Sicily & Naples with Elizabeth Falkner

September 4 - 12, 2024 | One Exclusive Departure

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Heart & Soul of Italy

A culinary and cultural deep-dive with Elizabeth Falkner

September 4 - 12, 2024

One exclusive departure — reserve your spot!

9 Days, 8 Nights

The very best of Naples and Sicily, from Taormina and Mt Etna to Siracusa and Palermo

Price from


Per person based on double occupancy; includes internal flight from Naples to Sicily.

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+1 (855) 219-8018

You wind down buzzing market stalls and narrow alleyways that pulse with 2,500 years of storied history. Around you, Naples serves up a feast for the senses. Through dusty windows, you spot apron-clad nonnas kneading soft mounds of dough as steaming pots simmer in quiet harmony on the stove. Outside, locals clink glasses of Aperol, pausing to indulge in soft salty cheese graced by sun-ripened tomatoes. Later today, you’ll walk the rustic paths of a generations-old mozzarella di bufala farm in Caserta, and sample world-renowned pizzas at Caiazzo’s beloved Pepe in Grani. Resplendent with glitz and glamor, tradition and craftsmanship, this is Italy in high definition.

Your host on this grand adventure is Elizabeth Falkner, award-winning chef and the powerhouse behind some of San Francisco and New York’s most iconic restaurants. Known in foodie circles for her “stay fit to cook” philosophy, Elizabeth is all about expanding accessibility to seasonal produce and local ingredients—there’s no better fellow traveler with whom to explore the abundant cuisine of Naples and Sicily. She’s also a passionate pizzaiòla, having taken first place (!) in Italy’s largest, most renowned pizza-making contest, the Caputo Cup.

If you like your food and culture layered over thousands of years of history, this trip is for you. From the buzz of Naples’ markets to starlit nights in the shadow of Mt Etna, serene al fresco picnics to glamorous Belle Epoque palace dinners, we’ll explore Naples and Sicily from every angle, tasting everything as we go.

Go Deeper

With local winemakers, artists and chefs in the heart of Naples and the backroads of Sicily


Ancient Greek ruins, medieval villages, a starlit night under the gaze of Mt Etna


World-class wines, delicate pastas and the freshest seafood — and we’ll try it all!


In the finest accommodations — palatial hotels and noble rural villas, all perfectly located

3 Reasons to Travel with Elizabeth Falkner

Elizabeth Falkner is a chef of many (award-winning) talents. She’s a force of nature who cemented her place in the culinary world of San Francisco with Citizen Cake in the late ‘90s before following up with four more successful restaurants between San Francisco and New York. She’s a multiple James Beard House chef, a Food Network star, a long-time member (and former president) of Women Chefs & Restaurateurs, a filmmaker, athlete, LQBTQ+ activist — we could keep going, but it’s way more fun to hear Elizabeth tell her own story.

Pizza Champion

In 2012, on the heels of retiring from her San Francisco restaurant empire, Elizabeth was ready for a new challenge. And that was competing in a freestyle category at the Caputo Cup — Italy's largest, most renowned pizza contest, in Naples. And she took first place.

Food Architect

Elizabeth’s style of cuisine is global and she cooks both savory and sweet, traditional and modern. It's no surprise that she finds inspiration everywhere—Frank Gehry's stunning buildings influenced some of her most coveted confections at Citizen Cake.

Fit to Follow

Elizabeth is an advocate for people and chefs to think more like athletes and “stay fit to cook.” She played soccer for 28 years, and has studied Jungshin and Iadō martial arts. Whether it’s light yoga or a hardcore workout, she’s always game to break a sweat to start her day.

Your Experience

“You think that you've had really good cannoli before. Then you have it in Sicily.”
Elizabeth Falkner

Naples, Taormina, Siracusa, Palermo

“Sicily is one of those places where tradition and history is translated through the food.”
Elizabeth Falkner

Day by Day

Day 1: Naples

Benvenuti a Napoli! This is the beating heart of Italy’s Campania region, a city that pulses with ancient history, vibrant street life, and no shortage of bold and beloved flavors. There’s no better introduction to the birthplace of pizza than an authentic foodie tour through the historic city center of Naples. With Elizabeth as our guide, we’ll wind through narrow alleyways and rickety market stands, sampling crisp pizza fritta and light-as-air sfogliatella as we breathe in the regal splendor of centuries-old squares and dreamy fountains dedicated to the gods.

