- Trip Dates
- Experience real village life and authentic experiences;
- Cooking lesson;
- Boat trip to see the Stromboli volcano erupting;
- Talks from restaurant owners;
- Visits to three Slow Food Presidia;
- Explore traditional markets and producers;
- 2 nights at Salina on the Aeolian Islands;
- 2 nights in a Boutique hotel in Taormina;
- Knowledgeable and local tour guide and speakers;
- And, plenty of surprises along the way!
Join us for this adventure
For over 35 years, Back Track Adventures has practised and supported sustainable travel – aiming to give back to the communities where we travel and providing real community experiences for our clients.
Our Sicilian Food Odyssey adventure is a sensory journey of flavours, smells, and colours derived from markets and producers, mingled with the beautiful village-scapes, and the history of the region.
Just as a Slow Food chef meticulously selects his producers and suppliers, Matteo has met with hotel owners, restaurant owners, farmers and retailers to create an itinerary that reflects the layers of life on the island. Here, history, culture and cuisine are interconnected and each of the civilisations that have ruled Sicily have left traces of their presence both in the architecture of the buildings and in the ingredients of their traditional dishes.
On this tour, we will allow ourselves to enjoy the pleasures of the table, open our minds to fair trade, and the responsible management of our environment.
Hotels have been selected for their history and tradition, as well as their level of comfort. The hotels are part of the experience of the tour, with each owner (or staff member) telling us the story of the building during our welcome aperitivos in the hotel.
Enjoy this special relaxed itinerary, which may change and flow like Sicily itself.
The low-down on Slow Food
Slow Food is a global, grassroots movement, founded in 1989 to prevent the disappearance of local food cultures and traditions.
It counteracts the rise of the ‘fast life’ pattern and combats people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from, and how our food choices affect the world around us.
Renowned foodie, Maggie Beer, introduced Slow Food to Australia in 1995. Slow Food groups now exist Australia-wide. Back Track Adventures and Matteo Carri have put together a special itinerary to whet your appetite for this impressive movement.
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Arrival in Catania, transfer to the hotel for welcome dinner
Day 1Welcome to Sicily! The group flight is scheduled to arrive at Catania airport around 1pm. On arrival, you will be transferred to Villa Favorita near Noto, about an hour away. This hotel will be our base for the first four nights as we explore the tastes, sights and sounds of this region. At around 7pm we will have our first “aperitivo” where our host will tell us the story of the building and the family who owns it. We then have our dinner, comprised exclusively of locally sourced ingredients. If you arrive early on a different flight, please make your own way to Catania Airport for 1pm to join the group transfer.
Visit Siracusa, the Ortigia Market with a cooking class and tasting
Day 2We start our Sicilian experience with a morning visit to Siracusa’s Archaeological Park, Neapolis, where you will be able to explore a Greek theatre, a Roman amphitheatre and the famous ‘Ear of Dionysus’, a cave carved in limestone with exceptional acoustics and an unsavoury history After the park we will head to the ancient quarter of Ortigia. Ortigia is an island connected to the mainland by two bridges and is referred to as “Citta Vecchia” – the old town. Here we visit the historic food market, packed with local produce, where the beautifully presented fresh-caught fish, ruby red oranges, walnuts as big as peaches, and bags of spices give life to a kaleidoscope of colours and flavours. We will be tasting some of the produce, as well as visiting the city’s main sites before having a tasty, tasting lunch at the popular Deli Fratelli Brugio. After lunch, we will be heading back to the hotel for a bit of free time. In the late afternoon we will be heading for Noto village where we will have a cooking class and tasting with the produce we sourced at the market.
Visit Black Pig Slow Food Presidia and Marzamemi Fishing Village
Day 3Today we will visit our first Slow Food presidia at Palazzolo Acreide. Palazzolo Acreide is a baroque town with Greek roots, not generally included in the touristic itineraries. The presidia is set for the preservation of the Sausages of Palazzolo Acreide, which have been forged over centuries of meat-cutting skills that date back to the Roman times. We will visit a breeding farm, a dairy farm, and finally we will be tasting the produce at Ristorante Andrea, a slow food hotspot for the town. Late afternoon, we head for the small fishing village of Marzamemi, around 30 minutes away. The town dates back to the 1630s when it was under Arab rule. We will visit this typical village and see the Tonnara di Marzamemi – the tuna factory, where tuna is caught, cleaned and canned. We will also visit the Campisi family retail shop, who has been working with fish produce since 1854. We will be sampling some of the tuna produce, as well as various types of pesto produced by the family.
