Small group tour Wine tour of Sicily Italy

7 nights/8 days

Marsala • Menfi • Agrigento • Palermo

A comprehensive wine tour of Sicily of 7 nights for a small group of up to 14 people, accompanied by an experienced wine and food expert, visiting vineyards on the western side of the island, but tasting wines from across Sicily.

Holiday price guide

Available on selected dates, as specified below, from £3,580 per person.

Luxury wine tour of Sicily for small groups of up to 14 people

Highlights

Marsala • Mozia • Visit De Bartol • Menfi • Visit Planeta • Visit Morgante • Agrigento • Visit Regeleali • Visit Agrigento temples • Palermo • Visit Monreale • Visit Brugnano • Castellammare del Golfo

Day by day

You travel on the British Airways flight departing London at 13.25, and landing in Palermo at 17.30. From here there is a private coach transfer from the airport to Marsala (journey time about 1 hr 15 mins) where you check-in to the hotel. This evening, we dine together at our hotel on the outskirts of Marsala, enjoying views at sunset across to the Egadi islands. Paired with a Sicilian menu will be a selection of wines from the island as an introduction to its typical grape varieties such as Grillo and Nero d’Avola.

After breakfast this morning we have a tasting visit at of one of the most respected names of Marsala, Marco de Bartoli. A visit to their cellars illustrates to us the way this much under-rated wine is produced, and then we enjoy a tasting of their wines discovering how true Marsala is: glorious, nutty and actually, surprisingly, food-friendly. As well as their traditional Marsalas, we will also try the elegant wines from their estate on Pantelleria, a small volcanic island closer to Africa than Sicily, made from the intriguingly named Zibbibo grape variety. We then make a short journey of about 30 mins to have lunch at a local restaurant, before taking the 6-minute ferry ride to the Phoenician city of Mozia, on the island of San Pantaleo, and today home to the Whittaker museum. We sail pass the salt pans and windmills that dominate this corner of Sicily, before having time to visit the archaeological museum with its collection of Greek and Punic artefacts including the famed Greek statue of ‘a youth from Mozia’, – or simply take a stroll around this small island of only 40 hectares. We return the short distance to the hotel, with time to relax and perhaps a dip in the pool, before we dine together at the hotel to discover wines from other regions of Sicily such as the exciting wines originating from the Nerello Mascalese grape, grown on the slopes of Mount Etna.

After breakfast, we check out of the hotel and then, this morning there is an opportunity to visit the town of Marsala itself, with its Cathedral dedicated to St Thomas of Canterbury, where there are 16th century Flemish tapestries. Marsala came to represent wine for the English, but it was hugely important in the Carthaginian era, before it was conquered by the Romans. The weekly market takes place this morning, with stalls laden with violet-hued aubergines and bundles of aromatic herbs. Alternatively, you could visit the Baglio Anselmi museum with its Roman Mosiacs and a Punic shipwreck. It is just a short hop to our next visit at the Donnafugata cellars in the centre of Marsala. Owned by the Rallo family, they took the decision to concentrate on ‘table wines’ rather than fortified Marsala and helped revolutionise the Sicilian wine trade. Today, their multi award-winning wines show how elegant and complex the wines of Sicily can be, such as the engaging white from Catarratto grapes or the beguiling Mille e una Notte, named after Scheherazade, a spicy deep blend of Nero D’Avola, Petit Verdot and Syrah. We taste these wines paired with a typical Sicilian lunch. After lunch, we continue to Planeta La Foresteria to check-in for our next two nights. After time to enjoy their infinity pool overlooking the vines, we have dinner at this boutique hotel, owned by the most dynamic wine estate in Sicily, Planeta, and so dinner will be paired with a selection of their wines.

After breakfast, we head to the original Planeta cellars in Sambuca di Sicilia, for a visit to understand how this one family were so instrumental in achieving recognition for the modern face of Sicilian wine making on the world stage, most notably with their Chardonnay. They achieved the coveted ‘Italian Winery of the Year’ award in 1999 and have expanded quickly since then, now producing wines in five different terroirs of the island. We taste a selection of these wines this morning. Lunchtime is free in the coastal town of Sciacca, which was long fought-over in history for its importance on trade routes. The looming Monte San Calogero meant that the town became well known for its thermal waters and spas, but today it remains better known for its beautiful ceramics, made here since Greek times and even today showing Arab influences as well in their design. We return to Planeta La Foresteria with time to relax before dinner which will be paired with a final selection of Planeta wines from their various Sicilian estates.

