Bronte, green pistachios and more
The itinerary begins in the Nebrodi Regional Natural Park, the largest protected area on the island. In this area stands Bronte, a town of Arab origin, perched on a steep slope overlooking the Simeto river valley. This is where the Peninsula's best-known pistachio is harvested, with over three thousand hectares under cultivation. The nuts grow on the rugged terrain, drawing nourishment from lava rock and ash. Pistacchio di Alfio Corica is one of the most highly acclaimed artisanal pistachio processing companies. To fully experience the wild local nature, Oro Verde has made rural tourism its mission. The cuisine is of rustsic inspiration, with legumes, cured meats and cheeses, and, of course, pistachios. In the Piano Palo-Difesa district, the La Fucina di Vulcano resort offers well-furnished rooms with breathtaking views.
The medieval town of Randazzo is located in the centre of three protected areas: Etna, Nebrodi and Alcantara. Among the vineyards and forests, interspersed with lava deserts and caves, there is a remarkable food and wine biodiversity. For ice cream, stop at Patisserie Santo Musumeci for the Pirandello with almond and lemon peel, the best ice cream according to the judges of the Cefalù Festival.
It's just a few minutes from the town, Etna Quota Mille , in an old restored mill, serves an excellent traditional menu. Randazzo is also a wine town: Donnafugata produces mountain, volcanic and Mediterranean wines from grapes grown using the typical bush-trained system. The wine cellar offers wine tasting sessions. Linguaglossa is a summer and winter tourism centre on the northern slope of Etna, with access to the craters.
It is renowned for the production of Etna DOC wine, Evo DOP oil and hazelnuts, as well as woodworking crafts. Also memorable is the sasizza or cippu, a black pork sausage seasoned with wild fennel, which can be bought at the Bottega dell'Etna. In silence and tranquility, Villa Neri Resort & Spa offers luxury accommodation with wellness facilities, built according to bio-architecture criteria. The 12 Fontane restaurant, within the resort, is run by chef Elia Russo, who brings Sicily to the table with creativity, using local ingredients.
Leave Randazzo for Linguaglossa, on the northern slope of Etna with access to the volcano's craters and surrounded by olive groves. The country will satisfy even the most discerning gourmet travellers. It is renowned for the production of Etna DOC wine, Evo DOP oil and hazelnuts, as well as woodworking crafts.
Also memorable is the sasizza or cippu, a black pork sausage seasoned with wild fennel, which can be bought at the Bottega dell’Etna. In silence and tranquility Villa Neri Resort & Spa offers luxury accommodation with wellness facilities, built according to bio-architecture criteria. The 12 Fontane restaurant, within the resort, is run by chef Elia Russo, who brings Sicily to the table with creativity, using local ingredients. As you draw nearer the coast, you cannot fail to notice how the aromas change. The first citrus groves, particularly the Zagara Bianca and Monachello lemon varieties, are found here.
Acireale, among baroque and sweet flavours
Before reaching Taormina, take this recommended detour to Acireale, known for its Baroque buildings built around the 15th-century cathedral. Stop at the historic Caffè Cipriani to taste the famous Sicilian granita - in almond, coffee and mulberry flavours - as well as cannoli and zeppole di riso. If, however, you are looking for a truly volcanic sensory journey, stop at the Sabir Gourmanderie, inside the Parco dei Principi Resort in Zafferana Etnea, and let yourself be seduced by the cuisine of chef Seby Sorbello. And after this culinary experience, get into your car and enjoy the landscape that is offered to your eyes as you follow the road to the last stage of this itinerary. In the distance, you can see Giardini Naxos, seducer of travellers, poets and writers. Once a fishing village, over time it has become one of the most popular seaside resorts.
Taormina, the 'Pearl of the Ionian Sea'
Once in Taormina, between a swim in the sea, a stroll through the streets of the old town and a visit to one of the wonders that the town offers, such as the ancient Greek theatre, make time to taste the best of its cuisine, starting from the delightful dishes of La Capinera by chef Pietro D’Agostino, full of tradition and composed of many Slow Food Presidia ingredients. In the St George Restaurant by Heinz Beck, in The Ashbee Hotel, you are welcomed in an elegant dining room. At the stove, Salvatore Iuliano prepares a sophisticated menu that never loses sight of the local region. At Otto Geleng you eat under a pergola of bougainvillea overlooking the Ionian Sea: chef Roberto Toro offers contemporary Sicilian cuisine.
You can continue the culinary experience in Vico Ciscona-Paladini at the gourmet trattoria Tischi Toschi, a destination for lovers of authentic recipes: seasonality, fresh ingredients, fish from the Strait, first fruits from the Nebrodi mountains and cheeses from Ragusano are the basis of Luca Casablanca's philosophy, the chef and patron. When it comes to staying overnight in Taormina, you're also spoilt for choice. By the sea - with a wonderful garden in an ideal setting - there's the Belmond Villa Sant'Andrea, a five-star luxury hotel with English-style architecture. The Belmond G.H. Timeo – behind the ancient theatre – is a historical spot with sheer comfort.
The San Domenico Palace, Taormina, a Four Seasons Hotel, reopened after lengthy restoration, is inside a former monastery, with a beautiful cloister, library and period furniture, and is set within mature parkland. For a culinary gift you need to visit Cristina at La Bottega del Formaggio: local cured meats, cheeses and vegetables, honey, biscuits and handmade products that can also be eaten on the premises. For a pack of ’nzuddi – crispy almond biscuits – and for other specialities, you can rely on Salvatore D’Amore, who makes almond pastries, pistachio crisps, typical pignolata from Messina, cannoli, cassata and brioche with granita for breakfast in the D'Amore bakery.