By Rosemary Olson
This is the second of a series of sponsored posts documenting Bohemian and Pacific Sun publisher Rosemary Olson’s wine and food cruise around Italy and Croatia with Duckhorn Vineyards and Food & Wine Trails.
Marina, Oceania’s tour guide for us today, is a local so she knows the best foods to eat. We await a feast for lunch at a famous Mt. Etna winery, but she says we must taste the local Sicilian cannoli, granita and arancini.
Giardini Naxos is the first Greek colony in Sicily. The Greeks founded many cities of Sicily. Sicily is the biggest island in the Mediterranean. The capital is Palermo. Archeologists have found pre-historic items such as stone tools, caves and drawings. I was in search of some of these artifacts; I found them on a hill in a tiny house, now a gallery, atop the old Greek Roman Theatre (built in the 3,000 B.C.). I ventured to this matchbox-size gallery in a stone house. There were several ancient carved blocks of accounting and calendar stones and carved heads, one the head of Niobid of Taormina. There was also an exhibit of artist Casimiro Piccolo. His work is a mixture of fantasy, wizardry, gnomes and a mad-hatter style.
Nearby is an ancient coliseum. It’s breathtaking to imagine the gladiator fights that took place. Today, something much tamer will occur. Toto is performing.
Later, we walked through the beautiful old town to the clock in the center square. Every other door seems to be a specialty pastry shop; I try a small goat cheese cannoli. I walked out the door finishing my second bite. It was the best pastry I’ve ever eaten. I turned around and went back in for the pistachio one. The owners smiled at me. They knew! I slipped into a small shop and tried the arancini di riso (fried rice balls). I walked out mesmerized and a man came running behind me. “Madame! Madame your phone!”
I’ve been on tours much of my time now and I wanted to buy something local, but running out of time for the bus to the winery. A beautiful, fashionable woman approached me and asked if I wanted to try something special, Acqua di Taormina, a citrusy, fresh eau de toilette. I bought the largest bottle.
Scenes of The Godfather were shot here. In the 1970s and 1980s the mafia was active, but life is peaceful now, as many mafioso are in prison.
Next we travelled to Barone di Villagrande for a wine tasting led by well-known Italian Sommelier Mariella Ferrara. One white caught my attention, as it had a smoky nose. I was curious if the volcanic ash and soil produced this flavor. Mariella was astonished that I picked this up.
Lunch served on a sprawling terrace consisted of local produce and cheeses, handmade lasagna, eggplant marinara, roasted potatoes, baby Caesar salad, breads and a delicious almond-based flan topped with
marmalade and almonds.
Gathering up their staff for a photo, I then shared my red Chanel lipstick for a hearty laugh!
The evening was lively enjoying abundant stories with Duckhorn wines.
Ciao for now.