The Wine Trails of Sicily Through Culture and the Arts of Pleasure part II



trinacria bella how sicily was born


 The Wine Trails of Sicily Through Culture and the Arts of Pleasure  part II



ERICE DOC logoMarsala banner wine 2013ALCAMO DOC logologo_strada_del_vino_val_di_mazara





  Proceeding west from Palermo, you’ll reach the Alcamo D.O.C. trail, which includes Erice D.O.C. as well as the world-renowned Marsala (Lands of the West and Val di Mazara). Meals enjoyed along the Sicilian west coast, whether procured in one of the area’s award winning slow food establishments, a local trattoria, or, better yet. a welcoming Sicilian home, will undoubtedly allow you the opportunity to experience the famous “Nocellara del Belice” and “Biancolillaextra virgin olive oils.



 Read more about Extra Virgin Olive Oil & Produce >>





A bit tangential to this road, but not too far out of the way, beyond the town of Castellammare Del Golfo, and after enjoying some fabulous hot cassatelle di ricotta, a local specialty (one is never enough), you arrive at San Vito Lo Capo, voted the world’s most beautiful beach of 2012, by users of Each year, San Vito Lo Capo celebrates the Couscous Fest, the international festival of this ancient dish that also represents an important appointment for the cultural integration, involving chefs and musicians from all parts of the euro-Mediterranean area and beyond in it’s festive celebration of historical foods and local wines. The next edition of the event is to be held in San Vito Lo Capo between the 24th and 29th of September 2013




Cuscus di pesce San Vito photo by Valeria Casale 400pxCassatelle di Castellammare by VRC copy 2Sicilian white Grillo by VRC  copy Castellammare del Golfo TP by Vanvakys copy









 SicilyWine Vineyard _2 small copy 2The area of Trapani is the most extensive contiguous vineyard territory in Italy, and truly an area to savor mile by mile, from the beautiful medieval city of Erice (do not forget to taste the their special and authentic marzipan), to the salt marshes (first developed by the Phoenicians) of



Trapani, the Museum of Salt, and the antique windmills and SatiroDanzante1wild bird population of the area. Mothia Island (with its famous “Young Auriga”,or best know as  the“Mozia Charioteer,” the only remaining clothed Greek statue, attributed to the famous sculptor, Fidia) faces Trapani from its position in the Stagnone LagoonMarsala, with its eponymous wine, picturesque lungomare (coastline promenade) and unique specimen, the “Punic Ship” (la Nave Punica) of Museum Baglio Anselmi, is a “must”.




Stagnone birds in Marsala copy 3

If have additional time to spend in the area, we highly suggest a visit to the Aegadian Islands, a small archipelago where fishing and the cultivation of wines and grains take center stage.



Mazara by night vanvakys copy

Moving toward the southwest direction toward the peaceful coastal city of Mazara del Vallo, one arrives at the home of Europe’s largest fishing fleet as well as the Dancing Satyr of Mazara, a Roman sculpture fished out of the Mediterranean Sea and recently exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of New York.



Last but not least, in the same area, the unique modern city of Gibellina Nuova, conceived in 1968 after the terrible earthquake that struck the Belice Valley on the night of January 15, 1968 and affected 10 townships. 


Gibellina Nuova: from natural disaster to the “Dream in Progress” and a ruthless fate Sen. Corrao & Judy Rozner May 2009_3Senator Ludovico Corrao, then-Mayor of Gibellina, at the wanted to keep the tight knit community together and set out to build a new town 20 km away at Salinella on a plane in the Belice Valley. The plan for Gibellina Nuova was complete with freeway and railway access. Prestigious city planners, architects and top international artists were called in to contribute to the “Dream in Progress”. They created a town with wide streets, single two-story dwellings surrounded by gardens, piazzas, public gardens, and buildings of postmodern architecture. Modern sculptures, adorn every piazza and road junction, were gifted by artists. Their generous contributions filled a Modern Art Museum befitting a metropolis. Unfortunately, the so-called “living museum” has been nearly abandoned by the authorities for lack of proper funding. The willingness of local employees to keep it running and available to the international community of artists, art scholars and historians who travel thousands of miles around the world to visit is testament to just how precious it is Alberto Burri’s Cretto: the largest sculpture in the world. 


Case Di Stefano 1Gibellina Museum 4 copy 3 Museo delle Arti Mediterranee. A. Pomodoro The Ctretto Burri May 09_11








Prominent artist Alberto Burri traveled to Gibellina, Sicily from his native Umbria at the invitation of Ludovico Corrao, and this visit culminated in a most incredible sculpture. Burri, who worked as a medic during WWII and was eventually captured and held in USA, became an artist during his imprisonment. His signature methods of incorporating non-traditional materials such as wood and plastics in his sculptures and paintings, as well as his “cracked” style, laid the foundation for what was to become his most well-known creation: The Cretto of Old Gibellina spreads over 29 acres and covers the ruins of the abandoned city with a smooth white concrete, turning an area of devastation into a new and unique work of topographic land art, believed to be the largest sculpture in the world. (Thank you to Dr. Judy Rozner for her expert contribution on Alberto Burri’s Cretto).

