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Preview: Ragusa and Sicily Guide | Reviews & Tips

Ragusa and Sicily Guide | Reviews & Tips



From Ragusa, Sicily. Anecdotes and good advice on travel in Sicily, from a traveler just like you. Includes reviews of major attractions, restaurants, bars, events and more.



Updated: 2016-05-18T09:47:02.010-07:00

 



Buying property in Sicily

2011-05-21T14:34:31.679-07:00

Hello again!It's been a long, long time since my last post, but due to personal circumstances, I'm not longer living in Sicily.As I had people asking me about this, and I'm interested and sort of involved in real estate, I wanted to post something about buying property in Sicily.So you've decided that you like the sunny weather, the laid-back atmosphere, and you want to live in a place where all you have to worry about is gaining weight form eating too much gelato? Well, now that the important stuff is sorted out, lets move on to other matters.Some points to consider when planning to invest in Sicily:- Sicily has the same property laws as the rest of Italy.- The procedure: when you find a house you like, you should make an inspection of the property with an expert (geometra or architect). Then you can make an offer, if your offer is accepted, you and the seller sign a preliminary sales contract, and you make a downpayment to secure the property. At this point if the seller backs down, he has to pay you double the deposit, if you back down you lose the deposit unless there's a legal reason to justify that. Then you go to a sort of escrow period the length of which you agree with the owner. That ends with the final contract when both parts sign in front of a notary (official registar). He or she will make sure that the property doesn't have any outstanding debts, inheritance issues, etc.- If you are planning to buy land to build a house, you should consider that any plot classed as rustic or agricultural land (terreno agricolo) has restricted building and will cost much less than urban plots. That's because you are only allowed to build 1 house that can take up to 1% of the total area.- If you are a EU citizen or a citizen of a country with reciprocal agreements, you can receive your pension in Italy and will also have the right to free healthcare.- Sicily is undergoing some improvements to it's infrastructure. A new airport has been built at Comiso, near Ragusa, and there's a new freeway connecting Catania with South-Eastern Sicily. However bear in mind that the airport was due to open in 2008, and 3 years later, still nothing has happened. Allegedly it is ready, but I'm beginning to wonder if it will ever open. Hopefully it will... some day.- Before you ask, yes mafia still exists in Sicily, however they have their own bigger scheme of affairs, they won't go after you and your new house, and you will only learn about them in the news every now and then. Generally speaking Sicily is a very safe and relaxing place to live in and there's rarely any violent crime. You just have to be more careful about petty crime in bigger cities like Palermo and Catania, as you would in any bigger city around the world.[...]



Good value Sicilian wines

2008-11-20T10:15:23.840-08:00

The wines I list here are in no particular order, and they are not necessarily expensive, but you’ll probably get a good price-quality value here without hurting your wallet (I also included their approximate price):Some of the most popular Sicilian vineyards include Planeta, Rapitalà, Donnafugata, Tasca d’Almerita, Duca di Salaparuta, Florio and Pellegrino. Top varieties include: Red: Cerasuolo di Vittoria, Nero d’Avola, Frappato, Syrah. White: Inzolia, Catarratto, Grillo. Dessert wines: Passito, Moscato, Marsala, Malvasia and Zibibbo.Red Wines:- Faro D.O.C., Nerello Mascalese, Nerello Cappuccio, Nocera – Bonavita Winery – Price: 18 euros- Cerasuolo di Vittoria – COS Winery – Price: 14.50 euros- Don Antonio, Nero d’Avola – Morgante Winery – Price: 22.50 euros- Mille e una Notte, 90% Nero d’Avola,10% other varieties - Donnafugata Winery – Price: 40 euros- Santa Cecilia, Nero d'Avola – Planeta Winery ¬– Price: 19/20 euros- Corvo, Nero d’Avola, Pignatello, Nerello Mascalese – Duca di Salaparuta – Price: 6/7 euros- La Segreta, 50% Nero d'Avola, 30% Merlot, 20% Syrah – Planeta Winery – Price: 8 euros- Camelot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot blend – Firriato Winery – Price: 23 euros- Etna Rosso, Mascalese 85% Nerello Mantellato 15% – Murgo Winery – Price: 8 euros- Noà, Nero d’Avola 40%, Merlot 30%,Cabernet Sauvignon 30% – Cusumano Winery – Price: 20 euros- Regaleali, Nero d’Avola – Tasca d’Almerita – Price: 7 euros- Tanè, 85% Nero d'Avola, 15% Syrah – Valle dell’Acate – Price: 24 eurosWhite Wines:- Anthilia – Donnafugata – Price: 8 euros- Altavilla della Corte, Grillo – Firriato – Price: 8 euros- Colomba Platino, Inzolia – Duca di Salaparuta – Price: 8/9 euros- Bidis, Chardonnay, Inzolia – Valle dell’Acate – Price: 13.50 euros- Kaid, Syrah – Alessandro di Camporeale – Price: 14.50 euros- Principe di Corleone, Catarratto 80%, Damaschino 20% – Alcamo Bianco D.O.C. – Price: 8 eurosDessert Wines: Do as the locals, dip some Italian biscotti into the wine and enjoy!- Moscato Passito di Pantelleria – Martingana 2000 Salvatore Murana – Price: 49 euros/ 50 cl.- Passito di Pantelleria – Pellegrino Winery – Price: 16 euros/ 50 cl.- Vergine Baglio Florio, Marsala Vergine D.O.C. – Florio – Price: 18 euros/ 50 cl.- Malvasia delle Lipari Passito , Malvasia D.O.C. – Barone di Villagrande – Price : 15/25 euros- Ben Ryé, Moscato Passito di Pantelleria , Zibibbo – Donnafugata – Price: 10/15 eurosWhere to buy:Ragusa:Enoteca Ristor Vip: - Via O.M. Corbino 29, Ragusa - Tel. 0932.652.9990- Le Masserie Shopping Mall - SS 115 Freeway - V. Grandi 26, Ragusa.Enoteca Vini Olindo: - Via G. di Vittorio 116 - Tel: 0932.623311Palermo: Enoteca/Wine Bar Vino VeritasVia Sammartino 29, Palermo - Tel. 091 6090653Hours: 9 am- 2 pm and from 4 pm – 9 pmEnoteca PiconeVia Marconi 36, Palermo – Tel. 091 331300Cana EnotecaVia Alloro 105, Palermo – Tel. 091 6101147Catania:Locanda del Vinattiere Enoteca/Wine Bar/RestaurantVia E. Merletta 13 (close to Piazza Duomo) – Tel. 095 7158152Enoteca Regionale di SiciliaViale Africa 31, Catania – Tel. 095 7462210Hours: from Tuesday to Saturday 10 am-1 pm and 5 pm-8 pm; Closed Mon/SunLiquori E Dolciumi Di Meli AlfioP.zza Giovanni Bovio 18, CataniaTel: 095 532796Acireale, Catania:Enoteca il Tocco di VinoVia Galatea 18 - Tel: 095.763.4215Taormina:Enoteca LaganàVia G. di Giovanni 47 - Tel: 094.223040Winery tours and tastings:1• PLANETA Vineyards, offer tours and wine tastings at the following locations:o Dell'Ulmo Winery in Sambuca di Siciliao Della Dispensa Winery & Sella Segreta Winery in Menfi (AG)o The BUONVINI Winery in Noto (SR) and DORILLI Winery in Vittoria (RG) can be visited by appointment only and in certain months of the year.Hours:Tue-Sat (except holidays) from 9 am to 3 pmHow to book: Send an email or a fax at least 2 days in advance to: visits@planeta.it or fax (+39) 091-612-4335, indicate th[...]



