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Chef Dominique Rizzo’s Top Summer Travel Tips

When I am hosting my Pure Food and Wine tours I need to arrive at my destination refreshed and ready to greet my very important guests with warmth and enthusiasm. Whether it is for a short 2 hour flight to Norfolk Island or the days travel to Europe, there are a few basic rules that I always follow when packing for my trip.

My Essentials Pack for Summer Time Tours

Leaving OrtygiaPacking is a nightmare when you are the host of a tour. Naturally the aim is to have a fresh stylish look each day and at the same time keep it practical for energetic days filled with cooking demonstrations, visits to farms and orchards, long lunches and late dinners. Natural fibers, like fresh linens that evoke that fashionable Italian look are my favorites for hot days and some gorgeous little black dresses and strappy sandals and Missoni necklace for evening wear. I like to think that the way I dress complements my love of pure food, Italian food and the culture of sharing food.

While there is no end to travel tips, this is my absolute “cannot do without” list.

Luggage Essentials

Top of the list is taking care of my skin with a light, enriching moisturizer, a facial spritz to cool me down and to set my make-up and then a sunscreen for every-day use whether with or without make-up;

Styling and nourishing my hair is the next priority both on the flight and while on tour and what works best and easiest for me are my favorite Biosthetique shampoo, conditioner and mask. Swimming, walking and cooking can really take its toll on the condition of my hair, but I can keep it looking shiny and healthy with these products.

Summer essentials are a natural fine straw sun hat, at lease two pairs of sunglasses, a filmy scarf to match my aqua sandals and some gorgeous long, but lightweight earrings. My go to boutique for all of these beautiful accessories is Ideology.

Some would say that this is the top priority – that is my Ipad and phone for keeping in touch and sharing our tour experiences of a lifetime on Instagram and Facebook

Pack my hand luggage to cover any disappointments if my luggage does not arrive at the same time that I do that means a complete change of clothes, travel packs (<100 ml) of moisturizer, deodorant, perfume and make-up, sandals, sunglasses and good book. Then add in your phone and Ipad chargers and you are packed.

Flight Tips

During the flight it is tempting to chill out with a Singapore Sling on take-off and then relax with a glass of wine or two with dinner, but my mantra in flight is hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Water is the best, drink lots it of then splash out with a Virgin Bloody Mary with your meal.

Keep the food light but filling, skipping past the sugary desserts, breads, pastas and noodles and always going more for the vegetable dishes, salads and soups.

Keep your hand sanitizer close by and use it before eating anything and before re-applying your moisturize for happy, healthy travelling.

When the lights are turned down, slip on your sleeping eye mask over your lavender eye pillow and the next thing you know the flight attendant will be gently waking you up for breakfast.

Top Travel Tips for the Aeolian Islands

From the beautiful north Sicilian town of Milazzo take the ferry to the stunning Aeolian Island of Salina that enchanted the great Italian actor Massimo Troisi so much so that he set his film “Il Postino” on the island.  When you arrive on Salina you feel instantly relaxed and captivated by the magic of this wonderful Mediterranean island where the houses are pale pink with brightly coloured doors and the spaghetti vongole is to die for.

Image 1 RSZ Salina blue doorImage 2 RSZ spag vongoli

Where to Stay
Hotel Signum Spa in Malfa is one of those places you dream of staying in with its opulent spa center, reminiscent of ancient Greek and Roman bath houses. The rooms are filled with Salina’s own unique antiques and art. It evokes an atmosphere of rest and relaxation. Book in for a spa and unwind in the magnificent copper bath to the rejuvenating effect of the capers, orange flowers, fresh lime, herbs, almond milk and lemon ingredients.

Image courtesy of www.hotelsignum.it

Image 4 Salina pink house this one

Take a walk

If you are feeling energetic and want to get a real feel for Salina life, you can walk around the beautiful town of Santa Maria through the narrow, sometimes steep pedestrian passageways that run from the water’s edge up to the hills. Stop, linger and turn around and take in the views and look from Salina across the water to the other islands – Lipari, Stromboli. Head back to the main street with it’s irresistible boutiques featuring gorgeous cool linen Italian made clothes, leather accessories and fine linen tableware.

What to eat
Head to Lingua, walk, take a bus or go by car, to this tiny costal village where you can sit right on the waterfront, chatting and enjoying the view. In this hidden gem, you can experience one of the island’s most famous dishes, the “Pani cunzata” and granita, real granita that is, traditionally made with fresh fruits or ground almonds and pistachio nuts.

