Cheese drying
Cheese drying

Food Holidays

CATANIA - Pistachios, Etna wines and Aztec chocolate in Eastern Sicily

Sicily, so wildly beautiful and rich in history, is an essential Italian food destination, with a cuisine that enticingly reflects its melting-pot culture, its almost permanent sunshine and the proximity of the sea. This exceptional stay in the island’s south east features the world’s best pistachios (from Bronte, which hosts an annual Pistachio Festival), gloriously fruity Sicilian wine, ‘stretched’ Ragusano cheese and chocolate still made according to Aztec methods dating back to the Spanish occupation. A cookery class presents the basics of the Sicilian culinary tradition and our hotel in the Baroque city of Catania is perfectly placed to make your own cultural and culinary discoveries.

What's included?

  •  Flights
  •  Accommodation
  •  Meals - as per the itinerary
  •  Expert guide
  •  All tastings in the itinerary

Today's Price

Deposit: £250 Single supplement: £190

Tour highlights:

  • Explore the vibrant fresh food and fish markets of Catania
  • Learn how to make arancini and cannoli at a cookery class
  • Taste the ‘green gold’ of Sicily – the pistachios of Bronte
  • Sample ‘stretched’ cheese in the stunning Baroque town of Ragusa
  • Visit one of the great Modica chocolatiers, still following Aztec methods of production
  • Savour superb Sicilian wine at one of the vineyards on the slopes of Etna

Tour details

Dates 27 September 2020 - 1 October 2020
Duration 5 days
Today's Price
Deposit: £250 Single supplement: £190 Balance due by 5 July 2020
Tour code G04A20

Book Now or call 01453 823328 if you have any questions

27 September 2020: Itinerary

We fly from London to Catania this afternoon and transfer to our hotel. Dinner at a quality local restaurant follows. Our comfortable hotel in Catania will be surrounded by Baroque architecture in the historic heart of the city.

Meals include: Dinner

Hotel: Centrally located hotel

A brief guided walk through the produce and fish market of Catania reveals the richly evocative sights, sounds and scents of Sicilian food as well as the tastes. We then proceed to a cookery class at the highly acclaimed Myda Cookery School. In addition to a primer on Sicilian flavours, we also have the chance to make our own specialities – arancini (delicious savoury rice balls) and cannoli (sweet, creamy ricotta-filled pastries) – and enjoy them for lunch.

The afternoon and evening are then at leisure to make your own explorations of Catania’s fine food shops and restaurants.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: Centrally located hotel

Our morning is dedicated to the pistachio, which grows prolifically in the farmland around Bronte. This regional variety has an intense green colour, making it highly prized for gelato, but also used in such diverse products as chocolate and cheese, pesto and sausage, and liquor and cosmetics. We have the chance to walk the orchards, see how the pistachios are transformed into these various forms, and, of course, taste. Each year, Bronte hosts a Pistachio Festival and at the time of our visit, preparations will be underway.

Massive, brooding Mount Etna dominates almost every view of the landscape in this area. In Greek legend, this was the forge of Vulcan, where Odysseus met the cyclops Polyphemus, and an entrance to the underworld through which Hades abducted Persephone. Fertile volcanic slopes are perfect for wine production, and Etna wines have earned DOC accreditation for the exceptional quality that this unique terroir inspires. We sample some on a visit to one of Etna’s great vineyards.

There are so many excellent restaurants within walking distance of the hotel – this evening is again at leisure to select your own.

Meals include: Breakfast

Hotel: Centrally located hotel

DOP-accredited Ragusano cheese is made only in the environs of Ragusa and Syracuse, and made in the same way as it has been for at least the last 500 years. Unpasteurised whole milk from grass or hay-fed cows of the Modicana breed is separated, with the resulting curds ‘stretched’. Cheeses of different ages are available – the younger, fresher cheese has a sweet, delicate taste, whilst the more mature cheese has developed a deeper flavour and a hint of spice. No gastronomic visit to this part of Sicily would be complete without sampling Ragusano.

We then proceed to Modica, where time is set aside for an independent lunch. Modica chocolate is still made according to centuries-old Aztec methods. Manual grinding of the cocoa, rather than the modern technique of ‘conching’, gives the chocolate a grainy, crumbly texture and unique aroma redolent of roasted cocoa beans. Modica chocolate is often flavoured with cinnamon, vanilla, chilli or coffee. We visit one of the great Modica chocolatiers such as Quetzal and sample some for ourselves. Dinner is included at a quality local restaurant this evening.

Meals include: Breakfast, Dinner

Hotel: Centrally located hotel

With such a food-packed itinerary, you’ll be glad of a morning at leisure to appreciate the splendour of historic Catania for yourself and choose a venue for an independent lunch. In the afternoon, we transfer to the airport for our flight home.

Meals include: Breakfast

  • Myda cookery class, with lunch to follow
  • Guided walk around Catania food/fish markets
  • Pistachio tasting
  • Etna wine tasting
  • Ragusano cheese tasting
  • Quetzal chocolate tasting

27 September 2020: Additional Info

27 September 2020: Accommodation

All of our destinations are known for their rich, cultural heritage, as well as their cuisine, and these holidays invite you to appreciate some magical towns and cities. We will be staying in high quality (generally 3*-4*) hotels.

27 September 2020: Enquiries

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