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Sunny Sicily™

Taormina & Palermo With Rino & Lauren ~ 8 Days, May 26 to June 2, 2022

Join Rino and Lauren in sunny Sicily discovering Taormina and Palermo for a one-of-a-kind food and wine experience!  Join our small group of food and wine lovers on this magical island where we will learn Sicilian cooking in hands-on classes and experience delicious food tours and landmark visits.  Immerse yourself in Sicily’s vibrant culture and cuisine with Chef Massimino in Taormina and Chef Lina in Palermo!  We’ll visit the colorful markets, shop with the Chefs and learn how to roll out arancini, Sicilian rice balls, and make cannoli.  We invite you to tie on your aprons, chop, sauté, and sip and swirl in sunny Sicily!  Rino is your driver and Lauren is your host!

Travel to Taormina and Palermo, two great food capitals known for fresh fish, fruits and vegetables that grow in rich volcanic soil, extraordinary wine and desserts, think cassata, Sicilian cake, and cannoli!

Learn the cooking traditions and secrets in the kitchen with two award-winning, food-passionate Chefs, and shop at the local markets for cooking class ingredients, too.  In addition to the cooking classes, we’ll discover Taormina and Palermo in a Food Lover’s Tasting Tour, visiting landmarks and points of interest with tastings along the way.  We’ll visit two of Sicily’s most important vineyards for a vineyard and cantina tour, followed by a Vintner’s lunch featuring regional fare.  We’ll also dine on the best Sicilian cuisine in our favorite restaurants and discover unique artisan shopping all while soaking up la dolce vita, the sweet life.  During your stay, drive to the Godfather’s Villa with time to visit the property and explore lush green gardens where the epic movie was filmed.

 

Taormina Cooking Classes

Chef Massimino leads the way through Taormina’s historic market where everyone will learn about the foods of the season while experiencing the sights, sounds and scents. Visit the fruit and vegetable vendors, who call out their daily specials while catching up on the news of the day  – stalls are brimming with Sicilian almonds and pistachios, artisan cheese – think Percorino, Cacio Cavallo and Ciacotta!

After your market tour, tie on your apron and get cooking!  Hands-on cooking classes include creating a full fare Sicilian menu.  Antipasti are always a primer with ricotta-stuffed zucchini flowers or caponata made with flash-fried eggplant, black olives and tomato.  Fresh pasta comes next with traditions such as busiate Trapanesi, delicate hand-rolled pasta twists served in seasonal sauces, or maccheroni di casa, pasta spun on a thin, steel, knitting needle-like mold served with classical ragù.  Main courses shine with Sicilian involtini, rolled stuffed beef and calamari ai sapori di Sicilia, Sicilian-style calamari with black olives and capers.  Desserts are endless – think cannoli, cassata and Sicilian gelato served in a brioche!  Following each cooking class, everyone enjoys the food that was prepared in the cooking class with local wine included.

 

Taormina Accommodations

Your Taormina accommodation is a stunningly appointed luxury villa hotel overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Once a home to Taormina aristocrats, this villa-turned-boutique hotel is a magical place for your Sicilian stay.  Its dramatic setting is perched atop a coastal cliff with a view of the sea that will take your breath away.  The villa is a few steps away from the historic center, bustling shops and restaurants at Corso Umberto and a short walk from the Teatro Antico di Taormina ruins. The Old World property is decorated with Sicilian art, tiles and a palette of Mediterranean colors. Each room offers comfortable bedding and cool linens to make your stay relaxing. There are modern amenities: private ensuite bathroom, complimentary wifi, television, air conditioning, a minibar and sea view. Breakfast is served each morning – enjoy it on the terrace – and daily maid service is provided for your convenience. Sunbathe by the outdoor pool with a panoramic sea view, or sip an aperitivo at the bar or elegant guest lounge in your down time. Light Sicilian fare is served at the bistro bar. Soak up the view, sip, swirl and relax in beautiful Taormina!

Travel Notes On Taormina

Originally a Greek colony, Taormina sits atop a hilly, coastal high point with breathtaking views on the sea and Mount Etna.  On a clear day, you can almost see forever.  Since antiquity, Taormina has been a tempting destination for the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Saracens, Arabs, Normans and Spaniards choosing it as their residence thanks to its favorable position, mild climate and magical atmosphere. Today, visitors can enjoy the mix of history and culture, as well as its food and wine. Enjoy a walk through the splendid Greek Theater and the public gardens, admire the many painting exhibitions held in local palazzi and churches, and treat yourself to some shopping along the Corso Umberto with its classical music caffés and pastry shops.

 

Your trip continues in…with a stop in Cefalù!

