Go on a sensory journey in perfectly-placed Linguaglossa
Linguaglossa may have earned its name from the ‘big tongue of lava’ that spilled from the mouth of Mount Etna centuries ago. But today, it upholds this name by being the source of some of the south’s most flavoursome food and wine. The mineral-rich soil of this tiny town is unlike any other. And while staying at one of Sicily’s best boutique hotels, you can feast your way around this charming region through its complex wines, traditional food and irresistible olive oils.
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Before you set out in search of local ingredients, explore the surrounding area. Linguaglossa itself is the picture of a traditional Sicilian town. Explore on foot to uncover its fascinating past. If the sun is hot, cool off in the shaded Church of San Francesco di Paola, adorned with fascinating paintings and sculptures depicting the life of this Italian saint.
Outside of town, hire a car or hike up to the Alcantara Waterfalls for a dip in the crystalline pools. If time allows, pay a visit to Gole Alacantra Botanical and Geological Park, a gorge carved out by a Mount Etna eruption. This natural wonder is the perfect spot for some freshwater swimming in the foothills of the mountains. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even try out body rafting, where you float down the river wearing a helmet and buoyancy aid. All before heading back to Linguaglossa for an adventure of the culinary kind.
With centuries of volcanic nutrients layered deep within their soil, the foothills of Mount Etna make perfect grape-growing terrain. The altitude also causes the temperature to fluctuate hugely, which gives the grapes a distinctive colour and complex flavour.
Drink it all in with a tour of the vineyards. You’ll find some of Linguaglossa’s finest wines at Gambino Winery – from the chocolatey tones of the Tifeo Rosso, to the earthy kick of the Petto Dragone. This reserve wine is made from 100% Nerello Mascalese grapes, which are harvested exclusively in Mount Etna and aged for at least 40 years.
Roam through rows of deep red grapes. Then take them for a whirl at a guided tasting with an expert sommelier. Each one is paired with a selection of locally-sourced meats, cheeses and olives. You can ask them to ship some of your favourite bottles home as a reminder of your trip.
Surrounded by hazelnut groves, pine woods, vineyards and mountains, Linguaglossa sits right at the heart of the harvest. Every Friday, there’s a food market where locals stock up on fresh produce for the week ahead. Perusing food stalls is one of the delights of Italian travel – and in Linguaglossa, it’s a truly Sicilian affair, where crowds of locals are drawn in by word-of-mouth alone.
Even if you don’t purchase anything, a trip to the market will give you a taste of what to expect from Linguaglossa dishes. Think cheeses, salami and sausage, piles of glistening fish on beds of ice, fresh from net to market. For a snack on the go, pick up a punnet of olives, not forgetting the walnuts and almonds.
When it’s finally time to dine, take a seat at Dodici Fontane at Villa Neri Resort & Spa, where authentic Sicilian flavours are the star of every dish. Harnessing and amplifying each individual ingredient, the true essence of the dish is made to shine through. Dine in the restaurant itself overlooking the pool. Or in the warmer months, take a table in the courtyard and savour the scents of the surrounding olive groves.
Top tip: Don’t leave Linguaglossa without trying the traditional Sicilian streetfood, arancini – deep-fried balls of risotto filled with a rich ragu and melted cheese.
The bounties of Linguaglossa aren’t just reserved for plates. When concocted into soothing moisturisers and scrubs, the olive oils, Mount Etna grapes and Ionian Sea salt are as great for outer beauty as they are for inner contentment.
Villa Neri Resort & Spa champions local produce in their range of holistic skin treatments and therapies. Scouring every corner of Linguaglossa, this luxury spa hotel has extracted the very best of the region.
For a deep cleanse, start the day with the blueberry and vitamin scrub. Or for something a little gentler, opt for an oil treatment and feel the replenishing Mediterranean olive oils enrich your skin. To become truly at one with your surroundings, choose a mineralising massage using Etna lava stones.
Spellbinding Sicily: If that’s inspired you to plan an Italian island getaway, take a look at our other Sicilian hotels , set on tiny volcanic islands and among ancient wonders.