After breakfast, we check out and head along the southern Sicilian coast towards Agrigento. Our lunchtime appointment is at the family-run estate of Morgante, whose focus has been producing wines from the Nero D’Avola grape, showing cherries and chocolate on the palate. They also make an unusual white wine from red grapes – and a delicious olive oil which we will taste over a rustic lunch at the estate. We continue to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of The Temples of Agrigento. Under the Greeks, Agrigento thrived and eight temples were built between 510 BC and 430 BC which UNESCO rates as ‘one of the most outstanding monuments of Greek art and culture’. There is time to visit these fascinating temples, which include the well-preserved Doric Temple of Concord with its 34 columns and the Temple of Hera. Our next hotel is located close to the Temples and we check-in here in the late afternoon. We dine together here this evening.

Today is our big day to cross Sicily, and so, after breakfast, we check out and journey through some spectacularly wild countryside to the heart of the island for our next visit which is at the Regaleali estate. This spectacular property has belonged to Tasca D’Almerita since 1830. The land reforms of the ‘50s saw their lands reduced from 1200 hectares to just 500 but the family have concentrated on making some of the most iconic wines of the island and won the first of their many wine awards in 1871! They were very forward thinking in planting international varieties as early as 1979 – and we will taste a range of their wines such as the classic white Nozze D’Oro made from Inzolia and Sauvignon Tasca before lunch at the estate. After lunch, we continue through rolling fields to the north of the island and the capital of Sicily, Palermo. We check-in to our hotel here in the centre of the city for two nights and have the evening free, for you to choose your own restaurants from our list of suggestions.

After breakfast, there is a short drive the Conca d’Oro to the hilltop town of Monreale, where the remarkable Norman Cathedral stands. Thanks to the enlightened William II, the Cathedral is a wonderful blend of Arabic, Byzantine and Norman architecture has a truly impressive luminous set of mosaics from the 12th century. The cloisters are also worth a visit for the 228 columns and intricate carvings. Lunchtime and the afternoon are free for exploring Palermo at your leisure. A wonderful chaotic mixture of the ancient art and modern life, Palermo is a city of contrasts showing the hallmarks of a series of invaders across the centuries. There are a host of UNESCO World Heritage Sites including the Palazzo dei Normanni, with its frescoes and the beautiful Palatine Chapel with its wooden carved ceiling and the golden mosaic of Christ. Or simply explore Palermo’s individual quarters, discovering the Pretoria Fountain, or the largest opera house in Italy, the Teatro Massimo, or simple enjoy the winding alleyways and street markets between Baroque palazzi. This evening, we have a special invitation to a 12th century Palazzo, in the heart of the mediaeval quarter, the Kalsa, which remains today the private residence of a Sicilian noble family. We will enjoy a dinner of Sicilian dishes, the recipes chosen by the current Count who adores cooking and paired with a selection of wines from his family’s wine estate in the west of the island, including a delightful white from local varieties as well as seductive reds.

After breakfast, we check out of our hotel and head to the Alcamo wine region for our final wine tasting at the welcoming Brugnano estate. Founded in 1970, this is a relatively new company by Italian wine standards, and the family focus on making wines with great drinkability. We taste a range of their wines before a relaxed buffet lunch at the cellars, showing off how well their wines pair with local salamis, cheeses and other local specialities. We continue a short distance to the coast to Castellammare del Golfo, a pretty, small town that was an important trading port and used to be one of the main tuna ports of the Tyrrhenian Sea. There will be time to stroll the streets of the mediaeval quarter or perhaps what better way to end your Sicilian experience by simply relaxing on the sea front with a gelato! We continue to the airport for the return BA flight to London.

From about Prices per person
2 September 2021 £3,580

Holiday Code SGWT01

Luxury wine tour of Sicily for small groups of up to 14 people

From about Prices per person
2 September 2021 £3,580

Holiday Code SGWT01

Our prices include ● Flights with British Airways London Heathrow to Palermo, Euro traveller. Club upgrade available on request at a supplement.
● Transportation from Palermo airport in a small luxury coach for a maximum of 14 people, with one piece of luggage per person
● English-speaking tour guide with knowledge of the wine and food of Sicily
● Two nights’ bed and buffet breakfast at the Hotel Principe di Villafranca or similar in Palermo.
● Two nights’ bed and buffet breakfast at the Baglio Oneto near Marsala. Plus, two dinners with wine.
● Three nights’ bed and buffet breakfast at the Planeta la Foresteria at Menfi. Plus, two dinners with wine.
● Other meals included as follows: Three lunches, One lunch with wine, One dinner with wine
● Entrances and wine tastings as mentioned in the itinerary
● Concierge service and Expressions Holidays regional helpful hints

