Wine, Cuisine, History and Culture
12 days - September 8 to 19, 2020
Wine, enjoyed in moderation, is a healthy food which enriches life.
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 an 12 day excursion of discovery and enjoyment.
Visit wineries, see some of the world's best ancient Greek ruins, learn how to cook Sicilian style, dine in splendid traditional settings at wineries with their owners and winemakers, bathe in the warm Mediterranean and soak up the warm early-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.
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.
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 three luxury beach hotels near Marsala, Agrigento and Taormina, the visit will culminate with (safety permitting) a visit to fiery 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.
If you are interested in joining this tour....
Email: Steve Thurlow firstname.lastname@example.org and he will send you a registration form.
The price for the all-inclusive is $4950 per person.
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.
(Included meals: B= Breakfast L= Lunch D= Dinner)
Day 1: Palermo - Tuesday September 8, 2020
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
In the historic centre you will discover the Byzantine beauty, Norman splendour and Arab symmetry of Monreale's medieval cathedral as we wander the narrow streets.
Late morning we will be on our way to Marsala. However we will stop en route at the Cusumano winery for a brief tour, tasting and lunch. We will arrive late afternoon in Marsala.
Our home for the next four nights will be Hotel Carmine in Marsala, where we will arrive late afternoon.
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]
The hotel is at the heart of the historic centre with the Convent of Carmine and the central square of Marsala both close by.
The 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 Delfino Beach a few miles away.
Natia from Settesoli will join us with the wines from Settesoli and Mandrarossa.
After lunch the afternoon will be free for relaxing at the hotel.
Late afternoon we depart for a visit to a nearby winery Donnafugata including dinner in the splendid barrel hall. (B,L,D)
Day 4: Marsala
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 Carlo Pellegrino winery in the centre of Marsala. (B,L,D)
Day 5: Erice and Trapani
Then onto Rapitala winery for a tasting and lunch. After lunch we visit the mediaeval mountain top village of Erice and then descend to the sea salt pans near Trapani to view the sun setting over the sea.
Then on to Marsala to visit the town for a slice of pizza before returning to the hotel. (B,L)
Day 6: Menfi and Agrigento
Alessio will usually join us for lunch.
We then depart for Agrigento where we stay overnight at Dioscuri Bay Palace hotel on the beach in San Leone a suburb of Agrigento.
Evening is free to visit the area on foot or relax at the hotel. (B,L)
Day 7: Agrigento
After a buffet breakfast we depart for a visit to the Morgante winery which lies in the hills to the north of the city. The tasting and tour that will include (weather permitting) a vineyard visit accompanied by Carmelo Morgante.
After the visit we return to Agrigento for lunch at a restaurant overlooking the temples with a menu matched to the wines of Morgante.
After lunch we return for a relaxing afternoon at the hotel. Evening will be free. (B,L)
Day 8: Agrigento
This is a day for relaxing at the hotel. Maybe visiting the ancient city of Agrigento for shopping or spending time on the beach near the hotel. In the morning there will be an optional visit to a local olive oil producer, Olio Taibi. Here Gerlando will show us how olives are harvested before sampling really fresh olive oil.
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 in setting.
Dinner will be served at the hotel. (B,D)
Day 9: Butera and Piazza Amerina
After a tasting and lunch at the winery we depart for Piazza Amerina and visit the world famous Villa Romana del Casale famed for its well preserved mosaics.
We then head east towards towering Etna. Along the way enjoy a panoramic tour of Catania and views of Europe's largest active volcano.
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. We take dinner at Sapori di Mare just down the street from the hotel. (B,L,D)
Day 10: Mount Etna
You will see the vineyards that cling to the black volcanic ash slopes. We will visit Tenuta Scilio for lunch and tasting before returning to the hotel.
The rest of the afternoon and the evening will be free for relaxing on the beach or at the pool and wandering the streets of this beautiful seaside town and finding a spot for some dinner among the many restaurants that line the beach. (B,L)
Day 11: Taormina
Our closing group dinner at the hotel will bring our trip to a conclusion with a reprise of the best wines found during our travels. (B,D)
Day 12: Saturday September 19th, 2020 - 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 some will not need to make their own travel arrangements from the hotel. (B)
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 65 though we have had some older and younger than this join tours in the past.
Do you need to be a wine connoisseur to participate?
Absolutely not. These are tours of discovery and enjoyment of the 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 so many 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 the 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.
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.
Agent: Steve Thurlow
TICO Registration Number: 1810380