October 13th - 19th, 2018
You may have the universe if I may have Sicily.
There’s something about Italy that makes it feel like home to the entire human race. Perhaps it’s that the country is founded on three pillars: good food, good wine, and family. In this world of hectic over-scheduling and ever changing dietary recommendations, Italy stands out as a beacon of how you’re supposed to do it. Go to grandma’s, eat your pasta, fill your cup and let the unimportant annoyances fall away.
Wake up in the nearly thousand year old abbey with expansive views of the endless countryside. Salute the Sicilian sun and get your asana on each morning. Relax poolside next to ancient ruins. Show up to a curated table set under the stars in one of the abbey’s cloisters. Sit with like-minded souls enjoying world class cuisine made with next door’s olive oil and wine from down the road. Remember what this life is all about. That’s Moveable Feast: Sicily in a locally grown pistachio shell.
Talk with anyone on the island and they’ll tell you: They’re Sicilian first and Italian second. The history of Sicily is as rich as it is diverse, featuring chapters written by the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, French, Germans, Spanish, and of course, Italians. The island sits at a strategic crossroads for control of the Mediterranean and houses Greek temples, Roman villas and aqueducts, Norman cathedrals, and Baroque churches. All these influences have created an island identity that is as proud as it is fatalist. At some point, chances are, someone you don’t like will be in power, the active volcano will explode, or your crops will get ruined in a hurricane, so you might as well focus on what matters most: those you love and enjoying the heck out of this life. So take it easy — eat your pasta, sit in the sun, call your mother, and give more real hugs. And if you have a gorgeous, expansive, and luxury 12th century abbey to stay in while you’re at it, well then even better.
Ah, our delightful majestic abbey. What a dream we found.
First built in the 1200s in what is now a national forest, these halls once held much of the medieval art and sculpture now housed in museums in Palermo. Where once the monks woke before sunrise for vigils and nocturnes, ending their days with candlelight and home-brew, you now can peacefully stroll the same cloisters and raise your glass to the years of extensive renovations that now let us stay in this beautifully reconstructed example of Benedictine and olivetan architecture. We’ll let the photos do the talking, because nothing we could say would really explain the feeling of dining in a 900 year old hall that ancient monks used to eat their gruel in.
"This trip taught me that some expenses just don't matter when adventure is on the horizon. And also, The MF team took such good care of us! From the food to the accommodations, to the yoga and the excursions, the magic they gave us was more than worth it. And as for meeting new people, they made it easy on us. The group was fantastic, and I was able to have alone time when I felt like I needed it (sans judgement).
My favorite Moveable Feast moment was our dinner in white. Not because of how we dressed or even the food (which were both highly competitive in my list of memories). But it was the moment I realized I had gained some true new friends. We had gone on this whirlwind together and we were damn grateful for each other and the time we had. It was the connection that is going to live in my heart forever."
-Karen K - Moveable Feast 2017 - Yucatàn
Sicily is like that fusion restaurant down the street that combines a little Moroccan rice with some Spanish tapas and a few Greek olives—if it’s delicious, why not? Except unlike that restaurant, Sicily’s food actually tastes GOOD. And it gets a little weird because after several millennia of unique cultures invading the island and stamping their personality on the kitchen, the inventiveness never stops. That creamy delicious risotto you had for dinner? You’ll be more rapt tomorrow once we ball it and deep fry it. Do you like eggplant? How about we mix in some raisins and douse it in vinegar? Pappardelle is great regular style, but what if we twist ‘em up to look like telephone cords instead? Lots of traders came through these waters with their own ideas of bomb food and the good life, and at the bottom of all those ideas? Hand rolled pasta with plenty of fresh cheese. This is still Italy after all.
The point is, when “fusion” cuisine got trendy in the rest of the world, Sicily was already 3000 years ahead, baby. And we’ll be damned if you aren’t gonna dive deep into the sundry unpretentious weirdness that adds up to Sicily’s solid position the crossroads of world cuisine.
