A Multicultural Mecca, from Palermo to Marsala
- Visit new and historic wineries in the Alcamo and Marsala regions of Western Sicily
- Enjoy private sit-down tastings at Planeta, Donnafugata, Ceuso, De Bartoli and more
- Lunch at a boutique olive oil producer and taste samples from different types of olive trees
- Take a private boat ride around the saline, where sea salt is made the ancient way, using windmills and evaporation ponds
- See a perfectly preserved Greek temple and amphitheater in the archaeological park of Segesta
- Be awestruck by Byzantine mosaics in the cathedrals of Palermo and Monreale
Over the ages, Sicily has attracted Phoenician seafarers, Carthaginian settlers, Roman troops, Arab and Norman conquerors, Spanish conquistadors, and British merchants. Now wine lovers are invading its shores.
Though Sicily’s viticultural history dates back 2000 years, the island has recently become one of Italy’s hottest new wine zones. For decades, industrial wineries dominated the land, churning out oceans of bulk wine. But in the 1990s, a complete makeover began. Emphasis shifted from quantity to quality, and boutique wineries began popping up, focusing on handcrafted, limited-production wine. Many were started by veteran winemakers who’d toiled for decades in the industry and now, in pre-retirement, wanted to apply their passion and know-how to their own labors of love.
These are the wineries DISCOVER SICILY explores. We’ll visit pioneers like Planeta, which introduced Sicily’s native grapes to the world. We’ll meet family members at Ceuso and Alessandro di Camporeale who will personally lead us through the wineries they built from scratch. We’ll taste elegant Marsalas at De Bartoli that will cause you to reassess this all-but-forgotten meditation wine. And throughout, we’ll become acquainted with indigenous varietals like nero d’avola and grillo and see how international grapes like cabernet, merlot, and syrah respond to the Mediterranean sun.
We begin in Palermo, the Mediterranean’s richest, most cultured city in the 1100s. Its multicultural history comes alive during a walking tour that winds through the city’s major architectural monuments and dips into its lively outdoor bazaar for a preview of good things to come: exotic spices, olives of every kind, dried red peppers, salted capers, African couscous, and fish pulled from the Mediterranean that morning.
Food, of course, is front and center on this gourmet trip. Nightly wine dinners feature homey and haute renditions of classic Sicilian dishes. Lunch at an olive-oil producer takes us behind the scenes at the olive press and offers tastes of single-varietal olive oils. Marsala’s saline show how salt is naturally extracted from the sea—and will forever change what you want to sprinkle on your plate.
Art and architecture are also a thematic thread. We’ll see competing Byzantine cathedrals—in Palermo and Monreale—where medieval royalty tried to out-do each other with displays of wealth. Sheathed with shimmering gold-leaf-and-glass mosaics, these magnificent cathedrals offer unparalleled splendor. Baroque architecture adds elegance to Marsala’s city streets, while the Greek Doric temple at Segesta takes us to the dawn of civilization in this ancient land.