Only Sicily

Departure from Palermo

The magnificent Villa Gussio Nicoletti in Leonforte, Sicily

The magnificent Villa Gussio Nicoletti in Leonforte, Sicily

DAY 1 – Arrival in Palermo

Transfer to hotel with own transportation. The day is reserved for resting after the journey. At 7:30 pm, tour briefing by our staff.

Hotel Delle Palme: right in the heart of the historic area, it is an excellent four-star hotel in an old building in classical style, well known for its fascinating rooms. It is here that R. Wagner found the inspiration for his Parsifal.

DAY 2 – Palermo gastronomy

This day is devoted to “flavors” in the city, which we will enjoy in two ways that are as different as they are fascinating. The first setting is very old: the “Focacceria San Francesco” is 100 years old, and the opposite church is 750 years old. It serves “Pani c’a meusa” (bread with spleen in it), “panelle” and dozens of other specialties. It has always been the Palermo fast-food where you can eat and drink the soul of the city. In the evening, in marked contrast with the old flavors of lunchtime, we will enjoy the refined dishes interpreted by the chef at the restaurant in Piazza Virgilio, such as fish slice with citrus fruit foam, or “Tagliolini di Pasta Fresca con Bottarga di Ricciola in Forchetta” (pasta with amberjack botargo).

Itinerary: Palermo, guided visit including Palace ChapeI and St. John of the Hermits church, Monreale with its splendid Arab-Norman Cathedral and the Benedictine Cloister. Visit to the historic Capo market Hotel Delle Palme.

DAY 3 – Pellegrino wine cellars – Pantelleria moscato

The Pellegrino wine firm was founded in 1880. We will read its history among the walls and barrels of the cellars. The wines made here are sweet ones, so intense as to have given rise to legends. Indeed, tasting them one has no difficulty in believing that this liquid replaced ambrosia as the “nectar of the gods” on Olympus. Lunch will be served on top of two silos that in 1880 contained wine and now, magnificently restored, afford a very beautiful sea view. Dinner at the Baglio Oneto restaurant. Sea delights with kiwi and champagne sauce, fresh pasta with sea urchin sauce and Sicilian pesto are just an idea of what you will get the chance to taste.

Itinerary: Segesta, visit to the temples. Erice, a halt to visit the little medieval town which has not changed for 600 years. Marsala. Baglio Oneto hotel: a fortified feudal abode surrounded by olive trees, with a splendid view of the sea.

DAY 4 – Tenuta La Lumia –Nero d’Avola

Selinunte Temple, part of an ancient Greek archaeological site on the south coast of Sicily, southern Italy

Selinunte Temple, part of an ancient Greek archaeological site on the south coast of Sicily, southern Italy

This is a rather spedal visit: the old 18th-century fortified place-cum-museum, actually of Arabic origin, is the home of the La Lumia barons. They will open the doors to give us hospitality, in a more family than business manner, and to transmit to us their love for the countryside, their grapes and their wines, which we will not fail to try. Lunch too, rigorously based on dishes typical of the local culinary tradition, will be characterized by homemade preparation. So we will get a chance to know Baron La Lumia who, using a particular growing technique going back to the ancient Greeks, is responsible for the rebirth of this strong and resolute wine.

“Cannelloni with ricotta, little fennel and pine seeds on a light puree off chickpea seeds with smoked bacon”, “frozen cream made witch almonds and dried figs and honey with the scent of Old Marsala Florio” — we are guests at the Baglio della Luna, a restaurant with a dinner that will stick in your memory.

DAY 5 – Feudo Principi di Butera – Inzolia and Chardonnay

The “Five Glasses” award of the Gambero Rosso-Slow Food guide, the “Five Grapes” award of the Italian Association of Sommeliers, mentions in the most important Italian and overseas specialist guides. The Feudo Principi di Butera wines are important. The estate has been kept and maintained as it was hundreds of years ago. The old wine-cellars will be the splendid setting to the tasting of wines that are the “theme of the day”. We are in the heart of the countryside and lunch is based on what the countryside offers: dried tomatoes, cheeses, grilled season’s vegetables, olives, caponata — these are the recurrent starters; the main course, based on season’s vegetables, will be based on roast meats; and to end, of course there are sweet cannoli with ricotta cream or Sicilian cassata. The interpretation of the dinner will be by the chef at the restaurant “Al Fogher” in Piazza Armerina, with his very special dishes such as the ‘Fennel cake with Giarratana’s onion sauce.

Itinerary: Piazza Armerina and guided visit to the splendid mosaics. Butera, Caltagirone. Hotel Villa San Mauro: an excellent 4-star hotel finely fitted out with top-quality local ceramics.

DAY 6 – Azienda Vinicola COS -Cerasuolo di Vittoria

In the 18th century, Vittoria Colonna, Countess of Modica, produced a robust red wine with an unmistakable taste. Today Cerasuolo di Vittoria is still a noble wine. We will go and taste it at the COS wine production center. In this case too we will be among very old walls. One must notice the contrast between the very old wine production center, situated to the north “where the sun never strikes” (an ingenious artifice thought up when no energy existed to warm cells up) and the very modern room equipped for wine tasting. We are still in a country atmosphere and the products of the land are once again the protagonists: homemade bread and focaccias, cheeses and season’s fruits, processed pork meats (including spicy ones), roast or braised meat accompanied by greens and potatoes… in the end, with the ever-present coffee, typical local confectionery. In the evening the Villa San Mauro chef will present us with a more modem version of local dishes.

Itinerary: Ragusa, a visit to the town. Vittoria and Caltagirone.

DAY 7 – Scammacca del Murgo – Etna wines

Murgo Etna Rosso DOC, Murgo Etna Rosato DOC, Murgo Etna Bianco DOC, Tenuta S.Michele, Arbiato. These wines come into being in a microclimate characterized by major thermic excursions delaying the harvest for more than a month. The land is sandy volcanic land, rich in minerals. The volcano Etna is not just a natural spectacle, but a presence interacting with man. It is here we find Scammacca del Murgo, and it is here we will taste the “volcano wines”. In the afternoon optional free visit of Taormina. We will dine at the Locanda del Vinattiere. The buffet includes dozens of different types of processed pork meats, and cheeses, all produced locally. Other dishes inspired by the local tradition, like eggplant panzotti with Sicilian pesto, will be accompanied by Metodo classico Siciliano, Feudo arancio grillo, Regaleali Nero d’Avola and Grecale passito Florio.

Itinerary: Mount Etna, and a halt to visit the volcano. Taormina. Catania

The Hotel Parco degli Aragonesi is a 4-star hotel looking out over the sea, conceived in accordance with futuristic architectural principles though with full respect for the environment.

DAY 8 – Breakfast at hotel. Free transfer to airport (Catania)