In the Leopard's kitchen: culinary and cultural experiences in Sicily


Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, renowned author of The Leopard, spent his last years in Palazzo Lanza Tomasi, a splendid mid-18th century palace overlooking the sea from Palermo's old defensive walls.

Now, through The Thinking Traveller, it is possible to enter this magnificent home to spend a day shopping, cooking and dining (or just a private visit and aperitif) with the current owner, the Duchess of Palma, Lampedusa's daughter-in-law.


A day cooking with the Duchess

‘Cooking with the Duchess’ is a fascinating journey into Sicily’s rich cuisine, history and culture. Immerse yourself in a cooking class and lunch with the Duchess of Palma, in the extraordinary location of her 18th century historic palazzo overlooking Palermo’s seaside.

The day starts with a journey deep into the colourful local Capo market to purchase ingredients for our class. Under the guidance of the Duchess, we carefully select the freshest seasonal produce and learn about Sicily’s outdoor market tradition. We witness more of the city’s hidden jewels, influenced by thousands of years of foreign conquests, reflected in all aspects from the language, architecture and of course the cuisine.

Back at the palazzo, we pick flowers and herbs from the terrace garden, once the original 16th century city walls. In the palazzo’s warm and welcoming kitchen, we engage in a hands-on cooking class. The Duchess teaches traditional dishes of family recipes and we learn more about the history of Sicilian cuisine and cooking techniques.

We gather in the library for Aperitivo while listening to stories of the family’s history. In the elegant formal dining room, we enjoy the four-course Sicilian menu we prepared together. To conclude the day, the Duke and Duchess treat us to a tour of the private wing of their beautifully restored palazzo, the last residence of Prince Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, author of The Leopard, a masterpiece of Italian literature.

For pricing information, please call us on +44 (0) 203 603 4478 or email

14th July - Santa Rosalia dinner

 14th July in Palermo is the Festino di Santa Rosalia, a celebration of the city's much loved and venerated patron saint, who is paraded through the old town centre from the Cathedral to the sea. As the procession finishes, the fireworks begin.

One of the best places to enjoy the special atmosphere of the Festino is Palazzo Lanza Tomasi, down on the sea-front in Palermo. Here, we can arrange a wonderful dinner and, via a secret passage through the old town's defensive walls, a privileged peek at Santa Rosalia as she arrives at her final destination.

You will also be in the best possible vantage point from which to admire the stunning firework display that rounds off the evening's events...

Other guests may be present.

NB - the Santa Rosalia dinner experience is not available for 2019

For other experiences, please call us on +44 (0) 203 603 4478 or email


Click here to read an article on The Thinking Traveller's cookery experiences in award-winning online food publication, Four Magazine.

Terms and Conditions

Think Experiences are provided by independent local companies which are neither owned not controlled by The Thinking Traveller and for whom we act only as an agent. Whilst every effort is made to keep the description of every Think Experience up to date, the provider may cancel or amend your experience at their discretion for many reasons including where it considers that there may be a risk to your comfort, health or safety. Some excursions/activities (i.e. helicopter rides, excursions on Mount Etna, boat charter, etc.) may contain an element of risk or require a good level of physical fitness, and, if in doubt, you should contact us so we can put you in contact directly with the local provider before deciding to buy. Please also check that you are covered for the activity(ies) in question by your travel insurance policy.

In acting in the capacity of an agent on behalf of the provider, your contract will be with that provider and will be subject to their standard terms and conditions, and it will not form part of your contracted holiday arrangements with us. Any complaint (including any allegation of breach of contract or negligence) should be taken up with the excursion/activity provider directly. We will do our best to assist you, but will have no liability in relation to the performance of that contract.

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