DAY 1 – ARRIVAL
ARRIVE MODICA AND EXPLORE 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.
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.
Traditional trattoria with delicious local recipes
The sightseeing tour of Modica
Overnight in Modica
DAY 2 – MODICA / PORTO PALO / ‘A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A FISHERMAN’ EXPERIENCE
Modica is 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 specialises in making granulous chocolate, often flavoured with chilli pepper, cinnamon or vanilla, that is based on Aztec methods and recipes.
Visit and have a workshop of Antica Cioccolateria Bonajuto a chocolate maker that still produces the famous Modica’s chocolate with the Aztec method imported in Sicily few centuries ago during the Spanish period, and chocolate tasting too!
Porto Palo is the southernmost point of Italy, it is further south than Tunis in Africa. And the fishing town where we will have the chance of spending a day like a local fisherman. We will be able to 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 fisherman’s houses, real homemade food prepared by the Sicilian housewives.
Overnight stay at Porto Palo
DAY 3 – FISHING VILLAGE OF MARZAMEMI / SEAFOOD CULINARY DELIGHT / WINE TASTING / SIRACUSA
Visit of Marzamemi, an old ‘Tonnara’, a village where everyone was involved in the tuna and swordish fishing and processing local production.
This little fishing harbour with its bobbing fleet of colourful wooden boats is made of a series of charming buildings, including the Church of San Francesco di Paola, the tonnara, the prince’s aristocratic palazzo and a row of fishermen’s 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.
Be ready to try tuna, swordfish, ‘bottarga’ (tuna eggs) and much more locally produced, heaven for your taste buds!
Just in time for lunch we will be at one of the best wineries of Sicily: “Planeta” for the wine tasting of 4 wines of their cellars.
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, Nero D’Avola to mention a few), on the other the unique interpretation of the international enology classics (Chardonnay, Syrah, Cabernet…)
Guided tour of the Syracuse archaeological area and the island of Ortigia.
Syracuse (or Siracusa) was the most important city of Magna Graecia and home of to many a great Greek, including Archimedes. According to Cicero, was “the greatest Greek city and the most beautiful of them all”.
For those travelling to Sicily today, Siracusa is not to be missed. A visit can be split into two easy parts: one dedicated to the archaeological site, the other to the island of Ortygia.
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 20m-high, slender pointed arch cut into the rock face that develops inwards for about 65m (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. The excellent Cathedral-like acoustics meant that he could hear their conversations from outside); the Roman amphitheatre, built in the 3rd Century AD is 140m long, and one of the largest to be found anywhere.
Ortigia island measures just 1km by 500 metres, but it is packed with over 2,500 years of history. Architectural styles vary widely, encompassing Greek and Roman remains, Mediaeval Norman buildings and a great deal of understated Baroque buildings.
The historical highlights of this island are: 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!), the remains of the Temple of Apollo, which, being built in the 7th Century BC was supposedly the first great Doric temple of its kind in Sicily, just to mention a few must-see places!
Dinner in a restaurant with seafood and fish based dishes
Overnight in Syracuse
DAY 4 – CATANIA / FISH MARKET / OLD CITY CENTRE
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.
The Fishery of Catania occupies its present site since the beginning of the nineteenth century, when it was created the gallery to the fish market in 1814 excavating the embankment of the sixteenth century walls.
Today 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 seventeenth century palace and the walls of the ‘500. Products sold are those typical of the Ionian coast: sea bass, red mullet, swordfish, mussels, sea urchins, etc.
Lunch based on just-caught fish and seafood
Guided walk of the center and small train tour
Catania is Sicily’s second largest city, It lies on the Ionian Sea, under the shadow of Mount Etna, or “A Muntagna” as the locals refer to it.
Mount Etna is ever-present and has to 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, however, was the building material used: lava! Catania is essentially a “grey” city and unique in the world for this.
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.
Dinner at the restaurant to discover the traditional flavors of Catania
Overnight in Catania
DAY 5 – MOUNT ETNA / TAORMINA
Through picturesque villages, Randazzo, Castiglione di Sicilia you will be immersed in the heart of the Sicilian countryside, and you will be able to discover the countryside flavors of this region: sausages, ricotta cheese… visiting at the same time 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 te ricotta cheese is processed, 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 specialities while prepared not just at lunch!
Free walk to the center of Taormina
Taormina, seaside town where tourism becomes “sweet life” and relax in one of the most prestigious Mediterranean resort. A panoramic view that is breathtaking at 200m 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 hundred 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 “J. W. Goethe
Dinner in a romantic by the sea small restaurant
Overnight in Taormina
DAY 6 – NEBRODI MOUNTAINS / CEFALU / PALERMO
Departure from Taormina to Acquedolci
In the morning 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 with fruit, sauces, mushrooms from the farm, homemade pasta and much more.
In the afternoon, on our way to Palermo, we stop in Cefalu’, the stunning Norman town with the famous cathedral and the old centre. While Cefalù’s 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 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.
We arrive in Palermo at around 5pm.
Walk along the streets of Palermo and dinner in a typical restaurant
Visiting Palermo is still somewhat of an adventure in a world where so many places have become tourist-friendly to a fault. You won’t 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 centre 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 for 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, colours, 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.
Overnight in Palermo
DAY 7 – PALERMO / STREET FOOD TOUR / OLD MARKETS /OLD CITY CENTRE / MONREALE
Streetfood tour of PALERMO
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.
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 2,000 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.
Free afternoon – Hop on hop off bus tour of Palermo and Monreale
Surveying Palermo and the Conca D’Oro from its panoramic hill-top position, Monreale would be a fairly non-descript town were it not for the presence of one of the world’s most stunning architectural treasures: the Duomo.
Dinner in a typical restaurant
DAY 8 – PALERMO / COOKING CLASS / FOOD AND WINE EXPERIENCE / SICILIAN PUPPET THEATRE
A cooking class with our hostess and chef is not just a cooking class in a beautiful location, it ‘s also a fascinating journey through the Sicilian culture and its food.
The Chef will meet you in the morning and take you on a tour inside the vibrat Capo market, the oldest in Palermo. Immerse yourself in an ‘atmosphere of amazing sounds, and places and foods never seen before! Participate in the selection of fresh food you use to prepare your fantastic dishes later.
On the way home you can enjoy a pleasant walk through Palermo and you will experience the beauty of its Baroque architecture. For this Palermo is undoubtedly one of the most interesting cities of the Mediterranean.
Once in the house, you will be welcomed into the kitchen with a glass of cold Sicilian white wine, while in the meantime you will begin to open the bags with the shopping and talking about the menu that awaits you.
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 island’s 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 souvenires 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, 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.
Goodbye Dinner in a typical Palermo ‘trattoria’
DAY 9 – DEPARTURE FROM PALERMO AIRPORT or EXTEND YOUR STAY!
– Accommodation in B&Bs, 3-star small and typical hotels (4/5-star hotels are available just ask and we will send you a quote!)
– All transfers, with private cars/minivan with chauffeur (depending on the size of the party)
– All meals
– All activities
– A tour manager always with you
– All guides
WHAT IS NOT INCLUDED
– Local Tourist taxes (around 1 Euro per person per night depending on Local authorities)
– Museum/church/sites entrance fees