Sicily Wine Tour


Wine, Cuisine, History and Culture

12 Days - September 7 to 18, 2021

POSTPONED INDEFINTELY DUE TO COVID-19

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Wine, enjoyed in moderation, is a healthy food which enriches life.

FAQ | Register | Price | Itinerary
Imagine being in the vineyards of Sicily. With its splendid climate, magnificent ancient treasures and great beauty, Sicily is truly a feast for the senses. Join wine expert and educator Steve Thurlow as he leads a 12 day excursion of discovery and enjoyment.  

 



Wine for Life presents an accompanied wine, food and cultural visit to Sicily. We will explore the leading vineyards and wineries and will be introduced to Sicilian cuisine.

Visit wineries, see some of the world's best ancient Greek ruins, learn about Sicilian cuisine, dine in splendid traditional settings at wineries with their owners and winemakers, bathe in the warm Mediterranean and soak up the warm late-summer sunshine.

Experience Mount Etna, Europe's largest active volcano, wander in streets little changed since mediaeval times and shop in traditional markets for the freshest produce.

In September each year, after summer departs in Toronto, there is plenty of warm sunshine in Sicily; daily highs of 25-27°C and lows of 16-18°C.

 

 

 

 

As well as tasting and dining at all the major wineries we will find time to visit many of the major Greek and Roman sites. Staying in four boutique hotels in Palermo, Marsala, Agrigento and near to Taormina, the visit will culminate with (safety permitting) a visit to Mount Etna.

If all this sounds like too hectic a pace, don't worry. There will be time for relaxing by the pool in the warm sunshine and wandering around some of the beautiful mediaeval towns and villages that lie along the southern shore of this golden isle.

This was the first tour created by Steve Thurlow in 2003.

It remains the most popular and the least expensive due to the generous hospitality offered by the winery hosts and the low season rates at the hotels.

Register

If you are interested in joining this tour....

Email: Steve Thurlow steve@stevethurlow.com and he will send you a registration form.

Price

The price for the all-inclusive is C$4950 per person assuming double occupancy.

A non-refundable deposit of C$800 per guest is required to secure a place on this tour. Final payment for the trip is required 120 days prior to departure. Guests are advised to take trip cancellation insurance, which we are happy to provide. Please request a quotation when registering for the trip.

The trip price assumes double occupancy in twin/double rooms and includes all land transportation, hotels, breakfasts, visits and tastings, and 14 meals with wines all led by Steve Thurlow.

Guests are required to make their own travel arrangements to Palermo and home from Catania. There are many ways of flying to Sicily from North America.

Air Canada currently flies direct to Rome so flights can be booked using Aeroplan points which may be of interest to some.

 

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2021 Itinerary

(Included meals: B= Breakfast L= Lunch D= Dinner)

Day 1: Palermo - Tuesday September 7, 2021

The group meets in Palermo at the Hotel Principe di Villafranca. No activities are arranged during the day to allow time to recover from the journey and to visit Palermo individually.

Those wishing to see more of Palermo should consider arriving a day or two earlier.

There will be group dinner in Palermo in the evening. (D)

 

 
 

Day 2: Monreale and Marsala

We checkout of the hotel after breakfast and leave for Monreale; a town in the southern suburbs of Palermo.

In the historic centre you will discover the Byzantine beauty, Norman splendour and Arab symmetry of Monreale's medieval cathedral as we make a short visit to the town, wandering in its narrow streets.

Late morning we leave Monreale on our way to Marsala.

However we will stop en route at the Cusumano winery for a brief tour and tasting followed by lunch. We will arrive late afternoon in Marsala.

 

The hotel is a quiet haven in the centre of the city with a charming garden where we will take breakfast each day. [Weather permitting]

 

Our home for the next four nights will be Hotel Carmine in Marsala, where we will arrive late afternoon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The hotel is at the heart of the historic city centre with the Convent of Carmine and the central square of Marsala both close by.

The hotel's period original Sicilian furnishings fit well into this historic building that was converted into a hotel in 2005.

 

There are many restaurants and bars within a short walk, so once we are settled in, it will be time to explore our new surroundings, visit the shops and find a bite to eat. (B,L)

Day 3: Marsala

After breakfast Steve will lead a class on the wines of Sicily. We will taste examples of wines made from the indigenous grapes that we will be seeing during the trip.

 

 

It will soon be time for lunch which will be at a beach restaurant a few miles away.

Sicily is famous for its seafood which is sent all over the world.

Freshness and simple preparation are all that is required.

 

 

 

 

Natia from Settesoli will join us with the wines from both the Settesoli and Mandrarossa wineries.

