Our What’s On in Italy series, which looks at Italy’s major events and festivals each month, has added a regional spin: every month, we will focus on a different Italian region to help you better plan your visits around great events that you may want to attend.
This month we are focusing on Sicily; last week, we looked at music and film festivals, this week we look at food festivals that are a delight for all foodies out there!
Stay tuned for more fun events in Sicily, from religious celebrations to historical reenactments, and much more!
SAGRA DELLA BUSIATA – Salemi, August
When it comes to pasta, no other country can produce this popular food like Italy. A great festival for pasta takes place in the old town of Salemi and attracts thousands of visitors each August.
One of the real plus points of the festival is its opportunity to sample genuine hand-made pasta called Busiata. This traditional pasta shape made in the Trapani area takes its name from Busa, a knitting needle that is used to give pasta a unique spiral shape.
There's nothing quite like the taste of home-created pasta – a flavour all of its own, and to complement this, there is a selection of local wines available for sampling. There is a genuine sense of community with Sagra Della Busiata as the local neighbourhood pitches in to make the event a memorable and popular one. Households, local restaurants and groups all line up to contribute, and with an estimated quantity of in excess of 600 pounds of pasta cooked, it's an ultimate haven for any pasta fan.
COUSCOUS FEST – San Vito Lo Capo, September
It's regarded as one of the most famous festivals in Sicily, an international event celebrating both this popular food and the culture that the region has to offer in abundance. Couscous Fest takes place in the month of September in San Vito Lo Capo and marks the world-renowned food with a host of initiatives, tastings and stalls.
Couscous is showcased from all over the world in this festival. Visitors can sample the different types of couscous available and in addition, there are stalls bearing a wealth of local food and drink such as cheese, fried fish, salami, honey, oil and wine. The local produce is worth sampling, offering unique and diverse tastes.
The event also challenges visitors to be a culinary force to be reckoned with. Cooking classes are available for those who want to give this a go. Meanwhile, chefs will also throw down the gauntlet in a culinary competition. Live music adds to the celebratory feel of the event which mixes local culture and tasty foods in a memorable package.
SHERBETH FESTIVAL - Cefalù, September
It's something of a cliché to mention gelato in the same sentence as Italy, but there's no denying that Italian ice cream stands as the best in the world. Indeed, there's an entire showcase of gelato to be enjoyed in Cefalù each September.
The Sherbeth Festival (Sherbeth is a word of Arab origin that later became sorbetto in Italian) brings together more than 50 national and international producers of ice cream and is said to attract in excess of 250,000 people. One of the key elements of the festival is a contest to find the best ice cream with respect to taste, appearance and innovation.
In addition to the ice cream, this festival is a good showcase for artistic talent. Music, dance, street artistry... it's all showcased at the Sherbeth Festival with additional entertainment for children and cabaret for the adults. All of these elements add up to a colourful and tuneful backdrop. There's also a chance to learn about the history of Sherbeth as well as showcases and educational tours.
From the source of ice cream, the Sherbeth Festival manages to provide visitors with a taste of Sicily, with the added double bonus of educating and entertaining in equal scoops.
OTTOBRATA - Zafferana Etnea, October
One of Sicily’s most popular festivals, held on the slopes of Mount Etna, the Ottobrata Festival celebrates autumn’s arrival with a colorful display of the fruits of the new season.
The event takes place each Sunday throughout October in Zafferana Etnea, a town on the east side of Etna, 12 miles north of Catania, which, for the occasion, turns into a large open-air market. On offer are local specialties like pomegranates, prickly-pear fruit, wine, grapes, olives, pears, chestnuts, porcini mushrooms, cheese, and the famous mele dell’Etna (Etna apples).
Zafferana Etnea is nicknamed ‘Città del Miele’ (Honey Town), and for this reason you will also find many stands offering a wide variety of local honey.
And of course, being Sicily, the festa is punctuated by processions of locals in colourful traditional dress singing songs in Sicilian dialect.