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

trinacria bella how sicily was born


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














 sperlinga_castle by  Francesco ScaringiDriving further north-west, from Sciacca,  entering the heart of the island, take the Strada del vino dei Castelli Nisseni, the Wine Route of the Castles of Caltanissetta, where the famous Nero d’Avola grape clings to the archaeological sites of Morgantina and its famous statue of Venus. Visit also Caltanissetta with its hundreds churches the brand new Archeological Museum of Caltanissetta , completed after 50 years from the initial project!  and You will encounter  Piazza Armerina with its amazing Villa Romana del Casale or  ” Roman Villa Del Casale”and. the DOC here is the Riesi. Last but not least  Sperlinga with its magnificent Castle.


Scicli - testa di Turco best copy 2This castle has become famous as a result of the events linked to the Sicilian Vespers:  just in this fortress found refuge a garrison of French, together with a group of Sicilians led by Petro de Alemanno , as reported  by the historian Michele Amari, was able to resist the assaults for 13 months before finally capitulate. See also The French in Sicily 


Caltanisssetta Archeologic Musem 8 copy 2

 Proceeding furher south-east, as famous as the Nero Nisseno, you can delight the Cerasuolo  di Vittoria, Sicily’s only DOCG, (which consists of 30-50% Frappato and 50-70% of Nero d’Avola) signed as the Wine Route of Cerasuolo, includes  the Sicilian capitals of Baroque in Val di Noto: Noto, Modica, ( the city of chocolate), Scicli and Ragusa Iblea, a real jewel, just to name a few. Natural trails to visit in the area: Pantalica, Vendicari Natural Reservation, Capo Passero and the Island of Currents 




Piazza Armerina Medioeval Convent by Vanvakys

Villa del Casale by Vanvakys copy Ragusa Ibla a jewel Baroque City copy 2Noto Baroque streets by Vnvakys copy











Siracusa - festa santa Lucia foto di Alaw277 copy 3Then Siracusa, the city of Saint Lucy and Archimedes of Syracuse, once capital of the Magna Greciae and the Byzantines, with its Route of the Ancient Myths. It is s really a charm, especially if you can visit the Island of Ortigia, and taste along with the  Moscato of Siracusa, enjoying  the famous pasta con le sarde“, pasta with sardines, the quintessential dish that embodies this unique land.


This mouthwatering dish has been attributed to the Arab general Euphemius to celebrate his Pasta con le sarde  copyarrival in Siracusa, 950 circa, together with the  Fatimid general, Jawhar as-Siquilli (“the Sicilian”), founder of the city of Cairo, Egypt. The Pasta con le sarde, strictly prepared with maccarruna”, also invented for the first time in Sicily (see also Itriya, Trabia , Palermo, the Museum of Pasta) have different variations along the island but the main component must be: pine nuts, wild fennel, resins and saffron,  and of course fresh sardines. See also 

Remember in Sicily is a seasonable dish, so the  best period  to enjoy it is between March and September!


Ortigia the big square present Cerasuolo di Vittoria at NYU May 5th  copy 2Pasta fish and Pistacchio small copy Siracusa Ortigia  Fonte Aretusea  copy








Will be  certainly important and unforgettable to visit Pachino, (the name of this little city is a term of endearment of a Roman name and stands for “Bacchino or little Bacchus” the land of good wines, home of the “Pachino cherry tomato”, the best in the world and sea food fish dishes. Marzamemi is an ancient little fishermen’s village not to be missed.  

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 V>>>  


To complete our tour through “Culture and Arts of Pleasure” of Sicily drive from south-east toward the “Mongibeddu “, in Sicilian, “the Beautiful Mountain”,  entering the Etna Wine Route ,which extends along the entire the foot of the the biggest active volcano of Europe. With its particular climate, and microclimates has a very fertile soil  lava for unique varieties such as Carricante, indigenous white grape , Nerello Mascalese, according to Homer  “Ulysses’s wine”, Nerello Cappuccio/Mantellato and Minnella, all grapes variety part of the Etna Rosso DOC

This year 2013  the Etna Park  has been included by UNESCO among its Patrimony : In addition to wine, and food delicatessen  the beauty of an unspoiled corner of nature really. 

Visit “Bronte” The city of pistachios” is a must: along with hundreds of dishes based on this delicious fruit, you can also visit the Norman Church, incorporated inside the Nelson’s Castle and the beautiful Simeto Valley and the  Nebrodi Park. From the sharp volcanic land with gentle slopes of the Aeolian Islands to finish the wine tour with the wine route in the province of Messina, from the city of the strait to the seven sisters of the Mediterranean. The DOC of the Faro and  Mamertino, cultivated along the hills of the “Nebrodi Mountains”, accompany offshore until the unmistakable taste of Malvasia, friendly and passionate just like Sicily.



Albanello Green_Grapes_for_PosterAlbanello is an ancient white grape variety cultivated in the provinces of Ragusa and Syracuse to near extinction. Long  time ago it was used for prominent fortified wines such as Mendola and Pulliat. Giovanni Briosi (1879) said of this grape, “The Albanello is not greatly appreciated in the trade, especially not abroad, yet it can be used to make the best dry wine in all of Sicily.” Two types of wine were made from Albanello: one dry produced with grapes harvested slightly before complete maturation; and one sweet,for which, grapes were left to dry both on the vine and in bunches under  the sun for seven to eight days .

In the eighteenth century, the grape was an important component in the rare and expensive Marsala-style wine Ambrato di Comiso.


