1. ON THE WINE ROUTE, DISCOVERING THE GREAT WINERIES
One of Sicily’s greatest treasures is its wine. Just a few kilometres from our resort, is the start of one of the most “intoxicating” wine routes on the whole island. We offer you an itinerary that covers the Terre Sicane - named after the Sicani people who arrived on the island in the 12th century BC, and includes the towns of Menfi, Sciacca, Santa Margherita del Belice, Montevago, Sambuca di Sicilia and Contessa d’Entellina, one of the three Albanian communities in Sicily that were established in the 15th century, and where the ancient Albanian language, gljuha arbërishte, is still spoken today.
Accompanied by our chefs and sommeliers, you will visit the great wineries behind the historic labels, as well as those of young wine growers who have now brought the exquisiteness of Sicilian viticulture to the world. What about the wines? They range from Nero d’Avola to Perricone, from Catarratto to Inzolia, and from Grecanico to Grillo and Nerello Mascalese. A quick glance into the wine cellars, ranging from Planeta to Donnafugata, and Feudo Arancio (amongst others)…
What is the secret of such sumptuous originality? The perfect combination of fertile hills rolling gently towards the sea, and sunny coastlines swept by the Mediterranean breeze.
2. TERRE SICANE, THE LARGEST VINEYARD IN EUROPE
Just a few minutes away from our resort, the vast expanse of the largest vineyard in Europe stretches before us. The largest and, we should add, the oldest. If you are a lover of wine, of its history and decadent richness, then you can’t miss this itinerary which is the perfect conclusion to the visit to the most famous wineries.
The Terre Sicane, arranged in perfect symmetry with the rows of vines adorning the hills, are home to the largest concentration of vineyards in Europe. The first vignerons were the Greeks who, 2,500 years ago, imported the vine and wine culture they had learned in the Eastern Mediterranean to Sicily.
Our journey back in time, which will be full of inspiration, starts with the educational vineyard in Selinunte, where ancient vines going back to Greek, Punic, Roman and Byzantine times grow. A visit to the Enoteca di Menfi, situated inside the historic Palazzo Planeta. The visit will then continue to the vault of the imposing Hellenic wine vat, dating back to the 4th or 3rd centuries BC, which would make it one of the oldest in the world, discovered in Risinata Forest, just a few kilometres away from Sambuca di Sicilia. Still in this enchanting village, we suggest a visit to the Giardino di Palazzo Panitteri, built on the foundations of one of the towers of the castle of Zabut. With one raise of the glass we will be celebrating in the palace’s superb enoteca.
3. SICILY, SLOW FOOD ISLAND
Sicily has the largest number of Slow Food Presidia in Italy. There are 46 in total, compared to 23 in Tuscany, which has the second largest number. It would be remiss of us not to offer our guests an itinerary and a cookery course that will allow them to discover the places, the flavours and the recipes connected to these delectable wine and culinary “gold mines”. To titillate your imagination and allow you to picture the wonder of a complete menu, we will list all 12 presidia, that are just a few kilometres away from Verdura Resort.
Siccagno tomatoes from the Valley of Belice
Vastedda cheese from the Valley of Belice
Lentils from Villalba
Wild strawberries from Sciacca and Ribera
Spiny artichoke from Menfi
Black bread from Castelvetrano
Sea salt from Trapani
Red garlic from Nubia
Cartucciaru melon from Paceco
Purceddu melon from Alcamo
The Cinisara breed of cattle
White plums from Monreale
4. THE PRICKLY PEAR CACTUS, WONDERFOOD FOR HEALTH AND CULINARY IMAGINATION
The prickly pear cactus is one of Sicily’s symbols, its shapes and colours have inspired great artists, like Renato Guttuso, to name just one. But not many people know that the prickly pear cactus is one of the “secret” ingredients of Sicilian cuisine. Or that some of the best quality yellow, or sulfarina yellow, redorblood red, white or muscaredda varieties of Opuntia ficus, grow a few kilometres away from Verdura Resort, in Santa Margherita del Belice. The harvest season is in October, when there is a lavish festival held to celebrate the event. Did you know that you can devise an entire menu from each part of this incredibly bountiful plant (despite its prickles?) Let’s start with the pads, they can be fried, grilled, cut into thin slices for a salad, prepared in olive oil, or even candied. As for the fruit itself, it provides the raw material of sumptuous jams, mustards, liqueurs, desserts and even the semi-frozen dessert, granita. How about a herbal infusion as the perfect end to your itinerary, and such original dining? It’s made from prickly pear flowers, coveted for centuries for their digestive, anti-inflammatory and diuretic characteristics.