Sicily 2019: The Mediterranean Diet & Beyond Culinary and Cultural Tour
October 11-18, 2019
Approved for 31-CEUs from CDR-The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
As the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, the land of Sicily is unlike any other, and not just when it comes to its architecture, history, culture, and landscape, but also for its amazing and diverse cuisine. Explore Sicily and Sicilian cuisine with WorldRD registered-dietitian, Layne Lieberman and The International Kitchen on a professional educational journey into the Mediterranean diet and beyond.
Approved for 31-CEUs from CDR-The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Your 7-night itinerary will start in the ancient town of Siracusa, include visits to Catania, the towering Mount Etna, to the baroque towns of the interior, and finally to Palermo.
Along the way you will explore Sicilian food and culture: its pastas, seafoods, olives, wine, desserts, and more. There will be two hands-on cooking classes featuring Sicilian cuisine — partake in the olive harvest, visit an organic winery on Mount Etna, make local cheeses on a dairy farm, delve into Modica chocolate-making, tour food markets of Palermo and so much more! October 11-18, 2019, for a minimum of ten people
Hosted by Layne Lieberman, RD, MS, CDN, LDN, author of the award winning book Beyond The Mediterranean Diet: European Secrets Of The Super-Healthy
Guides, Experts and Chefs are from Sicily
Tour Operator: The International Kitchen
$3550 USD per person based on double occupancy (we can match you with a roommate with similar sleep habits)
- Add $585 USD for single occupancy (use of a double room by 1 person)
Based on a minimum of 10 participants.
Your accommodations will be at centrally located hotels in Siracusa and Palermo. Please see hotels below. (In the event a hotel becomes unavailable we will propose a comparable alternative.)
In Siracusa we stay at the 3-year old I Santi Coronati B&B, set in a historic building in the center of Ortigia island, close to the Arethuse Fountain. Breakfast is served daily on the terrace or in the comfort of the guests’ rooms.
In Palermo we stay at the 4-star Quinto Canto, set right in the middle of Palermo’s historic center, at the Quattro Canto crossroads. This beautifully restored 16th century building also features a spa. There is a reading room and a TV room.
Itinerary & Trip Details (7 nights)
Arrival at the Catania airport. Group transfer to your 4-star hotel in Siracusa, in the heart of Ortigia, the small island that houses Siracusa’s historical city center.
Check in with time to relax.
Welcome dinner this evening – your first taste of Sicilian cuisine! You will get an introduction to the products, flavors, and customs of this incredible island with your guide for the week, Paolo Gallo, who has over 20 years of experience organizing cultural and food tours to Sicily. (Expert & Guide: Paolo Gallo)
Educational Outcomes and Objectives (2 hours): An introduction to the products, flavors, and customs of this incredible island!
a) Learn why Sicily is the heart of the Mediterranean diet with the freshest local and seasonal food (0.5 hour)
b) Understand what the fall harvest means to Sicilians- including the olive and grape harvests, roasted chestnuts (caldaroste) sold in street kiosks and more (0.5 hour)
c) Learn about the specialties such as caponata (a type of sweet and sour relish made with aubergines, celery, olives and tomatoes) and peperonata (sweet and sour peppers) (0.5 hour)
d) Understand why Sicilian food is unique due to its mixed cultural influences from the Italians, Greeks, Spanish, French and Arabs that have inhabited the island over almost three thousand years (0.5 hour)
After breakfast, depart for Catania. Head for the amazing fish market (“A Piscaria”), one of Catania’s most indelible spots. Chef Loredana, a local cooking instructor, will teach you about Sicilian ingredients. Explore the market, learning about local fish varieties, but also about other seasonal fruits and vegetables. Then head to the cooking school for your cooking class featuring authentic Sicilian cuisine based on the ingredients you chose. Lunch to follow, in which you will discuss the ingredients used, the dishes made, and possible other variations.
Return to Siracusa, free time this evening and dinner on your own. (Experts & Guide: Paolo Gallo, Cooking School Teacher Loredana Balsamello)
Educational Outcomes and Objectives (5 hours): Learn about local seafood and seasonal fruits and vegetables as you shop the local markets of Catania. Plan and prepare a meal based on availability under the direction of a Sicilian cooking instructor.
a) Explore the food markets (2 hours)
b) Participate in a cooking class featuring seasonal products from the local market under the direction of a local cooking school instructor (2 hours)
c) Lunch and learn about the use of local seafood and produce in the typical Sicilian diet (1 hour)
After breakfast enjoy a 90-minute walking tour of Ortigia, Siracusa’s old historical center. Ortigia is a small, ancient island, and you will learn about its 2700 years of history and legends!
