5 Sicilian breakfasts that will make your day

There is no such thing as ‘Sicilian breakfast’. In fact, why should there be? With all the delicious foods you can choose from when visiting Sicily, breakfast is only one of the meals you can use to explore as much as possible!

Here are five sweet suggestions to put in your to-eat list!

(And if you’re not a sweet tooth, check out these savoury options).

Brioche and granita

Let’s start with a classic: brioche ‘col tuppo’ (literally, brioche ‘with a chignon’) and granita. Refreshing and comforting at the same time, the combination of a sweet soft bun with the legendary Sicilian sorbet will wake you up in the best way possible, especially when the temperature is above 40 degrees Celsius. In most cafes you’ll be able to choose from a selection of granita flavours – but if you want a truly Sicilian experience just go for lemon!

A photo posted by Secret Sicily (@secret_sicily) on

Ice-cream sandwich

Yes, you heard it right! Ice-cream, lots of it, in a brioche. BOOM! 

Another refreshing (if a little heavier) option to start your day! You can choose from a variety of fruity or creamy flavours and even top your sandwich with whipped cream for extra indulgence!

Top tip: the use of spoons is not allowed by Sicilian law. Just lick it!

A photo posted by Secret Sicily (@secret_sicily) on

Deep-fried ciambella

Soft, sugary and greasy… the perfect choice for doughnut lovers who are feeling a little adventurous on a hot sunny day!

A photo posted by @kruemel_glueck on


Another deep-fried delicacy, filled with sweet ricotta and chocolate chips, if you’re feeling extra-adventurous. I promise it’s worth every single bite! An oven-baked version of this beauty is also available in most patisseries.

A photo posted by Crocche.it (@crocche_it) on

Pasticceria mignon

It literally means ‘small patisserie’ and it comes in hundreds of varieties, from small cannoli (aka cannolicchi), to cream puffs and mini-cakes. Grab a selection and share with your travel buddies!

Ready to start your day with your favourite Sicilian breakfast? Find the nearest Sicilian patisserie or bakery and go for it!

Featured picture by Dom Dada

Sicily in the winter: the Madonie Natural Park

Better known as a beach destination, Sicily has plenty to offer in the winter season. This year, I decided to spend the last days of 2015 and the first of 2016 surrounded by nature in the wonderful Madonie Natural Park. Here’s what I’ve discovered and a few tips to explore the area.

The Madonie Regional Natural Park

Il Parco delle Madonie is a natural reserve in the North of Sicily, very close to the town of Cefalù. It includes some of the highest mountains in Sicily (up to 1,979 metres), and some of the best hiking trails in the island. As well as being a protected area, the park is sprinkled with dozens of little villages and small medieval towns, all worth a visit!

Things to see

Rare forests and plants

Let’s start with the natural wonders. The Madonie Natural Park is known for its massive forest of beech trees (the most southerly in Europe), which are found at 1500 metres and above. Lower down, you’ll find forests of holm oak, downy oak and cork oak, as well as the rare manna ash. But the most unique thing you’ll see in the park is the so called Sentiero degli Agrifogli Giganti (the giant Holly trees). In this magical path in Piano Pomo, some 300 year-old Holly trees have grown up to 15 metres tall and developed  weirdly shaped trunks that resemble the Ents in The Lord of the Rings. In the winter, these mystical trees will welcome you in all their flourishing splendour.

Madonie Natural Park

Sentiero degli Agrifogli Giganti

Ancient towns

Castelbuono is a lovely medieval town, famous for its monumental 14th century castle (Castello di Ventimiglia), which often hosts art exhibitions. A stroll through the  town centre will take you back in time and reveal a series of highly-rated restaurants, including Nangalarruni,  Il Castellaccio and La Lanterna, and the historical patisserie Fiasconaro. In the summer, the town is home to the Ypsigrock festival, featuring indie-rock bands from all over the world.

Castelbono - Madonie Natural Park

Castello Ventimiglia, Castelbuono. Photo by Bill Anderson

Only a few kilometres away, up a stomach-rattling road, sits the village of Gangi; another medieval gem in the Madonie. Voted the most beautiful village in Italy for its artistic qualities, culture, local handicraft, traditions and good food, Gangi is definitely a must-see if you’re visiting this area. Warning: walking up the streets may cause you a heart attack (at least if your fitness level is as low as mine…).

