Ortigia, and the olive farm were memorable, though in fairness to all the other locations, we were warmly welcomed and treated as honoured guests by owners and staff.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Rosario worked hard throughout the trip to make sure we got the most out of it , without being pushy or bossy. He quickly gained the confidence of the group, answered a myriad of questions (on a wide variety of topics) with enthusiasm and insight, and routinely gave us sufficient information about the next few hours' activities without overloading us with minutiae. As appropriate, he organised local restaurants for evening meals and was a good person to have around to help navigate menus, clarify issues etc. He seemed to cope well with the occasional personal issues that arose, treating the person with the issue with respect, while not overlooking the needs of the wider group.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The trip is described as 'leisurely' and in terms of physical effort that is probably about right if you choose to take a laid-back approach. However, the days were long and action-packed (not complaining) and the various stops offered lots to see and do - so in practice you could be on the go for big chunks of time. Warm clothes (layers best) and decent walking shoes / boots essential for the Etna excursion. Several people commented that they wish they'd brought a decent map to keep track of our progress. I had the TCI:Touring Club Italiano 1:200 000 Sicily with me, that was more than adequate. Available locally or from Stanford's in London ~ £10.00

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The hotels were the usual eclectic mix - some with great character: eg Hotel Carmine in Marsala, Hotel dell'Orologio in Ragusa Ibla; some with a good location eg Hotel Villa Esperia on the coast road in Mazarro (close to, but away from the tourist throng of Taormina) . Some people were unimpressed with the Hotel Posta in Palermo, but we were fine with it. The Jolly Aretusa Palace (what a name!) in Syracuse was OK but not brilliant - no idea whether there are better alternatives. The booby prize goes to the Hotel Dioscuri in Agrigento/Santa Leone. On paper and from the outside it looks fine - seaside location, generous plot etc, but the reality disappoints. The room was fine but the walls terribly thin and hence neighbour noise an issue. The hotel handles a lot of tour groups (I do realise the irony of this comment) and struggles to cope - especially at breakfast where service was overwhelmed and finding things became farcical.

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