Music & Revelry in Sicily

A family-friendly week of music, culture, cuisine, and community


2018 Dates to be announced. 

Join us for a week of joy and revelry in Sicily! Breathtaking landscapes, remarkable cuisine, and fascinating culture and history will enchant you alongside Italian folk-music, mandolin, guitar, and songwriting sessions. Led by John T. LaBarbera, Jennifer Stigliani Bowen, Joe Ravo, Allison Scola, and local masters, Music and Revelry is a “slow” Sicily, one with harmonious moments you’ll be talking about for years to come. Music lovers, families, hobby-musicians, and professionals are all encouraged to attend for a wonderful mix of music and revelry in sublime Sicily!


Price: $3,600/person, double occupancy* | $300 single supplement
Price includes airport transfers, all accommodations, transportation by air-conditioned coach bus, all meals, and excursions with English speaking guides. Price does not include airfare or travel insurance.

Consult Allison regarding your flight itinerary, whether to fly into/out of Catania or Palermo.

*Save $300 on your trip if you pay in full by check by April 15, 2018. If you pay by credit card there will be an additional convenience charge of $150.00.

Price for Palermo/Agrigento Extension: $1,000/person, double occupancy | $75 single supplement

For an intimate group of fewer than 14 participants

Contact Allison Scola at Experience Sicily to reserve your place on this exclusive tour!

Phone: 646-281-4324

Print the Day by Day Itinerary as a .pdf document.


Itinerary Day by Day Descriptions

This itinerary is subject to change. 

Departure Day 

  • Overnight flight from U.S.A. Please consult with Allison prior to making any flight reservations to determine your best options. Flight costs are not included in quoted trip costs.

Day 1 wp-1470461962523.jpg

  • Arrival in Palermo or Catania
  • Private transfer to characteristic inn in Carlentini
  • Stop for lunch as a group at characteristic trattoria
  • After check-in, time for rest and relaxation
  • Orientation meeting and welcome dinner as a group at our inn
  • Concert featuring local folk musicians

Meal Included for Today:  Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations: Characteristic inn in Villasmundo, Siracusa Province

Day 2 IMG_20141019_113620

  • Optional poolside morning warm-up with Jennifer Stigliani Bowen
  • Breakfast at inn on own
  • Morning: Workshop 1 (Choose: Mandolin, Guitar, or Songwriting track. Please see below for descriptions.)
  • Lunch as a group at inn
  • Afternoon: Relax, practice, jam sessions, optional private lessons (for an additional cost), enjoy the pool, hiking, horseback riding (extra charge)
  • Early Evening: Southern Italian Folk Music lecture and demonstration led by John T. LaBarbera
  • Dinner as a group at inn

Meals Included for Today: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations: Characteristic inn in Villasmundo, Siracusa Province

Day 3wp-image-1832892450jpg.jpg

  • Market tour and hands-on cooking class of traditional Sicilian recipes with local mamma in Ortigia, Siracusa’s ancient center
  • For lunch, we will feast on the fruits of our labor.
  • For the afternoon, you’ll have time on own in Siracusa/Ortigia for shopping, swimming in the sea, and/or visiting the archaeological park and museum.
  • Dinner as a group at local trattoria
  • Live entertainment

Meal Included for Today: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations: Characteristic inn in Villasmundo, Siracusa Province

Day 4wp-image-1496512359jpg.jpg

  • Optional poolside morning warm-up with Jennifer Stigliani Bowen
  • Breakfast at inn on own
  • Morning: Workshop 2 (Choose: Mandolin, Guitar, or Songwriting track. Please see below for descriptions.)
  • Lunch as a group at inn
  • Afternoon: Masterclass with renowned Sicilian folk musician
  • Dinner as a group at inn
  • Concert at our inn featuring our special guest

Meals Included for Today: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations: Characteristic inn in Villasmundo, Siracusa Province

Day 5 wp-1471113298428.jpg

  • Optional poolside morning warm-up with Jennifer Stigliani Bowen
  • Breakfast at inn on own
  • Morning: Workshop 3 (Choose: Mandolin, Guitar, or Songwriting track. Please see below for descriptions.)
  • Lunch as a group at inn
  • Afternoon: Visit local guitar, lute, and mandolin maker at his workshop
  • Seaside beach excursion at beautiful nature preserve to swim and bask in the sun
  • Dinner as a group
  • Jam sessions, rehearsals, optional private lessons, and practicing

