Start: Palermo Finish: Catania
Physical rating: Leisurely
Special diets catered: Please inform Exodus of specific dietary requirements
Tour code: ADY
Group size: 6 - 18
16 to 99
Tour operated in:
Extra tourhub saving: $38
From cannoli to arancini, Sicilian food is world famous, but on this tour
prepare to be overwhelmed at how varied and diverse Sicily’s cuisine really
is! The various civilisations that have occupied the island over millennia
have not only left an unparalleled cultural heritage, but also a culinary
history that sets Sicily apart from mainland Italy. Sample Palermo’s
fragrant street food in its vibrant markets, practise hands-on cooking with
local chefs in Trapani, sip the finest wines in Marsala and Etna and indulge
in mouth-watering gelatos whilst relaxing in sun-kissed Baroque piazzas. Let
food lead the way in this captivating journey through culinary and cultural
This tour starts in Sicily's regional capital, Palermo. This busy port city situated on the north-western coast of the island encloses some very interesting and often overlooked attractions. There is some fine architecture to be admired, as well as good museums, palazzi and churches. It is the city's food scene, colourful local markets and long established food shops, however, that give the city a very original and eccentric character worth discovering.
Meals: breakfast, lunch
We start our week with a special guided foodie tour through the historic centre of Palermo, ranked amongst the best cities in the world for street food. During our walk we wander through carts and kiosks of street vendors, colourful markets and local bakeries whilst trying some of the best local specialities. These may vary depending on the season and usually include arancini (fried rice balls stuffed with meat sauce and cheese), panelle (fried chick peas pancake), and sfincione (Palermo’s traditional pizza) - all absolutely delicious. As we walk, the local guide will reveal some of the secrets of Sicilian street cuisine and explain the history of the city, while pointing out notable monuments and historic streets such as Piazza San Domenico, Vucciria, Quattro Canti. The rest of the day is free; you may decide to continue sightseeing in Palermo at your own pace or take an optional visit to Monreale, famous for the extraordinary Duomo, considered the greatest example of Norman architecture in the world. Overnight in Palermo.
In the morning we transfer to our next destination, the coastal town of Trapani. The local gastronomy in this part of Sicily is strongly influenced by the Arabs, who occupied the area for many centuries until the Normans took over. A hands-on cookery course with a local chef will give us the opportunity to learn more about the interesting culinary fusions, while practising (and tasting!) traditional regional recipes. In the afternoon we head to the southern town of Marsala, internationally famous for its finest fortified wines. A wine tasting will be offered after a tour of one of the best local wineries. Overnight in Marsala.
In the morning we leave Marsala and transfer to a traditional organic olive farm, run by the Centonze family, owner of the estate since 1953. We will learn of the cultivation and production methods and sample some of the world's finest olive oil accompanied by local produce. In the afternoon we transfer to the iconic sight of the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento. A guided tour will allow us to discover and learn of the history of this splendid archaeological park, which consists of eight temples (and various other remains) built between about 510 BC and 430 BC. Overnight in Agrigento.
Today's destination is Piazza Armerina, home of world famous Villa Romana del Casale. Built in the 4th Century AD as a hunting lodge by a Roman patrician, the villa is home to some of the best preserved Roman mosaics spread over around 3500 square meters. After a guided tour of this extraordinary UNESCO sight, we enjoy a delicious produce tasting of local sicilian delicacies. In the afternoon we transfer to the Baroque gem of Ragusa, without doubt one of the most beautiful cities in Sicily and Italy. The town is part of the Val di Noto UNESCO Heritage site and 18 of its buildings are protected by UNESCO patronage. After a short orentiation walk we will have time to enjoy a relaxing and well deserved aperitivo (word for the traditional Italian pre-dinner drinks and snacks) in one of the town's elegant piazzas. Overnight in Ragusa.
