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A delicious bite of Italy!

An illustrated itinerary of one of our many gay travel adventures. This information supplements our
shorter Overview of Taste of Sicily.

Sicily, where the mountains meet the sea is our playground for ten exciting days of culture, cuisine, history and relaxation. Full of diversity, the island is home to heavenly beaches, majestic mountains, golden coasts covered with orange and lemon orchards, lush forests and rugged and rolling hills. We’ll explore Palermo’s curiously crooked streets teeming with shops and cafes, Taormina’s world-class seaside delights, and a mind-boggling abundance of historic sites. Sicily has it all!

 

 


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From the sights of Palermo to the sands of Taormina's beaches, we will take a big delicious bite out of Sicilian cuisine and culture. We'll walk through the ages of architectural achievements seeing amazing structures from the Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Baroque and Gothic periods. We'll journey to the top of Mt. Etna, the only active volcano in all of Europe, pause in charming rustic villages, each with its own special charms, and feast on the fresh flavors of Sicilian cuisine with an emphasis on fruits, pastas and seafood. Our ten-day odyssey will be Herculean in every way: food, friends, fun and the finest the island has to offer.

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History, drama & Sicilian Cuisine

 

1: Arrival Day
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During our three days in Palermo we will enjoy both city sights and day trips to see attractions nearby. The tours starts with an orientation and a Welcome Dinner at one of Palermo's finest restaurants. We'll spend three nights at the Hotel Vecchio Borgo, centrally located in Palermo (subject to availability).

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2: Palermo and Monreale
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After breakfast at our hotel, we will enjoy a comprehensive guided tour of the city. We'll see the Teatro Massimo Bellini, the famous opera house named for local composer Vincenzo Bellini, whose entire body of work has been performed here. This theater was also used for the pivotal final scene in the film Godfather III. We'll visit the Palazzo dei Normanni (Norman Palace) and see the beautiful Palatine Chapel built from 1130 – 1140, a wonderful example of Arab-Norman architecture with stunning mosaics. We'll stroll in the open air market of La Vucciria recalling the Moorish influence on the island.

In the afternoon, we'll take a short drive to Monreale, the seat of Roger II, to admire the amazing cathedral. Overlooking Palermo, the town of Monreale, situated on a slope of Mount Caputo about three hundred meters above sea level, offers lovely views of the surrounding valley. The centerpiece of Monreale is the magnificent cathedral, a dazzling display of mosaics, bronze work, marble and stone. It has the largest concentration of Norman, Arab and Byzantine art in one place. Attached to the cathedral, the Benedictine cloister courtyard consists of 228 columns, some inlaid with Byzantine-style mosaics. Atop the columns are ornately carved capitals that depict scenes of Sicily's Norman history, complete with knights and kings. This evening is free to enjoy a restaurant of your choice in Palermo.Back to Top

 

 

History, drama & Sicilian Cuisine

 

 

History, drama & Sicilian Cuisine

 

3: Segesta, Erice, Mozia
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Today we venture out of Palermo for a ride along the coast to tour some of the countryside. We'll visit Erice, stunningly located on a cliff overlooking the Tyrrhenian coast of western Sicily. Formerly the ancient city of Eryx, Erice was an important religious center to Aphrodite and later Venus. It dates back to 1200 BC and was a prosperous Elymian and Carthaginian city. But it is the later Greek influence and Erice's association with Hercules and Aeneas that are remembered today. We will stroll through the labyrinth of cobblestone streets and narrow pathways to see the old stone houses and dwellings. We'll visit Segesta and its 5th century Greek temple isolated in a field of green. Set deep in a ravine, the temple is surrounded by the mountains in a dramatic display of classic architecture with its Doric columns reaching up toward the sky. Just off the coast, and adjacent to Marsala, is the tiny island of Mozia. We will take a boat ride (weather permitting) to visit the island and sample the famous fortified wine, explore early Phoenician ruins including the harbor and cemetery, and pop into the museum for a peek back in history. We return to Palermo for a free evening.

