Overview - Sicily, The Motherland - Wine, Cooking, Culture & Adventure

NEW! - Small Group Sicily Coast to Coast Tour with Exclusive CDV Only experiences, Boutique Lodging, Cooking & More.

All-Inclusive Mainland Sicily Tour - Discover It - Feel It - Live It

A CDV Immersive & Luxury Vacation

About Our Sicily Tour CDV Exclusive Experiences The Excursions Food & Wine Destinations Cooking Classes Wineries, Mills, Factories, and UNESCO World Heritage Sites


Find yourself surrounded in some of the most delightful and fabulous places in all of Sicily on this 12-Day/11-Night All-Inclusive Sicily Tour.

The experience-of-a-lifetime adventure awaits you as we travel from coast to coast, across this breathtaking land. An island built from centuries of conquest and cultural influences beginning in primitive times and continuing throughout millennia.

For most of us, Sicily evokes emotions and imagery that perhaps no other place in the world does. It's as if everything is still in sepia-tone with push-cart vendors on the cobblestone streets of Palermo. Fisherman casting nets on the sea from their rowboats, and women in flowered-dresses lighting intention candles in a dimly-lit church.

Even with modernization, Sicily still clings to their colorful history that we all can identify with. We embrace the stories told by the innumerable immigrants that traveled west, bringing their heritage and traditions to foreign shores. We'll take you back to the origins of those stories. We'll be walking in the footsteps of generations of courageous families that helped shape their adopted countries.

The Sicilian culture is centered around family and the dinner table. So unlike a typical sightseeing tour, this adventure focuses on true Sicilian culture. So while we do much of the sightseeing one would expect, it is always anchored by spending precious time with the locals, dining it the homes and villas of Sicilians, and embracing the life and culture of this wonderful Island. Apart from the spectacular food, we offer our signature full participation farm-to-table cooking classes and distinguishable foodie experiences with local artisans and families. We'll make Ragusa-style cheese from scratch with local ranchers. We'll be making regional dishes like Pasta alla Norma, Eggplant Caponata, Sicilian Sausages Modica Chocolate and authentic Sicilian Cannoli! All hand-made, from scratch, and using locally-sourced ingredients.

During our private visits to some of the best wineries in Sicily, we will have the one of a kind opportunity to taste wines from the different regions of the island, where the terroir changes from one coast to the other. From sun-drenched valleys to the volcanic slopes of Mt. Etna, you can't help but taste the subtleties and nuances that allow these wines to compete along side some of the best that Italy has to offer.

Other days you will find yourself in a four-wheel drive vehicle going off-road up the black lava-filled slopes of Mt. Etna - Europe’s highest volcano. On yet another you will be actively embracing the ancient tradition of harvesting nature's gift from the sea at the sun-soaked Salt Flats in Marsala. Or indulging your culinary senses on local delicacies strolling through the bustling street markets during our Palermo Street-Food tour!

There are more details as you read on, but, 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, and truly bring you into our Sicilian family.

Our Sicilian Adventure Tour

Our Sicily Motherland Tour experience is a Sicily Tour that embodies the essence of what a Culture Discovery Vacation is all about. While we typically stay in and around the local areas, on this journey, we will nearly circumnavigate the island, living in the richness and diversity of this historic land.

Aside from the natural beauty of the island, the real beauty is in the people. You will meet some of the most authentic and loving people that you can find anywhere in Italy - Let alone, the world! They will tell you - Yes, we are Italians, but first, we are Sicilians!

During our tour of Sicily, we will have five completely hands-on cooking class experiences on this vacation. 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. There will be differing cooking styles as well. We'll have several home-style country classes. We'll make chocolate using methods created by the ancient Aztec civilization, brought to the islands by Spanish Conquistadors. We'll even have a class where we grind out fresh Sicilian sausages by hand!

Our classes are as much fun as they are instructive. During our classes, we'll sing, dance, drink wine and make some of the most delicious recipes you can imagine!

Naturally, we know that some would prefer to eat than cook. No worries, there is always something wonderful to do, even during the cooking classes. Whether lounging by the pool and enjoying the Sicilian countryside, shopping the corso in Modica or relaxing at the villa in Menfi, there is never a shortage of options other that cooking. Then, when our class is over, you can meet back up with the group for our meal that we just prepared!

The Experiences on Our Sicily Vacation

This vacation is all about precious cultural experiences that are never part of some touristy offering. Most of the cultural experiences are done with local friends that don't work with tour companies, and only do what they do only with us, making each moment a truly unique experience.

During our chocolate-making class, we go behind the scenes of the local shops to a private workshop where we work with Graziella, the owner, who you will thoroughly love! She is such a delight and will show us how to make this specialty chocolate.

When we are making our Ragusano cheese, we'll be at a local farm, where the cows have been milked that very morning. When we make pasta, the flour comes from a local, family-run mill and not from some national commercial brand. When we make sausages at the macelleria (butcher shop), our dear friends Francesco and Giovani do this just for our groups as we've been coming to their butcher shop for years.