In the late morning, depart for Palazzaolo Arcreide, a Sicilian village that has been inhabited since ancient times.
Enjoy an authentic and traditional Sicilian lunch in a beloved local restaurant, learning about the ancient culinary customs of this part of Sicily.
Next, stop at a DOP organic olive oil estate to learn about this important product of Sicilian agriculture and cuisine. You will visit the orchard and learn about the types of olives, the harvest, and the pressing. You will learn the criteria by which Sicilian olive oil is judged and labeled as “extra virgin,” and about the characteristics that would lead to an oil being rejected as defective. You will of course taste the oil – and can buy some to take home! And added bonus: your visit might coincide with part of the olive harvest.
Return to Siracusa, dinner on your own. (Experts & Guide: Paolo Gallo, Experts from Tenuta Cavasecca DOP Organic Olive Grove)
Educational Outcomes and Objectives (3 hours): Learn about olive oil production and ancient culinary customs in this part of Sicily
a) Learn about the ancient culinary customs in this part of Sicily (1 hour)
b) Experience the olive harvest at an ancient olive orchard and learn how to become a connoisseur of olive oil- similar to wine (2 hours)
- See how the olives are harvested and pressed
- Learn about the types of olives, ancient and new varieties
Learn what tools are used to taste and decipher the quality and freshness of cold pressed extra-virgin olive oil
After breakfast depart for a full day to Mount Etna and Taormina. First you will explore the famous volcano and enjoy a visit at a winery to learn how the volcanic soil influences the vineyards and wines of the area. Paolo, a wine connoisseur, and the experts at Barone di Villagrande will teach you about grape varieties and about what makes each so unique. Enjoy an organic wine tasting and a light lunch at the winery.
Next, head to Taormina, a jewel of eastern Sicily, to see the beautiful promenade and many sites, including the ancient Greco-Roman theater, which is still in use today. Your tour will explore the history, food and culture of this ancient city.
Return to Siracusa, dinner on your own. (Experts & Guide: Paolo Gallo, winemaker of Barone di Villagrande winery since 1727)
Educational Outcomes and Objectives (5 hours): Learn about the agricultural area of Mount Etna and why the soils are rich in nutrients. Develop an understanding of the wine/grape industry in the area and why Etna wines are considered some of the best in Italy (especially for the price)! Tour the most beautiful ancient city of Taormina and learn about its food specialties.
a) Delve into the agricultural and wine industries of the most fertile land of Italy (3 hours)
- understand why the land is rich in nutrients
- learn about the varietal and indigenous grapes
- learn about the wine making of the region
- taste and experience the different indigenous wines
- learn about organic wine-makingb)
b) Explore Taormina and its food culture as we tour through this “jewel of Sicily” (2 hours)
After breakfast depart for Modica, a wonderful baroque town. First enjoy a cooking class with a local woman, Katia Amore, who has been running a small cooking school for many years. Learn more about the traditional cuisine of Sicily using seasonal ingredients and authentic Sicilian practices. Lunch to follow.
Next, enjoy a tour of Modica, a baroque jewel. The city has a fascinating history: founded in ancient times, ruled by the Arabs, the Normans, and then extremely powerful feudal lords. For centuries it was home to a large Jewish population before their persecution in the late 15th century. After a late 17th-century earthquake destroyed part of the town it was rebuilt in Baroque style, resulting in its unique look. Today it remains a rooted in the agricultural production of the Val di Noto, including olives, legumes, and grains.
Another famous product of Modica: chocolate! Head to a 150-year old family-run chocolate factory for a visit of the laboratory and a tasting of this well-known local product, which is purportedly produced using an ancient Aztec recipe.