Cool events in Sicily

2008-11-12T08:58:07.852-08:00

Here are some nice events in Sicily that will take place from October through December of 2008:

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Ibla Buskers - Ibla street artists’ fair
October 8 - 12, Ragusa Ibla
Take the bus service from Piazza Libertà after 8 pm to get there.

Sagra del pistacchio - Pistachio nuts fair
September 30 - October 8, Bronte, Catania
All you ever wanted to know about pistachio nuts and were afraid to ask :-)

Vinum Docet - Meetings for wine lovers, wine tasting, wine matching, news, ecc.
Month of October, Palermo.
Mirabó Food & Wine - Via Rutelli 14 (at Via Libertà) every wednesday at 8:30 pm. Info: +39-3491876193

Mercatino dell'antiquariato - Antiques market
Month of November, Agrigento
Streets of the historic center. Info: +39-0922-401566

Sagra della Ricotta - Ricotta Cheese Fair - Ricotta in all it’s forms and recipes, typical produce, parades, etc.
Within 3 days of January 6th
Piazza Umberto I Sant’Angelo Muxaro (Agrigento)



* all events and dates might change.



Funny Italian signs

2008-09-04T02:41:53.995-07:00

Some funny signs that I wanted to toss together for you to enjoy...


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Pubs and bars in Marina di Ragusa

2008-11-13T10:02:51.366-08:00

If you come to Ragusa in summertime, you will probably find high temperatures and a desserted city. That's because everybody is cooling off in Marina di Ragusa (Ragusa's seaside). To see map click here. Here are some pubs in Marina, where you can have a drink while watching the sun go down on the sea.La Raja, Plaja Grande beachDecanter great cocktails served with a smile, while listening to cool music. What else can you ask for? Well… from 7 pm to 9 pm it’s aperitivo time. This is the Italian version of a pre-dinner drink and a snack, but it’s brought to very generous proportions at the Decanter. Basically you order an aperitivo, choose your drink, pick up a plate and taste some delicious hors d'euvres from the buffet. I personally like their Bellini, done with real peaches. Two locations for this lovely pub: one in upper Ragusa at Piazza Cappuccini 22. Tel: +39 338 430 4092. Also by the sea on the pedestrian boardwalk at Marina di Ragusa.Charleston not far from the Decanter, and about 50 yards from the main plaza in Marina di Ragusa, the Charleston has modern décor, orange-blue colored walls and sea view. Not an enormous variety of cocktails here but enough if you’re not too picky. It has tables and booths and usually a nice music selection. It’s one of the few pubs in Marina di Ragusa that opens all year round.Tre Per Caso: By the sea in the pedestrian boardwalk at Marina di Ragusa right between the Decanter and Quattro Quarti. This two story pub is open all year round and has a nice sea-view terrace (closed in winter). They have a good variety of cocktails, and for those ones missing on the menu... they willingly prepared to my specifications a spicy margarita with tabasco sauce.Anno Zero towards the end of the lungomare A. Doria lays this nice pub with outdoor tables. Loud music, good vibe and ok cocktails. Inside you'll find cool pictures hanging on the yellow walls and some wooden booths on your right hand side. I usually like this place because it's not as packed as the pubs closer to the main square.Victoria Pub this place is almost hidden… it took me one year to realize it even existed even if I walked by dozens of times! Lungomare A.Doria. It will be on your left hand side walking from the main square, and you have to enter some sort of gallery right next door to a white building with boutiques. It has a more traditional feel with the wooden bar and pool tables on the back. They also make pizzas. Lungomare A. Doria 20 - Tel: +39 338-491-0241Quattro Quarti Very nice modern all-white décor. Sloooow service, regular food. Packed on summer nights with all the see and be seen crowd. Not really my kind of place, but good enough for people watching. By the sea in the pedestrian boardwalk at Marina di Ragusa steps away from the Decanter.La Dolce Vita Caffè this cafè has outdoor sitting and it becomes a disco on weekends, although I wasn't too excited about the music selection. You'l find it towards the end of the lungomare A. Doria.Chalets on the beach:To drink by the sea, you have another alternative… do as the locals and head to one of the beach huts (chalets nella spiaggia). These are wood constructions with just a floor and a roof (if any) right on the sand. So you can drink al fresco right on the beach, and maybe swim a little if you dare. Some popular “chalets” are:La Raja (The Sting Ray): This year’s newcomer is located in Plaja Grande. The best description of this chalet would be a lounge bar on the beach. Candles, drapes, chandeliers, a lot of white and a great location by the sea, make this the perfect spot for a relaxed evening watching the sunset while sipping cocktails. Only bar in Ragusa where they serve cosmopolitan, lemon drop or apple martini. The mojitos and fruit cocktails are exellent too, I enjoyed the watermelon coktail even if I'm not a big fan of watermelon.Opened everyday, all day on summertime.Driving from Marina di Ragusa towards Donnalucata you’ll see a sig[...]



