Small group tour Wine tour of Sicily Italy

7 nights/8 days

Palermo • Marsala • Menfi

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

Palermo • Visit Monreale • Visit Rapitala • Marsala • Visit Donnafugata • Mozia • Visit De Bartol • Menfi • Visit Planeta • Visit Feudo Arancio • Option to visit Selinunte

Day by day

You travel on the British Airways flight departing London at 08.20 and landing in Palermo at 12.15. From here there is a private coach transfer from the airport to Palermo, (journey time about 45 mins) where we check into our first hotel.
The Tasca D’Almerita family have owned a vast agricultural estate in the centre of Sicily 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, and their rich voluptuous reds this evening over dinner at their property in Palermo.

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. The rest of the day is 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. Early evening, you are welcome to join your Tour Manager at the hotel, so you can have a chat about recommended local restaurants for your dinner choice at leisure.  Although there are lots of traditional Sicilian trattorias, there are quite a few vibrant modernist Chefs who are taking Sicilian produce and reinterpreting classic dishes with an inventive twist. Palermo is also famous for street food, so you could chose to simply stroll around one of the food markets such as Vucciria or Capo, where delights such as chickpea fritters, sfincione (local pizza) or arancini (rice balls) are cooked in front of you on stalls that line the narrow streets.

After breakfast, we check out of our hotel in Palermo and leaving the island’s capital behind, we head to the hinterland, which is home to the prestigious producer Rapitala. At their winery in the Valle del Belice in the west of the Sicily, they produce a tempting range of wines from the traditional varieties as well as the noble French varieties such as a spicy Syrah and a delightful late harvest wine. The estate was given a renaissance by a French Count who married into the Palermitano aristocracy, blending the best of French & Sicilian passion for wine (and food!), which today is continued by their son, Count Laurent. After a visit to the cellars, we enjoy a tasting of their wines with a traditional Sicilian lunch. We continue to Marsala, where we check in to our next hotel. This evening, we dine together at our hotel which enjoys views at sunset across to the Egadi islands. There will be a buffet of Sicilian salamis, cheese and salads with which will be paired a selection of wines from the island including its typical grape varieties such as Grillo and Nero d’Avola.

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. 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 light lunch. We head just outside of Marsala to take 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. This evening, we dine in the hotel’s attractive courtyard, where a Sicilian menu will be paired with wines from the west of the island.

After breakfast and check out 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 continue to Mazara del Vallo, where lunchtime is free for you to discover this delightful fishing port. Mazara del Vallo came to international attention when in the 1990’s a local fisherman picked up in his nets, a seven-foot bronze statue of a Dancing Satyr, dating to between 4th and 2nd century BC. There is a strong Tunisian presence in the town, and this shows in the fabulous fish cous cous restaurants to tempt you for lunch, or perhaps simply relax in the Piazza della Repubblica with an ice cream and admiring the Cathedral! Mid-afternoon, we continue to Planeta La Foresteria to check-in for our next three 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 slightly to the north (journey time 25 mins) to the wine cellars of Feudo Arancio. In the rolling hills of this part of southern Sicily, they produce a range of varietal wines, not only from the expected Grillo and d’Avola but also international varieties that have settled well on the island, including Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. We taste a range of their wines at the cellars this morning. Sicily being an island, makes it hard to resist a lunchtime appointment at the beach! So, we continue to the Planeta’s beach club, where under shady large umbrellas we enjoy a light lunch with a glass or two of their refreshing white wine – or perhaps their delicious rosé. This afternoon, you can choose to either remain at the beach club a little longer to enjoy the sea and beach or return to the hotel (just 10 minutes away) for a bit of R&R overlooking the vineyards. Alternatively, there is the opportunity after lunch to visit the archaeological park of Selinunte (journey time 25 mins). Founded in the 7th Century BC, Selinunte shows both the Phoenician and Greek history of the island. In a lovely setting overlooking the Mediterranean, it has one of the best examples of Doric architecture of a temple in Sicily as well as the ruins of the ancient city. The Planeta family focus very much on using local ingredients, from the wonderful aromatic herbs in the kitchen garden to using made that same day ricotta from the farm across the hill. This evening we dine at the hotel, where a further selection of wines will be paired to showcase their excellent range of wine styles.

After breakfast, we head to the original Planeta cellars in Sambuca di Sicilia (journey time 45 mins), 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 with a selection of tempting Sicilian canapes as a light lunch. We return to Planeta La Foresteria with time to relax before a farewell dinner which will be paired with a final selection of Planeta wines from their various Sicilian estates.

We leave for Palermo airport after breakfast (journey time about 1 hr 15 mins) for the return British Airways flight.

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, three 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
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.

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.

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.

Other holidays you might be interested in...