Meals Included for Today: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations: Characteristic inn in Villasmundo, Siracusa Province

Day 6 wp-1475086200255.jpg

  • Excursion to Etna, Europe’s largest, most active volcano, with expert, local guides
  • Picnic lunch of typical cuisine from Etna
  • Cantina and tour with tasting of Etna wines at a spectacular vineyard
  • Dinner as a group
  • Jam sessions, optional lessons, rehearsals, and practicing

Meals Included for Today: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations: Characteristic inn in Villasmundo, Siracusa Province


Day 7 wp-1470979668529.jpg

  • Optional morning warm-up with Jennifer Stigliani Bowen poolside
  • Breakfast at inn on own
  • Morning: Rehearsal and practicing, or optional visit to sheep farm for cheese demonstration
  • Lunch as a group at inn
  • Afternoon: Concert preparation, rest, optional lessons, time at the pool, prepare for departure
  • Final concert by participants
  • Final dinner as a group at inn

Meals Included for Today: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations: Characteristic inn in Villasmundo, Siracusa Province

Day 8

  • Departure from Catania or Palermo airport (Please consult Allison before making your flight plans to discuss best airport option.)

Meals Included for Today: Breakfast (if time permits)

~~~ Optional Extension ~~~

  • Group staying for Palermo/Agrigento Extension travels by air-conditioned minvan to our family-run inn outside of Palermo
  • Afternoon free to enjoy pool and property at inn

Meals Included for Today: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner (Extension Participants Only)
Accommodations: Characteristic inn outside of Palermo

Optional Extension Day 9 

  • Visit to Monreale Cathedral with local, expert guide
  • Lunch as a group of typical Palermitano wp-image-404101859jpg.jpgstreet food
  • Tour Palermo’s Arab-Norman sites with local, expert guide
  • Time on own in Palermo
  • Dinner as a group at Allison’s favorite local trattoria

Meals Included for Today: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations: Characteristic inn outside of Palermo

Optional Extension Day 10 wp-1466141385920.jpg

  • After breakfast, by air-conditioned private van, we’ll drive to Agrigento
  • Lunch as a group overlooking the ancient temples
  • Explore Agrigento Valley of the Temples UNESCO World Heritage Site with a private, expert guide
  • Dinner as a group at our inn, prepare for departure

Meals Included for Today: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations: Characteristic inn outside of Palermo

Optional Extension Day 11 wp-1464120326106.jpg

  • Departure from Palermo Airport (Suggested flight: 12:50 p.m. Meridiana Flight 3932)
  • Arrivederci Sicilia!

Meals Included for Today: Breakfast


Mornings Before Breakfast
Breath-work, movement, and physical warm-up with Jennifer Stigliani Bowen is optional and open to all.

Participants choose workshops they wish to attend

Guests not participating in workshops are free to enjoy the property and surrounding countryside during these times. To program excursions, Experience Sicily will help you plan activities and transportation (may incur an addition cost).

Workshop 1

  • John T. La Barbera: Introduction to Italian Traditional Music for Mandolin
  • Joe Ravo: Working as Part of a Band, Part I
  • Allison Scola: Songwriting challenge to get your juices flowing, present to group for constructive feedback

Workshop 2

  • John T. La Barbera: : Mandolin Techniques: Strumming patterns, rhythms, accents (Tarantella ’600, antidotum)
  • Joe Ravo: Working as Part of a Band, Part II
  • Allison Scola: Songwriting challenge to get your juices flowing, present to group for constructive feedback

Workshop 3

  • John T. La Barbera: : Small Mandolin (and other instruments) Ensemble Arranging,
    Part I: Learning how to fill in parts: Lead mandolin, 2nd mandolin, etc
  • Joe Ravo: Small Ensemble Arranging with Emphasis on Live Playing, Part I
  • Allison Scola: Workshop songs you have in progress with other participants, gain constructive feedback from group, practice performance in preparation for final concert

Afternoon/Free time

During afternoons, participants may sign-up for private mandolin, guitar, composition, and arranging lessons with John T. La Barbera (mandolin, guitar) and Joe Ravo (guitar) and/or private yoga or body work sessions with Jennifer Stigliani Bowen for an additional cost.

Accommodations and Meals

