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Gelo al CaffèRistorante Crocifisso has always been my favorite restaurant in Noto, a spectacular Baroque city in southeast Sicily. Any time of the day is perfect for a visit with Corrado and Carlo Assenza at their Caffè Sicilia, a destination for gastronomes that I’ve written about elsewhere. But a recent dinner at ...
Pino: Super Sicilian ChefPino Cuttaia is the greatest chef in Sicily, and one of the greatest in Italy. The food at his restaurant La Madia is original and creative, but has deep roots in the island’s traditions. Pino’s dishes evoke flavors remembered from his childhood and often use ingredients found only in farmhouse ...
Cooking with the DuchessI’ve got to thank Santa Rosalia, nicknamed Santuzza, the patron saint of Palermo, for meeting the Duchess of Palma di Montechiaro. I was visiting the city and a great friend (the Duchess’s sister-in-law, Marchesa Anna Tasca Lanza) suggested that I watch the opulent fireworks display in honor of the saint, ...
Sicily, Part 6We were on our way to Mount Etna, my favorite active volcano. I was returning to the village of Linguaglossa - population 5000, 14 butcher shops, my kind of place. We'd be based at the delightful hotel Shalai Resort, contemporary décor in a restored 19th century noble residence with frescoed ...
Sicily, Part 5I had an appointment with Francesco Pantaleone, wanted to visit his contemporary art collection since I'm very interested in the work of Francesco Simeti and he has some fine pieces. But Pantaleone was called away to Catania and my visit was cancelled. Yet another excuse for a return to Palermo. ...
Sicily, Part 4I love Sicilian pottery (although there's quite a bit of unattractive stuff around) and wanted to visit the Ceramic Museum in Burgio. I hoped to indulge in a shopping spree with local artisans - I had examined some of the Foresteria's attractive pottery, and written down the names of the ...
Sicily, Part 3Massimo had never seen the archeological site of Gela, overlooking a coast despoiled by oil refineries, or the fantastic Archeological Museum, always empty, always impressive. And it was a perfect stop on the way to Licata to see Pino Cuttaia, the island's greatest chef, and dine at his restaurant La ...
Sicily, Part 2After breakfast we listened to a presentation by Professor Attilio Scienza on Sicilian wine, genetic varietal improvements, eco-compatible winemaking. My favorite line of the morning: "The best way to know the future is to invent it." It was followed by an open tasting with producers and their wines. I bumped ...
Sicily, Part 1"Sicily. It's a continent," a friend explained. It's a great approach to this vast, self-contained island, layered with more than 28 centuries of history and traditions, influenced by practically every civilization that passed through the Mediterranean. I never tire of exploring. I'd been invited on a press trip, Sicilia en ...
Sicilian Blood OrangesI grew up thinking that all oranges were orange. So my first encounter with red oranges was a surprise. Years ago my brother Alan ordered fruit for dessert in a restaurant in Milan--they brought him a plate of oranges, he cut one in half, it looked bloody, very un-orange-like, crimson ...
The Grand Tour Part 7We began the day at the Cusa quarries in Campobello di Mazara, the source of Selinunte's stonework. A beautiful new museum, totally empty of tourists, answered the question "just how did they manage to quarry those huge columns and get them to Selinunte?". There's also the Museum of Farm Work--tools, ...
The Grand Tour Part 6Our next destination was Sciacca. We simply had to visit the Enchanted Castle, not really a castle and not really enchanted, but the work of outsider artist Filippo Bentivenga. We wandered the cobblestone paths winding through the hillside, admiring heads sculpted of stone and carved into olive trees in a ...
The Grand Tour Part 5The scenery on the way to Licata was uninspiring, fields of plastic greenhouses and a huge refinery outside Gela, which has to be the ugliest city in Sicily. But there was an archeological museum, a worthwhile detour. We strolled through rooms without any tourists and learned about Gela, an important ...
The Grand Tour Part 4We drove through countryside near Vittoria to visit COS, one of my favorite Sicilian wineries and agriturismo farms, with owners Titta Cilia and the appropriately named Giusto (correct, just) Occhipinti, the "C" and "O" of COS. More about the "S" later.COS is part of a natural wine movement that's been ...
The Grand Tour Part 3My friend Caterina was excited about a mushroom market and fair in Buccheri. We met her in the main piazza, but the mushroom market--a guy with a crate of dirty mushrooms, and the fair, far smaller than the one in Palazzuolo Acreide, wasn't exactly a morning activity so we detoured ...
The Grand Tour Part 2With Vito Santoro behind the wheel, my sister Suzanne and I headed for Sortino. I'd heard about a Sicilian marionette museum and a local specialty, pizzoli, that I had to try. We passed a favorite truck stop, PANE CONDITO, (big sign, big parking lot, on the right hand side of ...
The Grand Tour Part 1I was inspired by a museum in Palazzuolo Acreide about the Grand Tour--young, upper-class Europeans, traveling for months in search of art, culture and the roots of western civilization, mingling with nobles. Only the most adventurous made it to Sicily. Times have changed but travel still isn't easy, and Sicily ...
Pino's Muffoletti"La Madia" is my favorite restaurant in Sicily, located in the village of Lictata, on the southern coast. Chef-owner Pino Cuttaia works with the best fish and seafood from local waters, vegetables from his father-in-law's garden, amazing Sicilian ingredients like sheep's milk ricotta, wild fennel greens, squash tendrils, citrus fruits, ...
Sicily's Greatest GranitaGranita is one of the greatest gastronomic joys of Sicily, a tradition dating from Arab dominion and the "nevari" snow dealers, who hauled blocks of snow to the city from the slopes of Mount Etna. The translation "ices" is inadequate, sounds so insignificant for such an incredible treat. There are ...
Chocolate of Sicilian ExtractionChocolate from Dolceria Bonajuto in ModicaThe primal European chocolate bar may have been made in Modica, a hillside town with elegant Baroque churches in southeastern Sicily.Many cultures have influenced Sicily's traditions and foods. The island was under Spanish rule during the Age of Exploration, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. ...
A Sicilian Caper FarmCapers from PantelleriaCapers are the flower buds of a bush that grows wild throughout the Mediterranean, but the very best capers come from two tiny volcanic islands off the coast of Sicily - Pantelleria and Salina. Each claims that its capers are superior, and each has its own distinct cultivar ...