Sicilian tour through culture, tradition, nature, and history, with a pinch of spirituality
Today we plan to visit places and territories unknown to us, between Caltanissetta and Agrigento. We arrive in Caltanissetta early in the morning and, while sitting at a bar, we are seduced by a fresh mulberry granita ordered by the next table. Here, we meet Alice and Irene, our guides for a day who show us the beauties of the city in an unusual way, among churches, alleys, and history of a Sicily unknown to us.
After the short tour of the city, we get in the car and reach Pierfilippo, who awaits us in the village of Santa Rita, not far from Caltanissetta. A small uninhabited village where a stubborn and visionary young Maurizio wanted to revive the old family oven and where bread is still made in the traditional way today. Everything seems magical and surreal, a ghost town where there are only us and the smell of freshly baked bread in the air that, as always, makes us feel very hungry. While waiting for Maurizio to finish kneading and baking, we take a tour through the streets of the village, seeing delightful corners and breathtaking views. Today the sky has a spectacular color, which further enhances the golden yellow of the fields.
After a few shots, we go back to the oven, to taste some excellent bread, seasoned with homemade olive oil, olives, and good cheese … what goodness !!! Of course, all accompanied by excellent local wine and beer. Tasting these simple but genuine things in a courtyard, in the shadow of an “albanazzo”, and chatting with new friends is always a good feeling. It almost feels like home! After lunch, a walk under the “pico” of the sun (rush hour when it would be preferable to stay in the cool shelter of a tree) to reach Salvatore’s donkeys, whom he takes care of with so much love and dedication! Like his father, he too has a fervent and visionary mind. The time has come to continue because we are only at the beginning of our journey and so many new things await us!
Next stop Aragona, in the province of Agrigento, where we have the pleasure of staying overnight in a splendid resort, surrounded by greenery and nature. A renovated nineteenth-century farmhouse that has nevertheless maintained its original essence, rich in ancient objects that give the structure a typical Sicilian beauty of other times. Upon entering one feels truly at home, between sitting rooms, a reading area, a small spa, seven very welcoming rooms, a wonderful salt pool, and the kitchen that evokes the memory of one’s grandparents. Upon our arrival, we are welcomed into the kitchen as if we were family friends, and Maddalena, the resort’s cook, offers us coffee and excellent freshly picked figs while preparing the menu to serve during dinner. We also pleasantly chat with Maurizio, the owner, who makes us visit the resort and tells us anecdotes related to the structure and the territory, and transported by the amarcord moment, he calls a friend who cheers us with a song in Sicilian dialect. Really exciting!
After having refreshed ourselves for a few minutes, we leave to discover a farm located in Joppolo Giancaxio (Raffadeli) run by a young couple, who about 10 years ago, almost by chance, began to breed the wonderful Girgentana goat, a species almost extinct, of extraordinary beauty and excellent quality milk, with which today they also produce excellent cheese. Let’s take a tour of the company, get to know the queens of the house “the goats” and conclude with a glass of good local wine and a tasting of excellent cheese: tuma, robiola, and more aged cheese, all of which are their own products.
We return to the resort for dinner and, sitting at the table sipping good wine, we chat with Alice and Pierfilippo as if we were old friends. Pierfilippo tells us some anecdotes of the elderly of his country and makes us laugh heartily! Dinner is delicious, from the starter of vegetables in the batter to the soup with vegetables and fresh pasta, from the second course of rabbit with aromas, to conclude with a dessert of lemon ice. We are also offered a herbal tea with bay leaf and lemons recently picked by us called “Canarino ”, (called the canary because of its pastel yellow color) a classic drink used by grandmothers as a digestive aid at the end of a meal. One more chat and off to bed, tomorrow another day full of experiences awaits us!
We get up early to enjoy an excellent breakfast, fig cake, homemade biscuits, fresh fruit, and jams. The right charge to visit Sant’Angelo Muxaro, a small village perched on a mountain. A village that is rich in history and genuine people, where Pierfilippo, as a good host, makes us discover the gems of his country. A coffee break, and we head to Aunt Maria’s oven, family-run, and where all the products are made in a 50’s wood oven. Maria astonishes us due to her perfect British accent while speaking English (given her origins), talking about her story and how even today the bread is prepared with so much love and passion. During our visit, there is a bustle of people. Here everyone knows each other and Maria already knows what they will ask for. As she talks, she prepares a deliciously seasoned bread, and even though it is still morning we devour it in just a few minutes while sitting on the bench in front of the oven. But we could not miss a tasting of sweets made with honey and toasted almonds. Excellent! Do you want to know what the recipe is? To find out you have to go to Maria’s bakery: it is a secret!
We say goodbye and while walking through the streets of Sant’Angelo, we admire the beautiful and particular murals that enrich the streets of the town, entirely made by the young people of the city, and then move to the museum where we admire the archaeological finds of the place, necklaces, jugs, and tools various beauty. But what stands out are the 4 gold paterae, which have become the symbol of Sant’Angelo, and the three heavy gold rings with various representations, discovered by the archaeologist Paolo Orsi in the early twentieth century. Inside the museum, you can also admire the notebooks full of notes and drawings of the excavations made by the famous archaeologist. After visiting the museum, we move away from the center and head towards the countryside with the jeep, and while singing and laughing, we meet a very young local shepherd, Angelo. He tells us about his engagement, and we are catapulted into the past.
After a few photos, we say goodbye and continue to our destination: San Biagio Platani. In the thick vegetation, Aldo awaits us. After retirement, Aldo decided to devote himself to medicinal plants, animal care, the creation of essential oils and all that nature offers, but above all to care for the soul. Here time seems to have stopped, a wooden house awaits us among the trees and a table set under a canopy with bruschetta covered with chopped herbs and flowers, salads, cheese, edible flowers, various seeds, and a fresh drink made with water and flowers left to macerate. All very good! It begins to drizzle and a magical atmosphere is created, with the scent of rain and wet earth that intoxicates. We wait for it to stop while sitting under the canopy and we enjoy the countryside. The rain stops and Aldo shows us his medicinal plants, the house on the olive tree, where in winter you can enjoy a massage with his essential oils overlooking the valley, the small cave carved into a rock, and a circle created with stones where all the energies of the universe are concentrated in the center … this is a truly magical place! We say goodbye because a surprise still awaits us!
The evening begins at sunset sitting in a circle on hay bales, as per peasant tradition at the end of the working day, where people ate, sang, and told stories. We live a very pleasant experience with people we don’t know: accompanied by Romina we start creating music, discovering a truly magical game! This is the “Drums circle”, the sound of instruments of all kinds, from the Sicilian tambourine, to the Jambé, to drums of all sizes, rattles, wooden instruments, suitable for adults and children. But could we end the evening without tasting the typical flavors of the area? A rich shepherd’s dinner awaits us, with hard-boiled eggs, whole tomatoes to bite into, seasoned bread, rosettes with chickpea meatballs in sauce, girgentana goat milk cheese, and the sweet battalion typical of those areas.
Satisfied with the new experiences and the beautiful people we met, we regrettably bid them farewell as they have given us two days full of emotions and helped us discover a new piece of our Sicily. Tomorrow we return home!
But we are ready for a new experience … and you?