Is it Venice? Is it Florence? or Positano?  The most beautiful town in Italy is Petralia Soprana in Sicily!

What is the most beautiful town in Italy?


Located in Madonie, Petralia Soprana is officially the most beautiful town in Italy, awarded by the association “The most beautiful villages in Italy” in 2018.

So excited were the locals that they held a big party with the band and toasts in their most famous square to celebrate.

What is the most beautiful town in Italy - Map of Sicily

And what makes Petralia Soprana so special?  It’s the art, the culture and the architecture and that sense of wonderment that is experienced.  Stunning baroque villas, beautiful churches dating back to 1700’s like the Church of Santa Maria di Loreto with its sublime marble altar, the circular fountain in Piazza San Michelle and the Convent dei Frati Minori Riformati from 1611.

What is the most beautiful town in Italy - Petralia Soprana by


Let me introduce you personally to the beauty of Petralia Soprana, set in the hills of Madonie set against the stunning backdrop of Mt. Etna before visiting Polizzi for an experiential immersion in the theatrical reenactment of the famous Sicilian book “The Leopard”,  Il Gattopardo, by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, made famous in the 1963 film starring Burt Lancaster and Claudia Cardinale.


What is the most beautiful town in Sicily? - Poster of The Leopard movie

Image: Wikipedia

Join me, Dominique Rizzo in Sicily in May 2019 on my bespoke tour of Sicily, unravelling the complex but fascinating history of this beautiful island, walking through Greek amphitheatres, winding cobble-stoned back streets, dining on delicacies of the region and sipping the finest wines of the region.

For something out of the ordinary, my picturesque eat- and-discover trips to Southern Italy are a traveller’s dream.





There is so much to do and see when you travel to Sicily, and one of the most breathtaking places to visit in this area, is the Aeolian Islands.  From the beautiful north Sicilian town of Milazzo, take the ferry to the stunning Aeolian Island of Salina. Salina 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

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 on the Aeolian Islands

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 Salina


The 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

Experience the Aeolian Islands with Dom

Come with me to Sicily and the magical Aeolian Islands on my food, wine and cooking tours. I offer three amazing tours around Sicily each year, two of which include these stunning Aeolian Islands. An unforgettable, magical part of the world! See my tours below for when we depart next..are you coming along?


In my years of traveling back to my ancestral homeland of Sicily, I have had the great pleasure of getting to know many of the amazing local people. In my Sicilian food tours, I love to ensure my guests experience the local people as much as possible. Sicilians really are the salt of the earth. I thought I would share with you some of the qualities that make Sicilian people so special, and Sicily such an amazing place to visit.

1.Sicilians take their time

The best thing about Sicilians is their love of life and the simplicity of a slow lifestyle. There is always time to say hello, to ask how you are, to be hospitable and share some stories in the market place, in the narrow lanes outside their houses, in the town square playing bocce in the afternoon. It’s as pure and simple as that.

1 with a true Sicilian local090 2 Sophia Loren book rsz

2. Their good looks.

“Sophia Loren and Isabella Rossellini” beautiful women and “Marcello Mastroianni and Leonardo Dicaprio” handsome men. It is that beautiful Mediterranean skin with a luminescence that shines through their soft even tan, blemish free, smooth moist skin – that’s what we love.

3. Sicilians are so stylish.

3 Dom-fashionrszThink Aeolian Island soft white and beige linen dresses that drape and flatter; add soft Italian leather handbags, strappy leather sandals, simple pieces of gold jewelry, elaborate Missoni statement necklaces and you have that innate elegant style that comes with embracing quality.

4.  La famiglia is the centre of life.

4 Mama cookingrszSharing meals with nonno and nonna, with zio and zia and all the brothers and sisters, cousins and friends; sharing Mama’s home made pasta and rich tomato sauce – that’s what family is all about.  Where their guests are treated like VIPs, and must “eat, eat, eat” everything from the antipasti and the 4 courses that follow even though they honestly cannot eat another morsel.  “Basta, basta, basta” is not enough to curb the enthusiasm.

5. They are social


La Passeggiata is my favourite time of day when at dusk everyone dresses up and goes out walking arm in arm, wandering through the narrow streets to the main town square or, like in Ortigia along the waterfront. It’s a very traditional Sicilian social activity, a time to chat, a time to be seen, a time to relax at the end of the working day.

