Glimmering white stone walls seemingly melting into the deep blue sea. Scala dei Turchi, the Turkish Steps is one of Southern Sicily’s most stunning beaches.Read More
Mt. Etna is one of the most active volcanos in the world. She is a beauty, a beauty with destructive but also life giving force. She enriches Sicily’s lands with minerals rich soil that makes for amazingly fertile vineyards.
Part of your Sicily experience should be visiting a winery on Mt. Etna. Luckily for you, we have been pre-tasting some wines and will be sharing our favorite wineries with you. Here is our first find, La Gelsomina.
So relaxing, so peaceful! La Gelsomina is a lush and beautiful winery is located about a half hour drive from Taormina, or an hour from Catania. It is a wonderfully organized 15 hectare property full of organic produce such as olives, cherries, apricots and of course - grapes. Due to the size of the winery, it is absolutely quiet and serene here, you will feel at one with nature as you walk over the volcanic soil and through the vast rows of vibrant, green orchards. The appeal of this winery is it’s expansive space and its terraced vineyard which creates an open amphitheater type feel.
La Gelsomina recently opened its doors to the public. It is owned by Tenute Orestiadi, which produces some of Trapani’s finest wines and they finally decided to open their Mt.Etna location - La Gelsomina - for wine tastings as well. Because La Gelsomina is new and becoming established in this location, it is likely you will have the sommelier all to yourself, and feel as though the winery is your own.
You are welcome to stop by the winery without a reservation and enjoy a refreshing, cold glass of white wine or a delicious, full bodied red and take in the scenery whenever you choose. We recommend however that you call or email ahead and make a reservation for a wine tasting. For only €25, you get to taste 4 different wines and munch on some local cheese and snacks.
We tried a three wines from La Gelsomina - a sparkling white and two fruity stills, Etna Bianco and Etna Rosso -, and we tasted a red Perricone from Tenute Orestiadi.
What makes wines grown on the slopes of Mt. Etna very special is the volcanic soil. “The soil of Etna is a product of is both lava and clay, fruit of numerous eruptions that have occurred over the centuries, which allowed the dust to settle on the fields and the magma to crystallize. This has made it a place with absolutely unique mineral characteristics, in which indigenous varieties of the volcano are cultivated at 550 meters above sea level, such as Nerello Mascalese, Nerello Cappuccio, Carricante and Moscato dell’Etna.” (source La Gelsomina)
After walking through the orchards and learning about the history of the land, you will get to choose which four wines you would like to try. If you enjoy your sommelier's company he will stay and chat with you, if not he will give you space to enjoy your time at the winery. Our sommelier was great and we ended up staying way past closing time chatting away with him.
You will find the wines are all reasonably priced, we recommend taking home a bottle or five :) I particularly enjoyed the red Perricone from their Trapani winery location, which you can recognize by the starfish symbol on the label. Go ahead and give them a call today to have a winery experience like you’ve never had before!
To make a reservation online, go to: https://www.tenuteorestiadi.it/enoturismo/ and select one of the Etna options, or call Ciro Benanti at +39 3666844071 (he speaks great English ;).
La Gelsomina: Via Presa, 48, 95017 Piedimonte Etneo CT
Follow the signs for, Presa, via San Giovanni Bosco, when you arrive in the central square, follow the arrows to La Gelsomina, it is about two hundred meters from the church. We strongly recommend following these driving directions you receive in your confirmation email, because we followed Google Maps to the winery address and it took us on an inaccessible private road.
When to visit:
One of the things we love about La Gelsomina is the flexibility of opening hours. Most wineries are open for lunchtime or dinner only. However for La Gelsomina you can choose your own time. We made a reservation for 6PM which allowed us to enjoy the beauty of the winery during golden hour.
As far as season goes - you can visit all year around, but in our opinion Etna vineyards are the most beautiful from May until November. Interestingly, Mt. Etna harvests begin earlier at the end of August and run until October as grapes mature based on how sunny or shady the particular vine terrace is.
Words by: Megan Sheets
Photography by: Niki Csanyi
Easily one of the most charming, adorable, and instagrammable places in all of Sicily. Marzamemi is one of our favorite little gems, tucked away on the south-east coast of Sicily. It is a tiny fishing village, but filled with Sicilian seaside charm. From the painted terracotta pots to the antique wooden boats and turquoise painted chairs, this village will fill your eye and heart with joy.
Marzamemi is located in the province of Syracuse. It is quite tiny so half of a day is usually enough to explore it, try some seafood and take amazing Mediterranean vacation photos here. It’s quite close to two beautiful towns - Noto and Ortigia, so combining it with either of these towns makes it a perfect day trip.
Tip: If you are visiting in the summer months, plan Marzamemi in the early morning or before lunch so you can get your pictures uninterrupted, without tourists. Then have a delicious lunch and head to Noto or Ortigia for the afternoon & sunset.
Known for its delicious and fresh seafood, you can’t go wrong dining at any of the adorably decorated restaurants. If you enjoy seafood and want to venture into some traditional Sicilian dishes, we recommend you try the pasta with squid ink (Pasta al Nero di Seppia) or the fresh swordfish (Pesce Spada). All of the fish is caught daily here in the Mediterranean making any seafood dish extraordinary. If you aren’t a big seafood fan, that’s okay. You can still find many of the traditional pasta dishes such as Carbonara and Pasta alla Norma, and they will be equally as scrumptious.
