We are a group of ten who love to travel.. and be surprised! So, each year one of us take turns finding our next destination, that is a total surprise for the group until we reach an airport. This year was my turn. Since we are such a large group, I reached out to Sicily Activities to help plan the perfect 4-day holiday itinerary.
Our trip started off stress-free since we were met at Palermo airport by Fabio, our first guide and driver for this surprise trip. We were welcomed to Sicily with traditional Sicilian hospitality and then we got right into our 4 days of adventures.
We wasted no time! On the way to Taormina from Palermo airport, we stopped by Winery Abbazia Santa Anastasia to enjoy their organic and biodynamic wines, including a lovely sparkling wine. We were also treated to some delicious cuisine with ingredients from their unforgettable garden. The landscape was breathtaking with its rolling hills covered in vineyards.
We made it to Taormina in plenty of time to get a real taste of the city on a food with a walking tour made just for the ten of us. The food and wine were perfect but what we all loved the most was meeting the amazing people behind the food. That’s what travel is about for us — It’s the people and experiences that make the trip special.
We received a truly local dinner experience thanks to Sara in her restaurant, Osteria Rosso di Vino. The food was innovative and fresh while perfectly paired with wine from their extensive list. I’m a big fan of service and I thought it was so nice that Fabio was waiting for us the whole time since it was raining and we were able to leave whenever we were ready. It’s the little things that make big impressions.
After dinner we were happy to get some rest from our travel day. Hotel Villa Sant Andrea was so beautiful with dreamy views over the water. It’s exactly the kind of view you hope for in Sicily.
After a generous breakfast spread in our hotel, we hopped in a Mercedes minivan to visit small Sicilian villages tucked away in the mountains. Forza d’Agro was our first stop and we had a lovely walk. Here we met the owner of a local bar who met Francis Ford Coppola and Al Pacino while they were in Sicily filming the Godfather. He had plenty of stories to tell!
Savoca was next and there we learned about the famous scenes filmed in the Godfather from our guide Rosario. It’s always so fun to learn about the destinations where movies are made and about the traditions and culture of the locals. And moreover true facts about mafia!
Next, we started to wind down with an aperitif in Bar Vitelli – the most famous bar in Sicily. Then we made our way to Gelsonero where we also savoured a delicious lunch (made from local ingredients, of course!) and had a wine tasting on the extraordinary terrace with a panoramic view of the area. What a great start to the day!
After taking in the best of the Taormina coast in our van, we headed out on our fishing tour in a traditional Sicilian wooden fishing boat. It was fascinating learning about the rich fishing history and seeing the tools the fishermen use each day to reel in their catch. We even got hands-on and did some fishing ourselves! Everything from baiting the hook to reeling in the fish was up to us, but we had a great teacher, Giuseppe! Can you believe we caught Capone? What a day! Best of all, we ended the evening with a grill party on the beach at La Plage Resort with a magical view of Isola Bella. I think this is the best way to experience the true Sicily.
Our whole group was extra excited about the activities on day three. It was Mt. Etna day! Our trusted guide Rosario took us to the Refuge Sapienza base camp which is an impressive 1900 meters above sea-level. The views were unforgettable…but we took a ton of photos anyway while we explored the old lava flows. How often do you get to hang out on a volcano?
We hiked for about 2 hours and ended up at Winery Benanti. This stunning boutique winery is planted right on the side of Mt. Etna and is famous for their volcanic wines and organic food. We met one of the owners, Antonio, who let us try some of their unique wine alongside a pairing of cold appetizers. That got us ready for the main event…a cooking class with chef, Loredana. Once we finished, we had the most lovely group meal. Handmade pasta with ragout is a top!
The ten of us love our food adventures, and the next day was another perfectly planned trip. Our driver took us to Palermo, known as the “Kingdom of the sun”, to spend 3 glorious hours discovering all the secrets of this fascinating city that seems to defy time. We were in constant awe as we took in all the stunning architecture. It’s all so beautiful and it’s impossible to take a bad picture.
Like locals, we all popped into an authentic enoteca, Gagini Social restaurant, where we revelled in our gourmet dinner and had our last wine tasting of the trip. It could not have been any better. The risotto with tartufo bianco, thistles, and lemon butter was exceptional in every way.
Our best memories are made of the food, our wonderful guide Rosario, and the incredible things we saw. Being together is always the most important part of the trip, but Sicily Activities made that time together incredibly memorable. After a fantastic sleep at the boutique hotel Palazzo Natoli in Palermo we were sad to leave this wonderful experience, but we also felt great having such a comprehensive cultural experience. The whole group was wonderfully surprised with the activities and quality of service!