For Music & Revelry in Sicily, we’ll be staying in a characteristic, family-run inn overlooking Mount Etna in Villasmundo, a small town in Siracusa province. Rooms are furnished with double and single beds and will be arranged accordingly. The borgo-nocchiara-1furnishings are simple with modern, clean, private bathrooms. The property has a beautiful pool that overlooks olive orchards and lemon groves. Most of our meals will be enjoyed on the premises. With the exception of our Welcome and Final dinners, you’ll be able to order whatever you wish to eat. Two glasses of wine or soft drinks are included as part of each meal (see Important Notes to Consider below for more details.). The menu consists of traditional Sicilian cuisine based on fresh, seasonal ingredients and prepared in a Slow Food style.

Schedule and Concerts

As we prepare for the trip, Experience Sicily will work with you to determine your choices for workshops and how you’d like to spend your free time. Depending on your passions, for each workshop designated time, you can choose how you’d like to spend your time.

In addition to enjoying guest and faculty concerts, participants will have the opportunity to perform in a public concert on the final evening of Music & Revelry in Sicily. We will also be hosting a special guest or two from Sicily who will share their artistry with us during the week. 

Faculty and Session Leaders

John T. La BarberaFor more than four decades, guitarist, mandolinist, composer, arranger, educator, and author John T. La Barbera has enchanted audiences throughout the United States, Europe, and South America. His professional journey began in the 1970s—during the great Italian folk revival in Italy—when, as a member of the Pugliese folk group Pupi e Fresedde, John absorbed the traditional music of Italy while touring Europe performing in the troupe’s theatrical and musical productions. During that time, his passion for Southern Italian music and folk traditions grew, and since, he has conducted extensive research in order to bring the rich heritage to the United States. In fact, in 2005, he was recognized by The Italian Oral History Institute for his extraordinary role of the transmission and translation of Italian oral traditions and noted to be one of the first transcribers of Southern Italian folk music in America. More recently, he received the John and Mary Esposito Fellowship Award in Italian American Culture and History from UMass at Dartmouth.

As a concert artist, John performs for audiences throughout the United States, Europe, and South America. He has appeared on stages such as The Montreal Jazz Festival, Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall-Lincoln Center, The Felt Forum, San Francisco World Music Festival, Central Park Summer Stage, Jones Beach Theater, and Banco do Brasil’s, Brasil Festeiro and SESC, in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Furthermore, John is a prolific composer for film, theater, and mandolin ensemble, and his compositions, which often feature the mandolin as the principal instrument, have been featured in a number of documentaries, folk operas, and theatrical productions. He has recorded seven albums, and his music is featured on Shanachie Records, Meadowlark, Rounder Records, Lyrichord Disks, Ellipsis Arts, and Bribie records.

John is the author of the first and foremost book published in the U.S. on the Italian mandolin titled Traditional Southern Italian Mandolin and Fiddle Tunes (2009). In 2012, he published Italian Folk Music for Mandolin. Both books are under the Mel Bay Publications imprint. In addition, John writes articles about mandolin and acoustic guitar styles for publications such as Acoustic Guitar.

Currently a faculty member at Bergen Community College in Paramus, NJ, John leads workshops and lectures on ethnomusicology, world music, and guitar and mandolin techniques throughout the world. He has taught at The Julius Hartt School of Music (University of Hartford), The Guitar Study Center of the New School in New York City, Sessione Sienese in Siena, Italy, SASI in Bratislava, Slovakia, and SESC in Sao Paulo, Brazil. A native New Yorker with roots in Sicily, he holds a MM from The William Paterson University in Jazz Studies and Arranging and a BM from The Hartt School of Music in Classical Guitar. For a detailed biography and bibliography, please visit

JoeRavoA native New Yorker, multi-faceted guitarist and composer Joe Ravo has performed with jazz greats Dave Brubeck and Stanley Turrentine and worked in the orchestras of various hit Broadway shows including, A Chorus Line, 42nd Street, Secret Garden, City of Angels, and Dancin’. As the guitarist of Johnny Rodgers Band (JRB), Joe has toured around the globe as a cultural ambassador for the United States. In 2010, as part of the US Department of State-Jazz at Lincoln Center Rhythm Road American Music Abroad cultural diplomacy initiative, JRB traveled to Southeast Asia. In 2011, in the midst of the Arab Spring, along with JRB, Joe toured Egypt, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Djibouti, and Bahrain as part of the Musical Overtures Program. Johnny Rodgers Band returned to Malaysia in 2012 to headline the Kota Kinabalu Jazz Festival, and in 2013, the band toured Russia, which included a concert-collaboration with the Moscow Symphony Orchestra. Most recently, Joe performed with JRB as the headlining act of the Miri Country Music Festival in Miri, Borneo, Malaysia.

