The Sicilian Adventure of a Lifetime...
Hundreds of thousands of people tour Sicily, but we promise there is nothing anything like this. You will have experiences that will have you telling stories for the rest of your life. Two itinerares are available (9 day, 8 night and 8 day, 7 night) all-inclusive experiences that give you an insider's view of Sicily that is nearly impossible to have in any other way. This trip is full of incredibly unique cultural experiences that you will never forget. You will live the Sicilian life as we cook authentic local recipes together, interact with and befriend the locals, get to know small-village artisans, and so much more. This trip will make you pinch yourself over and over in amazement that you are actually living it. It is an all-accss pass to true Sicilian life like nothing else out there, and we limit it to no more than 15 people per trip. Most of all, it is a week of fun, family and laughter as we share what makes Sicily so special in a very personal way.
The Cooking Classes
We'll have four half-day completely hands-on cooking classes this week, Our cooking classes are not demonstrations. They are 100% hands-on. We structure them so that you can be as involved as you desire in every stage of every course we prepare. So, if you are up for it, we will get wrist-deep as we make Eggplant Parmesan from scratch, Veal Marsala, Cannoli, amazing Sicilian seafood dishes, and much more. We'll even have a class completely dedicated to Sicilian pastries, and one that is all about Sicilian sausage! In addition we will have a final cooking party... not a class, but a party in our fiend's private villa, during which we will cook together, take it easy, sing & dance with local friends and family.
For those who would rather eat than cook, there is always something to do. Head down to the beautiful seaside with crystal clear waters, Opt for a Scuba lesson, spend the morning at the beach, or relax in the sun on the giant cliffs overlooking the sea.
This vacation is all about rich cultural experiences that are never part of some touristy offering. Most of the cultural experiences are done with local friends that do what they do only with us, making each a truly intimate experience. When we go night fishing on our 9 day trip, we are not with a tour boat captain. We are out with a local fisherman on his nightly fishing trip. We cast the nets with him. We get to know him. We clean the fish with him, and we even help him sell the catch at the local market. Our our 8 day itinerary, we do a "day fishing" version of the same. When we are making Ricotta, we are on the private farm of a local shepherd, not at a commercial cheese factory that does "cheese tours". You will see many of the same locals over and over.. on the boats, in their homes for dinner. You will not be a tourist. You will be a guest.
While thousands drive the Trapani Salt Road on their tours, they will be looking at the people out there harvesting salt. On our trips, WE are the people those tourists are watching out there harvesting the salt... and of course, we bring it home with us!
We are in a part of Sicily that is still real, and you will find yourself discovering fantastic places that the travel business hasn't caught onto yet. We'll visit private wineries in Marsala, we'll take trips to incredible places with breathtaking grottoes off the coast, we'll visit the mountaintop village of Erice, we'll experience the Salt Mines of Trapani, and we'll get right into the thick of it in Palermo's bustling markets. Our excursions are not the worn Sicilian history tours... they are excursions that bring you into a Sicily few foreign tourists ever experience.... seeing Sicily not just like an Italian, but like a Sicilian insider.
The Food & Wine
We are all about food & wine, and if there is one comment we hear more than any other from our guests throughout the week, it is "I can't eat another bite".
You will never be hungry, and you will never want for more wine, period. All of the restaurant meals are in small, local restaurants that are considered the best of the best for their area. These are the places the locals rave about, not the touristy places. Other meals are in private homes of locals that invite us in as their house guests, or while out at sea, or on the cliffs of the Mediterranean. It is as one would expect when visiting friends and family that live here, giving you a sense of belonging as a guest, not a tourist.
Furthermore, we don't do "tourist food". We insist on the highest quality at all times, and always pull out all of the stops.
The seafood is always today's catch. The pastries are always just-baked. The wine is always flowing, and everything is always the best of the best.
Additionally, the meals at our cooking classes are not little 'learn to make pasta' classes like many others. Instead, the first two classes are traditional Italian 'Sunday Family Meals', done to the max. Our third class, which is all about Sicilian pastries is so 'from scratch', that when we make Cannoli, we will make the dough from scratch. We'll roll our shells from that dough by hand, and the filling will be made by us, from the Ricotta cheese that WE made with our shepherd friend.
When the trip is over, you will have experienced the real Sicily that few tourists have ever experienced. You will have made new friends, and you will have learned why Italian culture is so amazing... because you will have lived it.
Cities & Islands we'll visit...
What we'll be cooking...
Factories, Wineries, Mills, Artisans & Experiences...
Please allow a few seconds for the interactive map to load.
