Monday, August 1, 2011


(does not include Aeolian & Pelagie Islands, Ibla-Ragusa, Palermo, or Taormina)

Accommodations & Tours –

Sights & Sites
Carnivale – Acireale is home to Sicily’s most magnificent carnival celebrations.

Sights & Sites
Valley of Temples – 15 Traversa Ortolani (Archaeological Park); 011-39-092-240-2199 or 011-39-092-262-1611;; some of best preserved Greek ruins in world.

Sights & Sites
Morgantina – Serra Orlando; 011-39-091-707-5300; or; earliest historical date associated with Morgantina is 459 BCE, when Ducetius, indigenous Sikel population leader (central Sicily) attacked & captured; fell under Roman hegemony (when Hieron became Roman vassal) in 263 BCE; in 214 BCE, switched allegiance to Carthage; in 211 BCE, became last Sicilian town captured by Romans; given as payment by Rome to Spanish mercenary group; in 133 BCE, where Eunus, leader of slave rebellion known as 1st Servile War, died; in 2nd Servile War, besieged & taken by slaves; final mention comes again from Strabo, who notes that, in his own time (1st Century CE), city had ceased to exist; ancient references to vitis murgentina,grape strain mentioned by Cato, Columella & Pliny Elder (transplanted from Sicily to mainland Italy by 2nd Century BCE.

Sights & Sites
Valley of Temples – Segesta (off Route SP57); 011-39-092-495-2356; among world’s most intact, 5th Century BCE Doric temples.

Bakeries, Coffee, Ice Cream, Juice & Tea
Pasticceria Savia – 302 Via Etnea; 011-39-095-325-667;
I Dolce di Nonna Vincenza – 7 Piazza San Placido; 011-39-095-715-1844;; pastries.
Scardaci Pasticceria – 84 Via Santa Maddalena; 011-39-095-316-981; in awkward location (ground floor of 15th Century Convento di San Domenico); try almond granita.
B&B Faro – 26 Via San Michele; 011-39-0349-457-8856;; big, clean rooms.
U Fucularu – 6 Piazza Ogninella; 011-39-0346-804-3010; worth special visit.
Sights & Sites
Centro Internazionale Documentazione sulla Mafie e sul Movimento Antimafia – Via Orfanotrofio; 011-39-091-846-3655;; impressive.
Fondazione Puglisi Cosentino – 122 Via Vittorio Emanuele (Palace Valley); 011-39-095-715-9378;; art exhibits in beautiful, historic building.

Bakeries, Coffee, Ice Cream, Juice & Tea
Gelateria Cappadonia – 153 Via Roma; 011-39-091-899-1681; considered best gelateria in western Sicily.

CORLEONE (includes Ficuzza)
Agriturismo Terre di Corleone – Contrada Drago (SS 118); 011-39-0333-799-3291;; old farm building (formerly owned by convicted mob boss, Salvatore Riina), gutted and renovated into eco-themed inn; stables quarters are huge and immaculate; 2 adjoining rooms with wood beams and new bathrooms and shutters opening onto Wyoming-like, dustbowl vista, breathtaking nonetheless; great breakfasts and can have meals.
Antica Stazione di Ficuzza – Via Vecchia Stazione (Ficuzza); 011-39-091-846-0000;; open-air dining room; phenomenal food.
Sights & Sites
Centro Internazionale Documentazione sulla Mafie e sul Movimento Antimafia – Via Orfanotrofio; 011-39-091-846-3655;; impressive.

Galleria San Carlo – 28 Via Gianfilippo Guarnotti (Erice); 011-39-092-386-9705; elegant Sicilian crafts shop (sells coppola from Corleone).
Pasticceria Maria Grammatico – 14 Via Vittorio Emanuele (Erice); 011-39-092-386-9390;; for almond cookies called pasta di madorle.
Sights & Sites
Ettore-Infersa Salt Museum – SP 21 (between Marsala and Trapani); 011-39-092-373-3003;; salt museum.
Mozia Island – 8 minutes by tugboat from Ettore-Infersa Museum; uninhabited so bring provisions; can arrange tour of Museo Whitaker Giovinetto di Mozia (Greek, Phoenician, and Roman artifacts) that is on island (through Tasca d'Almerita).
Salt Museum – Via Chiusa (Trapani); 011-39-092-386-7061;; salt museum.

