An epicurean voyage of historic, delicious Sicily

If you have ever wanted to go to Sicily to revel in the thousand flavours of Italy, then this is for you – an eight-day tour of epic portions. Mountainous Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean. Apart from its architectural importance, it is a goldmine of culinary and cultural delights. The tour will be in October, when the temps are moderate and still warm enough for swimming.

Organized by my travel expert friend Devaki Das, she will be accompanied by tour guide and interpreter Diana Mazza who will travel with the group the whole time. The tour is limited to just 12-16 people.

Day 1: Arrive in Catania and transfer to the four-star Liberty Hotel. Meet and greet later that evening over prosecco – Italy’s signature sparkling wine, accompanied by canapes, before a seafood dinner at a local ristorante.
Day 2: A guided tour through Catania’s historical centre, and a visit to the local fish and produce market. After lunch, a bus trip to the baroque town of Ragusa, and staying the night at De Stefano Palace luxury hotel. There will be time to freshen up before the first cooking class with chef Lorenzo Runta, a short drive away in Modica. The menu will be Sicilian specialties, and dinner will be what you’ve cooked!
Day 3: A guided walking tour through Ragusa, a UNESCO site. Then a visit to a local winery, for wine tasting and lunch. Dinner is at the Michelin star awarded La Gazza Ladra at the Palazzo Faille Hotel. The chef there, Accursio Craparo, is Sicily’s rising culinary star. Dinner will be matched with wines.

Day 4: A tour of Modica, which was made a UNESCO site in 2002 – famous for its cathedrals and handmade chocolates. A trip to a farm nearby will see a cheese-making demo, followed by lunch. Dinner is at the Michelin star awarded Locando Don Serafino. Chef Vincenzo Candiano will cook six courses, matched with local wines. Overnight at De Stefano Palace.
Day 5: Depart for the baroque town of Noto, which is also a UNESCO world heritage site. After exploring, you will taste the unique creations at Caffe Sicilia. Black olive ice cream or tomato granita! After all that, it’s off down the coast to Siracusa, where Greek and baroque architecture jostle for space. A guided tour will take you to the Greek theatre which is the most complete site of its kind in Sicily. Accommodation will be at Hotel Cavalieri. The owner is an architect and he converted a derelict building into a modern masterpiece. Gerard Depardieu, Steve Martin, Georgio Armani and Francis Ford Cappola have stayed here.
Day 6: Heading up the coast to Giardini Naxos, you will meet chef Angelo for your second cooking class which begins with a trip to the fish market. You will learn to make Sicilian caponata, and a handmade cannoli. Later that day, it’s off to Taormina to stay at Hotel Imperiale – five-star luxury and million-dollar views of the Ionian Sea all the way to Mt Etna.

Day 7: A guided tour of Taormina’s Greek theatre which dates back to the 3rd century BC. Later, you will visit the slopes of the volcano Mt Etna and the Barone di Villagrande estate, 700m above sea level. In 1726, Roman Emperor Charles VI gave Don Camerlo Nicolosi, who had carefully restored the vineyards and production of a prestigious wine, the title Barone di Villagrande. After a tour of the estate, and wine tastings, there will be a relaxed lunch at the vineyard. Plenty of time to walk, rest or shop in the afternoon, before dinner at a local gem of a ristorante. Overnight at Hotel Imperiale, Taormina.
Day 8: A third and final cooking class with chef Angelo Longo, to learn traditional cooking techniques. After lunch, free time to explore Taormina, and then dressing up for the gala dinner. This will be at the five-star Metropole Maison D’Hotes under the rule of chef Andreas Zangeri. His theme will be “trust the chef”, and he will also match courses with wines.

Tour dates: October 9 – 17, 2011
Take good walking shoes, and leave the Jimmy Choos for evening!
The price does not include airfares to and from Catania.
More details: Devaki Das or call Durgan Travel Service at #781 438 2224.

Update, July 1: There are only a limited number of places left. Devaki advises payment deadline is August 15. The registration form is available on her website – The deposit is $US1,000/pax with the balance due NO LATER THAN August 15, 2011 Payments are accepted by cash, cheque or credit card.

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