 

   

After lunch the afternoon will be free for relaxing at the hotel.

Late afternoon we depart for a visit to the nearby Donnafugata winery including dinner in the splendid barrel hall. (B,L,D)

Day 4: Marsala


This morning we will take a walking tour to visit and see the produce in local markets.

 

 

 

We will stay in Marsala for sightseeing and shopping until lunchtime. We then visit the Curatolo Arini winery for a tasting and lunch.

After lunch the afternoon will be free for relaxing at the hotel.

 

 

 

 

 

Early evening we will depart by coach for a winery visit, tasting and dinner at the closeby Carlo Pellegrino winery. (B,L,D)

 

Day 5: Erice and Trapani


After breakfast we depart for Segesta to visit the impressive Doric Temple, left virtually intact and situated on a windswept hill overlooking the valley.

This ancient site has remains from the Greek, Roman, Saracen and Norman periods.

We start the visit on top of the hill at the site to see the vestiges of the Greek theatre, the Arab mosque and the Norman keep.

After our visit we leave for the Rapitala winery for a tour and tasting followed by lunch.

After lunch we visit the mediaeval mountain top town of Erice with its amazing cobbled streets and beautiful churches.

 

 

Our day comes to a close as we head back to Marsala to visit the town for a slice of pizza before returning to the hotel. (B,L)

 

 

 

 

 

After the visit to Erice we descend to the sea-salt pans near Trapani to view the sun setting over the sea.

 



 

 

Day 6: Menfi and Agrigento


After breakfast we check out of our Marsala hotel and take the coast road towards Agrigento.

Shortly before arrival there, we will leave the coast and head inland to visit a local olive oil producer, Olio Taibi.

 

 

 

 

 

Here Francesco will show us how olives are harvested before we sample his fresh olive oil.

The view from the roof terrace of the olives is quite splendid.

 

It will now be time for lunch which will be at Kokalos a short drive from Olio Taibi.

 

This restaurant overlooks the Valley of the Temples that we will be visiting later.

 

 

It has a magnificent pool and seaviews from the guestrooms.

 

After lunch we will check into our hotel for the next three nights.

Dioscuri Bay Palace hotel is on the beach in San Leone a suburb of Agrigento.

 

 

 

The evening is free to visit the area on foot or relax at the hotel.

There are many places to eat on the seafront minutes away from the hotel. (B,L)

 

 

Day 7: Agrigento

The morning is free for relaxing at the hotel or on the beach or maybe exploring the town.

Early afternoon we leave the hotel to visit the Morgante winery which lies in the hills to the north of the city.

The tasting and tour will include a vineyard visit accompanied by the owner Carmelo Morgante.

 

We will choose the wines for our dinner later that day at the winery.

In the cool of the evening, there will be an organized tour of some of the world's best-preserved Greek ruins in the Valley of the Temples.

 

Our guide Claudio has been leading our tour groups since 2003.

He is very knowledgeable and entertaining and always gets rave reviews.

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

The tour lasts about 2 hours.

 

 

It finishes just as the sun is setting.

Dinner with the wines of Morgante will be served at the hotel. (B,D)

 

 

 

Day 8: Vittoria

After breakfast we leave the hotel to drive along Sicily's south coast to visit the Planeta winery at Dorilli.

 

 

The winery is in the Vittoria viticultural region and is know for its red wine Cerasuolo di Vittoria.

The visit to the vineyard and the winery will be followed by a tasting led by the winemaker. It will include the wines from this winery as well as a selection from other Planeta wineries in Sicily.

We will then take lunch together with some of the wines from the tasting.

We return to our hotel late afternoon.

The evening is free. (B,L)

Day 9: Butera and Piazza Amerina


After breakfast we check out of our hotel and depart for a spectacular drive seeing more evidence of the ancient Greek civilization that flourished in this region and the extensive vineyards of dessert grapes.

We are heading towards Taormina but will make two stops enroute.

 

 

First we will visit the splendid winery constructed by Zonin at Fuedi di Butera near to Gela.

 

 

 

After a tasting and lunch at the winery we depart for Piazza Amerina to visit the world famous Villa Romana del Casale known for its well preserved mosaics.

This large and elaborate Roman villa or palace is located about 3 km from the town of Piazza Armerina.

Excavations have revealed one of the richest, largest, and varied collections of Roman mosaics in the world, for which the site has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The villa and the artwork contained within it date from the early part of the C4th AD.

The mosaic and opus sectile floors cover some 3,500 sq meters and are almost unique in their excellent state of preservation due to the landslide and floods that covered the remains.