Al Faro – 6 Via Dogana; 011-39-092-277-5503;; simple and inexpensive, overlooking lighthouse and port.
Ristorante La Madia – 22 Corso Capriata; 011-39-092-277-1443;; Michelin-starred food; deconstructed pasta alla Norma (named after Bellini’s opera); mousse of aubergine atop swirl of spaghetti and thick tomato sauce; authentic local cooking, imaginatively reinvented; smoked merluzzo (cod) with pine nuts, and couscous with gamberone (huge shrimp color of blood oranges and almost as sweet, among Sicily’s great delicacies). [Note: see Palma di Montechiaro for hotels.]

Shalai Resort – 25 Via Guglielmo Marconi; 011-39-095-643-128;; 15 kms from Etna; 19th Century palazzo now 13 room hotel; good restaurant and spa.

Cala Marinella – Castellammare del Golfo; secluded white sand cove nestled into low cliffs, in peaceful Zingaro Nature Reserve.
Sights & Sites
Selinunte – SS 115; 011-39-092-446-277;; ancient Greek acropolis and temples.

MARSALA (includes Donnafugata, Florio & Marchittati)
Donnafugata Winery – 18 Via San Lipari (Donnafugata); 011-39-092-372-4200;; try Ben Rye (dessert wine).
La Nicchia Bottega delle Specialita – C. da Scauri; 011-39-092-391-2968;; gourmet foods, such as capers.
Marco de Bartoli Winery – 292 Contrada Samperi Fornara (Marchittati); 011-39-092-396-2093;; try Bukkuram (opulent dessert wine made of Zibibbo grapes grown on terraces, sweetened with raisins – has explosive perfume.

MAZARA DEL VALLO (includes Campobello di Mazara)
Sights & Sites
Cave di Cusa – Selinunte (3 km south of Campobello di Mazara);; name means “Quarry of Accusation”; stone quarry exploited beginning in 1st half 6th Century BCE; stone used to construct Greek Selinunte temple; abandoned in 409 BCE after town’s defeat.
Kasbah – old city center (Mazara del Vallo); built up during Arab period.
Museo Diocesano Di Mazara Del Vallo – 3 Via dell’Orologio (Mazara del Vallo); 011-0923-909-431;
Church of Sant’Egidio Museo del Satiro – Piazza Plebiscito (Mazara del Vallo); 011-0923-933-917;; home to Praxiteles’ Dancing Satyr, which dates to 2-4 CE.

Planeta La Foresteria – Contrada Passo di Gurra (ex. SS 115, SP 79, km 91); 011-39-092-5195-5460;; 14-room retreat tucked away in rambling vineyards; near Porto Palo beach; white-washed rooms with oak beam ceilings; each has terrace that overlooks herb and lavender gardens; cooking classes.
Acquamarina – between Menfi & Selinunte; 011-44-20­-7377-8518 or 800-490-1107;; set in 15-acre, private nature reserve; elegantly appointed; decked outdoor seating area; path to beach.
Profundo Blu – between Menfi & Selinunte; 011-44-20­-7377-8518 or 800-490-1107;; set in 15-acre, private nature reserve; elegantly appointed; decked outdoor seating area; path to beach.

Sights & Sites
Museo Regionale – 465 Viale della Libertà; 011-39-090-361-292;; note, see Caravaggio’s Raising of Lazarus (1609) & Adoration of Shepherds (1609).

Sights & Sites
Cattedrale di Monreale – Piazza Duomo; 011-39-091-640-4413;; among most spectacularly mosaicked churches in all Christendom; worth special day-trip from Palermo.

