Food and photography at Rocca delle Tre Contrade


Rising proudly between Mount Etna and the sparkling waters of the Ionian Sea, Rocca delle Tre Contrade is one of the finest luxury villas in the Mediterranean. Over the years it has acquired a well-earned reputation for its exquisite cuisine, its warm hospitality and its refined, sophisticated accommodation.

From 1st -8th February 2020, Rocca delle Tre Contrade will be hosting a week-long, full-immersion experience for gastronomes and keen amateur photographers led by Marte Marie Forsberg, a photographer and author of cookbooks known for her captivating use of visual storytelling encompassing the culinary arts, writing and imagery.

During the week, you will be immersed in Sicilian food culture, with excursions to almond groves, vineyards and food markets, and cooking classes with Rocca delle Tre Contrade's in-house cooks. There will also be a very special celebration of Catania’s patron saint Sant’Agata to savour.

You'll be able to take part in the lemon harvest, discover Sicily's street food culture, and create seasonally themed gins. The special guest is Helena Attlee, author of the book The Land Where Lemons Grow, whose presence will add yet another dimension to your Sicilian adventure.

Your host and inspiration: Marte Marie Forsberg

Marte Marie Forsberg is a photographer, visual storyteller, and author. Originally from a small coastal town in the south of Norway, she now calls a small village in the English countryside home. Her passion for photography and cooking led her to write her first cookbook, The Cottage Kitchen, which is a testament to her journey, a story told through one-hundred recipes and a host of beautiful images. 

Marte Marie regularly works as a food and lifestyle photographer, and her work has featured in newspapers, magazines and online articles around the world. Her use of photography to tell compelling and heart-warming stories can be enjoyed on Instagram, in her book, and during her food and photography workshops. 

Workshops are a fabulous way of travelling and exploring the world, and whether you’re interested in photography or not Marte Marie's vision and creativity will allow you to fully immerse yourself in the local food scene, while also learning how to craft visual stories. The aim of the workshop is to inspire participants and provide them with an experience that perfectly balances learning and indulgence.

Special guest speaker: Helena Attlee

Helena Attlee is the British author of several books about Italy. The latest is her best seller, The Land Where Lemons Grow - The Story of Italy and its Citrus Fruit, winner of the British Guild of Food Writers Book of the Year 2015. Building on a lifetime’s travel and work in Italy, Helena has explored the curious past of citrus and its enduring resonance in Italian culture. During the food and photography workshop at Rocca delle The Contrade, she will take you on a unique journey encompassing Italy's cultural, culinary and political past.

 Rocca delle Tre Contrade at night

Your accommodation - Rocca delle Tre Contrade

Rocca delle Tre Contrade occupies a stunningly panoramic position atop its own hill on Sicily’s east coast. Uninterrupted 360-degree views take in the sparkling Ionian Sea to one side and the fertile flanks and lava peak of Mount Etna to the other. The views of this former aristocratic estate are further enhanced by the intense greens and citrus flashes of the villa’s grounds, which feature lemon groves, fruit orchards and vegetable gardens. The magnificence of Mother Nature is rivalled only the amenities on offer, which include delightfully  refurbished, generously proportioned interiors, 12 luxuriously finished en-suite bedrooms, a spectacular 25-metre, south-facing heated infinity pool (ranked one the 100 most beautiful pools in the world by Condé Nast Traveller), a clay tennis court, and a spa area, including Hammam and a well-equipped gym. 

Close by is Mount Etna, Europe’s largest active volcano (a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site), Taormina, Catania, and a host of other fascinating towns, many of which are also designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The culinary excellence and welcoming hospitality of Rocca delle Tre Contrade has been featured in, amongst others, The Daily Telegraph (UK), The Times (UK), BBC Good Food (UK), Elle (UK), House & Garden (UK), Bon Appetit (US), Foodism (UK) and The Sophisticated Traveller (AUS).

"Culinary alchemy." Foodism magazine, February 2019
“Pretty much our dream vacation.”  Bon Appetit magazine, July 2016

Rocca delle Tre Contrade in the press

Sophisticated Traveller
Elle Decor
The Independent
The Times
Ingredients, Inc
The Financial Times How to Spend it

magasine, plate of pasta, oranges in a market

An overview of the week

This is a unique and exclusive visual storytelling experience with a maximum 16 participants. Each day you will spend several hours taking in the sights, sounds and flavours in and around the villa, watching cookery demonstrations, cooking yourself, and learning about food photography and styling.

You will be invited to discover some of the area’s multifarious gastronomic traditions, with visits to markets, a vineyard tour with wine-tasting on Mount Etna, and a street food experience in Catania’s old town centre.

Some of the unique experiences that have been organised exclusively for this special week with Marte Marie Forsberg include an al fresco lunch in a private almond grove, a special guided view of the spectacular Sant’Agata celebrations in Catania, and an introduction to gin-making using botanicals foraged from Rocca delle Tre Contrade's gardens.

Guests will also have time to enjoy the infinite, luxurious pleasures of the villa, relaxing in the gardens, strolling through the lemon orchards, swimming in the pool, recuperating energies in the spa or even playing a set or two of tennis.

The programme* in detail - 1st February - 8th February 2020

*Please note that the programme is subject to slight variation and that some activities are dependent on the weather.

Day 1 - Saturday 1st February

Arrival day including transfers from Catania Airport to Rocca delle Tre Contrade.

