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Cooking and Food Tour in Sicily like a Local

Find yourself surrounded by some of the most delightful and fabulous places in all of Sicily on this all-inclusive Sicily tour. The experience-of-a-lifetime adventure awaits you as you travel from coast to coast, across this breathtaking land. An island built from centuries of conquest and cultural influences beginning in primitive times and continuing throughout millennia. The Sicilian experience as it is meant to be! This vacation brings together luxury and immersion. Not only is the food amazing - at your hands-on cooking classes you will be learning to make local and regional favorites. Enjoy an off-road adventure on the Mt. Etna volcano - exclusive dining at local wineries - excursions to UNESCO world heritage sites including the Greek ruins in Agrigento, Siracusa, Catania, a Palermo food tour, and much more!


  • 5 unique cooking classes
  • English speaking vacation host and guides
  • Visit many bucket-list sites and no other tour goes
  • Gelato, espresso, and some snacks along the way
  • All meals, with wine included, you'll never go hungry!
  • Access to sauna, steam baths and pool at hotels
  • 11 nights hand-picked accommodation
  • Scheduled roundtrip airport transfers


11 days with instruction
Airport transfer included: Catania–Fontanarossa Airport
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Culture Discovery Vacations pride themselves on authenticity and getting away from the masses of tourists. This means, they always seek local family-operated accommodations that are truly unique to the location. But they also balance with comfort and experience for guests.

Sicily is less developed than much of Italy, which posed a challenge for them in this regard. However, they believe that the locations they have chosen truly reflect the essence of Culture Discovery Vacations. In Taormina, you will be staying at a small country boutique hotel. When you get to Ragusa, you will be staying in an ancient farmhouse converted to a hotel, where you have the run of the property, and the family that operates it becomes their own family. When you get to Western Sicily, you move from "country living" to "wine estate", in which you stay at a small, but opulent resort run by the family that owns the vineyard.

Borgo Etneo Hotel (3 nights)

For the first 3 nights, you will be at the Borgo Etneo Hotel. This is an ancient "Casale" (country villa) and surrounding village this sits between the bay of Taormina and Mount Etna. It features breathtaking views of Mt. Etna in a charming rural village, with wonderful Sicilian hospitality and all modern comforts. The grounds are peppered with orange, lemon, and olive trees, ad beautiful views all around.

Cascina Grotto di Ferro (4 nights)

You will instantly feel as though you have been transported back in time as you get off the transportation and walk into this timeless estate. Sitting on 130 acres of olive and carob trees, you are in the middle of the Sicilian countryside in a restored 19th-century Sicilian estate. In seconds, your mind will wander, as you simply cannot help but imagine a certain movie theme song in your head, and wonder if it might have been filmed here.

What awaits you inside the gate is a beautiful courtyard, beautiful rooms, but more importantly, Franco and Carmela, who own the property and truly welcome us into their family. This may be technically a hotel, but every time CDV team goes there, they are truly house guests. Their hospitality is unmatched, and their guests leave this place in tears.

La Foresteria (4 nights)

From imagining the violins of that movie theme to a breathtaking wine estate you would otherwise expect to see in Tuscany, rather than Sicily. The La Foresteria resort belongs to the Planeta family, famous for their fine wines and olive oil worldwide. The property and its perfectly manicured gardens sit atop a hill watching surrounding vineyards and olive groves, and the beautiful crystal-clear sea and white sand beaches Porto Palo just a couple miles away.

This elegant, but tiny hotel has only 14 spacious rooms, each of which blends together a sense of essentiality and style to offer a vacation truly Mediterranean in spirit. The resort also offers a wide range of services: a restaurant, a marvelous deck level swimming pool, a relaxing Turkish bath, fitness area, bicycles at your disposal for ride to explore the nearby olive groves and vineyards


Sicilian Adventure Tour

This Sicily Motherland Tour experience is a Sicily tour that embodies the essence of what a Culture Discovery Vacation is all about. While they typically stay in and around the local areas, on this journey, you will nearly circumnavigate the island, living in the richness and diversity of this historic land.

Aside from the natural beauty of the island, the real beauty is in the people. You will meet some of the most authentic and loving people that you can find anywhere in Italy - Let alone, the world! They will tell you - Yes, we are Italians, but first, we are Sicilians!

