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Meaningful

Service Work

Sicily, Italy

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Stunning Island Views

Sicily

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Summit an

Active Volcano

Mt. Etna, Sicily

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Charming Sicilian Cities

Sicily, Italy

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Swim in the Mediterranean Sea

Sicily, Italy

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Sicily Discovery and Service

$2,995.00
Price:

$2,995 + Airfare + $350 Intra Trip Flights

Date:

Jul 8 – Jul 20

Days:

13

Session:

Session 3

Finishing Grades:

9, 10, 11, 12

Who can go on this trip?

Students from around the world!

Places we visit:

Biancavilla, Catania, Syracuse, Taormina, Vendicari, Mt. Etna

Optional group flight there:

New York (JFK) to Catania

Optional group flight back:

Catania to New York (JFK)

Want to make a difference while exploring some of the best that Sicily has to offer this summer? Join us for an unforgettable adventure of giving back on Italy’s most beautiful island and discovering the stunning sites around it on a truly unique program. Discover life-changing experiences, starting at our homebase in the iconic Sicilian countryside, where our gracious hosts own and operate a community center for local children in need. Every year, our loving host family takes our entire group into their home and treats us as part of la famiglia! We will help them care for the children, tend to their organic garden, and work on some construction projects around the community center. On a typical day, we will wake up to breathtaking views of the idyllic vineyards and rolling hills, set out to complete service projects, bond with our host family, play with the children, and cook delicious homemade meals. Explore the best of Sicily by visiting many of the surrounding towns and even hiking Mt. Etna!

On this trip you will:

  • Earn up to 30 hours of community service challenging yourself through a variety of service projects
  • Work with young local children to help them with their school work, play games with them, and just offer a friendly face to those in need
  • Do hands on construction projects, paint some of the community center buildings, and develop an outdoor classroom
  • Farm the organic garden for fresh ingredients in a true farm to table experience
  • Learn how to cook with our gracious hosts by preparing homemade Italian meals for the community center each day
  • Wander the streets of Taormina and take dip in the crystal blue water
  • Learn about the ancient history of Syracuse on our visit to this unique city
  • Check off hiking the largest active volcano in Europe from your bucket list at Mt. Etna!
  • Learn what it’s like to live with a host family and create lasting relationships through travel
  • Understand the surreal feeling of accomplishment and gratification that comes from volunteer and service work
  • Take a small but influential step towards changing the world!
  • Leave with an incredibly meaningful and once in a lifetime story of your summer vacation

DAY 1: GROUP FLIGHT DEPARTS FROM NEWARK, NJ

DAYS 2-3: OUR SICILIAN HOST HOME IN BIANCAVILLA

We’ll hop off the plane and head for the foothills of Mt. Etna to experience beauty you only thought possible in your dreams! We will get acquainted with our host family at their classic Sicilian home and check out the family-run community center where we will be based for the service portion of the trip. We’ll begin our cooking lessons on the very first night and prepare a meal alongside our gracious hosts, using fresh local ingredients picked right from their garden. We’ll enjoy our homemade meal along with the local children. After dinner we’ll have a meeting to discuss our projects for the week and get started on our work bright and early the next day. And so begins the journey to making a difference in the lives of others!

DAY 4: DAY TRIP TO SYRACUSE

Take a break from all your hard work for a day of exploring Sicily! We’ll stop in Vendicari to admire the pristine beaches and take a dip in the Mediterranean on our way to the ancient Greek town of Syracuse. We’ll go back to ancient time and explore the Archaeological Park of this city that was once as big as Athens, see the Greek theater, and marvel at ancient Greek temples. We will wander the narrow alleyways of this historically rich town that has survived many layers of civilizations.

DAYS 5-6: SERVICE IN BIANCAVILLA

We’ll spend the next couple of days back at our home base continuing on our community service projects and marveling at how much progress we’ve made in just two days! You will see the value of your service reflected in the community center and the children’s happiness with each passing day. When we’re not working, we’ll be playing games with the children and learning how to cook more delicious meals, all the while enjoying the unparalleled views of the vineyards below.