Our prices do not include ● Early check-in or late check-out at any hotels (although we can arrange this on request at additional cost)
● Any other services not mentioned above, such as transfers and meals not mentioned
● Personal holiday insurance. This is essential and cover should be in place from when you book the holiday.
● Local tourist tax, usually between Euros 1 and 3 per person per night, and payable locally to the hotel

Additional information Single Supplement for use of double £470 per person
Deposit payment £400 per person

Luxury wine tour of Sicily for small groups of up to 14 people

Expressions Holidays includes these hotels in this small group touring holiday.
Hotels included in this tour
Baglio Oneto

The Baglio Oneto is a luxury, 5-star boutique hotel in a beautiful location on a working wine estate. The secluded location, gourmet cuisine and, of course the excellent wine, offer guests a truly idyllic and indulgent experience.

Foresteria la Planeta

Foresteria la Planeta, a picturesque boutique hotel, is perfect for Sicilian food and wine holidays, offering specialist cookery classes and tasting sessions that provide insight into the local production of wine, olive oil, traditional aperitifs, and regional specialities.

Hotel Baglio della Luna

Hotel Baglio della Luna is an exclusive 4-star hotel with wonderful views over the Valley of the Temples. Delicious cuisine and tranquil gardens afford guests a relaxing and indulgent experience.

Hotel Principe di Villafranca

Hotel Principe di Villafranca is a 4-star boutique hotel in an excellent central location. The hotel features a variety of artwork and comfortable accommodation, and is a relaxing retreat from which to explore the ancient city of Palermo.

From about Prices per person
2 September 2021 £3,580

Holiday Code SGWT01

Luxury wine tour of Sicily for small groups of up to 14 people

Highlights of Sicily

An ascent of Mount Etna, partly by car and then further on foot (guides available) through the luxuriant vegetation which includes oranges and lemons, bougainvillaea and poinsettias and then higher up the groves of walnuts, cherries, almonds, pistachios and vines. Palermo is known for its street markets, especially Vucciria and Ballaro, where traders and hawkers, pickpockets and shoppers converge amongst narrow streets and stalls of wares. See the traditional costumes and dialect of Piana degli Albanesi, where Albanians settled in the 15th Century. Revel in the splendid site of Taormina above the sea with views to Etna. Local crafts include cork, ceramics, honey, embroidery, raffia. Enjoy the calm and remoteness of the Aeolian Islands with their clear waters, beautiful scenery and peaceful way of life. Enjoy the gardens of the Villa Giulia in Palermo and the Public Gardens in Taormina.

Cultural highlights of Sicily

Palermo contains some of the greatest Arab-Norman buildings in existence - San Giovanni degli Eremiti, the Palazzo Reale with its striking Cappella Palatina and La Martorana. Monreale outside Palermo is the greatest work of Norman architecture in Sicily and contains beautiful 12th and 13th Century mosaics and cloisters. The Doric temples of the 5th Century BC in the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento. Cefalu has the `Portrait of a Man` by Antonello da Messina, dating from 1465 in its Museo Mandralisca.

Festivals in Sicily

Many Sicilian local festivals are linked to Saints’ Days. A few of the most well-known festivals generally include Carnival celebrations in Taormina and Acireale. Easter is celebrated especially in Trapani, Marsala and Piana degli Albanesi. Messina celebrates Ferragosto on the 15th August with a firework display over the Straits. The Sagra del Mandorlo in Fiore takes place in Agrigento in the first and second weeks of February to celebrate the almond blossom. Taormina Arte is a summer festival of music, cinema, ballet and theatre, held in the Greek theatre. The Palio dei Normanni takes place in Piazza Armeria in August.

Gastronomy in Sicily

The gastronomy of Sicily, like much of the culture of the island, has been heavily influenced by its history. Cuscus is a Sicilian version of couscous, and marzipan features heavily in sweets. Local produce includes citrus fruits, almonds, capers, olives, peppers and fish. Local specialities include Maccheroni con le sarde (pasta with sardines, fennel, raisins, pine nuts and saffron), Pesce spada (grilled sword fish), 'alla Siciliana' with capers, red peppers and herbs. Cassata is a popular dessert made with ricotta, candied fruit and pistachios and Cannoli are almond biscuits stuffed with ricotta. Sicily produces a variety of red and white wines including Corvo di Salaparuta and Etna, Marsala and Malvasia.

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