5 Skills You Can Learn During A Sabbatical In Sicily

Try out your dream job while supporting a small business during a sabbatical in Sicily.
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This post was produced in partnership with DayZero.

Have you ever thought of opening your own restaurant, becoming a winemaker or living on a remote island? Now that our lives have been upended and our routines have been reset, there’s never been a better time to discover a new passion or embrace a different lifestyle. And thanks to DayZero, a new travel company on a quest to make the world a better place, you can try out your dream job while helping to support a small business on a sabbatical in Sicily.

A Sabbatical In Sicily

Founded to help creatives live their dreams, DayZero offers month-long sabbaticals where travelers have the opportunity to immerse themselves in daily life in Sicily’s small towns. The program offers a safe space for experimentation where you’ll receive one-on-one mentorship from the island’s greatest artisans, including pastry chefs, artists, winemakers, sailors and carpenters. The idea is to get back to basics – to rise early with the sun, to follow the rhythms of daily life – and to use your hands.

“It’s time to slow down and enjoy the good things.. let’s press pause on modern life and save what is important,” explains Krisztina Hadzsipetkova, the founder of DayZero. Through the platform, she hopes to appeal to the next generation of dreamers to build a more sustainable future for the world. Because DayZero isn’t only about seizing the day. It’s also about giving back and supporting small family-owned businesses so they can continue to work long into the future.

“I created my travel company because I don’t want the world to lose its craftsmanship,” she says. The name DayZero, in fact, isn’t meant to conjure images of the end of the world. It’s a a reference to Robert Merle’s science fiction novel Malevil about the return to agrarian life after nuclear warfare – and the importance of remastering traditional skills to build a new, better world from the ground up.

With a predilection for slow living, Sicily is the perfect location for a sabbatical designed to restore, rejuvenate and inspire. Whether you want to master the art of Sicilian cooking for a cookbook, understand the logistics needed to open your own winery, take up sailing or just spend a month creating art on a Sicilian island, DayZero has an option for you. Let’s discover the experiences.


Live the life of a winemaker on Mount Etna

Some of Italy’s best wines are produced on the slopes of Mount Etna so if you’ve considered dabbling in the world of wine, this sabbatical is a chance to learn from some of the best. Francesco and Filadelfo, two brothers, helm Gambino winery which produces excellent wines with indigenous Sicilian grapes, including Nero d’Avola, Nerello Mascalaese, Carricante and Cataratto. Overlooking the Mediterranean Sea and close to beautiful Taormina. Depending on the season, you can take part in the vendemmia (wine harvest), assist the professional team with bottling or learn more about wine export from a business perspective. Each morning you’ll wake up to the dramatic landscapes of Mount Etna from the charming town of Linguaglossa from the while being a short drive to Taormina. You’ll also have the chance to travel around Sicily to meet winemakers in different parts of the island.


Hone your creativity on the island of Filicudi

Marina, an artist and creative soul, will be your host on the magical island of Filicudi on the Aeolian archipelago. If you’re looking to get away from it all and rediscover your creativity, this experience is sure to leave you rejuvenated and refreshed. Marina has spent 27 years living on the island and she’ll be a friend and mentor as she accompanies you on hikes around the island and teaches you how to make recipes with local wildflowers in her open-air kitchen. If you’ve been looking for an escape where you can start to meditate, work on your novel, create sculptures and lose yourself in the visual arts, you can’t miss this sabbatical. You’ll also have the chance to live in a beautiful cave nestled in the mountains of Filicudi, undoubtedly one of the most unique accommodations in Italy.


Build traditional wooden boats on the Sicilian coast

Seafarers will love the immersive experience of shadowing the famed Rodolico family which has been making wooden boats since the early 1800s. The Rodolico is a 4th generation family that has been building high-quality boats entirely by hand for 200 years in the charming coastal town of Acitrezza, located just south of Taormina. Today, Giovanni and his father Salvatore primarily focus on repairing boats, creating small-to-medium sized boat models for décor and hosting workshops where they share their ancient craft. During this sabbatical you’ll live a fisherman’s life which includes lots of sailing and fishing, long lunches, siestas and time in the workshop with a family that encapsulates Sicily’s living heritage.


Master Sicilian sweets with a 6th-generation chocolatier family in Modica

The honeycomb-colored town of Modica is one of the most beguiling cities on the island and famed for its gritty cioccolato di Modica, one of the island’s culinary excellences. If you’ve always dreamed of mastering the art of Italian pastries, this is a wonderful opportunity to be mentored by the Bonajuto family who has perfected Sicilian chocolate, cannoli and cassate since 1888. This foray into the secret world of artisanal chocolate is a great experience for food bloggers, pastry chefs and anyone with a sweet tooth. You could say this is DayZero’s more “cosmopolitan” experience in Sicily as Modica is a fairly large town and offers many services for travelers. It is also strategically-located to tour the Val di Noto and surrounding towns including Noto, Ragusa and Ortigia.


Discover the secrets of Sicilian cuisine with nonnas in a small mountain town

The Mamme del Borgo is one of Sicily’s great success stories. The association was formed by local women in Motta Camastra, a small mountain town north of Etna, who wanted to share their passion of food, family and tradition – and bring young people back to their town. Italian mamme and nonne are the famous gatekeepers of Italy’s best recipes so this is a chance to learn the secrets of local recipes like eggplant parmesan, handmade pastas, traditional cakes and more. If you can think of nothing better than spending all day in the kitchen and are dreaming of opening an Italian restaurant one day, this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. You’ll sleep in town, pick fresh vegetables from the community garden, learn how to make your own cheese and become part of the Motta Camastra extended family.

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