Friday, 20 July 2012

Stragusto! Trapani's International Food Festival

Buongiorno amici! We are now in the middle of July, which in Sicily means that Summer is now in full swing. As residents seek shelter from the 40 degree Mediterranean heat, the thousands of tourists now on the island enjoy Sicily's unrivalled selection of golden beaches.

July also means that it is finally time for Stragusto! Trapani's International Food Festival which takes place every year in July. This year the event will take place between the 22nd and 24th July in Piazza Mercato del Pesce, the city's historical fish market which offers a breathtaking panorama over the Mediterranean Sea.

Every evening from 7pm until midnight this beautiful location will play host to stalls selling an endless variety of delicacies, all created and cooked for you in the piazza. These foods include Sicilian specialities such as zeppole, arancini and sfincioni but also showcase a wonderful selection of cuisine from other Mediterranean countries. There will be live entertainment and music including performances displaying international traditions and customs. Wine connoisseurs will also have the opportunity to indulge in tasting at the festival's 'wine sensory analysis laboratories'!

The province of Trapani has long been renowned for its international aspect due to its status as an important fishing port, its vicinity to Tunisia and, like the rest of the island, its many conquerors throughout history. This has culminated in the creation of a fascinating local cuisine which is a fusion of the province's many influences. The area's most famous dish is fish couscous and the town of San Vito lo Capo holds a world-renowned annual couscous festival in September.

San Vito lo Capo is also famous for its beautiful golden beach which has just been voted the best beach in Italy for the second year in a row.

So, buon appetito amici ..... and just incase if you can't make it to this this year's festival, here is a video of Stragusto 2010 for you to enjoy -

A presto!


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Monday, 2 July 2012

My Sicilian Paradise - Taormina & Hotel Villa Angela

Buona sera amici!! This is the first post that I have written in a while as I have been travelling around Sicily undertaking some research for my upcoming travel articles. I have had a wonderful time and seen some truly spectacular places and I would like to share one of the highlights of my trip with you. As I'm sure you all know from my previous posts, I am completely in love with the hill-top town of Taormina in the Sicilian province of Messina. It is my favourite place on the entire island and therefore I could not resist taking the opportunity to stay there overnight while on my journey.

For some time now I have heard wonderful reports about a certain hotel in Taormina and this research trip presented me with the perfect chance to experience the hotel's offerings for myself. This hotel is the Hotel Villa Angela and is the result of a vision by Jim Kerr, the lead singer of Simple Minds who owns the residence and guided its creation from day one. Mr. Kerr was obviously enchanted by Taormina's magic just as I was and he also fell in love with the town many years ago, thus deciding to build the hotel and allow others to enjoy the same experience.

As I travelled up the winding roads above Taormina towards Hotel Villa Angela, the views across the Bay of Naxos became more and more breathtaking and the presence of Mount Etna more magnificent. We arrived at the establishment to find that there was ample car parking which, as anybody who has experienced the labyrinthine 'vias' of Southern Italy will know, is a real bonus. The reception area below opens out onto a large terraced area, with the views of the Ionian Sea ever-present, and we were immediately greeted by the Hotel Manager Charlie Galea who was courteous and obliging from my very first contact with Villa Angela.

In-keeping with the rest of the hotel, our room was adorned with Sicilian furniture and beautiful Caltagirone ceramics and featured a large terrace overlooking the swimming pool. Many hotels in Taormina do not have a full-size pool due to the towns hill-top location therefore it was truly heavenly to take advantage of this element and swim in such a picturesque setting. Breakfast is served on the restaurant terrace and there is a vast selection of local produce on offer.

In the evening, we used the hotel's shuttle bus service and ventured into the resort centre to dine at the Ristorante Granduca which is situated on the seafront. The perfect setting to indulge in some Sicilian cuisine and chilled vino bianco! After dinner we visited my favourite bar 'Caffé Wunderbar' in Piazza IX Aprile and listened to a Sicilian accordian player before heading back to the hotel.

I had such an enjoyable experience in Taormina and at the Hotel Villa Angela that I really didn't want to leave. I shall console myself, however, with the fact that I can now share my time there with my Sicilian Connections friends worldwide and hopefully I shall see you there one day soon!

The hotel's website is if you would like to take a look at their beautiful photographs.

A presto :-)