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Your Words - We tell it like it is! Holiday Reviews by previous Exodus travellers  

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  • 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.
  • Reviewed May 2019
    Gordon Frankland

    A Very Mixed Bag

    Our first experience of Sicily so chose this holiday. It gave us a mixture of culture, Greek, Roman as well as modern. A variety of food and drink experiences as well as exploration of the countryside. The small group and an excellent leader made for very good holiday travel.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Going to the top of Mount Etna in unseasonal snowy weather.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Rosario was very well informed and caring. He conveyed his love of the area to the group. He obviously had made many contacts which enabled us as a group to participate with local people.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Not really a relaxing week. Be prepared for a variety of activities from early morning until evening.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    A positive experience for our first time with Exodus
  • Reviewed May 2019
    Peter Day

    Sicily Food and Culture Trip

    A great balance of food and culture - all of the highlights covered, and no food specialities left untasted. The itinerary was a perfect blend of food and culture, and the itinerary itself was perfect - nothing could really be improved upon.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The Roman villa mosaics

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Rosario was excellent. He looked after every detail of the trip, was always available to assist with any question or problem that arose. Incredibly enthusiastic, and a native Sicilian, he acted as our entree to Sicily.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    While classified as level 1, there was a great deal of walking on some days - up and down stairs in most locations, and while detail is provided under "Is this trip for you?", the word "leisurely" is a little misleading, and it would be worth reclassifying the trip to at least a 2! That said, in many places, there were options to do more or less strenuous activities. e.g. at Mount Etna, there were three grades of activity possible. While nothing more could have been included within the 8 days of the tour, travellers may consider adding two-three days on their own to visit Cefalu (including a trip to one or more of the Aeolian Islands) which is easily accessible by train from Palermo. The other locations visited relied on in-depth local knowledge, and some of the attractions are only accessible by private transport, so it would be impossible or impractical to visit most of the places we went to if you did your own thing in Sicily.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The tour is at least as much about culture as it is about food, and while this is detailed in the trip notes, it might be worth reflecting this in the title of the trip.
  • Reviewed May 2019
    katherine ruch

    a lovely trip

    I travelled with my husband and we have both enjoyed our trip. our guide Titsiana was excellent, being informative, friendly, accommodating and anxious to ensure we all enjoyed our trip. Timings of all pick ups and activities was perfect. Activities including wine tasting, cheese making, cookery and olive oil tastings were all enjoyable and very well organised.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    trip to mount Etna was fabulous although quite expensive at 130 euros for a couple. Also the cookery and cheese making were excellent.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    group leader w as excellent. very friendly and welcoming. enthusiastic, courteous and anxious to ensure our trip ran to plan and was enjoyable.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    two of the hotels were of a poorer quality. The hotel Poste in Palmero was a bit shabby but not too bad. The worst hotel was the Jolly ... Palace Hotel for the last night. This was very shabby with stained and chipped furnishing, rusting air vent in bathroom, dirty walls and no air conditioning. This hotel should not be used as it spoils the quality of the trip as a whole. no need to bring a thick coat for Mount Etna as you can hire a thick coat for 4 euros at the ticket office. If you don't want to do four flights just to get to Sicily and back, book your own flights.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Please take the last hotel off your list. It is anything but a Palace Hotel! very enjoyable trip. If I had known that this trip involved changing at Rome on the outward journey and Milan on the return I would not have booked it. It took 10 and a half hours to reach Palmero due to waiting for flights, delayed flights and having to change gates.
  • Reviewed May 2019
    SANDRA MATLACK

    Lovely experience

    This trip was an excellent experience blending history and tourist sites with food experiences. The itinerary is well done. We were a small group of 7, and got along well, and our guide Tiziano was energetic and good natured, and attentive to everyone's needs. He was very organized and everything went off as planned. He was also personally helpful to me on 2 occasions, with forgotten eyeglasses and arranging individual transport to the airport. I really enjoyed all the tasting/eating experiences, including olive oil, cheese farm, wine tastings, cooking class, street food tour in Palermo, and group dinners. We moved a lot, staying one night in most places, but that was enough to see everything, and get a feel for the towns. The travelling distances were not very long between towns, so we had plenty of walk around time. My only criticism would be of the choice of the Siracusa hotel, which could be greatly improved, even if it meant charging a bit more for the trip. The rest of the hotels ranged from decent to lovely. Would definitely travel with Exodus again. Great value.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The church in Monreale with the breathtaking mosaics. Also the Greek temples in Agrigento.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    our guide Tiziano was energetic and good natured, and attentive to everyone's needs. He was very organized and everything went off as planned. He was also personally helpful to me on 2 occasions, with forgotten eyeglasses and arranging individual transport to the airport.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Go a day earlier- but not on a Sunday like I did- and try to see the mosaics in the Palatine chapel in Palermo. Also taxis are very expensive in Sicily to/ from the airports, so if you do your own transport, be aware of this. You need to be pretty fit to do the Mt Etna excursion to the top, as air is thin and walking is precarious on the lava. Our guide did an easy walk at the bottom for those who did not want to go up.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The trip is an excellent value, and well planned for 8 days. Includes all the highlights of Sicily and very nice food experiences. Also enough free time to walk around and eat extra food! Have been all over Italy and the food here is some of the best.
  • Reviewed May 2019
    Gary Thomas

    Sicily

    The Sicily group tour was excellent. Very well planned and organised.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The great mixture of activities.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent. Very well organised, thoughtful and friendly.
  • Reviewed April 2019
    Julia Hadden

    Excellent trip!