Cooking classes

During this tour of Sicily, you will have five completely hands-on cooking class experiences on this vacation. The cooking classes are not demonstrations. They are 100% hands-on. They are structured so that you can be as involved as you desire in every stage of every course prepared. There will be differing cooking styles as well such as home-style country cooking.

You will have the classes with a professional chef in a professional kitchen. You will make chocolate using methods created by the ancient Aztec civilization, brought to the islands by Spanish Conquistadors. You will even have a class where we grind out fresh Sicilian sausages by hand!

The classes are as much fun as they are instructive. During the classes, you'll sing, dance, drink wine and make some of the most delicious recipes you can imagine!

Naturally, we know that some would prefer to eat than cook. No worries, there is always something wonderful to do, even during the cooking classes. Whether lounging by the pool and enjoying the Sicilian countryside, shopping the Corso in Modica or relaxing at the villa in Menfi, there is never a shortage of options other than cooking. Then, when the class is over, you can meet back up with the group for the meal that has just been prepared!

Cooking classes themese

  • Class #1 - Hands-on 4-course Sicilian family-style lunch
  • Class #2 - Hands-on, Homemade traditional fare
  • Class #3 - Chocolate! Chocolate! Chocolate!
  • Class #4 - Sausages! Sausages! Sausages!
  • Class #5 - Hands-on 5-course Sicilian family lunch

The Experiences

This vacation is all about precious cultural experiences that are never part of some touristy offering. Most of the cultural experiences are done with local friends that don't work with tour companies, and only do what they do only with Culture Discovery Vacations, making each moment a truly unique experience.

During the chocolate-making class, you go behind the scenes of the local shops to a private workshop where you will work with Graziella, the owner, who you will thoroughly love! She is such a delight and will show you how to make this specialty chocolate.

When you are making your Ragusano cheese, you'll be at a local farm, where the cows have been milked that very morning. When you make pasta, the flour comes from a local, family-run mill and not from some national commercial brand. When you make sausages at the macelleria (butcher shop), dear friends Francesco and Giovani do this just for the groups as your guide has been coming to their butcher shop for years.

While thousands of tourists drive the Trapani Salt Road on other tours, they stop and take photos of the people out in the distance, harvesting salt by hand, like in ages gone by. It turns out that you will be the ones that those tourists are watching harvesting the salt... and of course, you bring it home with you!

You will especially notice these bonds during many of your meals. Dinner are often organized with locals in their private villas, as their guests. These are not people that create a restaurant that looks like a home. They are dear friends that are truly opening up their homes, and sharing their lives. This also rings true in many of the establishments you will dine in... With Culture Discovery Vacations, it is different and personal. You are guests, not customers.

Throughout this vacation, wherever you go, you will not be a tourist - you are always treated as a welcomed guest.


Day 1: Welcome to Sicily!

  • Meals included: Light lunch upon arrival and welcome dinner at Osteria Nero d’Avila

Your vacation starts with the group meeting at the Catania airport for a free shuttle to your hotel on the outskirts of Taormina. If you are already in Catania or nearby, there is a taxi service readily available. Private drivers are also available if you are unable to make the complimentary shuttle.

Everyone will get settled into the accommodations with ample time to freshen up, enjoy the snacks and beverages you will find in your room, and check out the grounds of the hotel before the first meeting with everyone in the early evening. You will get to know each other and talk about the week ahead while you are having some aperitivi! As you can see, the food is already coming in steady streams!

After the get-together, you’ll be shuttled to the hilltop town of Taormina. You’ll have some time to walk around a little before meeting for a traditional welcome dinner at the Osteria Nero d’Avila. You will have a full four-course meal dining on such local dishes as Parmigiana ai Formaggi Siciliani, Pasta al Ragu Siciliano made with sausage and mushrooms. Involtini with chicken and beef and a chef’s selection dessert. The cannoli are excellent here!

As always, wine is provided at all meals. On the mainland, you will be served the local Sicilian wines. Reds are typically a Nero d’Avila- based, and whites are mostly from the Grillo or Fiano grapes. You’ll most likely be offered some grappa or Marsala wine at the end of the meal. Beer, soda, and other non-alcoholic beverages are also available. After this amazing meal, you’ll be taken back to the hotel by private shuttles.

