Archive for July, 2011

Palermo is all about food, be it food from the markets, street food, local trattorias or full on restaurants
We had a lot to fit into our days here, so once the ferry from Salina arrived in Palermo, we were off and running…….straight to Zia Pina!

I had read a lot about this local lunch spot and was not going to miss it!
Thankfully BB22 was in the perfect position.

A five minute walk through the narrow back streets to Via Argenteria and we are there.

Back streets of Palermo

Back streets of Palermo

Outside Zia Pina, Palermo

Outside Zia Pina

Just inside the entrance, an amazing array of antipasti are laid out next to the fresh seafood on ice. Behind this, large pots of water are boiling, waiting for the pasta.

Zia Pina, Palermo

We help ourselves to the antipasti. Stuffed mushroom caps, caponata, stuffed zucchini, sardines, frittata, fried eggplant, and lots more end up on our plate

Antipasto selection at Zia Pina in Palermo

Antipasto selection


Antipasto selection at Zia Pina in Palermo

Would we like pasta, we are asked? Of course!!
There are about half a dozen sauces to choose from including a great looking ragu, tomato sauce, a marinara sauce and a clam sauce.

Clams sauce ready for the pasta at Zia Pina in Palermo

Clams ready for the pasta

Now for the seafood! Fried or grilled?
Decisions, decisions!

Seafood selection at Zia Pina in Palermo

Seafood selection


The lightly fried mixed seafood with lemon is perfect

Fabulous mixed seafood at Zia Pina in Palermo

Fabulous mixed seafood

Limoncello is offered as we sit chatting to the waiter in our basic italian

Finally the bill arrives- a scrap of paper with a number written on it!

The bill for two people including two glasses of wine and limoncello at Zia Pina in Palermo

The bill for two people including two glasses of wine and limoncello.

The bill for two people including two glasses of wine and limoncello.

Now for dinner!

Zia Pina
Via Argenteria, 67

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Position, position, position is the catch cry for all things real estate.
This especially applies to where you stay in a city.

Our home in Palermo, BB22, was in a great position as we were to find out over the next four nights. Often called a boutique B&B because of it’s stylish decor and personalised service, this 7 roomed B&B in the 15th century Palazzo Pantelleria, is run by Milanese couple Patty and Max. As well as the restaurant guides found in your room, they are only too happy to help with the final decision on where to go, what to see and how to get there.

There are two rooms and a suite on the first floor with the remainder on the third floor (no lift) together with reception, the breakfast area and an enclosed terrace where nightly drinks are offered.


Standard room at BB22 in Palermo

Standard room

Deluxe room at BB22 in Palermo

Deluxe room

Every morning, a breakfast of fresh fruit salad, meats, cheeses, cake and pastries is served on the third floor

Breakfast at BB22 in Palermo

BB22 is hidden in a back street in old Palermo, behind the Piazza San Domenico on Via Roma.

Church of San Domenico in Piazza San Domenico in Palermo

Church of San Domenico in Piazza San Domenico

Turn right on Via Roma and it is an easy walk to the Teatro Massimo, the Politeama and shopping central.

Teatro Massimo in Palermo

Teatro Massimo

Teatro Politeama in Palermo

Teatro Politeama

Turn left and you come to Via Vittoria Emanuele which runs from the Porta Nuova to the water.

Porta Nuova in Palermo

Porta Nuova



At the intersection of Via Maqueda and Via Vittorio Emanuele is the Quattro Canti, the four corners that divides Palermo into quandrants. It is marked by different sculptures on each of the corners.

Quattro Canti in Palermo
Quattro Canti

Quattro Canti in Palermo

Just behind here, in Piazza Prettoria is the Town Hall and the Pretoria Fountain.

Palermo's Piazza Pretoria with the Town Hall on the left and the Dome of Santa Caterina on the right.

Piazza Pretoria with the Town Hall on the left and the Dome of Santa Caterina on the right.

If you walk further up Via Vittoria Emanuele, you pass the stunning Cathedral on your way to the Norman Palace and Palatine Chapel.

Palermo's Cathedral


Entrance to the Palatine Chapel in Palermo

Entrance to the Palatine Chapel

The markets are all in easy walking distance from BB22. Not far from the Quattro Canti is the fabulous Ballaro Market whilst to reach the the equally fabulous Capo Market, you follow Via Bandiera which is opposite Piazza San Domenico
The Vucceria market is even closer. Just off Piazza San Domenica, this market is now very touristy and not what it used to be though the Sant’Andrea Ristorante remains popular.

