Join Lewis & Clark alumni and friends, along with Benjamin David, Professor of Art History, on an epic journey across western Sicily. Unveil the hidden gems of Sicily’s western coast on this 9-day tour filled with historic wonders, culinary delights, and exceptional wines. Immerse yourself in Palermo’s architectural treasures, indulge in a wine-tasting experience, and savor the vibrant street food. Explore ancient sites like the Temple of Segesta and the medieval village of Erice. Traverse the fascinating Salt Road, discover the secrets of Marsala wine production at Florio Cellars, and delve into the history of Mazara del Vallo, Ragusa, and Syracuse, each with its unique allure. Conclude your adventure with the majestic Mount Etna and the captivating town of Taormina, offering panoramic views and ancient theaters. Embark on this remarkable journey, where culture, gastronomy, and stunning landscapes come together to create unforgettable memories. Get off-the-beaten path and Go Get Lost®.
Benjamin David, Professor of Art History started at Lewis & Clark in 2005. He specializes in Italian art with an emphasis on Early Renaissance painting. Ben is especially interested in the relationship between art and literature. He has done research in Italy and widely traveled throughout the country including Sicily. Ben is known by his students as passionate for the topics he teaches. In 2008 Ben won the Teacher of Year Award. His student described him this way, “Ben always comes through with buoyancy, balance, and brilliance”. Some of the courses that Ben teaches include Ancient Art, Italian Renaissance Art and Architecture, and Dante and the Visual Arts. In 2019 Ben accompanied the successful alumni and friends trip to Greece. In Ben you will find a kindred spirit excited not only to delve deep into the art and ancient monuments of the island but to enjoy the variety of food and wine Sicily has to offer…from Palermo to Marsala, and Ragusa to Taormina.
Tour Dates & Pricing
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Day 1 - Ben Venuti a Sicilia!
Embark on an Extraordinary Sicilian Adventure!
As you arrive at bustling Palermo Airport, a sense of anticipation fills the air. Your journey through Sicily begins now, promising an immersive experience like no other. You'll make your way to your 4-star hotel in the heart of the city. This afternoon a warm welcome awaits as you join fellow food enthusiasts and our knowledgeable local guide for a captivating exploration of Palermo, the heart and soul of Sicily. Prepare to be enchanted as you wander through the maze-like streets, where history comes alive in the form of magnificent architecture, bustling markets, and hidden gems.
As the sun begins to set, we gather together for our welcome dinner. Indulge in a sumptuous feast of Sicilian delicacies, prepared with love and pride by local culinary maestros. Many regions of Italy are famous for a type of cooking known as cucina povera, a term used to describe simple dishes derived from peasant staples. Sicilian cooking is a different thing entirely! Here is one of the foremost kitchens of Italy, overflowing with an endless variety of seafood, vegetables, fruits, herbs, nuts, grains, and wines. Although the simple elegance of peasant cooking has contributed greatly to modern Sicilian cuisine, the culinary expertise and sophistication of the royal chefs of Sicilia have defined and refined the culinary art of this island nation. Considered to be the most coveted and valuable possessions of the nobles in the "Kingdom of the Two Sicily's", their private chefs were in great demand over all of Europe for hundreds of years. As if all this wasn't enough, Sicilia is also famous for its sumptuous desserts. Cannoli, tiramisu, and sorbet all originated here, and the ice cream and gelato of Sicilia is "poetry in the mouth!" Luckily we can enjoy this great heritage of incredible food every day that we're in wonderful Sicilia!
With contented hearts and satisfied palates, we retreat to the comfort of our hotel, where sweet dreams of the days ahead await.
Welcome to Sicily—a world of flavors, aromas, and experiences that will leave an indelible mark on your heart and palate. Let the adventure unfold!