Beaches

2008-11-13T10:02:51.512-08:00

There are some awesome beaches in Sicily, some of them not really famous but still worth a visit from you sun lovers...Shoal of Marinello, MessinaDonnalucataDonnalucata used to be a fishermen’s village, as a matter of fact you can still enjoy their lovely fish market (opened all day during the summer and mornings only year-round). The coastline offers a wide extension of really nice sandy beaches. Located 8 km from Scicli.Calamosche inside VendicariVendicari is an oasis and natural reserve between Noto and Pachino, you’ll need to make a long walk to reach the Calamosche beach, but it’s really worth it. You’ll find tranquil, crystal-clear water in this beautiful little bay. So far this is the only beach in Sicily where I’ve seen topless sunbathing.*There are no facilities/amenities near this beach so pack everything in.CirigaBeautiful beach near Ispica’s Santa Maria del Focallo, with sea caves and large rocks on the sea (see picture). There is a marsh nearby (Pantano della Marza) where you can do some birdwatching and see flamingos.*No facilities/amenities near this beachLaghetti di Marinello in Oliveri This natural reserve in the province of Messina, near the town of Tindari, has some patches of typical Mediterranean vegetation, and a long surface of cliffs overlooking the sea. On the base of the hills of Capo Tindari, there are some small salt lakes and the beautiful shoal of Marinello, an ideal place for sunbathing or swimming. This is a pebble beach, so you might want to use your flip flops to reach the water.*No facilities/amenities near this beach. This is a pebbled beach.Capo d’OrlandoA popular beach town in Sicily, Messina's Capo d’Orlando offers nice spots for swimming and lovely beaches (both pebbled and sandy).By now you should know that finding ruins in Sicily is quite easy, and Capo d’Orlando is no exeption, after swimming, you can see the 14th century Capo d'Orlando castle’s ruins and visit the Torre del Trappeto.Nearby, in the town of San Gregorio, the local fishermen have organized (eco-friendly) tourist fishing, so you can sleep in one of the small fishermen’s houses and get aboard an authentic fishing boat to experience some of the secrets and traditions of this profession.[...]



Restaurants in or around Ragusa

2008-11-13T10:02:51.810-08:00

The idea of this post is to point out restaurants that you probably won't find in any guides, or don't look like anything special from the outside, but serve really good food or are just fun to visit...Mexican/Latin AmericanLa Cantinita Reservations are a must on this lively, busy, self proclaimed latin american restaurant. A long time favorite for bachelor parties, birthday parties or just any kind of parties. In fact it’s the perfect place to party while getting wasted on tequila boom boom (*) under a Mexican sombrero. As for the food, it's good, but don’t expect authentic Mexican or Latin American dishes here. The décor is bright and colorful, but I’m sure people come here for the loud and fun atmosphere and don’t really remember much of the surroundings after a few drinks. Just take a look at the TV screen sharing images of customers in various grades of alcoholic intoxication. Try “el fuego della Cantinita,” a shot of kalua and tequila “on fire” (as seen in the picture)._____La Cantinita is located in Via Venezia 18, Marina di Ragusa.Tel: +39 0932 616506.__________(*) Tequila Boom Boom: pour equal parts of tequila and tonic water in a shot glass, cover with a napkin or with your bare palm, and slam the glass down on the table twice. Make sure the drink fizzes. Drink in one gulp.Sicilian/Local foodU SaracinuCentrally located in Ragusa Ibla near the main church of San Giorgio, this restaurant serves typical sicilian food with a broad range of great home-made pasta and a good selection of local wines. I recommend the grilled ragusano cheese with honey. The waiter gives friendly service and good advice._____Via Convento 9, Ragusa IblaTel: +39 0932 246976Seafood / FishLa FalenaThis restaurant isn’t really inviting if you see it from the outside or, for that matter, even from the inside. The fact that it’s located right next door to a gas station doesn’t help either, but… the seafood and fish are excellent. Try the “peppata di cozze” (mussels soup) or the “dentice al sale” dentex fish cooked in a salt crust._____Via Porto Venere, Marina di RagusaTel: +39 0932 239321PizzaLa Valle This unattractive neighborhood pizzeria, looks just like it looked back in the 70’s (and I mean the bad 70’s decoration). But the pizza is wood-fire cooked, with thin crust and, oh yes, really good. Besides it’s one of the few pizzerias that’s opened for lunch._____Via Risorgimento 70, RagusaTel. +39 0932 229341Other foodIbla blaBuilt inside a beautiful ancient stone building (originally a mill) in the historic Ragusa Ibla, this two-story restaurant serves all kind of food from pizza to cous cous. Closed on Tuesdays._____Piazza Republica, Ragusa Ibla.Tel: +39 0932 651888.Quick BitesFood & StyleNice, minimalist, modern white-ish décor, in an underground bar-cafè. They have a great selection of tea and iced-tea, decent coffee and the pizza was surprisingly good. I specially enjoy the delicious nero fondente or the cremino, 2 creamy cold coffee drinks topped with chocolate or hazelnut cream made by national chocolate producers Eraclea._____Via G. di Vittorio 63, RagusaTel: +39 0932 246477This list will continue to grow and get updated as I keep eating out….[...]



