- Tour Palermo's city sights and discover its famous street food
- Learn the art of Sicilian cuisine with a cooking class in Syracuse
- Visit three wineries native to the slopes of Mount Etna
- Learn to make the perfect cannolo in Taormina
|Day 1||Arrive in Palermo, Sicilian Wine Tour||Palermo|
|Day 2||Palermo Street Food Tour, Free Afternoon||Palermo|
|Day 3||Transfer to Syracuse, Visit Agrigento, Traditional Puppet Show||Syracuse|
|Day 4||Market-to-Table Sicilian Cooking Experience, Free Afternoon||Syracuse|
|Day 5||Transfer to Taormina, Visit the Greek Theater, Cannolo Cooking Class||Taormina|
|Day 6||Full-Day Mount Etna Winery Tour||Taormina|
|Day 7||Return to Palermo, Depart|
Day 1: Arrive in Palermo, Sicilian Wine Tour
Welcome to Palermo! Upon arrival at the airport, meet your driver and transfer to your hotel in the historic center. Sicily's regional capital has long been popular with travelers thanks to its wonderful climate, rich blend of ancient history, and delicious North African-influenced cuisine and famous street food.
Settle in after your flight and head out to discover the capital's unique Arab-Norman architecture. Take in sights such as the ninth-century Palazzo dei Normanni, the oldest royal residence in Europe, and La Martorana, an Italo-Albanian Catholic Church. If you're peckish, follow your nose to the colorful Vucciria market, known for its spectacular seafood, to sample delicious street food. Grab a drink at the Piazza Marina and saunter in the shade of the impressive ficus tree (Europe's largest) in the central Giardino Garibaldi.
Later, you'll meet a local sommelier and tour guide who will guide you to three of the city's best wine bars for a wine-tasting tour paired with local delicacies. You'll start in an elegant rooftop bar in the Kalsa district, Palermo's historic Arab quarter, notable for its boutiques and animated bars, where your host will greet you with vino spumante and tasty fritti (fried appetizers). Then it's off to your next location, where you'll sip dry Sicilian whites, reds, and rosés paired with local dishes while your sommelier guides you through the tasting and shares stories of the producers.
Day 2: Palermo Street Food Tour, Free Afternoon
Sicily's cuisine is a heady mix of traditional Italian techniques and robust Sicilian flavors sprinkled with an enticing blend of North African ingredients particular to this region of Italy. Palermo's street food ranks among the best in the world, and this morning, you'll experience the city's legendary cuisine with a foodie tour through the city's back streets. Your local guide will introduce you to the vendors and lead you through the maze of the city's riotous souks like Vucciria and Capo markets.
Weave your way through the alleyways and visit local bars and bakeries, savoring delicacies including panelle (chickpea fritters), pani câ meusa (sesame-flavored bread stuffed with fried veal and spleen), and arancini (deep-fried balls of rice stuffed with meat, vegetables, and cheese). Refresh with a glass of local Sicilian wine or a soft drink before ending the tour with delicious cannoli (deep-fried pastries filled with sweet ricotta cheese), gelato, or a refreshing granita (a semi-frozen treat made with fruit, sugar, and water).
Part ways with your guide, and you'll have the afternoon free to explore the city at your own pace. Admire the Arab, Byzantine, and Spanish art and architecture in Piazzas Bellini and Pretoria, and stroll the botanical gardens and sculptures at 18th-century Villa Giulia. Or simply soak up the sunshine and enjoy the sea breeze at nearby Mondello Beach or Foro Italico, an expansive public garden that lines the city's seafront.
Day 3: Transfer to Syracuse, Visit Agrigento, Traditional Puppet Show
After one last colazione (breakfast) in Palermo, you'll cut across the island to Syracuse in the southeast, stopping at Agrigento's protected archaeological site along the way. Accompanied by an experienced guide, you'll discover the Valley of the Temples, home to the ancient ruins of Akragas (the Romans resettled the city as Agrigento in 201 BCE) and the Greek Temple of Concordia—considered to be one of the world's best-preserved Doric temples, alongside Athens' Parthenon.
After a few hours exploring the site, you'll transfer 2.5 hours east to your hotel on Ortigia, Syracuse's historical heart that's connected to the city by three bridges. This città vecchia (old town) is full of treasures waiting to be explored and easily done on foot. Begin with a walk along Passeggio Aretusa to Fonte Aretusa, a natural spring surrounded by stonewalls and steeped in Greek mythology. Explore the tightly woven network of narrow and winding alleys and lanes, and you'll be rewarded with ornate churches and Baroque palaces in various states of repair.
