Southern Italy & Sicily with Chelsea

Southern Italy & Sicily with Chelsea – August 2024

40 spots up for grabs with spaces filling already…

Southern Italy is one of the most soul-fillingly spectacular places on the planet. I utterly adore it – so much so that I wanted to dedicate an entire tour to just this region. Truly, you step into another world. Sicily is largely unknown to me, and I am absolutely bursting with anticipation. The food. The culture. The people. I’ve been waiting years to finally do this trip. And now it’s nearly here…

Italian mood musings

  • The coffee in Italy is sublime and usually the only time I’ll ever drink an espresso. Because it tastes so good – not bitter! Walk into a cafe, slam a euro down on the counter and bam, there’s your espresso 6 seconds later. Down the hatch and off you go. Just one shot, too.
  • Gelato – every place I go in Italy, I have to have a gelato. Coconut, mango, chocolate are the go-tos but also lemon is divine and then again, so is pistachio…and stracciatella…
  • Sicily is famous for its cannoli (deep fried pastry tubes stuffed with ricotta fillings). Apparently each region has their version and I plan to taste them alllll.
  • Also, Sicily is the home of granita. I wanna try a coffee one and a lemon one! And maybe then an almond, a peach and a pistachio one. And of course, cassata – Sicily’s frozen masterpiece. Layers of flavoured ice cream (pistachio, chocolate and strawberry) with candied fruit, chocolate and marzipan.
  • More Sicilian savoury must-tries – Pasta all Norma (sautéed eggplant, tomato sauce, fresh basil and ricotta salad). Fried arancini. Sfincione (a cross between focaccia and a deep dish pizza – can you IMAGINE!). Caponata – eggplant, tomatoes, onion and celery flavored with olives, capers, pine nuts, raisins, and sweetened vinegar. Panelle (fried chickpea flour fritters, a street food often served in a sesame bun). The street food is apparently sublime, fresh and tasty. Bring it on.
  • In Italy I find the wine much gentler to drink with less fuzz the next day (many of my travellers agree). The southern region of Puglia makes my favourite variety of red wine in the world – primitivo. It’s sweet and fruity and I adore it!
  • Amaro Averna is the national drink of Sicily – some kind of liqueur? I’ll be trying that. And the common red wine is Nero d’Avola. A new one for me too!
  • Marsala (fortified wine) is also from Sicily. Kind of like a port, I guess. And it’s used in Italian cooking a lot too.
  • Olive oil. It’s so good. I can’t get enough. Sicily is now considered one of the biggest producer of high-quality extra virgin olive oil in the world. I DIDN’T KNOW THIS. The devotion for the olive tree derives from the Greek influence on the island. I am going to be very, very happy there, I can tell. Puglian extra virgin olive oil is known for its robust and fruity flavour, with hints of green grass, artichoke, and tomato leaf. It’s a gorgeous green colour and a slightly peppery finish. I can’t wait to test them all out with a piece of freshly baked ciabatta.
  • I’ve decided during this trip I want to try as many different kind of pizzas as possible because each region has its own specialty. I will become a pizza expert. It’s a whole different experience in Rome, to Naples, to Sicily – bases, cooking methods, toppings. I’m here for all of it.
  • In Sicily, for breakfast they have gelato (hazelnut, pistachio or stracciatella) stuffed in a soft brioche bun FOR BREAKFAST. Because it’s so hot you see. Some places offer a thick whipped cream to top it off. As you chip away at it, the gelato melts and soaks into the eggy bread, making each bite better than the last. This is high on my list. My heart is a poundin!