Discover the Baroque city of Ragusa, slow food lunch in Modica and Chocolate Factory visit
Day 4Today we will visit the ancient city of Ragusa, which dates back to the 2nd millennium BC when it was called Hybla Heraea. After the earthquake of 1693, most of the town was rebuilt in baroque style by the Spanish and was divided into “Ragusa Superiore” (Upper Ragusa) and the ancient city “Ragusa Inferiore” (Lower Ragusa, now Ragusa Ibla), before reuniting in 1926. We will be visiting the main sites of the town: Santa Maria dell’Irta church, Duomo di San Giorgio, and Giardini Iblei. Afterwards, we will make our way to Ornato restaurant, a lovely Slow Food osteria specialising in fish dishes in the nearby town of Modica. Modica is particularly famous for its chocolate, which is a traditional product characterised by an ancient and original recipe that gives the chocolate a peculiar grainy texture and aromatic flavour. The chocolate was introduced by the Spanish during their reign in Sicily and was imported directly from the new world. After visiting the town’s historic centre with the electric train we will head back to the hotel to pack our bags and have our last dinner in Noto.
Visit Romana Del Casale & Favara Cultural Park
Day 5In the morning, we head to Piazza Armerina to visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Villa Romana del Casale – a large and elaborate Roman villa that has one of the largest and most varied collections of Roman mosaics in the world, as well as interior and exterior frescos. After lunch at a local farmhouse, we proceed to the small town of Favara. Favara has been reinvented thanks to Andrea Bartoli, who in 2010 initiated a project to fight unemployment and decrepitude by turning some of the derelict buildings into a cultural centre that now hosts expositions, exhibitions by international and local artists, politically charged artwork, along with shops, a garden bar, cultural events, talks, screenings and workshops.
Valley of the Temples & Saline di Trapani Presidia
Day 6Early morning visit the Valley of the Temples and the mythical Kolymbethra Gardens. This region has a rich cultural history - it is home to some of the most outstanding examples of Greater Greece art & architecture and is a national monument of Italy. We continue our journey to Trapani, stopping briefly for lunch in the town of Sciacca. Once we arrive in Trapani and check into the Relais Antiche Saline, our hotel for the next three nights, we will visit the Salt Slow Food presidia and the Museum of Salt, a short walk from the hotel. We have our dinner this evening at the al fresco restaurant at the same site among the salt pools.
Erice for pastries & slow food lunch, visit to Elmyan Temple of Segesta
Day 7In the morning we will drive up to Erice – the town on top of Mount Erice, a dramatic formation behind Trapani. The town was founded by the Phoenicians but was strongly influenced by the Greeks. Destroyed by the Carthaginians in the First Punic War, Erice was later conquered by the Arabs and, later, the Normans. Here we will be visiting the entire town to take in the breathtaking views. We will also stop at a famous Pasticceria and discover some of the secrets of Sicilian marzipan and pasta di mandorla (almond paste). We will then head for San Vito Lo Capo peninsula where we will stop for a Slow Food lunch. After lunch, we will be stopping in Sagesta, one of the major cities of the Elymian, the civilisation that preceded the Greeks. It is home to the best-preserved temple in the whole of Sicily due to its mountainous position. Enjoy a leisurely afternoon, before we head to Trapani for dinner.
Selinunte & Marsala for Sweet Wine
Day 8This morning we will drive to Selinunte, on the south coast of Sicily. Now a 270-hectare Archaeological park overlooking the Mediterranean, Selinunte was once one of the most important of the Greek colonies in Sicily. As the park is quite extensive, we will move between areas on a little electric ‘train’ which will allow us to make the most of our time here and save some energy for the afternoon. We will make our way to Marsala for a wine-paired lunch at Ciacco Putia Gourmet. After lunch, we set off to discover the town at a leisurely pace. Marsala is particularly famous for its dessert wine or Marsala wine, which you will have sampled at lunch, but also for the docking of Giuseppe Garibaldi and his thousand men who “freed” Sicily from the Spanish and unified Italy. In the afternoon, we visit the island of Mozia, once home to a powerful ancient city, and now an important archeological site. Dinner tonight is a light affair – experience the street food and culture of Marsala.