Hole in the wall bar in the Vucceria, Palermo

Hole in the wall bar in the Vucceria

BB22 is not far from La Cala, the small fishing boat and yachting harbour. A walk down the back lane offers a shortcut to here and on to the interesting areas of Piazza Marina and La Kalsa.

La Cala, Palermo

La Cala





BB22 – Bed and Breakfast
Largo Cavalieri,22
90133 Palermo
Tel:+39 091 6111610

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La Festa di Capperi was a good reason to be in Salina on the first Sunday in June.
The festival, held in Pollara, celebrates the caper with music, dancing and eating.

When we arrived, the main square was starting to be set up for the festival


We watched everyone arrive from a tiny bar called I Oasi, overlooking the square

Slowly more and more people arrived, sitting wherever they could.

Of course, capers were for sale

Italians love to party and this was no exception
Even as the band started testing their equipment, the dancing started

Children danced with parents, with grandparents and with each other.

As the sun sank, about 300 people of all ages gathered in the tiny square.

The dancing continued.

As well as singing and dancing, this party was about food. Local restauranteurs and residents had been busy cooking many different dishes all using capers.
After buying a pack containing a plate, fork and glass, we were ready for action!
It was a chaotic scene of plates being thrust in front of the servers as bowls and bowls of food were laid on the table and constantly refilled

Panelle being cut and fried for the crowd

Pasta with caper sauce


Gnocchi with capers and tomato

Eggplant with capers

More please

Fish with capers, tomatoes and olives


As the famished were fed, the dancing started again.
They were excellent dancers. The moves impressed as the music changed from the traditional italian songs to neapolitan love songs and polish dance tunes.


No one was going home. The music continued long into the night.

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The Aeolian Islands of Panarea and Salina are known for their capers.
On Salina, the town of Pollara, introduced to the world in the film Il Postino, is one of the main centres of caper production. Pollara is a small town of 70 inhabitants built in the half sunken crater of a volcano. At the base of the crater is a small black sand beach which can only be reached on foot or by boat. The bay, with the stack still showing, is a perfect mooring spot for the visiting yachts

Bay at Pollara

As it does all over Sicily, wild fennel grows on the side of the road from Malfa to Pollara

Wild fennel

Even the caper bushes have a view


The caper bush is a low, wide bush with branches growing out from the centre. There is no season for the caper, they are picked approximately every eight days. If the caper is not picked, it produces a beautiful white flower with pink/purple stamens which only lasts the day. This flower then produces a fruit called the cucunci or caperberry

The caper bush

The capers are the tiny flower buds on the bush

Some of the buds are just starting to flower

The capers are then salted, pickled or kept in oil

Giuseppe and Anna Famularo and their family, who many years ago lived in Melbourne, oversee the caper production on their farm as well as run the restaurant at Azienda Agriturismo Al Cappero.


The restaurant.

We enjoy a simple but tasty Trenette Aeolian- Pasta with capers, chopped almonds and garlic.

Eggplant parmegiana

Grilled swordfish

Tomato and caper salad

Crema di limone and a glass of local Malvasia wine finish a simple but fabulous lunch

Whilst here, don’t forget to buy your capers and caperberries!


Azienda Agrituristica Al Cappero
98050 Pollara Salina
Tel:+39 090 9844133
Azienda Agrituristica Al Cappero

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It’s time to explore Salina
We hire a car and drive through Santa Marina to Lingua on the other side of the island.

Overlooking Lipari, Lingua is a small village of four restaurants and a few shops. White washed holiday homes climb the hill behind. Nearby is the Hauner Winery, makers of the island’s famous Malvasia wine


Sailors love the bay close to Lipari

People come to lie on the rocky beach

But most people come to Lingua for the home made granitas at “Da Alfredo”


Da Alfredo

Da Alfredo is an institution, famous for it’s pane cunzato and home made granita.
Once you have decided which granita to have, you must decide whether to have it in a brioche or a glass.

Granite menu

Unfortunately figs were not in season but I can recommend the mulberry(gelsi), peach(pesca), strawberry(fragola) and lemon granitas. I’m also told that the jasmine and almond granitas are pretty good!


Peach and mulberry granite

Pane Cunzato are made from grilled flat bread topped with a combination tomato, capers aubergine, tuna, olives, ricotto and mozzarella
Be warned. They are huge – one is enough for two people!
Choose your combination

Pane cunzato menu

Pane cunzato Salina

Next time we want to arrive in this convertable apè!


After lunch, we head inland. The road to Leni winds between Salina’s twin volcano peaks, Monte Fosse delle Felci and Monte del Porri, passing the small town of Valdichiesa. Covered with vegetation and vines, this protected nature reserve is the reason Salina is known as the green island.


