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Discover Sicilys long history of Greek, Roman, Arab, Spanish, and French influences through ancient ruins, Baroque masterpieces, quaint villages, and the authentic vibrant Sicilian cuisine. Experience the rich and long history of Sicily also through its food and wines. Meet the people behind the food, learn their secrets, try the recipes, open your heart, mind and stomach, and be ready to be welcomed in private homes, farms and behind the scenes to live for 9 days as a real Sicilian!
You will stay in a range of accommodations, from bed and breakfasts, 3-star small to typical hotels.
Arrive in Modica and check in at your hotel.
Sightseeing tour of Modica. Typical of so many Sicilian towns, Modica has a long and varied history, complete with the usual toing and froing of successions of invaders. Magnificent churches, with their inspiring domes, bell towers and intricate facades, punctuate the red-tiled roofs and one is struck by the uniform beauty of the whole.
Dinner in a traditional trattoria with delicious local recipes.
Spend the night in Modica.
Visit and have a workshop of Antica Cioccolateria Bonajuto - a chocolate maker that still produces the famous Modicas chocolate with the Aztec method imported in Sicily few centuries ago during the Spanish period.
Enjoy a chocolate tasting!
Continue on to Porto Palo - the southernmost point of Italy, further south than Tunis in Africa - to visit the fishing town. We will have the chance of spending a day like a local fisherman.
We will go fishing in a proper fishing boat, helping with the traditional nets, and fishing methods. According to the weather conditions will be invited to have lunch on board with the just caught fish or invited to have lunch in one of the fishermans houses, real homemade food prepared by the Sicilian housewives.
Spend the night in Porto Palo.
We will visit Marzamemi, an old tonnara - a village where everyone was involved in the tuna and swordfish fishing and processing local production. Be ready to try tuna, swordfish, bottarga - tuna eggs, and much more locally produced food items - heaven for your taste buds!
Stop for lunch at one of the best wineries of Sicily - Planeta - for the wine tasting of 4 wines of their cellars.
Continue with a guided tour of the Syracuse archaeological area and the island of Ortigia.
We will enjoy a nice dinner in a restaurant with seafood and fish-based dishes.
Spend the night in Syracuse.
Take a guided tour to Piscaria Piazza Alonzo di Benedetto. The characteristic of this market is the so-called vuciata (translated as scream), a scream commercial act to advertise products or disclose the price, the presence of which is probably due to the residual customs from Islamic domination.
Have lunch based on just-caught fish and seafood at the fishery of Catania.
Next, we will go on a guided walk around the city center and we will take a small train tour. Catania is Sicilys second largest city, it lies on the Ionian Sea, under the shadow of Mount Etna, or A Muntagna as the locals refers to it.
Have dinner at a local restaurant to discover the traditional flavors of Catania.
Spend the night in Catania.
Visit Randazzo, Castiglione di Sicilia and Linguaglossa on the slopes of Mount Etna, the highest active volcano in Europe!
In these medieval towns you will visit the dairy farms where ricotta cheese is processed. Also, you will discover the ancient laboratories for the production of sweets, the butcher that still produces the traditional sausage cutting the meat with the knife and the farm where everything is cooked for you exclusively within the property.
Throughout the visit, you will be involved to taste all the specialties while prepared not just at lunch!
Free walk to the center of Taormina.
Have dinner in a romantic, by-the-sea small restaurant.
Spend the night in Taormina.
Transfer from Taormina to Aquedolci.
We will visit of a farm, extended for around 750 hectares, with olive trees, citrus, fruit and vegetables, and where cows, buffaloes, goats, sheep, horses, donkeys and pigs are bred.
Lunch with the farm products to rediscover the taste of meat from animals raised on pasture grazing, the delicate flavor of the oil of the hill, the unique flavors of cheese, bread home cooked in a wood oven, freshly picked vegetables, jam made of fruits, sauces, mushrooms from the farm, homemade pasta and much more.
In the afternoon, we will stop in Cefalu, the stunning Norman town with the famous cathedral and the old center.
17:00 arrive in Palermo.
Take some time to explore the city.
Dinner in a typical restaurant.
Spend the night in Palermo.
Start your street food tour. This is a walking tour through the historic squares and street markets Mercato of the city center. The itinerary includes stops at several bakeries, street vendors and old inns to taste the delicious street food of Palermo and a selection of Sicilian sweet wines. Along the walking tour, you will enter places hung out only by real Sicilians.