 

Take a swim

Image 7 Waters off SalinaThe water is divine.  It is clear, blue and warm.  Jump off the boat into the crystalline waters, scuba dive or stay close to shore and swimming a few lengths of the beach or just float and close your eyes and let the water gently lap at your face.

Essentials at the beach

Take the usual of course, hats, sunglasses, sunscreen and beach towel but don’t forget your sandals or your thongs or better still beach shoes to get you from your towel to the water.    It may be a few steps but barefoot is tricky.

Party on Stromboli

Take a boat trip to one of the other islands. Wander around Stromboli, find hidden grottos, be inquisitive like an archaeologist on this volcanic island.

The volcano may be spitting fire most of the time but it’s where the locals gather on Saturday night for a party with a difference.

Image 8 beach Lingua

Come with me to the magical Aeolian Islands on my “Beautiful Sicily and the Aeolian Islands” Food and Wine tours.

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Piazza Armerina – Villa Romana di Casale – Caltagirone

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The beautiful medieval town of Piazza Armerina located south on a hill not far from the town of Enna in the heart of Sicily. Piazza Armerina, a UNESCO World Heritage Site was conquered by the Arabs in 861. With its dark cobbled streets and Baroque monuments displayed amidst grand Norman and Gothic architecture and 17th century palazzos, it was made world famous as a destination since the discovery of the Villa Romana del Casale one of the finest examples of Roman mosaics made by African craftsmen. The villa is one of the most luxurious of its kind. It is especially noteworthy for the richness and quality of the mosaics which decorate almost every room; they are the finest mosaics anywhere in the Roman world. We lunch at one of the local restaurants in the Piazza sampling this areas specialties such as almond wine, cheese and meats then continue our bus tour to Caltagirone one of the most lively Baroque towns in central Sicily.

Caltagirone, known in Italy as “The city of Sicilian ceramics” due to its thousand-year-old tradition. The name itself – Caltagirone – derives from an Arabic word meaning the Castle or Fortress of the vases.

Here you are free to wander through the many artisan workshops, do a spot of shopping, visit the Regional Museum of Ceramics and to work off lunch you may like to tackle the 142-step monumental Staircase of Santa Maria del Monte, built from 1608 in the old part of the town. The peculiarity is that each step is decorated with different hand-decorated ceramics, using styles and figures derived from the millennial tradition of pottery making.

One of the highlights of Sicily for the lovers of art and sculpture are the stunning ceramics. Ceramics are available all over Sicily although two of the most famous places that you will visit on Pure Food Wine and Cooing Tours of Sicily are Caltagirone in Eastern Sicily and Sant Stefano di Camastra in western Sicily. Local production of functional pottery in Sicily started as early as the 2nd century BC, thanks to the abundance of clay in the area. There are many different styles and techniques that you will find throughout Sicily thanks to the influences of the Romans, then the Greeks, the Arabs, the Spanish and the Normans, each providing new elements of creativity to the local ceramic production, making it one of the most distinctive in Italy. Sant Stefano de Camastra is a town that pays homage to ceramics with coloured painted panels in the squares, tiles on the floors of the stores, house street numbers, street signs and even in furniture. The features and difference between the two towns ceramic styles are evident in the colours, shapes, forms and patterns.

Caltagirone is definitely worth visiting as it is full of beautiful buildings, baroque churches and protected by the UNESCO World heritage program. This little town part of the Eastern Sicily tour is one of the most lively Baroque towns in central Sicily and is as “The city of Sicilian ceramics” due to its thousand-year-old tradition. The name itself derives from an Arabic word meaning the Castle or Fortress of the vases.

Caltagirone ceramics have been used for centuries to decorate parks and churches, streets and squares and this you can see throughout the small picturesque town. A sight that you must experience and challenge yourself to walk to the top is the 142 step monumental Staircase of Santa Maria del Monte. Each step is decorated with different hand-decorated ceramics, using styles and figures derived from the millennial tradition of pottery making.

The highlight of these ceramics is the Maiolica, typically a head with Moorish features painted in different colours and displaying symbols and stories from history also inclusing fruits, flowers and vines.

A story says that around 1100 AD, when Sicily was ruled by the Moors, a beautiful girl was living in seclusion and spent her days cultivating flowers on her balcony. One day a young Moor passing by saw her, decided he had to have her and entered the house so to declare his love. The young girl, surprised by such a gesture, reciprocated him, but just when she got to know him he had to return to where he came from, to his wife and children, she waited for the night to come and as he fell asleep she cut off his head and used it as a vase for her flowers and put it on her balcony displaying it to everyone. This way his love was forever hers. Since then, flowers grew lush in the vase and the neighbours, envious, built vases shaped like a Moor’s head.