In addition to earning a degree in electrical engineering from New York University, Joe studied guitar with Alexander Bellow and participated in the Master Class of Oscar Gighlia at the Accademia Chigiana in Siena, Italy. He studied composition with Rudolph Schramm. When MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) was introduced, Joe exploited his engineering background to develop software for Korg USA as a contract programmer.

In addition to serving as director of technology for Mannes College the New School for music from 2000 – 2015, Joe currently serves on the faculties of the music conservatory’s preparatory and extension divisions. Joe lends also his artistry to commercial jingles and film scores and has recorded alongside Liza Minelli, Randy Brecker, Anne Hampton Callaway, Michael Feinstein, Tom Harrell, and Johnny Rodgers Band, to name a few. Joe also regularly performs with ensembles Villa Palagonia, Dodo Orchestra, and in his instrumental guitar trio BeBimBop with Danny Mallon and Brian Glassman.

Allison-ScolaAllison Scola’s dedication and talent shows – her 2004 Song Sampler received rave reviews from and and landed her a place in the national Chick Singer Night showcase, the On Stage Italian American Artists showcase, and the Songwriters Hall of Fame New Writers showcase. In addition, her song “Something Better Waiting” reaped a Finalist Position in the 2005 Hank Williams Songwriting Contest, and “Risking a Fall” won her a 3rd Place prize in the 2005 SolarFest Singer-Songwriter Competition.

In 2006, Scola performed in New York’s Columbus Day Parade, and in 2007 she wooed audiences during her Italian Day pre-game performance at the New York Met’s Shea Stadium and Staten Island Yankees Stadium. In the summer of 2007, her band, Allison Scola Project, was voted a finalist in the CBS News Early Show “Living Room Live! Battle of the Bands Contest.”

Scola creates songs that weave hues of her Italian heritage and fascination with Mediterranean folk culture together with personal accounts of her experience as a modern American artist taking risks in love and life. Her solo album, A Braver Kind, produced by Janie Barnett and engineered and mixed by Jon Gordon, illustrates her power as a songwriter and musician–as confirmed by an Honorable Mention Award in the 2009 Billboard Magazine World Song Competition for her song “My Naked Heart.”

Starting in January 2012, Scola performed for two and a half years alongside her colleagues in Chicks with Dip, a New York City women’s songwriting collective, a group of which she is a founding member, in Joni Mitchell’s Blue: A 40th Anniversary Celebration. Together with pianist Anna Dagmar, she performed “This Flight Tonight.” Chicks with Dip’s recording of Joni Mitchell’s landmark album was named as a Best of 2012 Top Ten Albums by WFUV’s John Platt. Chicks with Dip performed Blue at numerous venues throughout the United States.

In 2013, Scola formed Villa Palagonia with guitarist Joe Ravo. Named for the world-famous, historic palace in Bagheria, Sicily, Villa Palagonia performs eclectic acoustic pop infused with Mediterranean folk–combining the sounds of Scola and Ravo’s American roots with their southern Italian heritages. In 2015, the ensemble appeared on Chicago’s WFMT’s Folk Stage. Having released their debut album, Rhythms & Roots, in early 2016, the group was recently featured on WFUV’s Sunday Supper and On Your Radar with John Platt and WMSC’s Radio Nowhere with Joltin’ Joe Pszonek.

With seemingly never-ending energy, Allison seeks to introduce audiences to southern Italian folk music and dance. A long-time protégé of Alessandra Belloni and other keepers of Italian folk traditions, Allison leads workshops, lectures, and events featuring tarantella dance and song. She specializes in bridging Italian musical traditions with American. Through her boutique tourism company, Experience Sicily, Allison delights in sharing Sicily’s profound culture, history, and hospitality with travelers.

Jennifer-BowenJennifer Stigliani Bowen has an extensive background in multiple art forms including healing arts, movement, and foreign languages. As a movement, dance, and healing arts professional, Jennifer holds yoga teaching certification from Kripalu and belly dance instruction certification from American Tribal Style Belly Dance. She has performed extensively in world dance and Middle Eastern dance productions including those recorded for World Dance DVD’s with Venus Uprising in New York.