stock-photo-copyright-symbol-as-a-wax-seal-80699464The Wine Trails of Sicily Through Culture and the Arts of Pleasure

by Salvatore Cottone New York, July 2013

CottoneTranslation and editing by www.OnpointTranslation 

Continue reading READ PART III>>> 



Marco de Bartoli fotoMarco De Bartoli was the first  producer I met since I started  Project. He was introduce to me by my great old friend # 1 Wine merchant in Denmark, Carlo Merolli who says about him: “ Marco is a real Sicilian man, hard and  serious worker, the first pioneer whose mission is to give the ” Fine Marsala” the dignity and the right value of a great wine as it deserves”. I’m sure is gone like you”  
De Bartoli 7Signor Marco De Bartoli, was  a  great Sicilian man, a person as solar and impetuous as  the boisterously is our land. When you met him would tell you everything in a few minutes, and with his typical Sicilian generosity, let you taste everything he produced , explaining his joy and satisfaction after reading the positive reviews for its wine, but at the same time : he   expressed his anger, as it was considered to be the wine from South and Southern Italy till few years ago. Angry  against the men of our own land that have transformed the name “Marsala”, for decades, in a  almost vulgar word.With tears in his eyes. and now in mine, when he spoke of the deterioration of his Sicily, lighted up in fury, but relaxed immediately, when it approached the glass to his lips inviting me to a toast. Salute!
I never saw him again, but just that time he gave me a good lesson: “Never Give up”. Grazzi Marco Riposa in Pace, I’ll never forget you!”. Salvatore Cottone
 DE Bartoli 3The company is twelve kilometers from Marsala, in that land of Sicily which is great in all its manifestations, for better or for worse, the hard ground , a  land of hard men. Marco De Bartoli has signs of these every day fights, but he  will win against all odds, with the tenacious, stubborn conviction of being right, and to prove it with his precious creature the “Marsala Vecchio Samperi”



Marsala Vecchio SamperiWINE: Cantine De Bartoli “Vecchio Samperi”
ROOTS: “The Old Samperi ” named after the production area close to Marsala
PRODUCTION SYSTEM: Soleras. For the production of Vecchio Samperi is used the system of “racking”, consisting of small percentages of wine of fresh production in barrels, with wines already aged. Then is ennobled with the old method of aging in oak barrels, better known as “Soleras”.
GRAPES: Grillo 100%.
VINEYARDS: 3500 vines per hectarewith  roots that have origins in 1970 and 1996 in the territory of C / Samperi Marsala
Terrain: flat medium-textured sandy-calcareous
Plant:   sapling and Guyot. Yield of 20 hectoliters per hectare 
HARVEST: harvested the last decade of September. Manual selection of the grapes, soft pressing, natural sedimentation, fermentation
Production method:  Traditional oak and chestnut barrels at room temperature
AWARDS : Oscar del Vino 2013 the best Sweet Wine 






catarrattoA principal grape indigenous to the province of Trapani on the Western coast of Sicily, the robust Catarratto grape has produced a family of quality clones, including Catarratto Ammantiddatu, Catarratto Fimminedda, Catarratto Bagascedda, and Catarratto Mattu, and has
been given DOC designation in the wine territories of Marsala, Alcamo, and Monreale, among others.




WOODHOUSE. NELSON & LADY HAMILTON. ENGLISH SOUP & MARSALA for Enjoy Gourmet June 09 Sicilian Legacy page12 photo Vanvakys copy 4Woodhouse
 landed at Marsala in 1773, and ‘discovered’ that the local  wine produced in the area, and aged in wooden barrels, tasted similar to  the Portuguese “Porto”. Eventually, this fortified wine found such  success in England that he returned to Sicily in 1796, and became a  pioneer in the mass production and commercialization of Marsala wine.





637px-HoratioNelson1The legendary Admiral Horatio Nelson, who defeated Napoleon  Bonaparte in the Battle of the Nile, spent a great deal of time in the  northwest region of Sicily, between Palermo and Marsala. It was he who  introduced Marsala wine to the British Navy as an alternative to Porto,  and even suggested a regimen of one glass per day.


   Lady Hamilton, the hot holidays in Palermo and

 the “English soup”


George_Romney_-_Lady_Hamilton_as_CirceNelson spent a long and pleasant and “hot” holidays period in Palermo, along with   Lady Emma Hamilton, his famous “mistress” and also known to be the muse of George Romney . Described as as “a charming woman, beautiful and exceedingly good humored and amiable”, Lady Hamilton became a close friend of Queen Maria Carolina, wife of Ferdinand I of Naples. 




