Feasting Through Sicily
Sicily is the Bonarrigo’s family homeland. They come from a small village Gualtieri Sicamino. It has long been our dream to take our Messina Hof VIP travelers there. 2022 provided that opportunity. May our journey provide a roadmap for yours.
Landing in Palermo we stayed at Principe di Lampedusa. Principe di Lampedusa Hotel, Palermo It was centrally located and modern. Breakfast is served each day. It provided a good place from which to explore the markets and historical landmarks of Palermo. Don’t miss the Massimo Theater, the marionette makers, and the cannoli at St. Catherine Convent. Carizzi d’amuri was a fun dining find. Owned and operated by two brothers, James who served the front and Joseph who was the chef, carried on a family tradition of delicious creative food. James led us through the menu with wine recommendations for each dish.
Sicily is an island surrounded by water and fresh fish! Every restaurant serves the freshest catches of the day and the produce available at the markets. Wine and food pairing meals are available at most restaurants. Sicilian wines are featured everywhere. Be sure to try arancino, caponata, marinara and cannoli in each region of Sicily. Each region has its own recipe and style.
In Palermo we met our bus and driver, Giuseppe, who escorted us around the island. His company provides the best service with caring drivers. You can reach them at www.siciliabus.com or Charme Adventures.
On the way to Taormina, we stopped at Castelbuono where we tasted a delicious cream filled Brighella puff pastry created in the boutique kitchen of Pasticceria Pinsino on a back street of the old town. The family has been making these delicacies for over 100 years.
Then we continued to Formaggio Agriturismo Fattoria Didattica, a local dairy and cheese making farm, where we watched them make cheese and enjoyed a rustic family style lunch.
After lunch we traveled to Gualtieri Sicamino. We arrived on Father’s Day which was also the feast celebration of Corpus Christi. This tiny farming village was unexpectedly adorned with beautiful floral designs on the pavements and steps. Each was lovingly created by the residents.
The best gelato I have ever had is in Gualtieri Sicamino. My favorite is called Nero – a very dark chocolate. They offer flavors for everyone.
The day ended in Taormina at a beautiful property built by an aristocratic family in 1919 among lush, subtropical gardens. Belmond Villa Sant’Andrea enjoys beautiful sea views, first class amenities and perfect location near the cable car that takes you in just three minutes to the town center. Villa Sant’Andrea, A Belmond Hotel | Luxury Hotel, Taormina, Sicily
Taormina is the Rodeo Drive of Sicily – amazing shops, historic Greek theater and so many restaurants! Ristorante Da Giovanni and Ristorante Aranciana were both excellent.
While in Taormina we took an excursion to Mount Etna to visit the Gambino winery for tour, tasting and lunch. Our sommelier, Francesca, was vivacious and knowledgeable. She gave an excellent tour and tasting. The food and wine pairing lunch was delicious.
From Taormina we moved through Catania where we visited the ancient underground Roman baths with the remains of cave etchings showing the grape harvest, the cathedral, the market, and tasted street foods. Our guide Giacomo Lentiniq was an archeologist. When I introduced myself, I told him that the Bonarrigo family was from Gualtieri Sicamino. Giacomo was surprised. He said, “I know this place. It is a very small village. No one knows it.” And he smiled like he understood how amazing it was that we would meet. He shared that he had done a grant project on the history of Gualtieri which led to a museum there. He also shared that there was a special ancient wine blend with roots in Gualtieri Sicamino. It is called Mamertino named after the Mamertini, a people who arrived in Sicily around 310 BC.
Discoveries like these and unexpected connections are what make travel so exciting. To me they are God’s blessings along the way. I call them God Things.
At Syracuse we stayed at Aglilia. Out of the blue we got a notice that someone had left tickets to the Syracuse theater at the desk for anyone to claim. Paul and I took two, grabbed a cab and attended the most dramatic stage play we had seen. God Thing. It was in the open air on simple stage with few props and a digital backdrop. All the action came from the drama and presence of the actors on the stage. We could not understand what was being said but costuming, physical drama and pure acting told the story of Agamemnon’s first daughter, Iphigenia, who was lost and then found.
Planeta has five wineries across Sicily. Each is different with a different focus on wine type and presentation. In the Val of Noto, we visited their Cantina Buonvini plus Terre di Giurfo and Castel Donnafugato.
On to Agrigento we passed the Valley of Temples which we later visited. Layer upon layer of civilizations have come and gone through Sicily. The guides even describe Sicily as a layer cake of nations. Arabs, Greeks, Spanish, and more settled there and brought their customs, foods, dress, and religions. The temples reflect the ages and all the religions that they have housed.
From Agrigento we traveled to Trapani. On the way, we stopped to have lunch at Da Vittorio’s in Porto Palo. Da Vittorio is at the end of the road on a beautiful white sand beach. Paul and I stayed the night there. The next morning, we watched as fishermen in small boats brought their catch for Vittorio to inspect. He bought the desired fish which he served that day. Paul and Vittorio became instant friends. Both are flamboyant artists with passion for what they do. Vittorio did not disappoint.
All beaches in Sicily are public so at Da Vittorios you can enjoy the beach and a great meal. DA VITTORIO RISTORANTE HOTEL Porto Palo di Menfi Sicily Italy (ristorantevittorio.it)
In Trapani, Giuseppe delivered us to Baglio Soria, a winery resort in the shadow of Mount Erice. Baglio Soria is the Di Gaetano family’s great dream started in the 1980s. The family business planted vineyards, restored old rural buildings, and cultivated
olive trees. At Baglio Soria, you can smell the sea and taste the saltiness in the wines. The accommodations are thoughtful and comfortable. The sommelier guided wine tasting was the best, most thorough and most professional we experienced. Baglio Sorìa | Firriato Hospitality Trapani – Resort & Wine Experience (bagliosoria.it)
The location made it easy to take day trips to the Salt Pans where we learned how salt is mined, to wineries in Marsala, and to Mount Erice where we experienced a medieval village.
Pellegrino Winery Marsala – Cantine Pellegrino – Vini Marsala e Pantelleria, Sicily, Italy (carlopellegrino.it) and Florio Winery Home – Duke of Salaparuta (duca.it) in Marsala are worth a visit.
Be sure to try Grillo, Catarratto, Nero d’Avola and Nerello Mascalese wines. Most of their wines are lighter in style and go well with fish and veal. Nero d’Avola is a heavier wine that went beautifully with beef and lamb.
In Trapani, architectures of ages converge into a maze of beauty. We strolled the town and sat down for a very local dining experience at Enoteca Versi di Rosso. If you need transfer service from Baglio Soria into town, Bruno Cocozza of Sicilisland Trapani Transfer can assist.