Sicily

“To have seen Italy without having seen Sicily is not to have seen Italy at all, for Sicily is the clue to everything.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

palermo    etna    Siracusa    Ragusa

Palermo

During the course of its millennial history, Palermo was one of the most important cities in Europe. What made it impressive in its golden age survives today, shaping the island’s capital  into a fascinating place to explore. Palermo’s past greatly influenced its architecture, culture and customs, but nowhere is it more evident than in its cuisine. Each invading rule introduced new ingredients, broadened agricultural methods and shared cooking styles, so what we find on palermitano tables today is essentially the result of thousands of years of cultural food blending.

palermo etna Siracusa Ragusa

Markets & Street Food

Palermo_Market_Capo10This experience introduces food lovers to two of the most ancient and characteristic markets in Palermo. Here, among hollering vendors, buzzing activity, vibrant colors and delicious aromas, participants have the opportunity to chat with friendly and trusted purveyors, and experience Sicilian food culture by observing (and tasting!) the products of local fishmongers, farm-to-market produce sellers, street food kiosk owners, charcuterie vendors, and bakers.

Tasty samples as we move through the market may include sfincione (a super-topped thick Palermitan pizza), arancini (fried risotto croquettes), panelle (chickpea flour fritters), and for the brave, pani ca’ meusa (spleen sandwiches), stingghiole (skewers of sheep, goat or veal intestines) and much more. We talk about the meaning of eating seasonally and how Sicilian cuisine is connected to fresh produce and traditions while pointing out some stunning city sites along the way. The market stroll may finish off with a fantastic coffee and artisanal pastries, gelato or a glass of local wine.

For more information about this eating adventure, please email sicily@italyfoodandwinetours.com

Please notify us in advance of any food allergies and aversions.

Palermo Street Food & Desserts

Sicily_cannoliA visit to Palermo would be incomplete without snacking on street food and sweets. After all, Palermo is a top destination for street food and pastry lovers alike.

During our neighborhood passeggiata we taste savory and sweet specialties. From local street food like sfincione (traditional thick crust Palermitan pizza) to fried snacks like arancini, potato croquettes and pane e panelle, we’ll snack as we walk and take in Palermo like a local. No Sicilian food experience is complete without sweets… gelato and granita (did you know granita originated in Sicily?), cannoli filled with fresh ricotta on the spot, biscotti alle mandorle and Martorana fruit, marzipan pastries.

For more information about this eating adventure, please email sicily@italyfoodandwinetours.com

Please notify us in advance of any food allergies and aversions.

Vino 101 in Palermo

Wine_Generic3This wine tasting adventure, set in one or two Palermo wine bars, allows wine lovers to sip, acquire and discuss the elements of food and wine pairing. As an introduction to Sicilian wines, experience the variety and richness of this exquisite island.

A sommelier provides an overview of the history of winemaking and the basics of production, highlighting local grape varieties, regional characteristics and individual wine producers. In pairing a selection of 5 to 7 wines with appetizers, wine lovers will have a chance to explore Sicily and learn about the spectrum of Sicilian wines.

For more information about this wine tasting adventure, please email sicily@italyfoodandwinetours.com

Please notify us in advance of any food allergies and aversions.

Palermo Vineyard Discovery

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For more information about this wine tasting adventure, please email Sicily@italyfoodandwinetours.com

Please notify us in advance of any food allergies and aversions.

Cooking at Casa Mia

CassataJoin our chef in Palermo for a hands-on cooking class and market walk. The experience starts at one of Palermo’s historic markets – il Capo, La Vucciria or Borgo Vecchio – where food lovers will shop from the stalls brimming with vegetables, olives, seafood, local cheese and more.

With groceries in hand stroll to our chef’s home where participants select fresh herbs needed for the menu. In the kitchen of our chef’s home students create a 4-course Sicilian meal from antipasto to dessert, before enjoying lunch in the dining room.

The lesson ends at approximately 3:00 pm. Class includes market visit, cooking class, lunch, beverages. This class is available privately or you may choose to join a small group.

For more information about this cooking adventure, please email sicily@italyfoodandwinetours.com

Please notify us in advance of any food allergies and aversions.

Cooking a Sicilian Meal

Palermo_cooking_caponata1Have you dreamed of cooking in a professional kitchen? Join our chef in Palermo for a hands-on cooking class and market walk. The experience starts at one of Palermo’s historic markets – il Capo or Borgo Vecchio – where our chef introduces participants to local vendors throughout the market, shopping from the stalls that brim with vegetables, seafood, capers and more.