Palermo

Palermo is a melting pot of history, culture, architecture, and gastronomy, making it an interesting and enticing city for travellers. Located in the northwest of Sicily, Palermo is a vibrant and theatrical city where life is lived on the streets and piazzas. Visit the busy markets of La Vucciria or Capp where stalls are brimming with farm-to-table produce, fruit and vegetables, almonds and pistachios.  Fishermen display their daily catch and Sicilian housewives vie for the freshest catch.  Artisan everything – wine, cheese and breads along with dried fruits and spices make for interesting tasting along the way.  Experience Palermo’s famous street food – like panelle – bite-sized snacks made from chickpea flour, crocché – special fried potato croquettes, or the famous arancini – stuffed rice balls that are lightly fried until golden. Immerse yourself in this food mecca as you learn, taste and absorb the ancient food culture.

Palermo has many attractions, its various monuments reflecting the city’s rich and diverse history, and its many cultural and natural attractions make for a wonderful experience for those willing to explore it. Take a walk and admire the Cathedral, honey-colored and Catalan-influenced, the Quattro Canti, the symbolic crossroads at the old center of the city, and the nearby small but lovely La Martorana Church with byzantine mosaics inside. There is also the famous Museo Archeologico, and the Catacombe dei Cappuccini that contains over 8,000 mummified remains from Palermo and its surrounding villages.  On warm summer nights, you can feel the heartbeat of the city – there’s live music in the piazza and people dancing.  Join in and kick up your heels or simply sit at a nearby caffé and soak up Palermo’s magic.  With its diverse history, landmarks, and rich culture and cuisine, Palermo is an over worldly place to discover.

Palermo Cooking Classes

Tie on your apron and learn to cook like a Sicilian with Chef Lina. Her Sicilian endless recipes include antipasto, such as involtini di melanzane, stuffed eggplant rolls, and fagioli alla menta, marinated white bean salad with fresh mint.  She shows you how – making fresh pasta using ancient and traditional grains – pasta con le sarde, pasta with fresh sardines, tossed with golden raisins, pine nuts and wild fennel.  We’ll also learn how to prepare pasta alla Norma, a traditional recipe that includes chopped eggplant stewed in a simple tomato sauce with thyme, oregano, and grated pecorino. The pasta is tossed in the sauce and garnished with grated ricotta salata. Fish is plentiful and options include: involtini di pesce spade, slices of swordfish stuffed with pine nuts, raisins, breadcrumbs, anchovy filets, orange juice and lemon juice and pecorino cheese.  Chef Lina dedicates a full class to sweet Sicilian cannoli, an art form she has perfected and cannot wait to teach you!  Following each cooking class, everyone enjoys the food that was prepared in the cooking class with local wine included.

Palermo Luxury Accommodations

Check in and relax in the elegant 4-Star boutique hotel ideally situated in the heart of Palermo.  The property is conveniently located with over 50 historical sites within close walking distance.  Recently restored, the rooms are furnished in a modern and refined style and are tastefully decorated. Each room comes with an ensuite bathroom, mini bar and individual air conditioning, to ensure your stay is comfortable and relaxing. Breakfast is served each morning including local pastries, seasonal fruits, cured meats, eggs, and freshly squeezed Sicilian orange juice to name a few – and daily maid service is included for your convenience. The professional and helpful staff is always ready to assist you with any needs you may have during your stay. Rooms are also available for guests with special disabilities, just ask when reserving.

Itinerary ~ 8 Days, 7 Nights

Day One: Benvenuto – Chef’s Tasting Dinner

  • Pick up and transfer from Catania airport or train station to the Taormina property.
  • Arrival and check in.  Take time to relax and get acquainted.
  • In the evening, enjoy your Welcome Dinner featuring a Chef’s Tasting Menu featuring local fare.

Day Two: Market Tour. Cooking Class 1, Landmark Tour of Taormina with Tastings

  • Breakfast is served.
  • Following breakfast, meet Chef Massimino for a shop with the chef at the local outdoor market.  Experience the culture and scenes of venders showcasing their farm-to-table produce, vegetables, artisan cheese and bread.  Shop with the chef as he explains seasonal produce and ingredients.  Return to the kitchen for your hands-on cooking class and prepare a full course menu featuring local fare.  Following the cooking class, everyone enjoys the food that was prepared in the class with local wine included.
  • Later in the afternoon, meet our English-speaking guide for a guided Food Tasting and Landmark tour of Taormina. Visit the town’s splendid Greek theater – one of Sicily’s most important ruins – thanks to its remarkable preservation and beautiful location – and discover the food, art and history of Taormina.  We will visit the Palazzo Corvaja, a Medieval palace dating back to the 10th century that was originally built by the Arabs, and the 13th century Cathedral.  Artisan shops featuring in pastry, gelato, coffee and wine are all along the way with tastings included.
  • Later in the evening, relax.  Dinner is on your own and suggestions are provided.

