Sicilian taste tour
From street food to gourmet cuisine: eating out, Sicilian-style
The Sicilian kitchen is a magical place. A magical place filled with a colorful kaleidoscope of Mediterranean scents and flavors, the result of the island's diverse cultural and gastronomic heritage.
Sicilian street food
A feast for all the senses, Sicilian street food is the perfect choice for gourmands on-the-go. The arancina (or arancino, depending on where you are) is Sicily's favorite fast food, and you'll find it being served in markets and on street corners all over the island. In Catania, the savory delicacy's pyramid shape is believed to have been inspired by that of Mount Etna.
Bite off the top of your volcano-shaped arancina and experience the sensation of the warm filling of ragù, tomato and egg, oozing lava-like, into your mouth....
In Palermo, slowly munch your way through a bagful of crocchette and panelle as you soak up the Sicilian sun on Mondello beach, and then relax as you work up an appetite for a dinner to-die-for at Osteria Vespers, the restaurant in Palermo's historic Palazzo Gangi, where the eclectic Alberto Rizzo struts his culinary stuff each night.
After your meal, have fun getting lost in the labyrinth-like Kalsa, one of the oldest districts of the city, built during the city's Arab era, before heading to Piazza Pretoria to see the Greek-Byzantine Chiesa della Martorana and the fountain of shame - a group of nudes which has been ruffling feathers ever since it was first unveiled in 1751.
Cakes and castles
Escape the colorful confusion of the Sicilian capital and head West, to reach the mountain top town of Erice and the legendary Pasticceria Grammatico, to purchase a tray of Genovesi (the cakes made in the less famous San Carlo bakery are equally delicious).
Gobble up your ravioli-shaped cream-filled pastries in the shadow of the castle before climbing up to the top of the tower from where to admire the amazing views of sea and the Egadi islands.
Travel south to reach Marsala, the 2013 European City of Wine and home of the Donnafugata winery.
The name of this most famous of Sicilian wineries, "woman in flight", refers to the tale of Queen Maria Carolina, wife of Ferdinand IV of Bourbon, who, in the early 19th century, fled the arrival of Napoleon's troops in Naples and took refuge in this area of Sicily which, like today, was carpeted with vineyards where the island's famous fortified wine is produced.
In his famous novel, The Leopard, Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa used the name Donnafugata for the country estates of the Prince of Salina.
From Marsala, make your way along the sun-scorched SS115 to Licata, where Michelin-starred chef Pino Cuttaia performs his culinary magic.
After years working in Northern Italy, in 2000 Cuttaia returned to his native Sicily, where he opened his Madia restaurant and Uovo di Seppia delicatessan - specialized in local gastronomic delicacies.
This is the Sicily made famous by Inspector Montalbano, characterized by golden beaches and dry stone walls. Still incredibly unspoilt and surprisingly green, this is also where you might spot some of Italy's best known chefs personally tending the vegetable and herb gardens, strategically located within meters of their kitchens.
In the heart of Ragusa Ibla, surrounded by any number of baroque masterpieces, Locanda Don Serafino is located in a cave, adjacent to the UNESCO protected Chiesa dei Miracoli.
Like the sound of spaghetti with fresh sea urchins, squid ink and ricotta cheese? Book a table at Locanda Don Serafino and get ready to relish Vincent Candiano's unbelievably delicious contemporary Sicilian cuisine...
Yet more gastronomic delights await in Palazzo La Rocca, one of the most beautiful palazzi in the whole of Ibla and the stunning location for Ciccio Sultano's 2 Michelin star Il Duomo restaurant.
Ciccio Sultano e Vincenzo Candiano
Black pigs and pistachios
From Ragusa Ibla, you can either proceed eastwards to Siracusa and as far as the island of Ortigia or head inland to discover the wild beauty of the Madonie and Nebrodi.
If you choose the second option, make sure to pay a visit to the hotel-restaurant Antica Filanda in Capri Leone, to enjoy the silence of the Sicilian mountains, the view of the Aeolian Islands visible from the patio, and the amazing dishes which chefs Nina, Pina, Pinuccia and Nunzia prepare using the local black pig of Nebrodi, mushrooms, hazelnuts and pistachios.
Sicilian essentials: Le Soste di Ulisse features all the best restaurants, wine cellars and hotels in Sicily.
Our Insider is Alex Massari
Born-and-bred in Sicily, Alex Massari works as marketing expert for the tourist industry.Many Fresh Things and Travel Different are the direct result of his love of travel and his passion for the web and social media.
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