Western Sicily - Food & Archaeology
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
- Historic Churches
- Cultural Excursion
- Ancient Greek
- Special Access
- Low Single Supplement
- All Inclusive
We fly from London to Palermo in the afternoon and transfer to our hotel in the centre of the city.
We explore the vibrant food market of Vucciria en route to a cookery class, where we will be taught how to prepare some local dishes, which we will then enjoy for our lunch! In the afternoon we visit La Zisa a summer residence built by Arab architects and a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Impressive Punic and Greek collections await us at the Salinas Archaeological Museum. After lunch, we stroll around Palermo and tour the 12th century Cathedral before being treated to a private evening visit to the Cappella Palatina, the royal chapel of the Normans, resplendent with bold mosaics..
This morning we head for the coast of Trapani where salt has been extracted for centuries and we discover the salt pans and museum. We continue to the island of Mozia. Located off the west coast of Sicily, the island is rich with archaeological finds, many of which can be found in its museum.
This morning we take the winding road to Erice, founded by the Phoenicians, a hilltop town overlooking the sea where we will have a demonstration on making marzipan fruits and have more time for exploring the historic town. We head back to Marsala this afternoon and spend time within vineyards and cellars.
We have a full day at Selinunte, once one of the most important Greek colonies within Sicily. Witness the glorious scenic views, surrounded by wild flowers as you overlook the Mediterranean sea. Here, we gaze in awe at the Temple of Hera, the only re-erected temple of the five that are situated on this archaeological site.
Today we take a ferry to Levanzo, to the Grotta del Genovese where graffiti and paintings date back 12,000 years. In the afternoon, we have a private tour of the old tuna factory on Favignana where we will learn about the importance of tuna fishing on these islands.
On our final morning we venture through the old town of Marsala and visit the museum. We enjoy an authentic Sicilian lunch together before departing to the airport for our flight home.
- Expert Guide Lecturer
- Tour Manager
- Local Travel - Private a/c coach
- Meals - All meals included with wine at dinner
- Entries & Tips - Entry to all sites in programme; tips included
- Field Notes
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.
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