These are my top 5 romantic getaways in Sicily:

2008-11-13T10:02:52.256-08:00

Ok so after Valentine's Day, and to continue with the romantic vibe, here are some special places in Sicily for creating the spark between you and your partner...Taormina, love at first sightBeautiful rocky cliffs overlooking a deep blue sea. Noisy streets full of charming boutiques, good looking people and, of course, vespa scooters buzzing around. A magnificently located, greek theater dating from the 3rd century, that has become one of the most famous Sicilian monuments, all surrounded by crystal clear water and bays.Yes, it is kind of turisty, but definitely a must-see in Sicily because of the sheer beauty of the setting. You won’t regret…Erice, a cozy retreatThis small town has been called by many “the pearl of Sicily.” Situated at about 4 miles from Trapani, it is definitely worth a visit. Wheter you are a honeymooner or you’ve just filed for your third divorce, Erice’s medieval appeal will charm the coldest of hearts. The narrow streets and the two beautiful castles are just breathtaking… seriously, after walking up the slope you WILL need to catch your breath.Cefalù laid back romanceSandy beaches, peace and quiet together with spectacular sea views. And if you miss good ol' city life, well you’re a short drive from Palermo. This seaside town has a charming historic center, an ancient Greek temple and many attractions including delightful restaurants overlooking the coast. People here seem to be on vacation all-year-round, it’s all about relaxing and having a laid-back beach attitude.Castello di Falconara… if you like fairy talesThe Falconara Castle is nowadays a lodging structure that rents rooms and apartments or is available for receptions. As a matter of fact, the whole castle can be rented (not that I ever did). I usually don’t talk about hotels, but this place has such a dramatic setting, that I thought I should mention it. The castle dates from the 14th century and it seats on a rocky outcrop overlooking the sea. It’s located near Butera in the province of Caltanissetta.Pantelleria Island, a great place for kissingPantelleria is an island formed by a dormant volcano located in the Sicily Channel. You can describe it as a place where the Arab culture meets its Mediterranean counterpart; all over the island you’ll see ancient Arab constructions (dammusi) built with the local stone. A typical house in Pantelleria will be a square building with thick walls and a cistern on the roof to collect rainwater. The coast is rocky all around, so don’t expect sandy beaches. A good way to explore the island is renting a quad and just driving around the countryside or stopping along the coast in every spot that you like. For a romantic evening, I recommend sipping bellinis as the sun goes down on the terrace of the “U Friscu” caffè.[...]



Some interesting facts about Italy:

2008-11-13T10:02:52.542-08:00

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  1. Italians used to have large families, however Italy is now known for having Europe's lowest birthrate.
  2. The average Italian family has 1.27 children.
  3. Almost 20% of the population is over 65 years old.
  4. The average Italian consumes 25 kilograms (56 pounds) of pasta a year.
  5. Italy's contributions to science include the typewriter, the thermometer, the electric battery, nitroglycerin, eyeglasses and wireless telegraphy.
  6. Not less important… the ice cream cone is also an Italian invention.
  7. Leonardo da Vinci (1452- 1519) was one of the greatest inventors of history. His designs include (only to mention a few) parachutes, tanks, planes, water drills, swing bridges, bicycles and contact lenses.
  8. The Italian flag is inspired by the French flag introduced during Napoleon's invasion of the peninsula.
  9. Italy is the fourth most visited country in the world.
  10. Italy has more hotel rooms than any other nation in Europe.
  11. The average Italian consumes about 100 liters (26 gallons) of wine a year! ...now that explains a lot about Italian driving.
  12. Italy is the world's fifth largest industrial economy.
  13. The area around Venice is the wealthiest region in Europe.
  14. Barely a third of Italy's land is suitable for farming.
  15. Italy has a resident foreign population of 1.27 million.
  16. 98% of Italians are Roman Catholic.
  17. The colors of the Italian flag represent three virtues: hope (green), faith (white), and charity (red).



Ragusa Ibla Walking Tour:

2008-11-13T10:02:53.012-08:00

Hey there! It's been a while, but I'm back with my suggested Ragusa Ibla walking tour (click on the map to enlarge):1- Take Corso Mazzini downwards towards Ibla. You’ll arrive to a small square. You’ll see the Church of the Madonna dell'Idria. Built in the 14th century, this church belonged to the legendary Knights of Malta (if you read Dan Brown and you’re drawn to templar-conspiracy theories, you’ll probably enjoy this detail). It’s name (from greek) stands for “She who shows the way”. The church was restored in the 18th century in the late baroque style that characterizes the entire Val di Noto.2- Next to the church you’ll see Palazzo Cosentini with some interesting balconies featuring grotesque masks.3- Keep going on Via del Mercato you’ll arrive to a square. On your right, you’ll see the Church of the Anime Sante del Purgatorio (Church of the Holy Souls of Purgatory) on top of a flight of stairs. The church's bell tower's has its foundations on one of Ibla's ancient Byzantine walls.4- A few yards from the church you’ll see the 18th century Palazzo Sortino Trono, another example of local Baroque architecture.5- Keep walking along Via Del Mercato and turn right on any of the narrow streets until you reach Via Capitan Occhipinti. You’ll find the main square Piazza Duomo ending in Ibla’s centrepiece, the Chiesa di San Giorgio (St. George’s Church). Built by siracusan architect Rosario Gagliardi. The church was built in the 18th century on the site where an older church stood before the 1693’s earthquake. The dome was a later addition of architect Carmelo Cultrari and was finished in the 19th century.6- Turn your back to San Giorgio’s Church and keep walking towards Piazza Pola. On your right you’ll see another couple of interesting buildings: The Circolo di Conversazione (a sort of private gentleman’s club unfortunately not open to the public).7- And the Palazzo Donnafugata.8- On your left you’ll see another church (it seems you can never have enough churches in Italy) the Church of San Giuseppe9- And the Palazzo Comunale (the City Hall).10- Following Corso 25 Aprile and then Via Giardini, guess what you’ll see? Yup, yet another Church, the Church of Santo Tomasso on your left.11- Keep going ‘till you find yourself in front of a gated park called Giardino Ibleo. The garden is very pleasant and it also contains… not one but THREE churches (I rest my case). The first one is the Church of San Domenico.12- The second one is the Church of San Giacomo, originally built in the 14th century, the interior has a beautiful ceiling painted by Matteo Battaglia.13- The third church inside the gardens is the Church of the Cappucini. All three churches had to be rebuilt after the 1693 earthquake.14- Right outside the park, on your left, you’ll find Il Portale di San Giorgio (Saint George’s Doorway) built in Gothic style, it depicts St. George slaying the dragon. It’s all that remained of the ancient Church of Saint George, after the earthquake.Enjoy![...]