DAY 7: DAY TRIP TO CATANIA

Head to this bustling capital city and experience real Mediterranean life at the most lively outdoor market in Europe. Watch as the fishermen, butchers, and grocers display their fresh products for sale and barter with customers. Visit the ornate cathedral and spend time shopping at some of Catania’s best spots. Stop for some classic Sicilian cannoli before heading back to the center to do a bit of work for the rest of the afternoon.

DAY 8: SERVICE IN BIANCAVILLA

Our usual projects continue to progress on this day back at our home base. Now we will be able to see just how far we’ve come in the past five days and be able to plan how best to spend our time completing our service projects during our final days of work.

DAY 9: DAY TRIP TO TAORMINA

Discover the charm of Taormina, from world famous granita to the one and only “Isola Bella.” This chic little village has something exciting around every corner. We’ll marvel at the ancient Greek theater with a spectacular view overlooking the Mediterranean sea, shop on the Corso Umberto, and indulge in the best arancini (fried rice ball) you’ll ever eat! Soak up the Sicilian lifestyle and end this perfect day with a funicular ride down the hillside for an afternoon of relaxing at a quaint beach called Isola Bella, which means “beautiful island.”

DAYS 10-11: SERVICE IN BIANCAVILLA

Time to get back to work for our final days of service at the center! By this point we will have created incredible bonds with our host family and children. A bittersweet end is near!

DAY 12: DAY TRIP TO MT.ETNA

Lace up your boots and get ready for the the adventure we’ve all been waiting for: the grand finale trek to Mt. Etna! Meet up with our professional volcanic guide and begin the 9,500 foot journey up to the top. Peer into the crater in amazement as you stand atop the largest active volcano in Europe! Relax for a picnic lunch along the slopes of Mt. Etna before heading down from an unforgettable day.

DAY 13: GROUP FLIGHT DEPARTS FROM ROME

Arrivederci, Sicily! Fly from Catania Airport for home.

Who can go on this trip? What kind of teen typically goes on this trip?

We have teens join this program from all over the world! They are typically culturally curious teens who are excited about making new friends, stepping out of their comfort zone, expanding their horizons, and trying something new. Most teens that go on this trip have a strong desire to give back to the community and are interested in volunteer opportunities.

Where do we stay?

Our hotels are specifically chosen to be in safe areas and well-suited to facilitating group supervision. We stay in centrally located accommodations, usually within walking distance of the main attractions. This means we do not use large, impersonal chain hotels on the outskirts of cities. We prefer to select smaller, family run hotels where we establish personal relationships with the owners.

We are staying in a country estate in the hills outside the city of Catania. The house is fully equipped with male/female facilities, a full kitchen, a living area, and bedrooms. We also have a wonderful terrace where we spend time hanging out in the evenings. The estate is surrounded on all sides by olive groves, vineyards, and fruit trees – and Mt. Etna provides the majestic backdrop. We will be living with the Sicilian family who are the project managers of the community service project that we are working on, and we have the good fortune to cook our meals with them every day, picking up some great pointers on Italian cooking.

For safety reasons, we do not publish the names of the accommodations we use. We do not feel it is safe to publish the name of a hotel where a group of teenagers is staying abroad. After registering, participants and parents are given access to our secure parent website where you will be able to see the names of all of the accommodations for a trip.

Do most travelers go by themselves?

Yes, in fact over 75% of students who travel with us choose to come independently. This encourages teens to step further outside their comfort zone and make new friends. We believe that one of the most rewarding and exciting elements of travel is the new friendships that are formed along the way. If you travel by yourself, you are bound to make new friends from all over the country and even the world. The best part is, you can travel again with your new BFFs on another TFT trip the next summer!

Can I bring a friend?

Absolutely! We just ask that if you come with a friend, you and your friend(s) are still open to meeting new people and sharing this special experience with the entire group.

What do students generally like most on this program?

Students love that they are able to fully immerse in the culture by connecting with Sicilian locals on a deeper level given that we are living and working with these people every single day. They also love that they are able to expand their horizons by doing community service work abroad and make a difference in the lives of those in need.