As a performing artist and singer, she has appeared at Caramoor Center for the Arts, Trumpets Jazz Club, and St. John the Divine, to name a few venues. Jennifer’s healing arts certifications include those in reflexology, Reiki, and sound healing techniques involving musical tuning forks on the acupuncture points. She has proficiency in Japanese, Chinese, French, Spanish, and Italian languages. As an award-winning artist who has been reviewed by The Village Voice and the Washington Post, her artwork has been exhibited worldwide at venues such as Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Art. Jennifer holds a BFA in visual art from Moore College of Art in Philadelphia and an MA in East Asian Studies and Mandarin from the University of San Francisco. Her varied background provides her with an extensive toolbox that allows her to lead, teach, perform, and care for her clients with a very open, adaptable, and multi-tiered approach.

Additional Information

Recommend Reading
John T. LaBarbera’s Books: Traditional Southern Italian Mandolin & Fiddle Tunes and Italian Folk Music for Mandolin

Print the Day by Day Itinerary as a .pdf document.

Important Notes to Consider

  • The tour officially begins with airport transfer from Catania (Transfer from Palermo is also an option, for an additional cost TBD according to how many people request this option), please discuss with Allison Scola before making your flight reservations.) on Thursday, July 13 to our family-run farmhouse/inn. Our first group event will be in the evening of July 13 at approximately 7:00 PM. Please plan your accordingly.
  • The boutique nature of this itinerary means that it is subject to change as we approach the departure date. In most cases, changes made will enhance your experience. It is our mission to delight you by providing you with the most memorable experience in Sicily that we are able.
  • Schedule of ground transportation to and from airport and accommodations in Sicily will be determined once an inventory of guests’ arrivals and departures is assessed.
  • The trip price is for double occupancy and does not include airfare or travel insurance. There is a single supplement fee of $300. If you wish to share a room with someone, we will try to match you with another single on the trip.
  • IMPORTANT: Before making any flight reservations, please discuss with Allison Scola which airport you should arrive at and depart from.
  • Flights from the U.S. will depart the night before on July 12, 2017 and arrive the morning or afternoon of July 13. Please plan accordingly.
  • Details about our accommodations will be released once you have paid in full. All information will be emailed to you about 30 days before departure. A complete, printed trip packet with preparation information will be sent via post.
  • The cost of this tour does not include travel insurance; however, it is highly recommended that you purchase a comprehensive plan to cover the costs of your airfare, tour, loss of luggage, and emergency medical expenses.
  • Tour price includes costs for all excursions, entertainment and experience-sicily-music-revelry-2017-day-by-dayticket prices, tour transportation, and all meals (consult day by day description for details). Price does not include airfare, travel insurance, or personal purchases and gifts.
  • Each meal included in the tour price includes two glasses of wine and/or soft drinks per meal. If you wish to enjoy additional wine and other alcoholic beverages, you are welcome to purchase them separately from the group’s bill.
  • Please inform us in advance regarding any dietary restrictions, food allergies, and other personal concerns.
  • Sicily is a large region that requires a lot of driving. It is also very mountainous and, as a result, has many winding roads. We have designed the itinerary to break up the driving as much as possible, but on some days, long drives will be necessary. If you suffer from motion sickness, please bring motion-sickness medication with you.
  • You must be in good physical health to enjoy this tour. Although we will not be engaging in physically rigorous excursions, there is a significant amount of walking on various surfaces and types of terrain as well as standing for extended periods of time, especially during cooking lessons, at archaeological sites, and on Etna.
  • Gratuities are included, however, at the conclusion of the tour, if you are pleased with the hospitality and service of our local driver/guide, additional recognition at your discretion is appreciated.
  • Private lessons and individual sessions with faculty and workshop leaders are an additional cost.

Contact Allison Scola at Experience Sicily to reserve your place on this exclusive tour!

Phone: 646-281-4324