For cheese lovers only

2008-11-13T10:02:53.376-08:00

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As promised, here’s some info about cheese:

Casa del Formaggio Sant'Anna di Dipasquale: (THE cheese house). Definitely one of the best places to buy cheese in Ragusa

I know they sell one of the best “Ragusano DOP” cheese in the area, and "Pecorino Siciliano" (made with sheep milk). Also I suggest you try one of the wine spreads they sell that you can eat with the cheese. I tried the Zibibbo and Pasito wine spreads (Zibibbo and Pasito are desert wines from Sicily).

Casa del Formaggio Sant'Anna di Dipasquale
Corso Italia 387, Ragusa - Tel: 0932 227485

The Azienda Occhipinti is is a rural farm that make different types of cheese, they might show you how they make their cheese if you call them in advance and ask when it would be best to come. I don’t believe they have anything organised like a tour or so, but possibly they will show you around anyway. They might not speak English though.

Azienda Agro-zootecnica Giuseppe Occhipinti
Contrada San Giacomo - 97100 Ragusa
Tel: 0932 231669

The Corfilac is a good place to see how cheese is made. Every 2 years the Corfilac organises a great event in Ragusa called Cheese Art, between June and July. The next one will be in 2008. They have cheese, wine and beer tasting and pairing, you can buy cheese, wine, salami and other related stuff. They have experts explaining the main features of different kinds of cheese from around the world and, of course, local ones. There’s also live music, plays, etc. Last year it was organised in the gardens of the beautiful Donnafugata Castle.

Corfilac Headquarters: S.P. 25 Km 5 Ragusa Mare 97100 Ragusa (on the street from Ragusa to Marina di Ragusa) Tel: +39 0932 660 411 • Cheese department: +39 0932 660 484/+39 0932 660 485. Call first for an appointment.

Another must while in Sicily is the Ricotta cheese. Ricotta is a fresh cheese made of sheep or cow’s milk. It’s name comes from the fact that it’s ingredients need to be cooked twice. In Sicily they have Italy’s most famous ricotta, and they use it in different ways: sweet ricotta (the ricotta cannoli are amazing here), dry ricotta (ricotta salata) used for pasta alla norma, or fresh ricotta with sun dried tomatos or alone. You can try it in any agriturismo or buy it in any supermarket, farm or cheese shop.



10 Tips for a tourist visiting Sicily

2008-11-13T10:02:53.731-08:00

1- Try to rent a car and invest in a good map, more often than not places are not clearly indicated. Fortunately people are usually pretty patient, and will try to help you find your way.2- Visit the amazing Agrigento’s Valley of the Temples (Valle dei Tempi) with an impressive array of well preserved Greek temples dating from 400-500 BC. I strongly recommend that you avoid this visit in august. If you have no choice, you can take a few precautions: apply sunscreen, wear a hat and carry a bottle of water, you’ll be walking under the sun for a long time and the temperature can easily reach the 100º Fahrenheit. I recommend that you go on the first two weeks of February if possible, during the almond tree festival that celebrates Agrigento’s early blossom of the almond trees.3- Have a "Granita" with "Brioche"... granita is a sort of sherbet made of a frozen mix of water, sugar and flavoring. Usually you’ll find such flavors as coffee, chocolate, pistachio, almond, lemon, strawberry and other fruits. The brioche is a sort of semi-circular muffin, that you can dip in your granita... If you plan to go to the city of Noto, don’t miss the best granita ever! Mandolfiore - Via Ducezio 2, Noto, Siracusa - Tel: 0931-836-615.4- Visit the Villa at Casale, a Roman Villa dating from the 4th century located in Piazza Armerina. This villa represents an extraordinary testimony to the life in the roman era thanks to the lively scenes represented in the mosaic covered floors. These superb mosaics are really well preserved. Tel: +39 0935-6800365- Some great cities include Palermo, Taormina with it’s impressive greek theater and dramatic sea view, Catania under the Etna volcano, and the cities of the Noto Valley (Noto, Siracusa, Modica and Ragusa) with some of the finest examples of late baroque architecture. While in Siracusa, make sure you visit the island of Ortygia, and while in Ragusa, the picturesque Ibla.6- Let’s talk about food… it’s really hard to have a bad meal in Sicily. But each region has it’s specialties, so I recommend you ask in the restaurant about the typical food of that particular place and try it. Some examples include pane and panelle in Palermo (at the famous Antica focacceria San Francesco) Palermo, Via A. Paternostro, 58 - Tel. 091320264 - Closed on Tuesdays.In the Ragusa area, I recommend you try the Ragusano DOP cheese with honey, and anything with the extra virgin olive oil from Giarratana. In Noto, the granita, (see number 3). In Catania, go to the kiosk in the main square and ask for "sgricchio" (SGREECHEEO) a sort of refreshing soda with different flavours, I like mandarina (tangerine). In Modica you should try the chocolate, any of their typical pastries and my favourite, the chocolate-chili liquor. In Bronte, the pistachio… and I coud go on and on for days since every place preserves it’s own traditions and flavours.7- For a full meal, I would start with an antipasto (starter) of anything with eggplant (melanzana) or seafood. A first course will have to include at least a pasta dish, like pasta alla norma (again pasta with eggplant and ricotta, two of the icons of Sicilian cooking). The second or main course often includes fish or meat. I found the red meat for the most part disappointing, they also eat horse meat (it has a sweeter taste but can be quite though). If you are a carnivore, I believe the pork is a much better choice. If you can live without meat, have any of the excellent fish and seafood, often cooked with mastery.8- If you want to stay in a more “authentic” way, there are Bed & Breakfasts everywhere, sometimes built in old houses that can let you experience the construction, furniture and decoration to have a closer look of local culture. If you are on a budget and y[...]