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4: Cefalu
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This morning we leave Palermo for the beautiful fishing village of Cefalu. Along the way we will stop at the village of Corleone, the town whose name became synonymous with the notorious family immortalized in the Godfather films. We'll also stop along the way at Piana degli Albanesi where little has changed over the centuries. Founded by Albanians in the 17th century, their cultural influence is still evident today. We may also want to indulge in a cannolo, a sweet crisp pastry shell filled with ricotta cheese and much larger than a typical canolli. Piana degli Albanesi is famous for this sweet! We should arrive in Cefalu in time for sunset over the Mediterranean. Our lodging for the night is a charming small hotel. Dinner will be at a typical seaside restaurant.

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History, drama & Sicilian Cuisine

 

 

History, drama & Sicilian Cuisine

Taste of Sicily: Noto

 

5-6: Noto
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After breakfast we head to the southeast corner of Sicily for our two-night stay in Noto, the apex of the Sicilian Baroque and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Our journey through the Sicilian countryside will be filled with surprises and delights. We will pass through several towns and villages along the way, each one having its own personality and its own unique story to tell. We'll stop to admire the Roman Villa del Casale. The villa is one of the most luxurious of its kind, and also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The immense villa dating from the 3rd century is adorned with rich and colorful mosaics, apparently the work of African artists. Mythology, daily life and wild animals are depicted on the walls of nearly every room. Our lodging for the next two nights will be at a farm house that has opened guest rooms (agriturismo).

After breakfast on our second day in Noto we will explore the Val di Noto region. We'll turn our attention to Ragusa Ibla and Modica, two towns completely rebuilt after a 1693 earthquake. Ragusa Ibla, with its maze of streets, was rebuilt in the late Baroque style of the day and is divided into two areas, the upper and lower (Ibla). There are 18 UNESCO monuments in this region. As we stroll the streets, we will see many magnificent examples of the highly decorative style of architecture. In Modica, the high point of our tour will be the magnificent Church of San Giorgio. We will enjoy lunch at Ristorante Il Baglio, to sample some of the great Sicilian culinary delights. We return to Noto for the night.Back to Top

 

 

 

7-9: Taromina
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Our destination today is the lovely seaside resort of Taormina. We'll begin with a lovely morning drive north towards the Catania region. We'll visit Syracuse (Siracusa), once the most powerful polis in the Greek World, and home of Archimedes. At the height of its power, Syracuse rivaled Athens in its splendor and architecture. One of the highlights will be a visit to the Greek Theater (Greco Teatro) carved out of existing rock. It is one of the largest and best-preserved amphitheaters from the 5th century BC. After lunch we will continue to our hotel in Taormina, a lovely resort in this world-famous city renowned for its beaches and dramatic coastline. We'll spend the last three nights of our tour here.

On our second day we will enjoy a full day excursion to Mt. Etna, the most active and largest volcano in Europe. Mt. Etna is not only Sicily's greatest natural attraction, it is also its highest mountain. To the ancient Greeks, Mount Etna was the home of Vulcan, god of fire, and also the home of the one-eyed monster known as the Cyclops.

On our last full day in Taormina, the morning is free to lie out and be lazy on the beach, shop in the town square, or perhaps just relax and enjoy the amenities of our lovely hotel. In the afternoon we will learn first hand the joy of Italian food - by taking a cooking class. The cuisine of Southern Italy relies on extremely fresh and local ingredients. In Sicily, menus lean toward mouth-watering seafood dishes combined with fresh pasta as well as dishes featuring some of the best fruit in the world. In this class you will learn the art of the Sicilian kitchen as you work hands-on preparing delicious traditional Sicilian recipes. The lesson is conducted by a gastronomic specialist and food writer, in her home. Not only will our instructor/chef teach us about the cuisine but also the culture, traditions, habits and customs from which it stems. The courses are based on the most famous Sicilian recipes, focusing on pasta, fish and vegetable dishes. A farewell dinner will follow in a cozy 18th century home!Back to Top

 

 

History, drama & Sicilian Cuisine

Taste of Sicily: Taromina

 

 

 

10: Departure Day from Catania
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Since the nearest airport to Taormina is in Catania, we will provide a transfer this morning to Catania airport for anyone flying out today, or we will assist with individual post-tour plans. Bon voyage!.

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