As dusk falls, stroll to the Giudecca neighborhood, where you'll find a small charming theater steps away from the Piazza Duomo. Spend the next hour or so immersing yourself in traditional Sicilian culture as you watch the Opera dei Pupi, an enchanting puppet show featuring medieval tales inspired by Italian Renaissance poems. Afterward, you can visit the adjoining puppet museum—a treasure trove of beautiful craftsmanship and historical tradition.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 4: Market-to-Table Sicilian Cooking Experience, Free Afternoon
Spend this morning discovering Syracuse's sights, sounds, and flavors with a walk through the lively Mercato Ortigia. Accompanied by a local chef, you'll purchase ingredients for this morning's Sicilian cooking class and enjoy tasty morsels along the way. Continue to weave your way through the back streets to the kitchen, where you'll cook alongside the chef to produce Sicilian classics such as pasta alla Norma, arancini, salt-baked seabass, and pasta with pistachio pesto and shrimp. At the end of the workshop, sit down with your fellow chefs and enjoy your creations.
The afternoon is yours to spend at your own pace. Wander the winding streets and stumble across tucked-away gems, including the Palazzo Impellizzeri, a 19th-century noble residence, and the Temple of Apollo in Piazza Pancali. Meanwhile, the subterranean sixth-century San Giovanni Crypt and Catacombs are perfect for history buffs seeking a break from the heat. Alternatively, if you need a little relaxation and less sightseeing, soak in the Sicilian sunshine on the beautiful sand and turquoise water of Arenella Beach, just 20 minutes south of Syracuse.
Day 5: Transfer to Taormina, Visit the Greek Theater, Cannolo Cooking Class
Today marks the final stop on your trip with a two-hour transfer to Taormina, a chic and popular town in the shadow of Mount Etna, located just up the coast from Syracuse on the Ionian Sea. Arrive at your hotel and settle in, then head out to explore. Your first stop should be Piazza IX Aprile, the town's elegant main square, where you can admire the sea views of the Bay of Naxos and the Teatro Greco (the town's famous Greek theater) below. Lunch at one of the many restaurants on nearby Corso Umberto, where you'll find plenty of great dining options and shady courtyards to relax in.
This afternoon, get a closer look at the third-century Teatro Greco with a two-hour tour. Meet your guide and hear how the theater, carved directly from the rock of Mount Taurus, evolved from its classical Greek origins to its setting as an arena for gladiatorial battles. Enjoy the views toward the Calabrian coast and stroll the scenic ruins before enjoying pool time or a cocktail at your hotel.
Later, spend a few hours discovering the secrets to making the perfect cannolo, a typical Sicilian dolce combining sweet fried dough and filled with traditional ricotta cream, sometimes enhanced with finely chopped pistachios or chocolate chips. Your pastry chef will show you how to prepare and fill the crusty shell with the delicately flavored cream. Of course, there'll be plenty of time to savor your dolce and chat with your fellow pastry chefs over a glass or two of the local wine or soft drinks.
Day 6: Full-Day Mount Etna Winery Tour
Spend today exploring Mount Etna's volcanic landscape with a full-day wine-tasting tour that whisks you across three Sicilian family-run wineries as you explore the fascinating region surrounding Europe's most active volcano. Pass through picturesque villages, fruit orchards, and churches made from volcanic rock, and hear from your guide how the volcano's near-constant active state leads to rich, fertile slopes upon which the vineyards are planted.
Reach the wineries, and you'll meet the owners for a tour of the grounds and discover the centuries-old winemaking methods still used today. Taste a variety of regional reds, whites, and rosés from grapes, including carricante, catarratto, nerello cappuccio, and nerello mascalese while you feast on plates of formaggi (cheeses) and home-cured cold cuts and salamis. You'll return to your hotel late afternoon, where the evening is yours to dine on Sicilian specialties and fresh seafood while you watch the sunset over the bay.
Day 7: Return to Palermo, Depart
Say goodbye, or ciao, to Italy for now. Take advantage of any extra time with one last morning stroll around Taormina before transferring to Palermo, where you'll catch your flight home or continue your European adventure. Safe travels!
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