  • from 4:00pm - arrival at villa and check-in (in the case of early arrival, lunch can be arranged before check-in)
  • an introduction to Rocca delle Tre Contrade
  • 7:00pm - welcome aperitifs/cocktails and brief introduction to the week ahead
  • 8:00pm - dinner prepared by Rocca delle Tre Contrade's in-house cook, Dora

Day 2 - Sunday 2nd February

  • 8:30am - breakfast
  • 9:30am - an introduction to the week and the day ahead
  • 10:30pm - division into two groups for alternating activities: problem-solving and camerawork (30-60 minutes); an introduction to the lemon groves and harvesting lemons; an introduction to foraging; return to the kitchen with the lemons; outdoor photography
  • 12:00pm - limoncello-making, an introduction to flavoured spirits, gin-making and botanicals and gin distillation 
  • 1:30pm - lunch
  • 3:30pm - a history of Sicilian lemons - a talk by Helena Attlee
  • 7:00pm - aperitifs and a brief introduction to the next day's programme
  • 8:00pm - dinner, prepared by our in-house cook, Dora

Day 3 - Monday 3rd February

  • 8:30am - breakfast
  • 9:30pm - departure for wine-tasting tour on Mount Etna. After a panoramic drive of about 90 minutes over the highest roads of Etna (2,000 metres above sea level), you'll have a private visit of the Valcerasa winery, where you'll be learn about the terroir , wine-making traditions on Mount Etna and the typical qualities of the wine produced on Europe's highest active volcano. After tasting some of the wines, there'll be a ricotta-making masterclass followed by a picnic lunch.
  • 3:00pm - return to Rocca delle Tre Contrade
  • 3:30pm - finishing the preparation of the limoncello
  • 4:30pm - free time or an informal photo-editing session (90 minutes)
  • 7:00pm - aperitif and introduction to the next day's programme
  • 8:00pm - dinner, prepared by our in-house cook, Dora

Day 4 - Tuesday 4th February

  • 8:30am - breakfast
  • 10:00am - hands-on cooking session: an introduction to Sicilian specialities (arancini, caponata, ricotta cannoli, candied citrus peel, etc); indoor photography
  • 12:30pm - an introduction to styling (lighting and composition)
  • 1:30pm - lunch
  • 3:00pm - group sessions concentrating on styling and editing with individual coaching
  • 6:00pm -  completion off the gin distillation and a cocktail-making workshop
  • 7:30pm - aperitif with the cocktails prepared earlier. Brief introduction to the next day's programme
  • 8:30pm - dinner, prepared by our in-house cook, Dora

Day 5 - Wednesday 5th February

  • 8:30am - breakfast
  • 9:30am - visit to a fishmonger's in nearby Riposto
  • 11:00am - hands-on cooking session: an introduction to Sicilian seafood dishes; indoor photography
  • 1:30pm - lunch
  • 3:00pm - group workshops, individual styling sessions, free time or one-to-one sessions
  • 4:30pm - departure for Catania for a street food tour and the Sant'Agata processions
  • 11:30pm (approx) - return to Rocca delle Tre Contrade

Day 6 - Thursday 6th February

  • 8:30am - breakfast
  • 11:00am - hands-on cooking session: an introduction to the villa's lemon recipes (organic lemon and grapefruit marmalades, lemon curd, lemon meringue pie, lemon sour for cocktails)
  • 1:30pm - lunch
  • 2:30pm - group workshops, individual styling sessions, free time or one-to-one sessions
  • 6:00pm -  cocktail-making session: syrups, sours and bitters
  • 7:30pm - aperitif and brief introduction to the next day's programme
  • 8:00pm - dinner, prepared by our in-house cook, Dora

Day 7 - Friday 7th February

  • 8:30am - breakfast
  • 9.30am - departure to the baroque UNESCO World Heritage Site town of Noto (approx. 1hr20 drive)
  • 11:00am - sightseeing in Noto. Outdoor photography
  • 1:30pm - almond blossom experience and al fresco lunch (subject to the weather)
  • 4:00pm - return to Rocca delle Tre Contrade
  • 5:00pm - afternoon tea around the fireplace, summary of the week
  • 7:30pm - aperitif and cocktails
  • 8:00pm - farewell dinner and presentation of a gift pack, with bottles of limoncello and gin

Departure day - Saturday 8th February

  • 8:30am - breakfast
  • 10:00am - check-out and transfers to Catania airport


  • breakfasts, lunches and dinners are served around the communal table at the villa
  • the programme may subject to slight variations based on weather conditions and availability of seasonal produce

Price include:

  • six days immersed in a full food and wine programme with Marte Marie Forsberg, including photographic workshops, one-to-one photography and styling sessions (time permitting), cookery demos and hands-on lessons with the villa's in-house cooks
  • seven nights’ accommodation at the private luxury villa Rocca delle Tre Contrade in double rooms (single occupancy also available)
  • a programme of guided tours with an English-speaking guide and related ground transportation
  • the presence of Jon Moslet, co-owner of Rocca delle Tre Contrade, an expert in local food and wine and host for your stay. Jon is also fluent in English and Italian.
  • all meals and wine-tastings including wine and beverages (7 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 7 dinners)
  • transfers between Catania Fontanarossa Airport and Rocca delle Tre Contrade on the first and last days of the week
  • complimentary in-house laundry service (dry cleaning not included)

Prices exclude:

  • flights and all travel/transfers from your home to Catania Airport and back
  • optional medical or cancellation insurance
  • any meals and attractions not specified in the itinerary
  • tips and gratuities for guides, drivers and villa staff
  • any additional travel expenses associated with extended stays
  • anything not mentioned in the Prices Include section

Accompanying partner rate (i.e. for those travelling with a participant but not actually taking part in the workshop themselves) includes airport transfer, accommodation and breakfast only. Lunches and dinners are available at €50 per meal.

Number of participants

  • Maximum 16
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