Tourist Spot

Traveling to Sicily: how to prolong the summer under the Sicilian sun

Sicily is a very special island; it has been busy and welcomes people from all ends of the Mediterranean. For thousands of years this island has hosted people from so many places that being Sicilian would be a colorful array of the people the island has been and continues to be home to.

Sicilians are very attached to being Sicilian, with a rich history and culture to support their love for their home. The island is as diverse geographically as it is culturally and socially. Home to Etna, which is one of the highest volcanoes in Europe and the most active volcanoes in the world, with a height of 11,014 feet, Sicily has extremely fertile land, perfect for growing delicious produce and world famous wines. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Mount Etna is an absolute must to hike and see if you love nature – and we did.

After a nearly 2 hour drive to Etna, we learned from our guide Antionello about the eruption of the volcano that took place in 2013. Etna’s vegetation is staggered depending on how high you are , further down to 3000 feet you will find vineyards, olive groves, citrus groves and orchards. This also includes densely populated towns and villages, including Catania.

Photo: Maliha Fairooz

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Traveling to Sicily: how to prolong the summer under the Sicilian sun

Photo: Maliha Fairooz

As you climb higher the mountain becomes steeper with forests of chestnut, oak, pine and birch. As you climb even higher, the mountain is covered in ash, sand, lava fragments, and a few other plants. You can see the remains of a seaside resort that was completely demolished by an eruption, with no casualties thanks to the very effective early warning system. The air up there is something to write home about, crisp, lively with a lingering scent of all the vegetation it boasts of. I almost felt like I was breathing for the very first time this year.

We headed from Mount Etna to a beautiful old winery for lunch overlooking acres of vineyards. Sicilian wine itself stands out from other regions of Italy due to the mineral composition of the soil around Mount Etna. Just as it affects the food on the small island, the wine is also noticeably more acidic and has a different palate due to volcanic activity. And really, I have never tasted Italian food as delicious as the one we ate in Sicily. It was like eating pasta for the first time in my life. Every bit of food we ate in Sicily was something to write home, and I will write home, I will.

Photo: Maliha Fairooz

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Traveling to Sicily: how to prolong the summer under the Sicilian sun

Photo: Maliha Fairooz

Tanja and her mother organized a traditional Sicilian cooking class for us. Here we learned how to make a cold version of eggplant parmigiana, which is usually eaten on hot summer days. I’ve had eggplant parmigiana all over Italy and usually they’re always served warm to me, but this one was just perfect in its cold form. This is done by assembling slices of eggplant fried in olive oil with a delicious herb-parmesan tomato sauce and letting it sit in the fridge to cool and exchange the flavors. A perfect starter for a perfect lunch.

For the main course, we made involtini, which is a very thinly sliced ​​rump steak dipped in olive oil, coated in breadcrumbs, stuffed with herbs and Parmesan and grilled to perfection. This was accompanied by Pasta Alla Norma, which involved cooking diced eggplant in a fresh tomato sauce, then tossed with pasta and copious amounts of parmesan cheese. Now I can’t say this happens often, but I did see stars at some point after this meal as it made my taste buds dance with flavor.