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Sicilian Saunter

offered by supplier M08242 (read about supplier)

Key Information:
Tour Duration: 7 day(s)
Group Size: 2 - 14 people
Destination(s): Italy  
Specialty Categories: Food & Wine   Hiking & Trekking  
Season: September
Airfare Included: No
Tour Customizable: No
Minimum Per Person Price: 3395 US Dollar (USD)
Maximum Per Person Price: 3445 US Dollar (USD)

There are two sides to Sicily's raw beauty: One is its rocky coastline, and the other is its mountainous interior. Explore both as you hike along seaside trails and over craggy ridges where traces of ancient civilizations stimulate the imagination. Each afternoon features a line-up of stellar Sicilian wines, from native Nero d'Avola to new Cabernet to eye-opening Marsala.

Dates: September 14-20

• See Sicily close-up with seaside and inland walks in the Trappani and Marsala regions
• Enjoy private, sit-down tastings at Donnafugata, Ceuso, De Bartoli and other leading wineries
• Hike around a Greek temple and amphitheater at the archaeological park of Segesta
• Gawk at the splendid Byzantine mosaics at the Cathedral of Monreale
• See ancient methods for making sea-salt and enjoy a boat ride in the surrounding lagoon
• Visit the hilltop town of Erice and the Baroque port city of Marsala

When Palermo was the richest city in Europe in the 1100s, its outskirts provided hunting grounds for royalty. In 1166 the Norman King William II built a magnificent cathedral overlooking this fertile valley. Today the Cathedral of Monreale remains one of the masterpieces of Byzantine art, with floor-to-ceiling mosaics and gold leaf everywhere. After a morning pickup in Palermo, we’ll shuttle up to Monreale and begin with a visit to this spectacular church, soaking up the Eastern flavor of Sicily’s art. Then we drive an hour to Camporeale for our complementary welcome lunch and wine tasting at Alessandro di Camporeale. Here members of the Alessandro family will rustle up such regional dishes as caponata (sweet-and-sour eggplant and bell peppers), fresh ricotta made that morning, and homemade pasta—all accompanied by fantastic wines, from crisp cataratto to spicy syrah. From here, we do a warm-up hike along a quiet, winding, country road that goes towards Alcamo, getting our first taste of Sicily’s wild interior, with rocky outcroppings, vineyards, and windswept mountains—a truly bucolic setting. We then check into our hotel, which sits directly on the bay of Castellammare del Golfo, an active fishing village. Dinner features fish fresh from the Mediterranean. L, D • Cala Marina

Today we explore Monte Cofano, a nature reserve on a Dolomite limestone promontory jutting out between two gulfs (1-hour drive from hotel). Networked with trails, the park covers an area once inhabited by shepherds and tuna fishermen. First we climb up a rocky path to go over a mountain pass; here grazing sheep and circling falcon will be our only companions on this solitary and scenic trail. As we descend to sea, we’ll finds traces of the old settlements on the hillside: in abandoned terraces, the remnants of shepherd huts, and an abandoned tuna factory beside the sea. The path then skirts the sea, weaving past huge boulders and rocky shores, and interspersed with Mediterranean flora and fauna. (This hike is officially rated “medium” difficulty with a 820’ climb and takes around three-and-half hours.) In the afternoon, we head to the boutique winery Ceuso for a tour and tasting. Ceuso was started in 1990 as a labor of love by the three Melia brothers – a farmer, an enologist, and an agronomist. It makes luscious, oak-aged blends of nero d’Avola and French grapes, inspired by mentor Giacomo Tachis (of Sassicaia fame). Our host will be Giuseppe Melia, who will show us around the 1860 baglio (a plantation’s walled farmstead) that the brothers slowly restored. He’ll give us a first-person account of the winery’s rise to success. Dinner is at a seaside restaurant in Castellammare, where we’ll find such dishes as seafood risotto and grilled swordfish with cherry tomatoes. And who can say no to cannoli, one of Sicily’s most beloved desserts? B, D • Cala Marina

On Monte Barbaro, a thousand feet above the sea, lies the temple of Segesta. Once the political hub of the indigenous Elymian and Ionian Greek people, this is now a vast archeological park. Its centerpiece is a beautifully preserved Greek Doric temple and, higher up, a Greek amphitheater with an unparalleled view of countryside and sea. Today we’ll hike through the archaeological park of Segesta. While we’ll be sure to visit the main attractions, we’ll also get off the beaten path and hike on secondary trails, where blackberries, fig and almond trees, and prickly pear beckon with their bounty. After stopping at the temple and pondering the ephemeral nature of world power, we’ll ask the eternal question, “What’s for lunch?” We’ll rub elbows with the locals at a neighborhood trattoria, Baglio Segesta, eating family-style on their shaded patio. Next is our afternoon tasting. This will be at Spadafora, an award-winning, family-owned winery that also runs an agriturismo. Our tasting presents a panorama of wines, from indigenous nero d’avola to wonderful cabernet blends that show how much French grapes like the Sicilian sun. We’ll return to Castellamare for dinner. B • Cala Marina

