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5 Reasons to Visit Sicily

Ragusa Cuisine /Modica Chocolate – it’s no surprise that when we talk of Italy we think of food.. But when we think of Sicilian food there are two points that stand out for us. The Ragusa cuisine for one, which can be savoured from the 3 Michelin star restaurants in the tiny town, delicious and very memorable! One of these restaurants is located in Locanda Don Serafino, but don’t worry that it’s all fuss and no flavour – with Ragusan cuisine and seasonality as its inspiration, the dishes served are flavoursome and inspired, worth every penny and, we’re almost reluctant to admit, absolutely wonderful. If you fancy a taste of history and culture in your cuisine, try the incredible food at the Duomo restaurant words such as seductive and baroque were used to describe the food by the inspectors and every dish created by Ciccio Sultano is like a little mini masterpiece on a plate for you to tuck into! Or visit Ristorante La Fenice, only 1michelin star but still incredible and traditional with a touch of modernism, the flavours that Claudio Ruta produces are delicious with a real focus on seafood dishes which can include squid tentacles with diced tomato confit, you will be sure to taste something very different that you probably have never tried before but will now become your favourite dish!

For those with a sweet tooth our second standout point  of  Sicily is  the  Modica  Chocolate… The chocolate is based on an Aztec recipe where they created cacao seeds into something more edible and has even had an official seal as a traditional recognisable regional food product. Every  December  Modica celebrates its creation at the Choco  Modica (used to  be  called  Chocobarocco) – a food festival where you can sample the delicious chocolate with its grainy texture that makes it easily identifiable. There are also artisans who make sculptures out of the chocolate, you can take part in workshops and other activities going on on the day. It is well worth a visit and attracted 100,000 in 2015!

Val di Noto (The Noto Valley)– Consisting of eight gorgeous Baroque cities it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2002. The eight cities are Modica, Ragusa, Scicli, Catania, Noto, Palazzolo, Caltagirone and Millitello Val di Catania. After the catastrophic earthquake in 1693 these towns were rebuilt in the beautiful baroque architectural style that you can see now which makes all of these cities spectacular and worth a visit for a spot of history and culture. We could sit there all day just looking at all the intricate details on the buildings and admiring the architectural skills which have gone into them.

Ancient greek historySicily is both the largest region of the modern state of Italy and the largest island of the Mediterranean Sea which made it very desirable as a strategic location for the Mediterranean trade routes. The city of Syracuse was originally a Greek colony and enjoyed a period of expansion surviving a two-year siege. One of the most beautiful ancient ruins of Italy has to be the Greek  theatre  in  Taormina, sitting proud on the hill top overlooking the town below, the sea and spectacular views of Mount Etna. However, it was rebuilt by the Romans in the 2nd Century it stills look much like it would have. A must  see  is  Agricento’s  Valle Dei  Templi (Valley temples) this archaeological site is enormous which includes Greek remains and some large sections added by the Romans later on but the most beautiful in our opinion are the Greek including the Temple of Concord which is one of the best preserved Greek temples in the world. There is plenty of Greek history scattered across Sicily which you just must go and gaze upon!
Mount Etna – Europe’s highest and most active volcano! Towering  above  the  city  of  Catania at 10,922 feet (3,329 metres), it has been alive for about 500,000 years and goes through series of eruptions regularly with the longest recorded history of eruptions. Although usually covered in snow, you can hike and explore the 460 square miles which it covers and get a close up look at this incredible volcano. A quarter of Sicily’s population lives on the slopes of Mount Etna, as it acts as a great source of income due to all the tourism that passes through but also as the soil is being fertilised with extremely rich nutrients constantly by the falling ash it makes it very productive for farming and particularly great for vineyard!
Talking of vineyards it brings up to our last point.. WINE! – Of course, it’s Italy after all! One of our personal favourites is the Planeta Estate (La Foresteria) vineyard. On the shores of Lake Arancio they chose to build their first winery in an extremely beautiful landscape of rolling hills of vines. Planeta is one of Sicily’s largest wine producers, producing two and a half million litres of wine per year. This winery produces all of their Alastro (a fruity wine made of 100% grecanico grapes), Chardonnay and Cometa white wines as well as their new Nero d’Avola red wine (with sweet tannins and plum or peppery flavours it is named after Avola in the far south of Sicily. It is the most important red wine grape in Sicily and one of Italy’s most important indigenous varieties). We highly recommend the Nero D’avola and it is one of our firm favourites! A few other to try would be Planeta’s Passito di Noto (made from 100% Moscato Bianco grapes), Cerasuolo (The only D.O.C.G wine to be awarded in Sicily which comes from the Vittorio winery, Syrah (a red made from syrah grapes and kept in oak for 12 months) or the Burdese (a strong red with 70% cabernet sauvignon and 30% cabernet franc grapes which is also kept in oak for 12 months. It is one of the few wines which can be kept for up to 10 year!) The knowledge that has been handed down through generations at this winery is incredible and you can experience real traditional wine tasting whiles learning about all the different Sicilian and Georgian grape varieties that have been used to produce their wines, a must do in our opinion for those wine lovers out there!


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