Western Sicily - Food & Archaeology

Palermo Cathedral
Palermo Cathedral
Sardine fillet for sale at a Palermo market
Sardine fillet for sale at a Palermo market
Interior view of the Palatine Chapel
Interior view of the Palatine Chapel
Salt flats at Trapani
Salt flats at Trapani

Did you know that Sicily is linked to the origins of dried pasta? It was mentioned in the 12th century by a noble at the court of King Roger II. In fact, Sicily is a melting pot of gastronomic quirks, as a result of the cultural collision of art, architecture and faiths that fused during the Norman reign over the island. Its unique cuisine is comprised of surprising ingredients. Thanks to the sun-drenched climate, the abundance of nuts and fruit have been used to create some very elaborate sweet specialities such as cassata, cannolo, marzipan and granita.

On this tour of the Western tip of Sicily, we discover a feast of delights in Palermo and Marsala. We forage for ingredients at Vucciria’s vibrant food markets before learning how to rustle up local dishes in cookery classes. Heading for the coast of Trapani, where salt has been extracted for centuries, we visit the salt pans and museum. One lunch is hosted by an agriturismo, which produces organic olive oil and cheese. We dine in style after a tour of Marsala and Zibibbo wineries and cellars, and sail across the shallow salt lagoon to the Phoenician island stronghold of Motya. We examine graffiti and paintings dating back 12,000 years at the Grotta del Genovese, and stroll around La Zisa, a summer residence built by Arab architects.

  • We enjoy a private visit to the Cappella Palatina, attend a demonstration on making marzipan fruits and explore the old tuna factory on Favignana.
  • More highlights include a visit to the Salinas Archaeological Museum, with its impressive Punic and Greek collections
  • We also tour the ancient quarries at Cave di Cusa, from which came the stone for the temples at Selinute

Themes

  • Romans
  • Historic Churches
  • Cultural Excursion
  • Ancient Greek

Practicalities

  • Special Access
  • Low Single Supplement
  • All Inclusive

What's Included

  1. Expert Guide Lecturer
  2. Tour Manager
  3. Local Travel - Private a/c coach
  4. Meals - All meals included with wine at dinner
  5. Entries & Tips - Entry to all sites in programme; tips included
  6. Field Notes
  7. Hotels
  8. Flights

Travel Information

The weather towards the end of September and beginning of October will be cooler than in the summer months although it is possible that temperatures may still average around 25 degrees celsius during the day. You should take some sun cream and a mosquito repellent may be useful. However, wind, mist, rain and even fog may occur so you should pack something suitable such as a light rain jacket.

Day 3 in Palermo will explore the city on foot with the exception of the visit to the Cappella Palatina when there will be a coach. There will be stretches of about 20 minutes at any one time and some standing and walking around at museums and sites. Comfortable walking shoes are essential for the exploration of archaeological sites especially the caves on Levanzo island where, depending on the weather, we may need to walk along a fairly rough path for 15 – 20 minutes. The visit to the caves involves a low entrance which is about 6 metres long. The height here is about 1.5 metres and you need to squat a little. Once you are past this the spaces are open and tall.

Although there are no real restrictions, please bear in mind that modest clothing should be worn when entering churches. Women are not required to wear a headscarf.

There is a cookery class on day 2 and all equipment will be provided.

In Italy the dress code for dinner is very relaxed and there will be no particular requirement on this tour although most people do feel more comfortable in smart/casual clothing.

For full information about Passport validity and Visa requirements as well as Health and Vaccination information please click here.

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