Flavors of Sicily

Join alumni and friends from October 12 – 20, 2018, and immerse yourself in an adventure that feeds all your senses. Explore Sicily’s ancient and archaeological history, and interact with locals­—including farmers, vintners, and chefs—who make this friendly island come alive.

SicilyWith Sicilian wine, cuisine, and culture as your inspiration, and a luxurious accommodation as your home base, embrace the beauty of Sicily on an intimate, small-group, and authentically Sicilian experience. Journey through the landscape with expert guides who will thoughtfully introduce you to the traditions of this captivating place,.

An intimate, small-group atmosphere and authentically Sicilian experience distinguish this 9-day program. Immerse yourself in a cultural and culinary adventure: indulge in a decadent brioche and granita for breakfast just like a local; converse with winemakers and learn secrets from celebrated chefs; and taste boutique wines paired with locally renowned antipasti, secondi, and historic dishes such as iconic pasta alla Norma.

Relax amidst the serenity of your private villa, Don Arcangelo all’Olmo. Journey through the landscape with talented guides who will thoughtfully introduce you to the traditions of this glorious place, and return home with stories to share that will remain with you forever.

Space is limited, and will be shared with participants from a cosponsoring alumni association. Please contact the Alumni Travel Study Program office at (866) 325-8664, or at travelstudy@columbia.edu for more details and to reserve your place today.

Dates & Prices

Trip Dates: October 12 - 20, 2018

Price: from $4,995 to $5,995 per person based upon double occupancy

Single space is  limited. If available, the single rate is $6,995. Please contact us to check single availability prior to sending your reservation, or to inquire about possible roommate options.


Day 1: En Route from U.S.
Depart the US on individually arranged flights overnight to Catania, Sicily

Day 2: Arrive Catania, Sicily, Italy / Giarre
On arrival, transfer to Giarre. Settle in at Don Arcangelo all'Olmo, an enchanting villa featuring lush gardens and views of Mount Etna. Explore the property, then become acquainted with your travel companions during dinner served with Sicilian wines and specialties of the region.
Overnight: Don Arcangelo all'Olmo (D)

Day 3: Taormina
Spend the day touring Taormina, an idyllic town perched on a rocky hillside. With your local guide, delight in exploring the town's network of winding streets and ancient Greek theatre—one of Sicily's most picturesque and well-preserved. Charming streets open to stunning panoramas of popular beaches, the warm Ionian Sea, and snow-capped Mount Etna. This afternoon, stroll down the pedestrian-only Corso Umberto with leisure time to discover the lively shops and restaurants.
Overnight: Don Arcangelo all'Olmo (B,D)

Day 4: Piazza Armerina
Today visit Sicily's archaeological masterpiece and UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Villa Romana del Casale. During a guided tour, explore the famous 4th-century site considered a display of the best preserved and extensive examples of Roman mosaics in the world, offering a glimpse into a wealthy Sicilian family's lifestyle of centuries past.
Overnight: Don Arcangelo all'Olmo (B,L,D)

Day 5: Viagrande / Catania
This morning, browse the colorful and culture-rich outdoor street market in nearby Catania, a local tradition dating back to the 9th century. Then venture to Benanti, an award-winning winery, for a unique cooking lesson followed by a vineyard tour and wine tasting.
Overnight: Don Arcangelo all'Olmo (B,L,D)

Day 6: Mount Etna
Today you can opt to visit Sicily's greatest natural attraction, Mount Etna—another UNESCO World Heritage Site and the highest active volcano in Europe. Lovingly known locally as "The Etna," at almost 11,000 feet, it has four craters at the summit and more than 300 vents on the flanks. Marvel at its enormity as you take in its unique, dominant features and view the destruction of previous eruptions and lava flows.