Day 2 - Monreale
After a delightful breakfast at the hotel, we embark on a journey to Monreale, home to the majestic Norman Cathedral. Prepare to be awe-struck by the architectural magnificence and intricate mosaics that adorn every surface, transporting you to a realm of artistic brilliance. Delve into tranquility as we wander through the splendid Cloister, where fragrant orange trees and exquisite sculptures create a serene oasis. Afterwards we'll relax in our private coach for a journey through the Sicilian countryside to our next venue...Tenuta Rapitalà. In 1968 Hugues Bernard count de la Gatinais, born in St. Malo in France in 1940, for eight years an officer in the French navy, married Gigi Guarrasi, a descendant of a large Palermo family. With her he undertakes an exciting and courageous adventure: the reconstruction with modern criteria of the cellar destroyed by the earthquake in the Belice Valley. The greatest attention of the Count de la Gatinais is dedicated to the varietal and cultural conversion of the vineyards. Thirty years ago in Sicily the great French vines were added to native vines. Today the work begun by Hugues de la Gatinais and his wife Gigi is carried out by his son Laurent with the same care and the same passion. Rapitalà is one of the most prestigious Sicilian wineries, the undisputed protagonist of the enological renewal of the island. The estate extends for 225 hectares in the territory that descends from Camporeale towards Alcamo, on gentle hills between 300 and 600 meters, on a land where clay and sand alternate. The perfect exposure and the composition of the soil make it ideal for growing the finest vines. On this ancient land dominates a landscape of vineyards that chase each other and draw geometries of rows, which the sun and the colors of the Mediterranean transform into golden hills. Rapitalà is a real name, it comes from Arabic (Rabidh-Allah "river of Allah" from the stream that flows between the vineyards), and testifies that these fields were cultivated since ancient times. Over the centuries, generations of farmers have designed the current shape and identity of the estate. It will be a fascinating tour, wine tasting and lunch at this excellent estate.
Returning to Palermo, prepare for a captivating walking tour through its lively streets. Immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere as we explore bustling markets and charming alleyways. Unleash your inner foodie as we delve into Palermo's street food scene, savoring mouthwatering delicacies such as arancini, panelle, and cannoli. Each bite will ignite your taste buds with the authentic flavors of Sicilian street fare.
As the day comes to a close, retreat to the comfort of your hotel.
Day 3 - Segesta, Erice, and Marsala
Our first destination today is Segesta, a mesmerizing place at the extreme edge of Western Sicily. Prepare to be awestruck as you witness the magnificence of the Temple Solitario, one of the finest-preserved Doric temples in existence. Its timeless beauty and grandeur will transport you to an era long gone, leaving you in awe of the ancient world.
Next, we venture to the charming medieval village of Erice, nestled atop Monte San Giuliano. Lose yourself in its enchanting alleys adorned with picturesque craft shops. Feel the whispers of history as you wander through this timeless gem, soaking in the panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. Indulge in a delectable lunch, offering yet another aspect of Sicilian gastronomy.
Our Sicilian journey continues along the fascinating Salt Road, a testament to one of the oldest salt-extracting industries in the world. As we navigate between Trapani and Marsala, marvel at the mesmerizing salt marshes, home to a captivating array of birdlife. Explore this unique blend of natural beauty and industrial archaeology, where history and nature intertwine in perfect harmony.
We soon arrive at the charming and well-known town of Marsala, a Mediterranean city divided between sea and land, featuring unforgettable colors: bright yellow, intense blue, strong red, dazzling white and natural green. Famous throughout the world for the excellent wine that bears its name, Marsala went down in history for being the city where Garibaldi landed in Sicily for the liberation of Italy from the domination of the Bourbon kings. Marsala is internationally famous for several things: its wine, its history, and its wonderful coastline and beaches. The present-day name, deriving from the Arabic “Marsa Allah”, meaning “Port of God”, gives us an idea of just how strategically important the town once was. Before the Arabs, however, were the Romans, and before the Romans, the Carthaginians. The windy coasts of Marsala have welcomed merchants and adventurers, who reached this corner of Sicily from the most remote lands by sea, since the times of the Phoenicians who have the merit of having introduced viticulture to the island. Since ancient times, wines with a strong character have been produced here, linked to the unique sugary charge of the grapes that ripen under the scorching sun, It was not until 1773 that the English merchant John Woodhouse tasted these wines in the taverns of the port, and fell in love so much so that he wanted to send some barrels to England, adding a good dose of brandy, however, to prevent the wine from perishing during the crossing. Thus was born Marsala as we know it today. A wine that was so successful that it attracted other English entrepreneurs to Sicily who decided to produce it, to which the first Italian, Vincenzo Florio, joined in a short time. Having also arrived by sea from Calabria, Vincenzo Florio was the first to build the fortune of the family which was based, among other things, on an impressive naval fleet and dedicated himself to the production of this unique wine, creating the suggestive Cellars in 1833. The history of the Florio family is full of illustrious characters, marked by a talent for entrepreneurial innovation which in a century and a half changed the economic face of the island forever. We'll experience a guided tour, starting in front of the majestic giant vats, built at the end of the 19th century and still used for the refinement of Marsala wine. It continues inside the 3 fascinating barrel chambers, 165 meters long and running beneath 104 arches, under which 1.400 small barrels and about 600 larger barrels and vats of different capacities are arrayed, as 5.500.000 liters of Marsala wines age in silence and stillness. After a thirty-minute tour through the barrel vaults, where the ancient tuff stone floor has been restored, you will enjoy a memorable wine tasting experience!