Day 2: Etna: The mountain, the winery, the traditional Sicilian dinner

  • Classes and experiences: Four-wheel drive experience high on Mt Etna and wine tasting on Mt Etna
  • Meals included: Breakfast at the hotel, lunch at a local Trattoria on Mt Etna, and a family dinner at the hotel

Prepare yourself for an incredible day out on Europe’s highest volcano - Mt. Etna! The Sicilians just call it, The Mountain. Unlike most of the other tours that come here, today’s outing takes you off-road in four-wheel drive vehicles up the lava-filled slopes of a truly spectacular site. This experience is like no other in that you are standing on an active volcano! No worries as it’s dormant nearly all the time, and of course, your guide would opt for something different if it were not safe to go!

You will explore the hills and valleys of this truly remarkable natural phenomenon. It’s the closest thing has been found to what it would be like to walk on the moon! (except we have the benefit of gravity). One of the benefits of all that volcanic soil is that it is rich in nutrients. This is one of the reasons that the wines here are so fantastic. You’ll have a wine tasting at one particular winery that the team really enjoys. After this wine tasting, you will go to a fabulous restaurant on The Mountain. See, you are already thinking like Sicilians.

When you return to the hotel, you have several hours at your leisure before you head into beautiful Taormina, for those that want to walk, shop or relax in this hilltop wonderland. Visiting here in the evening is a special treat, as during the day Taormina is full of tourists from cruise ships and traditional tours. The evenings, on the other hand, give you a chance to visit this lovely town without the masses. The dinner will be a specially prepared Sicilian family dinner at the hotel.

Day 3: Discover Catania, Cathedrals, Arancini, open-air markets and fabulous shopping

  • Classes and experiences: Making Arancini with Marcello's family and dinner in a local home
  • Meals included: Breakfast at the hotel, lunch at Trattoria Vuciata, and dinner at with Marcello and family

Today , you head to the metropolis of Catania. Western Sicily’s largest city. It also happens to be the birthplace of Granita (Italian Ice) - Yum! You will have a guided visit that will leave you with lasting memories of this remarkable city lies in the shadows of Mt. Etna.

You can’t help but marvel at the magnificence and beauty of the many architectural influences from throughout the centuries. From ancient civilizations through the Greek, Spanish, Moor, Roman periods and more, you will experience a city that was shaped by those previous occupants as well as from Mt. Etna. Given the size of Catania, you will still find it a splendid and welcoming city.

You’ll stroll along the Via Etnea, stopping at some wonderful places of interest along the way, including the Cathedral of St. Agata. You’ll also visit the open-air markets, namely the bustling and historic fish market, where locals, restaurateurs, and visitors from all over the shop for the fresh catch of the day. It is an amazing thing to marvel. Like stepping back in time watching the unique, auction atmosphere as the stands call out their product at the top of their voices in the local dialect.

The lunch will be a local trattoria, Vuciata - Which is owned by a close friend of your guide! You will have time after lunch to explore more of Catania. There is great shopping here, as well as wonderful cafes, bars and plenty of sites to see! We strongly suggest having a granita... and another granita, and at least one more.

Dinner tonight is an up-close and personal dining experience in the private home of a friend, Marcello. He has graciously invited the group to come to his home where you will be making authentic, Sicilian Arancini with them! Those are the delicious fried rice balls with the ragu-filling. This promises to be an unforgettable evening.

It is also one of the many special connections guests get to experience on so many of CDV's tours -- The strong bond they have not only with the people they encounter on their vacations but how they all inter-connect, making Culture Discovery a big family. Marcello is not just a friend, but the brother-in-law of Federico from the Norcia vacations. And this is just the beginning of meeting locals with special bonds.

Day 4: Siracusa - Ortigia Island - special welcome dinner in Ragusa Countryside

  • Meals included: Breakfasta at the hotel, seafood lunch in Siracusa, and dinner prepared by Carmela and Franco

Today, you’ll be checking out of your hotel and heading to the area of Ragusa for the next four nights. Along the way, you will stop for a guided visit of the historical center of Siracusa and, namely, Ortigia Island. This is where the Greeks first colonized when they arrived in Sicily. You will have some time to explore the city center on your own before the group meets for lunch at one of the area’s best seafood restaurants.

