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Tours & Cruises

The Way to Sicily Is Through Its Cuisine

January 18, 1998|KARIN DOMINELLO | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Experience Sicily while learning about its cuisine on the "Cucina del Sole" Sicilian cooking tour April 4 and Oct. 4. The tour combines five half-days of cooking instruction with one of Sicily's top chefs, cookbook author Eleonora Consoli, with an exploration of the island's historic sites and landscapes.

Classes are conducted in Consoli's 18th century home, focusing on Sicilian specialties including pastas, risotto, fish and meat dishes, all featuring local Mediterranean products.

Travelers will also have an opportunity to explore Taormina, Catania, Siracusa, Piazza Armerina and Mt. Etna. Visits and demonstrations at a local cheese farm, a winery, a pastry shop, farmers market and more are also included.

Cost: $1,995 per person, including accommodations at a villa, daily continental breakfast, four specialty lunches and four full dinners, and guides. Air fare is extra.

Contact: Amelia Tours; telephone (800) 742-4591.

Wine by the Barrel

Join other wine collectors for a wine-tasting tour March 5 to 8. Guests will explore Sonoma County wineries and purchase futures at a discount. Wines can be sampled directly from the barrel and compared with current releases.

Cost: $995 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip air fare from Los Angeles, ground transportation, hotel, breakfasts and guides.

Contact: Gurnham Group; tel. (800) 475-0004.

Service in Ireland

Service-minded travelers can personally assist efforts to mediate regional conflicts in Northern Ireland through a new partnership with Global Volunteers. Participants pay for the tax-deductible program and travel costs and donate their time to work at Glencree Center for Peace and Reconciliation, outside Dublin, or the Corrymeela Community in Northern Ireland. Volunteers of all ages and backgrounds are needed for two-week programs beginning in March. No previous experience is required.

Volunteers will get lodging and will assist staff members with routine maintenance work and building projects, or help serve meals. At the same time, volunteers will meet adult and student participants and gain firsthand insight into the current issues of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Cost: $1,695 per person, including ground transportation to and from Dublin airport, food and lodging at the site, and project expenses. Air fare is not included. The first two teams are scheduled for March 7 to 21 and July 11 to 25. Free time in the evenings and on the weekend allows volunteers to enjoy cultural attractions near both areas.

Contact: Global Volunteers, 375 E. Little Canada Road, St. Paul, MN 55117; tel. (800) 487-1074.

For Theater Lovers

Join James Blackman of the Civic Light Opera of South Bay Cities on an 11-night cruise/tour to London and the Mediterranean aboard Royal Caribbean's Vision of the Seas. The trip begins July 20 in London at a hotel in the theater district. Participants will receive orchestra seat tickets to two London shows. They will take a full-day tour of the English countryside to visit such historic spots as Shakespeare's home in Stratford-upon-Avon, Oxford, Cambridge and Blenheim Castle.

Then passengers will be flown from London to Barcelona, Spain, for the seven-night cruise. The ship calls at Villefranche on the French Riviera; Ajaccio, Corsica; Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy; Messina, Sicily; and Valetta, Malta.

Cost: from $2,799 per person, double occupancy, including hotels, cruise and some meals. Air fare is not included.

Contact: Civic Light Opera of South Bay Cities Cruise/Tour Information Desk, P.O. Box 1157, Redondo Beach, CA 90278; tel. (310) 568-2040.

Russia, With Love

A 15-day tour and cruise of Russia, from St. Petersburg to Moscow, plus an optional eight-day extension on the Trans-Siberian Railway to Ekaterinburg and Irkutsk/Lake Baikal, departs June 27. The tour will be led by history professor Robert Blackey. OdessAmerica's ship Lenin will be the base the tour stops at Kizhi Island (famous for its open-air Museum of Architecture and its wooden onion-domed churches), Petrozavodsk (capital of the Karelian Republic), the tiny picturesque village of Irma, Yaroslavl (with its 13th century monastery and 17th century cathedrals) and Kostroma (with a 14th century monastery).

Cost: $2,898 per person, double occupancy, which includes round-trip air fare from L.A., 13 nights on the ship with meals and entertainment, shore excursions and sightseeing in St. Petersburg and Moscow, and airport transfers. The extension trip is $1,989, and includes first-class train accommodations, hotels, meals in Ekaterinburg and Irkutsk, entrance fees and return to Moscow by air.

Contact: Robert Blackey; tel. (909) 880-5550.

Down South

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