Retreat to your hotel, ready to reminisce about the captivating wonders of Segesta, Erice, and Marsala.
Day 4 - Mazara del Vallo
Begin your day with a delightful breakfast at the hotel before setting off on a walking tour through the captivating streets of the seaside city of Mazara del Vallo, an ancient Phoenician site, located at the mouth of the Mazaro river. This city is an important port of antiquity, chosen for its protected position and its proximity to Africa. A Greek commercial center, Mazara experienced its maximum splendor under the Arabs and, later, under the Normans. The mix of people who come and go in this town, not least the African neighbors, who still today make up a good percentage of the inhabitants, is particularly evident here. Mazara is still considered one of the main centers for deep sea fishing which constitutes over 20% of its livelihood. We'll have a walking tour of the old city, and if time permits, we recommend "getting lost" in the alleys of the ancient Arab Kasbah to savor the true essence of the place.
For lunch today we'll visit the amazing wine estate of Planeta Ulmo. As anyone who knew him well knows, Diego Planeta's vision has always had the decade as the minimum unit of measurement, and generation as the first horizon. When in the mid-1980s he convinced his brothers and sisters - very easily, he had the full confidence of all - to plant the first rows of Chardonnay and other "unconventional" varieties, the first goal was to start, a decade later, to a production that excelled in the panorama of Sicilian wines, and that - as he liked to say - "put Sicily on the map again". But there was a second even more ambitious goal, very clear in his mind, which he had tacitly entrusted to the next generation, to that of his children and grandchildren: on the basis of what had been planned and achieved in the previous thirty years, to produce wines that had as a horizon of competition the whole world, the great wine regions of which - this was an integral part of his vision - Sicily had to fully return to being a part.
This afternoon the journey continues to Agrigento, where you'll explore the renowned archaeological site of the Valley of the Temples, a UNESCO heritage site since 1997. An exceptional historic testimony to Magna Graecia’s presence in this area, the ancient ruins cover an area of over 3,200 acres! Founded by the Greeks in the 6th century BC, the city became one of the largest in the Greek empire. The city changed hands to the Carthaginians and then the Romans, and today it represents one of the most memorable and evocative sites from the ancient world. Once hailed as "the most beautiful city of mortals" by Pyndar, Agrigento stands as a testament to the prosperity of ancient Greek cities on the island. Amidst the almond trees, you'll marvel at the remnants of the ancient Akragas, including the impressive Doric Temples from the 5th century. Admire the grandeur of the "Temple of Hera," the magnificence of the "Temple of Concordia," and the strength of the "Temple of Heracles."
As the day draws to a close, we'll check into our comfortable hotel in Agrigento. Tonight we'll relax at a delightful group dinner, then settle in for a restful overnight stay.
Day 5 - Piazza Armerina and Ragusa
Prepare to be captivated as we delve into the ancient Roman mosaics nestled within the stunning Villa Romana del Casale, an esteemed UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the town of Piazza Armerina, founded in the 10th century by the Saracens. Immerse yourself in the rich history as you marvel at the intricate designs and vibrant colors of these remarkable mosaics. From mythical creatures to captivating scenes of daily life, each mosaic tells a story that transports you back in time. Afterward, venture into the heart of the medieval village, where history and charm intertwine to create an unforgettable experience.