After lunch, you will continue your drive to the Ragusa area and your new hotel, the country villa, Casina di Grotta di Ferro. During check-in, you will meet your wonderful and gracious hosts, Franco and Carmela. You will have time to rest, use the swimming pool, or just enjoy the unique atmosphere of this country house that is for your exclusive use!

Dinner tonight has been specially prepared for you by your hosts. While Franco helps, Carmela is an incredible chef and will be your instructor for tomorrow’s class! Their country home dates back to the 19th century and has a very relaxing environment. It is something reminiscent of one of those sepia-tone photographs you would find in your nonna’s photo albums. It is nearly impossible not to think of a certain famous movie theme as you walk through their gates!

The traditional Sicilian country family-style dinner (with the family) will be very casual, and the meal is completely farm-to-table. Some grown in the garden of their country home, others from their farm nearby.

Day 5: Sicilian cooking class - Passeggiata and evening in Scicli, A UNESCO World Heritage Site

  • Classes and experiences: Cooking class
  • Meals included: Breakfast at the villa, lunch from the results of your cooking class, and dinner at La Grotta in Scicli

The first full cooking class will be in the kitchen of this country villa. The recipes for today’s menu are:

  • First course: cavati pasta alla norma
  • Main course: falso magro (stuffed roast beef roll)
  • Side: pepperoni del carrettiere (baked bell pepper and parmesan cheese )
  • Dessert: cassatelle di ricotta (ricotta cheese-filld pastry)

After class and lunch, you will have some time to rest up and enjoy the grounds of the villa before you meet up for a drive to Scicli.

Once you arrive in Scicli, you will have some time on your own to walk in this beautiful village and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Have a gelato or explore the town with time for shopping or a relaxing stroll during the passeggiata, that classic early-evening time of day when Italians leisurely walk around the town, greeting friends and passers-by.

Tonight’s dinner will beat a local restaurant, La Grotta which will serve local specialties, some served Tapas-style. The food here is fantastic! OK, all of the food is fantastic, but so is this one.

Day 6: Chocolate of Modica - Baroque of Ragusa Ibla - Scaccia class and BBQ

  • Classes and experiences: Two mini cooking classes: Modica chocolate and Scaccia Ragusana
  • Meals included: Breakfast at the villa, lunch at a local cafe in Modica, and dinner party at the villa %Today you head to the beautiful city of Modica. After exploring the city center, you will head to the private chocolate workshop of Graziella, a local resident (and yet another friend) that will intoxicate you with her story about the chocolate of Modica. YES! You are going to make Sicilian chocolate today! During the class experience with Graziaella, you will learn all about this special kind of chocolate which is made only from cocoa powder and sugar. If you don’t ruin your appetites with all that chocolate, you will have an informal lunch at a local café’ with selections of regional food and wine.

In the afternoon, you will be visiting the city of Ragusa Ibla, yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Graziella will guide you through this amazing location. You will have some time on your own as well in the darling village (and some fantastic shopping). While here, you will stop in one of CDV's favorite gelato shops in all of Italy. They specialize in making wine-flavored gelato. The gelato is, of course, included.

Tonight, back at the country villa, Carmella and Franco will be helping you prepare the very delicious, Scaccia Ragusana, a local favorite that is similar to a calzone. This will be another mini cooking class, but it goes so far beyond that tonight. A group of friends will join you for a traditional Sicilian family party at the villa. This will be a feast of epic proportions, with an evening of singing, dancing, live music, and new friends. This is an evening you will never forget.

Day 7: Local cheesemaking experience and traditional flour mill

  • Classes and experiences: Cheesemaking at a local farm
  • Meals included: Breakfast at the villa, lunch at the neighboring farmhouse, and dinner at the flour mill

Today you have two very exclusive experiences in-store. One has you going up the road from the country villa to the neighboring farm. You’ll help them make a local cheese called Ragusano. It is similar to provolone. You’ll also make their local version of ricotta cheese. You’ll be having a specially prepared lunch in a private room at their farm.

After lunch, you’ll have some downtime at the villa to enjoy the grounds and the surrounding countryside. Many of guests opt to walk back to the villa, which is very tranquil and relaxing. There is a vehicle for those wanting a ride back, don't worry.