6. Sicilians love their Fiats and Vespas.

6-car-small-open-top-rszThey love them almost as much as they love their families! Vespas fly through the narrow streets, up the hills, down by the waterfront. Sit on the back, hold on tight and off we go, long hair flying in the breeze, feeling the sun on your arms and legs. Parking gets creative: against the wall in narrow streets, across the footpath and at right angles to the curb. It works. Meanwhile SUVs are out: difficult to maneuver in laneways, too wide for U turns and cannot fit through ancient stone doorways in the walls of ancient towns.

7. Sicilians love their food.

7-tomatoes-bocconcini-rszThey love food almost as much as their family and their cars. What’s not to love about paper-thin prosciutto wrapped around juicy ripe figs? Or lashings of extra virgin olive oil over fresh tomatoes; and then pulling off a hunk of fresh bread and dipping it into the peppery green olive oil? It’s that balance of eating fresh, seasonal vegetables and fruit, with olive oil that makes the Mediterranean way of eating so good for you. There may be cake for dessert but you must also share a piece of fruit first taking care to catch the juice before it rolls down your lips.

8. They make food an art form.

8-Dom-w-cakeWho else but Sicilians would have discovered how good it tastes to eat cold gelato on warm brioche, or to eat Sicilian almond torte for breakfast or cool down with a semi frozen lemon granita in the middle of a Summer’s day?

9. Sicilians are so generous.

9-Dom-fish-marketI love the generosity of Sicilians; their art of sharing is second to none. Wander through the colorful fish market in Catania and you will be inundated with offers of tastes of fresh shrimp; in the delicatessens of Syracuse you can sample cheese, olives and flavorsome salami; in the bars in Palermo and Taormina the bartenders are so welcoming, giving complementary bowls of olives, bite-sized hot pizza and other spicy bar snacks to enjoy with your wine.

10. They love their coffee.

10-barista-rszFor Sicilians, drinking coffee is an almost sacred ritual. Coffee is served at a bar rather than a coffee shop; stand up or sit down; chat or go solo; take it as cappuccino in the morning; very icy caffe freddo in the hot summer; doppio or macchiato at any time of day; and then finish the evening with a splash of amaretto in your caffe corretto.

So why not let Dom introduce you to your new favourite people?

Travel with me on my next Sicilian Tour. Explore Sicily in all it’s stunning glory, meet the local people and enjoy the best of local food. We take you away from the typical tourist spots and allow you to enjoy an authentic experience. Find out all about my range of Sicilian Tours below.


Is it the food? Is it the people? Is it the culture? Is it the history? Yes it is all of these things in that wonderful interaction of the slow way of Sicilian life. Where little old nonas (grandmothers) sit outside their front door of the house they have lived in for 50 years. Where the older men gather in the afternoon to play bocce in the town square. Where the traditional ways of cooking are passed on from family to family. Where the art of making cheeses and salamis is passed from one generation to the next. That’s Sicily! Take a look at some of my favourite experiences to be had when you holiday in Sicily – this beautiful part of the world that is so close to my heart.


So what is it about Sicilian food?

In a word it’s slow. Food is the essence of each season. It’s the way that Sicilians select vegetables and fruit according to the time of the year, capturing the taste of Sicily, food bursting with flavour and freshness. It’s why the antipasti with seasonal capers is such a hit. It’s why the figs wrapped in prosciutto just melt in your mouth. And why the tomato sauce, made on local sun ripened tomatoes tastes so rich and looks so red.

Salina-antipastaNowhere else I know makes pistachio paste and pistachio gelato like the Sicilians. It is that taste sensation when you savor a spoonful on your tongue, roll your eyes and close them for a moment in a sense of longing.

Gelati-in-paperArguably, one of the best ever lunches in Sicily I’ve ever had was at L’oste Scuro in Acireale on the east coast between Catania and Taormina. It started with figs wrapped in smoked salmon, lemon leaves with swordfish cakes, thin slices of octopus in lemon and virgin olive oil, bite-size swordfish sausages, zucchini flowers stuffed with mozzarella and anchovies. For secondi, we feasted upon fragrant seafood risotto and the finest ravioli filled with seafood with a flavorsome pistachio sauce. With the sweet smooth texture of cassata came dessert wines from Masala followed by shots of the digestive, Jagermeister and excellent espresso to round off the meal.

The culture

Acireale,-piazza-del-duomo mosiac-floor-2


Ah yes, now back to exploring that rich history and culture of this island with its Roman, Greek and Arabic history. Baroque architecture interplays with Norman and Gothic architecture and Sicily is where the 17th century Roman palazzo, Villa Romana del Casale, decorated throughout with amazing mosaics is listed as a World Heritage Site.

Does Sicily sound like your perfect holiday?

