This adventure into the heart of Sicily discovers the untouched beauty of the country through the hospitality, passion and spirit of Sicilians themselves. Explore medieval Erice and Baroque Ragusa with local guides, learn how to bake bread with an award-winning Sicilian baker and meet a shepherd whose passion and dedication has transformed a valley into a work of art. There will be an array of delights for food lovers, including the chance to taste fresh produce from local farms, olive groves and wineries, while history and architecture fans will love exploring the historic towns, cities and ancient ruins. But it’s the locals we meet across that make this more than just another tourist experience; we’ll arrive in Sicily as visitors and leave as friends.
- Return flights from Gatwick with easyJet
- 7 nightsin 3 and4-star hotels
- 12meals: 7 breakfasts, 3lunches, 2dinners
- Travelsphere Tour Lecturer
- Overseas transfers, other transportation and porterage
- Audio guide
- Day 1 UK – MARSALA
- Today you'll depart on your flight to the spectacular Mediterranean island of Sicily. When you arrive, we'll transfer you to your charming central hotel in Marsala, a Baroque town on the island's west coast. You can look forward to a welcome dinner once you arrive at your hotel, and a quiet evening to ease yourself into the trip.
- Day 2 Marsala, Erice & Stagnone salt pans
- Today is all about Marsala, a town that's known for its fortified (you guessed it) Marsala wine, which has been produced in the area since the 18th century. We'll visit a winery and learn all about the local tipple while tasting different varieties. We'll then enjoy a light lunch of local specialities, including Arancini, which are delicious deep-fried rice balls. The ancient medieval town of Erice is our next stop. We'll explore the narrow streets and take a good look at its magnificent 12th century Castello di Venere. The views of the surrounding countryside are unmissable on a clear day, you can see as far as Mount Etna. On our way back, we'll stop to admire the Stagnone salt pans, a lagoon-filled landscape and haven for wildlife.
- Day 3 Farm Cultural Park – Favara
- This morning we'll transfer to our historic hotel in the charming centre of Favara. After checking in, we'll visit the towns' cultural and artistic hub, Farm Cultural Park, which has transformed the once semi-abandoned centre of the town into a wonderfully colourful enclave of contemporary art. The regularly-changing exhibitions in this social project aim to regenerate and reimagine the town's Arab-influenced centre through art and culture. The afternoon is free to spend how you wish. If you like, join us on our optional trip to the Valley of the Temples, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the best-preserved archaeological sites in the world. We'll tour the remains of seven magnificent temples from the classical Greek civilisation. Or simply kick back and relax into the slow Sicilian pace of life.
- Day 4 Favara
You're free to relax on your own today. Alternatively, why not join us on one of our fantastic optional trips? Our first trip is to the town of Agrigento, which you'll have the chance to explore in a historical Italian Fiat 500 while your local guide will fill you in on all the secrets of Agrigento town. Either drive yourself or be driven around this beautiful historic town, stopping for great photo opportunities and delicious Sicilian street food along the way.
If you love food as well as getting to the heart of a traditional community you'll also love our second optional trip. In the small town of Campobello di Licata, we'll be regaled with stories of the city's history and secrets in the main square, followed by a lunch of rustic Sicilian food, including a demonstration from chef Giovanni on how Mpanata a traditional roulade of dough made with spinach is made. There will also be a tasting of wines from renowned local winery Baglio del Cristo di Campobello, goat cheeses from tiny dairy Azienda Montalbo, and extra virgin olive oil from Lu Trappitu, a family-run olive farm.
- Day 5 Sant'Angelo Muxaro & Andromeda Theatre
Today we'll get entirely off the beaten track exploring the small, characterful villages of Sicily. Our first stop is Sant'Angelo Muxaro, a fascinating, thousand-year old village perched on a solitary hill in the middle of the Platani river valley, and surrounded by small farms producing sublime olives, citrus fruit and almonds. A local guide will talk us through the town's monumental protohistoric tombs and explain local connections to the small English town of Bedford. It transpires that many of the town's current inhabitants used to live there, which means you can find English speakers on every corner.
During our visit we'll meet local dairy farmer Angelo and enjoy a taste of his delicious ricotta cheese. Following this is a trip to a local bakery, where owner Maria dishes up pizzas baked in wood ovens, bread seasoned with oil and oregano, and fragrant sweets with honey and almonds. In the afternoon we'll explore another picturesque village, Santo Stefano Quisquina, which has an intriguing outdoor stone theatre built by local shepherd-turned-sculptor Lorenzo Reina. One of the highest outdoor theatres on earth, its 108 cube-shaped stones represent the stars of the Andromeda constellation.
- Day 6 Borgo Santa Rita – Syracuse
Sicilian wheat has been grown for thousands of years, and today we'll visit the village of Borgo Santa Rita to trace its history through the fields, in the oven and at the table. The village is a mere dot on the map, and home to just five families, but has risen to fame for its extraordinary bakery, where bread is baked to an ancient Sicilian recipe using heirloom grains. Owner Maurizio Spinello, widely considered to be the best in Sicily, will supervise as you participate in baking a batch of fresh bread, before getting to taste the results, accompanied by local olives, oils, cheeses and pizza. Continuing with the baking theme, we'll tour the tiny Museum of Grain and Bread, and explore the village's Church of Santa Rita and scenic overlook, before enjoying an authentic Sicilian meal (paired with local wine) lovingly prepared by the museum's owners.
- Day 7 Ragusa & Syracuse
Today we'll explore Ragusa, a hilltop town whose fate is inextricably linked to the earthquake of 1693. Following a rebuild, the town now stands as a Baroque jewel, and part of the UNESCO-listed Noto Valley. Breathe in the magnificent views, stop for a drink at a pavement caf or explore the narrow alleyways and staircases of the Ragusa Ibla, the old town. In the afternoon, we'll return to Syracuse and visit the island of Ortigia, which is connected to the mainland by three bridges. You are free to explore at your own pace, perhaps wandering the medieval lanes or doing a spot of people-watching in a caf in one of the attractive piazzas. You're also free to dine here this evening and finish your Sicilian adventure in style.
- Day 8 Catania/UK
- Today we'll transfer you to Catania for your return flight to the UK.