Who said that a tour in Sicily ‘is always the same’? Dimensione Sicilia, thanks to the expertise of its team, knows how to make every itinerary personalized…100% tailor-made! And so, for your group trip, it is worthwhile to follow the advice of people like Mariangela Pampallona from the Groups Operations and Sales Department of Dimensione Sicilia.
Q: How does organizing a ‘tailor-made’ tour for a group start?
A: It all comes from the clients’ request. Like tailors we build the tour ad hoc by accomplishing their wishes, interests and budget. From luxury to low cost there are many ways to visit Sicily and our challenge is to make everyone satisfied.
Q: What kind of group trips do you mainly organize?
A: In my field I deal mainly with educational tourism for schools, and I would like to point out that compared to the past, tours for students evolved a lot. In fact, in addition to the traditional art tours we have included some itineraries to visits the places of Verga and Pirandello and some tours dedicated to lawfulness with stops at the famous places of the Memory (Falcone’s tree, Rita and Paolo Borsellino Center, Peppino Impastato’s House) that have been very successful. I also deal with groups of adults to whom we offer food and wine tours in addition to the classic tours. While to Universities of the Third Age whose participants are particularly interested in art tours-with a focus on Baroque and parishes – we suggest our Shrines itineraries.
Q: What are the most common requests you get in terms of ‘must-see’ destinations and services?
A: Nowadays customers want to fully experience travel, so it is essential that the tour includes some experiences that make people an active part of the trip and not just a spectator. For this reason, wine cellar tastings and cooking classes are particularly successful. Among the most popular destinations during the current season there are Florio places such as the Villino Florio in Palermo and the Cantina Florio in Marsala, both of which are included in our themed tour exploiting the success of the novel ‘The Florios of Sicily’.
Then we suggest the Places of Montalbano (the Inspector’s house on the beach of Punta Secca, the police station in Scicli and the scenic Piazza Duomo in Ragusa Ibla). In addition to these, let’s not forget the great classics such as Syracuse, with the possibility of attending the Classical Performances in the splendid Greek Theater, or Mount Etna, that fascinates thousands of visitors every year.
Q: Mariangela Pampallona’s intuition: how do you understand what a client wants?
A: Primarily by talking with clients we try to understand what their idea of travel is, and based on this we propose a ‘basic’ tour from which to enrich it with pluses in terms of visits or services. The same itinerary can be proposed in many forms with 3- or 5-star hotels, with half board or full board, with lunches in trattorias or luxury locations, with local guides or with a guide for the entire tour, in short, as Sciascia used to say, ‘To each his own’.
Q: You are a food specialist as well as a connoisseur of fine dining: how important is ‘food’ for the organization of a tour?
A: Personally, it is fundamental because in each travel, every experience passes through scents and tastes, and in this sense Sicily offers so much by having a rich gastronomic tradition. Many people believe that being an island, Sicily is only famous for fish but this is not true. There are many Sicilian specialties, including meat products such as salami from S. Angelo di Brolo, black pig from Nebrodi, and sausage from Palazzolo Acreide. From street food to pubs, trattorias to starred restaurants, there is food for all tastes and budgets in Sicily.
Q: How do you create the menu for a group by making it tell the best about the places you visit?What’s the ‘secret note’ of Mariangela Pampallona?
A: First and foremost, it is important that the menu features alternating meat and fish and includes traditional Sicilian dishes. Enriching the menus are winery tastings (in Marsala or on Mount Etna), Palermo street food (sfincioni and panelle), Catania’s deli, and in summer, granita with brioche.
Q: In your opinion, what is (or are) the signature dish that can never be missed?
A: We definitely always include in our menus pasta alla norma, pasta with sardines, Sicilian rolls, fish couscous, and as for desserts, cannoli, cassatelle and watermelon pudding.
Q: Lastly, what are your travel tips for travelling with Dimension Sicily?
A: Relying on a local operator like us is a guarantee in terms of knowledge of the area and suppliers because periodically both I and my colleagues test the services we sell. I tell clients to rely on us because, not only at the booking stage but also during the trip, we always give them assistance.
Q: What is the greatest satisfaction you receive from your work?
A: Customer’s happiness is my greatest satisfaction! It sounds like a cliché but it is not so: often at the end of the tour or even during the tour, people share their thoughts, their photos with us, even through our social media, and receiving positive feedback makes me proud. Finally, I would like to remind that those people who have been to Sicily once should come back because there will always be something new to see: culture, nature, tradition, folklore, food and wine…you are spoiled for choice!