Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sicily Tours and Excursions

There are all kinds of ways to see Sicily, and right now is "high" season for visiting. Our main Sicily tour page offers plenty of scheduled tours around the island. We also offer regular excursions from Palermo. That includes most of western Sicily (shown is Monreale Cathedral.)

Personalized itineraries are available from Sicily Concierge.

To ensure that your request for a personalized service can be accommodated, please send it at least three weeks in advance of the date you have in mind. In the last few weeks we've had to turn down requests for services on certain dates in April that were heavily reserved.

A reminder that April 25th and May 1st are national holidays when banks, schools and some stores will be closed in Italy.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Genealogy in Sicily

We get a lot of requests involving Sicilian genealogical research. The subjects of Sicilian genealogy and family history are covered on several pages of Best of Sicily. Specific pages are also dedicated to related topics such as surname histories and heraldry (coats of arms).

However, we do not engage in genealogical research, though we can sometimes recommend a competent genealogist - depending on where in Sicily you require research and what kind of records you need researched. Incidentally, those we occasionally recommend are not necessarily the ones you find with web searches, while some websites on the subject present flawed information. Ours at least has the virtue of being accurate; it won't mislead you.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Wine Tastings in Palermo

Sicily's traditional wine country is in the island's western region, with its "capital" at Marsala, and it extends to the area around Palermo. There are, of course, fine wineries in other parts of Sicily, and nobody has a monopoly on great cuisine.

Our last post overlooked wine tastings in Palermo. Most of the establishments mentioned can arrange a wine tasting for a small group, and Filippo Testa's rural estate is a working winery. Sicily Concierge can plan a wine tasting as part of a personalized tour of Sicily, and some of the Best of Sicily tours include winery visits - and tastings.

These certainly aren't the only services of this kind available in Sicily, but we can vouch for their high standard of expertise and attention to detail. If you're seeking an objective experience, a "non-commercial" tasting may be preferable to one sponsored by a winery promoting its own wines.

Unfortunately, over the last few years we've seen a mad rush to market culinary services like cooking classes and wine tastings by any Sicilian capable of wielding a fork and a corkscrew! We've been advocating for quality services since 1999, and we'll continue to do so.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

What's cooking in Sicily?

Here are a few ideas for cooking classes this year.

The Palermo cooking class is convenient if you're in the historic part of the city. Another local option is Vincenzo Clemente's market cooking class in Palermo's Via Libertà shopping district.

If you'd like an excursion into the Wine Country then the Sicilian cookery class near Alcamo is a great idea. It's about as rural as you can get. In Taormina, we suggest the rustic cooking class.

All personalized and all exceptional, and the sites we've linked to present details about pricing and reservations.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Rite of Spring

The focus of this month's Sicily Magazine is Spring. This includes the seasonal cuisine, of course, but also the places to visit. Two that capture our attention are Segesta (shown), which noasts the best-preserved Greek temple, and Ficuzza, a forest preserve around the Bourbons' royal hunting lodge erected in the English style two centuries ago.

At Ficuzza, a great place to sample local country cuisine is the Antica Stazione, an old railway station, built in 1886 and recently restored - the railroad tracks no longer exist. The Stazione is now a restaurant and inn. They may offer a few of the delights on our Sicily food page. Worth a visit if you're in the area.

Sicily Concierge offers personalized excursions to these destinations and others, and Segesta in included in our weekly Sicily tours.