We love Sicily, but we also love heading to the mainland. It's not a far drive to Apulia, the 'heel' of the Italian boot, and it has many hidden treasures. We loved exploring the trulli around Alberobello--it looks like a fairy tale. These dwellings stand in rows like little white beehives with conical roofs. On the trulli are different symbols: a cross, a menorah, an evil eye, star, etc.. No one really knows how these limestone trulli came to be, but many think they belonged to peasant Italian families in the 16th and 17th century.
When it comes to the town of ceramics, Caltagirone has a ton of choices. We've mentioned a few of our favorite spots in the book but there are many more to explore. One of our favs, "Bruselles Maioliche d'arte" is a great spot for getting a more custom piece of ceramics. If your time permits, you can stop by this little shop towards the top of 'La Scala' (the steps) and custom order your ceramics to include names, dates, etc. There is usually a two week turn around time to pick up finished products. These make great gifts with an added personal touch. You can get creative and have personal Christmas ornaments made, welcome signs, etc. Don't forget that July 21 will be the annual lighting of 'La Scala,' a must see while in Sicily.
Here's what her brother, Alberto, had to say, "She lives in the north of Italy and she's a free-lance food reporter for several Italian food magazines including "Gambero Rosso" an prominent Italian food and wine magazine that was founded in 1986. Its name literally translates as "red prawn" and comes from a tavern in Pinocchio where the Fox and the Cat dines. "Gambero Rosso" was initially aneight-page supplement of Italian daily IL Manifesto, first published on December 16, 1986, and was founded by Stefano Bonilli. It contributed early to spreading the views of Arci Gola, which was a forerunner to the Slow Food movement. From 1987, Gambero Rosso has published a guide to Italian wine, titled Vini d'Italia, which in a short time became the most influential within Italy. It is also published in English translation under the title Italian Wines."
Inside the Aga hotel, is the Profumia Daily Spa, (095-7265696). (It's just a little past the Catania market, pass Piazza Europa--right near Mini-Club. It is definitely one of the best spas in Sicily (and it's right past the Catania market, so you can pick up some fresh strawberries before or after your treatment). It's open from 10-9, and we highly suggest the couple's massage. Located in its own room, you (and a friend, spouse, etc) will sit on a heated waterbed massage table. They have maternity massages available as well as hot stone. Also, they have various facials. Massages are 50 euro for an hour. You might cry when it's over, so for an additional 20 euro, you can use the steam room, sauna, jacuzzi, lounge chairs, and rain showers. You will feel so relaxed that you won't even mind when the scooters, buses, and Fiats cutting you off on your ride home.
When you are done, head to the bar inside the hotel or try Cafe Paris next door (Viale Ruggero di Lauria, 25). They have amazing granitas which are back in season. These granitas are almost as amazing as the massage.Food writer Jeffrey Steingarten says that "the desired texture seems to vary from city to city" on the island; on the west coast and in Palermo, it is at its chunkiest, and in the east it is nearly as smooth as sorbet. We suggest either mixing strawberry (fragola) with lemon (limone) or almond (mondorla) with Pistaccio (Pistaccio).
Tania Mazzaglia has recently added to her portfolio of lava specialities and works of art. Some of these items include a mosaic of Sicily infused with her signature tiles, bistro tables, and more. We do admit, the language barrier may be difficult, but with a good translation and an open mind, you will love your art. And, did we tell you Play-doh wipes off a lava table? Way more kid friendly than you'd think!
What is better than Sicilian pizza and a full-body massage? At Hotel Biancaneve, they offer fabulous massages, waxes, and pedicures. They will transform post-winter half-polished tooties into gorgeous feet. Phew, just in time to show 'em off in summer flip-flops. Rooms are zen-like, and the massages are great. (Remember, the touch is lighter in Italy than in the States and they massage your boobs). They also give you plastic underwear and towel to cover yourself. For a pedicure and massage, it cost 64 euro--way less than the States and you don't need to add 20% tip! (We gave 5 euro). Some massage beds are heated. After detoxing, tox it up at Ristorante Pizzeria 7+. Their pizza was rated the 4th best in THE ENTIRE WORLD. He even showed us the article and plaque. Yoou can eat there for lunch, but if you want pizza you have to wait until 8:00 p.m. (You can also eat at the hotel-dinner is great and opens at 8:00).
Hotel Biancaneve Hotel Biancaneve. Via Etnea, 163 - 95030 Nicolosi (CT) Tel: 095/911176 Fax: 095/911194 E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org (They say they are open M-Saturday, but we found you can't get an appointment during riposo. Go early or at 2:30.
Ristorante Pizzeria 7+ Viale della Regione, 7/A Nicolosi Tel: 095-7916316
The New Mall (as we call it) opened. It's very close to Sigonella--as if you going to the Catania Airport. We took one for the team and headed there opening weekend, and it was super packed and impossible to park. Avoid Sundays unless you like crowds. When we went back on Friday (9:30am) it was way less crowded and parking was easy. We suggest going on a week day early or during riposo to avoid the crowds. Here what we liked: 1) Clean bathrooms with a separate changing table room/nursing area (across from RossoPomodoro). (This is incredible since you usually need to change the baby in our lap at other malls, on the floor, or in the car)! 2) Security guards in suits on Segways swooshing through the mall. 3) Decent food court choices (Wild West, Burger King (if you like that), and our favorite L'Etoile D'or (which they have also in Catania right by the fish market). 4) Amazing Lindt gelato: 5) 2-level Auchan--nice and clean. We were able to get all our Italian goodies: due vittorie balasmic, panna, Italian nutella, Italian cokes, and all the chocolaty variations of Kinder. 6) Decathlon store, Coincasa, and Prenatal (super expensive baby store--like 50 Euro for a Boppy--stick to Babies R US. 7) H&M-amazing kids section, maternity section, and overall better selection than the one in Katane.
On Monday, it opens late (like 12 or 1). Can't wait to July for Sconti Season! It can use a few more bathrooms and some more restaurants, but overall we give it two manicured thumbs up!
Image taken from: http://www.mimifroufrou.com/scentedsalamander/images/Shopping%20Logo%20TSS.jpg