Agritourism / Farmhouses / Agriturismi

2008-11-13T10:02:54.094-08:00

The agriturismi are italian farmhouses in or around a rural area, that produce their own food. They cultivate their own produce and raise their own farm animals. Many agritourisms offer accomodation so you can live the whole farm experience, and others offer a restaurant, where you can taste typical regional food cooked with ingredients fresh from the farm. From the wine to the cheese to the bread, everything is done in-site and thus is very genuine.I highly recommend that you eat in an agritourism at least once. They serve a fixed menu with a very reasonable price per person, but be warned that they serve a LOT of food. Usually you would start with appetizers, at least two first pasta courses and two second courses (fish or meat), dessert and probably abundant house wine. After all that you can have some coffee and a glass of some highly alcoholic liquor like grappa or amaro. You must book in advance as they normally have limited seating and might also have specific seating hours, so they can serve the whole restaurant at the same time.There are a lot of agritourisms around Ragusa, I’ll mention a few I’ve been in:At Azienda Agricola Magazzè it’s all about buffalo. This is actually one of my favourite agriturismi in terms of food quality. Maybe because I just love mozzarella… life without mozzarella is impossible.Our menu included buffalo mozzarella cheese (made daily from buffalo milk) with prosciutto ham, pan fried breaded buffalo mozzarella, cherry tomato-basil salad, and pizza with buffalo mozzarella for starters.Meat dishes included grilled buffalo meat served with rosemary potatoes and buffalo meat stew.For dessert we had cannoli with cream (made out of buffalo milk of course) and fruit.Coffee, house wine, water and amaro were also included in the very reasonable price of €20.Via Piemonte 38 - Cda. Magazzè, Ragusa (see map)Tel +39 0932-664034 / +39 338-719-0914 / +39 349-3321181Pre-fixed menu €20 per person.Monsovile: on the old street from Ragusa to Donnalucata. They have a small zoo where you can see their own farm animals. Via Savonarola 3 - Donnalucata, Ragusa. Closed on Mondays - Tel +39-338-523-6025. Pre-fixed menu €16 per person (last time I was there). (see map)Rosa Cambra: if you are staying in the seaside, you can try this agriturismo in Santa Croce, near Marina di Ragusa (Km. 0,800). Closed on Wednesdays. Tel: +39-0932-821238.Al Casale: they mainly serve meat and fish. Marina di Ragusa (Km. 11.500) – Closed on Mondays – Tel: +39-0932-66-4009 (see map)Agriturismo Lago Santa Rosalia: this agriturismo has a nice view to an artificial lake by a dam. Tel: +39-0932-227-544. (see map)[...]



Gelato and Granita around Ragusa

2008-11-13T10:02:54.448-08:00

The temperature is raising, and you had a day’s worth of that warm Sicilian sun. There is no better way to cool off and beat the heat than by having a Sicilian gelato. They are often hand-made daily in store, and you're not likely to regret a single calorie after tasting them:ICE CREAM:Around Ragusa Ibla, you’ll find many ice cream parlors:There is Gelati DiVini in Piazza San Giorgio: they have a wide variety of flavors you’ll hardly find elsewhere like wine, quince, carob and cactus pear or fichi d’india (this plant is originary from Mexico, but it has found it’s own dimension in Sicily, becoming part of the island’s distinctive landscape.)Dolce Barocco has what for me is the the best ice cream around Ibla. Try the “dolce barocco” flavour and you can’t go wrong, it’s a copyrighted recipe made with a mix of carob fruit, hazelnut and almond.Around the seaside, you’ll find good gelato in Marina di Ragusa around the main square (Piazza Duca degli Abruzzi), La Sorbetteria, Caffè delle Rose and Caffè Roma also known as Pippo Boccadifuoco (Pippo Fire-mouth, a funny last name for someone that sells gelato).But among the local favorites there’s the Blue Moon Gelateria in Donnalucata, Scicli. They have a wide selection of ice cream flavours (44) and allegedly the best pistachio ice cream to be found. I suggest you try it, legions of fans can't be wrong... Open daily. Via Casmene 1, Donnalucata. Tel: +39-339-114-7033.Eduardo is a renowned pastry shop in Santa Croce that also has really good ice cream. The ricotta flavour being my favourite here. They also have some of the best profiterols in town. Via Roma 53/55, Santa Croce Camerina. Tel: +39-0932-82-1545.GRANITA:Granita is not exactly ice cream, it’s a sort of sherbet made of a frozen mix of water, sugar and flavoring. Usually you’ll find coffee, chocolate, pistachio, almond, lemon, strawberry and other fruits.In an area full of great granita, picking favorites is tough. People will debate over whose are the best, but my personal favorite has to be Mandolfiore in the city of Noto. By all means, try it! The granita is a Sicilian classic, so you shouldn’t leave without at least trying it once.Pasticceria Mandolfiore: absolutely FANTASTIC granita, by far the best I’ve ever tasted. This is the best kept secret (probably not so secret anymore, since it’s always packed) in the Valle di Noto. You have to walk a little out of the main street to find this place, but it’s really worth it. You’ll find it right across the Carmine Church.They have a varied assortment of gelato (40 flavours) and granita (15 flavours,) including some creative flavours like peach with basil or cherry tomato with basil that are really good! Ask them to let you taste a few before you order. Almond, ricotta and figs (fichi) flavours are not to be missed. Their pastries are also as good as they seem in the glass display counter.Via Ducezio 2, Noto, Siracusa – Tel: 0931-836-615Bar Riviera: this bar in Donnalucata, Scicli has great granita, and it's usually packed in summertime around 5 am with young insomniacs. I recommend the pistachio granita with brioche. Via L. Pirandello 11.[...]



