Sicily is a land like no other. With its rocky volcanic landscape, gorgeous mountains, and rich history, it’s at once otherworldly and quintessentially Italian, with a laid-back pace that invites visitors to slow down and enjoy life. The largest Italian island found just off the “toe” of the mainland’s boot, Sicily’s strategic location in the southern Mediterranean means it has been home to a number of world cultures over the centuries, including Greek, Spanish, Arab, and more.
Of course, Sicily’s melting-pot culture shines in its cuisine. Some of the most iconic Italian dishes were invented here, Thanks to its proximity to Northern Africa, Sicily was under Arab control for centuries, and they brought over such delicacies as pistachios, almonds, saffron, and rice.
In the capital city of Palermo, you’ll find a vibrant street food culture where fried treats of all kinds rule. The most popular by far are cannoli and arancini (also called arancina in the local dialect), fried rice balls that were first eaten in the 10th century. Easy to carry and stuffed with meat and vegetables, they were popular with travelers as they could be carried long distances.
A few crops thrive in the intense heat of summers in Sicily, including olives, tomatoes, eggplants, and artichokes. The latter are enjoyed in a bright green spring stew called fritedda alongside fava beans. Eggplants are used in the traditional relish called caponata, a sweet-and-sour dish that has become beloved across Italy.
Olive oil is fundamental to Sicilian culture, especially in the small mountaintop town of Chiaramonte Gulfi. Oil from this town is protected with DOP certification, the highest level of recognition granted to the best regional Italian foods. Known as Il Balcone di Sicilia (the Balcony of Sicily), Chiaramonte Gulfi is incredibly beautiful, with vast sweeping vistas overlooking centuries-old olive orchards and vineyards.
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