Piazza Duomo in Ortygia, Syracuse, Sicily

Tour of Sicily, Undiscovered Walks & Hands-on Cooking

Welcome to our neighborhood, southeastern Sicily! Hosted by Italian Connection’s founders, Anita and Emanuele, this walking and cooking tour in Sicily focuses on the quiet beauty and rich culinary heritage in Eastern Sicily, and includes a meal in our home for a true taste of life in the Sicilian countryside. Learn to cook with genuine locally grown ingredients that are the heart and soul of Sicilian food, meet artisanal Sicilian food producers, and walk secret pathways discovered through local farmers.  Take part in the traditional celebrations in honor of the festival of St. Joseph, with elaborate bread altars and lavish tables, parades and marching bands – you’ll love being part of the local scene with these insider experiences!

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Trip Length 7 Days
Walking Level Easy
Trip Cost $4890

Walking Levels

Our walks are rated for their level of difficulty as follows:

  • Stroll – Daily distance of 2-5 km (1-3 miles) through archeological sites and in towns with stone stairways. Footwear: Lightweight walking shoes.
  • Easy – Daily distance of 8-10 km (5-7 miles) on dirt paths and gravel roads, with short ascents & descents. Good van access for assistance along the route. Footwear: Sturdy walking shoes.
  • Moderate – Daily distance of 12-16 km (8-10 miles) with longer ascents & descents. May include cobblestone paths and steps, or narrow paths along terraced hillsides. Some van access or options for shorter walks. Footwear: Sturdy walking shoes or lightweight boots.
  • Fitness – Daily distance of 12-16 km (8-10 miles) with steep ascents & descents. Walks are at altitudes of 1200-2450 meters (3500-8000 feet) on trails and forest service roads, some rocky or exposed sections. Limited van access, options for shorter or longer routes. Footwear: Lightweight boots.
Sicilian countryside with dry-stone walls
“I want to thank you both once again for your amazing hospitality. You have a wonderful home, and we felt very welcome.”

– K.G., Canada

Trip Highlights

  • Shape warm cheese curds by hand into plump provola, bake festival breads in a wood-fired oven, stuff ravioli with ricotta from the morning’s milk
  • Traipse through the countryside in search of wild greens with Anita, watch Emanuele cook in their kitchen, and dine under a fig tree in their garden
  • Taste Aztec-style chocolate spiced with red pepper at an historic sweets shop in Modica, then hike up 200 steps to the glorious Baroque cathedral
  • Walk through a limestone gorge dotted with prehistoric cave dwellings, then wind up a narrow alley into Ragusa and follow the local kids to the best gelateria
  • Feast on creative cuisine at Sicily’s 2-star Michelin restaurant Il Duomo, and meet chef Ciccio Sultano

Trip Details

Dates
March 15-21, 2019

Meet
Syracuse

End
Catania airport

Single Supplement
$660 USD

Meals
Daily breakfast/ 6 lunches with wine/ 5 dinners with wine

Maximum Participants
12

Accommodations
Signature

Itinerary
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Day-by-Day Itinerary

Walking & Cooking in Eastern Sicily Placeholder
Walking & Cooking in Eastern Sicily

Day One

Meet in Syracuse at 9.00 am. (Pre-tour night in Syracuse and 1-hour transfers from Catania airport can be arranged.) Meet a friendly local cook, and shop with her in the colorful open-air market, selecting the best produce for today’s lunch.  Gather in the kitchen for a hands-on cooking lesson.  In the afternoon, view archeological park and magnificent Greek theatre, still used for performances during theatre festivals. Explore the picturesque quarter of Ortygia, with the amazing Greek temple converted to a Baroque cathedral, and walk through mysterious underground passageways that tell the story of 3000 years of turbulent history. In the early evening, visit a local friend’s workshop, where traditional Sicilian puppets with elaborate costumes are still meticulously handcrafted one by one. Join the lively passeggiata to dinner in the piazza.

