In San Vito Lo Capo, in the province of Trapani, you can participate in the Cous Cous Fest. The event takes place in September; it lasts ten days. There are exciting food competitions, couscous tastings, cooking shows by star chefs, cooking lessons for adults and children and concerts just a stone’s throw from the beautiful beach. The Cous Cous Fest is also the International Festival of Cultural Integration: an event that celebrates couscous as a dish of peace between peoples.
We can define The Wheat and Bread Festival in September as “an end-of-summer dream”. For two days, we have the chance to live in the simple peasant world of Catenanuova, in the province of Enna. We will be able to taste the typical products accompanied by farmyard songs, 1940s characters, dances and folk music. Talking about bread, let’s taste the black bread of Castelvetrano, in the province of Trapani. It is made by mixing two semolinas of Sicilian blond wheat and a rare local variety of durum wheat, tumminia. Both types are wholemeal and ground in natural stone mills (find out more about the ancient grains of Sicily).
Let’s go to San Cono, in the province of Catania, for the Sagra del Ficodindia. In October, Since 1984 is celebrated the prickly pear, which is considered the number one Sicilian fruit.
In October, in Roccapalumba, near Palermo and in Santa Margherita Belice, in the province of Agrigento, we can find delicious tasting workshops. We can enjoy guided tastings and prickly pear desserts. Or savour an entire menu based on this tasty fruit.
With prickly pears, Sicilians make a sauce called mostarda. Let’s go and taste it still warm in the characteristic terracotta moulds. Every year, in October, in Gagliano Castelferrato, province of Enna, and in Militello Val di Catania, near Catania the famous festivals are organized.
In the same period, in the small town of Zafferana Etnea, we find the Ottobrata. It is a weekend dedicated to apples, mushrooms, honey and chestnuts. Cooking schools are also involved and prepare dishes for all visitors. Floresta, Raccuja, Floresta, Montalbano Elicona is nestled in the Nebrodi Mountains and is the highest municipality in Sicily. It is here that every Sunday in October the Ottobrando food fair delights thousands of tourists.
Let’s remain in the province of Messina. The Nebrodi truffle is the protagonist of autumn in Capizzi. The festival takes place in October and is an occasion to taste and buy many local products. Here we can find the porcini of the Nebrodi. If mushrooms are your passion, discover where to eat the best mushrooms in Sicily. In Capizzi’s famous festival, we can also taste the local Provola, cheeses, buffalo mozzarella, and typical sweets like ‘u cavatieddu atturratu di Cerami. Don’t forget to savour the various cold cuts of black pork of the Nebrodi. The typical dish par excellence is black pork. It is the protagonist (in January) of the festival of Longi. This small village always has something surprising to offer.
Let’s go and taste the cheeses of the Nebrodi mountains in Cesarò. Here, too, do not miss the Black Pig and Porcini Mushroom Festival in November. In December, we go to Modica, in the province of Ragusa, to celebrate its black pearl: chocolate. We take part in ChocoModica, the Sicilian chocolate festival set amidst the wonders of the local Baroque. On this occasion, you can enjoy “the food of the gods” in all its shapes and flavours, from the sweetest to the spiciest.
Speaking of sweetness, don’t forget to visit the Sagra del cannolo di ricotta. It is held in Piana degli Albanesi, in the province of Palermo in April. Pastry shops all over the city churn out cannoli and cassate covered in icing and candied fruit with chocolate drops. To work off the calories, we walk through the village streets. We see stands and exhibitors of typical Sicilian handicrafts. We end the day enjoying music, entertainment and performances by local folk groups.
Let’s discover the cassatella di ricotta cheese from Agira in the province of Enna. It is delicious with pistachio, almond, chocolate and many other flavours. It has a dedicated festival that takes place in November. In Cassaro, in the province of Siracusa, an ‘atypical’ Epiphany takes place. One of the oldest festivals in Sicily starts here. It is the festival of the three kings on the “road to oil”. Many are the events dedicated to EVO oil. We can participate in conferences and masterclasses. We will also enjoy tastings of typical local products combined with olive oil, such as ricotta, meat, cheese, homemade bread and sweets.
Let’s leave winter behind. The shy and sweet spring perfumes the air. But we can also smell something sweeter than flowers: where does this scent come from? For Saint Joseph’s Day, on 19 March, let’s run to Randazzo, where the delicious zeppole di San Giuseppe await us. In Cerda, in the province of Palermo, even the artichoke becomes a dessert. During the Sagra del Carciofo (Artichoke Festival) on 25 April, you can enjoy an entire lunch based on artichokes and events in the town’s square.
The ricotta and cheese festival in Vizzini, in the province of Catania, is an unmissable event. Held at the end of April, it is a gastronomic and cultural festival that celebrates the production of fresh and mature cheeses. In June, Palazzolo Acreide, province of Siracusa, celebrates its patron saint St Paul with the harvesting and blessing of cuddure. On this occasion, it is usual to taste the ciascuna, a kind of bread with the shape of an S, symbolising a snake, and filled with dried figs.
In summer, we savour the island’s absolute protagonist: fish. There are many possibilities to taste it and numerous festivals in different centres of Sicily. For example in Lipari, in the Aeolian Islands, in Capo d’Orlando in the province of Messina, in Riposto near Catania. In August, the Paranza Fest in Acicastello, in the province of Catania, closes the period of festivals dedicated to seafood. We can taste the fragrant fried fish still warm while walking along the seafront of this delightful seaside village.
When it comes to food, tastings and exciting experiences, we can’t wait to get our “hands-on”. Let’s not miss the Sagra dei maccheroni in Raccuja. It takes place in August and offers the opportunity to taste the traditional delicacies of local food and wine. Green mountains surround us as we are a few steps away from Etna and Capo d’Orlando.
In August, Castroreale celebrates its pride and joy: ‘u biscottu Castricianu. Bakers and pastry chefs jealously keep the original recipe. We should enjoy these biscuits with a refreshing lemon granita. The above is just a tiny part of the exploration journey into Sicilian food art and culture. There are many other specialities that we will discover on our trip.