Trip highlights

  • ROME – I mean, it’s Rome. The feeling when you finally arrive, the cold NZ winter is far behind you, and we all come together for drinks and dinner that first night (sometimes it’s opera), and it’s warm and everyone’s dressed-up – it’s simply the best start to the trip. A sightseeing tour including the Colosseum (hello, Russell), St Peters (I saw the Pope there once) and ancient Forum. Rome is mind-blowing.
  • ALBEROBELLO – Ahhhh the Puglia region, maybe my favourite region of Italy behind Tuscany. A slow-paced southern Italian way of life, stunning landscapes, and unique, down-to-earth culture. Plus sandy beaches, ancient forests, beautiful cities, and delicious food. Puglia is also special because it produces most of Italy’s olive oil! 2000 year-old olive trees with 3m thick trunks everywhere. Best olive oil I’ve tasted in my life. We will also see the incredible Trulli houses! And have dinner at a local farmhouse tonight with incredible ingredients from the region.
  • OSTUNI – ancient whitewashed city on a hill. I got so many beautiful second-hand kitchen things (like my now-famous garlic crusher) from antique shops there. And tins of olive oil that I brought home because it was SO GOOD. I sipped a rose in a cafe overlooking the region in the sun. It was heaven. The buildings and cathedrals… you have to see it to believe it.
  • SORRENTO – ‘Under the sweet Sorrento mooon’ (I love that song). Sorrento is a jewel of a place and famous for it’s citrus groves, sea views and cool buildings. I LOVE IT. We have dinner at a cool old Mozzarella farm, and watch the Nonna make fresh mozz which then goes on our pizzas! Man their lemon ricotta cake is to die for, too. As is the house wine!
  • CAPRI – Unmissable. Unbelievable. The Isle of Capri is nothing short of fabulous. It’s basically an island haven for the super-rich and elite (Brigitte Bardot would have spent heaps of time there). Panoramic views. Best limoncello I’ve had in my life. Custom-made leather sandals to fit your feet at stalls everywhere. Flash boutiques that you don’t even want to go into – but a couple of affordable ones too. Incredible chairlift thing going right up to Ana Capri at the tippy-top – for the best views imaginable and a wee aperol in the sun. (If you’ve been watching the series Ripley – a lot of that was filmed there).
  • TAORMINA – WOOHOO, SICILY TIME! This is new territory for me now – the excitement gets even more extreme! Argh! The first night, we have dinner in an ancient village high above the city of Taormina to enjoy one of Sicily’s most stunning vistas. The second night we are hosted by a family on a Sicilian Lemon farm. I cannot think of anything better.
  • AGRIGENTO – Visiting ancient Greek temples! Yes!
  • ERICE – A medieval hilltop town and apparently one of Italy’s most beautiful villages. Google it immediately. It reminds me of San Gimingano, and I had so many soul-fulfilling moments there. moments. I’m pumped for this. We simply can’t fathom that level of history in NZ. I mean, you’re walking down the very same streets people were 600 years ago.
  • PALERMO – Sicily’s capital city (and apparently the cuisine capital, too). Oh my. A guided tour, stunning cathedral, opera house and then a COOKING CLASS. Oh. Yes. This could be the part I’m most excited about. And then that night head out to the quaint seaside fishing village of Sferracavallo for a seafood dinner – as fresh as it could possibly be.
  • NAPLES – Back to Italy! Naples (Napoli) always reminds me of Dean Martin, somehow (that’s amore!). Third largest city in Italy. Rich culture, beautiful landscape, great food, friendly people, historical significance. We have a free evening here which is always nice – shopping, dining, drinks, exploring in the balmy, warm Italian air. This is where Neapolitan (Napoletana/Margherita) style pizza originated from – just mozzarella and tomatoes. MY FAVOURITE! It’s bloody good, I had one of the best pizzas I’ve eaten here, in the Pompeii food hall would you believe. The next day we actually visit Pompeii and see the ruins of the ancient city that was covered in an ash cloud.
  • Then head back to Rome – I go back to my kiddies and the rest of you either go on to some other fabulous place or follow me!