MONTI MADONIE – hilly region between coast above Cefalu, inland to Catania-Palermo highway’s edge; very traditional (primitive) region. (Includes Castelbuono, Cefalu, Gangi, Petralia Sottana, Petralia Sottana & Sant’Ambrogio.)
Agriturismo Monaco di Mezzo – Contrada Monaco di Mezzo (Petralia Sottana, Ciolino Resuttano); 011-39-033-5816-9267;; beautiful; pool.
Relais Santa Anastasia – Contrada da Santa Anastasia (Castelbuono); 011-39-092-167-2233;; beautiful accommodations in perfect surroundings.
Tenuta Gangivecchio – Contrada da Gangivecchio (Gangi); 011-39-092-164-4982;; cottage and inn; beautiful.
Agriturismo Monaco di Mezzo – Contrada Monaco di Mezzo (Petralia Sottana, Ciolino Resuttano); 011-39-033-5816-9267;; serves farm-produced food and fresh game.
Gangivecchio – Contrada da Gangivecchio (Gangi); 011-39-092-164-4804;; run by Giovanna Tornabene.
Ristorante Petraelejum – 113 Corso Paola Agliata (Petralia Sottana); 011-39-092-164-1947; wonderful.
Trattoria da Salvatore – 3 Piazza San Michele (Petralia Sottana); 011-39-092-168-0169; great restaurant in beautiful, quiet town.
Accommodations & Tours – Carmelina Ricciardello (Sant’Ambrogio);
Falconry – Domenio Vazzana (Gangi); falconer.
Gangivecchio – Contrada da Gangivecchio (Gangi); 011-39-092-164-4804;; cooking classes run Giovanna Tornabene; can also stay here.
Limousine Service Sicily – 16 Via Rosario Ruffino (Terrasini); 011-39-033-8711-1536;; ask for Silvano Lunetta.
Real Sicily – 11 Via Nesea (Palermo); 011-39-034-7480-9632 (Marcella Amato);; ask for tour guide Marcella Amato.
Sights & Sites
Castle – Piazza Castello; 011-39-092-167-1211;; beautiful, rococo Cappella Palatina; make sure to try town specialty if visiting, panettone made with local, manna liqueur.
Duomo di Cefalu – Piazza del Duomo; 011-39-092-142-1508;; dates from 1131; commenced in Norman style.
Madrie Vecchia – Piazza Margherita (Castelbuono); church with famous relic (Christ’s grandmother’s skull).
Museo Mandralisca – 13 Via Mandralisca; 011-39-092-142-1547;; make sure to see Antonello da Messina’s Portrait of Unknown Man.
Parco Naturale Regionale Delle Madonie – 16 Corso Paolo Agliata (Petralia Sottana); 011-39-092-168-4011;

Bakeries, Coffee, Ice Cream, Juice & Tea
Caffe Sicilia – Corso Vittorio Emanuele III; 011-39-093-183-5013;; pastry shop founded in 1892; must try almond granita.

Azienda Agricola Mandranova – SS 115 (at km 217); 011-39-039-3986-2169;; farm set in olive groves in Palermo.

Casa delle Acque – Contrada Costiglie; 011-39-034-9164-5340;; twice yearly, during blood orange harvest, you can stay here and participate; charming villa.

Sights & Sites
Villa Romana del Casale –; most complex, largest, and richest in situ Roman mosaics in world; UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Il Melangolo – 5 Via Lo Bue; 011-39-034-9636-4769;; must book ahead because in private home.

Ristorante Veneziano – Contrada Arena, SS 120, km 187; 011-39-095-921-418;; elegant restaurant separated from town’s medieval zone by deep valley, along bottom of which runs busy boulevard; grilled tenderloin steaks, grilled and smoke-cured ham, salted codfish, grilled sausages, and rigatoni or pappardelle with fresh mushrooms.
Sights & Sites
Castiglione di Sicilia – picturesque hillside village.
Mount Etna – 107 Via Etnea (Parco Regionale dell’Etna); 011-39-095-914-588.

Scala dei Turchi – beach at Scala dei Turchi base, rocky cliff on Realmonte coast; strikingly scenic; fiery bronze sands are stunning contrast to azure ocean in front & pale gray cliffs behind; famous for being one of Sicily’s most beautiful natural wonders.
Sights & Sites
Realmonte Salt Mines – Scavuzzo;; approximately 2.5 kms from Realmonte, visit rock salt mine that, together with mines of Petralia Soprana & Racalmuto, among 3 Sicilian rock salt mines still active; length of multi-storey tunnels, which extend underground about 25 kms, crossing territories of Raffadali & Siculiana, is impressive; inside is “Cathedral of Salt,” church with altar, sculpted from big salt block.