Don Nuzzo Moscato Di Siracusa DOC

Do Nuzzo Gulino 131x559Don Nuzzo Moscato Di Siracusa DOC

Grape Varieties: Moscato di Siracusa
Classification: DOC
Alcohol: 14% by vol.

It is identified as the most ancient wine of Italy. In the 7th century it was called Pollio, from the name of King Tracio Pollio who ruled Syracuse. The Moscato grapes, from which it originates, give an intense perfume of honey and ripe fruit such as figs and dates. A dessert and meditation wine should be tasted fresh to appreciate its perfumes and fragrance.

Not Imported in USA  yet! 


Nero d’Avola


nerodavolaPrince of the enological re-birth of Sicily, the Nero d’Avola is a very important native varietal. Nero d’Avola arguably the most characteristic of Sicilian red grapes, the hearty Nero d’Avola variety is thought to have originated in the Syracuse/Ragusa
 territory in the southeastern part of the island. Over the years, however, it has spread throughout the entire region of Sicily. A smooth, deep, slightly peppery flavor gets better over time, without losing its inherent fruitiness. 








Palermo Palazzo Chiaromonte2 copyThe Spanish governed Sicily from 1479 until 1713, and certainly not well. Queen Isabella of Castile starts the Inquisition as a domestic policy to secure control. After her husband Ferdinand becomes king of Aragon, she exports the inquisition to the entire kingdom.”In 1492 the Jews are expelled from Spain; and on June 18 of the same year the order of expulsion also arrives in Sicily and Sardinia. Was a very dark period for Sicily as in the entire catholic countries. Using the religion as an excuse the Spaniards got rid of political opponents expropriating vast estates, torturing and killing anybody was against them. 


Palermo- Palazzo Steri trionfo-della-morte-After a long restoration, completed in 2006,  at “Palazzo  Chiaromonte Steri” is possible to observe all signs of these terrible years of darkness  left by prisoners, written sometimes with their own blood on the walls.”Il Trionfo della MorteThe Triumph of Death” is one of the most impressive painting exhibited, according to some expert inspired Pablo Picasso, when visiting Palermo, in the making of the famous Guerninca”. for Enjoy Gourmet June 09 Sicilian Legacy page12 photo Vanvakys copy 4However, they do deserve the credit for reinvigorating the cultivation of vineyards and the production of wines all over the island. The resulting wine was strong, full-bodied, and minimally refined, but it filled the barrels of the most important of the numerous taverns that were cropping up in the cities during that era, including the city of Palermo.





Villa Palagonia_2 copyArtists, along with patrons of every type, frequented these rowdy and promiscuous locales,”taverne“, and very often, as happened in many other European cities, such as London, Paris, and Naples, drew inspiration for their works from them: imagine the places described by A. Dumas in “Les Miserables”, for instance.



Palmento pressa small_2jpgSeveral poets, in Sicilian and Italian language, praised and gushed over Sicilian wines, describing, among other things, their production processes from the grapevine to the cellar. To quote one of them, the great historian and Sicilian scholar, Domenico Scinà (Palermo, 1765-1837), wrote: “…Several species of our grapes can be called subtle”, as did Cupani (another Sicilian poet), “and the vine, trimmed well, was cultivated by us”.




Nerello vineyard S. AlfioBut the wine is not drawn with the diligence it might be. Every sort of grape is mixed together, mature with immature, and is allowed to ferment arbitrarily, at the will of the ignorant farmer.



MessinaDSCN0882 copyYet our wine is rich and robust, and makes famous the workers of Bagaria and Abbate” (Bagheria e Villabate).







Giovanni Meli DSCN0080Another famous Sicilian poet, Giovanni Meli (1740-1815), dedicated much of his writing to Sicilian wine and its virtues. Among these writings, we will cite:

Lodi ai vini Siciliani di Giovanni Meli 

(Ode to Sicilian Wines, by Giovanni Meli)

“ This will be a delight
Restoration of mortals
Remedy for sadness
Balsam for ills
It will bring balance,
In spite of destiny,
Among the rich and the poor
Among the greats and the commoners…”

“ Live live at full steam Moscato
of Catania or Syracuse… for wine you’ll drink Resalaimi…”

“…Live the garnish of the Ficarazzi
for we who drink bubbling wines”

“…Oh Castelvetrano, my love?
Oh Carini, Carini, oh what wine
That entraps my heart with sweetness…
Oh Alcamo, Oh Ciaculli! Oh Bagheria
Recipes for true contentment…”


Bandiera_del_Regno_di_Sicilia_4.svgIn the second half of the 1700s, during the Bourbon Dynasty, wine cultivation was experiencing a full resurgence in Sicily.



Balconies of Ragusa a detail copyMany wines were beginning to come into their own, reaching northern Italy as well as several foreign countries and the largest wine-producing cities, where, by that time, they boasted international quality, which: AlcamoAvolaCastellamareCastelvetranoMarsala, MascaliVittoria.
 present Cerasuolo di Vittoria at NYU May 5th  copy It was in that same period that several large proprietors of vineyards, such as Salaparuta, Ganci, and Mortillaro, began to produce more refined wines, according to the French model. One of the largest producers of Sicilian wine, Giuseppe Alliata Moncada Colonna, Prince of Villafranca and Duke of Salaparuta, was also convinced by this method. Don Giuseppe, who possessed a vast expanse of vineyards



at CariniTerrasiniBagheria and Casteldaccia, oversaw his vineyards personally, and according to the particular Antico palmento _2manner of the Corvo di Bagheria district. Reserved for his family, as well as a few more illustrious guests, he bottled the first bottles of Corvo (beginning in 1800), creating the famous reserve known around the world.