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• Three private hands-on cooking lessons: 1 in Paris and 2 in Sicily
• Private guided "foodie" walking tours in Paris and Palermo
• Private guided tours of the Louvre Museum in Paris; and Monreale Cathedral, the Valley of the Temples and Ortygia in Sicily
• A private wine-tasting lunch in Sicily
Details of the Trip
The following are included in the trip price:
Day 1: B
We start our journey in magnificent Paris, where our hotel is within walking distance to many of the city's architectural and historical treasures. For those who are not too jet-lagged, we will have a leisurely walk in the afternoon after check-in and time to rest to simply to acquaint you with neighborhood. Tonight will be a free evening, in order to catch up on our sleep!
Day 2: B, L, D
After a leisurely breakfast, we'll embark upon a fun and informative "foodie" walking tour of the Montmartre district of Paris! With our local guide, we'll eat and drink our way through the neighborhood, visiting a patisserie, a cheese shop, a classic chocolaterie, a boulangerie (where we'll sample and learn about classic French breads and baguettes), and a butcher shop - all accompanied by some nice French wine! This 3-hour tour will leave us fully sated to say the least. In the afternoon, those who want will go to the Eiffel Tower with one of the tour directors; otherwise, free afternoon. Group dinner in town.
Day 3: B, L
This morning we'll have a private guided tour of the Louvre Museum, considered by many to be the greatest museum in the world. With more than 37,000 pieces of art and nearly 675,000 square feet of exhibition space, we cannot see it all in one visit. Our English-speaking guide will show us some of the highlights during our private tour, including the Winged Victory, the Venus de Milo and, of course, Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. Today, we'll learn how to cook some French cuisine! We'll break for lunch and some leisure time before reconvening in the late afternoon for a hands-on cooking lesson. We'll learn basic and advanced French cooking techniques through the process of creating a three-course meal, accompanied by some nice French wine. During dinner, your host will share stories on each of the dishes to help illustrate various aspects of French culture: a bit of history and a touch of sociology along with tongue-in-cheek humor.
Day 4: B
We'll have a free morning to explore Paris as we choose! In the early afternoon, we'll head to the airport to board our flight from Paris to Palermo, Sicily! After arriving in Palermo, we'll check in to our centrally-located hotel for a free evening.
Day 5: B, L
After a leisurely breakfast, we'll set off to discover Palermo's heart, through its traditional "street food." With our local expert guide, we'll take a walking tour through the main piazzas and mercati (markets), learning about the history of this amazing city, sampling its famous street food and learning about the legends behind the dishes. This lighthearted tour also includes stops at the main historical squares and several hidden spots of the city center, ending with a visit to the splendid Cathedral. Free afternoon and evening to explore the city.
Day 6: B, D
Today we're in for a real treat: We will visit the hilltop town of Monreale to have a private guided tour of its impressive 12th-century Arab-Norman cathedral, with one of the largest and most beautiful displays of mosaic artwork in the world. This cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage List monument, and for good reason. We'll head back to Palermo for a break for lunch and will reconvene in the early afternoon for our second hands-on cooking lesson, this one at a renowned cooking school in the city. We'll make 3 or 4 traditional Sicilian dishes and then dine on the fruits of our labor!
Day 7: B, D
Our adventure continues as we depart Palermo for southeastern Sicily. En route, however, we'll stop at an incredible UNESCO archaeological site, the Valley of the Temples, boasting arguably better preserved Greek temples than exist in Greece itself. Set on a gorgeous plateau filled with olive and almond trees, the Valley of the Temples houses the remains of seven Greek temples, one of which is described as “the most impressive surviving Doric temple in the Greek world after the Parthenon in Athens,” according to UNESCO. We'll have time for a quick lunch before continuing on to our hotel near Siracusa. Dinner as a group at the hotel.
Day 8: B, L
After a leisurely breakfast, we'll depart for a gorgeous small ancient fishing village on the Ionian Sea: Marzamemi. In the 10th century, the Arabs gave the town its name (translating roughly to Turtle Dove Bay) and also built the original tuna processing plant there, which became the most important one on the island. Marzamemi continues its fishing and processing activities, producing all kinds of delicacies, including dried tuna roe (bottarga), smoked swordfish, marinated anchovies and much more. We’ll have a short walkabout with our tour leader and then continue on to a vineyard that produces local DOC wines for a wine-tasting tour. Our tour is followed by a delicious multi-course luncheon at the estate. Pleasantly full, we'll return to our hotel for a free evening.
Day 9: B, D
For our last full day in Sicily, we'll have a private guided walking tour of the small island of Ortygia. This tiny town is packed with 2,500 years of history and houses arguably one of the most beautiful piazzas in all of Italy, awash in white limestone. The Cathedral, built on the site of an ancient Temple of Athena, has been described as “all of Sicily in a single building”: Built as a Greek temple, expanded by the Romans, converted by the Byzantines into a basilica, made into a mosque by the Arabs, added onto by the Normans, adorned by the Spanish—and these elements remain visible today, 25 centuries later. We'll break for lunch, and then reconvene in the early afternoon for our final cooking lesson and dinner together as a group.
Day 10: B
Sadly, today our tour comes to an end. Transfer from our hotel hotel to the Catania airport for our return flights home.