SANTA MARGHERITA DI BELICE – main location of The Leopard (which calls it Donnafugata).
Sights & Sites
Parco del Gattopardo – Palazzo Filangeri-Cuto Museum;

Verdura Resort – Contrada Verdura; 011-39-092-599-8001;

Anna Tasca Lanza Cooking School – Tenuta Regaleali; 011-39-038-0754-1365;

SCOPELLO (includes Marettimo)
Marettimo Residence – 3 Via Telegrafo (Marettimo); 011-39-092-392-3202;; basic.
Tonnara di Scopello – Castellammare del Golfo; 011-39-033-9307-1970;; restored tuna fishery; very spartan but lovely.
Il Pirata – 27 Via Scalo Vecchio (Marettimo); 011-39-092-392-3027; seafood trattoria.
Ferry – for Marettimo: Ustica Lines, 23 Via Ammiraglio Staiti, 011-39-092-322-200,; for Motya (Mozia): or
Sights & Sites
Marettimo – Egadi Islands; walking trails.
Riserva Naturale Orientata dello Zingaro – Via Segesta (Castellammare del Golfo); 011-39-092-435-108;; nature reserve that is walker’s paradise.
San Pantaleo Island – between Marsala & Trapani (accessible by ferry; has ancient Phoenician ruins, Motya (Mozia) and museum run by Whitaker Foundation (011-39-091-682-0522).

SYRACUSE (includes Città Vecchia, Ortygia)
Algilà Ortigia Charme Hotel – 93 Via Vittorio Veneto; 011-39-093-146-5186;; great location in historic city center; technically, lies on Ortygia Island, also known as old city center; UNESCO World Heritage Site Necropolis of Pantalica located nearby; in renovated historic building; beach shuttle for surcharge, complimentary wireless Internet access, Internet point, reading lounge, complimentary newspapers available upon request, fax, photocopying, and printing service, and professional multilingual staff.
Grand Hotel Ortigia – 12 Viale Mazzini; 011-39-093-146-4600;; has boat service to own beach.
Ristorante L’Ancora – 7 Via Perno; 011-39-093-146-2369;; near market; as down to earth as it gets – television shows football matches; neonati, tiny newborn fish, served with chilli, mint, and chunks of blood orange; octopus in fruity olive oil; and whelks as big as baby conches; pasta with swordfish egg sauce, tomatoes, and wild fennel stalks, as pungent as any bouillabaisse.
Il Cenacolo – 9 Via Corte Avolio; 011-39-093-165-099; in pretty, medieval piazza, tables spread out under palm trees.
Osteria da Mariano – 9 Via Zuccola (Ortygia); 011-39-093-167-444;; country cuisine with friendly vibe.
Sights & Sites
Bellomo Palace Museum – 16 Via Capodieci; 011-39-093-169-511;; in 13th Century palace; art arranged chronologically on 2 floors; 2 exquisite masterpieces: Caravaggio’s Burial of Saint Lucy (1608, La Sepoltura di Santa Lucia) & Antonello da Messina’s Annunciation (1474, Annunciazione); on ground floor, sculptures from Middle Ages & Renaissance.
Parco Archeologico della Neapolis – Via Del Teatro (off Corso Gelone & Viale Teocrito intersection); 011-39-093-166-206;; contains city’s most important Greek and Roman buildings, all on mainland at city’s western edge (immediately north of Stazione Centrale); entrance is down Via Augusto; on Temenite Hill, Teatro Greco (Greek Theater), Viale Teocrito, was among classical period’s great buildings; outside Greek Theater is ancient quarry, Latomia del Paradiso (Paradise Quarry); upon seeing cave in wall, Caravaggio dubbed it “Ear of Dionysius” because of unusual shape; 197' long; enter inner chamber where tearing paper sounds like gunshot; nearby is Grotta dei Cordari (Ropemakers’ cave); also worth seeing is Ara di Lerone (Altar of Heron), was once used for multi-animal sacrifices (longest altar ever built); Anfiteatro Romano (Roman Amphitheater) ranks among finest amphitheaters left by Romans.
Teatro dei Pupi – 17-19 Via Della Guidecca; 011-39-093-146-5540;; traditional marionette theater.

Relais Monaci Delle Terre Nere – Via Monaci; 011-39-034-8601-6050;; boutique luxury hotel set on Sicilian Estate in Mount Etna foothills; 6 rooms on 40 acres organic farmland.

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