Monreale Cathedral & Palermo
Day 9On this day we will leave Trapani behind and head for Palermo. On the way, we will stop in Monreale where we will visit the famous cathedral whose architecture is a mix of Norman, Byzantine, and Arab style – very different from the other churches we have visited so far. From here we will also have a full view of Palermo and its gulf. After a light lunch at Monreale, we make our way into Palermo to our next hotel, Palazzo Brunaccini. We will be visiting a couple of private residences in the area before heading back to the hotel for our aperitivo and dinner with a twist.
Palermo Ballaro Street Market and Cefalu Fishing Village
Day 10In the morning we will be visiting the Ballarò street market. One of the most famous of the island, the Ballarò market is a symposium of colours, smells and flavours that are reminiscent of an Arab bazaar. After a light lunch at the Osteria Ballarò you can enjoy a bit of free time – a visit to Regional Archaeological Museum Antonio Salinas is recommended. At around 3pm we will make our way to Cefalù. Once a sleepy fishing village, Cefalù is now a popular tourist spot. Generally, at around 5pm the majority of tourists head back to Palermo, so we will enjoy the benefits of visiting during a quieter time of day, sipping local wine while gazing out at sea. After an early dinner, we head back for our final night in Palermo.
Hyrdrofoil to Salina Island in the Aoelians
Day 11Today we have an early start to make our way to Milazzo where we will embark for Salina, one of the Aeolian Islands. We expect to arrive on the island and check-in at Locanda del Postino around 2 pm. The rest of the day is left at your own leisure until aperitivo time followed by dinner overlooking the sunset.
Visit slow food presidia and sunset boat tour of Stromboli
Day 12Late start today with a visit to Capers Slow Food presidia mid-morning. Salvatore D’Amico is not only the man in charge of the Slow Food presidia, but is also a wine producer and an endless source of stories and legends about the Aeolian islands. Australia is considered the “8th of the Aeolian Islands” due to the high number of locals who left in the beginning of the last century looking for a better life down under. Here we will be sampling the capers, of course, but also Salvatore’s wine which he produces in the old fashioned, organic way. We will have lunch here before a bit more free time. In the afternoon we may be able to head out to explore the island by boat – weather permitting. After a tour of the island and a swim at Pollara, where the 1994 movie “Il Postino” was shot, we will be heading for the island of Stromboli. This famous volcano has been in almost continuous eruption for the past 2000 years. We will have a simple dinner on the boat while waiting for the volcano to put on a show.
Mainland Sicily and Transfer to Taormina
Day 13In the morning we will board the hydrofoil to make our way back to mainland Sicily. From Milazzo it will be a just over an hour drive before we reach Taormina, our last stop. We will drop our bags at the Hotel Villa Schuler and then head for lunch. After lunch we will visit the Greek theatre, probably the best-known site of the town, a unique theatre still in use today, with a breathtaking backdrop of the gulf of Taormina. We will then head back to the hotel we will check in the rooms and we will have some free time until aperitivo. During the aperitivo, Mr Schuler will tell us the story of his family and how the hotel has become the longest-running hotel in Sicily. Dinner this evening will be your own arrangements, so that you can have bit of “me time” and find your own favourite restaurant in Taormina. Suggestions will be provided and as this is an all meals inclusive tour, an allowance will be provided towards the meal.
Etna Volcano and Bronte. Final dinner in Taormina
Day 14For our last day out we will be visiting Mount Etna, the active volcano that lies behind Taormina. Centuries of volcanic eruptions have enriched this area with dark, fertile soil, full of nutrients and minerals and perfect for the many types of produce farmed here. We will visit Bronte, a beautiful town on the flank of Mount Etna, and the world-famous capital of pistachios. The Bronte pistachio is also a Slow Food presidium, and we will be visiting the production site. Unfortunately, the harvest only occurs every two years – the next harvest season will be September 2021 – and during the 2020 season the growers will cut the buds and prune the trees to promote growth for the following year. After our lunch in Bronte – where you will certainly be able to sample the local pistachios! – we will head back to Taormina for some free time when you will be able to do some last-minute shopping. After an aperitivo at the hotel, we will make our way to the restaurant Il Granduca for our final dinner.
Transit and last breakfast together
Day 15This morning we say goodbye to Sicily with a final transfer to Catania airport based on the group flight. If you have a flight out of Catania in the morning or if you wish to extend your stay in Taormina please let us know so that we can make arrangements for you, otherwise... Arrivederci!