Soul of Sicily has been offering experiences in Southeastern Sicily for over a decade. With over 15 years of experience, we organize guided and custom culinary programs that offer an insider's taste of Sicily.

About Renée

Renee Restivo is the Founder of Soul of Sicily. Her essays and photographs have appeared in National Geographic Traveler magazine and Travelers Tales, The Adventure of Food: True Stories of Eating Everything. Her first person piece, A Hunger for Sicilian Cooking: Planting Roots on a Family Farm was part of a collaborative feature for Traveler. The collaborate feature, Return to Your Roots, won a Bronze Award in the 2013 North American Travel Journalists Association Awards Competition and a Bronze award in the Intergenerational and Family Travel category from the 2013 North American Travel Journalists Association Awards Competition. The expanded version of her essay was published in the book "Journeys Home" by National Geographic Books in February 2015. She is working on her first book.

Her innovative programs in sustainable culinary travel and her insider's knowledge about Sicily, led to appearance on the Travel Channel, in a show about Sicilian fishing traditions. Renee had the honor of being chosen to present recipes from The Silver Spoon cookbook on national TV for its launch.

Her articles about Sicilian festival food, cooking schools and her search for her roots have been published in National Geographic Traveler and Travelers Tales books. She has appeared NPR affiliate stations to discuss traveling and eating in Italy and Italian regional cooking, lectured about Mediterranean cooking at the New York Public Library, worked as a recipe tester and Chef for La Cucina Italiana magazine and welcomed American celebrity chefs to her special events in Sicily. Renee has also been a speaker at the Culinary Travel Panel at The New York Times Travel Show.

Renee has over fifteen years of experience in culinary education in the United States and Italy. Soul of Sicily programs and cooking classes are located in Noto -- a town in Siracusa famous for its Baroque style architecture, pastries, almonds and landscape. Her quest to find her roots and unravel culinary mysteries led her to follow her heart to build her dream ...a cooking program that focuses on traditional Sicilian recipes using ingredients fresh from local farmers and culinary experiences with artists and artisans.

Renee is a self-made entrepreneur. She gained first-hand culinary experience by working a kitchen assistant in professional culinary programs in NYC, including The New School and The Natural Gourmet Institute for Food & Health, and got her start in Italy when she landed a job as a full-time culinary intern at a cooking school in Tuscany.  She worked at a cooking school in Tuscany before she began her own business. Renée also had the great honor of working as the intern and research assistant to the late Anna Tasca Lanza, who was known as a kind of culinary ambassador for Sicily at the time. 

Renée has a Masters degree in writing and is fluent in Italian. She loves orchestrating unmatched culinary events and enjoys photography. Most of the photographs on this website were taken by Renée during her travels and work projects.