Arrivals into Catania Airport, where you will be met, then transferred by private car or minibus to the elegant four star UNA Palace Hotel which is perfectly situated in the centre of Catania with roof top views over the historic city and Mount Etna.
Sunday is dedicated solely to arrivals as all flights coming from the UK arrive late afternoon. On this evening you are free to relax or explore the surrounding area and have dinner. Restaurant recommendations can be given and a map of the local area, if required. The Aeolian Adventures team will be on hand for assistance, and local phones will be provided in the event that you should need to contact us at any time.
Day 1 – Monday
We begin our adventures in the bustling, baroque city of Catania, with an early breakfast followed by a short walk to the amazing, sprawling fish market, which winds around historic streets and piazzas. Here you’ll find every form of sea life imaginable, a truly mesmerising experience and the perfect introduction to the importance of Sicilian seafood on the table.
Remaining in the centre of Catania we will have our first hands-on cooking lesson, with an Italian pastry chef. We’ll learn how to make cannoli – the iconic Sicilian dessert, a crispy pastry tube filled with sweetened ricotta – and also arancini (rice balls), a traditional Sicilian street food. We’ll then lunch on what we’ve made.
After lunch we transfer to the port of Milazzo by mini-bus, and from there take the hydrofoil to the island of Vulcano (45 minutes), our base for the rest of the week. On arrival we transfer directly to our hotel Villa Saracena, a short distance from the port. You now have time to relax, settle into your accommodation and enjoy welcome drinks.
In the evening, before dinner we visit the Centre of Vulcanology for a brief but informative talk on the history of the islands, their evolution and their volcanoes, presented with an aperitif, a glass or even two, of the local bubbles. Then on to the venue for our welcome dinner; La Forgia restaurant, owned and run by the delightful Maurizio who serves and entertains his guests whilst cooking at the same time! His specialities combine classic local dishes with middle-eastern flavours, influenced by Sicily’s turbulent ancestral and cultural history.
Day 2 – Tuesday
We begin our day with the option to take a mud bath in the bubbling volcanic mud pools of Vulcano, thought to have healing and rejuvenating properties, or for those feeling more energetic an early morning hike up the volcano, accompanied or self guided, to watch the sun rise over the archipelago. The walk up the volcano is steep but short. The crater can be reached within 20 minutes or 30 to 40 minutes at a more a more leisurely pace whilst you look back to admire the views, which become more magnificent with elevation.
Mid morning, we drive into the hills of Vulcano, for a hands-on cooking lesson at the family-run Trattoria Maria Tindara established by its namesake Maria Tindara in the early 1960’s, in the days before there was electric light in Vulcano. Rosi, Maria’s daughter in law is now the head of the kitchen and will be showing us how to make her legendary tagliatelle with typical sauces, plus some of her favourite local dishes. This is followed by lunch, which will be the dishes we have prepared, all washed down with local wines.
After lunch there’ll be time to relax and recharge before the evening ahead.
This evening, after dark we’ll go fishing for squid, a local variety known as totani (broad tailed flying squid), with fishermen such as local character Capitano Felice, who will show us how to prepare the catch and then cook it for us on board.
Day 3 – Wednesday – Salina
Today after breakfast we head down to the port, a short walk from the Villa to take the hydrofoil to the island of Salina (45 minutes), the second largest and most verdant island in the archipelago, on the trail of some of the islands better known vineyards. These include the wineries Francesco Fenech, Caravalglio and Hauner famous for its Malvasia dessert wine, with tours and tastings at each.
Lunch at the famous Da Alfredo trattoria, located in the tiny seaside town of Lingua,to sample the local speciality Pane Cunzatu (a grilled flat bread spilling with typical fresh local ingredients), followed by granita (fruit ice), arguably the best in Sicily.
We return to Vulcano late afternoon with time to relax before dinner. Dinner this evening is a traditional Sicilian barbecue, in a relaxed garden setting with live traditional Sicilian music.
Day 4 – Thursday – Lipari
This morning you’ll have the opportunity again to hike up the volcano, one of the highlights of Vulcano, or for those who have not already done so, take a steaming mud bath and soak up the therapeutic benefits. If you’re up early enough, you’ll see the locals strolling through the streets in their bathrobes heading for the daily ritual of bathing in the mud pools.