Press the "Play" button below to start a 7 minute guided tour of the itinerary, showing day by day where we go, along with photos at each stop. At any time, you can press the little "hand" icon in the map to stop the tour, zoom in and out of the map, and go through the itinerary on your own.
For the first six nights of this vacation, we will be staying at the Nido del Pellegrino on our own private peninsula of Favignana Island, off the west coast of Sicily.
The "Nido del Pellegrino" (Pellican's Nest), was once an Italian WWII Militay Base, and the old gun turrets are still visible on our peninsula. It went through a complete restoration process in 2010 converting the buildings into luxury mini-apartments.
It boasts breathtaking 270 degree views of the Medeterranean sea. As we walk around the property, there are beautiful trails that take us along the clifss, and lead down to our private beach on one side, and private dock on the other.
If we have a full group, it will be all ours while we are there. We will have a small "snack house" set up in the courtyard, which will alays be stocked with snacks, drinks, wine... and of course our Cappuccino and Espresso machine!
All of the mini apartments have an independant entrance, private bathrooms, kitchens, refrigerators, etc. They are all air conditioned and heated. They have television in each home with satellite service, allowing you English Language programming. Furthermore, free WIFI Internet access is available throughout.
For, our final two nights, we will be sleeping in Downtown Palermo. Finding a place that had the "Family Feeling" we demand, plus met all of our high standards was not easy in a major city like Palermo. But we did it. They call themselves a B&B, but it is really a Boutique Hotel. Each room is beatiful with all amenities and private facilities. It is absolutely beautiful and charming, but the location was really the slam dunk with this one. It is right in the heart of Palermo's "Il Capo" Shopping district. It is 'the place to be' in Palermo, but itn't a place you find many hotels. This one is absolutely perfect, and our guests will come to understand quickly what an amazing place this is.
All rooms are air conditioned and heated with private bathrooms. They have television in each room with satellite service, allowing you English Language programming. Furthermore, free WIFI Internet access is available throughout.
See More Photos of Our Sicily accommodations
Is This For You?
Is This For You?
PLEASE READ THIS CAREFULLY
Our Sicily itineraries are VERY different from all of our other vacations. Please read this page carefully to be sure this trip is right for you.
If You Suffer Seasickness...
Keep in mind that we spend a great deal of time on boats during this trip. If you have been known to suffer from seasickness, please understand that we will not have alternatives. We are happy to have you, but come prepared knowing that this trip relies heavily on boating.
You Will Have to Go With The Flow
To begin with, we are on a tiny island, and the weather often changes on a dime. Add to that that we are in Sicily, which is not nearly as developed as the rest of Italy, and lots of things can interfere with our plans. Remember, we are off the beaten path and we don't do what the big commercial tour companies do. We deal quite a bit with people that are not so accustomed to the "timing" ad "expectations" of tourism. What this means is that we must always take it in stride. For example, on one week there was a storm on our start date. The ferry boats simply "decided" not to offer service to the island that day, so we had to scramble to find a hotel on the mainland and make due. Another time, we were supposed to go visit the grottoes of a nearby island. The fisherman on the island called to tell us that the weather was not good enough to go out. On OUR island, it looked beautiful, but he made the decision, and there was no convincing him otherwise. Was the weather on his island really bad? We don't know. Maybe it was, or maybe he just felt like sleeping in that day. Either way, when we raise a concern, the only reply we ever get is, quite simply "This is Sicily, what do you expect?".
The point here is that this is completely correct. This IS, in fact, Sicily. And this IS what one should expect there. Things will happen if they happen, and often things that were never planned happen... and are better than expected. The trick here is to let it all flow, take everything in stride, live the "island" life, and in the end it all somehow magically comes together as something amazing. That said, those that are a little more uptight, rely on schedule, and expect everything to go as planned will almost always be displeased with "The Sicilian Way".
This Trip is ADVENTURE
Western Sicily is not heavily traveled by foreign tourists. You will not find great shopping here. There is some, but it is quite limited. Those that have been to the "cruise ship ports" like Taormina will find a completely different Sicily. The beauty here is raw and unspoiled, not dressed for mass tourism. It is Sicily as it actually is. This culture is not as rich as Tuscany, for example, so everything (and everyone) is much simpler and down to earth. For those seeking an authentic experience that they will never forget, this is at the core of what makes this trip so amazing.
That said, the shopping here is not just for locals. This is a very popular destination for Italian tourists, so there is no shortage of shops, cafes, etc. However, they are geared more toward Italian tastes.
