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New Years Eve with a Lentil Twist

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Sicilian tradition says that prosperity is ensured for the year ahead if you eat lentils on New Year’s Eve.
No lentils, no money … why take the risk ????
To improve your chance of good fortune, the next day you should eat macaroni, as the Sicilian proverb says “He who eats macaroni on New Year’s Day for the whole of the year keeps trouble away”.
Another tradition involves throwing old plates, glasses, vases and pottery out the window to make room for the new. Although this is rarely practiced these days we have witnessed this tradition in our town so it does not hurt to keep aware of any open windows whilst walking down the street on New Year’s Eve at midnight.
Also wearing red underwear helps .... I will leave that one up to you ;-)

If you hope to be wealthy in 2015 try this simple Sicilian recipe for Lentil soup:

Zuppa di Lenticchie (Lentil Soup); serves 4 7oz Lentils, preferably from the Sicilian island of Ustica 4 Pints of Water 8 oz Canned Chopped Tomatoes 2 Celery Sticks, chop…

Buon Natale ........

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Taormina is a charming place to be at Christmas time, the Corso Umberto is adorned with lights and there is a huge Christmas tree in Piazza IX Aprile.
On Christmas Eve after dinner and present opening, everyone heads to the Duomo where a huge bonfire is lit at 11pm, the tradition is that the bonfire will keep the baby Jesus warm. The locals call Christmas Eve the Night of Luminaria (Illumination).
Evening mass begins at midnight in the Duomo when the priest carries baby Jesus down the cathedral aisle.


On a clear Christmas day you will see Mount Etna’s snowy cap sparkling in the winter Sicilian sun as if she has been dusted with icing sugar especially for the festive season.
Christmas day morning you will hear the many church bells peel signifying the beginning of Christmas mass.
Christmas lunch is usually meat and as expected in Sicily sweets and desserts are of the most importance. The evening is usually spent playing Sicilian card games like Scopa or Briscola with a set of Sicilian…

Caltagirone ... City of Ceramics

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Caltagirone is known as the City of Ceramics and everything there reminds you of that.
The city’s buildings, churches, streets and balconies are all decorated with Majolica ceramics ranging from magnificent tiles to beautiful ornaments and plant pots, all of which are hand painted there.
The drive from Taormina takes approximately one hour and twenty minutes and you will get to see a different view of Mount Etna than that seen from Taormina.
The name Caltagirone comes from the Arabic word Qal’at Ghiran, which means Castle of Pottery Jars and is one of the most ancient Sicilian towns which dates back to prehistoric times.
The city was almost destroyed by an earthquake in the region in 1693 and many of the buildings have been rebuilt in a typical Sicilian baroque style.
The highlight of the city is the Steps of St. Maria del Monte, which has 142 stairs decorated with beautiful flourished Majolica tiles, each step displays a different design. All the way up the stairs and the alleyways …

an abundance of Lemons

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Lemons are not real Lemons unless they are Sicilian …. an old Sicilian saying
Living in Sicily means we have a nonstop supply of mouthwatering lemons and when the lemon trees bloom the air is fragrant with Fiori di Limone, lemon blossom.
I can remember once driving down a country lane and being stuck behind an open backed truck full of lemon peel the aroma was over whelming, a traffic jam Sicilian style .....
The Sicilian climate and fertile volcanic earth creates a long growing season and the gathering of lemons takes place over three periods. First is the autumn harvest or Primo Fiore followed by the cultivation of the Bianchetti in Spring and the Verdelli between June and July.
My favourite breakfast is a brioche dipped into a zingy lemon granite and a Sicilian meal is not complete without a Limoncello to finish.
Friends will often visit our house bringing with them a carrier bag full of lemons and we love to put them to good use, my favourite being baking cakes.

By popular demand, here …

Gambino Vini

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900 metres above sea level on the slopes of Mount Etna you will find the Gambino Winery.
So many of our friends in Sicily had recommended Gambino it made us desperate to visit, we made our first visit in June.
The drive up to Gambino from our home in Giardini Naxos is stunning and takes around one hour. You pass through the beautiful Etna towns of Piedimonte Etneo and Linguaglossa entering Etna wine territory. The whole way up you glimpse the main crater of Etna and every so often you have to stop to let the Circumetnea Railway train pass which is a private line that circles the base of the volcano.
Following the signs for Gambino Vini you drive past the many vineyards on Etna, the Gambino Winery is the highest vineyard on the volcano with the best wine tasting experience.

As we took the turn off for the winery we drove past Gambino’s terraces full of grape vines which were a wonderful welcome. After parking the car and admiring the fantastic views across the terraces downwards to the Ion…

Alcantara Gorge

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The Alcantara Gorge is an absolute must when staying in Taormina and surrounding areas.
The name Alcantara derives from the Arabic word Al Qantarah which means arched bridge.
The gorge is a natural monument of basalt rock which was created by a volcanic eruption around 2400 BC. The lava flow flooded the entire Valley of the Alcantara River as far as Giardini Naxos. Whilst still white hot a crack opened in the lava assuming the appearance of a gorge. Later the waters feeding the Alcantara River flowed through creating the gorge.
According to Greek mythology the god Vulcan fell in love with Venus and she loved him in return, to seal their love Vulcan made the waters of Alcantara a sacred place where the goddess could bathe always in warm water all year until one day their affair ended and in a moment of rage and anger to make Venus pay for her betrayal he made the waters cold and icy. Since then it has been said that any man who bathes in the goddess’s waters will regain his virility a…