The evening excursion takes you to a family-run traditional water-driven flour mill. You’ll see the operations of this generations-old operation, as well as having a specially-prepared, wonderful aperitivi and dinner at the mill.

Day 8: Valley of Temples in Agrigento - welcome to Menfi!

  • Classes and experiences: Valley of the Temples
  • Meals included: Breakfast at the villa, lunch at the Valley of the Temples, and welcome dinner at La Foresteria

Today, you’ll say Ciao to your wonderful hosts, Franco and Carmela, and their lovely country villa. Sadly, all good things must come to an end, but more good things are in store for you. For now, you make your way to the western end of Sicily.

About halfway through your drive, you’ll arrive at the world-famous Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, another UNESCO World Heritage Site. The acropolis here dates back to 600 b.c.e. You’ll have a guided tour of this historical park and discover why the Greeks built the temples in this strategic site while exploring the well-preserved temples and other historically-significant sites.

After lunch at a nearby trattoria, you’ll head to your next hotel for the remainder of the vacation. The accommodations are at La Foresteria, a luxury, boutique-style hotel nestled amongst vineyards and olive orchards just outside the town of Menfi. There are gorgeous views, a swimming pool, herb gardens and plenty of places to relax throughout our stay. After you are settled and rested up, you will meet up for aperitivi and dinner on the terrace at the hotel.

Day 9: Marsala salt harvesting experience and sausage making class

  • Meals included: Breakfast at the hotel, lunch at the Campo Butchery in Valderice, and pizza dinner at the beach

This morning, you'll make your way to the Marsala Salt Flats. When other tours come here, they take pictures of the salt flats and go into a little shop. But this is a CDV's tour. Instead, you will step past the “tourist zone” of the salt mill, and into the actual working areas of the operation. You will spend time with the people behind the most famous and photographed salt mill in Sicily.

You will don rubber boots and get ankle-deep in the salt flats where we will spend some time harvesting your own salt. Guests often get a good laugh when tour busses stop and start photographing them, thinking they are the workers. After some time harvesting in the flats, you will have a special salt-pairing with some specially prepared local delicacies. You’ll even bring home your own salt that we harvested!

After the fun in the sun, you will visit the area’s most celebrated butcher, Francesco Campo in Valderice. As you arrive, you will have a sampling of his many creations. Mortadella, prosciutto, cheese, and much more.

Francesco and his brother Giovanni, two more dear friends, will close their shop to the public and teach you how to make two kinds of traditional Sicilian sausage: Boscaiola and Capricciosa. These sausages are made completely from scratch as Francesco will butcher the meat while you are at their shop.

You’ll hand-crank the sausages into the casings before you grill them up and enjoy them as part of your cooking and dining experience. You will have some time back at the hotel to rest and freshen up before a pizza dinner at the beach in Menfi.

Day 10: Cooking class at La Foresteria - dinner at the Ulmo Winery

  • Classes and experiences: Cooking class
  • Meals included: Breakfast at the hotel, lunch from the results of your cooking class, and a private dinner at the Ulmo Winery

Today, you have a full cooking class is in the incredible professional kitchen at the hotel. You’ll be making the following dishes:

  • Appetizer: Caponata
  • Pasta: Busiate with pesto alla Trapanese
  • Main course: Palermo-style veal roast
  • Side: Melon salad
  • Dessert: Homemade cannoli

This fabulous class has you making these classic fabulous Sicilian dishes with the chef’s personal spin and professional tips. You’ll all enjoy the lunch you made on the terrace at the hotel.

After some time to rest and freshen up, you’ll head out to the Ulmo Winery. This winery is owned by Planeta, one of the premier wineries on the island, and has earned a strong reputation throughout the rest of Italy as well. You’ll have a private tour, wine tasting, aperitif and a wonderful dinner in a very special setting at the winery.

Day 11: Palermo street tfood tour and local markets

  • Classes and experiences: Ballarò street food experience
  • Meals included: Breakfast at the hotel, walking lunch in the Ballarò market, and farewell dinner at La Foresteria

Today you’ll head up to the bustling capital of Sicily and the historic city of Palermo for a day visit in a unique, truly CDV way. You will be visiting the world-famous Ballarò Street Market - an unparalleled street market that will awaken every sense.