We’ll return to the hotel and have time to explore on our own or indulge in the beloved Italian tradition of riposo with an afternoon nap. Afterwards, Elizabeth will guide us north to the soulful fields of Caserta, where sleek black buffalo roam alongside generations-old mozzarella farms. We’ll sample fresh mozzarella di bufala produced just hours before—it’s the perfect “aperitivo” before our welcome dinner at the renowned Pepe in Grani. Nestled within the ancient cobbled streets of Caiazzo, the premier pizzeria is home to one of the world’s most awarded pizzaiolos. Against the breathtaking backdrop of the Caiazzo Valley, we’ll lean into the Slow Food philosophy, savoring the infinite dimensionality of heirloom vegetables, hand-kneaded dough, and fresh, DOP-certified ingredients over an abundant selection of local wines.

Day 1: Naples Highlights

  • Naples foodie tour
  • Mozzarella farm visit
  • Welcome dinner at Pepe in Grani
  • Stay at Grand Hotel Vesuvio

Day 2: Naples

We’ll ease into the morning from the peaceful tranquility of our hotel with a yoga class led by one of the city’s most dynamic instructors. Mindful movement is one of Elizabeth’s favorite ways to start the day—her “stay fit to cook” philosophy is rooted in decades of martial arts experience and a deep passion for athletic endeavors. Grounded by the quiet stillness of savasana, we’ll depart from the hotel for a cruise through crystalline waters to the volcanic island of Ischia. Our sleek Itama speed boats will deliver us to the island’s sun-drenched pier, where locals buy gleaming sea bream and scorpion fish directly from the fishermen on the dock.

It’s the perfect spot to forgo our sea legs for a walk on land, and we’ll wind through the poetic grounds of the Aragonese Castle before arriving at the home of a local Ischian family for lunch. There, we’ll roll up our sleeves to help our hosts harvest fresh ingredients from their sunny garden, then learn how to turn our bounty into the makings of a traditional Italian Sunday feast. As we slice handmade dough into the trademark tangles of tagliatelle and season aromatic ragu sauce over a well-worn stove, we’ll partake in the magic of the Italian aperitif with wines aged directly in the family cellar. After savoring the fruits of our labor with our gracious hosts, we’ll cruise back to Naples with a sea biologist to learn about the region’s unique underwater volcanic activity, and cool off with an optional dip in the turquoise waters of Ishia’s marine reserve. Back at the hotel, the evening is ours to enjoy.

Day 2: Naples Highlights

  • Morning yoga session
  • Boat cruise to Ischia
  • Hands on lunch
  • Stay at Grand Hotel Vesuvio

Day 3: Naples to Sicily

We’re up early this morning for the short flight over to Sicily. After landing in historic Catania, the ancient port city on the island’s east coast, we’ll head straight to market. As we elbow our way past fishmongers hawking swordfish and octopus from the sapphire waters of the Ionian Sea, Elizabeth will share some of her best seafood-buying tips with us and select just the right ingredients for us to take to our next stop, the rustic Trattoria Vuciata, where Elizabeth and the chef will prepare an elaborate seafood lunch for us.

After lunch we’ll head to luscious, verdant Taormina, the pearl of the Mediterranean, which we’ll explore by foot starting with its ancient Greek amphitheater, carved into rock overhanging the crashing surf below. From our perch here, at what’s arguably the most famous outdoor theater in the whole world, we’ll enjoy panoramic views of the bay of Giardini Naxos to the south, and the toe of mainland Italy to the north.

Next, we’ll head into town to explore Taormina’s vibrant piazzas, Gothic cathedrals, and cliff-hugging terraces—and, perhaps, a scoop of Sicilian gelato in a traditional flavor like jasmine, cantaloupe, or pistachio.

After checking into our hotel, we’ll have time to relax and explore its lovely grounds, nestled among the vine-covered foothills of Mount Etna, before settling in for dinner. Every single dish on the hotel menu, from the creamy risotto with wild fennel to the sweet-and-sour rabbit, features ingredients from the property’s gardens.