Indulge in a delectable lunch that showcases the flavors of the region, treating your taste buds to the finest local products.
In the afternoon, we continue our journey to Ragusa, a true gem of Sicilian Baroque architecture. Ragusa is really two towns in one: the upper town of Ragusa Superiore, mapped out after a devastating earthquake in 1693, and Ragusa Ibla, one of the best preserved old towns in Sicily, constructed on an isolated spur. A craggy valley separates the two parts of town, which are linked by a steep winding road and also by steps in a vista of winding pathways and plant-filled cliffs. Both of the twin towns offer fascinating panoramas of the surrounding countryside, and the oft-filmed terrain has positioned the area at the forefront of Italian cinema. Ragusa also has splendid churches and enchanting gardens that grace this captivating city. With 14 monuments declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Ragusa is a testament to the artistic and cultural heritage of Sicily. Allow yourself to be transported to a world of ornate facades, elegant squares, and hidden corners that reveal the beauty of this Baroque masterpiece.
Day 6 - Noto and Siracusa
We'll spend the morning exploring the enchanting beauty of Noto, rightfully crowned as the capital of Sicilian Baroque, and set amid olive groves and almond trees on a plateau overlooking the Asinaro Valley. Often referred to as the "garden of stone", Noto dates from the 9th century and has elements of Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Arab, Norman, Aragonese, and then Spanish culture...until it was destroyed in 1692 by an earthquake. The town was completely rebuilt by the best Sicilian artisans to make it into the Baroque gem it is today. Wander through its streets adorned with architectural treasures that have earned it a place on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list. Indulge in the delightful flavors of the region by savoring a delicious granita, a refreshing treat that will tantalize your taste buds. Don't miss the opportunity to visit Palazzo Nicolaci, a magnificent noble residence, and explore the breathtaking lanes of the city center.
Next, we venture onwards to Syracuse, the crown jewel of Greek colonies in Sicily. In its heyday it was formidable, competing even with mighty Athens, and dared take on Carthage and even Rome. At one point in ancient times its wealth and size were unmatched by any other city in Europe. Delve into the rich history of this remarkable city as you explore its renowned Archaeological Park. Traverse the charming island of Ortigia, where a majestic white cathedral and the splendid Fountain of Arethusa await your discovery, along with numerous small shops and stores, perfect for wandering.
As the day comes to a close, we arrive in Catania, where you are free to enjoy dinner and settle in for a restful overnight stay at your gorgeous 4 Star seaside resort.
Day 7 - Taormina
Today we head north to explore the captivating town of Taormina, often hailed as the "Aeonian pearl" for its timeless beauty. Twisting medieval streets and one of the most panoramic and photographed Greek theaters in the world add to its romantic flair, which inspired the writings of D.H. Lawrence and Truman Capote. The pedestrian street of Corse Umberto is a wonderful avenue for a stroll, and along the way you'll admire the breathtaking natural landscapes, with the azure sea which provides a stunning backdrop to this picturesque town. Discover the ancient monuments that bear witness to its rich history, including the fascinating Greek Theater, the venerable Cathedral, and the splendid Palazzo Corvaja. Prepare to be mesmerized by the panoramic view of Mount Etna, an unforgettable sight that will leave you in awe, especially since you will be ON Etna tomorrow!
Day 8 - Mount Etna
Prepare to be awe-struck this morning as we ascend the slopes of Mount Etna, the highest active volcano in Europe and a revered UNESCO World Heritage Site. The ancient Greeks viewed it as the home of Vulcan, god of fire, and home of Cyclops, the one-eyed monster. Etna continually reminds us that she is far from dormant. In 2006 through 2008 Etna put on an awesome, dramatic display of volcanic fireworks that spewed ash and smoke over a mile in the air, while new flows of lava traced her slopes. The performance was repeated in 2012, 2018, and 2021 and as recently as May of 2023 Etna was producing new ash cones and spewing ash and smoke over a mile high. Etna is also the tallest mountain in Sicily, with a landscape that changes dramatically from vineyards and farms to stands of pines that give way to alpine scrub as the altitude increases. Eventually the surreal views of ash, lava, and steam dominate the land. Marvel at the power and grandeur of this natural wonder as we venture towards the Silvestri craters, ancient volcanic cones that date back to the eruption of 1888. Surrounded by mesmerizing lava sediments, these dormant craters offer a unique glimpse into the volcano's tumultuous past.
