Temples, Town & Country
Dates to Suit
Sicily is a fascinating place – surprisingly sophisticated as well as culturally rewarding. A privileged few will follow me into private homes and palaces of the aristocracy, and the rural villas and fattorie of the country gentry for a true insider’s view of the best that is Sicily. Our experiences will range from old-world white-glove service, while dining with a Contessa in her in-town palazzo, to stirring the curds during ricotta-making in a rustic country farmhouse.
Sicily is a melange of cultures from down through the ages. It is a study in contrasts: strange and beautiful; peaceful and chaotic; frustrating and charming. The people are warm and friendly. The food is a blend of the simple and the sophisticated, and always delicious. The archeological sites are second to none and the landscape is spectacular. Sicily is never dull. It is full of hidden treasures.
Day One – Upon arrival in Palermo jump right into the fray with a morning survey of the highlights of Palermo’s historic centre: the Palazzo dei Normanni most notably. See Sicily’s most important art treasures at the Palatine Chapel. Break for lunch in a characteristic trattoria. Continue your explorations with the small church and cloisters of San Giovanni degli Eremiti and the main cathedral. Walk off lunch through the heart of the old city- the Quattro Canti (Spanish Baroque) and the famous open-air market, La Vucciria. Make a stop at the Antica Foccacceria where typical Sicilian bread and desserts are made. Back to the hotel for a rest before dinner. Dine this evening at the Enoteca Picone in the city center.
Day Two – This morning visit the Casale Fontana Murata which is the country property of the noble family, Gioia Donata (olive oil, cheese and wine). Have a cooking demonstration highlighting pasta and typical desserts using their freshly produced ricotta cheese, followed by bountiful country luncheon, of course. In the afternoon visit Monreale. Set in the hills overlooking Palermo and founded in the 12th century by the Norman, William II, its highlight is the spectacular Cathedral complex filled with golden mosaics. Tour the Benedictine cloisters, abbey and convent and stroll through the town’s maze of steep and picturesque streets. Return to the hotel in the late afternoon for the remainder of the day at leisure. You may choose to have a light dinner on the terrace or even fast after your indulgent lunch.
Day Three – This morning a visit to Segesta with its majestic temples and Greek theatre (420 BC). Spend the entire morning there – it is well worth it. Continue on to the medieval hill town of Erice where you can have a simple fish “pranzo” at the Moderno and then walk the cobblestone streets.
Day Four – This morning get an early start to visit the archeological sites at Selinunte by the sea (700 B.C.). Stop for lunch at the private villa of the Baron and Baronessa Nicolo Ravida in Menfi, producers of top quality virgin olive oil. Upon arrival in Agrigento head directly to your hotel overlooking the temples. This evening we will be on your own.
Day Five – This morning visit the temples of Agrigento (there is nothing I can say to bring them to life for you – you must see them for yourselves). Move on to see the famed mosaics of Piazza Armerina and take in some of its other sights. Lunch en route. In the late afternoon reach the Villa Criscione, a typical masseria fortress and the residence of the noble family Giorgio Criscione, which has been featured in Architectural Digest.
Day Six – After breakfast visit an enthralling and unusual area, including the town of Ragusa, which features Sicilian Baroque architecture. Then back to the Villa Criscione for a cooking demonstration followed by lunch based on typical local products, especially the fresh ricotta. Then visit the newly restored Palazzo Donna Fugata.
Day Seven – This morning a leisurely start to your day and arrive in Siracusa in time for a lunch on your own. This afternoon a walking tour of the ancient city island “Ortygia” with its medieval and baroque monuments.
Day Eight – This morning visit the Neopolis Archeological Park. Mid afternoon departure for Taormina to arrive in time for cocktails and dinner.
Day Nine – Morning walking tour of the historic center of town. The rest of the day at leisure to further explore Taormina, shop or just relax. Lunch in Castelmola (the village above Taormina) and dinner on your own.
Day Ten – This morning take a half-day tour to Mt. Etna (volcanic activity permitting). Lunch at Il Limonetto with the afternoon at leisure to get organized for departure. Perhaps your farewell cocktails and dinner at the Timeo (on the terrace, weather permitting).
Day Eleven – This morning transfer to the Catania airport for departure to other points in Italy or home.
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