Learning About Wine in Wine Country: March 31 – April 10, 2016
As you can imagine, we get offers from travel companies to sell international travel to the Boston Wine School community all the time. Now that we’ve found just the right partner in NicheItaly – an experienced premier provider of top quality Italian wine and culinary travel – we’re offering our first wine education travel program to Sicily.
Itinerary | 10 days
Departing | March 31, 2015
Travelers | Strictly limited to 12-15 guests
Price | $4450 + airfare (single supplement $449)
THE FINE PRINT 30% deposit payable online, by check, and by credit card. Balance due 60 days before departure. Deposit nonrefundable 30 days before departure, 50% refundable 60 days before departure, and 75% refundable 90 days before departure.
Thursday, March 31
Departure from Boston and other locations to Italy.
Friday, April 1
The NicheItaly Team be waiting for you upon your arrival to Rome’s Leonardo Da Vinci – Fiumicino Airport. Transfer to the Domestic Terminal and check-in for Palermo. Once in Palermo, you will be transported to the 4-star Hotel Excelsior Palace near the heart of the city center. Check-in to your room and then have the rest of the afternoon free to start exploring the city on your own. Before dinner, meet in the hotel lobby for an orientation with the Boston Wine School team before heading out to enjoy dinner at a local farm-to-table trattoria.
Saturday, April 2
This day will be devoted to discovering Palermo. In the morning, we will walk through the Mercato del Capo – an open air “Souk” market which is reminiscent of the ancient Moorish influence in Palermo. Having experienced all of the market’s vibrant sights, smells and sounds, we will be treated to a lunch of traditional Sicilian street food in an exclusive location inside the market. After lunch, we will visit the famous Monreale Cathedral and Cloister which is must-see landmark famous for its Norman architecture and the stunning mosaics decorating the interior. From the Monreale Cathedral, we will continue on to the Palazzo Reale in Palermo and view the shimmering, gold-tiled Palatine Chapel – the chapel of the Norman kings of Sicily. The day finishes with dinner at the noble family palazzo of Nicoletta and Gioacchino Lanza Tomasi. Their ancestor, Prince Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa is the celebrated author of Il Gattopardo (“The Leopard”) which chronicles changes in Sicilian life and society during the Italian unification. Dinner will be accompanied by wines from Tasca d’Almerita and the Regaleali estate also owned by the family.
Sunday, April 3
The group will travel east to the coastal region of Cefalù. Our first stop will be in Castelbuono – a fascinating medieval village which is also famous for enticing pastries and confections. Lunch will be at the restaurant, Nangalarruni, which has been awarded for its specialty dishes featuring Porcini mushrooms. Chef/owner, Giuseppe Carollo will talk about the local products he uses from organic farmers. In the afternoon, we will visit the winery and resort of Abbazia Santa Anastasia which is built on the site of a 12th century monastery. We will sample some of their wines made from organically and biodynamically farmed grapes while learning about both the indigenous and international grape varieties grown in Sicily. The evening will be topped off by a wine dinner with delicious pairings selected by the Chef at Abbazia Santa Anastasia. After dinner, we will return to Palermo.
Monday, April 4
After checking-out of the Hotel Excelsior Palace, we will travel west to the Trapani province which is known for wines of the Alcamo designation. A stop in the beautifully preserved medieval town of Erice will provide us with a nearly 360º view of Sicily from the two castles in town. We will visit a small artisan pottery shop and have an interactive demonstration of making colorful and handcrafted Sicilian pottery. After lunch in the town center, we will meet Maria Grammatico who learned the art of making pastries in a convent where she was secluded for over than 15 years. We will taste her heavenly marzipan, custard pastries and almond biscotti. In the afternoon, we will move on to the Saline Ettore e Infersa – a unique example of sea salt production using windmills based on Punic engineering techniques. Following a salt tasting, we will be able to walk along the salt ponds and take in the fascinating scenery. Our last stop of the day will be Portopalo di Menfi where we will check-in to La Foresteria resort at the Planeta Estate. Enjoy a welcome drink while we learn a bit about the history of Sicilian wine. A grand dinner will be served “al fresco” on the magical La Foresteria veranda. Chef Angelo Pumilia will prepare some of the best-loved dishes of the Planeta family accompanied by a selection of their world-famous wines.