Day 3: Naples to Sicily Highlights

  • Flight to Catania
  • Fish market tour
  • Taormina visit
  • Stay at Monaci Della Terre Nerre

Day 4: Mt Etna & Around

After a hearty breakfast, we’ll head out to visit the majestic Mount Etna, an active volcano that towers almost 11,000 feet over the island. As we explore this green mountain with a naturalist guide, we’ll learn about the unique flora and fauna—that despite frequent lava flows— have prospered for generations; we’ll even take time to forage for mushrooms and saffron for our lunch later.

From there, we’ll bid adieu to our guide and depart to one of the area’s top-notch vineyards, I Custodi dei Vigni. Wine has shaped this landscape since time immemorial: Etna was once Sicily’s most important wine-producing region, and heritage bush vines clamber up the volcano’s slopes to an altitude of over 3,000 feet, producing elegant, delicately salty whites and intense, fruit-forward rosés and reds.

Following our tasting, we’ll enjoy a very special family-style lunch under the benevolent eye of Le Mamme del Borgo, a collective of local grandmothers who will teach us how to knead the ancient flours into a supple pasta dough for our maccarruni, a typical Sicilian pasta that’s traditionally rolled by hand and served in a wild boar sauce.

We’ll feast on our own handmade pasta, followed by the juicy grilled meats Elizabeth has grilled alongside the bounty from our mountain forage. Our meal will culminate with a very special dessert tasting courtesy of pastry chef and gelato and granita maker Giovanna Muscumeci from nearby Randazzo. Granita is now famous world-wide, but it was invented here, on the slopes of Etna, using ice from the volcano’s summit, and there’s literally no better place in the world to enjoy this treat.

Day 4: Mt Etna & Around Highlights

  • Mt Etna cheese & wine tastings
  • Pasta workshop & lunch
  • Granita tasting with Giovanna Muscumeci
  • Stay at Monaci Della Terre Nerre

Day 5: Siracusa

We’ll head for Siracusa today, wending our way across the island to this 2,700-year-old seaside wonder. The ancient heart of Siracusa is the island of Ortigia, and we’ll enjoy a walking tour of its narrow cobblestone alleyways, crowded with markets, seafood restaurants, and old-school purveyors of cheese, fruits and vegetables.

After ample time to breathe in Ortigia’s panoramic views, we’ll head to Tenuta CavaSecca for a visit to its olive groves and the ancient temple that now houses the gigantic vats of oil as they rest after harvesting and milling. From there, we’ll head to the ancient hall for a tasting of this liquid gold, followed by a family lunch straight from the garden.

On our way back, we’ll stop at the “sancta sanctorum” of Sicilian pastry: the storied Caffe Sicilia, a staple in Noto since 1892. Here, we’ll sip frothy espressos and sample fresh cannoli and crunchy nougat; and don’t be surprised if you’re treated like royalty—an invitation like this is a testament to Elizabeth’s deep connections to the region.

In the late afternoon, we’ll check into our hotel and have time to rest and explore the sprawling grounds of this beautifully restored baglio, or fortified farm, before reconvening for a casual dinner, followed by a cocktail hour with Elizabeth.

Day 5: Siracusa Highlights

  • Ortigia market visit
  • Olive estate visit and tasting
  • Caffe Sicilia visit
  • Stay at Baglio Occhipinti

Day 6: Ragusa & Modica

After breakfast we’ll head for Ragusa, a harmonious jumble of Greek and Roman ruins, Arab neighborhoods, Baroque churches and endless beaches. Following a devastating earthquake in 1693, Ragusa was rebuilt from the ground up in the style of the time — Baroque — and its sun-kissed 18th-century churches and palaces have earned it UNESCO World Heritage status.

We’ll explore the old town, squeezing our way into the warren of tiny medieval streets leading up to the magnificent Cathedral Square, and make a special detour to a bottega dei carrettieri devoted to the ancient tradition of “Carretto Siciliano,” the brightly painted, intricately carved horse-drawn wooden carts that were the primary means of transport well into the 20th century.

After lunch on our own, we’ll reconvene in the afternoon for a visit to Arianna Occhipinti’s biodynamic winery, tasting elegant natural wines and aromatic vintages against the backdrop of the Iblei mountains. From there, we’ll depart back for the hotel, where we’ll gather for a hands-on chocolate workshop to learn about the region’s unique bean-to-bar traditions.

