Exploring the Sicilian Coast: Food, Wine, and Culture

 

Day 1: Sicilian Sunday in Noto & Syracuse

After enjoying breakfast at our hotel, Ortea Palace, we headed out to enjoy a typical Sicilian summer Sunday. During the summer, families in Sicily start their day by heading to a coffee bar followed by the beach.  Most Sicilians work and go to school six days a week, so Sundays are an important time for rest and relaxation.

Cliff Jumping Sicily
Italian couple enjoying their Sunday at the beach

Visiting the town of Noto, we enjoyed beautiful baroque architecture seen in the buildings and monuments throughout the town, but the highlight was meeting the top pastry chef in the region, Corrado Assenza. Corrado is the owner of Caffé Sicilia, a restaurant serving some of Italy’s finest gelato, cannoli, and granita, a type of Italian frozen ice with a crystalline texture specific to Sicily. Corrado and his restaurant have been recently featured on Netflix’s new docuseries, Chef’s Table.

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Myself and the kids with the owner of Caffe Sicilia, Corrado Assenza
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Dessert display at Caffe Sicilia

Corrado presented us with the most fantastic freshly-made strawberry ice cream I have ever had, and we also got to try ice cream eaten inside a brioche, which is quite popular in this region.

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Freshly-made strawberry ice cream at Caffe Sicilia
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Eating a Brioche ice cream sandwich

Next we were off to a local beach for a quick dip in the Mediterranean Sea. Stopping by a beach store on the way, our wonderful guide explained that what we call “pool noodles” they call “little sausages”. How perfect for Italy!

Pool Noodle Pic Italy (2)

We finished our evening with dinner in the old town of Ortigia. It is an amazing city with beautiful views, including that of the cathedral standing tall in the town square, illuminated in lights. Dinner here was the perfect way to end our evening.

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Night life in Ortigia

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Town square in Ortigia

 

Day 2: Sicilian Market Tour & Private Cooking Class

Sicily is food lover’s dream, but to non-locals these culinary treasures may be hard to spot.  In order to immerse ourselves in the culture, we arranged with our local team a private chef and market shopping experience.

Bloody fish picture
Fresh fish display at the market

We met our chef at our hotel and proceeded to the open-air market. Fresh fish, bread, cheese, meat, and produce were on display for our choosing, with the market offering the best local products available. Local food is a staple here in Sicily.

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Specialty Sicilian meats and cheeses

With our fresh ingredients, we went to the chef’s home and spent the lunch hour cooking and eating there. This was an absolutely wonderful experience for the entire family.

Cooking Class 1
Our private chef preparing the fresh octopus
Cooking Class 2
My daughter Abby, future pasta chef 😉

Pasta Pic

Prepared Pasta
The finished product of our pasta endeavors
Prepared Squid
Beautiful octopus dish display
Dinner Set-Up
Various homemade/local jams and toppings for the foods

Cannoli Preparation

Picture with Private Chef

We tried octopus, meats, fish, fresh pasta, and possibly the best cannoli I have ever tasted in my life. Every bite was outstanding.

With our stomachs full, we spent the afternoon relaxing and swimming at a beach club that overlooked the Mediterranean Sea.

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View from our chairs at the beach club

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Day 3: The Aeolian Islands

To travel to the Italian islands, you can take a high-speed ferry and arrive there within two hours. The ferry is fast, but a private transfer is also an option and makes the trip more personal and fun!

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With many stops along the way, we made a fun day of our journey to the island of Salinas. Salinas is one of many volcanic islands on the Italian coast. Its beautiful coves, fantastic restaurants, and unspoiled local flair make it a wonderful destination for couples and families alike.

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My husband, Jeff, enjoying the view from our private transfer

Upon arrival, we were transferred to the Relay and Relais & Château property, Capofaro. Just 27 rooms and set in a vineyard on the sea, this is a beautiful and unique place to spend your vacation at.

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The view from one of the rooms at the hotel

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The hotel’s vineyard
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The beautiful pool overlooking the sea
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Our wonderful hotel tour guide

As a member of a preferred agency affiliate of Relais & Château, our clients receive beautiful welcome amenities and complimentary breakfast. This is a benefit of booking through our agency, and is a wonderful way to be welcomed to the island of Salinas!

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Our beautiful welcome amenity consisting of a bottle of wine, fresh cherries and other local treasures
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Beautiful complimentary breakfast for preferred guests

 

Day 4: Exploring Salinas

Exploring the coasts of Salinas is a popular summer pastime for many local Italians. Taking a break from the hot summer day, we headed to the port to meet our private boat.

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Enjoying some delicious wine aboard our private boat

Our captain arranged a last minute request for fishing by bringing along a simple spool of fishing line and a container of bait “Italian style”- a bread and cheese paste!

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Fishing tools: Fishing line and bait paste

How fun it was to fish like the local kids do with the help of our wonderful captain.

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Our captain teaching my youngest the art of fishing
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My youngest’s catch!

 

Many stops can be made to enjoy various scenic coves where other boats gather to enjoy the cool Mediterranean waters and breathtaking views.

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What is special about Salinas is the authenticity. You still have a true Italian experience, but with far fewer tourists, making it feel as if you are a local yourself! Our local spot for dinner that evening was reasonably priced, delicious, scenic, and family friendly.

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Our cute little dinner spot

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To finish the evening, we were treated to a group of local musicians gathering in the piazza, Italian for square, to play for the local Salinas people. Later on, we were also lucky enough to catch a beautiful Italian coast sunset. It was a perfect end to an amazing day.

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Local Italian musicians

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Beautiful sunset over the water

 

Day 5: Stromboli- Volcanic Boat Trip at Sunset

A private sunset cruise to the island of Stromboli is a fun, exciting, and unique experience. From Salina of Lipari it’s roughly a 1 hour boat ride to reach Stromboli.

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Swimming and dinner on the boat can be arranged to perfect your sunset cruise.

The real show comes just after the sun has disappeared and the Stromboli island shines bright with her volcanic lava and exciting eruptions, that is, if you’re lucky enough to view this magical event.

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From top to bottom: The process of a volcanic eruption

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View of the volcano on our ride back to Salina

As seen in the pictures, we had a fascinating and spectacular evening watching the eruption from the water. Sailing back to Salina under a clear sky full of stars was the icing on the cake.

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