With groceries in hand, participants stroll to the chef’s restaurant where everyone rolls up their sleeves and gets cooking. Students create a 3-course Sicilian meal from antipasto to entrée before enjoying lunch.

This lesson includes market visit, hands-on cooking, lunch and beverages. This class is available privately or you may choose to join a small group.

For more information about this cooking adventure, please email sicily@italyfoodandwinetours.com

Please notify us in advance of any food allergies and aversions.

Etna

According to legend, Dionysus was the God who brought pleasure to mankind, and wine to Sicily, thus creating a wine-lover’s paradise for variety, complexity and abundance. Mount Etna is famous for its volcanic eruptions, and some of the finest wines in the country. Seasoned winemakers have understood this for generations and a new crop of producers is bottling the full potential of the area’s enviable climate, its native grape varieties and its fertile soil.

palermo etna Siracusa Ragusa

Etna Vineyard Discovery

Sicily_EtnaWineExcursion2The volcanic soils of Mount Etna, which is located just south of Catania, support a thriving agriculture, with lush vineyards and orchards spread across its cultivated slopes. Some of the most interesting wines being produced in Italy today are made in that very fertile area surrounding the volcano.

Our Etna vineyard discovery will introduce wine lovers to some of the area’s pre-eminent winemakers, with the opportunity to taste the wines, compare styles and learn about the region’s history and extraordinary winemaking traditions.

Concluding this wine tasting adventure, is a full lunch enjoyed in a nearby restaurant, pairing the previously explored wines to a typical Sicilian meal.

For more information about this wine tasting adventure, please email sicily@italyfoodandwinetours.com

Please notify us in advance of any food allergies and aversions.

Etna Wines & Food Pairing

Etna_Lunch_Wine

Our Etna wine and food pairing welcomes wine lovers into the informal setting and warmth of a local osteria, for a relaxed meal of authentic Sicilian food paired with local wine. Sip on a selection of Etna wines accompanied by seasonal appetizers, pastas and entrees. A certified sommelier shares the unique history of winemaking on Etna while highlighting the characteristics of each indigenous grape variety, the terroir and wine producers.

For more information about this wine tasting adventure, please email sicily@italyfoodandwinetours.com

Please notify us in advance of any food allergies and aversions.

Catania Market & Neighborhood Experience

On this food exploration of Catania, food lovers have the chance to experience one of the largest and most versatile markets in Sicily. Located in the heart of the city, and relatively untouched by tourism, the farmer’s market, ‘a piscaria offers wonderful insight into Sicilian culture and cuisine.

After exploring the Piazza del Duomo and its stunning architecture, we enter the marketplace where we meet friendly and trusted vendors. The local food scene is experienced fully by observing (and tasting!) the work and products of fishmongers, butchers, farm-to-market produce sellers, street food kiosk owners, cured meat and cheese vendors, bakers and other artisans.

Tasty samples as we move through the market and neighborhood may include fresh seasonal produce, roasted olives, cheese, plus local street food like arancini, pizzette, cipolline and stigghiole.

A short stroll by the Benedictine nunnery reveals some of the secrets behind local pastry-making. Tastings may feature cassata, granita, mustata, rame di Napoli, zuzzu, and other sweet specialties. Between imbibing tangerine syrup or typical selz, sale e limone at a streetside kiosk and snapping photos at the Greek amphitheater, we discuss the meaning of eating seasonally and how Sicilian cuisine is crucially connected to market-fresh produce and deep-seated local traditions.

The experience may end relaxing in the lush Bellini Gardens with a portable snack, or seated at a restaurant in the vibrant Via Etnea area for a light lunch.

For more information about this tour in Catania, please email sicily@italyfoodandwinetours.com

Please notify us in advance of any food allergies and aversions.

Olive Oil Farm Visit on Etna

At the foot of Europe’s tallest active volcano, Mt Etna, we visit a farm that produces organic, extra-virgin olive oil from the Nocellara Etnea olive variety.

The extra virgin olive oil is produced according to Earth’s natural cycles and using gentle, biodynamic methods. Parasites are fought with ladybugs and lizards alone. The olives are hand-picked and cold-pressed on the same day, using stone mill rollers.

The olive grove is planted in chalky, mineral-rich clay soil characteristic of the contrada, approximately 10 hectares of land located at 350 meters above sea level in the western flank of the volcano, near a river and surrounded by rolling hills. After a stroll amid 35-40-year-old trees, we move to the frantoio, the olive press, for a tasting of the property’s organic extra virgin olive oil. Swirls of iridescent gold and thick green are poured over warm bread and fresh seasonal vegetables and paired with a glass of the area’s best local nerello mascalese wine, along with a vast selection of local specialties and seasonal vegetables.