According to a 10th-century Arab author’s travel log, Ballarò is the oldest food market in Palermo, meaning it has been operating for at least a thousand years. It is full of seemingly impossible light and colors, and the sounds of the local vendors who yell as loud as they can in the local dialect, trying to attract customers away from other stands.

You are here for a food tour, which will be a walking lunch. You will try all of the different foods they sell at the local stands - some you will be happy to try, and some that are only for the most adventurous palettes. You may even stop and get one of the local vendors to teach you his unique call, and try to out-yell the others!

A Ballarò market is a place most other tours dare not venture into, as is most certainly not a typical tourist attraction, but for every one of CDV's guests that have had this experience, it has been unforgettable, and they have raved about it. So they go into the market with several hosts to make sure all of their guests are very well taken care of. If a guest prefers not to go into the market, they will have a comfortable alternative option available.

Of course, you’ll also have a guided visit of the historical aspects of Palermo. But it is promised that the market will be one of the most memorable experiences of your life.

In the afternoon, you will head back to your hotel. You will all have some time to rest, pack and get ready for dinner. A farewell dinner will be a specially-prepared meal by the chef and his staff at the hotel. The dinner will be paired with local wines and be served on the terrace of the hotel.

Day 12: Goodbye - Palermo Airport

  • Meals included: Breakfast at the hotel

Sadly, this vacation has come to an end. You have had an amazing 12 days, and have built friendships and memories to last a lifetime.Shuttle service to Palermo (PMO) airport will be provided once early in the morning.

Itinerary is subject ot change

This is a base itinerary, which is subject to minor changes before the vacation begins. Changes may be a reorganization of days due to closure and festivals, changes due to weather, or seasonal changes. Additionally, these itineraries are prepared well in advance, and at times there are unexpected closures for various reasons that require us to alter the plans. In the end, CDV's goal is always to make it better for their guests, and when substitutions happen, they are always wonderful.

Menu variations

The menus listed on the itinerary are subject to change depending on the season. They use only fresh ingredients wherever possible, so if they are unable to prepare a certain dish, it will be substituted. Occasionally, they make changes to some items as certain dishes prove to be very popular.


Some places on the itinerary don't work well with cold weather or rain. You may have to have some of your meals indoors that are scheduled to be outside. When your guide does expect rain, they try to rearrange the schedule to make the best of it, but substitutions may be made.

Level of fitness

You must be able to walk up to at least 4 miles in a day. You must be able to at least walk a couple of flights of stairs without rest in order to come on this trip in order to go on the excursions.

Included excursions

Where you're going when you're out and about

While you focus on food and family, you are in Sicily, and there is so much to see! You will be visiting eight UNESCO World Heritage sites, ancient Greek temples, hilltop encampments, an active volcano, fabulous wineries, salt flats of Trapani, Just to name a few.

Your island travels will take you through a paradise of unending coastline, mountain ranges, and lush valleys. With its bountiful history, graceful topography, and varying architecture, the mainland is as diverse as the people themselves. You will discover first-hand what makes Sicily such a magical place to be.

You will marvel at the UNESCO World Heritage Sites you will visit. Cities like Catania and Palermo. On opposite ends of the island and about as different as you could imagine. The other UNESCO visits include Taormina, Siracusa, Ragusa, Modica, Scicli, and the Valley of The Temples. All places will leave you with a lifetime of wonderful memories, not to mention less known towns, such as Marsala, Santa Croce Camerina, Menfi, and Valderice.

You will make cheese, harvest salt and so much more. These excursions are designed to give you an up-close and personal experience wheresoever you are. Culture Discovery Vacations wants you to see Sicily not just like an Italian, but as a true Sicilian insider.


Cities, villages and towns you will visit

During the tour, you will visit many bucket-list sights, as well as places no other tour goes, the off-the-beaten-path Sicily:

  • Taormina
  • Calatabiano
  • Mt. Etna
  • Catania
  • Siracusa
  • Modica
  • Ragusa
  • Scicli
  • Agrigento (Valley of the Temples)
  • Menfi
  • Marsala
  • Val d'Erice (Trapani)
  • Palermo

Eastern Sicily

You'll start this amazing journey on the eastern side of the island where no trip to Sicily would be completed without a visit to the gorgeous hilltop haven of Taormina. With stunning views of Mt. Etna and the coastline below, Taormina is full of fantastic shops, restaurants, cafes, wine bars, and lovely places to stroll peacefully among the beautiful scenery.

