Now, today I'm going to share with you our tour with Sicily South. They're a travel & tour company owned by a young couple who met in Sicily and fell in love with each other and of course, the country! The tour we did is $3495 per person, which includes accommodations, most of our meals and any sightseeing tours we did, as a group. Here we all are in Ragusa Ibla... The owners are Sarah Cate (third from the left, wearing red pants and her teal Rothy's) and Benedetto or Benny for short with their son, Enzo, in the front.
We started the tour in Palermo, the biggest city in Sicily, and one filled with delicious food, amazing architecture (with influences from Greeks, Byzantines, Romans, and Arabs), colorful markets and culture (It has the 3rd largest opera house in the world)!
What I loved the most about Palermo is the blending of cultures. The Christian church (above) has a piece of a Koran scripture still carved into one of its marble columns because the emperor who took over Sicily at the time wanted to show their openness to other cultures. It's reflected even today with Sicily lovingly embracing immigrants and refugees.
The inside of the church above took almost 100 years to finish the ornate carvings and art. It's impressive in this photo but even more astounding when you see it up close!
We had such a delicious and fun dinner on the streets of Palermo our first night there!
The market was filled with amazing fruit, vegetables, seafood and meats, as well as our favorite -- something called Sfincioni. We ate it so fast, I don't have a photo of it, but if you google it, it's Sicilian street food -- focaccia bread, drizzled with a lot of olive oil, grilled so that it's crispy and then fresh tomatoes are smeared on top like a paste and sprinkled with fresh herbs. Oh I could go for 3 of them right now! Below is lunch in the market...
Leaving Palermo, we tour a gorgeous winery called Planeta.
Here's Paul and Pete sitting outside at the winery with olive trees in the background. (Yes, this winery also makes a lot of olive oil.)
After the wine tasting where Michael and I bought 6 bottles of wine and 1 bottle of olive oil to ship home, they serve us the most amazing spread of appetizers and then a several course sit down lunch!
After all that amazing wine and food, we were ready to go to sleep, so we headed to a farmhouse in the countryside -- Masseria Agnello. Words won't do the accommodations and grounds justice, so I'll just let a few of my photos say it all.
Check out that light orb in the photo above. There were pomegranates growing all over and when a beautiful rainbow appeared in the sky, it made us all feel that Michael, Pete and Christy's mom, Hermine, were with us in this beautiful place.
Personally, I wished we got to stay 1 more night there, to explore the grounds even more. The next day, we were off to the Valley of the Temples...which included some Greek ruins that were more well preserved than in Greece!
There are many more temples and other things to see, but let's keep moving, shall we? Our next stop was Ragusa Ibla, a charming small town mostly built into the side of a mountain with super narrow streets and colorful buildings.
Michael and I ate at a 2 star Michelin restaurant in Ragusa Ibla that was one of the best meals of my life AND the longest...lasting about 3.5 hours!
We thought we had finished, but then this was placed on the table, in front of each of us.
And when we thought we were going to bust... we got desserts upon desserts upon desserts...
This dinner wasn't included in the tour, and we spent $240.66. We had ordered a cocktail, wine, 1 appetizer to share, 2 entrees and the cannolo to share for dessert. Everything else was given to us! So, the amount of money we spent was well worth it. However, I would suggest if you go, to just order an entree and see what happens! If they're as generous as they were with us, you will leave more than full and spend less than half of what we spent.
While in Ragusa Ibla, we went to the countryside of Ragusa, where we learned how to make pasta with a real Sicilian grandmother!
Eating and enjoying the fruits of our labor...
Michael bought fake mustaches for all of us to wear... and Nonna (Grandma) Giovanna wore one too!
Leaving Ragusa Ibla, we stopped off at this seaside town where they film the Inspector Montalbano series (BBC/MhZ).
And we stopped in Noto...a touristy (but worth seeing) little town...with a famous gelato cafe featured on Netflix's Chef's Table.
I forgot to mention that wherever we were, my brother and sister-in-law, Pete and Kate, took kissing photos, calling them "Kissily South" photos...
They've been married for about 25 years, and yes they are this affectionate still! After gelato and lunch (in that order), we traveled to our last stop -- Ortigia, which is an island off of Syracusa.
When you first cross the bridge from Syracusa into Ortigia, it looks a bit like Venice.
Some parts of this beautiful island are filled with ritzy yachts and expensive hotels.
Everywhere you look are ridiculously stunning views of rocks and ocean...
In Syracusa, there are Greek & Roman ruins, like this theater where Greek tragedies used to be performed. I was astonished you can actually go into it.
The main square includes an ornate white marble church...
This is an iconic fountain near our hotel...
And here's the view from the balcony of our B&B...
(Above) We lit candles in honor of my mother-in-law, Hermine, who first brought up Syracusa as some place she really loved visiting. It was the reason we wanted to go in the first place. Thank you, Mom, for bringing us all together to this beautiful place.
I hope you enjoyed our Sicilian adventure! Let me know what did you enjoy the most! Comment below!
I'm honored to share our family travels with you. If you want an expert "local" guide throughout Sicily, I highly recommend Sicily South. They can either curate your own tour, or just join one of their trips. Or like us, have them help you with both, like we did! We hired a driver they recommended for our family heritage portion and joined their tour of Sicily South! My husband and I have never been on a tour. We've traveled all over the world, producing TV shows and just traveling for fun. But this was worth it because we didn't have to think about driving ourselves around the island and they know of hidden gems, as well as connections with chefs, wineries and private cultural guides through Palermo and at the Valley of Temples who made those locations even more vibrant through their passionate expertise. It's not an ad for Sicily South....I'm not getting paid to say any of this stuff. I just truly had an extraordinary time.
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