Sicily has a pretty impressive gastronomic calendar, with most villages holding their own food or wine festivals – which in Italian are called sagre – to celebrate the wonderful produce of each region. Here is a selection of favourites planned for the coming year - not to be missed if you are visiting the island.
Sagra del Pistacchio
The “Sagra del Pistacchio“ (pistachio festival) takes place in Bronte, on the flanks of Mount Etna. The town is recognised worldwide for its signature "green gold" nut which grows particularly well on the fertile lava terrain. The festival showcases countless numbers of dishes using this fabulous ingredient: ice-cream, granita, pesto and even green nutella!
Where: Bronte, province of Catania (on Mount Etna)
When: 6th - 9th October
Sagra della ricotta e del formaggio
One of Sicily's oldest food festivals takes place in the town of the great writer Giovanni Verga. Freshly made ricotta is something that the whole of Sicily excels in and deserves to be celebrated! You will be able to try all manner of ricotta products, including cassata and cannoli as well as a host of other local cheeses. Blessed are the Cheesemakers!
Where: Vizzini (in the hills between Caltagirone and Syracuse)
When: 25th April
Cannoli & Friends
Ask a Sicilian what his favourite sweet is and he or she would give one of two answers: cassata or cannoli. This festival celebrates the latter (but doesn't exclude lots of other tasty cakes!) and some of the best are made in Piana degli Albanesi in the hills above Palermo... Last year over 50,000 cannoli were sold in three days!
Where: Piano degli Albanesi
When: First weekend in May
Festa del Cappero in Fiore
Salina, one of the seven Aeolian Islands, is known for its uncontaminated beauty, its wines and its capers! This Slow Food festival is a great opportunity for learning about capers and trying some of the island's delicious caper-infused recipes!
Where: Salina (in the Piazza di Sant'Onofrio in Pollara)
When: Around the 1st Sunday of June
La Sagre del Mare
A fabulous fishy festival during which the townsfolk of Mazara del Vallo (whose fishing fleet is one of the biggest in the Mediterranean) celebrate the fruits of the sea. Enormous frying pans (3 metres in diametre and with 1-metre-long handles) are used to fry fish, prawns and squid. Boiled octopus is also served and lashings of local wine ensure that a good time is had by all!
Where: Mazara del Vallo (Western Sicily, just south of Marsala)
When: The third week of August
Cous Cous Festival
In September, San Vito Lo Capo hosts its annual Cous Cous Festival, dedicating five days to savouring the delights of one of the Mediterranean’s tastiest dishes. The festival includes six evenings of free live music from Sicilian and international artists, a food village, open air markets and an international cous cous cook-off competition.
Where: San Vito Lo Capo (near Trapani on Sicily's most north-westerly point)
When: 20th - 25th September
Where to stay
For an upmarket getaway, luxury villa specialist Think Sicily offers a range of villas in Sicily with options at various locations throughout the region. Visit www.thinksicily.com or call 020 7377 8518 to find the perfect property or to book.
*Dates and locations stated in December 2011 and based on 2011 events.