Wednesday 13th September Arrive in Sicily
Disembarking after lunch, the wonders of Sicily await. You will be whisked into the heart of Palermo and, after some time to settle into the magnificent Villa Igiea, you will have the option to enjoy a truly remarkable introduction to Palermo’s historic streets – on the back of a shiny Vespa (or by private air-conditioned limousine for those who may desire comfort over authenticity!). Not only is this the most authentic way to experience Palermo like a true local, this delightful mode of transport also allows you to navigate the city’s narrower streets and alleyways with ease. The accompaniment of an expert local guide provides the opportunity to uncover some of the many hidden gems of this intoxicating city.
After a full day of travel and adventure, we will not have to venture too far for dinner this evening. Villa Igiea’s Florio restaurant is one of the most refined in the city, with menus of classic and contemporary Sicilian cuisine overseen by Michelin starred chef Fulvio Pierangelini. The backdrop – an original Louis XVI dining hall that charmed countless illustrious guests during the Belle Époque – adds a further sense of place to your first meal in the city.
Overnight: Villa Igiea
Thursday 14th September Sicily
This morning you will be able to choose from a carefully selected programme of independent activities, designed to offer a more immersive insight into Palermo’s distinctive cuisine, historic and cultural traditions. These include:
• Palermo cookery class. Visit the Capo market with a renowned local chef to select the freshest produce for lunch, returning to his private home where together you will prepare a meal of enticing Sicilian specialities.
• A comprehensive historic and cultural tour of Palermo by vintage Fiat 500, taking in the city’s Baroque palaces, the Teatro Massimo, the UNESCO-protected Duomo and other highlights of the Storico Centrale.
• An introduction to Sicilian puppetry, one of the island’s most historic cultural art forms. Meet a puppet maker from the renowned Argento family of puppeteers to learn more about this remarkable tradition and the rivalries on the island. The experience concludes with an authentic Opera dei Pupi performance.
• A street food tour with private guide, exploring the bustling food markets of the Capo and Vucciria districts, and sampling the very best regional specialities along the way.
• An exploration of Palermo’s intriguing subterranean labyrinth of tunnels and quarries at Le Muchate Arabe. Dating back to the Arab-Norman period, this fascinating underground network extends some six miles under the city of Palermo, with the stone hewn from the quarries used to create the cathedral and the Palazzo Normani.
• A shopping tour of Palermo, accompanied by a private guide. Whether you are aiming to find high quality painted ceramics and other traditional crafts, or browse some of the city’s finest boutiques, your guide will know the very best spots to shop like a local.
The afternoon is at leisure for you to further explore Palermo at your own pace, or to relax and take full advantage of your base at Villa Igiea. The swimming pool and sun terrace offer hypnotic views of the sparkling Tyrrhenian Sea, while the Irene Forte Spa employs fine Sicilian botanical ingredients in its nurturing treatments. Should you wish to sightsee further, a local guide will be on hand.
Your second evening in Sicily begins in style with a private cocktail reception at the Church of Santissimo Salvatore. The dome of this 11th century church is a focal point of the Palermo cityscape, and we shall be able to enjoy it along with drinks and musical accompaniment. Continuing on to the majestic Palazzo Francavilla, enjoy an intimate private dinner hosted by the present owners of the palace, Antonino and Liliana Pecoraro. The origins of this palace date back to the late 1700s, and its grand salons are adorned with magnificent 19th century frescoes.
Overnight: Villa Igiea
Friday 15th September Sicily
Today you will venture out to the rolling vineyards of Sicily’s interior, to experience life on one of the island’s most prestigious wineries. The noble lineage of the Spadafora family dates back to the early 13th century, and - though viniculture has been a more recent occupation for the family - the wines produced at the Spadafora estate include vintages which are more than worthy of this distinguished heritage. The current owner of the estate and his daughter – Francesco and Enrica Spadafora - will be your hosts on a fascinating tour, where you will learn more about the superlative conditions for wine production in this region as well as the family’s commitment to an organic and sustainable approach. There will be time to enjoy an immersive culinary experience with a Sicilian chef and you may even have the opportunity to participate in harvest activities before sampling a selection of the highly acclaimed wines produced at Azienda Spadafora. A delicious lunch incorporating some of the finest produce of the region will ensure you do not go hungry during your Sicilian wine immersion.
Later on you will be driven back to Villa Igiea with the balance of the afternoon at leisure to enjoy the swimming pool, spa and peaceful gardens. This evening, you will be free to dine independently at one of Palermo’s finest restaurants. We have compiled a list of all the best and most authentic local restaurants in the city, and will make a reservation at the venue and time of your choosing. As you would expect, all independent dining is included in the trip cost.
Overnight: Villa Igiea