 
   

Our guide to the site, Sabrina, has been guiding Wine for Life groups since 2003.

She knows the site and its history well and presents it in an amusing and entertaining manner.

After our guided tour that takes about 2 hours we leave this amazing site and continue our journey eastwards.

Soon we will see towering Etna in the distance. Etna is Europe's largest active volcano and rises to 3,326 m (10,912 ft).


 

We arrive late afternoon at our hotel on the beach below Taormina.

The RG Naxos Hotel will be our base for the next three nights.

 

After settling in to the hotel, we take dinner together at Sapori di Mare just down the street from the hotel. (B,L,D)

 

Day 10: Mount Etna


After a buffet breakfast, weather and safety permitting, we drive up to Mount Etna.

Reaching a height of over 3300m, it is the highest active volcano in Europe.

 

We will take the road up the black volcanic ash slopes, some of which are covered in the vineyards and a dense oak forest.

Just below the summit we will stop at the ski resort.

 

There will be no snow but the view from here is splendid and those that wish can take a walk into one of the nearby craters.

 

 


We will soon be on our way Planeta's Etna winery, Sciaranuova.

The tasting room has an antique wine press that is still in working condition though not used today for wine production.

 

 

 

After a tour and tasting we will take lunch at the winery with our winemaker host.

 

After lunch we return to our hotel.

 

 

The rest of the afternoon and the evening will be free for relaxing on the beach or at the pool or maybe visiting the town for shopping.

 

 

 
 

 

 

Later that evening most will be wandering the streets of this beautiful seaside town and finding a spot for some refreshment among the many bars and restaurants that line the beach. (B,L)

Day 11: Taormina


On this, our last day, we will visit Taormina with its Greek Theatre. There will be ample time for shopping or simply strolling the historic, narrow streets, maybe picking up souvenirs.


The theatre is still in regular use mostly for concerts.


Midday we return to the hotel and the balance of the day will be free for relaxing by the pool or on the beach.

Our closing group dinner at the hotel will bring our trip to a conclusion as we remember some of the visits, the best wines and meals found during our travels. (B,D)

 

Day 12: Saturday September 18th, 2021 - Giardini Naxos

"Arriverderci!" The group disperses from the hotel after breakfast.

Our bus will pass by Catania airport on its way home.

We will arrange a time for this journey that suits most travelers, so most will not need to make their own travel arrangements from the hotel. (B)


National Post Travel

"A small taste of Sicily"

by John Karastamatis

Download PDF
version of article

 

 

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the age range of the group?

These tours appeal to a wide range of ages, since we can love wine, food and travel at all stages of life. Typically the range is from 30 to 70 though we have had some older and younger than this join in the past.

Do you need to be a wine/beer connoisseur to participate?

Absolutely not. These are tours of discovery and enjoyment, of the beer, wine, food, culture and history of the region. You will certainly return home with a greater appreciation of wine. I have been told it is impossible to spend 12 days traveling with me without learning more about how wine is made and enjoyed with food.

Is the trip price really all-inclusive?

Almost all costs other than souvenirs, an occasional cup of coffee and maybe a slice or two of pizza are included and a few meals. I frequently hear that there is too much wine and too much food such that, during free periods, people don’t need to eat or drink anything else.

These trips seem to be very reasonably priced, what is the catch?

I only run on average two or three trips per year to places to which I would be going anyway; so why not take a few others along with me? These trips are not a fundamental part of what I do in life and so I price them reasonably so all can afford to join. Additionally I receive sponsorship subsidies from wine regions and wineries who are keen to show off to my guests their splendid products and services in the hope that they will spread the word.

We have never traveled with a group before; will there be enough free time?

I used to dislike traveling on buses with groups and also found I needed time away from the group. Consequently we have frequent stops to do stuff when we are traveling by bus plus the schedule has lots of free time built in. Moreover nothing is compulsory, people sometimes take a day off to enjoy life away from the group.

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Conditions

The above itinerary is as planned. However we reserve the right to make adjustments depending upon weather and other constraints, to substitute visits to alternative wineries and to arrange accommodation at similar standard hotels in the resorts mentioned. Prices are for double occupancy in twin and double rooms (single supplement available on request). Hotels subject to availability.

In accordance with the Ontario Industry Travel Act, below is the registered name, address and registration number of the provider of the travel services:

UNIGLOBE Enterprise Travel Ltd
34 Britain Street, Suite 200
Toronto, Ontario
M5A 1R6

Agent: Steve Thurlow

TICO Registration Number: 1810380