Travel with Dom to Sicily on a delicious food, wine and cooking tour where we enjoy great food and all the cultural and scenic sights of this amazing part of Italy. Find out about our tours.





Sicily, like many parts of Europe has so many wonderful historic castles that have survived the ravages of invasion and weather for hundreds of years. You may have thought of visiting one or two of these stately castles when in Sicily, but did you ever imagine learning to cook under the guidance of the maestro in his own family owned castle in Randozza in Eastern Sicily? This is an unforgettable experience I loved sharing on my tour of Sicily.

Signor Scrivano’s castle

The maestro Signor Scriviano showed us the art of making classic Sicilian dishes creating a menu of arrancini, caponata, handmade semolina pasta, beef involtini, zucchini fritters, fennel and melon salad and ricotta cassata.


Signor opened his kitchen in his historic castle to my tour guests and me and patiently showing us his artful way of preparing and cooking food using beautiful Italian olive oil, lots of garlic and wine. The piece de resistance of the night was to then dine in the formal dining room of the castle, where the last king of Sicily, King Ferdinand III had dined many years before. The elegance and wealth of bygone days was reflected in the chandeliers, gold-framed mirrors and tapestries artfully hung on the walls. It was a magical setting for such a fabulous taste of Sicily.

Pasta making in Randazzo

Another cooking class with a difference that is one of my favourites when in Randazzo, is with one of the very special locals, Vincenzo, who is passionate about making pasta. Vincenzo has ingenious ways of hand-making a range of pasta shapes using forks and spoons from the cutlery draw. Who would have thought of doing that?

Making pasta shells and tubes is never quite as easy as it looks when Vincenzo is doing it. We had a few reruns of rolling and shaping the dough until some presentable pasta was accomplished.

We all agreed that Vincenzo’s ravioli stuffed with spinach and Parmesan was divine. The pasta just melted in your mouth. Enjoyed as always with a glass of Sicilian red wine.

With all that talk of pasta, here is one of my favourite pasta recipes to share with you.

Pasta with Pistachio and Prawns

Pasta-pistachio-prawns-rszPistachio Pesto Ingredients

Makes 3/4 cup of pesto

  • 150g pistachio nuts
  • 50g blanched almonds
  • 1/4 cup parsley leaves, firmly packed
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Salt

Dish Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 300g fresh green prawns, peeled and cleaned and chopped into
  • 4 tomatoes, peeled and seeded, diced
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • Black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped pistachio nuts extra

Recipe Steps

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water onto boil. Score the base of the tomatoes and plunge them into the water for 30 seconds or until the skin starts to peel away from the base.
  2. Remove the tomatoes and place them into cold water. Peel off the skin and remove the seeds. Dice the flesh and set aside.
  3. To make the pesto, blend the nuts together in a food processor with the garlic and parsley for that flash of green and slowly add in the oil until the desired consistency is reached. The pesto should not be too runny nor too dry. Season with salt and set aside.
  4. Put the pasta in to boil as directed on the pack, when draining the pasta reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water.
  5. Heat the olive oil in a heavy based fry pan and add in the garlic, fry the garlic for a couple of minutes and then remove it as we want only the flavour of the garlic.
  6. Add the prawns and fry for 30 seconds on each side without moving them around too much. You may need to fry them in batches to avoid them stewing. This should be a very quick sauce so that the prawns don’t overcook.
  7. Add in the diced tomatoes and the white wine and simmer for 30 seconds, stir in a good 4 tablespoons of the pesto and add in a little of the pasta water to create a sauce, season with cracked pepper and toss in the drained pasta to cover.
  8. Serve with extra pistachio nuts.

Want an authentic cooking experience in Sicily?

Travel, cook, eat and explore beautiful Sicily with Australian Chef and TV presenter Dominique Rizzo. See when her next tour departs.


Dominique Rizzo announces her new range of exclusive gastronomical food, wine, culture and cooking tours in Australia and Europe. Dominique Rizzo shares her passion for Italian food and culture through her picturesque eat-and-discover trips both locally and internationally.

putia-croppedThese tours are unparalleled due to the personal selection of each dining experience by Dominique. Dominique’s commitment to capturing the authentic feel of each destination is what makes Pure Food Wine & Cooking Tours so very special. Known for her popular appearances on Australian Channel 10’s Ready Steady Cook and as host on Yes Chef, Dominique’s talents extend beyond the world of TV. She hosts corporate food and wine events throughout Australia.

