Two days in … Sicily

Day one
On the east of the island, there’s no getting away from the snowcapped shape of Sicily’s very active volcano, Mount Etna. Decide for the half-day jeep-and-walking ‘Etna trip’ (EUR60/ ₤ 55 per person), which provides a fascinating introduction to the rumbling giant.

There’s a meaty theme to dining establishment Dai Pennisi (by means of Umberto 9; 00 39 0965 64316 0;-RRB- in Linguaglossa, which calls itself a’ butcher’s with kitchen area ‘. Because 1960 the delightful Pennisi family has been a neighbourhood purveyor of some exceptional in your area produced meats. Now, they serve mouth watering steaks and the type of hamburgers that put anything else marketed under that label to shame. Etna Rosso wine has actually begun apace in recent

years, making itself the name’ the Burgundy of Italy’. Explore its volcanic appeals with well-informed American sommelier Benjamin Spenser of the Etna White wine School who leads winery sees and tastings but will also bring his Etna master classes to customers ‘hotels or rental vacation homes. LATE If anybody’s still standing after the afternoon’s white wine experience, head into Taormina and splash out on a Bellini mixed drink on the terrace of classy Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo (Via Teatro Greco; 00 39 0942 62702 00)– gents, wear that linen suit for the complete impact. Afterwards, head to Tischi Toschi( Vico Cuscona-Paladini; 00 39 339 36420 88), which serves genuine island meals such as caponata( a sort of Sicilian ratatouille) and pasta con le sarde (with sardines, wild fennel and raisins). Tischi Toschi, Sicily has plenty of unexpected delights, like the nearly entirely untouristic, historical town of Gangi in the

Madonie hills, about 80km south of Palermo. After a look at the macabre mummified priests in the crypt of the church of San Nicolò, walk through the lanes to Pasticceria Mantegna (by means of Giuseppe Fedele Vitale 120) to sample owner Natale Mantegna’s famous cucchie( almond and dried fruit pastries). Day 2 EARLY MORNING The archeological site of Selinunte (piazzale I B Marconi 1, Frazione Marinella di Selinunte; 00 39 338 78327 05 )– a Greek city toppled by Carthage in
409BC– inhabits an extraordinary area on the south-western coast. The tumbled ruins( the only standing temple is a restoration )are best gone to with a guide: book one of the highly qualified art, archaeology and history specialists from island-wide network Passage to Sicily( 00 39 340 30798 19 ). If you’re feeling daring, look for the badly sign-posted Cave di Cusa (via Ugo Bassi 35, Campobello di Mazara) 11km north-east of Selinunte. This was the city’s abruptly abandoned quarry, where part-hewn and sculpted column areas stand in a romantic flower-strewn landscape. AFTERNOON For lunch, indulge in some well prepared seafood at the super-friendly Ristorante Boomerang( Piazza delle Metope; 00 39 335 65637 51) in Marinella di Selinunte: the menu consists of whatever came off the fishing boat that early morning. The beach in the nature reserve of Foce del Belice, east
of Selinunte, is a marvel– kilometres of golden sand and azure water. There are few beach bars, and no ranks of umbrellas and deckchairs. The further you’re prepared to stroll along the coast, the fewer people you’ll come across. LATE Close-by Sciacca is a lively port town with a marvelous Baroque centro storico. The evening passeggiata brings the entire town out into the main drag. Dine at the exceptional Hostaria del Vicolo( Vicolo Sammaritano 10; 00 39 0925 230 71), where you can attempt Grandma’s sardine soup; taglietelle with red mullet, roe, saffron, fennel and pinenuts; or cod au gratin with purée of Jerusalem artichokes. End up with a superlative lemon granita at the Bar Roma( piazza della Dogana 12 ).

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