Our lunch spot today is special, Gambino...a family-owned wine estate on the slopes of Etna. The history of the Gambinos dates back to 1978, when Vittorio Raciti bought the property by combining some plots of land belonging to different owners. Soon he converted the various crops practiced to the single cultivation of the vine, sharing his passion with his wife Maria Gambino. In 2002 the three descendants, Maria Grazia, Filadelfo and Francesco Raciti Gambino, together with their mother, Maria Gambino renewed the business and modernized the processing of wine production. Thus the Gambino winery was born. Wine tourism has been the core of the activities, encouraged by the passion for people and the pleasure of sharing the soul of this beautiful land. We'll enjoy a tasting of their production, (of which they are very proud) while having an excellent Sicilian farm lunch.
On our way back to the hotel, if time permits we'll have the opportunity to visit local honey producers, savoring the delicious flavors and learning about this prized Sicilian delicacy.
In the afternoon we'll return we'll return to our beach resort for some relaxation and downtime. Tonight you can look forward to an amazing farewell dinner, cherishing the new friends and new memories created during our Sicilian journey. Adventures (and misadventures) from the trip are re-lived and laughed about, everyone and everything is toasted, addresses and e-mails are copied, and heartfelt goodbyes are exchanged with all your newfound lifelong friends that you "Got Lost" in Italy with.
Day 9 - Arrivederci
This morning after breakfast your Go Get Lost tour will end. The nearby international airport of Catania is just a cab ride away, and has connections to just about anywhere in Europe and beyond.
Due to availability at the time of booking, hotels listed may change to similar hotels
Palermo - 4-Star Quintocanto Hotel & Spa: In the heart of Baroque Palermo, near the Quinto Canti of the city, the Quintocanto Hotel & Spa loves to welcome its guest and accompany them towards the dimension of discovery and relaxation. An elegantly designed hotel furnished in a mimimal style, thanks to its relaxed atmosphere and its central location, it is the ideal place for those travelers who want to discover the major attractions of the city. Their exclusive Spa with the wellness program of sauna, Turkish bath, whirlpool, and massage, combined with the flavors of the excellent cuisine of their restaurant "Locanda del Gusto" will make you live an unforgettable experience in the heart of Palermo.
Marsala - 4 Star Hotel Carmine: Located in the heart of the Sicilian town of Marsala, Hotel Carmine occupies a renovated building next to a medieval monastery. Marsala's old town has many historical attractions, including a cathedral, churches, palaces and squares, all within walking distance. Hotel Carmine retains original features, such as beamed or vaulted ceilings and antique furnishings, but also offers modern comfort.
Hotel Carmine's 28 rooms feature a blend of Sicilian elegance and modern comfort.
Agrigento - 3 Star Villa La Lumia Suites and Apartments: Villa la Lumia, in the heart of Valley of the Temples park, is surrounded by flourishing organic citrus groves with millennial-old Saracen olive trees, oaks and centuries-old vegetation, but just few minutes from the historic city center of Agrigento. The uniqueness of the place is the view of the Temples that can be admired both from the rooms and various relaxing points of the garden. Beautiful in the day, enchanting at night. The rooms and suites are all personalized and equipped with all comforts. All rooms have a garden view and, from most of them, you can admire the breathtaking view of the Valley of the Temples and the Mediterranean Sea. The atmosphere and harmony calls the noble estate spreads over everything, where everything seems to have remained unchanged over the centuries, enhanced by the typical Sicilian welcome. Nothing will disturb you, except the nearby Temples, whose view will keep you awake in the night for a long time. Far from the noise, in an oasis of peace, Villa La Lumia guarantees a stay of absolute relaxtion.
