Sicily Discovery and Service
$2,995 + Airfare
Jul 8 – Jul 20
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 program 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 program. 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 CATANIA
Arrivederci, Sicily! Fly from Catania Airport for home.
WHAT KIND OF TEEN TYPICALLY PARTICIPATES IN THIS PROGRAM? WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS TO JOIN?
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.
This program is only for students who are currently in 9th through 12th grade and approximately 14 to 18 years old. Students living outside of the USA are welcome to join!
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 stay in a country estate in the hills outside the city of Catania. The house is fully equipped with separate male and 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 program.
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 program 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 LIKE MOST ABOUT 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. Having the opportunity to see and learn about places than they would otherwise only see in textbooks is another highlight of the program.
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, all breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, chaperones and guides, program-related activities and admissions, taxes and tips.
Not included (not intended to be an exhaustive list): Airfare, visas and visa application fees, beverages other than filtered water at meals, activities and admissions not referenced in the itinerary or deemed not program related, such as movies, expenses incurred by the participant that are outside the program description, such as excess baggage fees and damage to hotels, expenses related to unforeseen circumstances, such as transportation strikes and natural disasters, as well as 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 program’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 program starts, and we get preferred group flight prices on programs 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 LEADS THE PROGRAM?
The Trip Director for every program 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 program 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. Programs 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 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?
Group size is important! A smaller group size provides unique opportunities that a large group cannot accommodate. Think of your favorite local restaurant; could it easily accommodate a group of 50 teens? Probably not! Our group sizes average between 14 to 21 students, which means that we are able to comfortably use local transport, enjoy local restaurants, and have a more authentic experience overall! A smaller group size also eliminates the likelihood of cliques, meaning that our groups all tend to bond as a cohesive unit. We guarantee that you’ll have enough people to meet some new best friends, but not so many that you feel like “just a number” or lost in a crowd.
How does this program connect to other programs?
Most of our Europe programs are designed specifically so that participants can combine them with other programs. If you are connecting to another program, your counselor will escort you to the airport on the last day of the program 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 program?
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, with the service portion of the program giving the students a true farm to table experience. Students will learn how to farm the family’s organic garden, pick fresh ingredients every day, 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 specialties that are traditionally Sicilian, like granita (the original “Italian ice”), cannoli, and arancini (fried rice balls).
We also love to have picnics al fresco, and do this whenever possible, which is a great way to taste some local food while sitting out in the fresh air taking in the sights and sounds of our surroundings.
As always, we are willing and able to accommodate vegetarians, vegans, gluten allergies, and other dietary restrictions.
How much free time do we get?
Our counselors are with the group almost always. Every day we will break up into smaller groups to give our participants some choices and flexibility in their itinerary. At our accommodations, students will have a good amount of free time to enjoy the facilities but will not be able to leave the grounds without one of our staff members. 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. Our time in Catania, Syracuse, and Taormina will be fairly regimented to maximize the activities we can enjoy during our time, however there will be some free time to go shopping. Additionally, a lifeguard certified counselor will be supervising the students any time that they are involved in water activities.
Do I need any vaccinations for this program?
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/.
What kind of Visa do you need for this program?
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!
DO I NEED TO BRING ANYTHING SPECIAL FOR THE COMMUNITY SERVICE PORTION OF THE PROGRAM?
Summer in Italy is known for its sunshine, which makes beach days beautiful, but working a bit more tiring. Please be sure to bring a water bottle and hat for our service days, as well as clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty.
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