Free afternoon when you can take the hop on-hop off bus tour of Palermo and Monreale.
Enjoy dinner in a typical restaurant.
One chef will take you on a tour inside the vibrant Capo market, the oldest in Palermo. Immerse yourself in an atmosphere of amazing sounds, places, and foods never seen before! Participate in the selection of fresh food you use to prepare your fantastic dishes later on.
Return to the hotel where you will be welcomed into the kitchen with a glass of cold Sicilian white wine. In the meantime, you will begin to open the bags with the shopping and talking about the menu that awaits you.
Cooking class and lunch based on dishes prepared by you.
Have a farewell dinner in a typical Palermo trattoria.
Time to say arrivederci!
Catania was founded in the 8th century BC by Greeks from Chalcis. It subsequently became a Roman city and amazingly, considering the dramatic series of volcanic eruptions and earthquakes that have so afflicted the area, three theatres have survived from this period. Mount Etna is ever-present and has a large extent shaped both the history and the actual existence of Catania. On several occasions, volcanic eruptions destroyed the city. The entire old part of town was rebuilt in Baroque style, with large, wide open squares and avenues. The most remarkable aspect was the building material used - lava! Catania is essentially a grey city and unique in the world for this.
While Cefals origins go back to at least Greek times, the town we now know and love was built at the behest of the Norman king, Roger II. Construction of the cathedral began in 1131 and it is an exquisite example of what has been termed Sicilian Romanesque. Thanks to the splendid mosaic of Christ Pantocrator above the altar, it is twinned with the Palatine Chapel in Palermo and the Duomo in Monreale. Seeing all three on a trip to Sicily is strongly recommended.
Visit of Marzamemi, an old tonnara - a village where everyone was involved in the tuna and swordfish fishing and processing local production. This little fishing harbor with its bobbing fleet of colorful wooden boats is made of a series of charming buildings, including the Church of San Francesco di Paola, the tonnara, the princes aristocratic palazzo and a row of fishermens houses, whose sky blue doors and potted red geraniums lend a chromatic vivacity to the whole picture. Narrow streets lead off the main square, offering glimpses of the turquoise sea to the east and north.
It came to real prominence in 1296, when Frederick II of Aragon (not to be confused with Frederick II Stupor Mundi) formed the County of Modica, a kind of state within a state that was initially governed by Manfredi I Chiaramonte. Modica, like the other towns in the Val di Noto, was badly damaged in the 1693 earthquake and largely rebuilt in Sicilian Baroque style. It is divided into two parts, higher Modica and lower Modica, which are connected by numerous flights of steps. Palazzi and houses rise from the bottom of the gorge seemingly stacked one on top of the other.
Magnificent churches, with their inspiring domes, bell towers and intricate facades, punctuate the red-tiled roofs and one is struck by the uniform beauty of the whole. Modica is a custodian of a 400-year tradition of Sicilian chocolate-making. Being part of the Spanish kingdom for so many years meant that Sicily was often one of the first recipients of the new foodstuffs being brought back from South America. Cacao was one of these and today Modica still specializes in making granules chocolate, often flavored with chili pepper, cinnamon or vanilla, which is based on Aztec methods and recipes.
Ortigia Island measures just 1 kilometer by 500 meters, but it is packed with over 2500 years of history. Architectural styles vary widely, encompassing Greek and Roman remains, medieval Norman buildings and a great deal of understated Baroque buildings. The historical highlight of this island is the fountain of Arethusa. According to the legend the nymph Arethusa, fled to Siracusa in an attempt to rid herself of the persistent amorous advances of the river god Alpheios.
The goddess Artemis transformed her into the fresh water spring that we can see today. All was in vain; however, as Alpheios located his prey and mixed his own waters with hers! Another highlight is the remains of the Temple of Apollo, which, being built in the 7th century was supposedly the first great Doric temple of its kind in Sicily.
Visiting Palermo is still somewhat of an adventure in a world where so many places have become tourist-friendly to a fault. You wont find many restaurants with menus translated into 5 different languages, you may have trouble communicating in English in many places, and some parts of the old town center have remained untouched since they were bombed during the war.
There are many back streets that have only just opened up to those from without and it is still often difficult to obtain any information worth having. However, this is also a stimulus to those who wish to embark on a little adventure, to discover things themselves, to dig into the very fabric of the city and to try to understand what really makes Palermo and its people.
