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

trinacria bella how sicily was born

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

by Salvatore Cottone aka Sotiris Vanvakys

edited by



There are 12 Wine Trails of Sicily, and most have names related to local D.O.C. wines (see the related map).


 Dyonisious putto wine copyBetween toasts (Salute!) these extraordinary paths will lead you to the discovery of a land blessed by the sun, the gods, and the ancient Trinacria: a civilization with more than three thousand years of history. According to Greek legend, Dionysius himself, the god of spirits, brought the young roots from the Magna Greciae to this fertile soil, created with the intention of growing excellent produce and, above all, the “divine nectar“.  




Cappella Palatina by VanvakysWe present these trails starting from the county of Palermo and follow the road to Monreale D.O.C., with more than 16,000 hectares of vineyards, of which Cataratto is certainly the king. The D.O.C. wines from these hills pertain to the counties of Sclafani, Contessa Entellina and Monreale, a name that brings to mind the beautiful Norman town with its famous cathedral-considered a virtual wonder of the world for the rich assortment of golden Byzantine mosaics that gild the cathedral’s interior. Curiously, the Cattedrale di Monreale contains the first holy image dedicated to Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Becket, commissioned by his friend, Margaret of Navarre, wife of William I and mother of William II King of Sicily. She is buried in magnificent marble sarcophagus along with her two sons, Roger and Henry, together with an urn containing the viscera of Saint Louis of France, who died in 1270.

Slice of Cassata CakeConstruction of the church, dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, was begun in 1174 by William II and was officially promoted to the designation of Cathedral in 1182. A distinct combination of three architectural styles- Norman French, Byzantine and Arab- the impressive and painstakingly detailed interior is a sight to behold. Be sure


visit the cloister of the abbey, an outdoor marvel of Norman Monreale Absideand Romanesque styles consisting of a perfect square of ornately carved arches in stone and limestone, depicting all manner of mythical, legendary and historical icons, including biblical figures, Norman knights and Arab warriors. The famous Arab Fountain in the southwest corner of the courtyard is exquisite. 



The territory within Monreale is vast. It is, in fact, the largest geographical province in all of Italy and incorporates the following municipalities:


Antipasti Siciliani small  copy 5Easter in Sicily the Devils dancing_8 Prizzi by copyFicuzza woods  copyCannoli Palermitani by VRC copy








Piana degli Albanesi to the north, arguably the home of the most famous cannoli, throughout Corleone and its forestal district of Ficuzza, and extending south to Prizzi, one of the capitals of Sicilian cheese, such as “pecorino cannestrato” and “caciocavallo”.


Prizzi Small  copyPasqua a Piana Degli Albanesi by VanvakysCastelvetrano - pane nero e olive di CastelvetranoPiana degli Albanesi Jewels SM








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 Translation and editing by www.OnpointTranslation 


 >>Continue reading PART II >>


Inzolia (Ansonica)

inzoliaIn Tuscany, this grape is referred to as Ansonica. However, its Sicilian counterpart, Inzolia, is both well known and widely accepted as a fundamental element of the classic Sicilian wine repertoireWell-structured, with notes of almond and citrus, Inzolia is produced primarily in the provinces of Agrigento, Palermo, and Caltanisetta, but is also designated as DOC in the wine regions of Menfi and Sciacca.






#2 SicilyArt From The ancient to the modern vision copy banner copy

The Arabs arrived in Sicily in approximately 827 A.D. landing on the Southwestern coast, and founded a city that they called Marsala, from the Arabic ”Mars-Allah”, meaning “Port of God”, and with them, they brought a vine called Zibibbo from the Arabic (zabīb (زبيب) meaning raisins. The Arabs were not drinkers, by any means, seeing as their Islamic religion prohibited them from consuming wine or other alcohol. However, they did much to the benefit of Sicily, bringing many goods and other riches.

977px-Arabo-NormanArchitectureSkilled philosophers, mathematicians, and engineers, the Arabs constructed many buildings and mosques of notable beauty, as well as canals for irrigation and the plantation and cultivation of many new plants, including:  pistachio, carob, asparagus, eggplant, saffron, cinnamon, clove, citrus fruits, silkand sugar cane.

Their dietary laws also had a strong influence on the Sicilian population’s way of eating, inventing dishes and introducing delicacies that, even today, are present on Sicilian tables all over the world.

Nomenclatura by Vanvakys copy x webArabs immediately appreciated the versatility of durum wheat seeds, introducing Couscous, and with the same talent, began producing “maccheroni”, or the first pasta. The first spaghetti, produced in Itryia, now Trabia, near Palermo, in the year 900 A.D. where now  It is possible to visit “The Museum of Pasta”.  Contrary to common belief, this “invention” of pasta as we know it in the western world was introduced long before Marco Polo’s arrival in Venice at the end of the 13th century from Cathay (China).

Pistacchio di Bronte by Vanvakys copyThe Pasta con le sarde, “the quintessential dish that embodies this unique land“, strictly prepared with maccarruna, and/or “bucatini”pasta, have different variations along the island but the main component must be: pine nuts, and pine nuts, ingredients omnipresent in Sicilian cuisine, and optimal against intoxication, wild fennel, resins and saffron,  and of course fresh sardines.  Remember in Sicily is a seasonable dish, so the  best period  to enjoy it is between March and September! .This mouthwatering dish has been attributed to the  general Euphemius, the commander of the Byzantine fleet of Sicily converted to Muslim,  to celebrate his arrival in Siracusa, 950 circa, together with the  Fatimid general, Jawhar as-Siquilli (“the Sicilian”), founder of the city of Cairo, Egypt.

Pasta fish and Pistacchio smallThe union of fresh sheep’s milk ricotta, which had already been produced for centuries by local farmers, and sugar, packed into a copper pot that the Arabs referred to as Quas’at was the origin of the dessert called cassata al forno known today as Cassata Siciliana. A jubilation of colors and sweetness, with a fantastical garnish of candied fruit, the cassata, a cake layered with sweetened ricotta and chocolate, and topped with sugar icing and marzipan, is surely an icon of Sicilian cuisine. (see also The invention of a tradition Roberto Alajmo, writer, journalist, philanthropist offers some insight into the invention of the Cassata as we know it today)

 gelatteria siciliana.itAnd thanks also  to the Arabs of Sicily we have had the “sorbet”, from the  Arabic “sherbeth”, consisting of ice from Mount Etna, sugar,and  fruit essences. Ice cream came   many years later thanks to another Sicilian, exactly Francesco Procopio Cutò.  







The Best Sicilian Pastry in Brooklyn.” Villabate has and always will be a family owned and run business. It is named after the Sicilian town of Villabate, near Palermo, which is home to the talented family that has operated this pasticceria since 1980. For generations the Alaimo family has been creating the finest in Sicilian pastries, cakes, cookies and breads. It all started in the small town of Villabate in the northern region of the island of Sicily. Although Emanuele Alaimo and Lina Drago come from the same village, they met and married in Brooklyn, New York. We invite you to experience their truly specialcassata Siciliana” (the best!) as well as their delicious cannoli, sfince and gelati. Not to mention their their coffee and snack bar, where you can sample many kinds of traditional Sicilian “rosticceria” (arancini, calzoni fritti, pizzelle and more).