Day Three: Godfather Villa Visit & Vineyard and Cantina Tour with Tastings and Lunch

  • Breakfast is served.
  • Following breakfast, meet your driver for a tour to the Godfather’s Villa.  Stroll the grounds, visit the villa and experience the epic land where the award-winning film, The Godfather was filmed.  Walk in the footsteps of Marlon Brando, Al Pacino and Francis Ford Coppola.  Take photographs of this beautiful villa and garden.  (Museum tickets not included and must be paid on site in cash by each person – the museum’s protocol).
  • Next, continue to Sicily’s most celebrated wine producer set on the slopes of Mount Etna.  Walk the vineyard with your English-speaking sommelier, learn about the region’s prized wine with Etna looming in the background.  Following the vineyard tour, continue inside to the cantina with your guide and learn about production and bottling.  A wine tasting lunch follows including a full course menu of regional cuisine with wine included.
  • Following the tour, return to Taormina with our private driver.
  • Dinner is on your own and suggestions are provided.

Day 4: Cooking Class 2; Sicilian Dinner Together

  • Breakfast is served.
  • Following breakfast, meet Chef Massimino for your hands-on cooking class and prepare a full course menu featuring local fare.  Following the cooking class, everyone enjoys the food that was prepared in the class with local wine included.
  • Enjoy the afternoon exploring, shopping, or relaxing by the pool
  • Dinner together featuring Sicilian fare with wine included.

Day 5: Depart for Palermo

  • Breakfast is served.  Check out and depart for Palermo.
  • Enjoy the scenic ride with your driver from Taormina to Palermo.
  • Check in and relax.
  • Later in the evening, enjoy your Welcome Dinner including a full course Chef’s Tasting menu featuring local fare with local wine included.

Day 6: Food Lover’s Market Tour & Cooking Class 3

  • Breakfast is served.
  • After breakfast, meet Chef Lina for a Market Tour in Palermo with tastings along the way.
  • Following the market tour, tie on your apron with Chef Lina in the kitchen for your hands-on cooking class featuring a traditional Sicilian full-course menu. Following the cooking class, everyone enjoys lunch together on the foods that were prepared in the cooking class with wine included.
  • Dinner is on your own and suggestions are provided.

Day 7: Cooking Class 4 – Cannoli Making

  • Breakfast is served.
  • Morning free to explore Palermo on your own. Try any one of the Palermo street food sellers and enjoy a brioche filled with Sicilian gelato.
  • In the afternoon, join Chef Lina in the kitchen where you will learn the art of making Sicilian cannoli.  Mix, roll, then stuff each handmade shell with freshly whipped Sicilian ricotta.
  • After your cannoli making class, enjoy the cannoli together with sweet wine, juice and tea included.
  • Dinner is on your own and suggestions are provided.

Day 8: Saturday, June 4: Departure

  • Breakfast is served.
  • Check out and departure transfer to Palermo Airport or Train Station
  • Ciao Sicilia!

For anyone interested in continuing with us to Trapani, Arigento and Syracuse in southern Sicily, call for details. 

Sicily – call us for details.

Program Includes:

  • 7 nights and 8 days, based 2 guests per room.
  • Daily breakfast and maid service.
  • A Welcome Dinner featuring a Chef’s Tasting Dinner with local fare with wine included in Taormina.
  • 3 Hands-on cooking classes featuring full course traditional menus followed by the food that was prepared in the cooking class with wine included
  • (two in Taormino and 1 in Palermo).
  • 1 Sicilian Cannoli making class.  Following the cannoli making class, everyone enjoys the tastings with sweet wine, juice and tea included.
  • 1 Taormina Market Tour – shopping with the Chef.
  • Excursion to the Godfather Villa with time at the property for visiting.
  • Half-day Taormina tour with tastings along the way.
  • Excursion to Etna vineyard and winery with private driver.  Tour, wine tastings, and lunch included.
  • Palermo Food Lover’s Market Tour, with tastings along the way.
  • Group transfers from Catania Airport/Train Station to Taormina property, Taormina to Palermo property, and Palermo property to Palermo airport or train station.
  • Cooking Vacations welcome bag with chef’s apron, Prosecco and recipes.
Program Price:

$5895 per person, based on 2 guests.

For Single Guests: If you are traveling on your own, please call us for the best group price. We are happy to welcome you into an already scheduled group.

Check Availability

2022 Dates: This program is available throughout the year. You can check in and start your cooking program any day of the week, as this program is offered 12 months per year. Rates are subject to change based on currency exchange. Call for updated rates. Airfare not included. Group transfers for any cooking tour or tours that include transfers, are for the group and are not private. Transfers before, after or to another destination outside of your cooking tour are not included in the program price. If you would like to add on a private transfer or transfers, let us know and we will send you pricing.