The Wild West of Sicily - April 21 - 30, 2020
To do Sicily right takes time. It is such a treasure trove of amazing antiquity, incredible sights, delightful food and warm hearted people. That is why I am offering a tour this year that focuses on The Wild West of Sicily - the lesser known, the more off the beat path, some might even say the "real" Sicily.
The Wild West tour of Sicily that I've planned for us embodies Sicily's Phoenician, Carthaginian, Greek, Roman, Arab, Norman and Byzantine heritage. We will walk through ruins left 2,500 years ago when the Carthaginians destroyed the powerful Greek city of Selinunte. We'll visit the Phoenician island of Mozia and delight in Sicily's "David". We'll see windmills from medieval times used to extract salt from the sea. We'll enjoy wonderful pastries from original recipes nuns from noble families would make in their cloistered convent.
We'll taste Marsala wine, cook a Sicilian meal and stroll and shop in some of Sicily's most charming towns. We lodge in a small village by the sea, experience city living and enjoy the pleasure of staying in a farm estate surrounded by nature.
We travel in a small, intimate group of no more than twelve people. I hope you'll join me for the fun and unforgettable experiences I have in store.
Enjoy: 9 nights/10 days (in an exclusive, intimate group of no more than 12 people) exploring
Cost per person: $3,300 per person (based on double occupancy)
Included: Lodging, private transportation, all tours and admissions, a wine and Marsala tasting experience, a Sicilian cooking lesson, a boat excursion, all meals except for 2 dinners and 3 lunches. Most all gratuities are included as well.
"To have seen Italy without seeing Sicily is not to have seen Italy at all - For Sicily is the key to everything!" - Goethe
A Special Offer
Register by January 8th and receive a $200 discount off the price of the tour.
Register by January 8th and receive a $200 discount off the price of the tour.
Day One | Tuesday, April 21
Our adventure this morning begins with a tour of Palermo and a special visit to the once rich and powerful 15th century cloistered Convent of Santa Caterina d'Alessandria. We will see how gracious the living was for these nuns from noble families, who had servants. The nuns excelled in making sweets, which are still available for tasting in the convent's on-site bakery.
After lunch we will tour Teatro Massimo, Italy's largest opera house and the location where the last scene of The Godfather III took place.
Day Two | Wednesday, April 22
From the mountain mist to the sea.
This morning the famous puppeteer Currichio family takes us on a tour of their Opera dei Puppi, where we learn how these marionettes are made and the traditional stories they tell of Crusader battles against the Moors. Sicily's puppet tradition is part of UNESCO's intangible world heritage list.
We spend the afternoon by the sea in charming Cefalù - a fishing town located under the shadow of a dramatic rock, and known for its Norman cathedral. There, we will have time to stroll and shop and watch the world go by.
Day Three | Thursday, April 23
Today we leave Palermo for Monreale and points beyond.
Monreale overlooking Palermo and the fertile valley called La Conca d'oro (The Golden Shell) to tour Santa Maria La Nuova, its 11th century Norman cathedral. a UNESCO World Heritage sight famous for its exquisite Byzantine, Norman and Arab art. Over 4840 pounds of gold went into the exquisite mosaics, second only to the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. After a wonderful al fresco lunch, we will spend some time wandering the lovely shops outside the cathedral.
The afternoon is spent driving through the western part of Sicily, heading for our agritur lodgings just outside of Marsala - our base for the next four nights. Once checked in we will enjoy a wine tasting of its renowned wines.
Day Four | Friday, April 24
The island of Mozia, a Phoenician settlement from 800 BC is our destination this morning. We will learn how these biblical peoples lived and meet The Charioteer, whom I call Sicily's "David", for its refined depiction of male beauty.
After a lunch al fresco on the island, we will stop by the salt flats and enjoy the sights of windmills along the coast, which once were used to extract and export salt all over Europe.
We have a late afternoon appointment to taste what real marsala wine is like at the Florio winery.
Day Five | Saturday, April 25
Our morning will be spent leisurely enjoying Marsala's charming downtown strolling its shops and visiting its churches. At noon we will board a ferry to take us to Favignana, the largest of the Egadi Islands.
Lunch by the sea awaits.
We will then visit the famous Florio tonnara, where bluefin tuna were once caught, killed and processed for export to many parts of the world.
There will certainly be time to enjoy the town's lovely main square and have a gelato before we catch our ferry back to Marsala and our bus for Donnaflora.
Day Six | Sunday, April 26
Selinunte is our opportunity this morning to walk through the ruins of long ago civilizations. The largest archeological area in Europe, this is the site where the rich and powerful Magna Greca city of Selinunte was destroyed at the hands of the mighty Carthaginians almost 2,500 years ago.
We will enjoy lunch at Mazzara del Vallo in the town's city center, known as The Kasbah, stemming from its once important standing during Arabic rule from 800 to 1000 AD. This is definitely the perfect place to taste Sicilian couscous!
Once back at our agritur, we will don aprons and learn to make Sicilian specialites to enjoy at dinner and to bring home and make for our family and friends.
Day Seven | Monday, April 27
This morning, we say goodbye to Donna Flora and set out for Erice, a mountaintop walled medieval city, perched above the Tyhrennian Sea. We will wander its narrow streets, visit its medieval churches, enjoy its stunning views of the Sicilian coast and learn how far back it goes in time. Hercules was said to have visited here.
After lunch, there will be time to spend strolling, shopping, relaxing and dropping by Maria Grammatica's famous pastry shop to enjoy a marzipan fruit or cannoli.
We will then check into our hotel in Scopello, an enchanting seaside village and our lodging for the next two nights.
Day Eight | Tuesday, April 28
We sleep in late this morning and take time to explore Scopello.
Scopello is a charming hamlet of restaurants, taverns and shops set back from the sea, famous for the dramatic rock cliffs jutting out of the sea and an old tonnara at its feet. It has become a popular setting for such films as Ocean's Twelve and the famous Inspector Montalbano series.
After lunch, we visit the remote, mysterious and seemingly unfinished Greek temple of Segesta. This single standing temple is in great contrast to the immense of Selinunte. High above and a short distance away there is a Greek theatre, which offers a breathtaking view of the entire countryside as patrons once sat to watch classic Greek and Roman plays.
Day Nine | Wednesday, April 29
Today we say goodbye to Scopello and head to the interior of the island to Corleone of The Godfather fame. We will pay a special visit to the Anti-Mafia archives. It was only after the assassination of magistrates Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino in 1992 in their valiant crusade against corruption that the Sicilian people took a united stand against the Mafia. But we will also see another side of this much maligned town. Corleone is a place of great natural beauty with a long tradition and history.
After lunch we head to Cinisi, the seaside resort close to the airport, where we will spend our last night in this special corner of Sicily. Some people will take their leave tomorrow, others will continue eastward bound with a special add-on tour.
Day Ten | Thursday, April 30
Today we say goodbye to Sicily.
We've shared unforgettable experiences together. As we head home or move on to other destinations, we take with us great memories of the land and food and people that we have encountered on this enchanted island.
Italy has more of these hidden gems to offer and our hope is that you will consider joining us again to explore its other beautiful and unique regions.
Dates: April 21 - 30, 2020