World Traveller September 2019


Opening pages from left to

right: The beach at Belmond Villa

Sant'Andrea; a mixture of Sicilian

appetisers by Oliviero restaurant at

the Belmond Villa Sant'Andrea

Opposite: The view from a room at

Belmond Villa Sant'Andrea

This page clockwise from top

left: A bee gets to work on making

lavender honey on Etna; strolling

over solidified lava on Etna;

Salvatore Rodolico, a boat builder in

Acitrezza; granita and brioche

fresh by the local fishermen and the

must-try arancini (a ball of creamy

risotto rice that’s breaded and then deep

fried), meals are an art form here.

“Mamma mia!” exclaim my Italian

companions, as they sample the simple

yet utterly delicious delights. While I’m

no foodie, I took this as a sure sign I

was onto a good thing. One thing I can

assure you, is that you haven’t tasted

the real Sicily until you try granita.

This classic dessert, also a staple

breakfast dish eaten with brioche, is

thought to have been inspired by Arab

culture during the Muslim conquest

of Sicily from 827 until 902 CE.

“They brought citrus and sugar cane

with them and, essentially, they taught

us how to make sherbet,” says chef

Giovanna Musumeci, as she rolled up

her sleeves to show us how it’s done

in the small but lively Pasticceria

Santo Musumeci in Randazzo.

Just like sorbet, but crunchier, granita

is made by blending water, sugar and

fruit juice and freezing it in a metal






pan, scraping off the crystals that have

formed around the sides and mixing

them together to make a refreshingly

semi-frozen treat. Simply tear off a

chunk of brioche and use it to scoop

the granita straight into your mouth.

All manner of flavours are added, from

mulberry to lemon, but for breakfast you

can’t go wrong with coffee or almond

flavoured granita – the latter is typical

to the region of Catania. Speaking of

which, the pistachios are a must-try.

Again, I am assured with great gusto

by the Italians that the little green nuts

here are like nowhere else on the planet –

“mamma mia!” they all cheer in unison.

Dining in Sicily is a social affair and if

you’re eager to sit down with the locals,

you must check out the Le Mamme del

Borgo experience. The brainchild of a

group of mothers in the charming village

of Motta Camastra, you’ll be whisked

away for lunch or dinner served in the

homes of these talented matriarchs. Each

course is served in a different home,

giving you the chance to taste authentic

dishes with a side of motherly love. It’s

a fantastic way to learn why Sicilians

are so passionate about cooking.

I’d ventured to Sicily for more than just

good food, however. For me, the sparkling

coastline was the draw card. The

Belmond Villa Sant’Andrea, where I was

staying, was certainly a feast for the eyes.

Set on its own private beach in Taormina

Bay, the views are simply stunning. In

snagging a suite with a balcony facing the

Bay of Mazzarò, I’d found my temporarily

child-free happy place where I could

read for hours while colourful boats

bobbed in the water, brave swimmers 61

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