Her latest venture is Putia Pure Foods – a restaurant, pantry and school in Banyo, Brisbane. Putia, meaning corner store in Sicilian, has a charming rustic character, where Dominique focuses on creating taste sensations in the open kitchen using fresh, quality locally sourced and sustainable produce. At Putia School, Dominique presents her bespoke range of cooking classes.

2015 – Hampton Festival, City to Country Tour on 17th May 2015 Join Dominique on her delicious foodie tour to south east Queensland, starting with a special “Putia” breakfast before heading off to the food and wine festival where Dominique will be presenting a cooking demonstration.

Dom-and-RobynRSZ2015 – Norfolk Island Tour, 21st November to 28 November 2015 Dominique showcases the uniqueness of Norfolk Island in the first real culinary journey to the island in line with the second year of the island’s Food Festival. Under the shade of stately Norfolk Pines on the edge of the cliffs, enjoy the taste of fresh food direct from paddock to plate, featuring the island’s organic beef and pork and goats’ cheeses and locally grown produce. For itinerary and booking details go to visit here first.

2016 – “Beautiful Sicily and the Aeolian Islands” Tour, 11th June to 3rd July 2016 Just as Dominique’s cookbook, “My Taste of Sicily” is a window into the world of her Italian heritage; her tours to Sicily immerse you into life with the ever colorful, always charming locals in the enchanting world of Southern Italy.

rsz-randazzoOn the “Beautiful Sicily and the Aeolian Islands” tour, Dominique will take you on a gastronomic ride tasting the best in seasonal foods, from the famous very old fish markets of Catania to the center of Palermo’s food scene, to country olive and grape orchards, sipping full bodied Sicilian wines, nibbling on regional prosciuttos and salamis, cheeses, almonds. Sicily is a small island with a rich cultural history, a landscape that is dominated in the east by Mt. Etna. Senses are stimulated at every point from colorful Palermo in the west to Cefalu in the south, the enchanting Siracusa and picturesque Taormina in the east and the laid back island life in the Aeolian Islands.
The best thing? That’s 23 days and 22 nights of bliss, from 11th June to 3rd July 2016. The “Beautiful Sicily and the Aeolian Islands” tour schedule is at Where do we sign up?

To make a booking, either contact us by phone or email along with payment details. Putia office: ph. 07 3267 8247 or email




DOM_Newsletter_Sicily_Promo (1)


The Shalai Tour – Eastern Sicily & The Aeolian Islands

Have you been dreaming of experiencing a trip to Sicily? This holiday of a lifetime to Eastern Sicily will implode your senses as you discover rich ancient historic sites, pristine turquoise beaches, and white-washed coastal villas while mingling with the locals – hearing their heroic stories of the land around them. Plus you’ll experience hands on cooking classes, wine and cheese tastings and taste culinary creations from the many local food producers and chefs along the way.

The tours takes in Catania, Syracuse, Ragusa, Modica, Noto, Ortiga, Taormina, Randazzo, Milazzo, Ispica, Ragusa Ibla, Caltagirone, Randazzo, Monti Sartorius, Piazza Armerina and the Aeolian Islands.

The tour can be explained by the locals as pure “Shalarvi” – an intense satisfaction or pleasure of the soul!

Reserve your seat now by emailing: or phoning 07 3267 1667.


*Prices are based on twin share and are land price only, single supplement $800.00 *Arrival night package includes free nights’ accommodation for you to relax before the tour, transfers, breakfast, and dinner on arrival night.

You’ll love every minute of this all inclusive holiday that takes just over two weeks – sixteen beautiful days and fifteen nights from Sunday 15th June to Monday 30 June 2014. Only $7,839.00 per person.

Update 14 November 2018: This Shalai tour has closed, but Dominique has more exciting tours to share with you in beautiful Sicily. See more information below.

Find Dom’s latest tours to Sicily


The Courier Mail’s the Big Escape story

One of the best articles about Sicily… Book now into the The Shalai Tour to receive $1000 off per couple on my 15-day all inclusive tour! Limited places left. If you have any reservations about joining my Sicilian Tour in June this year – then this article will settle your nerves and entice you and for those joining me… well, how exciting – we’ll be exploring this beautiful country in three months time!




Update 14 November 2018: This Shalai tour has closed, but Dominique has more exciting tours to share with you in beautiful Sicily. See more information below.

Find Dom’s latest tours to Sicily


A beautiful cultural symbol you will find repeated throughout the region when you travel to Sicily, is the Carretto. These carts, with their beautiful bright colours are seen across Sicily . So how did Sicilians come to have the Carretto as such a rich part of their culture? Find out a little bit about the origins, the craftsmanship and the subtle differences of the Carretto.