    The tour was well organised and interesting. The group dynamics worked well and we were given the opportunity to experience many aspects of Sicily including the delicious food, fascinating history, fantastic archaeology and beautiful scenery.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I was blown away by the mosaics at the Villa Romana del Casale and the tastings of various marsala wines was fun!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Rosario was one of the best group leaders we have met and we have met many over the years. He was a mine of information, his English was perfect and he made sure that we all had a wonderful holiday.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The distances in Sicily were far greater than I appreciated so it takes longer than expected to get from place to place and the weather can be chilly, particularly on Mount Etna.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Thank you for arranging such a successful trip.
  • Reviewed April 2019
    Liz Mulgrew

    A brilliant mix of foodie and cultural delights

    This trip is a wonderful mixture of food and culture, with Etna thrown in for good measure! From sampling spleen sandwiches (yes, really) on the Palermo street food tour to a Marsala wine tasting and eating ricotta, still warm, that we had watched being made just minutes before, all the gastronomic experiences were enjoyable and delicious (even the spleen wasn't that horrendous). The cultural highlights for me were the amazing mosaics at the Villa del Casale and the Duomo and cloisters at Monreale, whilst experiencing Etna in the snow was simply stunning. Our guide, Rosario, was brilliant, and our group, made up of mostly couples and with around 30 years from oldest to youngest, bonded really well - as one of the three singles, and one of the youngest, I never felt isolated.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Definitely the cable car/4WD/guided crater tour at Mount Etna. The combination of snow with lava showing through just made the scenario so beautiful, and we were lucky that the clouds parted and it was a beautiful sunny day. Awe-inspiring.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Rosario was so lovely - he guided us with a gentle touch so that we felt like adults and not a school group, yet somehow we were always ready to go when needed! His passion for Sicily and delight in showing us everything just shone through and his attention to detail in organising our activities was amazing. He had time for all of us as individuals and regularly checked that we were happy. Superb!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you go in April (and, I'm guessing, October) make sure you have plenty of layers, including a waterproof one, so that you can add/take away as needed. Our temperatures, in early April, ranged from really quite warm (I got slightly sunburnt one day) to -2 at the top of Etna! You probably won't have time for a swim at any of the hotels, as generally you do get to them quite late (and I think only one or two of them had pools anyway). Don't bother taking much reading matter - apart from airports you won't have time to read! There is a fair bit of walking around to be done, so make sure you have good shoes. Make sure you can cope with your suitcase as you do have to move it around a bit, although there's usually someone around to help. And make sure you have plenty of space in your case - you will bring back plenty of foodie souvenirs, if our group is anything to go by!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The hotels we stayed in were a real mixture in terms of standard; for me, there were two I would happily book to stay in again (Hotel Carmine in Marsala - which we all agreed was the best one - and Villa Esperia in Mazzaro, for Taormina). The others were much more variable in quality, a lot of which often depended on which room you had ( my worst two were fine for others in the group). But you are never more than 2 nights in any one place anyway, and mostly only one, so it really doesn't matter that much. One negative point was having to change flights - Rome on the way out and Milan on the way back (where it was quite a scramble to get to the second flight). Our guide was amazed we weren't on direct ones as he said he hasn't flown indirectly for about 15 years! My only other comment was that a week wasn't quite long enough! It would have been great to have a bit more time at some of the places we visited (an extra half an hour or hour would have made all the difference at times) and in 10 days we could have gone all the way round the island.
  • Reviewed September 2018
    Harriet van Pelt

    Lovely mix of food, wine and culture

    Lovley holiday. Great overview of many different towns visiting lots of cultural sites. Amazing food and wine, with great tours and tastings. You'll never be hungry or thirsty ;) on this trip.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Going up mount Etna, an optional extra but well worth it! Going to buy lunch in the local market was a great experience and visiting the different producers was very interesting. The Etna wine tasting with food pairings was really fun. There were so many great bits, it's hard to pick only one!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Rosario was very good! Got us from a-b, fed and watered us. He was very knowledgeable about the local areas and answered any questions or querys with the patience of a saint! What more could you ask for :)

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take a larger suitcase or sacrificial clothes! There was so many things we wanted to bring home. Nothing too unwieldly though, as there was a few short walks to some of the hotels with some uneven surfaces.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Hotels were okay, did the job for a night's stay, some were better than others. One night did result in a supermarket supper due to the closure of the hotels restaurant but tbh we were so full from lunch didn't miss it and the bar was still open.