We start our day with a transfer to a family-run farm in the countryside near Ragusa, a province where cheese making traditions are stonger than anywhere else in Sicily. After a cheese making demonstration and a tour around the farm we will sample some delicous cheese, including the famous ricotta, hand-made by the proud owners. Later, we transfer to the other Baroque gem of the Noto Valley, the town of Noto itself. After a relaxing stroll through what is considered one of Sicily's most beautiful historic centres, we have the opportunity to enjoy another staple of Sicilian cuisine: the famous 'granita' (thin flakes of ice flavored with fresh fruit or nuts and sugared) accompanied by the traditional 'brioche' (a soft and fragrant sweet delicacy). In the afternoon we transfer to Catania, our base for the last two nights of the tour.
After breakfast we visit the famous Pescheria, the colourful, loud and smelly fish market, which is one of the oldest and biggest in Italy. Held every morning except Sunday, this market is everything one expects an Italian market to be: following the local traditions, fishermen will try to attract buyers with their loud voices and lots of gesticulations. Nearby there are also fruit and vegetable stalls as well as other delicious local produce from the mountain villages around Etna. Later this morning we transfer to a famous wine cellar on Mount Etna and enjoy a delicious wine and produce tasting for lunch, followed by a short walk around the highest most active volcano in Europe (1 to 2 hours walking depending on time, 5 km maximum). We return to Catania in the afernoon and in the evening our leader will recommend an excellent local restaurant where to enjoy a celebratory farewell dinner.
This tour ends in Catania in the morning of day 8.
7 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 0 dinners.
All breakfasts, 2 wine tastings, 1 cookery class and 5 food tastings/lunches
included.Sicilian cuisine is a melting pot of all the different cultures that
have occupied the island, from the Arabs to the Normans. The island itself is
incredibly fertile, enjoying a perfect climate which is ideal for the
cultivation of fresh produce such as olives, oranges, lemons, eggplants,
tomatoes, pistachios, almonds, grapes, and more—not to mention all of the
seafood, tuna and swordfish fished right off the coast. The result? A cuisine
that’s fresh, varied, and absolutely delicious! Sicilian wines are also
superb and known to be strong and syrupy, like Marsala and Moscato. These are
some of the regional specialities we recommend to try during this
trip:Caponata: a tasty salad made with eggplant (aubergines), olives, capers
and celery, makes a great appetizer. Sfincione: a local form of pizza made
with tomatoes, onions and (sometimes) anchovies. Prepared on a thick bread
and more likely found in a bakery than in a pizzeria.Pane e pannelle: A
favorite street food of Palermo, panelle—or chickpea fritters—are served
between bread, like a sandwich.Arancine: fried rice balls stuffed with meat
or cheese.Pani ca meusa: The name of this street food means, literally bread
with spleen! But don’t let that scare you. It is delicious speciality of
Palermo!Cannoli: tubular crusts with creamy ricotta (made from sheep's milk)
and sugar filling. A must!Cassata: a rich, sugary cake filled with the same
delicious filling.Pasta alla Norma: it’s made with fried eggplant,
tomatoes, basil, and salted ricotta.Pasta with pistacchios pesto.Pasta con le
sarde: Sardines are popular in Sicily, so it’s common to see them as a
topping for pasta. One common variety is bucatini with sardines, fennel,
saffron, pine nuts, and raisins.Frutta martorana: Other places call this
'marzipan' but here in Sicily, the almond paste is molded into little
(incredibly realistic) fruits—hence fruits of Martora, or frutta
martorana.Cassata siciliana: A sponge cake is soaked in liqueur, its slices
layered with sweetened ricotta, and the whole thing covered in almond paste,
then icing. It is also studded with candied fruits and other goodies.
Granita: The perfect summer refreshment, granita, originally from Sicily, can
now be found all over Italy. It’s just ground ice with sugar and fresh
fruit, simple but truly delicious.Involtini di Pesce Spada: Little rolls of
thinly sliced swordfish are stuffed with pine nuts, raisins, bread crumbs,
anchovy filets, orange juice and lemon juice, eggs and grated pecorino. Tonno
e Spada Affumicata: Smoked tuna and swordfish shaved paper thin, and layered
on a plate. These can be accented with shaved fennel and oranges, or olives
and sun-dried tomatoes, or can be served with just a drizzle of extra-virgin
olive oil and some good crusty bread.
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