The original idea of carts was introduced to the island by the ancient Greeks. However, the history of the now highly-recognised traditional Sicilian cart is relatively new. It dates back to the early 19th century and the need for transportation on the poorly-developed roads. It was thanks to the decree of 1830 that major routes, called “royal trazzere”, were opened. This is where the first appearance of the original type of wagon, the “stràscinu”, appears in history. This was a four-wheeled wagon whose front wheels are smaller than the rear, as in a type of carriage or cart.

The Sicilian carts reached the height of their popularity in the 1920’s, when many thousands were on the island. The carts were mainly drawn by horses in the city and on flat plains. Donkeys or mules were more often used in rough terrain for hauling heavy loads. The carts commonly used for pulling light loads, such as produce, wood, wine, and people, were called “Carretto del Lavoro” (cart for work). They were also used for ceremonies and festive occasions such as weddings and parades, where they were called “Carretto de Gara”. The Carretto was almost like the taxi or truck of today.


The cart has two wheels and is primarily hand-made out of wood built by woodcarvers, metal workers, and painters. The woodcarvers carved the many panels that were often historic reliefs. The metal workers worked the iron in a “ferro battuto” style, which included highly-decorated metal undercarriages with iron metal components. The painters had great skill depicting brightly painted scenes from Sicilian history and folklore, as well as intricate geometrical designs. These scenes also served the purpose of conveying historical information and important historic events in Sicily. Originally meant to keep in memory the turning points of local history for those who couldn’t read.

The colours of Palermo’s flag, yellow and red, feature prominently on the carts, along with details in bright blues and greens. Many of the carts showcase, in intricate details, religious scenes. They may depict the story of Jesus or that of his mother, and patron saints in Sicily, such as St. John the Baptist, Santa Rosalia, the patron saint of Palermo, or Sant’Agata, the patron saint of Catania. Some have been found to have scenes or visions of the saints, Charlemagne, operatic scenes, and the histories of Napoleon, Columbus, Cortez, and even Mussolini.

Provincial differences

The Sicilian Carretto is still made in several provinces in Sicily, each with its own style. Carretti made in the province of Palermo have more of a square box design. Those made in Catania are made with more elaborate “keys.” Then, there are the carts made in Agrigento which have their own distinctive style. The craft of making the carts is handed down from generation to generation through the training of apprentices. The animals pulling the carts are often elaborately adorned as well, with a decorated plume covering their head and a headband decorated with plaques of leather and gilt nails and bells. They also wear another elaborately decorated piece in the middle of their back.

Today the Sicilian Carretto can be found available for tourists to enjoy in some museums, while smaller Carretti can be bought as souvenirs. They are often depicted in artworks, postcards and pieces of the old Carretto can now be found on the walls of hotels and homes.

See it for yourself

Just one of the fascinating aspects of Sicilian life. Learn more about this beautiful region by visiting it yourself. Join Australian Chef Dominique Rizzo on a gastronomic and cultural food, wine and cooking tour of Sicily. Click here for more information about touring this amazing region.




Pasta alla Carrettiera is a traditional Sicilian recipe enjoyed right across the region. A quick sauce that is simple, yet incredibly flavoursome. This recipe is attributed to the cart drivers because of its simplicity, hence the name ‘carrettiera.’ It is assumed that the drivers were able to make up the sauce easily on the side of the road while their pasta boiled over an open flame. Adding a little more oil to the sauce and allowing it to sit for a few hours makes a perfect sauce to spoon over cooked fish, chicken or sliced of cooked eggplant. It is also delicious spooned over bruschetta.

Sicilian Pasta alla Carrettiera

Serves 6


  • 6 ripe tomatoes (about 600g)
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 cup fresh basil
  • A few flakes of chilliSalt
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 500g spaghetti
  • 1 cup grated pecorino or salted ricotta cheese (pecorino is a sheep’s milk cheese)


  • Peel and chop the tomatoes, being careful to keep all of the juices, and add them into a large bowl.
  • Add the garlic, basil and chilli flakes into a mortar and pestle and start to pound until you have a paste, add in a little of the olive oil and salt to help mix it together. Once this is creamy add it to the tomatoes. Season the tomatoes with salt and pepper.
  • Cook the pasta as directed on the packet and then drain, tossing it quickly into the tomatoes, and then serve it topped with the grated cheese.

Love the idea of learning more Sicilian recipes?

Come to Sicily and share in a delectable food, wine and cooking tour with me. Here’s my upcoming tours.