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Sicily in Bites

Sicily sits proudly in the Mediterranean, aware of its plentiful charms. Its cuisine is one of these. Not only is it self-supplied from its splendid larder, it provides the whole of Italy with its produce. Fresh market garden produce, fish, wines and confectionery which, although available across half the globe, taste that much better when savoured in situ. Hence, the Grand Festival of Italian Cuisine par excellence is held on this Italian island every year with the onset of summer. This year’s Cibo Nostrum will take place from 11 to 13 June. The festival sees producers displaying their wares in street stalls, while chefs and locals swarm the precincts to explore the latest offerings and share them with whoever happens to be on the island. If you’re planning on an escape to Sicily, this event will enable you to discover its culinary splendour.

Around one hundred chefs and wine merchants will be taking part in the event, for which the attendance figures continue to grow each year. If you still don’t know what it’s like to taste a good local wine at the foot of Mt Etna or to savour oily fish followed by cannoli in the formidable Taormina, be sure not to miss out on Cibo Nostrum if you want to enjoy such moments.

Over a three-day period, which will include ongoing, live culinary demonstrations, you can taste the essence of Sicilian cuisine served up on a platter. Clearly, you would need more time to discover the island more thoroughly, but Cibo Nostrum will point you in the right direction to glean the major ingredients, dishes, assortment and venues.

Must-visit restaurants include Sabir Gourmanderie, set in a priceless park on the slopes of Mt Etna, which is ideal for discovering flavours typical of the volcanic soil, and Kistè Easy Gourmet, the new eatery of chef Pietro d’Agostino in marvellous Taormina.

When in Catania, among the wine cellars with good food and the usual wine shops, we can recommend Salumeria Scollo for tasting and sampling, as well as the Etnashire wine shop on Viagrande, which also has an online store where you can order the Sicilian products of your choice. You will want to bring your suitcase back with such wines as Vigna la Miccia or Notti Stellate, a sparkling Castelluccimiano Brut or the Marsala which in Sicily pairs really well with dessert cheeses.

And, if we delve into the realm of sweet things, as that is the sort of memory you will take from the island, make a point of dropping in on the pâtisserie run by master pastry chef Corrado Assenza at Caffè Sicilia, the undisputed king of the most exquisite signature cassata (a traditional cake based on ricotta, sugar, sponge, marzipan, candied fruit and castor sugar) and cannoli (a tube-shaped confectionery filled with ricotta cream).

Book your Vueling to Catania and don’t hesitate to soak up the flavours of the island.

Text by Belén Parra of Gastronomistas.com

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Easter in Sicily – between Christianity and Paganism

As in much of Spain, Holy Week unfolds with great intensity in most of Sicily. This comes as no surprise – the processions of penitents commemorating Christ’s Passion and Death were brought to the island by the Spanish in the 16th century.  While they abound across Sicily, the processions that arouse the greatest expectation are those held in villages like Enna and Caltanissetta, both of which lie about an hour’s drive away from Catania.

But all Sicily’s beautiful, timeless villages preserve their deep-rooted traditions, each with its own character. A holiday on the island during Holy Week could combine sightseeing in coastal towns, discovering local architecture and tasting their delicious cuisine. And, during the festivities, the religious guilds stage spectacular Easter processions in which the Baroque aesthetic prevails.

If you want to savour some of these ancient festivals, go to Prizzi on Easter morning. There they celebrate the Ballo dei diavoli (dance of the devils). In this folk tradition from the Middle Ages, death, dressed in yellow, accompanied by devils clad in red, roam the town heckling the passers-by, who can only get rid of their tormentors by giving them a donation. This takes place just when the madonna and child make their entry. This curious form of revelry, a mix of the religious and the profane, represents the eternal struggle between good and evil.

A similar event known as the Diavolatais held in Adrano.The main square or Piazza Umberto provides the backdrop for this battle between good and evil, represented by Lucifer and his devils on one side and St Michael the Archangel on the other.

Another picturesque celebration is the Madonna Vasa Vasa,in Modica, in which the faithful crowd around the floats on their way to the church of St Mary of Bethlehem to witness the traditional bacio di mezzogiorno (the noon kiss) between the Virgin Mary and the resurrected Christ. Vasa means “kiss”. Dressed in mourning, the Madonna is carried through the streets of Modica in search of her son, to the rhythm of drumming. Throughout the procession, the people sing, dance and drink to celebrate the event. While strolling through the winding streets of Modica’s charming historical centre, visitors will eventually come across the striking Baroque architecture in the area around the Castle of the Counts of Modica, listed as a World Heritage site since 2002.

One of the oldest and most enigmatic celebrations is the Procession of the Mysteries, held in the historical centre of Trapani. Full of light and emotion, this procession consists of twenty float groups depicting the Passion and Death of Christ which parade through the streets for 24 hours, starting on Good Friday afternoon. The figures are borne on the shoulders of the massari to the rhythm of a traditional music known as annaccata.

As in all traditional festivities, Holy Week in Sicily has its characteristic confectionery. The colomba pasquale (Easter dove), also known as the palummeddi or pastifuorti, is eaten in the home. This typical sweet is usually shaped like a dove or rooster, although new shapes are emerging all the time. It consists of flour, sugar and cinnamon, topped off with a hard-boiled egg as a symbol of Easter and rebirth. A similar pastry is the cuddura, typical of the Calabria region. Based on flour and water, it is similarly adorned with hard-boiled eggs. The casatta siciliana is another cake eaten at Easter, although it is sold in pastry shops all year around. If you would like to taste some of these delicacies, the best assortment is to be had at Pasticceria Irrera, on the Piazza Cairoli 12 in Messina, and at Caffè Sicilia, on Corso Vittorio Emanuele III, 125 Noto de Siracusa.

Go for it! Check out our prices here!

Text by ScannerFM

Image by Clemensfranz, Carmelo Giuseppe Colletti, Rmax75, Giovanni, Traktorminze


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Mount Etna

Etna is the largest volcano in Europe and the world’s most active. Year after year, the constant eruptions make it diminish its 3342 meters high, according to the latest estimations.

If you enjoy hiking, you’ll like climbing Mount Etna. Its spectacular dark and volcanic landscapes seem typical of a moonscape. After many eruptions, it is curious that the vegetation has been able to re-settle large areas in the zone.

You can move up by two different paths, the South side and the North side. The South side or Nicolosi, which starts from the Sapienza refuge, has a 5-hour course and medium difficulty. If you take the South side, you will pass  through Bove and the summit craters. The North side Linguaglossa starts at Piano Provenzana and is suitable for trekking lovers.
But if physical effort is not for you, you can make the route back and forth comfortably in funicular railway.

A place well worth discovering! Check out our flights here.

Picture by Josep Renalias

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