Guests opting to relax at the villa in the morning instead of taking part in the high-elevation hike up to 9,580 feet can rejoin the group in the afternoon for a wine tasting and delicious lunch at award-winning Planeta winery. Here, focus on how the cultivation of the ancient fertile land around Mount Etna influences the wine.
Overnight: Don Arcangelo all'Olmo (B,L,D)

Day 7: Siracusa / Ortigia
Welcome to the historic city of Siracusa, a 2,700-year-old fortified seaport founded by Greek Corinthians and Teneans. During the Athenian Empire, Siracusa rivaled Athens in size and importance. Cicero described Siracusa as the greatest and most beautiful of the Greek city-states. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it features many structures dating back to the 5th century B.C. Visit the storied island of Ortigia, the heart of the ancient city, then the massive Greek theater and the “Ear of Dionysius,” the famous stone quarry nearby. In the old city, the kaleidoscopic markets overflow with local seafood, dairy, meat, and succulent produce such as ruby-red tomatoes, tender figs, and dark green capers.
Overnight: Don Arcangelo all'Olmo (B,D)

Day 8: Taormina
After breakfast, travel to Villa Britannia to experience a hands-on cooking class of traditional Sicilian fare with a celebrated chef who selects only locally grown, hand-picked ingredients to concoct a unique menu for our group. Made from the freshest ingredients chosen daily, you'll have an opportunity to create a variety of mouth-watering dishes like marinated prawns, caponata, pasta alla Norma, seafood risotto, zuppa di pesce, veal rolls, chicken alla cacciatore, plus amazing desserts such as Sicilian cassata, tiramisu, or crespelle.

Tonight, enjoy a special farewell dinner—featuring white glove service—at the villa, sure to be a memorable celebration that caps off of a fabulous week of new memories and adventures.
Overnight: Don Arcangelo all'Olmo (B,L,D)

Day 9: Depart Sicily
After breakfast, guests departing during the suggested times take a complimentary transfer to the airport for a flight home. (B)

B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner

Program Activity Level - Moderate
Activities are generally not very strenuous, however, we expect that guests on this program can enjoy two hours or more of walking, are sure-footed on cobbled surfaces, and can walk up and down hillsides and stairs without assistance. Historic city centers are usually more accessible by foot than vehicle. Due to the structure of some buildings, facilities for the disabled may be limited. Also, dexterity to use kitchen tools and participate in lessons is not necessary, but adds to the enjoyment of this program.

Program Highlights:

  • Enjoy seven nights in the luxury and elegance of your private villa, Don Arcangelo all'Olmo.
  • Work side-by-side in the kitchens of distinguished chefs, learning time-tested techniques and modern twists with ingredients grown in the mineral-rich, volcanic soil of Mount Etna’s fertile lowlands.
  • Spend time exploring the coastal towns of Taormina and Siracusa—including a stop at a local outdoor market.
  • Visit Benanti, a family-owned boutique winery with a strong international focus, and winner of over 80 awards since 1994.
  • Stop by the award-winning Planeta winery for a wine tasting and lunch.
  • Visit Sicily’s archaeological masterpieces—the ancient theatres of Taormina and Siracusa, and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Villa Romana del Casale mosaics in Piazza Armerina.
  • Explore Mount Etna, a natural marvel and UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Day after day, experience the fusion of tradition and modernity, and see for yourself how Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Arab, Norman, German, French, and Spanish influences have formed this magnificent island of fertility.

What's included:

  • Seven nights accommodations at Don Arcangelo all'Olmo villa (or similar)
  • 7 breakfasts, 4 lunches, and 7 dinners served with wine
  • Full services of aprofessional Travel Director in addition to expert local guides
  • All private tours and unique small-group excursions noted on the 9-day itinerary
  • Intimate cooking classes with celebrated chefs
  • In-depth, guided exploration of Sicily’s main attractions—Taormina, Mount Etna, Villa Romana del Casale, Siracusa, and Ortigia
  • Private motor coach transportation, luggage handling, and airport transfers for guests arriving and departing during the suggested times
  • All gratuities to guides, drivers, porters, and hotel staff
  • All lessons, presentations, and tastings, as well as excursion transportation and entry fees
  • Airport transfers for guests arriving and departing during the suggested times

Accommodations: Don Arcangelo all’Olmo
Don Arcangelo all’Olmo, lovingly known as L’Olmo, is a Think Exquisite villa from the award-winning villa company The Thinking Traveller, and it sits serenely between Mount Etna and the Ionian Sea. Once a farm building on a wine-producing estate, the property was painstakingly restored to create the grand villa that exists today.

L'Olmo's 24-guest capacity provides patrons an atmosphere of exclusivity—that feeling of having the surroundings nearly all to one's self.

Property Amenities: Fine dining that features locally-sourced ingredients, complimentary internet, large sitting area with open fireplace, televisions in the living area of the main house and in the Casa all'Olmo, outdoor pool and Jacuzzi, colorful gardens, and fitness room. 