Day Two

Head to the southeastern tip of Sicily, and stop at the rarely visited site of Villa Tellaro, to view the stunning Roman mosaics. Continue to the protected coastal oasis of Vendicari, Italy’s most important stopping place for migratory birds, where the wetlands are graced by flamingoes and herons. Follow a path once used as a road by the ancient Greeks, with wild thyme and the magical mandrake plant blossoming above a turquoise sea. Rest in the shade of a carob tree at a farm restaurant, and lunch on seasonal specialties.  Drive past almond and lemon groves to the town of Noto, built of soft golden stone that glows in the afternoon light, and visit the glorious cathedral, recently unveiled after an 11-year restoration. Continue to the town of Ragusa Ibla, a delight of picturesque winding streets and sumptuous Baroque churches. This evening we gather for a dinner at Sicily’s top 2-star Michelin restaurant, Il Duomo, where chef Ciccio Sultano’s creations are paired with excellent Sicilian wines.

Day Three

Today we take a 6-mile walk along an ancient pathway, passing bright green pastures framed in hand-chiseled stone walls, and through a deep, mysterious canyon, the prehistoric home of the cave-dwelling Sikels. Head up to the upper town of Ragusa for a lunch of savory arancini, then sample the creamiest cannoli in an historic pastry shop. Learn how the exquisite marzipan fruits are hand decorated by a master pastry chef, before we walk down the narrow stairways that bring us back to Ibla.  Dinner in a family-run trattoria frequented by the locals.

Day Four

Transfer to a converted dairy farm, our cooking headquarters near Ragusa, where we’ll be greeted by our chefs. We’ll watch the preparation of cheese from the morning’s milk, and try our hand at shaping the traditional provola cheese. Prepare pasta from the locally grown hard wheat flour, and make fanciful San Giuseppe festival breads that we bake in a wood-burning oven. After lunch, we take a walk by the seaside through a nature park to the mouth of the river where giant carp frolic at the water’s edge. Continue to the town of Modica, and follow the intricate stairways up to the stunning Baroque cathedral of San Giorgio, and taste the spicy Aztec-style chocolate brought by the Spanish centuries ago.  Free evening for dinner.

Day Five

For a Sicilian, a walk in the countryside inevitably focuses on food, and we’ll take you on a walk in the bucolic countryside surrounding our home, across the terraced fields of ancient olive and magnificent carob trees, where you learn to identify and gather edible wild greens, herbs and flowers, such as borage, fennel and chard, and how to use them in easy recipes that are at the heart of traditional Sicilian cooking. We’ll bring our finds to Emanuele in our home kitchen, and he’ll cook us a risotto or pasta dish based on our finds. Lunch together overlooking our Mediterranean  garden, with aromatic plants scenting the air. In the afternoon, we take an excursion to an olive oil press and taste the fragrant extra virgin olive oil as it is being produced (autumn only). This evening we depart for dinner in an unusual venue – we’ll surprise you!

Day Six

This special departure features the colorful celebrations in honor of San Giuseppe in the towns of Santa Croce Camerina and Scicli. See how elaborate altars are fashioned out of bread dough, and visit private homes bedecked with an astonishing array of homemade sweets and traditional dishes in honor of the saint. Other activities include a fabulous parade of horses bedecked in cloaks made of flowers and a lively food auction. These unique activities are a full immersion into Sicilian culture and should not be missed!

Day Seven

Out first stop is the lovely town of Palazzolo Acreide with its tiny Greek theatre and stunning views of the Mt. Etna volcano.  After a walk through town to a favorite pastry shop and a fortifying espresso, head through the highest hills of the Monti Iblei and view the old neviere, the stone huts once used for gathering snow. Our winding drive descends through lush orange groves with glimpses of powerful Mt. Etna in the distance, until we arrive at a rustic farmhouse. Once part of a huge landholding of the Sicilian aristocracy, we are graciously greeted by the Contessa, who hosts us to a fabulous traditional lunch, with focaccia baked in a wood-fired oven. After our unforgettable lunch, continue to the Catania airport, where we drop you off by 4.00 pm. Arrivederci!

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Italian Connection

Italian Connection