Today is our transfer to Marsala, so we’ll take a day off from hiking and have some time to relax in the morning. First destination is the westernmost tip of Sicily, where Mount Erice rises 750 meters above the sea. At its top is the town of Erice. Offering a strategic overlook, this was an important Hellenic settlement until it was destroyed by Carthaginians in the First Punic War (c. 250 BC). It later fell under Arab rule for three centuries, until the Normans seized it in 1167. Today, there are two significant remnants of this layered history: the Pepoli Castle (now a hotel), dating from Saracen (Arab) times, and the Venus Castle, dating from the Norman period. The town also offers charming stone streets—and a fantastic bakery. (Another cannoli, perhaps? Or some marzipan treats?) The afternoon takes us to the port town of Marsala, our second home base. Today’s tasting is at Donnafugata. One of Sicily’s most prominent wineries, it is owned by the Rallo family, which once made Marsala, then sold the brand name and switched to dry table wine in the 1980s. Naming their new enterprise after a character in Gattopardo (The Leopard), Donnafugata is consistently among the Tre Bicchieri winners for its nero d’avola–based blends and its nectar-like passito, Ben Rye. After settling into our hotel in the heart of Marsala, there should be free time to roam the Baroque historic center before dinner at an elegant restaurant a short walk from the hotel. B, D • Hotel Carmine

Off the western coast of Sicily are the three tiny Egadi islands: Marettimo, Levanzo, and Favignana. Today’s hike is on the most scenic island, Marettimo. We’ll take a hydrofoil from Marsala to Marettimo’s single, white-washed town (90 min.). From there, we’ll hike along a rugged seaside path that weaves in and out of the rocky sea cliffs, always offering spectacular views of the turquoise sea. Our destination, at the far end of the island, is an ancient Norman fortress, towering high above a narrow spit of land. After a picnic lunch and maybe a dip in the water, we’ll hike back to town to catch the late-afternoon ferry. Our return trip will include a detour the island of Favignana, where we can stroll in town or grab a seat in a café that offers 30 flavors of granita, the original ice slurpy. Dinner is on your own in Marsala. B, D • Hotel Carmine

A steady sea breeze and protected coves have made western Sicily an ideal spot for harvesting sea salt. Since ancient times, Sicilians have used evaporation ponds and windmills to crystallize salt from the sea. We’ll visit the saline, watching a film that shows the year-long process, then take a private boat ride across the stagnone (big lagoon) to the island of Isola Lunga. A Carthaginian base along with neighboring Mozia, this flat island makes for easy hiking; we’ll walk amidst prickly pear cactuses and marsh vegetation, and might spot some of the pink flamingoes that inhabit the lagoon. After lunch at Eubes, a trattoria that excels in Sicilian-style pasta, we’ll head to De Bartoli, the winery that resurrected the real marsala as a praise-worthy meditation wine. We’ll see how marsala is perpetually blended and aged using the solera system, then sample De Bartoli’s array of dry wines (including Sicily’s first 100% grillo), marsala, and passito from Pantelleria. Our farewell dinner is outside of Marsala at an elegant hillside restaurant.
B, D • Hotel Carmine

A shuttle to the Palermo airport by 11:30 A.M. and assistance with your travel plans. B

Member discount:
10% discount for InfoHub customer.  Request a free gift certificate.

Airfare is not included in the tour price.

What’s included
• 6 nights accommodations (double room) in two charming 3-star hotels, with breakfast buffet
• 5 gourmet dinners (three courses with wine)
• 1 welcome lunch
• All wine tastings mentioned
• Admission to the archaeological park of Segesta and the cathedral of Monreale
• Shuttle at beginning/end of tour, as described

What’s not included
• Air travel
• Travel to meeting point
• 1 dinner on your own and most lunches
• After-dinner drinks, or special wines at tastings that are not part of what is provided to the group
• Items of a personal nature

About This Supplier
Photos: Next »
Location: USA
Joined InfoHub: Apr 2000
Client Request Served: 206

M08242 is the leading specialist in Italian wine tours. We believe the best way to enjoy and learn about wine is on location, close to the land and the people who produced it. Our Italian wine tours provide full immersion in Italy's wine culture, offering an enjoyable learning experience for wine enthusiasts of...

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