A taste of Etna

The large area of the volcano Etna offers many landscapes and microclimates, which, together with the rich-in-minerals volcanic soil, make the perfect combination to generate several products with unique flavors. Some of them are one city’s specialties, others are easily findable in a larger area within the Etnean territory. Here some of the most famous of these products:

Maybe one of the most famous product used in any food preparation from pasta to dessert is the DOP Pistacchio of Bronte, a village part of the Catania administration located in the North-West area of Etna and part of both Park of Etna and of the Nebrodi. It has such a crucial value for the economy of the village that it gained it the name of Green Gold, as most of the city income derives from the selling of this bright-green fruit. The kernels are the edible part of the fruit and can be eaten raw or roasted: its flavor makes it a versatile ingredient in many preparations, such as pistachio cream/paste, which is commonly used to produce spread-creams and ice-cream flavorings; it can also be grounded and sprinkled on top of pasta or pizza to add a unique, all-Sicilian touch.

Located in the same area as Bronte, Maletto is another village famous for its strawberries. Every year in June the city organizes three days during which the red berry is the center of all celebration; as a matter of fact, the cultivation of strawberries has been the core of this Etnean town’s economy since the 1950s. The finest variant of this fruit is the fragolina, a small-sized strawberry which is mainly used in pastry preparations.

Moving southwards, another typical products is Zafferana Etnea’s honey. This town located in the South-eastern side of Etna, other than being a must-visit on the way to Etna (especially during the Ottobrata, a festival taking place each Sunday in October), has the highest productions of the region of this golden-colored, sugary production of bees, also known for its beneficial effects especially in the form of royal jelly or propolis. The art of producing honey started in 1920s and became the city’s main occupation: today, many are the factories that export it to the whole country; some of them are also open to visits, as for instance the Oro dell’Etna farm, which lets you discover all the secrets of its preparation and its many varieties in terms of flavors and forms. Of course, it is also a must-stop if you want to buy some to take home!

Bordering with Zafferana Etnea, Santa Venerina is another small city with its own specialty: the liquor production. In particular, since mid-19th century, thanks to the agricultural improvements and investments on the area, many distilleries sprung which survive up to this day. Liquors flavors vary from lemon (Limoncello), to almond, to hazelnut, to pistachio, not to forget the Cannellino, the famous cinnamon-flavored one. The city today hosts also a Enology Museum (“Museo della civiltà enologica – La distilleria”), which exhibits the orginal tools used in the more than one century ago. World famous is the Fuoco dell’Etna (Fire of Etna), a scarlet-red liquor with hints of strawberry and aromatic herbs.

Some products are typical of the whole area and not necessarily place-specific. This is for example the case of cherries, which are cultivated in the south-eastern Etnean area (in the areas of Giarre, Mascali, Fiumefreddo) and are renowned to be a darker color than the average cherry. Also, Etnean apples are a typical fruit of the autumnal time: it is in fact common for people of all ages to spend the early autumn Sundays harvesting this fruit: compared to the apples you can find in the supermarket, these are smaller and less polished, however, their juicy consistency and their sweetness make them definitely one of a kind. Besides apples, another great harvest product are chestnuts, which get then roasted and eaten during the chillier days of Autumn.

Last but not least, another typical product of the Etna is definitely the grapevine, from which the fine Etna DOC wine is produced. Many are the vineyards and wineries located all around Etna, from Nicolosi to Piedimonte and Linguaglossa.

With our Etna Wine and Alcantara and of Good Morning Etna tours, which take place on the Northern Side of Etna, you will actually drive along the cities of Piedimonte and Linguaglossa, where you will be able to see the vineyards. Also, the Etna Wine and Alcantara tour includes a stop for lunch in a winery where you will be able to taste firsthand some of the greatest Etna wines paired with a delicious Sicilian lunch.

Alternatively, our Top Easy tour on Etna South actually goes through both Santa Venerina and Zafferana Etnea, so you will be able to see some of the mentioned cities with their specialties.

Check out our tours and choose the one you like the most!