Return to Siracusa, dinner on your own. (Experts & Guide: Paolo Gallo, Chef Katia Amore, Antica Dolceria Bonajuto 6th generation, producing chocolate for over 150 years)
Educational Outcomes and Objectives (5 hours): Partake in an authentic Sicilian cooking class at a renowned cooking school. Tour and learn about the agricultural area of Val di Noto. Understand the ancient art of chocolate making in Modica.
a) Learn more about Sicilian cuisine-which and why ingredients are used in this area of Italy (3 hours)
- Prepare a meal with a renowned Sicilian cooking teacher
- Understand each season and its special ingredients
- Learn about which pasta shapes are unique to Sicily
b) Understand and visit the agricultural area of Val di Noto, known for olives, beans and grains (1 hour)
c) Learn about the history of chocolate making in Sicily and how it differs from anywhere else in the world. Taste and view chocolate-making in a 150-year old 6th generation Sicilian chocolate factory (1 hour)
Breakfast and check out. Depart for Piazza Armerina, where you will visit of the superb Roman villa, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The villa’s mosaics are among the most beautiful surviving from ancient days, and it is one of Sicily’s most important cultural sites.
Continue to Enna, where you will visit with an organic cheese farmer at the Caseificio Raja. Learn about the cheese production of Sicily, its types of dairy, and in particular how Sicilian cheese is made in the interior regions and enjoy a tasting of fresh and aged cheeses. A lunch will follow in which you will taste other local products, many of them grown on or near the farm.
Next – we are off to Palermo!
Check in to the Hotel Piazza Borsa in Palermo’s city center, then head to dinner at a local restaurant, where you will get an introduction to Palermitano cuisine and learn how it differs from the gastronomy of the east. (Experts & Guide: Paolo Gallo, Caseificio Raja cheesemaker and farmer)
Educational Outcomes and Objectives (5 hours): View the most complex collection of Roman mosaics in the world built in the early 4th century AD. Understand the grand lifestyle of rich Romans. Learn the process of cheesemaking from the cow to the table. Discover Palermitano cuisine and how it differs from the east.
a) Tour the UNESCO World Heritage site of Piazza Armerina, which includes a Roman house dating to the 4th and 5th centuries A.D (1 hour)
- Understand the lifestyle and home layout of the rich Romans of the 4th century when Sicily was not only the granary of Rome, but a favorite place to live for wealthy Romans.
b) Meet with a dairy farmer and cheesemaker in Enna (3 hours)
- Learn about local dairy cows and milk production for organic cheesemaking
- Understand the different variety of cheeses and how they are made
- View the cheesemaking process
- Taste fresh and aged cheeses of the region
- Taste other specialties from the farm, a truly farm to table experience
c) Learn how Palermitano cuisine differs from the eastern cuisine of Sicily, and goes beyond Palermo’s famous street food (1 hour)
Breakfast, then it is time for a full day of exploring Palermo, one of the most vibrant cities of Sicily. Start with an in-depth walking tour of the city center and learn about Palermo’s rich history, culture, and gastronomy, including its origins as a Phoenician city, its thousand years as part of Rome, its tenure as capital of the Holy Roman Empire – just to touch on a few moments of its storied past.
Your lunch will be based on typical Sicilian street food during a street food tour: try the famed arancini, sfincioni and more. Stop also at a famous bakery for a tasting of Sicilian pastries and desserts.
In the afternoon, continue your tour of Palermo, including nearby Monreale, which is located on the side of Monte Caputo and which benefits from the agriculture in the fertile valley below, where orange, almond, and olive trees grow. Visit also its most famous site – the ancient Norman-Byzantine Cathedral.
This evening, time for your farewell dinner with a Palemerito food experience, wrapping up your education on Sicilian gastronomy. (Expert & Guide: Paolo Gallo)
Educational Outcomes and Objectives (6 hours): In-depth understanding of Palermo’s outdoor fresh food markets brimming with fresh seafood, fruits, vegetables and more. Explore the street foods, although often fried and not always healthy, worth trying! End the tour with a gastronomic Palermitano dinner as we reflect on what we can bring back to our practices at home.
a) Learn about the culture of Palermo, the capital of the Italian island of Sicily (3 hours)
- See why Palermo is a cultural melting pot since Phoenicians and Greeks fought over it in the 5th and 6th centuries BC.
- Explore the city by foot visiting the central street markets and the Vucciria, near the port.
- Understand the importance of the location on Sicily’s northwestern coast at the head of the Bay of Palermo, facing east.
b) Learn about and taste the most famous street food and pastries of southern Italy (1 hour)
c) Visit Monreale located on the slope of Monte Caputo, overlooking the very fertile valley called “La Conca d’oro” (the Golden Shell), a production area of orange, olive and almond trees; and backed by mountains. Mount Pellegrino rises to a height of 1,988 feet (606 m) north of the city. (1 hour)
- Learn about the large quantities and types of produce which are exported.
d) Wrap up and enjoy a final Palermitano dinner as we reflect on the weeks’ activities and discuss how we can utilize these experiences back at home. (1 hour)
After breakfast, group transfer to the Palermo airport. (Or we can arrange additional nights in Palermo for those wanting to stay on.)