Living in Naples Emma developed what she called her LadyHamiltonAttitudes“, using Romney’s idea of combining classical poses with modern allure as the basis for her act. Emma had her dressmaker make dresses modeled on those worn by peasant islanders in the Bay of Naples, and the loose-fitting garments she often wore when modeling for Romney. This  ”Attitudes” were a cross between postures, dance, and acting, with the audience guessing the names of the classical characters and scenes Emma portrayed. As wife of the British Envoy, Emma welcomed Nelson in 1793. Horatio and Emma soon fell in love and their affair seems to have been tolerated, and perhaps even encouraged, by the elderly Sir William, whose own health was now failing and who longed for retirement. Hamilton showed nothing but admiration and respect for Nelson, and vice-versa.



Marsala Florio Cantines & Poster 5 copy 2 Emma Hamilton and Horatio Nelson were by now the two most famous Britons in the world. (source this “mutual” admiration, and respect, the two “lovers” had for Sir William, where often invited by the Bourbon king in Sicily. In their honor was offered a gala dinner at the splendid Palazzina Chinese, Palermo, the monsu’” or chef of King Ferdinand, inspired by Lady Hamilton created the famous ice cream flavor called zuppa Inglese” or “English soup”. the Sicilian version of this delicious dessert, different then the others, and the main ingredients are: sweet Marsala wine, eggnog and candid fruit. 



 Palermo Palazzina Cinese copy 2 




L'Auriga di MoziaJoseph Whitaker, a young English entrepreneur and archeologist,  inherited a vast vineyard in Marsala, upon which he founded a “baglio”, or typical  Sicilian wine estate. From this baglio, Whitaker made a fortune exporting  wine to the U.S. and England around the turn of the 19th century. In his  later years, Whitaker is known to have bought the island of Mozia, where he build up a villa, founded an archeological museum and published important studies of Tunisian birds. While excavating on the island he brought to light the remains of the Phoenician city of Motya. In the Museum the is one of the most important works of art of the ancient Greek world ever found in Sicily:  the “Young Man of Mozia”, the breathtakingly marble statue of a young man, perhaps an athlete, perhaps Hercules. Dressed in a finely-pleated, clinging tunic, probably the only one, with  his insolent hand-on-hip pose expresses confidence in his youth, power and beauty. Dated circa 440 BC, according to some scholars, it could be the work of the famous Phidias. However, the  influence of the Whitaker on Marsala’s development and economy, even today, cannot be overstated. 

572px-Logo_Palermo_1898.svgJoseph Whitaker, became English consul in Palermo in 1898 ,and  in that year, originally believed to be first club president, and one  of the founder, of the “Anglo Panormitan Athletic and Football Club“, Palermo City soccer team.







Pachino cherry tomato by Vanvakys - Version 2 copyThe tomato, which arrived from America a few centuries earlier, was a great success in Sicily. Initially used as a spice, it then became an ideal condiment for pastapizzafish, and meat, and was well suited to the kosher recipes of the Jews, and was often used in their dishes. The farmers and cultivators planted many different quantities and diverse types, so as to actually create new kinds, born of grafts and various types of cultivation, among which we must mention the ciliegino di Pachino”, or Pachino cherry tomato”.



Rigatoni alla Norma by Vanvakys small copy 2In 1831, ”pasta alla Norma, a dish of clear poetic origin –  actually  operatic – was dedicated to Vincenzo Bellini’s Norma. It was in  that  year that the Scala di Milano presented the first production of this  beautiful opera. Actually, it was a true fiasco—so much so that Bellini,  disappointed and embittered, wanted to retire from his career as a  composer. However, a friend of his, who happened to be a chef, presented Bellini  with a very special pasta dish upon his arrival in their hometown of  Catania, below the many terraced towns of Mongibello (Etna.)


Vincenzo Bellini composer from Catania, photo by Vanvakys copys mall copy The dish  consisted of “mezze-maniche” pasta with fresh tomato sauce (representing the fiery lava), chunks of fried eggplants (the fruits of land), and a generous dusting of ricotta salata, (representing the snow) dedicated to his opera: La Norma. It is said that his pleasure upon tasting it reinforced his spirit and humor, convincing him to continue. According to anecdote, Giuseppe Garibaldi, the international mercenary, was a non-drinker. But he was unable to resist the sweet taste of Marsala. Disembarking with his “Thousands” in the city of wine (on May 12, 1860), he began his mission to invade the Reign of the Two Sicilies for the  king of Savoy.





Marsala Florio Cantines ancient bottles collection 2 copy smallHe so loved that sweet wine that it later took the name DG, after him. Still to this day, bottles of sweet Marsala carry the letters, DG, or, “Dolce Garibaldi”.
Modern wine production has surely changed with respect to the “recent past”, and certainly reflects other changes in Sicily, though delayed in comparison with the rest of Europe, on a historic and economic level, though always within the same “religious” respect for habits and traditions that are still maintained today.




Etna vineyard _1 copy x web

Sicilian winemaking has a nonlinear history, due to the diverse microclimates and scattered cultivation in many of the territories: from the very first crops on Etna, with its volcanic earth, to the layered organization of the Biblino plantations of Syracuse, covered by very fertile agrarian soil constituted largely from the breakage of 

Feudo Arancio Sambuca di Sicilia copyunderlying limestone and organic substances. to the distant fields of Trapani, to the grand estates of Marsala.