While thousands of tourists drive the Trapani Salt Road on other tours, they stop and take photos of the people out in the distance, harvesting salt by hand, like in ages gone by. It turns out that WE are the ones that those tourists are watching harvesting the salt... and of course, we bring it home with us!

You will especially notice these bonds during many of our meals. We are often having dinner with locals in their private villas, as their guests. These are not people that create a restaurant that looks like a home. They are our dear friends that are truly opening up their homes to us, and sharing their lives with us. This also rings true in many of the establishments we dine in... With CDV, it is different and personal. We are guests, not customers.

Throughout this vacation, wherever we go, you will not be a tourist - you are always treated as a welcomed guest.

The Excursions

Where We're Going When We're Out and About

While we focus food and family, we are in Sicily, and there is so much to see! We will be visiting Eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites - Ancient Greek Temples - Hilltop Encampments - An Active Volcano - Fabulous Wineries - Salt Flats of Trapani - Just to name a few...

Your island travels will take you through a paradise of unending coastline, mountain ranges and lush valleys. With its bountiful history, graceful topography and varying architecture, the mainland is as diverse as the people themselves. You will discover first-hand what makes Sicily such a magical place to be.

You will marvel at the UNESCO World Heritage Sites we'll visit. Cities like Catania and Palermo. On opposite ends of the island and about as different as you could imagine. Our other UNESCO visits include Taormina, Siracusa, Ragusa, Modica, Scicli, and the Valley of The Temples - All places that will leave you with a lifetime of wonderful memories, not to mention less known towns, such as Marsala, Santa Croce Camerina, Menfi, and Valderice.

We'll make cheese, harvest salt and so much more. Our excursions are designed to give you an up-close and personal experience wheresoever we are. We want you to see Sicily not just like an Italian, but like a true Sicilian insider.

The Food & Wine

Italians love their food. We love it too and so much of what we do revolves around meal planning! We're talking about lunch at breakfast and then talking about dinner during lunch! One thing you never hear during one of our vacation weeks is, "I'm hungry" - What we do hear is..."I can't eat another bite!" But our guests always someway find some room for more!

The wine is always flowing at lunch and dinner. We take a great pride in making certain that we're pairing the right dish with one of the fabulous local wines. Everyone has their preferences. Find out which ones you like best!

In addition, the meals at our cooking classes are not little "learn to make pasta" classes like many others. Instead, some of our classes are traditional Italian 'Sunday Family Meals'... Multiple courses, appetizers and desserts, all done to the max. We'll even make fresh cheese and sausages from scratch!

When the vacation 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 Sicilian culture is so amazing... because you will have lived it.

Cities, Villages and Towns we'll visit

On Our 12 Day Tour of Sicily, we will visit many bucket list sights, as well as places no other tour goes, the off-the-beaten path Sicily:

  • Taormina
  • Calatabiano
  • Mt. Etna
  • Catania
  • Siracusa
  • Modica
  • Ragusa
  • Scicli
  • Agrigento (Valley of the Temples)
  • Menfi
  • Marsala
  • Val d'Erice (Trapani)
  • Palermo

Eastern Sicily

We'll start our amazing journey on the eastern side of the island where no trip to Sicily would be completed without a visit to the gorgeous hilltop haven of Taormina. With stunning views of Mt. Etna and the coastline below, Taormina is full of fantastic shops, restaurants, cafes, wine bars and lovely places to stroll peacefully among the beautiful scenery.

Our jaw-dropping and awe-inspiring excursion up Mt. Etna gives you a first-hand, off-road look at the incredibly changing landscape shaped by millennia of volcanic activity. We can only describe it as being the closest thing to walking on the moon! it is not the Mt. Etna most tourists see. Our tour of the volcano starts where most of them stop. That is where we hop in ur four-wheel drive vehicles and go see the most spectacular areas of the volcano.

UNESCO World Heritage Site visits include Catania, which has a remarkably easy-going vibrancy and wonderful streetscape not found in most large cities. There is lots of action at one of the most splendid outdoor food markets you will ever see. Including La Pescheria fish market that has been part of Catania life since the 1800's.

Siracusa and Ortigia Island

are downright gorgeous. Most travelers want to move here after having visited. You will walk along the paths whose roots were put down by the ancient Greeks.

Southern Sicily

During our stay at the country home in Santa Croce Camerina, we will visit UNESCO World Heritage Sites, such as Ragusa Ibla and Scicli. You will marvel at the remarkable displays of Baroque architecture that you just have to see to believe. In Modica, you will discover a hidden gem with grand cathedrals and lots and lots of the most unique and wonderful chocolate you have ever had!

Western Sicily

Our venture over to the western end has us stopping for a guided visit at The Greek Temples of Agrigento, known as The Valley of the Temples: Arguably, some of the best-preserved examples of Greek architecture, culture and life found anywhere. The magnitude and scope of which can only be felt by walking in the footsteps of emperors, artists, philosophers and poets.

We'll have a once-in-a-lifetime experience during the incredible salt harvest at the Salt Flats between the towns of Marsala and Trapani. We'll don rubber boots and get ankle-deep into the salt beds here that provide tons of the finest salt to the kitchens that make those Italian meals taste so delicious!