What is unique about this program?

Virtually everything about this program is unique, from the exclusive homestay to the personalized cooking classes, working with adorable young children and challenging yourself to complete influential community service projects, this program provides insider access to true Sicilian lifestyle while giving back to the local community.

What is included?

Ground transportation, accommodations, 3 meals per day, chaperones and guides, trip related activities, trip related activity admissions, taxes and tips.

Not Included: (not intended to be an exhaustive list) Airfare, rail passes, visas & visa application fees, beverages other than tap water, activities and admissions not referenced in the itinerary or deemed not trip related such as movies, clubs and the like, expenses incurred by the participant that are outside the trip description such as damage to hotels, excess baggage fees and the like, expenses related to unforeseen circumstances such as transportation strikes, natural disasters and the like, personal and medical expenses.

How do the optional group flights work?

Upon registration, you will be contacted by our International Logistics Team to discuss this trip’s flight details. You are not required to take the group flight, although there are several advantages to doing so. The group flight is chaperoned by TFT staff, it offers an opportunity for the students to get to know each other before the trip starts, and we get preferred group flight prices on trips that have group contracts (ask for details). Parents are responsible for arranging for participants to get to the group flight airport. Travel For Teens staff are at the airport, greet arriving participants, and help them get to where the rest of the group has assembled. For more information about Flights, visit our Flights page.

Who are the counselors on the trip?

The Trip Director for every trip is a seasoned teen travel professional with extensive TFT experience. Trip Directors often live or have lived and worked in the destination country. Extensive knowledge of the language and culture of the destination is crucial. Our Senior Counselors are experienced, responsible and fun-loving individuals who our participants can share experiences with and look to for guidance and support. At Travel for Teens we pride ourselves on our rigorous staff application process and the professionalism of our full time and summer staff.

It is the job of the counselors to keep the trip fun and exciting, the learning and the laughter in good balance, and to oversee the safety of the participants. Minimum ratios are on average one staff member to every seven participants. Trips may also include one or two Junior Counselors, who are college students with a history of TFT travel, and one or more Counselors in Training (CIT’s) with limited responsibility. CIT’s are not counted in staff-participant ratios.

What are the safety qualifications for our staff?

All of our staff members attend a week long training session every May to prepare for the upcoming summer and go over safety precautions and protocols. Likewise, every counselor is CPR/First Aid certified and Trip Directors are Lifeguard certified. All staff undergo a rigorous interview process and thorough background check.

What is the average group size?

This trip is capped at 15 students for a more intimate service experience and to allow deeper connections with our host family.

How does this program connect to other programs?

Most of our Europe programs are designed specifically so that participants can combine them with other trips. If you are connecting to another program, your counselor will escort you to the airport on the last day of the trip and help you get to your next destination where you will meet up with your new counselors and group.

What is the food like on this trip?

In a word – Delicious! At TFT, we believe food should be an integral part of the travel experience and always make an effort to eat at authentic establishments when we can. What better way to immerse yourself in the culture of a place than by sampling the local delicacies, and we encourage students to do so whenever possible! Just as we stay away from Americanized hotel chains, we try to avoid restaurants with menus that cater only to tourists because every good traveler knows the best food is found wherever the locals are eating!

This program has a particularly strong emphasis on food and gives the students a true farm to table experience. Students will learn how to farm the family’s organic garden, pick fresh ingredients everyday, and make almost every meal with their own two hands. Just like the community service, cooking is incredibly rewarding when you know you worked hard to make the food that you’re eating Since Italian food is all about fresh, simple ingredients, this program offers students a truly authentic culinary experience by preparing and indulging the most delectable homemade Italian dishes. On our day trips, we will also have a chance to sample some specialities that are traditionally Sicilian: like granita (the original “Italian ice”), cannoli, and arancini (fried rice balls).

As always, we are willing and able to accommodate vegetarians, vegans, gluten allergies, and other dietary restrictions.

Do I need any vaccinations for this trip?

We recommend that you check with your family doctor regarding vaccinations and medical advice for the areas you will be visiting. For more information, please check out the World Health Organization’s website www.who.int/en/.

