In all major towns in Sicily, the streets are filled with stalls selling the island’s traditional ceramics. One of the most common types is the symbol of Sicily: the trisceli. This is the (slightly creepy) head of Medusa surrounded by three wheat ears and three legs. The legs are said to represent the three points of the island of Sicily, and this symbol is present on the Sicilian flag. The ceramics are very popular with the many tourists who visit Sicily, and vary dramatically in price.
As well as the trisceli symbol, most stalls also have a variety of suns and moons with smiley faces on them…
Not only are the ceramics sold to tourists, but on every street corner you can find someone selling plastic vegetables hanging on a string – clearly something there’s a weird demand for… And it’s not just the touristic streets that are filled with colour: walking round, it’s striking how vibrant everything is. Even super simple things like street signs and market carts holding fresh vegetables are painted in amazingly bright colours and patterns.
Everywhere you go you in Italy, you always seem to be tripping over mopeds. As ubiquitous as bikes in Amsterdam, mopeds are actually a really useful way to get around in busy Italian towns. With the driving age for mopeds in Italy being 14, you see people of all ages zipping through the crowds. Many Italian towns like Tropea in Calabria, and Cefalu in Sicily as well as the major cities have really cobbled, narrow streets overrun by tourists, so there’s no room for cars to drive past. They also look kinda cool….
The traditional Sicilian granita is a cross between a frozen dessert and a drink, kind of like a slushy sorbet. They have an interesting history- granitas originated when people from North Africa came to Sicily bringing sugar. They wanted to mix this with the local fruits on the island- like peaches,lemons, strawberries, melons- to create something refreshing and sweet. Now, you can get granitas all over Italy and you can find pretty much any flavour including almond, chocolate, coffee and even rose. Each Sicilian town prides itself on making their granitas slightly differently from the next- they all have different textures. On the west coast of the island the granita tends to be thicker and more crystallised, whereas on the east coast the granita is smooth, like sorbet. They don’t just have to be drunk/eaten after a meal- many locals even spread granita on their breakfast brioche!
The good news is, you don’t have to go to Sicily to try a granita: they’re super easy to make at home! This recipe is for strawberry granita, but just substitute whatever you want to make a different type…
Strawberry Granita- Serves 4-6
Lemon juice to taste
Boil the water in a small saucepan and stir in the sugar until it dissolves, then leave this to cool
Hull the strawberries and turn them into a puree in a food processor
Stir the puree into the cooled syrup and transfer the mixture into a shallow dish, so that it can spread out
Put the dish into the freezer and take it out every 30 minutes to stir- breaking up the frozen chunks stops it just becoming a block of ice
Do this for about 3 hours, until the granita is the consistency you want it to be. If it’s too frozen, just leave it at room temperature for a while until it starts to melt
Before you serve your granita, leave it out of the freezer long enough for it to melt so that you can stir it and put it into tall glasses
Squeeze some lemon juice on top, and enjoy!