“Bonu vinu fa bonu sangu”
– “Good wine makes good blood”.
Wine? Yeah, Sicily’s got it. The birthplace of marsala (a cousin to port and sherry), Sicily is home to famous vinos like grappa and moscato, but also lesser known grapes like zibibbo and malvasia. We’ll tell you all about them over a glass (or two) of Nero d’Avola, one of the stars of Sicily’s modern wine renaissance.
Not familiar with aperitivos or digestivos? Unlike the clunky American custom of a straight up cocktail before dinner, Sicilians (like much of the world) prefer to ease into eating a bit more gently. Based on the Italian word for “opener,” modern aperitivos are a definitively Italian invention. Enjoying light drinks with lower alcohol content and a few salty snacks is a softer way to show up at the dinner table than drunk and starving. Leave it to Italians to class the joint up.
As for the digestivo, well, why not wrap a meal up with a bit more liquor to help digestion? As you lounge at the dinner table post-pasta, a quick sip of a bitter booze is just the ticket. Meant to help ease the transition after dinner, digestivos help you forget about the slight overindulgence and move into the rest of your evening comfortably. While Amari (bitter liquors that cleanse the palate—almost medicinally so), are the most common digestivos, we’re also partial to a good hit of amaretto, the sweet almond liquor invented in Sicily in the Middle Ages. Slow transitions and enjoying each phase of the day—that’s what Sicilian drinking is all about.
We’ll indulge freely, but if you’re interested in a booze-soaked frat party, this isn’t the trip for you, friend.
"At first, I was hesitant re: meeting up with a bunch of strangers in another country (what if they are scary weirdos?!) and whether the price tag was worth it...
But then I arrived at a train station to be picked up by a group of attractive, hilarious, kindly souls who felt like old friends. Once we arrived a la chateau, I was greeted with the freshest damn oysters and crisp champers- I basically felt like I had been transported to the Provence of the 1920s- it was all very Woody Allen and Midnight in Paris. My soul nearly burst.
The locations, the philosophy of MF, the photo workshops, the food- it was a unique trip because everything was carefully selected- a perfect terrarium for us to be placed in and experience how good life is when you collectively give a shit about the little things. "
-Katie S - Moveable Feast 2016 - Provence
Okay, let’s get one thing straight… Moveable Feast ain’t no lecture hall. Yeah, we want to cover a few things that might make life more beautiful but never will you be checking your watch to see when class ends.
There’ll be yoga every morning to help reduce your mental monkeys and set the tone for the day. We’ll have a few workshops on how to improve your travel photography, even if all you have is an iPhone. We’ll pour you a glass of wine and talk about Italian and Sicilian art, literature, and history, but most of all, we’ll try to embrace the spirit of futtitinni.
What is futtitinni you ask? Where’s Timon and Pumbaa when you need them? Not unlike hakuna matata, futtitinni means to take life a little more lightly, only focus on the most important things and let the minor stresses fall away. Life’s too short for pettiness and unneeded anger or worry. In Sicily, futtitinni is not only a word — it’s a way of life. Plus, it’s dang fun to say.
Oh, and we’ll totally break down some killer bocce ball strategies on the lawn.
Awww man, with a history as intenso as that of Sicily, there’s so much to see. Many of the most well-preserved Greek and Roman ruins are a short drive from our abbey. We’ll visit ancient fishing villages with white sand beaches and rugged islands in view. Whether you’re the type that likes an umbrella in your drink as you sit on the beach or if you like to dissect the historical ramifications of a medieval tapestry, our Sicilian excursions are gonna blow your calzinos off.
We promise, you’re never gonna follow us around while we hold a flag over our head. These ain’t big group tours because nobody’s got time for that but we’ll give you a guide of all our favorite spots and hidden gems, take you some place beautiful, and let you roam freely to your heart’s content.
