After all, we can thank Sicily for cannoli, Nero d’Avola wines and a thriving tourism industry—as well as some of the most stunning ruins, beaches and small towns in all of Europe. Not convinced you’re ready to book a flight? Keep reading to see for yourself why this destination should be at the top of your travel-planning short list for 2017/2018.
Seafood & street food
When you dream about Italian food (everyone does this, right?), there’s a good chance dishes like pizza, pasta and anything coated in cheese come to mind. And while Sicily has its fair share of carbo-loading, the local cuisine is more based around fresh seafood than northern staples. Sardines and clams are particularly popular and make frequent menu appearances, but the most ubiquitous seafood dish is involtini di pesce spada, Sicilian swordfish rolls. Other favorite Sicilian dishes include caponata (eggplant stew) and pasta con le sarde (pasta with sardines).Sicily also has a robust street food scene, based around two local staples: arancini (stuffed rice balls) and granita (a semi-frozen dessert in various flavors). Indulging in some bites as you walk il corso—what locals call the “main street” of each Sicilian town—is one of the best ways to experience the culinary landscape of this southern region.
It’s impossible to discuss Sicily without talking about the long-standing wine traditions that have helped put this region on the epicurean map. After all, Sicily is the birthplace of Marsala. And while Marsala continues to be one of the viticultural region’s most popular wines, Sicily’s contemporary wine landscape is diverse; other favorites of the area include Nero d’Avola, a strong red often compared to Syrah, and those made from native Zibibbo grapes.
Yes, you read that right—Sicily gets to take credit for introducing the world to cannoli. And if you haven’t had one of these pastries in Sicily, you’ve never really had one at all The dish, which consists of a fried tubular shell stuffed with a sweet ricotta filling, is pretty much everywhere in Sicily—in corner bakeries, shop windows and dessert menus.
Sicilians drink coffee first thing when they wake up and last thing before they go to bed, and social lives in many ways revolve around the local cafe (called a bar). And they start young: It’s common for some of the youngest members of Sicilian families to gather around the kitchen table for a caffè at breakfast or after dinner, though they usually require a biscotti for dipping.When visiting a Sicilian bar, fit in with the locals by standing at the counter (it often costs more to sit down) and staying a while (Italians see the bar not just as a place to refuel, but a place to socialize). Be warned: Sicilians like their coffee strong and dark; a standard caffè is similar to an American espresso.