The route

What you really need to know

  • Forget what you think you know of ‘group travel’. Even I was skeptical at first but boy, I am a convert. This is a Trafalgar escorted tour – quite simply, a brilliant way to do it (not a bumbag in sight). Trafalgar is  the best in the world at what they do and I’m so very proud to be a part of the family. Click here to see what I mean.
  • Safe, stress-free travel is how we roll. No waiting in long queues (that’s a biggie), no never-ending avalanche of decisions to make, no logistical nightmares, no agonising on Tripadvisor over where to go. No planning. No frustrations. You don’t even need to lug your bags around! Just turn up, sit back and be treated like a VIP while you’re whisked around some of the very best places in Europe.
  • The whole group (apart from our amazing Travel Director) is made up of KIWIS! There’s always great mix of ages and personalities. You don’t have to bring a companion with you, either; loads of women come along by themselves (it’s the only way they feel safe travelling alone, and it’s a bloody good way to do it). I guarantee you will make lifelong friends.
  • Our tour leader or ‘Travel Director’ will lead us, organise us, inform us, inspire us, make us laugh, and just take the pressure off for the whole damn time. I can’t even tell you how good that feels.
  • This is an ‘out of the box’ trip – you’ll experience awesome things that the masses don’t, people and places and experiences that are literally only available to Trafalgar travellers. And these are always the best parts of the trip.
  • We travel on a huge, snazzy, cool, comfy coach, complete with wifi – so you can make everyone at home green with envy sharing all your amazing photos on the interwebs.
  • You will be travelling with me! And I’m a pretty great travel companion – just sayin’.
  • I will be there hanging out with you the whole time. There aren’t any cooking demos or anything, I’m there to hang with you as a fellow traveller and try to make your experience as utterly incredible as possible. And hopefully provide a few laughs. Photos galore.

CLICK HERE FOR THE OFFICIAL BROCHURE & ITINERARY

Feedback from my travellers

Oh, how I love my travellers. I love the fact so many keep coming back time after time, I love they make it feel like a big family trip. I love that I get to meet people from all parts of the country, everyone unique in their own brilliant ways. They’re like the threads that make the travel tapestry lustrous! God, we have some laughs. Here’s a little bit of what some of them have to say:

“I felt so lucky to be part of such a wonderful trip away!  We visited so many amazing places, and had so much delicious food and wine! Every day was a treat and I have so many wonderful memories. But Chelsea was the icing on the cake, such a loving and hard-case lady!  The perfect Hostess!” – Kate
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“Haha, I hated it mate! That’s why I’m doing another!” – Suzanne (update, she’s done like, three now).
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“From the cobbled streets and quaint little cafes, shops, restaurants to the stunning architecture steeped in history, to the bustling cities and wonderful markets, incredible scenery, wonderful castles, fabulous food and wine, and like mined fellow foodies….these trips with Chelsea are a must! I have done several of Chelsea’s trips and every time I am totally blown away with her, and the incredible fun and good times we all have. –  Julie B
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“If you love food, wine, fun, new friendships and amazing sights, then don’t hesitate to join Chelsea in Italy for a foodie tour you’re never to forget! Trafalgar tours are the best, a fantastico travel director and to travel with such a special person as Chelsea whose honest down to earth charm and goofiness made for a very relaxed feel, and there’s even daaaancing and shopping!!” – Jill
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France trip I did with Chelsea was amazing, met all my expectations. Traveling on my own, had neat like minded travel companions which was fun, and have made some great friendships. Being on a tour meant arranging/booking nothing and yet seeing all the best attractions with no queues. Really believe the Chelsea factor added to the success of the trip. Looking forward to booking the next trip.” – Michelle
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“I met so many wonderful people and created the most amazing memories and new friends. If you’re thinking of going on a similar trip, don’t think twice – just book it you’ll love love love it!!” – Vanessa
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“It was my trip of a lifetime! Organised well with an amazing itinerary. My husband was one of two men and he loved it as much as me. Chelsea is the icing on the cake. Such a beautiful, inspiring girl who is not afraid to enjoy all the treats of Italy! I think about the trip every day! Just take the leap and book it and go! xx” – Rhonda
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“I have been on a few overseas trips but this one had to be the trip of a lifetime by far. We stayed in amazing places and had the most beautiful of meals . Having Chelsea on the trip with us definitely was the finishing touch. She is such a happy-go-lucky person who makes everyone who she comes in contact with feel so special. If you are slightly thinking about booking this trip do it now before you miss out. You will have no regrets that’s for sure. Definitely value for money. Don’t think you would find a better value trip like this anywhere.” – Raewyn
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“Wow, what a trip! Very friendly, met many special people, experienced some fabulous food and went to lots of memorable places.” – Jennifer
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Don’t hesitate. I was dubious of travelling on my own, but never on any day did I feel lonely. Awesome trip, awesome food, awesome people, awesome travel director, and awesome places we visited. Beautiful country from the historic places to the beautiful experiences and of course the beautiful Chelsea and her great sense of fun. DO IT! – Julie
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Definitely one of my travel highlights! Fantastic food and accommodation, travel guide and expert local guides, and of course having Chelsea on board made it extra special! The trip covered so many different regions of Italy & their unique characteristics.” – Pam
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“Italy with Chelsea 2016 was amazing! The itinerary was jam packed full of exciting adventures that were set at an easy pace for everyone of all ages to enjoy. The accommodation was fantastic and as for the food… Mamma Mia it was Bellissimo!!! (Take your stretchy pants, you’re gonna need them!). As for our beautiful Chelsea, what a lovely host and friend to travel with. Love my 41 new Trafalgar friends. Would definitely do another trip.” – Nardene
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What a trip of a lifetime we had with Chelsea. Amazing food and wine, and we visited some wonderful places. Chelsea was a truly wonderful hostess who was fun to be around and made time for us all. Don’t hesitate just do it! It’s one you will not regret.” Leanne
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Wasn’t a ‘foodie’ & didn’t know much about Chelsea (very cool sense of humour) & didn’t have a travel buddy – the trip sounded interesting & that it was: such a variety of experiences, great locations, excellent digs, informed guides AND the most wonderful group of people to share it all with. Trip of a lifetime? For me, most definitely.” – Chris
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Make a booking or ask a question