Gangi - Madonie Natural Park

Gangi – view from Piazza vittime della Mafia

If you’re up for some more time travelling, pay a visit to Sperlinga. This village is famous for its troglodyte caves, which apparently were inhabited by the locals up to the 1960s. The monumental castle that overlooks the village is partly built into the rock and extends over several levels. Unfortunatly, the caslte has been closed for a year due to a building collapse, and thanks to the slowness of Sicilian bureaucracy they’re still not sure when it will reopen…

Sperlinga - Madonie Natural Park

A troglodyte cave in Sperlinga.

If you ever get bored of the mountains, fear not – the sea is only a few kilometres away. The town of Cefalù will welcome you with its beautiful Cathedral, the romantic promenade and some lovely craft shops. If you find yourself in this town, don’t forget to stop for a glass of wine with sea view at Enoteca Le Petit Tonneau. The lovely host will help you find the perfect wine match for your palate, guiding you in an adventurous tasting experience.


Enoteca le Petit Tonneau – Cefalù

Things to do 

Hiking and skiing. If you love nature and physical activity, you’re in the right place. Grab your trek boots and water, pick your hiking trails and off you go! If you’re lucky enough to get some snow, head to the newly reopened ski-resort in Piano Battaglia.

Food and local produce. The Madonie region is well known for its rich gastronomic tradition and locally sourced products. Sausages, salami, cheese, olives and mushroom are all excellent, while some of Sicily’s best wine is produced nearby.

A uninque and ancient tradition in Castelbuono is the production of manna, a sweet resin that drips from ash trees when the bark is cut. It is often left to flow and creates stalactitic forms before being collected. Believed to have curative properties, is mostly used  to sweeten local delicacies. Check out the video below to find out how manna is produced and hear the amazing story of Giulio Gelardi.

Adventure park. If you’re travelling with kids, they’ll surely appreciate a stop at Parco Avventure Madonie. Tree climbing, horse riding and orientering are a great way to rediscover nature.

Volunteering and environmental education camps. If you’re looking for a more meaningful experience, there’s plenty you can do. Check out the organisation Palma Nana in Serra Guarneri  and get involved (the website is only in Italian, but you can reach out to them via email and ask for information).

Looking for more things to do in Sicily? Check out my West coast and East coast initeraries.

Featured image by Marek Lenik

7 Christmas gift ideas for travellers

If you love handmade products and don’t like to give money to big tax dodgers like Amazon, you’re in the right place!

Here are some crafty Christmas gift ideas for the travellers and globetrotters in your life, which will also help support small sellers from around the world.

Please note: this is not a sponsored post. I have personally hand-picked these items from Etsy and have not received any money from the sellers.

Hand-made passport cover

For people who want to explore the world in style, here’s a cute illustrated fabric cover by the Sim Sisters.

gift ideas for travellers

Travel document holder

For the most organised people who’d like to keep their passport, tickets and documents all in one place,  here’s a classier alternative to a plastic folder or a bum bag, by The Rootless Spruce.

gift ideas for travellers

Luxurious travel luggage tag

For those who really want their suitcase to stand out on the baggage carousel, here’s the poshest travel tag on earth. It’s made of Harris Tweet, ” the only fabric in the world governed by its own Act of Parliament.” Woah.

gifts for travellers

Hand-painted travel journal

One from my own little Etsy shop. Because taking pen and paper with you is always a good choice… Check out all the designs and let me know what you think!

gift ideas for travellers

Stylish toiletry bag 

A handmade waterproof toiletry case to travel in style. By Fenrweh UK.

gifts for travellers

A ‘travel tree’


gifts for travellers

And a bigger version of it…


gifts for travellers


Featured photo (at the top) by Garry Knight.

Let’s talk about bidets

Hi! If you made it through the title, you’re either Italian or very open-minded (rarely the two things overlap).

In this post, I’m going to talk about bidets and, specifically, why some people can’t handle talking about them.

So, here’s the thing. After over 6 years of living in the UK, I’ve only just had my first conversation about bidets in a country where they don’t exist. It randomly started over a post-work pint and the result was pretty hilarious.

First, the shock

Here’s the reaction that I got when I broke the news that bidets are not little baby bathing tubs (like someone thought). Or that, even though you can use a bidet to wash your feet, that is not its main purpose.


So, let’s get things straight. A bidet, as Wikipedia explains, is “primarily used to wash and clean the genitalia, perineum, inner buttocks, and anus.” That’s right, all of those parts of your body that society wants you to treat like a dirty little secret.

And here’s a bit of myth busting: there is no such thing as a ‘public bidet’ where people share the same towel, and – most importantly – using a bidet is NOT an alternative to toilet paper.