How much free time do we get?

Our counselors are with the group nearly always. During our time at the community center, free time is spent around the house and playing with the children. On our day trips, we will break up into smaller groups to give our participants some choices and flexibility in their itinerary. We do offer some free time to do some shopping, for example, in defined areas that we are very familiar with. If participants are ever shopping by themselves within these defined areas they go in groups and for no more than an hour. On this trip, the group will have some free time to explore some of the safe pedestrian areas of Catania, Syracuse, and Taormina.

What kind of Visa do you need for this trip?

Any US citizen that enters Europe is automatically granted a free 90-day tourist visa. If you are coming from somewhere outside the US, please be sure to check your country specific visa requirements.

Do I need to speak the language?

No, our skilled staff members will help you get around and even teach you a few fun phrases!

Reviews

  1. Jason

    :

    This trip not only challenged me physically, but also broke open my heart. The privilege of staying with the family and also getting to know the amazing people that were a part of this adventure with me made this one of the happiest times of my life! I know the friends I made in Sicily will be my friends for life and I am so grateful for the wise guidance and hilarious times given and shared with my counselors! I wish I was still in Sicily now surrounded by beautiful land and beautiful people. Thank you so much Travel for Teens!

  2. Jason

    :

    The Sicily Community Service trip is the first trip I did with TFT and I’m so glad this is the one that I chose. This trip taught me so many valuable lessons and the true meaning of hard work. I was surrounded the entire time with the amazing culture and caring nature of the host family. The friends that I met on this trip will be with me forever and I know that I can speak for all of us when I say that leaving was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. This has been the most amazing experience that I have ever had and I know that it will remain with me forever. I am so grateful to have had this opportunity and the wonderful memories that I will always have.

  3. Jason

    :

    Thank you for your email updates and for the experiences you have shared with Nicole!!! She texted me several times throughout the trip just to say what a great time she is having, that she wants to move to Sicily, and how thankful she is to me for sending her there! So, thank you for your contribution to her expansion of mind and personal growth!!

  4. Nicole Krakower

    :

    I have done 5 trips with travel for teens and have been blown away each and every time by the activities planned, the absolutely wonderful staff, and how organized and safe the program is! Sicily community service was my second trip and I have to say was my favorite. We got to stay with an Italian family and their young foster children who spoke very little to no English. We learned so much from them, and even though there was a huge language barrier, we were all able to create amazing relationships with the family and all of the foster children. I am still friends with everyone on that trip and the community service part brought us all close together. Working in the heat almost everyday was very difficult, but very rewarding and not something I would trade for anything else! My experience with travel for teens for the past 3 summers has been something that opened me up to how different cultures are around the world, but also how similar we all are.

  5. Valerie

    :

    The sun, radiating down on an elderly woman and glistening off of her pale blue eyes, showed a glimpse of her appreciation for volunteers. She was a local, watching the Travel for Teens Sicily participants work for the Biancavilla community. Our hard work was rewarded with soft smiles from elders and laughs from children. The locals spoke limited English; however, their facial expressions transcended language barriers and were more meaningful than words.

    As a member of the TFT team during the summer of 2015, I spent two weeks living with a Sicilian family. I assisted with many aspects of running the families facility, from farming and household projects, to a cultural exchange of ideas and knowledge.

    After cleaning out an abandoned tool shed to use as a donkey barn, or picking pappleechaes off 300 plus trees, the true result of service was not the work itself; instead, it was how the work affected the feelings of others.

    Travel for Teens Sicily allowed my desire to help others prosper through the service work, my drive to explore soar through the excursions to Taormina, Catania, and Syracuse, and my personal connection to the world to click through my hike up Mt. Etna.

