When Wilton resident and wine expert JoAnn Logiurato was 5-years-old, she met another little girl named Gondy Somma who had just moved from Sicily to her Brooklyn neighborhood. The young newcomer spoke no English but the two girls overcame the language barrier and quickly became fast friends, attending the same parochial school and living on the same street as they grew up.
From an early age, the two girls showed signs of being entrepreneurial. When they were seven or eight, they made loomed potholders, and crafted telephone wire jewelry and lanyard key chains and sold them in front of the local supermarket.
So perhaps it’s no surprise that the two would grow up to still be close friends who now live minutes apart in Fairfield County, and have recently created Sips, Sites & Bites, a boutique tour company specializing in small group tours to Sicily for wine and food lovers.
Both women boast credentials other than being of 100% Sicilian heritage: Somma is an experienced travel executive with over 20 years in the field. For over a decade she worked for an Italian tour operator in Manhattan; later while raising a family she started a home-based travel business, selling cruises, resort stays and tours to places all around the world. Logiurato is a certified wine educator and self-proclaimed foodie, who studied with the internationally recognized WSET (Wine and Spirits Education Trust) before founding Dancing on Grapes in 2004, a wine tasting events company with a focus on teaching women about wine and wine and food pairings.
“I love to share my passion about wine in a fun and informative way and have taught many classes over the last 13 years. So many of my clients have asked me to take them to wine regions. I mentioned this to Gondy and we talked about starting a tour company focusing on wine regions many years ago, but wanted to wait until our kids were older. Now that we are both empty nesters, the timing is right!” explains Logiurato.
Somma and LoGiurato say that Sips, Sites & Bites will offer a complete cultural immersion, from dining at Michelin-starred restaurants to private tours of some of Sicily’s most beloved wineries and historical sites. They plan on offering their first tour of Sicily leaving April 7, 2018.
Somma, a Ridgefield resident, says that the groups will be small, and no larger than a dozen people, and their tours are for the enthusiastic, fun-loving, curious traveler interested in immersing themselves in the wine, food, architecture and history of Sicily.
“Limiting the size of the group to only 12 will allow everyone to have a personalized experience,” she notes. “Our group will have greater access to smaller venues, assuring us more time with winemakers and chefs, and an opportunity to explore the entire island.”
LoGiurato’s goal is to make Sicilian food and wine accessible to all. “We invite novices as well as experienced wine and food lovers to join us on this sensory journey,” she adds. “Our focus is on exemplary wineries, fabulous food destinations and hands-on cooking classes, peppered with stops to UNESCO World Heritage historical sites. Sicily flies under the radar of most travelers, yet it offers some of the best of Italy’s food, wine and beauty. We will unlock the secrets of Sicilian culture as we eat, drink and cook our way through Sicily.”
The first nine-day tour of Sicily will include highlights such as:
- A guided tour of an award-winning winery in Vittoria, with its unique wine cellar where natural wines are aged in amphorae.
- A day trip to Mount Etna and a visit to award-winning wineries, peppered with discussions with vineyard managers and winemakers
- A cooking class with the Executive Chef at a resort in Menfi, followed by an afternoon in Agrigento with a private tour of the Valley of the Temples Greek Ruins.
Since the experience is so rooted in their shared heritage and has their friendship as a foundation, they hope they offer travelers who accompany them a much more intimate experience than a typical tour. “So many years later, we’ve maintained our friendship and watched our children grow up together,” says Logiurato who adds that they’re looking forward to sharing that feeling with those who tour with them, as they cater to the needs of their guests and ensure that every detail will be met with a personal touch.
For more information or to inquire about the Sicilian Tour, visit the Sips, Sites & Bites website.