A jaw-dropping and awe-inspiring excursion up Mt. Etna gives you a first-hand, off-road look at the incredibly changing landscape shaped by millennia of volcanic activity. You can only describe it as being the closest thing to walking on the moon! it is not the Mt. Etna most tourists see. The tour of the volcano starts where most of them stop. That is where you hop in ur four-wheel-drive vehicles and go see the most spectacular areas of the volcano.

UNESCO World Heritage Site visits include Catania, which has a remarkably easy-going vibrancy and wonderful streetscape not found in most large cities. There is lots of action at one of the most splendid outdoor food markets you will ever see, including La Pescheria fish market that has been part of Catania life since the 1800s.

Siracusa and Ortigia Island are downright gorgeous. Most travelers want to move here after having visited. You will walk along the paths whose roots were put down by the ancient Greeks.

Southern Sicily

During your stay at the country home in Santa Croce Camerina, you will visit UNESCO World Heritage Sites, such as Ragusa Ibla and Scicli. You will marvel at the remarkable displays of Baroque architecture that you just have to see to believe. In Modica, you will discover a hidden gem with grand cathedrals and lots and lots of the most unique and wonderful chocolate you have ever had!

Western Sicily

Your venture over to the western end has us stopping for a guided visit at The Greek Temples of Agrigento, known as The Valley of the Temples: Arguably, some of the best-preserved examples of Greek architecture, culture and life found anywhere. The magnitude and scope of which can only be felt by walking in the footsteps of emperors, artists, philosophers, and poets.

You'll have a once-in-a-lifetime experience during the incredible salt harvest at the Salt Flats between the towns of Marsala and Trapani. You'll don rubber boots and get ankle-deep into the salt beds here that provide tons of the finest salt to the kitchens that make those Italian meals taste so delicious!

You also have a sausage-making class at a well-known, generations-old butcher shop in Val drive. Francesco and Giovanni will have each of you hand-cranking the freshly-butchered meats into their casings right before you cook them up for an unforgettable cooking and lunch experience.

And finally, Palermo. You'll have a guided tour of the city, capped off by an amazing street-food tour of the 1,000+-year-old Ballarò Street market. The vibrant colors, sounds, and scents make this market one of the most epic markets in the world. This is the very market featured in Anthony Bourdain's Parts Unknown, and Andrew Zimmern's Bizzare Foods. In fact, Andrew Zimmern is quoted stating "Through all of my travels, I’ve found that there’s no better way to feel the pulse of a city or to understand the local culture than to visit a market. I can learn more about a people and their way of life here than I can in the local museum", and he listed the Ballarò market in Palermo as his favorite of all.

The Ballarò market is truly an adventure, and is not for the faint of heart. It is an unforgettable experience, but can feel uncomfortable for some. So you do have options for those that choose not to muster up the courage to go into the packed market.

For those that join (almost all do!), you go in with several hosts to make certain everyone is well looked after, and you have a walking lunch as you literally follow in Andrew Zimmern's footsteps, trying all of the bizzare foods there are to be found in the market. Yes, for those that want to give it a shot, you can try the "Spleen Sandwich", the Tongue, or every "Eye of Cow". CDV's favorite is the man that sells a secret concoction of cooked "leftovers".

Not to worry, there will be all sorts of other street food for those without an unyielding sense of culinary adventure. This includes Arancini, Fried Chickpeas, and much more. It also includes a unique stop at a cart that sells a pizza called "Sfincione", a pizza only found in the street markets of Palermo, but is the basis of what we call "Sicilian Pizza".