Let’s not forget about dessert and coffee, after all you’re in Italy. After lunch, take a stroll through the piazza and enjoy the vintage atmosphere outside one of the cute cafes. In the piazza, you can sit in the center of it all and enjoy a traditional espresso and a refreshing granita. Granita is an Italian dessert that is almost impossible to describe until you try it. It’s lighter than gelato, a sorbet-like frozen dessert. It comes in many traditional Sicilian flavors such as pistachio, lemon or almond (all are delicious!). If you’re in the mood for something a little stronger, order an Aperol Spritz cocktail. This drink is simply made from Prosecco, soda water and Aperol. It is not too sweet, amazingly refreshing on a hot summer day. It is a little bitter at first; if you have never tried Aperol prepare for a taste you have never tried before. However, this drink is a traditional Italian staple and is worth a try. Regardless of where you eat or what you order, you will be blown away by the beauty of Marzamemi and simply at peace with the atmosphere of the village from the view in the middle of the piazza.
Marzamemi has plenty of souvenir and boutique shops. On the weekends there will be typical vendors waiting to sell you scarves, sunglasses and handbags. If you are looking for souvenirs, this is a great place to visit as there won’t be an overwhelming amount of shops filled with the same kinds of knick knacks. Marzamemi isn’t a huge shopping town, simply because it is an old fishing village so most of the small space is dedicated to storing the boats and the fish that was caught that day.
How to get here?
If you are staying in Catania, visiting the charming fishing village of Marzamemi is a total must. It is about an hour and a half drive from Catania, but it is an easy open highway drive. There are no highway tolls, however always keep some change on you for parking. Due to the small size of the village, we don’t really recommend you planning your Sicily vacation solely around Marzamemi, but definitely check out this quaint little town and take some amazing pictures.
If you are coming from Palermo, we recommend you book your overnight stay in Noto or Ortigia (as it’s quite a distance from Palermo) and spend a half day in Marzamemi, checking both places out while you are on the east coast of the island.
Words by: Megan Sheets
Photography by: Niki Csanyi
Here it begins…my very first #MappingSICILY post. I’ve been wanting to share our experience of moving to Sicily for a while, but I felt like I needed to actually experience life here first, before I could write about it. Well, it’s been 18 months since we arrived - I can’t actually believe how fast time flies - and I am ready & very excited to share with you all the beauty we found in Sicily.
Starting with Me Cumpari Turiddu seems like a very fitting choice. This restaurant was the first place I found and fell in love with in Catania. This is also the place where I made my first Italian friend who made me feel like life will be ok here after moving across the pond. But let’s start from the beginning…..
Enter Me Cumpari. The place is absolutely stunning and it is everything you dream Sicily to be. Beautiful antique chandeliers hanging above the dainty Italian lace cloths drooping from the vaulted ceiling. The walls show the times past and you can feel all the history of the island. Every little detail is crafted to perfection. From the hand crocheted doilies, the mismatched antique chairs, to the old porcelain that was probably a family heirloom in the past.
Every bit of Me Cumpari has been put together with love & care. How do I know that? Well, here comes the second part of the story.
I was having an afternoon coffee at Me Cumpari, and obviously, me being me, I was posting on IG stories about the interior. After a little while a lovely female comes up to me and thanks me for my kind words on IG. She has a smile on her face and she has all this positive energy about her. Her name is Roberta Capizzi and she is the owner of Me Cumpari.
Me Cumpari Turiddu means ‘My Friend, Turiddu’ which represents the essence of the restaurant. Roberta’s vision is to make people feel home and build relationships with her customers. A place where you can back to and the waiters will know your name. A place where food taste just like your Sicilian nonna would cook it.
Hence, the menu is filled with traditional Sicilian dishes. The kitchen sources fresh local produce every day, nothing is flown in from other countries, nothing has been sitting on shelves or trucks for days. And why would it be?! Sicily is abundant in incredible fresh produce all year around and Me Cumpari wants to celebrate this.
Me Cumpari works with local farmers and growers, and the beauty is that Roberta knows each one of these people and their products. She tells me about the goat farmer who makes the most amazing goat cheese and goat yoghurt that they use for a delicious dessert (keep your eyes peeled towards the end, you’ll see what I’m talking about).
Me Cumpari has been listed on the Michelin Guide for years now, a testament to their quality and service. They serve Sicilian dishes that are made from locally sourced ingredients like Sicilian pistachio mortadella, black pork from the Nebrodi region, or Ragusan donkey meat. Their wine cellar is stocked with amazing Sicilian wines that you must try if you are on the island. My personal favorites are wines from Mt. Etna, but other regions of Sicily produce delicious varieties as well. The list could go on…so instead of telling you more about it, why don’t you visit and eat & drink well at Me Cumpari when you are in Sicily?!
Address: Piazza Turi Ferro, 36/38, 95131 Catania CT
Opening Hours: 10:30AM-1:00AM every day
P.S.: my other favorite thing about the restaurant is their opening hours. While traveling around Italy, you will learn that you cannot simply eat at all hours of the day. Italian restaurants close between lunch and dinner, so very often you will not find a place to eat between 3pm-7pm. But Me Cumpari will never leave you hungry, they are open 10:30AM - 1:00AM so you can always grab a bite.
Words by: Niki Csanyi
Photography by: Niki Csanyi