Some Early Mornings & Late Nights
Our other vacations have a more standardized time each day. Our Sicily trip, however, relies on ferry schedules and the times of day that the people we interact with "do what they do". Because of this, there are a few mornings that we get an early start. On our 9 day itinerary, that means 3:30 AM on the day we go fishing! Furthermore, there are days that we are out quite late. This is especially true of our final night, in which we will be at a very late night party.
In most cases, you will have the option to opt out if you want. We plan very busy itineraries, knowing that our guests will not always do everything. So we cross back home between excursions and events, giving our guests to pick and choose what they wish to do, and what they would like to sit out.
Italian food is very regional in nature, so some people may be expecting "Italian Food" in general terms, but the cuisine of any part of Italy is largely based on what is grown and raised in a given area of the country. What you will find here is "Western Sicilian Island Food". We are on a small, rocky, semi-arid island. The soil is not extremely fertile, so the area historically did not have good conditions for crops and farm animals. They did, however, have an abundant supply of seafood. Because of this, there is a great deal of seafood here and relatively little meat by comparison.
For those that do not eat seafood, there are always wonderful alternatives, but you will find that our primary meals will consist largely of seafood all week.
Our vacations are focused on having a good time with new friends. Everything we do revolves around that. People seeking a self-centered vacation might reconsider. Our groups tend to span all ages, men & women, singles & couples... everyone is welcome, and when our guests come ready to embrace a new culture, look forward to trying new things, and interact with other guests, it is always amazing. Even the way our guests see us is important. If you see us as "providers of a service", you may reconsider our trips. We bring you into our family and become part of the group with you... as though you are visiting friends and family. If you are able to be in this frame of mind, our trips will be like nothing you have ever experienced, but if you are looking for a more detached relationship with us, our trips may not be for you.
One of the more common concerns we hear is that of safety, especially given Sicily's famed history. The island of Favignana is a tiny little island community where everyone knows everyone. It is an extremely friendly and safe place where any form of crime is practically unheard of.
However, our final two days are in Palermo, which is a different story. Palermo is a large, bustling city. Crime is an issue here, and precautions need to be taken as we venture into the crowded markets there, where thiefs and pickpockets are in search of targets. We ask our guests on our day in the markets to leave jewelry at home, to dress in an understated manner, and to leave purses and wallets behind. As an additional precaution, when we venture into the markets, we ask our guests to stay close to us while we have several people watching you and the surroundings at all times.
While we do take many precautions, it is important that our guests understand what the Palermo day will feel like before coming. This is not a place where one would "sit at a sidewalk cafe and take in the old world charm". It is quite the opposite. Palermo's markets are crowded, chaotic, noisy and gritty. What makes them attractive is that they feel like something of a completely different age. The mixture of African and Italian influence, the vendors chopping fish in the open air stalls, ladies shopping for lunch, people snacking at the food stands, people calling our their unique products at the top of their voices, vendors arguing with customers over prices, etc. One easily feels a sense of being in a movie scene set long ago while at the markets... but for some people it can be overwhelming.
Be Ready to Embrace the Culture
Our trips focus on bringing you into the true culture of the place, but some guests want to see it, but not live it. We embrace the culture and do things the way locals do, which may or may not be what you are looking for. This includes little things like not having cappuccino with our meals (Italians only have cappuccino as a breakfast beverage), not having bacon and eggs for breakfast (Italians have coffee or tea and pastries), or larger things, like the fact that we have our dinners after 8:00 PM, like the Italians do. Every step of the way we adapt to the local culture, rather than asking the local culture to adapt to us. This also tends to make us much more welcome guests than other groups!
You by no means need to be athletic for this vacation, but you must be able to handle some level of physical exertion. A good rule to follow would be to ask yourself if you can do three flights of stairs, then continue walking without needing to sit down for a while.
We have had guests as old as 90 years old with no problems whatsoever. Age is not a limiting factor, so long as you are in good physical condition with no health problems that exertion would complicate.
We will be at sea level for most of the trip.
Special Needs we can (and cannot) cater to in Soriano
You must be able to walk up to a mile and do at least a couple flights of stairs in order to come on this trip in order to go on the excursions.
We can cater to most food allergies, vegetarian diets, and to some extent kosher diets. We will substitute with other dishes if you let us know in advance. We can even cater to a gluten-free diet. Our cooking class menus will not change based on a guest's food limitations, but even in the classes, we can usually offer alternatives to eat. That said, if you do have limitations, it is important that you have a positive attitude about it. We are happy to substitute, but the variety of alternatives may be limited.