After more than 350 years of rather quiet contentment in Little Silver, Sickles Market is taking it to the old country.

The market, whose roots on the same Rumson Road property date back to a farm started in 1660, is organizing an October tour of gardens, cheese-making shops, olive pressers and other artisanal food producers on the Italian island.

For $6,000 per person, up to 12 travelers will get to indulge in “an exclusive insider’s culinary and cultural view of Italy,” says says Kirsty Dougherty, who was hired recently as Sickles’ director of tourism training..

That’s right: Sickles is in the travel biz now. Dougherty says the idea for the foodie tours grew out of store owner Bob Sickles’ own global jaunts to find new products and supply lines for his increasingly international market – à la the Tunisian condiments rolled out at the store two years ago.

Sickles plans to run three trips to differing regions of Italy in 2013, Dougherty.

“These are very much food lovers’ tours,” Dougherty tells redbankgreen. With their behind-the-scenes focus on food from where it’s grown to the plate, the excursions “are targeted at the gourmet palate,” she says.

The October tour, led by Sicilian food broker Gioacchino Passalacqua, includes nine nights of luxury hotel stays; chartered bus travel to and around Palermo and two other cities; meals at “hand-picked” farms, chocolatiers, restaurants and more. Airfare is not included. Take it here for complete details.