We also have our sausage-making class at a well-known, generations-old butcher shop in Val d'Erice. Our friends Francesco and Giovanni will have each of us hand-cranking the freshly-butchered meats into their casings right before we cook them up for an unforgettable cooking and lunch experience.

And finally, Palermo. We'll have a guided tour of the city, capped off by an amazing street-food tour in the centuries-old markets of Palermo. The vibrant colors, sounds and scents make these markets some of the most epic markets in the world. Some of these markets were featured in Anthony Bourdain's Parts Unknown, and Andrew Zimmern's Bizzare Foods. In fact,

Andrew Zimmern is quoted stating "Through all of my travels, I’ve found that there’s no better way to feel the pulse of a city or to understand the local culture than to visit a market. I can learn more about a people and their way of life here than I can in the local museum", and he listed the Ballarò market in Palermo as his favorite of all.

The Ballarò market is truly an adventure, and is not for the faint of heart. It is an unforgettable experience, but can feel uncomfortable for some. So we do have options for those that choose not to muster up the courage to go into the packed market. For those that join us (almost all do!), we go in with several hosts to make certain everyone is well looked after, and we have a walking lunch as we literally follow in

Andrew Zimmern's footsteps, trying all of the bizarre foods there are to be found in the market. Yes, for those that want to give it a shot, you can try the "Spleen Sandwich", the Tongue, or every "Eye of Cow". Our favorite is the man that sells a secret concoction of cooked "leftovers". Not to worry, there will be all sorts of other street food for those without an unyielding sense of culinary adventure. This includes Arancini, Fried Chickpeas, and much more. It also includes a unique stop at. cart that sells a pizza called "Sfincione", a pizza only found in the street markets of Palermo, but is the basis of what we call "Sicilian Pizza".

Our Cooking Classes

For our first class at the country house kitchen, we'll be making some local classic Sicilian dishes:

Grab an apron! We're making some great recipes for our lunch today!

As an addition to our scheduled classes, during this week we'll be visited by a local shepherd who will need our help to make fresh Ricotta and Pecorino cheese. We fire up the cauldron and stir the pot as we learn how to make these regional specialties. The Ricotta or Pecorino cheese we have been using this week was made like this with our guests. As we make it, you will have the chance to taste this fresher-than-fresh, just-made ricotta cheese with a locally-sourced honey made by friends of ours. It is truly sensational!

1st Course 2nd Course Side Dessert
Cavati Pasta alla Norma Falso Magro Stuffed Roast Beef Roll Pepperoni del Carrettiere Baked Bell Pepper & Parmesan Cheese Side Cassate di Ricotta Ricotta Cheese Filled Pastry

For our second cooking class at the country home kitchen, we're making a local delicacy.

Today's class is all about Scaccia Ragusana. Best described as a calzone-type of meat and vegetable pie, this specialty dish is made in a certain style only done in this part of Sicily. We'll make them completely from scratch, including kneading the dough on a special kneading tool that takes two people to coordinate their movements in unison to get the proper consistency. After rolling out the dough, we'll fill them with sauce we'll prepare and fold them up and bake them in the wood-burning oven.

These delicious pies are commonly made when there is a special occasion or party. Which we're going to be having!

Our third cooking class experience is all about Cioccolato di Modica

Our class host, Graziella, will show us the special techniques for making chocolate in the style used by the ancient Aztec civilization. Cocoa pods were brought by Spanish explorers coming from the New World to Sicily during the Spanish occupation of the island in the middle ages.

The class is a lot of fun, and one that everyone talks about. To top it off, we'll be taking home the chocolate that we made!

We'll be making Boscaiola and Capricciosa Sausages!

We head over to our friends Francesco and Giovanni's butcher shop in Val d'Erice. These two brothers carried on the family tradition and have the one of the most incredible "macelleria" on the island.

We'll get settled in enjoying some local wine and sampling some of their in-house salami, mortadella and other delicacies while Francesco butchers up some selected cuts of pork to make our sausages with. After seasoning and mixing, we put them in the hand-cranked sausage filler and pump out the most delicious, freshest sausages you will ever have...After they're cooked and we have them as part of our lunch, of course!

For our cooking class today, we'll be making some local classic Sicilian dishes:

Grab an apron! We're making some great recipes for our lunch today!

App 1st Course 2nd Course Side Dessert
Caponata with Eggplant Busiate Pasta with Trapanese Pesto Arrosto Panato alla Palermitana Palermo- style Roasted Veal Fennel and Melon Salad Cannoli

Wineries, Mills, Factories, and UNESCO World Heritage Sites we will visit

  • Taormina, Catania and Palermo
  • Calatabiano
  • Mt. Etna Off-Road Excursion and Winery Visit
  • Siracusa: Ortigia Island
  • Traditional Waterwheel-Driven Flour Mill
  • Valley of the Temples: Agrigento
  • Planeta Ulmo Winery
  • Ragusa Ibla - Baroque Architecture
  • Harvest Sicilian Salt From the Salt Flats of Trapani