Ragusa and Ragusa Ibla Pubs

2008-11-13T10:02:54.551-08:00

Here are all of the pubs and clubs in Ragusa and Ragusa Ibla reviewed so far:

Il Lucernaio is a laid back, dimly lighted, non-pretentious pub with a wide bottled beer selection. It also offers wines, cocktails, sandwiches and crepes. Ask for Gianni, who will gladly give you some interesting options and good advice. Via Orfanotrofio 20, Ragusa Ibla. Closed on Tuesdays.

(image) Il Lucernaio's owner Gianni Tumino

Jester Pub I was told this pub and brewery is the main beer supplier of Ragusa. You have to give them credit for that. They have arguably the best range of irish draft beers, as well as whiskey, rum and other spirits. A good place for drinking the night away with friends. Viale Europa 294, upper Ragusa. Tel: +39 0932-252090.

Decanter: (reviewed in the Marina di Ragusa pubs section, but I’ll paste the description here as well so lazy folks don’t have to scroll down to read). Great cocktails served with a smile, while listening to cool music. What else can you ask for? Well… from 7 pm to 9 pm it’s aperitivo time. This is the Italian version of a pre-dinner drink and a snack, but it’s brought to very generous proportions at the Decanter. Basically you order an aperitivo, choose your drink, pick up a plate and taste some delicious hors d'euvres from the buffet. I personally like their Bellini, done with real peaches. Two locations for this lovely pub: one in upper Ragusa at Piazza Cappuccini 22. Tel: +39 338 430 4092. Also by the sea on the pedestrian boardwalk at Marina di Ragusa.

2 Volte this small pub is beautifully done in a very modern way, combining the local white stone with color accents such as wall paintings, blue countertops and red leather booths. There's a TV screen usually showing music videos or fashion shows. Friendly staff, cracking nice music and good aperitivos. The 2 Volte has a good selection of whiskey as well. Via Mariannina Coffa 4. Almost in the corner with Corso Vittorio Veneto in upper Ragusa.

Black & White this recently opened spot, features a black-and-white design scheme and offers theme-nights like Saturday's Argentine night with tango music and a steak and wine dinner for € 20 or Friday nights with guest DJs.
Via Risorgimento 30, Ragusa



Pubs in Marina di Ragusa

2008-09-12T11:39:34.784-07:00

If you come to Ragusa in summertime, you will probably find high temperatures and a desserted city. That's because everybody is cooling off in Marina di Ragusa (Ragusa's seaside). To see map click here. Here are some pubs in Marina, where you can sip a beer while watching the sun go down on the sea.Decanter great cocktails served with a smile, while listening to cool music. What else can you ask for? Well… from 7 pm to 9 pm it’s aperitivo time. This is the Italian version of a pre-dinner drink and a snack, but it’s brought to very generous proportions at the Decanter. Basically you order an aperitivo, choose your drink, pick up a plate and taste some delicious hors d'euvres from the buffet. I personally like their Bellini, done with real peaches. Two locations for this lovely pub: one in upper Ragusa at Piazza Cappuccini 22. Tel: +39 338 430 4092. Also by the sea on the pedestrian boardwalk at Marina di Ragusa.Charleston not far from the Decanter, and about 50 yards from the main plaza in Marina di Ragusa, the Charleston has modern décor, orange-blue colored walls and sea view. Not an enormous variety of cocktails here but enough if you’re not too picky. It has tables and booths and usually a nice music selection. It’s one of the few pubs in Marina di Ragusa that opens all year round.Tre Per Caso: By the sea in the pedestrian boardwalk at Marina di Ragusa right between the Decanter and Quattro Quarti. This two story pub is open all year round and has a nice sea-view terrace (closed in winter). They have a good variety of cocktails, and for those ones missing on the menu... they willingly prepared to my specifications a spicy margarita with tabasco sauce.Anno Zero towards the end of the lungomare A. Doria lays this nice pub with outdoor tables. Loud music, good vibe and cocktails. Inside you'll find cool pictures hanging on the yellow walls and some wooden booths on your right hand side. I usually like this place because it's not as packed as the pubs closer to the main square.Victoria Pub this place is almost hidden… it took me one year to realize it even existed even if I walked by dozens of times! Lungomare A.Doria. It will be on your left hand side walking from the main square, and you have to enter some sort of gallery right next door to a white building with boutiques. It has a more traditional feel with the wooden bar and pool tables on the back. They also make pizzas.Quattro Quarti Very nice modern all-white décor. Sloooow service, regular food. Packed on summer nights with all the see and be seen crowd. Not really my kind of place, but good enough for people watching. By the sea in the pedestrian boardwalk at Marina di Ragusa steps away from the Decanter.La Dolce Vita Caffè used to be a piano bar, with dim lighting and booths, now it turned into a semi-disco for youngsters. I 'm not too excited about the music selection. You'll find it towards the end of the lungomare A. Doria.Chalets:To drink by the sea, you have another alternative… do as the locals and head to one of the beach huts (chalets nella spiaggia). These are wood constructions with just a floor and a roof (if any) right on the sand. So you can drink al fresco right on the beach, and maybe swim a little if you dare. Some popular “chalets” are the Titanic located in Plaja Grande (driving from Marina di Ragusa towards Donnalucata you’ll see a sign on your right hand side. Get in the trail and drive until you see a ship on the sand. That is the entrance of the Titanic). The Margarita is located in the lungomare A. Doria, in Marina di Ragusa, a few blocks from the square. A new comer is La Ola, always in the lungomare A. Doria;[...]



An easy recipe: Ragusan red pesto

2007-05-29T01:47:52.600-07:00

Here's a recipe a great sicilian cook gave me. It sounds pretty easy and delicious
(serves 4 people):

Ingredients:
You will need 10 fresh basil leaves, 1 garlic clove, 30 gr. of pinenuts, ½ teaspoon of concentrated tomato paste, 2 ripe tomatoes, 5 tablespoons of ricotta cheese, extra virgin olive oil, salt and grated parmesan cheese to taste. You can add sun dried tomatoes (optional)

Preparation:
Peal and remove the seeds from the tomatoes, springle with salt and leave for about half an hour so they loose some of the juice. Blend tomatoes with pinenuts, garlic and basil. Add olive oil and 2 tablespoons of sun dried tomatoes (optional). Mix the pureed ricotta cheese with the pesto mix from the blender (do not add ricotta to the blender). Serve as a topping for pasta and sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese.