After, we’ll have the option of playing sous-chef for tonight’s feast, selecting the freshest vegetables and herbs from the hotel garden, then rolling up our sleeves and assisting Elizabeth to create our dinner. The final menu will be a surprise, but one thing we know for sure: today’s chocolate will make its way into a very special cannolu, the quintessentially Sicilian dessert better known to us as cannoli.

Day 6: Ragusa & Modica Highlights

  • Ragusa walking tour
  • Modica chocolate tasting
  • Dinner by Elizabeth
  • Stay at Baglio Occhipinti

Day 7: Agrigento & Palermo

We’re off to Palermo this morning, stopping along the way in Agrigento. This former Greek colony was established in the 6th century BC and was a leading city-state in the Mediterranean world. Agrigento’s magnificent Doric temples dominate the ancient town, much of which still lies intact among acres of olive, pistachio, almond and fruit trees. We’ll drink in the sumptuous beauty of the gardens over an al fresco lunch.

Under the shade of the olive trees, we’ll be joined by a local shepherd who will lead us through a hands-on ricotta workshop, as well as a Sicilian citrus expert eager to recount the cultural significance of Italy’s most vibrant fruits. We’re lucky to listen in alongside Elizabeth, who’s well-versed in incorporating seasonal citrus into recipes both sweet and savory.

Palermo, the former capital of the Kingdom of Sicily, is one of the most dynamic cities in the Mediterranean. We’ll have some downtime and then meet for dinner at our hotel, a gracious Belle Epoque space with views of the Tyrrhenian Sea, showcasing timeless Sicilian dishes and flavors.

Day 7: Agrigento & Palermo Highlights

  • Transfer to Palermo
  • Agrigento exploration & picnic
  • Dinner at Villa Igiea
  • Stay at Villa Igiea

Day 8: Palermo

There’s no better introduction to freewheeling Palermo than the colorful Capo market, and we’ll be heading there this morning in the company of the Duchess, who will share stories of Palermo life with us as we wander the stalls, listening to the singsong calls of vendors hawking goods to the jostling crowds and inhaling a swirl of aromas: the sharp tang of Sicilian citrus fruits, fragrant sesame seed–speckled loaves just pulled from a wood oven, savory arancini (fried rice balls) and thick slices of sfincione, a type of focaccia topped with a sweet tomato sauce.

After this energetic start to the day, we’ll set out to explore Palermo proper, from grand cathedrals, opera houses and fountain-lined piazzas to tiny bohemian alleyways. We’ll have lunch and the balance of the afternoon on our own to keep wandering before reconvening in the evening for a farewell dinner with the Duchess at the Palazzo Lanza Tomasi, the last home of Prince Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, author of the world-famous novel The Leopard.

Nestled in the heart of Kalsa, the old Arab quarter, this 18th-century palace overlooks Palermo’s stunning seafront, and its lush terraces and courtyards create a tapestry of private hanging gardens perfumed with subtropical essences: the perfect setting for our farewell banquet. As we raise a glass to toast Elizabeth, our new friends and our adventure together, we’ll know that Sicily will always be in our hearts.

Day 8: Palermo Highlights

  • Capo market & Palermo city tour
  • Farewell dinner at Palazzo Lanza Tomasi
  • Stay at Villa Igiea

Day 9: Palermo

Arrivederci Sicilia! We’re off this morning after nine immersive days of adventure and culinary adventure. After breakfast we’ll say ciao to Elizabeth, and to each other, knowing the memory of our adventure together will live in our hearts forever! We’ll organize a group transfer to Palermo’s PMO airport for flights to mainland Italy and beyond.

Day 9: Palermo Highlights

  • Breakfast
  • Transfer to Palermo's PMO airport

Where We Sleep

Beautifully curated accommodations—we’ll relax under the gaze of a volcano in Sicily, and feel like we’re part of the vibrant story of Naples

Grand Hotel Vesuvio


Doors open to seasoned travelers and diplomats since 1882, the Grand Hotel Vesuvio is just as much a cultural landmark as a stunning 5-star sanctuary.

Monaci delle Terre Nere

Zafferana Etnea

This exquisite boutique hotel is perched high on the eastern skirts of Mt Etna, forged out of an old palmento (wine estate) lovingly restored to traditional splendor, down to its chestnut flooring and lava-stone walls. The property boasts its own 15-acre winery, and its in-house restaurant draws heavily from the gardens. This is rustic living at its finest.