Ragusa - 4 Star Villa Boscarino Boutique Hotel: is an historic mansion transformed into a boutique hotel in the heart of Ragusa. With only 14 rooms, a large Mediterranean garden, and an outdoor swimming pool, it's an oasis of serenity. The nineteenth century Villa was built in what was at the time the Hyblean countryside, and has been skilfully renovated to preserve the magical atmosphere of times past in an idyllic space surrounded by greenery, yet still in the center of the city. With all the comforts of contemporary hospitality, accessible to the vibrant outside world but also a sanctuary for quiet moments for those seeking contentment and relaxation. A place where they celebrate the cult of wellbeing, food and excellence...where you can savour each momentary bliss...the changing seasons, the light as it embraces the eclectic architecture, nature with its sounds and perfumes. And as a celebration to nature they’ve created an olfactory pathway that winds its way into the villa itself, from the magical garden where you can breathe in the Mediterranean scents all the way to the rooms, where exclusive organic Sicilian fragrances are diffused in an exclusive selection curated by Sicilian perfumers Ciurì.
Aci Castello - 4 Star Grand Hotel Baia Verde: A stunning 4-star hotel in Catania, situated by the sea on the lava rocks of an enchanting natural bay. The exclusive seafront location of this prestigious hotel the 25 metre swimming pool, and the private lava-stone beach make it the perfect location for a Mediterranean retreat. To experience a complete and comfortable stay, dedicated to complete relaxation, the Grand Hotel Baia Verde offers its guests various services to choose from, including a Spa with Thalassotherapy where it is possible to benefit from the revitalizing effects of the sea at any time of the year. And their restaurant, the Oleadro, has a well-known kitchen where you can taste traditional Sicilian dishes prepared by expert hands.
- 2 nights dbl occy accom in Classic and Deluxe Room in the 4 Star Quinto Canto Hotel & SPA or similar, Palermo
- 1 night dbl occy accom in the 4 Star Boutique Hotel Il Carmine or similar, Marsala
- 1 night dbl occy accom in the 3 Star Villa La Lumia Suites & Apartments or similar, Agrigento
- 1 night dbl occy accom in the 4 Star Villa Boscarino Boutique Hotel or similar, Ragusa
- 3 nights dbl occy accom in the 4 Star Grand Hotel Baia Verde or similar, Aci Castello
- 8 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 3 dinners and 5 wine tastings
- All lunches and dinners include water and local wine
- Private English-speaking Local Tour Manager from Day 1 to Day 8
- Fully Escorted by Benjamin David, Professor of Art History at Lewis & Clark
- Private coach with driver from Day 2-Day 8
- Arrival dinner in Palermo
- Dinner in Agrigento
- Farewell dinner in Aci Castello
- Street food tasting in Palermo
- Granita and brioche tasting in Catania
- Typical local products tasting in Ragusa
- Visit and wine tasting with lunch at RAPITALA’ COOP. AGRICOLA
- Visit and wine tasting at FLORIO WINERY
- Visit, wine tasting and lunch at ULMO PLANETA WINERY
- Wine tasting with lunch in PIAZZA ARMERINA
- Lunch in Erice
- Lunch in Syracuse
- Lunch in Taormina
- Visit, wine tasting and lunch in GAMBINO WINERY in Etna
- City tax
- Entrance fees: Real Palace and Palatine Chapel in Palermo, Martorana Church in Palermo, Cathedral and Cloister in Monreale, Erice Cathedral, Segesta Archaeological Park, Mazara del Vallo Archaeological Museum, Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, Villa Romana del Casale in Piazza Armerina, Nicolaci Palace in Noto, Neapolis Archaeological Park in Syracuse, Ortigia Cathedral, Ancient Theatre in Taormina
- All tips except for your primary local tour leader
What´s not Included
- Meals not specified in itinerary
- Beverages at meals unless specified in itinerary (all group meals include water and local wine)
- Trip Cancellation/Interruption and Medical Insurance (strongly recommended), call for details
- Single supplement charge
- Items of a personal nature; phone calls, laundry, etc.
- Arrival and Departure transfers
- International airfare, tour begins at the hotel in Palermo on the afternoon of Day 1, and ends at the hotel in Aci Castello on the morning of Day 9
- Tip for the primary local guide
- Any costs associated with options or free time