During harvest season we can take requests for those interested in actively participating in the harvest followed by lunch.

For more information about this day trip on Etna, please email sicily@italyfoodandwinetours.com

Please notify us in advance of any food allergies and aversions.

Siracusa

Siracusa was once the mightiest city in Magna Grecia, today it’s one of the Mediterranean’s most fascinating towns. The charming island of Ortigia, the oldest part of Siracusa built on an ancient Greek settlement, is a labyrinth of Medieval streets and alleys, a bustling open-air market, romantic restaurants, cafes and sun-drenched piazzas. Its archaeological sites, like the Temple of Apollo – considered the oldest Greek temple in Sicily – remind us that the island is at the crossroads between East, West, North and South.

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Ortigia Market & Tasting Experience

Siracusa_PiazzaThe best way to learn about a culture is through its food. During our Ortigia tasting and history experience, we meet in the morning and while sipping a coffee and enjoying a maritozzo pastry we chat about the importance of Sicily to Italy in general.

The leisurely conversation continues as we stroll to the area’s vibrant farmer’s market located in the oldest part of the city on the charming island of Ortigia. The market overlooks the Mediterranean sea and the offerings on display reflect that. Here food lovers have the chance to meet the fishmongers, artisans and other food sellers that carry seasonal produce, cured meats, cheese and pasta products, tasting samples along the way and snacking on typical specialties.

Our walk continues to discover the many layers of Ortigia through its fascinating historical landmarks, the beautiful Duomo, and sunlit piazzas. Along the way we stop in various shops and meet other food vendors for more tastings. We bid our arrivederci over a glass of wine or a gelato.

For more information about this eating adventure, please email sicily@italyfoodandwinetours.com

Please notify us in advance of any food allergies and aversions.

Cooking at Casa Mia in Ortigia

Siracusa_Market1

Our Cooking Adventure starts at the ancient Ortigia market. Participants and host browse the market stalls brimming with seasonal fruit and vegetables and meet fish vendors displaying their daily catch. Specialty food shops showcase local cheese like Ragusano (an Italian PDO cheese made with whole milk from modicana breed cows in the provinces of Ragusa and Siracusa), sun-dried tomatoes and capers from Pantelleria.

Together host and class pick up ingredients for the lesson: there is no set menu. The products, season and market availability determine what will be made in the cooking class that day.

After a short stroll, participants are welcomed into the elegant warmth of the host’s home overlooking the Ortigia harbor. After a brief aperitivo, the class ties on aprons and gets cooking.

Dishes prepared belong to both classic Siracusan cuisine as well as original preparations devised by the consummate hostess who has decades of experience in the hospitality and restaurant business.

The class prepares a five-course meal in a beautiful kitchen. Dishes may include arancini, hand rolled pasta, fish involtini stuffed with breadcrumbs, raisins and pine nuts, orange and fennel salad and ending with cannoli. Guests take a seat around a table in the the host’s dining room flooded with sunlight to enjoy each course. Local bread, olive oil, and perfectly paired wines accompany the meal with conversation.

For more information about this cooking adventure, please email sicily@italyfoodandwinetours.com

Please notify us in advance of any food allergies and aversions.

Just Desserts in Siracusa

Have you ever dreamed of making your own Sicilian desserts such as cassata, cannoli, buccellati, and more?

Our Sicilian cook teaches students how to achieve professional level pastry dough; shares tips on the best fresh local ingredients used in typical Sicilian sweets, like fresh sheep’s milk ricotta, chocolate from Modica, almonds from Avola and pistachios from Bronte, plus baking techniques that can be easily replicated at home.

At the end of our dolci Siciliani class, students and chef enjoy a convivial “merenda” (snack) together, savoring the desserts prepared together, along with coffee, tea, and other refreshments.

For more information about this cooking class in Siracusa, please email sicily@italyfoodandwinetours.com

Please notify us in advance of any food allergies and aversions.

Ragusa

Built on three wide limestone hills separated by a deep valley, the ancient city of Ragusa Ibla belongs to the Val di Noto, a stunning UNESCO world heritage site comprised of eight towns, renowned for sensational late Baroque architecture and a deep-rooted food culture. Just outside the hilltop town is a lush countryside distinguished for its fertile land, superb local cuisine and spectacular wines. In the surroundings are more tasty magnets, such as the chocolate produced in the town of Modica, local Ragusano cheese and olive oil produced in the Hyblaean mountains.