Baglio Occhipinti


This ancient, family-run baglio (fortified farm) is centered around a gracious manor house and 300-year-old citrus groves. It's a perfect home base to explore Siracusa and beyond. Meals are prepared over open flame in the enormous scullery fireplace, and culinary-minded guests are welcome to roll up their sleeves and join in the fun.

Villa Igiea


This immaculately restored palazzo is a fever dream of turrets, colonnades and classical statues, spilling out onto terraces overlooking the sparkling Tyrrhenian sea. For more than a century the Belle Epoque property has attracted A-List celebrities; today, after a top-to-bottom remodel by renowned interior designer Olga Polizzi, there’s nowhere grander on the entire island.

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Book Sicily & Naples with Elizabeth Falkner

Number of Travelers


Reserve your spot today with a $1,500 per-person deposit plus room supplements (if relevant). Full payment is due 180 days prior to your trip departure date. We’ll email you a reminder. If your trip departs in less than 180 days, we’ll collect full payment either 30 days from when we receive your deposit, or 60 days prior to your trip departure date, whichever is sooner. For details read our Deposit FAQs


Per person based on double occupancy; includes internal flight from Naples to Sicily.

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+1 (855) 219-8018


That’s OK, we have answers. Read our FAQs below. Or text or call us at +1 (855) 219-8018 to speak with a Modern Adventure Trip Specialist.

  1. What does the price include?

    Eight nights at unique four- and five-star accommodations; internal flight from Naples to Sicily; private travel for all day trips and excursions; departure airport transfer; private tours with local guides and cultural experts; exclusive VIP access and tastings; guided activities, adventures and expeditions; entrance fees; daily breakfasts, most lunches and dinners; local beverages with meals.

  2. What does the price not include?

    International roundtrip airfare; travel insurance; transportation to the trip’s starting point; activities not included in the trip itinerary; hotel incidentals including room service, laundry service and hotel bar tabs; food and beverages not included in itinerary; gratuity for tour leader.

  3. Where does this trip start and end?

    Our adventure begins in Naples, Italy, at the Grand Hotel Vesuvius. The closest airport is Naples International Airport (NAP). We recommend arriving one day early to ensure you’re at our starting point on time. On our last day, the closest airport is Palermo’s Falcone-Borsellino (PMO) airport. Your flight should be scheduled to depart at 12pm or later from PMO airport.

  4. What travel documents are needed?

    US citizens are not required to have a visa for stays in Italy of under 90 days. Just bring a valid US passport. For citizens of other countries, please check with the Italian embassy or consulate for information and requirements.

  5. Do I need to pay a solo traveler supplement?

    For solo travelers, there is a $2,500 single-supplement fee paid at the time of booking to secure a private room. These spots are extremely limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis.

  6. Who is going on this trip?

    Our adventures typically have between 10 and 20 guests, and our Modern Adventure Team. Our experiences are fun and inclusive and you can expect to be joined by a diverse group in terms of age, background and interests—including solo travelers, couples and friends traveling together. This adventure is for travelers age 18 and above.

  7. Who is leading this trip?

    This trip is led by an expert Modern Adventure trip leader. They’re an experienced travel guide, a representative of Modern Adventure and your go-to person for questions or concerns on the trip. We’ll be joined throughout our adventure by local, expert guides who are deeply knowledgeable with respect to local cultures, customs and history and are passionate about sharing that with us.

  8. Do I need travel insurance?

    We highly recommend purchasing travel insurance. Travel insurance allows you to seek reimbursement for your trip costs; if your trip plans change for unforeseeable reasons, or if you need to get medical help, emergency transport, and for theft, loss or damage of items while traveling. For best coverage, always insure the full trip cost within two weeks of your initial trip deposit and note that most ‘Cancel For Any Reason’ policies must be purchased on the date of your initial deposit.

  9. What is the cancellation policy?

    You may cancel on or before May 7, 2024 and receive a full refund minus a $500 per-person service fee. If you cancel on or after May 8, 2024 there is a 50% cancellation fee. On or after July 6, 2024 there is a 100% cancellation fee. We highly recommend purchasing travel insurance as we are not able to make exceptions to this policy in cases of family/medical emergency or cases of the trip being canceled (see our Terms and Conditions for full details).

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