Classic Double: Impeccably designed for comfort, these rooms are located in Casa all'Olmo—a luxuriously restored farm house next to the main building.

Deluxe Double: Spacious and bright, these classically appointed rooms are in Casale, the main building.

Room Amenities: Air conditioning, iPod docking station, and en suite bathroom.

What’s not included:
Airfare; Taxes; passport, visas and associated fees if required; personal expenses such as laundry and telephone calls; accident/sickness, trip cancellation, and baggage insurance; excess baggage charges on aircraft; transfers and baggage handling to/from hotel on day of arrival and/or departure if you  if you are arriving earlier or later than and/or departing earlier or later than the scheduled group transfer(s); any overnight on land due to flight schedule(s); meals, alcoholic or other beverages and all other services not specifically mentioned in the “Included Features” section of the program brochure.

Extension: Add Days 9-11 in Palermo
Enjoy Sicily’s fascinating and bustling capital, Palermo. The city, which is over 2,700 years old, is rich in history, culture, art, music, and gourmet cuisine.

Extension Itinerary:
Day 9: Depart Taormina / Cefalù / Arrive Palermo

After departing Taormina, enjoy an afternoon of sightseeing in Cefalù before arriving in Palermo.

Named for the massive hill and rock formations rising above town, Cefalù is famous for its Duomo (cathedral) built in 1131 by Roger II. Legend has it, he built the cathedral to thank the gods for saving him when he was lost at sea during a storm. The town is also known for its various Greek ruins, delightful streets lined with colorful shops, and sandy beaches. Cefalù is home to just 14,000 residents, however it remains one of the most popular attractions near Palermo. Some of the original structures of the town are still visible, including an unusual edifice built of limestone blocks that appears to have been a palace or residence—and is the island's only example of this style of masonry, which is typically found in Central Italy.

Overnight: Grand Hotel Villa Igiea (B)

Day 10: Palermo

Guided Sightseeing
After breakfast, set out for a guided tour of the historical center of Palermo. Founded more than 2,700 years ago in a basin formed by three rivers, Palermo is surrounded by mountains and has been influenced by everyone from the Phoenicians to the Romans and Byzantines. Famous for its citrus groves, beautiful ancient churches, outdoor markets, and narrow medieval streets, this delightful city combines well-preserved historical sites, friendly locals, and delicious cuisine to provide a memorable experience. 

Stroll through Mercato di Capo market and the Jewish Quarter, and visit Palermo's cathedral, Martorana. Your panoramic tour also provides glimpses of the opera house Teatro Politeama, “La Cala" (the old harbour), Piazza Indipendenza, Porta Nuova, Piazza del Parlamento, and Villa Bonanno Garden. And enjoy guided tours inside Teatro Massimo and Monreale Cathedral.

Overnight: Grand Hotel Villa Igiea (B) 

Day 11: Depart Sicily

In the morning, transfer to the airport for your flight home. (B)

B = Breakfast

Please note: extensions are not escorted by a Travel Director. Included sightseeing is accompanied by a local guide. Group space may not be available within 90 days of departure.

What's Included in the Extension:
    •    Ground transfer to Palermo
    •    Two nights accommodations at Grand Hotel Villa Igiea (or similar), with breakfast each morning
    •    Guided sightseeing of Palermo and Cefalù, as well as entrance fees to Monreale Cathedral and Massimo Theatre
    •    Transfer from hotel to airport

Extension Accommodations: Grand Hotel Villa Igiea
Located in the sun-soaked capital city of Palermo, the luxurious, 5-star Grand Hotel Villa Igiea was restored from a private family home at the end of the 19th century by renowned Art Nouveau architect Ernesto Basile for the Florio family and still proudly displays its original frescoes and period-themed decoration and furniture. Relax in the villa's modern comforts and enjoy its breathtaking coastal views. Or, opt for nearby resort activities that include tennis, golf, or a romantic evening cruise (additional fees apply).

Property Amenities: Complimentary Wi-Fi zone, outdoor swimming pool, tennis court, business center, fitness center, spa, a fine-dining restaurant and a pool bar/grill.

Room Amenities: Individually controlled heating and air conditioning, Wi-Fi Internet access (charges apply), telephone, LCD satellite television, mini-bar, safe, and en suite bathroom with shower and/or tub and hair dryer.

Please call us toll-free at (866) 325-8664 or email us at travelstudy@columbia.edu for more details.