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                                   small GROUP  TOURS

HIGHLIGHTS OF SICILY




Temple of Concord, Agrigento

Sicilyis unbelievably rich in beauty, in history, in arts, in culture. Walkamong the greatest Greek ruins anywhere, see incomparable Roman andNorman mosaics; explore remote hilltop villages and spectacularlandscapes; visit sites of Mafia and anti-Mafia activities; climbsmoking, fuming Etna (if she lets us). Siracusa, Agrigento, Taormina,Palermo, Monreale, Piazza Armerina, Marsala, Erice, Segesta, we touch everycorner of the island. Enjoy a Sicilian cooking class, traditionalcheese and pastry-making demonstrations, winery visits, wine tastings,and some of the best restaurants in Sicily.

SIZE: minimum 6 persons, maximum 15~16
LENGTH: 11 days
ITINERARY:
The itinerary differs with the season. 
        Please click here for winter~spring itinerary and here for summer~autumn itinerary

COST: € 2590 (€ 2690 for 2016 tours)
TOUR DATES

               upcoming "HIGHLIGHTS OF SICILY" tours:

       2015:
                    April 26~May 6
(FULL)
                    May 17~27
,
                    June 15~25
(incl. optional Greek Theatre Performance),
                    July 5~15
(incl. Palermo Santa Rosalia festival),
                    August
(possible, if you're a group of 6 or more, email us),
                    September 11~21
,
                    September 28~October 8
(our ***Full-Monty Special***: more of Sicily,
                                                       more of us, & more of you, all at a 10 % discount.
                                                       See below.*)
                    October 16~26
,
                    November 5~15
,
                    December
(possible, if you are a group of 6 or more; email us)

        2016:
                    March 19~29 (our popular Easter Festivals tour),
                    April 15~25
                    May 20~30 (incl. optional Greek Theatre Performance),
                    June 10~20 (incl. optional Greek Theatre Performance),
                    July 8~18 (incl. Palermo Santa Rosalia festival),
                    August (possible if you're a group of 6 or more, email us),
                    September 9~19
                    October 7~17
                    November 4~14
                    December (possible if you are a group of 6 or more; email us)

Tours will run if at least 6 people sign up.  Tours fill at 15~16, so a
dditional tours may run in any month when there is enough demand.   Check with us.

*
Full Monty Tour: Normally, only one of us lead a Sicily Highlights Tour (of up to 15 people). But each of us has different qualities, different emphases, and it occurred  to us why not join forces and offer one tour with all three of us--Lucia, Stephen, and Douglas? Hence a "Full Monty". The number of you will now go up to 30 maximum (thus 1 of us / 10 of you, still a cozy ratio).  All at a 10% discount. However, if the number of people who sign up does not exceed 15, then the Full Monty tour reverts to a normal Sicily Highlights Tour.


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EASTER FESTIVALS OF SICILY

10 Days (day before Palm Sunday to day after Easter Monday)

No one does Easter week with the same spectacle and deep feeling of Sicilians. This is Catholicism with all the splendor of the Resurrection with more than a splash of pagan devilment. We will cross Sicily, from festival to festival, discovering regional festival foods, and seeing the major tourist sites along the way.

COST: € 2650

TOUR DATES: 18~29 March, 2016

Click here for more details

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CRUISING THE CUISINE:

Sicilian Cooking classes, wineries, cheese farms, & history

our cooking class creations with Alessia (October 2010)



Our cooking class creations, at home with Alessia

Sicilian cuisine melds the flavors of at least ten passing civilisations. Most of them never visited Tuscany, and those who know Tuscany cooking and think they know Italian food are seriously mistaken. Here in Sicily, there is an echo of Greek, a taste of the Arab, and a strong dash of Spanish. Flavors are strong and rich. Come for the best of fresh fish and an amazing variety of maritime edibles. The fresh ricotta and cherry tomatoes of Sicily cannot be matched. These, plus eggplant, capers, oranges and lemons, almonds, pistachios, etc. appear in even in sauces for pasta. Then there are desserts, gift of the Arabs, such as "cannoli" and cassata cake (in the photo).

On this tour, we enjoy cooking classes from beloved local cooking masters, like Alessia.  We know the best restaurant chefs and will have hands-on Sicilian cooking workshops in restaurant kitchens and in their homes. We will visit the farms where they make cheese and olive oil, kitchens of pastry-makers, wineries, and an outdoor museum of traditional farming tools and techniques.

and this is Alessia herself
in her kitchen
with the cannoli we made
For more about her, see her own
website


Sometimes we will let the master chef do the work for us. We will dine at Michelin-starred restaurants in Palermo and Ragusa. And where possible, we will seek out places that are part of the Slow Food movement, for Sicily is also going local and organic, with many farmhouse B & Bs (agriturismo) offering traditional cooking in the freshest and most natural way.

8 days
COST: please enquire through the "Contact Us" page.

click here for more details.

DATES:  variable, contact us to arrange this tour.

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ROME AND NAPLES -- the Grandeur of Ancient Rome





















12 days

These two cities display the urban life of the ancient Roman world in the two greatest open-air archaeological museums in the world: Rome, the metropolis, the father of our sense of what it means to be civilized and urban. Rome, the center of Western Civilization in the ancient world and in the medieval Christian world. Rome, the incomparable, the Eternal. And Naples, where ancient city life is displayed more clearly than anywhere else (Pompeii and Herculaneum), with stunning Bourbon palaces, and the most amazing vibrant street life in Italy.