CLICK HERE FOR THE OFFICIAL BROCHURE & ITINERARY

Email the highly awesome Marija at Trafalgar on marija.tolj@ttc.com (or click here).

  1. Deni Reply
    Could I get the price and itinerary please? I don't think the link works. Thank you :)
  2. Wendy Stirling Reply
    Hi. Just wondering the dates and the cost of the trip . Thanks Wendy
  3. Leanne Reply
    Hello, I know it probably states above but what do we need to organise ourselves?
    • Chelsea Winter Reply
      You just need to pack your bags and book your flights, but Trafalgar will be able to help with that too. Everything else you just leave to them and enjoy the trip!
  4. Trish O'Rourke Reply
    please send info on pricing and dates thankyou
  5. Abby Reply
    Hi there, Can I please get dates and cost? Where do we fly into? Cheers, Abby
    • Chelsea Winter Reply
      Sure, if you click that link above you will download the brochure with all the details.
  6. Joan Harrex Reply
    I would like details and price please. Also any tours next year?
    • Team Chelsea Reply
      Yes, there will be France next year. Email marija.tolj@ttc.com
  7. Kimberley Burchell Reply
    Hi I would be interested in this trip what do I have to do?
    • Team Chelsea Reply
      Email marija.tolj@ttc.com
  8. Samantha Reply
    interested in dates and price please
    • Team Chelsea Reply
      Please email marija.tolj@ttc.com
  9. Al Reply
    Hey - is this something that you are looking at doing annually, or regularly? It is something that my partner and I would really like to join you on, but the timing doesn't look like it will work for the coming trip. Would love to be able to give her some hope of a future trip. Thanks - Al
    • Team Chelsea Reply
      There will be a trip to France next year. Email Marija (email at the bottom of the post) for more information x
  10. Bianca Paterson Reply
    Hello! I have emailed her- auto reply says she is overseas at the mo but back 27th. Sounds like such an exciting trip! One I have ALWAYS wanted to do!
  11. Lynette Reply
    Can we please have cost etc Chelsea. Thanks Lynette Clothier
    • Team Chelsea Reply
      Please email marija.tolj@ttc.com
  12. Danielle Sutherland Reply
    Hi ! Looks amazing !!! Would you be doing one next year , 2025 or 2026 ? I would definitely be able to join then ! Thanks
    • Team Chelsea Reply
      France 2025!

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