Bars & Cafes

2008-11-13T10:02:55.107-08:00

I consider myself a coffee person, that’s why I can write extensively about this topic since I think I pretty much covered all the bars and cafes of the Ragusa and Marina di Ragusa areas.First of all, it might be good to know that in Italy a bar is a place where they serve coffee, croissants and perhaps some drinks, but it definitely does not match the sports bar type and it doesn’t involve a lot of drinking. If you like your beer, then you should head to a pub instead. I’ll be posting about pubs soon.A word about coffee…Espresso coffee and all its possible combinations is the only kind of coffee served in Italy. So beware, if you walk to a bar and ask for a coffee, espresso is what you’ll get… and it tastes nothing like filter coffee. You’ll notice that espresso it’s served at the bar in small cups, and people drink it while standing. Mmmmh espresso… express… maybe that’s why they drink it like a tequila shot?If you're looking for an alternative to decaf, you might try this italian invention: the caffè d’orzo, which is a decaf drink made out from barley that can be served like an espresso in a small cup or with steamed milk (cappuccino d’orzo). This is not really coffee, but it’s found in any bar and a lot of Italians have it specially in late evenings.Caffè delle Rose: My ideal day would have to start with breakfast at this modern café located in a 20th century building. Good cappuccino, friendly service, but my favorite part are the amazing croissants (cornetti). You can have them filled with cream, ricotta cheese, almond cream, pistachios, chocolate, peach jam, whole wheat with honey or just plain. They are delicious fresh out of the oven. Once you experience them… you’ll be back for more.In summertime I recommend you try the “caffè shakerato” (blended coffee with ice cream) it’s creamy, it almost melts in your mouth and it’ll give you enough caffeine to run the New York marathon in twenty minutes.If you don’t like coffee, or even if you like it, they have a decent selection of gelato offering varieties such as pistachio, hazelnut, coffee (did I mention I like coffee?), chocolate, and the usual fruit flavours.Caffè delle Rose is located right across the main square at Marina di Ragusa. Piazza Duca degli Abruzzi 25. Closed on Mondays.Zizzi's Caffè: this little laid back bar in Piazza Libertà has the great tasting, if not creatively named, caffè barocco (coffee with cinammon). Worth a try while you are in upper Ragusa. There are three bars in Piazza Libertà, this one has tables outside and it's right under the Cammera di Commercio, next door to a fotocopy shop.Ibla Caffè is a cozy cafè at the entrance of Ibla that offers paid internet access, so it can be handy to get your caffeine fix while deleting all that Viagra spam from your inbox.Pasticceria Di Pasquale is the oldest pastry shop in Ragusa. A lot of people will tell you they have the best fresh-baked cakes, and pastries. The couple of times I was there I found the staff and owner unfriendly, but I’m pretty forgiving when it comes to profiterols. Corso Vittorio Veneto 104.[...]



Overview - Food

2008-11-13T10:02:55.528-08:00

People around here like their food… a lot. Here’s why:BreakfastForget about eggs and bacon for a while. Here breakfast “colazione” can be an equivalent to the continental breakfast (danish pastries, croissants and a cup of cappuccino) or the sicilian breakfast which takes place mainly in summertime, and consists of “granita e brioche”. Granita is a kind of Sicilian gelato served usually in a glass cup (I will post an entry exclusively about granita in the near future); for those of you watching the line, you can add whipped cream on top.The brioche is a sort of semi-circular muffin, that you can dip in your granita... it’s OK to do it! If you are in a hurry, you can opt for the gelato sandwich! Yes… you read well… gelato stuffed into the muffin (brioche) Amazing what you can do in Sicily without getting arrested!LunchYour typical lunch will have (you guessed) pasta on it. Dozens of different kinds of pasta with hundreds of different “salsa”. After a year I’m still learning about new kinds of pasta and ways to cook it. Impossible to keep track of it all, but if you want to try something typical, ask for “cavateddi alla norma” (a sort of small gnocchi with eggplant and ricotta cheese) or try the ricotta ravioli with pork sauce. Another choice would be the “pasta col maccu”, I'm not a big fan of this pasta that involves fava beans paste.AperitivoBefore dinner, around 7:30 pm, there’s the “Aperitivo”. You basically walk to a bar and ask for it, first you choose your drink, alcoholic or non alcoholic (I recommend the Aperol Spritz for those of you who like some alcohol in your drinks and Crodino for non alcoholics). Then they start bringing all kind of ors d’hoeuvres (olives, breaded mozzarella balls, pizza, chips, etc). Try not to stuff yourself too much because you still have to face dinner.DinnerThe usual dinner consists of an antipasto (appetizer), il primo (the first course) any kind of pasta, and il secondo (the entree) meat or fish. After these comes the fruit, followed by the dessert, the lemoncello (lemon liquor) or grappa (more liquor), and coffee of course.[...]



The reason for this blog

2007-05-30T08:24:58.065-07:00

A year ago, I moved to Ragusa, Italy straight from Los Angeles. You would think that’s a big change, but not so big if you consider I was actually born in Argentina. In my mind three languages are starting to get all mixed up, so I feel it’s time to practice my english... it's scary how easily I'm beginning to forget things!

Sicily is a beautiful land, where history and nature combine together in a perfect mix. You can see architectural jewels, taste amazing food or hear interesting stories in almost every corner, but unfortunately not everything is so obvious or easy to find for the tourists without some insider’s help.

That’s why I decided to start this blog. To share my everyday experiences and help the traveler find it’s way around and know a bit more about this wonderful place (and to practice my english before I forget it all)

(image)