Mid morning we drive to Trattoria Maria Tindara for our second hands on cooking lesson with Rosi and family. Today we’ll be cooking zucchini parmesan made with sweet seasonal zucchini, as an alternative to the better known eggplant parmesan. Then onto the main course of Sicilian sweet and sour rabbit (coniglio in agrodolce) which can be substituted, for those who prefer, with lamb or even fresh local tuna steaks. For lunch we will eat what we have prepared, accompanied by local wines.
This evening we take the hydrofoil (10 minutes) to Lipari, the largest island in the archipelago, for wine tastings paired with local produce. We’ll also have time to explore the historic centre and visit the pretty little fishing harbour of Marina Corta. We return by water taxi.
Day 5 – Friday – Vulcano
This morning we’ll visit the local goats cheese farm, a lovely walk from the Villa along blossoming bougainvillea lined tracks. Here farmer Fabrizio keeps a herd of a hundred plus goats which graze freely on the slopes of the volcano. The goats are hand milked, then traditional methods are used to make the highly regarded ricotta and pecorino cheeses, which are freshly made by Fabrizio daily. For those who wish, there’s the possibility of joining in with the production, from herding to milking to making the cheese. After which we’ll choose a selection of cheeses to be accompanied with fresh bread and local preserves for a well deserved breakfast!
The day continues with a cooking demonstration and lunch at Diavolo de Poli family-run restaurant, a quaint unassuming locale, where daughter Nancy runs front of house, whilst mother Santina is firmly in charge of the kitchen. Among the home cooked delights that will be prepared today, are the delicious antipasti for which they are locally renowned followed by pasta alla Vulcanara and stuffed swordfish rolls, all Aeolian specialities.
This afternoon there’s time to relax; perhaps find a quiet corner of the garden to read or maybe take a dip in the pool ahead of our evening activity.
In the evening we’ll learn the secrets of how to make the perfect pizza and focaccia. For those who wish there’s the opportunity to prepare the ingredients, get messy, and attempt to throw the dough. Aprons will be provided! Work done, we’ll eat all that we’ve made.
Day 6 – Saturday
Departing early, today’s first port of call is the island of Lipari, arriving by hydrofoil (10 mins) with the day ahead to further explore. For breakfast we’ll head to the famous Pasticceria Subba, another family-run business since it opened in 1930. Here you can try a typical Sicilian breakfast of mouth watering miniature pastries, with coffee as you like it or the granite (topped with whipped cream for an extra treat) served with brioche.
This morning we’ll wander around Lipari’s main town and visit the ancient fortification dating back to the Greeks and Romans, with an optional tour of the archaeological museum. Then there’s the busy main street, Corso Vittorio Emanuele, which is packed with shopping opportunities. All of which can be accompanied or self guided.
Late morning, we drive out of town for our last cooking lesson and hands on experience, at La Dolce Vita farmhouse, perched 200 meters high upon rolling cliffs with spectacular views out to sea and the coast of Sicily with Mount Etna looming in the backdrop. Today amongst other local dishes, we’ll sample the different pesto’s, almond, pistachio and caper (typical of the islands and Sicily) and learn how to create recipes using their different flavours. As always, lunch is what we make paired with the local or Sicilian wine.
Then back to the island of Vulcano with time to relax before our sunset boat cruise (pending sea conditions) with picnic supper and local wine.
Departure Day – Sunday
Departure day – and after breakfast it’s time to say goodbye, taking with you not just many happy memories, but ideas, inspiration and plenty of know-how to create your own Sicilian menus for friends and family back home. For those planning to stay on the island or travel onward within Sicily or Italy, we will ensure all necessary connections and assist with any advice or information as required.
Please note all Aeolian Adventures run from Sunday to Sunday, with these days dedicated to arrival and departure. The itinerary above is subject to subtle variation, according to local availability and sea conditions.
If you have any special requests or particular interests the Aeolian Adventures team will do their best to facilitate your wishes. Our aim is to ensure you have an unforgettable experience with every attention to detail.