"I planned on this trip being a once in a lifetime "treat yo-self" trip, but after the first day of being with the group at the hacienda, I knew that I would be saving up so that I can go on another moveable feast retreat the following year. Hearing about the amazingness of the previous year and the trust that everyone else had in Tim and Laura (and the team) putting it all together got me more and more excited for everything that was to happen on that retreat and got me thinking about future trips as well.
Oh. My. Goodness. The FOOD! I was literally in a constant state of food ecstasy.
And I loved being around people with different and exciting backgrounds but who all have the same goal of finding peace, eating good food, being in good company, and spending the week letting someone else take the reigns and life lead the way. "
-Kristine S - Moveable Feast 2017 - Yucatàn
“To have seen Italy without having seen Sicily is not to have seen Italy at all, for Sicily is the clue to everything.”
Accomodations in the Abbazia
Vino for days
Daily Yoga Classes
More inspiration than you can fit in a million suitcases
(all rooms are priced for double occupancy)
classic Italian furnishings
two comfy twin beds
please select this option if you're flying solo!
classic Italian furnishings
super comfy king bed
our finest rooms in the abbey
$3,795 (per person)
classic Italian furnishings
super comfy king bed
medium sized room, just right
$3,495 (per person)
Where is it again?
The abbey is closest to Palermo (and that's where you should start looking up plane tickets), though it’s further south in the mountainous forests (on the Mediterranean Sea side of the island, rather than the Tyrrhenian Sea side). Sicily is a heady mix of Latin, Byzantine and Islamic cultures, and though it’s now a part of Italy, this island considers itself Sicilian first, Italian second. So put that in your pocket.
Whoah, is that really where we’ll be staying?
Is it safe there?
Oh, we see you might have just wrapped up a viewing of the Godfather? Yep, Sicily is extremely safe and peaceful. While the mob still has a firm grip on the inner workings of the island (ask us about how the Allied Forces played a role in that during World War II), we’d feel safer at night in any given place in Sicily than we would in Chicago or Seattle.
What’s the weather like?
Glad you asked, because October in Sicily is a gah-dang dream. Mid 70s during the day, low 60s at night. Warm enough to swim in the Mediterranean, cool enough that you don’t feel stifled. Just like we like it.
So are we going to lay on the beach or what?
First of all, relaxing is a top priority, and the abbey has a beautiful pool that you can opt to lounge by 24/7 if you so choose (we’ll just bring you your dinner poolside if you’re really committed to the cause. Just kidding, come inside and eat with us). And secondly, it would be incredibly easy for you to fly to Sicily by yourself and head straight to the beach. We want to show you something a little more complex. (Google Turkish Steps, Siciliy... You'll see what we're talking about.)
Can I drink as much as I want?
All your food and liquor is included, and we like a good festa, but this isn’t the Carnival cruise line, people. We’re more about tasting all the local liquors with intention, and getting a little tipsy is all part of a great vacation. That said, dealing with a terrible postumi della sbornia (hangover) is no way to live the good life, so we encourage you to not live exactly like you’re at a Roman bacchanal. Because we all know what happened to Rome.
I want to travel with a few friends, is there space for us?
YEP—we’ve got spots for you and your crew of besties. Email us for specific room info so we can guide you to the right space for you!
I have food allergies/am a strict vegan/have a very special diet of only apples that have fallen from the tree on the new moon. Is this the trip for me?
Minor allergies are probably fine—just send us a note ahead of time so we can run them by our chef and be sure we can accommodate them. If you have a strict diet that requires extremely specific guidelines, this may not be the trip for you, as many of our meals will be family style and extremely local cuisine. But we firmly believe that Sicily is for just about everyone, so if you have specific menu questions, we’re happy to answer them!
Do you guys do payment plans?
Ahhhh heck yes. When you're checking out, after you put in your initial info, there's a payment option marked "Lay-Buy." It'll take an initial 50% deposit now and then set up smaller auto-payments for the next five months. Booya, done. You coming. Start looking up plane tickets.
(mark an x here for us.)
(unless you sent something weird)