May 29 – June 6, 2018
Day 1: Ragusa: Welcome to Sicily
Arrive at Catania Airport in Sicily and be met by a Times Journeys representative. Transfer to your hotel, settle in and get to know your Times expert as well as your fellow Times travelers at a welcome reception.
Day 2: Modica: Herbs and Chocolate
After breakfast, travel to the Aromi herb farm, just outside the Baroque town of Scicli. Marvel at the varieties of herbs grown there, and meet the owner. Then, attend a cooking demonstration with the chef Rita Russotto, who will prepare Ragusan dishes featuring many of the herbs and flavors grown on the farm. Of course you get to try them! In the afternoon, continue to Modica, designated a Unesco World Heritage site with other towns in the Val di Noto for exceptional Baroque architecture. While the town is ancient, an earthquake in 1693 allowed the construction of many structures in flamboyant Sicilian Baroque style. Visit Antica Dolceria Bonajuto, the oldest chocolate manufacturer in Sicily. The family-run shop creates its chocolate using a traditional Aztec method first introduced in the 1500s. After a tasting, the rest of the day is on your own.
Day 3: Ragusa: Cheese and Architecture
Depart for Corfilac, a research center focusing on traditional dairy production processes, particularly cheese. Observe the cheesemaking process, sample different varieties and try your hand at creating your own. Learn the art of pairing cheeses with wine and jams. The lesson will be followed by a light lunch. Return to the hotel for some leisure time. Late this afternoon, depart for Ragusa Ibla, the lower portion of the city of Ragusa. Explore the area’s winding streets and magnificent Baroque architecture. Dinner is on your own in Ragusa.
Day 4: Vittoria: Olive Oil and Wine
Visit Frantoi Cutrera, an upscale olive oil producer whose oil is created from six types of Sicilian olive trees. The Cutrera family has been creating some of the world’s finest olive oil for over a century. Continue to the Planeta Dorilli wine producers’ estate in Vittoria. The hilly region produces the indigenous grape varieties Nero d’Avola and Frappato. Stroll the grounds and winery, followed by a private wine lesson and tasting. Lunch will be served in the gardens.
Dinner is on your own.
Day 5: Noto: Baroque Churches and Sunset in Syracuse
After breakfast, head to the historic city center of Noto, north of Syracuse. The highlight of the city is the Corso Vittorio Emanuele, a walkway bordered by Baroque churches and palaces. Each May, Noto hosts the Infiorata Flower Festival, with intricate carpets of flower art in the center of town. Check in to the hotel in Syracuse, and take a sunset walking tour of the city from Piazza Archimede to the Piazza del Duomo. Dinner is on your own.
Day 6: Syracuse: Greek Theater and Gardens
Depart for the impressive Greek theater at the Parco Archeologico della Neapolis. The amphitheater, built in the fifth century B.C. and the largest of its kind, could seat over 16,000 people, and was used to stage the works of playwrights such as Sophocles and Euripides. Continue to the lush Biviere Gardens, designed by Princess Maria Carla Borghese and her husband. Have lunch in the gardens and return to Ortigia for the evening at leisure.
Day 7: Catania: Fishing and On to Taormina
Discover Catania’s bustling fish market, which takes place every weekday morning near the Piazza del Duomo. Meet with local vendors, admire the catch of the day and sample Sicilian street foods like arancini, cipollina and the almond cookies known as biscotti con mandorle. In the afternoon, drive to Taormina, and take a sunset walking tour. Dinner is on your own.
Day 8: Taormina: Mount Etna
After breakfast, depart for Mount Etna, an active volcano. Examine the wildlife, flora and geological features of this fragile environment. Descend the mountain for a light lunch and wine tasting in the mountain’s foothills at the Barone di Villagrande winery. The rich volcanic soil produces high-quality wines that make farming in such a risky location worthwhile. Return to Taormina for a farewell dinner in a beautiful setting offering Michelin-starred cuisine prepared by Chef Massimo Mantarro.
Day 9: Homeward Bound
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight home.