Tuesday, April 5
After breakfast, Chef Angelo Pumilia will be waiting for us right outside the veranda and will take us on a tour of La Foresteria’s herb garden. See, smell and taste the Mediterranean aromas and flavors that will become the key ingredients for a cooking class featuring some of the Casa Planeta specialties. Following the class, a member of the Planeta family will lead us on a tour of the winery. Planeta is known as one of the premier wine producers of Sicily, and we will learn how the leadership of Diego Planeta helped to shine a spotlight on Sicilian wine around the globe. Lunch will be enjoyed at their country house table and paired with special Planeta wines. Take the rest of the afternoon to relax and enjoy the beautiful resort. In the evening, we will dine on the beach at restaurant Vittorio which is one of the top seafood restaurants in Sicily.
Wednesday, April 6
After checking-out of La Foresteria and Planeta Estate, we will spend our day exploring archeological and botanical wonders. Heading south-east along the coast will bring us to Agrigento and the Valley of the Temples. This UNESCO Heritage Site contains the remains of several Greek temples including the impressive and well-preserved Temple of Concordia. We will tour the temple remains with our archeological guide and then end the tour in the Kolymbetra Garden. Run by the FAI (the Italian National Trust), this garden will be our setting for a Sicilian picnic amongst groves of olive and citrus trees and a variety of Sicilian flora. After lunch, we will continue to the Ragusa countryside and check-in to the 5-star Donna Fugata Resort Golf Resort & Spa. Feel free to relax for the rest of the afternoon perhaps by the magnificent swimming pool. Our evening wine tasting will focus on winegrowing and the factors that create “terroir” and will be followed by dinner held in the resort’s spectacular wine cellar.
Thursday, April 7
On this day, we will immerse ourselves in the sights and tastes of the Sicilian countryside and agriculture. We begin the day with a stop at a local dairy farm to taste fresh ricotta cheese followed by an olive oil tasting at Frantoi Cutrera – one of the top olive oil producers in Italy. Next, we will visit the winery Valle dell’Acate which is most known for producing the rich, Sicilian red wine, Cerasuolo di Vittoria. There will be a wine tasting paired with local specialties hosted in a historic, old farmhouse. With the tastes of the Sicilian countryside fresh in our minds, we will arrive at the beautifully preserved farming estate Villa Fegotto which dates back to the 18th century. On display at the Villa are many examples of agricultural tools and remnants of a once busy farming community. Later in the afternoon, we will put the day’s experiences to practice with a cooking class followed by dinner featuring local products and ingredients.
Friday, April 8
We will check-out of the Donna Fugata Golf Resort & Spa and head to Sicily’s eastern coast where the influences of fire and water will become apparent as we explore the areas around Siracusa, Catania and Mt. Etna. Upon arrival to the Siracusa region, we will visit the small island of Ortigia and its charming street market. There will be a tasting of local cheeses and delicacies. Within the market, we will have lunch at Restaurant l’Ancora which serves the freshest of fish from the market vendors. In the afternoon, we will set off for Mt. Etna where we will be staying at Firriato’s Cavanera Etnea Resort nestled amongst vineyards planted upon hillsides of volcanic soil. Our pre-dinner wine tasting will focus on fire, water and other elements that help to define Sicilian wine. Dinner will be at a local restaurant located in the foothills of the famed volcano.
Saturday, April 9
Following breakfast, we will visit the historic Firriato vineyards rooted in the volcanic soils of Mt. Etna. We will learn about prized 125 year old vines which were planted prior to the arrival of phylloxera in the late 1800s. Here we will reflect on our wine explorations in Sicily by sharing our thoughts and discoveries from the past week. Lunch will showcase the wines of Mt. Etna paired with local specialties. In the afternoon, the beautiful coastal town of Taormina will be our destination. We will explore the ancient Greek Theater and enjoy spectacular views of the Sicilian coastline. There will be some free time for last minute shopping before heading to our farewell dinner at Osteria Nero D’Avola where we will enjoy the fresh catch of the day caught and selected by the restaurant owner.
Sunday, April 10
Hotel check-out and transport to the airport for travel back home or to other destinations. There will be an option to continue on to Verona where we can spend a couple of additional days at the Vinitaly international wine and spirits exhibition.