Yesterday we visited a specialty butcher in a village called Chiaramonte – known as the Balcony of Sicily. We wound our way up in the bus, only to need fresh air at the top – some of the rebels at the back, felt a bit queezy after the windy climb. Massimillo (Max) makes traditional donkey sausages. After trying salty sea urchin, I wasn’t feeling so brave….but most tried the salami and said it as delicious. We tasted delicate olive oil on bruschetta, salami, local local cheeses dressed with orange marmalade. Friend Min asked Max whether the italians had a big sausage, like we have a big pineapple in Australia. Her cheekiness was rewarded with Max gesticulating, he had the big sausage. There were lots of laughs.
After we travelled to an olive oil farm, which also bred pigs. It was a classic, rustic place with old stone sheds, handmade fencing and had views in the round of the surrounding countryside.
Then to an extraordinary winery, with a spectacular villa that contained 22 bedrooms and 9 bathrooms. Now owned by a lawyer and his family, we were shown through the property’s old cellar – an enormous vault complete with an enormous fresco depicting the winery’s first owner, a Senor Rizza. The now empty wine barrels could hold 40,000 litres of wine. We were treated to a walk through the villa garden, but we so wanted to look inside the villa – sadly, it was not to be. The owner explained to us, his home was once a village for all the workers of the vineyard. There were numerous outbuildings that once contained shops, a chapel (which remains open to the public) and a school. The school operated until the mid 1970s.
The final leg of the trip, was a dinner at a local pizzeria, owned by Luciano – who is famous for his naughty Italian songs. He serenaded us with his guitar, and Carmel turned the colour of rosa when she translated his lyrics describing an Italian man with a huge banana who says “I’ll tell your mother, I’ll take ya!’
Then just as we recalled the remarkable similarity between sausages and bananas, Franco (another relative who owns the bar next door) pulled out a t-shirt which described why a cucumber was better than a man….
Suffice to say, Gina our photographer explained to us, ‘Don’t you all know? The Greeks invented sex and the Italians introduced it to women!”