Believe it or not, washing your intimate parts is taken particularly seriously in Italy, and there is nothing wrong with that. Or at least that’s what I thought…

Then, the awkward

Suddenly, everybody around me started sipping their drinks very quietly and avoiding eye contact altogether. I had gone too far and entered the all too familiar ‘British awkward moment’.


But then I remembered that this cultural barrier goes both ways. My friends and family back in Italy still can’t get over the idea that people in other parts of the world don’t have bidets, and they still wonder why on earth they can’t find a whole selection of prodotti per l’igiene intima while travelling abroad.

Looking at these cultural idiosyncrasies from a middle ground is pretty hilarious, and it reminds me of how difficult it is to let go of your cultural beliefs and accept an alternative view of the world, especially when it involves your genitalia.

I still remember how shocked I was the first time I saw an integrated public toilet-bidet during my trip to Japan, which even sprayed talcum powder at the end of the ‘service’!

Japanese bidet

Japanese bidet – photo by Paul Downey

I mean, let’s face it: whilst people all over the world are trying to unravel and communicate complex cultural issues, and break myths and taboos around topics like menstruations or female genital mutilation, we still can’t even get over the idea that people in different countries like to wash their bums in different ways.

If you made it to this point without running away in tears, I’d be happy to hear your opinions.

Thanks for reading through and long live the bidet!

Sambuca di Sicilia: why you should visit this lovely village

 This is n editorial collaboration  by Hanna Johnson. Hanna is a writer and loves travel, food, art and culture! Italy is her favourite destination.

Sambuca di Sicilia used to be called Sambuca Zabot until 1921. It was founded by the Arabs in 827 but early records show settlement existed since the prehistoric Elymian and Sican groups of peoples as seen in the archaeologic findings in the Adranone Mountain. Urban development became more significant since the 13th century.

Sambuca di Sicilia - Adradone

Sambuca di Sicilia – Adradone

The town has its own tourist attractions to boast, like the Church of the Immaculate Conception, the Castle of Zabut, the 16th century Mother Church, and the Church of the Carmine. Visitors can see works of great importance such as the marble statue of the Virgin which is credited to Antonello Gagini. A wooden crucifix made in the 1600s is also on display.

Why should you visit Sambuca?

Sambuca di Sicilia is interestingly beautiful, thanks to the recently restored Saracen quarter. Here, one can find streets, low houses and courtyards. One can also find fascinating architecture such as buildings and palaces – the 18th century Town Theatre, The Palazzo Panitteri, the 17th century Palazzo Navarro, the ruins of the Castle and the 16th century Palazzo Fiore. The castle was built by Emit Zabuth and was later used as a prison of which only a few of its original structure remains.

Sambuca di Sicilia by giornacleos

Sambuca di Sicilia by giornacleos

For nature lovers, it is worth visiting the carbonatic Genuardo Mountain which is characterized by the presence of the so-called lava pillow that erupted 135 million years ago. It comprises of dense forests of oaks and maples. From the top, a breathtaking panorama of the southern coast of Sicily can be viewed. The Arancio Lake, which was recently designated as a Nature Reserve, is rich in pine and eucalyptus trees as well as the most interesting fauna like the Egyptian Vulture . Here, you can also do some water skiing or have a wonderful picnic on the shores.

Genuardo Mountain - photo by Saverio Turano

Genuardo Mountain – photo by Saverio Turano

For wine lovers, a visit to first winery of Planeta is a must. You can stroll along 93 hectares of vineyards where several grape varieties are grown. The wine cellar is located just a few meters away from the 16th century baglio. The estate is home to Chardonnay Planeta and the Merlot Sito. There are guided tours and wine tastings available. One can also visit the open-air Iter Vitis Museum which is dedicated to the history of Sicilian wine.

Sambuca i Sicilia by scoprimenfi

Sambuca di Sicilia – photo by scoprimenfi

As for food, there is an abundance of restaurants to enjoy some lovely Sicilian cuisine. For example, Il Duca serves fantastic food using only quality ingredients. You will appreciate the warm reception by the couple that runs the place. Try their tunacarpaccio, the quails, and the spaccatelle neonate,ciliegine and mandorle with a bottle of ‘urra di mare’, a white mandrarossa wine. You will surely have a blast!

If you are itching to go visit this Sicilian town, we suggest CountryHolidays.com to find the perfect hotels or accommodations to make your stay in Sambuca di Sicilia ideal and relaxing. There are villas, boutique hotels, farmhouses and other extraordinary accommodations to choose from that can provide you the perfect place to stay. Here, you can also find information to help you plan your itinerary when you visit the place.

Full Guest Post Policy available here.