Layers of Art Food & Culture
25 May - 4 June 2024
day 1 arrival
Arrive on your own schedule to Palazzo Planeta in the center of Palermo. First group meeting in the late afternoon at Palazzo Planeta for an orientation cocktail. Walk to group welcome supper at our favorite fish restaurant.
day 2 Palermo, cooking lesson
Walking tour of Palermo with a palermitana for historical background of the ancient Phoenician center with a pit stop at the Arab-Norman church called la Martorana, with the earliest and most spectacular of the byzantine mosaics on the island, and a pass through the Ballarò market. Afternoon free to explore on your own; choose from optional guided visits or go out exploring on your own. Evening free in Palermo.
day 3 Selinunte and Mazara
Down to the south coast for a cooking class with the Planeta family chef, learn Sicily's iconic recipes and taste them at lunch with a sea view. Afternoon visit to the vocative archaeological site at ancient Selinunte: bastion on the western edge of Greek ruled Sicily with the remains of temples and civic areas on a bluff above the Mediterranean Sea. Evening free in Palermo.
day 4 wine, tuna, Segesta
In the Alcamo production zone visit and tasting with a natural wine maker. Lunch with Sergio the tuna expert, descendant of a tonnarolo / tuna fisherman he transforms tuna using all the parts to make us an all-tuna lunch. Explore Segesta, an ancient Elimian settlement on the Greek/Carthaginian border with a spectacular temple and theater with sea view. Evening free in Palermo.
day 5 to Noto via Piazza Armerina
Transfer to Noto with a stop in central Sicily for a visit with an archaeologist who is an expert on the area’s ancient remains: the most magnificent and most extensive ancient Roman mosaic cycle ever discovered at the Villa Romana at Casale and the artifacts now housed at the museum at Aidone including spectacular objects recently recovered from US museums. Evening free in Noto.
day 6 Noto & Siracusa
Visit Noto with a netina, the historical center is an explosion of Sicilian baroque architecture built after the 1693 earthquake leveled the ancient town. Pastry lab and lunch with a young pastry chef and his mamma who have spearheaded the movement to save the near extinct sesamo d'Ispica, the super flavorful local sesame seed that is the basis for the historical sweets of this part of the island. Afternoon in Ortigia, the lovely peninsula that was ancient Siracusa with archaeological sites, optional visit with Elaine to see the Basilica of Santa Lucia and Caravaggio’s Burial of St. Lucy. Afternoon and evening free in Ortigia.
day 7 Modica & Scicli
Morning visit to an olive oil producer who cultivates the region's supreme olive variety: Tonda Iblea. Country lunch in Modica, the city that was county seat during centuries of Spanish dominion. See medieval frescoes in a newly re-discovered rupestrian church and learn about and taste Aztec chocolate and traditional pastries. Evening free in Noto.
day8 Palazzolo Acreide
Day trip high up on the Iblean plain to Palazzolo Acreide with Greek ruins, Baroque churches, a cheese dairy and an entire tradition devoted to sausage, really. Cooking lesson and tasting lunch. Afternoon and evening free in Noto.
day 9 Catania & Taormina
Transfer to Taormina via Catania. Tour the historic center of Catania, Baroque rebuilding made heavy and dramatic use of black lava stone from Mt. Etna, and the amazing show of culture that is the fish market. Walking tour with a progressive street food lunch. Afternoon and evening free in Taormina.
day 10 Mt. Etna & Taormina
Morning free in Taormina. Then it's up onto the volcano for a visit with a naturalist and foraging with my friend Turi the chef hunting for foods like mushrooms and wild asparagus for supper. Winery visit and a our last group supper with savory foods and wines from Mt. Etna's mineral rich soil.
day 11 departure Taormina
Transfers to Catania Fontanarossa CTA airport can be arranged.
Please note that this is an initial itinerary to provide a template of what to expect.
Specific visits are subject to change depending on producer availability and as new
opportunities present themselves. The people and places that we will be visiting are not
typical tourist destinations so plans may be modified at the last minute.
We will craft the final itinerary to provide the experience as described above.
Planned in collaboration with Celia Cerasoli, this is an exclusive Sicily visit for just 10-12 travelers. In Palermo we’ll stay at a private palazzo with self-catering apartments, you will find breakfast supplies in your apartment, there are coffee bars on our block as well as one of the best pastry shops in the city just a few minutes walk from the palazzo. In Noto and Taormina we have chosen centrally located boutique hotels. We will have private vans and drivers for all ground transportation.
The total program cost for this 11 day itinerary in 2024 is TBD .. as a guide the 2023 cost is $6,990 per person in double rooms.