Wineries, mills, factories, and UNESCO World Heritage Sites you will visit

  • Taormina, Catania and Palermo
  • Calatabiano
  • Mt. Etna off-road excursion and winery visit
  • Siracusa: ortigia island
  • Traditional waterwheel-driven flour mill
  • Valley of the temples: Agrigento
  • Bake fresh scaccia in a wood-fired oven
  • Planeta Ulmo winery
  • Ragusa ibla - baroque architecture
  • Harvest Sicilian salt from the salt flats of Trapani


Italians love their food. CDV loves it too and so much of what they do revolves around meal planning! They are talking about lunch at breakfast and then talking about dinner during lunch! One thing you never hear during one of their vacation weeks is, "I'm hungry" - What we do hear is..."I can't eat another bite!" But their guests always someway find some room for more!

The wine is always flowing at lunch and dinner. They take great pride in making certain that they're pairing the right dish with one of the fabulous local wines. Everyone has their preferences. Find out which ones you like best!

In addition, the meals at cooking classes are not little "learn to make pasta" classes like many others. Instead, some of the classes are traditional Italian 'Sunday Family Meals' with multiple courses, appetizers, and desserts, all done to the max. You'll even make fresh cheese and sausages from scratch!

When the vacation is over, you will have experienced the real Sicily that few tourists have ever experienced. You will have made new friends, and you will have learned why Sicilian culture is so amazing... because you will have lived it.

Culture Discovery Vacations can cater to most food allergies, vegetarian diets, and to some extent kosher diets. They will substitute with other dishes if you let them know in advance. They can even cater to a gluten-free diet.

The cooking class menus will not change based on a guest's food limitations, but even in the classes, they can usually offer alternatives to eat. That said, if you do have limitations, it is important that you have a positive attitude about it. CDV team is happy to substitute, but the variety of alternatives may be limited.

The following meals are included:

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
  • Snacks
  • Drinks

The following drinks are included:

  • Coffee
  • Alcoholic beverages

The following dietary requirement(s) are served and/or catered for:

  • Vegetarian
  • Gluten Free
  • Regular (typically includes meat and fish)
  • Other dietary requirements on request
If you have special dietary requirements it's a good idea to communicate it to the organiser when making a reservation

What's included

  • 3 nights accommodation at Borgo Etneo Hotel in Calatabiano, Sicily (Taormina - northeast Sicily)
  • 4 nights accommodation at Cascina Grotto di Ferro in Santa Croce Camerina, Sicily (Ragusa - southeast Sicily)
  • 4 nights accommodation at La Foresteria in Menfi, Sicily (western Sicily)
  • 29 meals (10 breakfasts, 11 lunches, 11 dinners)
  • Gelato, espresso and some snacks along the way
  • All cooking classes and associated food costs
  • Culture Discovery Apron
  • Wine included with all scheduled lunches and dinners
  • Access to sauna, steam baths and pool at hotels
  • Daily day trips and excursions
  • All transportation and scheduled airport transfers by a luxury air-conditioned motor coach (departure shuttle to Palermo (PMO) Airport TBA)
  • Tipping of local guides and restaurants where appropriate
  • All entry fees for excursions, tours and tastings
  • English speaking vacation host and guides throughout the duration

What's not included

  • Airfare
  • Personal expenses
  • Alcohol beyond what is on pre-planned menus
  • Snacks/drinks between meals, or any meals not listed on the itinerary

How to get there

Recommended Airports

Arrival by shuttle


A free shuttle service from Catania (CTA) airport is offered on the starting date at 2:00 p.m. Guests are strongly urged to fly into Rome the day before the tour starts. Flights between Rome and Catania are very frequent and inexpensive. From the airport, your guide will shuttle you to the Borgo Etneo Hotel.


On the final day, you will be in Menfi. Shuttles will be arranged to the airport in Palermo. Shuttle time TBA as they know timing of flights out.

If you would like to sleep in and depart at a later time, they can generally arrange it so long as they know in advance. Transportation in this case will be at your own expense. If you make this choice, you will be on your own for transportation, but the hotel will be able to offer you options.

Airport: Catania–Fontanarossa Airport Airport transfer included: Catania–Fontanarossa Airport No additional charges. You can request this in the next step.

Cancellation Policy

  • A reservation requires a deposit of 20% of the total price.
  • The deposit is non-refundable, if the booking is cancelled.
  • The rest of the payment should be paid 30 days before arrival.

Value for money
Accommodation & facilities
Quality of activity
12 days / 11 nights
from --
Solo travelers

This vacation can accommodate solo travelers.

Saturday September 24, 2022
(12 days / 11 nights)

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