The Godfather is a film packed with memorable quotes, yet this one stands out from the rest. Clemenza, the trusty henchman, stops to water the plants at the side of the road while one of his men puts three shots into the back of his driver’s head. As he returns to the car the killer is waiting, gun in head. Clemenza calmly nods to the box in the back of the car and tells his stooge, “Leave the gun, take the cannoli”. He remembers that he promised to bring home dessert for the family table.
This quote, albeit set against the violent theme that runs through the soul of the movie, gives us a perfect snapshot of the two things that underpin Sicilian life and culture: family and food.
It is the legendary freshness of Sicilian food that is drawing increasing numbers of visitors to the Mediterranean island. Famed for simple dishes that stand out thanks to the quality of their ingredients, the food in Sicily has even been the subject of the recent BBC TV series Sicily Unpacked, in which chef Giorgio Locatelli, together with art critic Andrew Graham-Dixon, explore the island and along the way indulge in one glorious meal after another.
The culinary theme is being promoted by several individual properties who are encouraging guests to live the good life and enjoy Sicily through its earth-sourced delights. Farms are offering agritourism holidays, where guests live in old farm properties that have been converted to comfortable holiday accommodation in stunning surroundings. They can then dine in the farmhouse, or even take the local ingredients and create their own favourites, using the same recipes as they do back at home but producing a very different taste to the equivalent meal from Tesco.
One such property is Terraliva, near the historic city of Syracuse. The name of the farm means ‘land of the olive trees’ and indeed it boasts some of the finest olive oil on the island. Guests have the option of doing little more relaxing in the grounds of the old house which once served as a stronghold and has now been restored complete with 19th century furniture.
The owners also offer cookery lessons in the farm, allowing guests to see how the local oil is used to produce some of the best Sicilian dishes. Arancini (rice balls) are a local favourite and I would surprised if the sweet delights of cannoli weren’t also in demand for many amateur cooks staying in Terraliva. If you haven’t seen that scene from The Godfather, perhaps there is one piece of advice you should remember. It’s wise not to leave cannoli lying around in the back of a car.
Visit our site for more information on holidays to Sicily and staying at Terraliva.