  6. Jade

    :

    When you first step away from your parents at the airport, it’s hard to expect what this trip will do to you. In that moment all you can think about is who much you’ll miss your family and friends. By the end if this trip, you feel the same way about the beautiful people who’ve met in Sicily. A trip to a foreign country can be scary without your family and with people you’ve never met before. Staying in a completely different atmosphere than you’re used to the first is the most terrifying thing you can do, although admittedly the first night everyone is so sleepy they just collapse on to the bed and sleep. For a little while, you’re still nervous and protective about letting people in. Eventually, you let all these amazing people in because in some kind of way they’re much like yourself. 13 days was all it took for me to become attached to the people I met on this trip. The memories we created still play back in my head;late night talks, playing games at the beach, clearing the nature path, and the discussions at the amazing homemade dinner every night. I still miss my two favorite little boys who would tell me they loved me and try to teach me italian so that I could talk to them. I tell many people about the experiences I got to endure such as climbing Mt. Etna or going into the ancient theaters. However, the effects this trip has on people’s minds and soul is impossible to explain and can only be experienced. On the last night there we all said goodbye to each with not a dry eye. In some way everyone had an everlasting impact on each person and even as most of us were saying goodbye for a long time, we all knew that we would have an unmistakable bond for with each other for the rest of our lives. From someone who continues to talk to the friends she made on this trip daily, I know that I, and anyone else who’s ever had the pleasure of going on this trip, will always miss our Sicilian friends and our American ones as well. We know in our minds that Sicily is always in out hearts.

  7. Brooke

    :

    It was when I had the opportunity to bundle wood for the winter, paint a beautiful mural, play soccer with the little kids, dine on home cooked Sicilian meals with 30 others all gathered around the table, tour ancient cities, and watch the sunset sink back into the mountains that I learned the most about life and what it means to take chances. Sicily Community Service was the trip of a lifetime and an experience I will never forget. This trip changed me in so many positive ways. I met amazing people, saw incredible places, and got to take part in service that has forever impacted me. This trip gave me the opportunity to be a part of a new culture, it taught me to be flexible and patient, and it showed me how wonderful it is to open up your door to others in need. I am so grateful for the experiences I gained, the friendships I made, and that I was able to make an impact during my time in Sicily.

  8. Brady

    :

    This trip is a must do. This trip offers a view into how other people make a difference in their community and in other people’s lives. You yourself with be part of their journey of helping out in the community and helping other people’s lives. One of the best parts of the trip is climbing Mt. Etna. This is a thrilling experience like no other. Also on this trip you will see how beautiful Sicily really is. You will embark on your own journey of a Sicilian culture, Sicilian food, towns, and most of all a journey of meeting new people and making friendships that will last you your whole life. This trip is truly a life changing experience. When you get back from this trip you will want to help and do more in your community just like you did in Sicily. Sign up now for this trip if you want to make a difference and explore a Sicilian life style.

  9. Nicole

    :

    I had the best time on the Sicily community service trip! My counselors were AMAZING and all of the friends I made on this trip and I talk everyday! To me, the best part of the trip was living with the family because they were so welcoming and loving. My favorite day trip was Mt. Etna, it was the most amazing feeling running down the mountain and seeing the whole island from the top!

  10. Nicole

    :

    I just wanted to tell you that that trip was so amazing and I miss it all so much. I wanted to say that this experience was probably one of the most memorable in my entire life. I will never forget it. The kids in that house made me smile so much and cry so much on the last day. Doing community service, you would think it would be boring but it was so relieving and I felt like I was helping the greater good. It felt amazing. That family is a very special family and they have changed me forever. I will eternally be grateful for this experience because I believe it has made me a better person. Thank you so much for making this all possible.

  11. Brooke Madison

    :

    A few days ago, I returned home from a trip of a lifetime. It truly was an experience I will never forget. I cannot thank you enough for the opportunity to have been a part of the Sicily Community Service trip this summer. This trip changed me in so many positive ways. I met many amazing people, saw a handful of incredible places, and got to take part in service that has forever impacted me. This trip gave me the opportunity to be a part of a new culture, it taught me to be flexible and patient,and it showed me how wonderful it is to open up your door to others in need. I am so grateful for the experiences I gained, the friendships I made, and that I was able to make an impact during my time in Sicily. Thank you so much for giving me the chance to travel with Travel for Teens this summer!

