Noto: The baroque pearl of Sicily, its natural beaches, Greek ruins, lesser-known archeological sites, unexplored treasures and ancient olive groves. Oh, and the food and wine of course!
While many travelers are just opening their eyes to the delights of baroque Noto and its culinary traditions, we are working for a sustainable future for this area. Mass tourism, development and misunderstanding of the local Sicilian culture are factors that will put this area at risk for the next twenty years. Our team is made up of passionate, caring, truth- seeking culinary talent, artists who are passionate about preserving the landscape. Everyone in the Soul of Sicily network cares deeply about the future of the landscape in this corner of Sicily. In our programs we strive to show you the best of Sicily, and teach about the long-term risks that are a reality for this corner of Southeastern Sicily. Who is on our team? We employ the best culinary and cultural experts in Southeastern Sicily. Many have worked with us for over a decade.
Many participants who have come to our sustainable cooking program in Noto, have told us afterwards that they appreciated the contact with nature more than anything. Learning about lemon groves or almond trees, and participating in the olive harvest are some things we do before our cooking lessons. Looking outside your window every morning to see ancient trees and the landscape in this part of Sicily: unlike any other in the world. The landscape here in this part of Sicily tells the story of how layers and layers of culture left imprints on the island over thousands of years: the Greeks, the Arabs, the Romans all left their traces here. This is an island where not only has the land been shaped by its people, but we find today that the landscape can still teach us many things and so and we are shaped by it.
Renée Restivo's mission is to educate travelers about what Sicily has that no other place in the world has -- from agricultural traditions, historic lesser-known sites, traditional recipes and more. Soul of Sicily is the leader in sustainable tourism in this corner of Sicily, and Renée first began working in culinary programs in Italy is 2001.
"Sicilian food is product of the Mediterranean sun, the rich soil of Etna, the sea and the patience and devotion of Sicilian people." ~Renée Restivo
One thing that is often overlooked when discussing Sicilian food is the local, organic agriculture and conservation of the landscape, which has been referred to in the media as "the last real Italy." Yes, Sicily may very well be "the last real Italy," but it may not be for long if we do not act now to make sure that what we love so much about the island is looked after and respected.
All of our programs have a mission: documenting and continuing culinary traditions of Sicily, educating visitors about agriculture, finding ways to travel in a more sustainable way with respect for nature and most important and often overlooked -- taking care of the Sicilian countryside to make sure it will be here for generations after us.
Our private group culinary programs offer travelers the rare chance to have exclusive experiences in homes with Sicilian families. Providing seasonal and specially prepared home-cooked meals and dining in the company of a Sicilian family in their home often costs more than dining at fine restaurants, and is an exclusive service. The food takes a long time to prepare (as it is all prepared from scratch) and most ingredients are hand-picked, carefully selected, and organic or fresh from the garden.
All of our local collaborators (for driving, translations, service, tours, educational programs, meal preparation and hospitality services) are passionate about what they do for a living. We support the local economy and know that you will have a sense of accomplishment and peace of mind in knowing that.
From our Sicilian Herbs Lesson in the Spring to our Olive Harvest program in October, Soul of Sicily Cooking School programs will introduce you to authentic home cooking traditions and techniques.
In our programs, we want to share what we know and help to prevent the disappearance of the Sicilian countryside -- the land where our food is grown -- farms -- the landscape -- the local agriculture -- disappearing recipes and traditions -- farmers -- artisans -- artists -- home cooking -- culinary rituals -- fishermen -musicians-- dry stone walls.
We look forward to cooking with you in Sicily!