Sicilian Saunter

Hiking Sicily’s Western Shores

Tour Overview:

  • See Sicily close-up with seaside and inland walks in the Trapani and Marsala regions
  • Enjoy private, sit-down tastings at at Donnafugata, Ceuso, De Bartoli and other leading wineries
  • Hike around a Greek temple and amphitheater at the archaeological park of Segesta
  • Gawk at the splendid Byzantine mosaics at the Cathedral of Monreale
  • See ancient methods for making sea-salt and enjoy a boat ride in the surrounding lagoon
  • Visit the hilltop town of Erice and the Baroque port city of Marsala
  • Located smack in the middle of the Mediterranean, Sicily was at a maritime crossroads for countless competing civilizations: Phoenician, Greeks, Romans, Carthaginians, Arabs, Normans, Spanish, and more. Today, that multicultural layer-cake is visible in the island’s abundant archaeological and architectural sites—and in its cuisine.

    There’s no better way to feel the sweep of history than by hiking in the archaeological parks, nature preserves, and wilderness areas that abound on the island. SICILIAN SAUNTER covers both sides of Sicily’s raw beauty: its rugged coastline, and its stark, mountainous interior. During our hikes, we’ll encounter the remnants of ancient civilizations—Greek at Segesta, Phoenician at Monte Cofano, and Norman on Marettima—and will keep our eye out for current residents like the pink flamingoes of the Stagnone islands and the wild horses on the Cofano nature preserve.

    The tour is structured with morning hikes and afternoon wine tastings. We hike every day except one, when we transfer regions. Most hikes are approximately three to four hours (7 to 10 miles) along dirt trails, coastal paths, and country roads (see Trip Notes); van support is available only on the first day.

    Most afternoons feature a winery visit. We’ve selected some of Sicily’s newer boutique estates, which are family-run and operate on a whole different scale than the industrial wine factories of yore. Here we’ll have the opportunity to meet the owner and/or winemaker and hear a personal perspective on how Sicily has made such great strides in recent years. We’ll become well acquainted with indigenous grapes like nero d’avola and grillo, and see how well international varietals like cabernet, merlot, and syrah have adapted to the Mediterranean sun.

    Non-hiking activities are integrated throughout. We’ll see the magnificent Byzantine mosaics at Monreale Cathedral, the ancient way to harvest sea salt, and the Baroque makeover of Marsala, a rustic port town until this meditation wine made it big in Britain and brought in new wealth.

    And of course, we’ll feast on la cucina siciliana every day. Seafood plays a big part, with tuna, swordfish, and cuttlefish caught in nearby waters, then grilled, smoked, turned into carpaccio, or tossed with pasta. Other classic primi combine sardines with wild fennel and breadcrumbs (pasta con sarde), north African couscous with fish, and eggplant with basil and ricotta salata (pasta alla norma), while secondi focus on fish by the sea and grilled meats inland. Desserts containing apricots, citrus, raisins, sugar, or sweet spices all show the hand of the Arabs, who brought these ingredients into play during their domination in the 10th and 11th centuries. Just don’t forget to take the cannoli!

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