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

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.

1. 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 handsome “Marcello Mastroianni and Leonardo Dicaprio” 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 Dom-fashionrsz 3. Sicilians are so stylish. Think 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 Mama cookingrsz4.  La famiglia is the centre of life.  Sharing 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 course s that follow even though they honestly cannot eat another morsel.  “Basta, basta, basta” is not enough to curb the enthusiasm.

5-streetscene-rsz5. 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 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 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.

7-tomatoes-bocconcini-rsz8. Who 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-Dom-fish-market9. I 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 bar tenders are so welcoming, giving complementary bowls of olives, bite-sized hot pizza and other spicy bar snacks to enjoy with your wine.

10. For 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.



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 

This holiday of a lifetime 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.

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!




The original idea of carts was introduced to the island by the ancient Greeks, although the history of the now highly-recognised traditional Sicilian cart is relatively new, dating 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: 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 1920s, when many thousands were on the island. The carts were mainly drawn by horses in the city and on flat plains, while 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, and 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, 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.
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”, and 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.


Serves 6

This recipe is attributed to the cart drivers because of its simplicity. 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.

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.


This stunning tour of Eastern Sicily offers you the opportunity to not only discover the islands of the Aeolian, and the rich lands surrounding the famous Mount Etna, but also to journey to some of the most beautiful historical provinces of Sicily being Catania, Syracusa, Ragusa, including the towns of chocolate-loving Modica and the island of Ortigia.

We welcome you to Catania which is, after Palermo, the lively and second largest city in Sicily. We enter into Sicily’s age-old history, rich in unique archaeological sites and monuments, with one of the more famous being the Villa Romana del Casale. We indulge in the surrounding historical towns that showcase timeless crafts such as hand-painted ceramics, dine on regional artisan products created using proprietary and specialized techniques, and spend evenings dining with newfound friends and locals. You will experience the triumphant shouts of the Siciliani, and a spectacular array of vibrant colours of spices, seafoods, and seasonal fruit and vegetables as we wander through the iconic food markets of these areas. You’ll be thrilled to see the local produce displayed as if they were works of art instead of mere merchandise for sale, and you will relish the tempting morsels offered by locals to sample.

We welcome you to Sicily and the busy airport of Catania. Our beautiful Hotel is an elegant palace recently restored, located on the Steps by Alessi. Set like a jewel, between Via Etnea and Via Crociferi and in the heart baroque of the historical center of Catania. You will have time to relax or wander around the hotel admiring the terrace with sweeping views across the historic centre of Catania overlooking the roof tops of the late Sicilian Baroque style.

We head into the historic centre of Catania for a tour on foot visiting “La Pescheria” markets with an atmosphere that has remained virtually unchanged for hundreds of years and noted especially for the fresh seafood where we can witness the colourful behaviour of local fishermen selling the mornings catch. Here you will also find all sorts of wonderful fruits, vegetables, meats and deli items as local pick up their daily shop. We continue our tour to Catania’s stunning Cathedral where the cities patron Saint, Sant’ Agata and precious treasures are kept and we wander through the Piazza Duomo where the heart of Catania beats and the city’s symbol monument: the fountain with the Elephant stands. This is a lava-stone statue that dates back to the Roman era, mounted on a more modern structure by Vaccarini from the eighteenth century. Legend goes that this animal became the city symbol because in ancient times pigmy elephants lived in this place, that protected the city’s inhabitants by chasing away fierce animals.

We meet for lunch giving you the rest of the afternoon and evening to wander this beautiful city, do a spot of shopping or rest in the hotel. We meet in the evening for dinner at one of the local restaurants and spend over night in Catania.


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.

Sicily’s menus are as contrasting as its seasons and are reflective by its vast and rocky coast lines, its abundant seas and fertile lands.