What’s Included (7-Night Trip)
Five nights in a modern B&B (Ortigia) and two nights in a 4-star hotel (Palermo)
Food & Beverages
- Daily breakfast
- 6 lunches
- 3 dinners
- Wine with included meals
Classes & Instructors
Two hands-on cooking classes featuring Sicilian cuisine.
- Visit of Catania market with chef
- Walking tour of Ortigia (Siracusa)
- Olive oil estate visit
- Full-day visit to Mount Etna and Taormina
- Guided tour in Taormina
- Winery visit and tasting
- Chocolate workshop and tasting
- Guided visit of Piazza Armerina
- Cheese producer visit
- Guided walking tour of Palermo
- One group arrival transfer from Catania airport to Siracusa hotel
- One group departure transfer from Palermo hotel to Palermo airport
Additional transfers can be arranged on request. Please inquire for rates.
- Transfer from Siracusa to Palermo
- Educational credits (credits pending)
- Meals not specified in itinerary
- Personal expenses
Please see Layne’s Huffington Post blog about Sicily here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/layne-lieberman/puglia-italys-land-of-ple_b_8494386.html
About Layne Lieberman:
Layne Lieberman, MS, RD, LDN, is an award winning registered dietitian/culinary nutritionist, author, and innovator in the food and health industries. With a lifelong passion for wholesome food and better health and wellbeing, Layne helps consumers achieve a healthy balance in diet and lifestyle.
In the restaurant field, she has teamed with a number of high-profile chefs to create and market healthy menus and provide recipes and nutritional analysis.
In the mid-1980s, Layne created the Nutrition Learning Centers, a storefront center for weight loss and medical nutrition that combined cooking classes, a health food store and nutritional counseling. Following that successful venture, she served for 20 years, from 1991 to 2010, as Director of Nutrition for America’s first supermarket chain, King Kullen Grocery Company. She proceeded to turn the chain into a national leader, selling organic foods and other healthy alternatives to conventional supermarket fare.
In addition, Layne headed the chain’s consumer and industry health communications, initiating a roster of health bulletins and circulars that reached one million homes weekly. Her nutrition newsletter won over 30,000 subscribers in the metropolitan New York region, and also she was editor of King Kullen’s quarterly Diabetes Newsletter.
Philanthropically, she has devoted over 25 years to the American Heart Association as a board member, event chairperson, menu consultant, spokesperson, and a driving force behind the AHA’s annual Hamptons Gala. In June of 2012, the American Heart Association with their “Humanitarian with a Heart Award” honored Layne. She acted as an advisory board member and lecturer for Dr. Mehmet Oz’s Foundation For The Advancement Of Cardiac Therapies. Since 2015, Layne’s recipes and nutrition messages are prominently featured in the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America’s quarterly magazine. She is a member of Les Dames d’Escoffier Colorado and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the largest organization of food and nutrition professionals with close to 72,000 members.
From 2010 to 2012, Layne lived abroad in Geneva, Switzerland, to study the food, health and dietary habits of other countries. There she wrote and published her first book titled Beyond the Mediterranean Diet: European Secrets Of the Super-Healthy, which is successfully being sold worldwide through all major wholesalers and retailers. The book was named one of the “Best Indie Books of 2015” by the Independent Book Publishing Professionals Group, as a book that “deserves to reach a wide audience.” The Next Generation Indie Book Awards is the world’s largest not-for-profit book awards program for independent publishers and self-published authors.
Layne has extensive media experience in both print and television. She has been featured on Good Morning America, The New York Times, Fox News and has been quoted in hundreds of articles. She regularly blogs for Huffington Post, Boulder Bubble and WorldRD and on other sites including the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Food & Nutrition Magazine, Diets In Review, Access Hollywood, Shape, Kroger’s magazines and Fox News.Layne received a Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Biochemistry from Cornell University and earned a Master of Science in Clinical Nutrition from New York University. During her Masters studies, Layne worked in Public Relations for Ketchum Health Communications. After completing her Masters degree, Layne spent two years at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine doing a research fellowship as the General Clinical Research Nutritionist in the areas of diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic illnesses.
Later, at the Culinary Institute of America, Layne completed the Chef-RD training program. She and her husband now divide time between Colorado, Florida and New York