This tour is being organized by the Fromm Institute of the University of San Francisco, USA,  based on our two adult lecture series this spring on the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire. It, of course, is open to anyone interested in an intellectually challenging tour of Ancient Rome and Naples.

dates: 6~17 November, 2015
cost: € 2950 ($ 3290)

Click here for the detailed itinerary

Contact us (through the "contact us" page) to join this tour

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ANCIENT GREECE: Athens and the Peloponnesus

The Mother of Us All: Here our Western Civilization was born. a legacy that in our time is becoming the world civilization.  We will take a clear and focused visit to Athens and the Peloponnesus, where the Golden Age of Western man played out in the Classical Age of ancient Greece

Athens
: Even if you have been here, we  take a fresh look at architectural beauty and how the Greeks invented ideas of citizenship and democracy, walking the Acropolis, the Agorà, the Theatre of Dionysus, and the best exhibits in the great museums of the city, including the new Acropolis Museum. Then off to Eleusis to re-imagine the mysteries, kept secret for a thousand years and still unknown.

Peloponnesus :We will envision the ancient Mycenaeans at Mycenae, ancient potters under the acropolis of Corinth, the military state at Sparta, the wild clarity of drama at Epidaurus, the spiritualism of sports at Olympia. Then, beyond the Peloponnesus, we go to the glorious heights of Delphi and imagine the desperation of the Spartan 300 at Thermopylae. 

Cultural life: Greece also offers a fascinating modern culture, and landscape, and our visit will include a winery visit and lunch in Nemea, the charming 18C town of Nauplia, the wild beauty of Monemvasia, the remote Byzantine monastery of Mystras, find the best restaurants we can and even try a hot springs.

Length: 13 days
Dates: TBA
Cost: TBA, please enquire through the "Contact Us" page.

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TUNISIA
-- Arabs and Romans, the Sahel, and the Desert
.

11 days

Tunisia is where the Arab world is most Western, most in touch with Europe and has been so since Roman times. The coast is ringed with resorts and magnificent beaches, but the souk in Tunis, is as mysterious and fascinating as any in the Arab world. We will pass by the coastal resorts, instead plunging into the wonder, the unusual: the souk in Tunis, Roman ruins rising from dusty plains, the ancient holy city of Kairouan, home of fabulous weaving, the mysterious underground dwellings of Matamata, and the Sahara itself, at the edge of oceans of sand.

And now, Tunisia is beginning and still-bright star of the "Arab Spring".  Here we can see how a population--better educated, more liberal, less riven with internal division--will bring about a more just society peacefully, as an example to the other Arab nations.

We will be traveling and living modestly, seeking Tunisian food and quality, but not fancy, 3~4 star accommodations.

COST:  please enquire through the "Contact Us" page.

Dates: TBA

Contact us for an itinerary & other details

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JERUSALEM -- an epicenter of passions


"Oh Jerusalem", cried the Prophet. 

This is the heart of it all, the great cradle of Western faith and a great fault line between West and East. Jerusalem. Etched in pain and struggle, where the stones speak with more passion over more centuries than any place in the world. Jerusalem. You need say little else.

The Old City:. We will spend our initial days in the Old City, walking the streets, visiting the greatest of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim sites, becoming at home there, in the narrow lanes, getting to know the shop keepers. One day for orientation and rest, one day each for the Jewish, Christian, and Arab quarters. Then we will take to the roads for a day trip to Bethlehem and Hebron. A further day will take us to the Jewish Museum and Vad Yashem, the Holocaust Museum. Then we will return to the Old City, for you to explore on your own for a day day,

Stories of Jerusalem: We will travel across 3000 years of the most intense place on earth, a great cauldron of stories at the heart of the faith of half of humanity, a city that lives its history on its sleeve. We will visit sites & hear stories of David & Solomon, of the millennium of Hebrew rule, of the city known to Jesus, the Romans, the Arabs, the Ottomans, & of modern Israel.

Culture: We will come also to experience something of the living presence of three great faiths, their foods, costumes, markets, music, holy sites, & processions, while settling in & becoming at home in Jerusalem (8 nights).

Israel: While we are based in Jerusalem, we’ll take day trips to Bethlehem, Hebron, & the Dead Sea, before hitting the road to Masada (1 night), the Negev, Jaffa (1 night), the Roman capital of Caesarea Marittima, Haifa, Tiberias on the Sea of Galilee (2 nights in a kibbutz), & the Golan Heights.  

The experience of Jerusalem is unique and benefits from true immersion. We will stay in simple accommodation in the Old City. It will be clean, quiet, friendly, and about a three-star standard.

This tour runs in conjunction with Sonoma State University OLLI adult lecture series.

11 days
Dates: TBA
Cost: please enquire through the "Contact Us" page.

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CHRISTMAS & NEW YEARS
IN NAPLES


All Italians know that Napoli preserves Christmas at its most traditional. In the narrow bustling streets of Spaccanapoli can be found the finest hand-crafted ornaments, creches, nativity scenes, as well a special holiday foods that make the whole experience a riot of sensation.

We will spend the week between Christmas and the New Year visiting Pompeii, Herculaneum, the Amalfi Coast, Capri, the Greek temples of Paestum, Naples' remarkable catacombs, and the priceless National Archaeological Museum. And every Italian also knows that Napoli is where to be on New Year's. The celebration in Piazza Plebiscito in Napoli is the most splendid and raucous in Italy. All Italy will be watching on TV, and we will be there.


11 days
Dates: Wed, 23 Dec 2015 ~ Sat, 02 Jan 2016

Contact us for details

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