Eastern Sicily would not be complete without a tour to the exotic and tranquil Aeolian Islands. These jewels showcase another complexity in the riches that Sicily has to offer, volcanic soils, rich rugged lands supplying a bounty of seafoods, wild herbs, capers, tomatoes, fennel, wines and a lifestyle that only island life can bring. As we arrived by hydrofoil stopping at Lipari, Vulcana and then onto to beautiful Salina we all felt a sense of relaxation, the turquoise waters, green mountains of Salina and quaint stone houses sat proudly to greet us.

image-(2)Entering our accommodation here on the island was a spiritual experience, we were all in awe as we felt embraced by the warmth and protection of our new dwellings. Signum resort is one of two resorts on the island although I would have to say that Signum offered more than 5 star accommodation. It offered a place with something incredibly special. A dream, an eye for detail , patience and an understanding of harmonising nature with the land. This is a place where you can truly unwind, where you are transported to tranquility. I was blessed with a room which opened onto a small court yard shaded by lemon trees bursting with fruit and a beautiful wrought iron ceramic tiled table and chairs.

image-(1)The sitting room on the lower level just beside by room housed a selection of interesting books ranging from art, food, novels, geography and other interests from all over the world available to read at your leisure. The styling of Signum is stunning, every corner, ever aspect of this divine sanctuary has been thought of and every where you look there is a piece of furniture, a picture, painting something that has been waiting patiently in a store, auction or some lost corner of a shop until the right moment when it was placed with care, with meaning and mission into the resort.

image-(5)The spa area, a resemblance of ancient Greek baths is amazing, salted mineral pools, warm thermal spas, sauna, all set in stone andsurrounded by eclectic pieces of furniture, white lounges and lemon trees taking this place to another dimension of style and relaxation. The ladies and I on tour could not help but indulge in the beauty treatments again in harmony with the natural surroundings were designed using only natural ingredients local to the island, malvasia wine and grapes, capers, oils, wild herbs, salt, lemons and spices. I loved my caper salt scrub a blend of capers native to the island and seen growing everywhere. Followed then with a cooling caper gel, painted on my body which was then wrapped up in a thin film of plastic and left to relax for 20 minutes where the detoxifying aspects of the capers were left to do their thing. My last indulge was the caper oil massage, a gentle massage using oil of caper, almond and olive. I did smell a little like a salad but my skin felt amazing.

image-(10)Our four days in this piece of paradise lingered on , we journeyed into Santa Marina the main port of Salina and did a spot of shopping, indulged in the local food and wines, particularly the Malvasia a dessert wine of sweet dried grapes indigenous to the Aeolian islands. Some of us hired Italian cinque cento cars and toured the island dining on local specialties such rabbit braised with almonds, pistachios and malvasia, fried fish with sweet and sour onions, pastas flavoured with caper pesto and sundried tomatoes and almonds. Capers and the caper berries are prevalent in most of the dishes popping up on antipasto plates, in pastas, sauces for fish and meats and on the Pane Cunzata meaning condited or dressed. The cunzata come almost like a toasted focaccia about the size of a dinner plate and topped with a variety of ingredients such as ripe red cherry tomatoes, chunks of milky mozzarella, tuna, capers, olives, marinated eggplant, sun dried tomatoes and grated salted ricotta. These are a belly filler and I recommend sharing them amongst 2-3 people. My other island favorite snack or treat is a delicious granita eaten with or without a soft fresh brioche. In Lingua a costal village right on the water you can find traditional fresh almond and pistachio granitas as well as an array of refreshing fruit flavours, granita is almost like a slushy, a smooth icy drink you eat with a spoon, very popular in bars all over Sicily and the islands.

image-(11)The foods of Sicily are a journey within themselves and one can trace the hands of time through the recipes and flavours that grace the trattorias, cantinas, osterias and local street foods. Seafood of all types is a popular selection through towns along the coast and it is evident that using seasonal local produce is as natural as the life style its self. Moving towards the inlands you notice a change in the style of eating traditions and also the availability of produce retaining centuries of hand made sausages, salamis, meats, wild greens and seasonal fruits. Their dolce, gelati, sweets and pastries are laced with historical trade, exotic spices, nuts, fruits, wild honeys using recipes handed down through the ages. The simple cooking techniques used by the Sicilians clearly displays the simplicity of the people and the excellence of the produce. Abundance on the dining table is a way of them wanting to embrace you into their culture and as often as I come to Sicily I am constantly reminded of the quality of the foods, the honesty in the cooking and the pride these people have for a life that is for living la bella vita.