There are many different walks in the area. One of the most popular, is to follow the tracks from Leni to the town of Rinella, with its black sand beach and small harbour.


Da Alfredo
Via Marina Garibaldi

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How do we get to Santa Marina Salina for lunch? Take the bus!
Not our usual mode of transport but we were happy to give it a try
The bus service on Salina is excellent. Buses depart every hour from Malfa arriving in Santa Marina twenty minutes later. From here you can catch another bus to Lingua or Leni and Rinella.

After misreading the timetable we finally arrived in Santa Marina Salina.

As with a lot of port towns, you can walk down the main street and return via the waterfront road. Santa Marina, Salina’s main port, is no different.
The traffic free main street is an eclectic mix of shops and houses painted in different colours with wonderful tiled signs.









Bar Silvio, on the main piazzetta where you buy your boat tickets, wait for the bus or catch a taxi does a roaring trade from its tiny shop.

With tables under the trees behind, its a great stop for cafe, gelato, granita or a malvasia wine.

This green apè owner is always in the piazza selling his baskets

For something different, rent a scooter car.

Overlooking the main piazza is Ristorante Porto Bello


Gamberoni rossi served with a yoghurt sauce

Fritto Misto

Grilled Spada (Swordfish)

Grilled zucchini and eggplant

Whilst very good, I felt it was expensive for what we ordered.
Maybe we were paying for the fabulous view over the port to Lipari

Ristorante Porto Bello
Via Bianchi 1
Santa Marina, Salina
Tel:+39 090 9843125

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Salina, the green island, is known for it’s capers and malvasia wine.
I love capers and wine so this has helped make the decision to spend five nights here, relaxing and exploring the island.

The Hotel Ravesi is the perfect base for us
This small charming three star hotel is a family hotel, owned and run by the Ravesi family.
Family photos in the bar show the history of the hotel. It is the result of restoration of houses and farmhouses built after the war as well as the original farm lodges

Ravesi family photo.

The hotel is in Malfa, home to a rosticceria takeaway bar, fruit and vegetable shop, hairdresser, pool hall, hardware shop, three restaurants and two churches and a small harbour at the bottom of the hill. What more do you need?

Hotel Ravesi with the town centre just down the street

The family are always around the hotel, chatting to guests and making sure everyone is happy.
The rooms are simply furnished and most have wonderful verandahs with sea views or outside sitting areas overlooking the beautiful gardens. Breakfast of fresh fruit, meat and cheeses, breads, pastries and often a cake or two is beautifully presented in the bar area near the pool.

The view from our verandah

The pool area is stunning with magnificent views to Stromboli and Panrea


Pool area set up for a wedding.

There are many nooks and crannies in the beautiful gardens to escape to with a book or in the evening a drink and some of the fabulous snacks that are offered

Outside sitting area

View back to the bar and rooms

Fishing boats at Malfa harbour

During our stay, we try all the local restaurants.
Close by, “A’Lumeredda”, a pizzeria and restaurant offers local cuisine using olives, capers and caperberries grown on the island. Fresh seafood, grilled meats, pasta dishes and woodfired pizzas are served on an alfresco terrace.
Next door at “Cosi Duci”, you can buy home made Aeolian pastries, biscuits, fabulous jams and honey.

Next to the hotel is the pizzeria “U Cucunciu” serving a similar menu of pasta dishes and woodfired pizza.

Pizza Aeolian at U Cucunciu

But the best is yet to come.
Just round the corner is the 4* Hotel Signum. Owner and chef, Michele Caruso has created an enviable reputation for the hotel’s restaurant.

The restaurant terrace overlooks the hotel and gardens.

We start with lightly fried pumpkin flowers with anchovy and ricotta.

Bucatini fatti in casa con ragu biance a mare (home made pasta with seafood sauce)

Filetto di ricciola con zucchina alla trifolata menta (Ricciola with zucchini cooked with parsely, garlic and mint)

Torrone cassata finishes a stunning meal

If you want to venture further afield for dinner, you will need to hire a bike, scooter or car from the friendly people at Tourist Service S.A.S
Tourist Service S.A.S
Via Roma, 112
Tel:+39 090 9880174
Tourist Service S.A.S


Hotel Ravesi
Via Roma,66
Tel:+39 090 9844385
Hotel Ravesi


Hotel Signum
Via Scalo, 15
Tel+39 090 9844222
Hotel Signum

Via San Lorenzo,1
Tel:+39 090 9844130

Pizzeria U Cucunciu
Via Roma,81

Cosi Dolci
Via San Lorenzo,9

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