Arabic origins are still evident today thanks to their noise, smells, colors, narrow labyrinthine streets, the splendid array of food and other goods on display and the general souk atmosphere. Artistic delights abound at every corner, maybe most strikingly in the spectacular mosaics in the Palatine Chapel in Palermo, and the hundreds of masterpieces witnesses of an effortless fusion of Latin, Byzantine, Arabic and Norman influences.
Planeta wineries around Sicily are up-to-date and innovative yet consistent with a historical and ritualistic interpretation that elsewhere has almost been forgotten. Planeta looks just as much to the past as to the future. On the one hand, a deep bond with the oldest wine-making Sicilian tradition, and its heritage of native varieties of grapes (Grecanico, Carricante, Frappato, and Nero DAvola to mention a few), on the other the unique interpretation of the international enology classics (Chardonnay, Syrah, Cabernet).
This tour has been designed to offer tourists the chance to live a 100% Sicilian experience! Thanks to the guiding, you will discover the secrets of Palermo street culture, with its Arab and Jewish culinary heritage and its urban legends, still alive in the heart of a 2000 year old city. The walk goes through the main Mercato, squares and monuments of the city center in order to give a comprehensive overview of local history, arts, culture and food! The tour includes stops at several stalls and bakeries to sample local street food.
Syracuse (or Siracusa) was the most important city of Magna Graecia and home of to many a great Greek, including Archimedes. According to Cicero, it was the greatest Greek city and the most beautiful of them all. The excellent cathedral-like acoustics meant that he could hear their conversations from outside); the Roman amphitheater, built in the third century is 140-meter long, and one of the largest to be found anywhere.
The archaeological site, situated in the northwest of the town, is home to a staggering number of well-preserved Greek (and Roman) remains; the Greek theatre (5 Century BC); just over the ridge from the theatre are the old stone quarries (latomie) now a delightful lemon orchard; the Ear of Dionysius - a 20 meter-high, slender pointed arch cut into the rock face that develops inwards for about 65 meters (the name was given by Caravaggio during his visit in 1608 and legend would tell us that it was used by Dionysius the Tyrant as a prison for his bitterest enemies.
Taormina, seaside town where tourism becomes a sweet life where you can relax in one of the most prestigious Mediterranean resort. A panoramic view that is breathtaking at 200 meters from the sea level and the volcano behind, all nestled in a pleasant and lush vegetation. Taormina has been the most popular tourist destination in Sicily for a couple of hundreds of years, ever since it became an integral part of the Grand Tour.
Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, Swabians, the French and the Spanish all came, saw, conquered and left. You shouldnt miss a visit to the Roman theater still in use today. If there is placed at the highest point occupied by old viewers, we must recognize that never, probably, an audience of theater you saw before something like - Goethe.
The fishery of Catania occupies its present site since the beginning of the 19th century, when it was created the gallery to the fish market in 1814 excavating the embankment of the sixteenth century walls. Today it is one of the attractions of the city, as it takes on the smells, the flavors and colors of the Islamic souks, despite being between a 17th century palace and the walls from the 1st century. Products sold are those typical of the Ionian coast like sea bass, red mullet, swordfish, mussels, or sea urchins.
Francesca loves exploring and finding new spots away from the tourist traps. Not surprisingly she can plan unique holidays and weddings!
This retreat will take place in Sicily, Italy.
Surveying Palermo and the Conca DOro from its panoramic hill-top position, Monreale would be a fairly non-descript town known for the presence of one of the worlds most stunning architectural treasures - the Duomo.
The Sicilian Puppet Theatre or Opera dei Pupi has been included by UNESCO in the list of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity; this form of traditional entertainment is an integral part of the islands cultural identity as painted horse carts and cannoli. You might have seen shops selling wooden marionettes, bedecked in bronze armor with historic names like Orlando and Rinaldo. They may look like tacky souvenirs but these marionettes are a core symbol of Sicilian folk-art.
The marionettes are the major props in the Opera dei Pupi, a traditional form of Sicilian entertainment throughout medieval time for all classes of people. The roots of the Opera dei Pupi stretch back to at least the 15th century, when, with each subsequent conqueror of Sicily, a new group of people would leave their own cultural stamp in this folk tradition. In Sicily, this form of entertainment uses wooden marionettes on strings and metal wires, and different sizes of puppets in each city.
The nearest airports to the location are Comiso Airport (CIY) and Catania Fontanarossa airport (CTA). Chic and Unique Tours will pick you up from the airport. The pick-up is included in the price.