  12. Amanda Reid

    :

    I returned from my trip to Sicily on Friday and I had a great time! The experience really opened my eyes and taught me a lot about the world. I could not have asked for better counselors than Barbara and Agustin; they were a huge part of what made the trip so great. I am so grateful to you for all of your help. You answered all of my many questions and encouraged me to go on the trip, which I am so glad that I did! I would not have been able to go without the partial scholarship I received from Travel For Teens, and I am so thankful!! It was an experience that I will never forget. I really hope that I can go on another Travel for Teens trip in the future! Thanks again for everything that you did that got me the best experience of my life.

  13. Taylor Klinefelter

    :

    Thanks for the great pictures and updates. Sounds like an amazing location on the farm with such wonderful hosts. It is gratifying to see Isabel and her fellow travelers working hard to help leave their little patch of wonder in Sicily a bit better with their efforts! Keep up the great work and enjoy the travels! Can’t wait to see more pictures. Thanks for making this such a special experience for Isabel.

  14. Caroline S.

    :

    This was my second TFT trip of the summer and I have to say that this was my favorite. The family was amazing and I will forever hold them in my heart, it was a blessing to be able to help them at their home and farm. The scenery wherever you go in Sicily is one of my favorite things. Just the view from the house is amazing. We traveled to the coolest places ever like Taormina and Syracuse. We climbed Mt. Etna, which truly is one of the most amazing things I have ever done. The kids at the house were so much fun to around I love and miss them so much. This trip pushed me to work my hardest for the family and myself. It taught me to be thankful and hardworking no matter the circumstances. I would highly encourage going on this trip if you want to get involved and help to better the world all while having fun and making friends.

  15. Sarah Westin

    :

    I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to go on this trip. The owners of the property were so warm and kind, my group and I were treated like family the second we set foot there. The work we did was incredibly rewarding. We were helping to build a path up a hill to the most beautiful view you have ever seen. We helped make meals at times (Making gnocchi was my favorite!) We got to spend allot of time with the children that lived there too. They were all so sweet and fun to be around. Our days off of volunteering were amazing as well. Syracuse, Taormina and Catania were beautiful, the catania fish market was definitely allot of fun. I miss Sicily every day!!

  16. Isabel MacGregor

    :

    This past summer, I went on the Sicily Community Service trip. This was my second Travel for Teens trip, and each one gets better! The home we stayed at was absolutely amazing. Right when we arrived, they welcomed us with open arms and big smiles. The location is absolutely incredible, and I immediately felt at home with the breathtaking scenery and sweet children running around. It was familiar enough to feel comfortable, but different enough to really open my eyes. It was the perfect balance of rewarding service and exploring throughout the island. The family made us feel like another member of their own. We helped set the table, make dinner, and even celebrated a birthday. Overall, it was an absolutely incredible experience, one that is very close to my heart. I will always remember the friendships I made with so many of the children, and the memories that I made with so many. Thank you TFT for such an amazing experience. I will always remember it!

  17. Drew Kretchmer

    :

    This past summer I went on the Sicily Community Service trip. This was my first TFT travel experience and I was so excited. I had been hearing about TFT from my sister who had gone on trips with TFT for the past 2 summers. I didn’t really know what to expect being in another country and living on a farm. It was such an extraordinary experience and I fell in love with the host family comprised of a mother, a father, and the 13 kids they were caring for. This family takes in children in need of temporary shelter. It was really rewarding on so many levels. I got to help take care of the children and play with them. I got very close to them. I miss them so much and want to go back and visit. I literally dream about them all the time. On the farm, we also helped to build a pathway to a sanctuary on the top of the hill. It wasn’t just all work. Every other day or so, we would travel around exploring beautiful Sicily with our TFT group. I came on the trip with one friend, and left with a dozen new life long friends who I am still in touch with. We bonded while working along side each other as well as when we went on our excursions. My favorite ones were Vendicari Beach and Taormina. On the last day, and one of the biggest highlights of the trip was climbing Mt. Etna, the largest active volcano in Europe. At the top was the most extraordinary view. I had such an incredible experience so I’m already signed up for my next adventure this summer. But, I know I will be back to Sicily!

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