Sicily Discovery and Service
$3,295 + Airfare + $350 Intra Trip Flights
Jun 25 – Jul 7, Jul 7 – Jul 19, Jul 19 – Jul 31
Session 2, Session 3, Session 4
9, 10, 11, 12
|Who can go on this trip?||
Students from around the world!
Biancavilla, Catania, Syracuse, Taormina, Vendicari, Mt. Etna
|Optional group flight there:||
Newark to Catania
|Optional group flight back:||
Catania to Newark
Want to make a difference this summer? Join us for an unforgettable adventure of giving back on Italy’s most beautiful island. Sicily Discovery and Service is a truly unique program. Teens have loved it so much they returned to do it again the following summer! Discover this life-changing experience, 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 a 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! Enjoy an incredibly humbling and rewarding experience in paradise!
On this trip you will:
- Earn up to 40 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 duration 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 which has survived many layers of civilizations.
DAYS 5-6: SERVICE IN BIANCAVILLA
We’ll spend these 2 days back at our home base continuing on our community service projects. See how much progress we’ve made in just 2 days! 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 some time shopping at some of Catania’s best spots. Stop for some classic Sicilian cannoli before heading back to the center to do some work for the rest of the afternoon.
DAY 8: SERVICE IN BIANCAVILLA
Back to work! See the value of your service reflected in the community center and the children’s happiness with each passing day.
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 which means “beautiful island.”
DAYS 10-11: SERVICE IN BIANCAVILLA
Our final two 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. Peer into the crater in amazement that you’re standing among the largest active volcano in Europe! Relax for a picnic lunch along the slopes of Mt. Etna before heading down from an unforgettable day. We’ll enjoy a special final dinner at a nearby restaurant overlooking the sea as we reflect on the life changing experience we’ve had in Sicily.
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?
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.
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!
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