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Ragusa Vineyard Discovery

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The best way to taste and learn about wine is from the source. Our guided vineyard discovery allows wine lovers to learn about Italian wine through a unique experience: meeting the winemakers at their estate, walking in the vineyards, and tasting the wine in the ancient cellar of an esteemed vineyard located outside Ragusa Ibla, deep in the area’s lush wine country.

After a walk amid the vines, during our wine tasting in the cellar, there will be time for relaxed conversation, discussing the winemaking process and getting a first hand account the vineyard’s history and unique characteristics. This wine tasting vineyard adventure ends with a full lunch prepared on the estate, pairing the previously explored wines to a typical Sicilian meal.

For more information about this wine tasting adventure, please email sicily@italyfoodandwinetours.com

Please notify us in advance of any food allergies and aversions.

Ragusa Comparative Vineyard Visit

ragusa-vineyard-new300x400This wine tasting experience takes wine lovers to two of the most prestigious vineyards in Sicily. Participants will have the rare chance to walk through the vines while learning about grape varieties and gain insight on the process of traditional Sicilian winemaking. The reason for this is to enjoy a comparative tasting of the wines in both cellars investigating the differences of each vineyard’s production methods and enjoying a sample of local specialties including cheese, cured meats and bread.

For more information about this wine tasting adventure, please email sicily@italyfoodandwinetours.com

Please notify us in advance of any food allergies and aversions.

Cooking at a Winery

Ragusa_vineyard_Lunch300x400Imagine spending a day visiting a Sicilian winery – walking through its vineyards, exploring the cellar, learning about and tasting the wines – and then having the rare opportunity of cooking in the estate’s kitchen. Our intimate and exclusive experience welcomes wine lovers into the kitchen of a vineyard for a hands-on cooking lesson with a home cook or trained chef. Dishes vary seasonally and may include sficione, peppers stuffed with anchovies and oven roasted olives, pasta with seasonal vegetables and sausages sauteed in Nero d’avola red wine . There are snacks and wine for everyone throughout the lesson. Concluding the experience, everyone sits down together at the family table: the dishes prepared together, paired to the winery’s vintages, are enjoyed in a convivial lunch, in typical Sicilian family style.
If you have specific menu requests, please inform us upon booking.

For more information about this wine and cooking experience, please email sicily@italyfoodandwinetours.com

Please notify us in advance of any food allergies and aversions.

The Baroque Towns & Foods of Southeast Sicily

Our full-day adventure begins with a visit to Noto, a town which was rebuilt after the 1693 earthquake. Noto is famous for its Sicilian Baroque architecture. We start the day with breakfast at one of Sicily’s most famous cafés. Enjoy brioche with granita, cappuccino, and other specialties before visiting a number of churches which stand out for their artwork and strategic location. We also point out numerous aristocratic buildings with Baroque facades and twisted iron railings located on the main street, Corso Vittorio Emanuele, as well as many adjoining streets.

After our morning visit to Noto, we drive to Modica. Nestled in a breathtaking gorge of the Val di Noto, Modica is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its Baroque architecture, splendid churches, and its cold-processed chocolate. We taste local chocolate and learn how this unique local product is made. Lunch is enjoyed at a family-run trattoria, with a selection of mixed antipasti, seasonal soup or pasta, and wine.

For those who wish, we can arrange to conclude our day visiting Ragusa, enjoying traditional biscotti and dessert wine, or a tasting of cheese, cured meats and local wine.

For more information about this day trip, please email sicily@italyfoodandwinetours.com

Please notify us in advance of any food allergies and aversions.

Cheese-Making in Ragusa

The small, family-run farm we have the opportunity of visiting was founded in 1978 and is located in Contrada Castiglione, only a few miles from Ragusa. Here Frisona breed cows graze free in the Iblean countryside every morning and produce abundant milk of the highest quality. With this prized raw milk, the farm produces fresh and wholesome local cheeses: provola, caciocavallo, tuma and ricotta. Methods are ancient and traditional, rhythms are slow.

During our visit, we can trace the entire journey of the milk, from the stables, all the way to the creamery where the cheese is made before our eyes. We witness all the various steps of the production, from curdling of the milk, to the forming of the cheese, including the stretching and shaping of fresh provola and the preparation of ricotta cheese. At the end of all the hard work, we enjoy a tasting of the farm’s products, along with other local specialties, like bread, olive oil and cured meats.

For those who wish, we can arrange for the farm to prepare lunch using locally grown produce, the farm’s own cheese plus wine, bread and other seasonal specialties.

For more information about this day trip outside of Ragusa, please email sicily@italyfoodandwinetours.com

Please notify us in advance of any food allergies and aversions.