Planning a trip to Sicily? Check out this helpful guide focused on the magical food and wine from this incredible region.
Let's look at how you can incorporate Sicily's amazing wines and wineries into your next visit to this unique island.
Getting To Sicily
Sicily is big, like visiting a small country rather than a region. For example, it takes at least 4.5 hours to travel from Marsala to Siracusa by car. Many people pick one part of the island to visit unless they have a week or more to explore the whole island.
Let’s look at how to get to Sicily and where to visit.
At the time of writing, there are no direct flights from North America to Sicily (unless you have a private jet!). Meaning you’ll have to fly somewhere in Europe first and then find a connecting flight to the main airports of Palermo or Catania. London, Milan, Rome, and Frankfurt are all easy to connect through.
You can take the train from mainland Italy to Sicily, if you’re feeling adventurous. There are direct trains from Rome and Naples to Messina that take 8 and 6 hours respectively and it’s extra impressive because the whole train goes onto a special ferry!
There’s no doubt that once you arrive in Sicily, the best way to get around is by car, especially if you want to visit wineries.
Sicily is quite large, so you might pick a base and explore wineries. Having a car is helpful - thankfully, rental cars are relatively inexpensive and plentiful.
Discover food, nature, and history - you’ll find a treasure trove of great things to do and see while integrating Sicilian wine into your travels.
Sampling Sicily's diverse wine selection is doable in wine shops or restaurants, but it's trickier to enjoy them at the source - the wineries.
It's best to book a winery visit ahead of time and check the opening hours as many wineries close on Sundays and holidays.
Do I have to pay for a tasting?
Generally, wineries don't charge for tastings. However, if you want a tour, there could be additional charges.
Wineries with Accommodation
Waking up amongst the vines is the stuff of fairytales. But in Sicily, it's easy to do! Many wineries with accommodation and restaurants make your visit that much more wine-focused. Here are just a few examples based on proximity to some noteworthy places to visit.
Suppose you're visiting Palermo for its amazing food and architecture but want to stay out of the hustle and bustle. In that case, Baglio di Pianetto has a wine hotel 40 minutes from the city's center.
To explore the rich history of Marsala, then staying at the Donna Franca Resort by Ansaldi will put you just 20 minutes away from the historic center of this town.
To go deep into the highlands of Sicily to explore the mountainous terrain and visit an ancient abbey and vineyards, check out Di Giovanna and their wines.
Finally, if you want to go head to head with an active volcano and sleep on the slopes of Etna while drinking some fine wine, visit the 5-star wine hotel of Monaci delle Terre Nere, run by Guido Coffa wines.
3 Natural Wonders of Sicily You Cannot Miss
Sicily has some of the world’s best beaches, mountains, and volcanoes to explore. Known for its white sand, clear crystalline waters, and turbulent seismic activity, many tourists flock here to soak up the sun and explore the natural wonders that this island offers. Let's talk about exploring Sicily's natural beauty and wine at the same time.
Sicily has some of the best beaches in Europe. And being an island, there are many places to explore. But you can easily combine your love of wine with relaxing on the beach here!
If you’re visiting the southern beaches, such as the famous the white steps of Scala dei Turchi be sure to visit wineries like Tenute Racalmare or visit regions in the Sicani Mountains, like Sambuca di Sicilia, or Menfi, which are about a 45 minute drive.
If hiking Mount Etna and visiting the beaches of south-eastern Sicily are on your list, then definitely visit Etna DOC wineries. You’ll find red wines sharing characteristics with Pinot Noir, and white wines that share traits with Riesling.
If you really want to visit an unexplored region of Sicily, be sure to visit the volcanic chain of the Aeolian islands. Producing both sweet and dry wines made from Malvasia, these are totally off the tourist path, and the wines are perfect for poolside. If you’ve heard of Stromboli before, that’s actually the name of one of these islands!
Another wine focused island with some seismic activity is Pantelleria. Closer to Africa than Sicily, and home to one of Giorgio Armani’s villas, this sunny UNESCO site with volcanic soils produces some of Italy’s best sweet wines.
Foods to Try While You're in Sicily
Think you know Italian food? Think again! If you're a foodie, eating in Sicily is like walking through the history of cooking itself. Sicily's many invaders, from North Africa to Greece, and Spain, created a culinary diversity different from the rest of Italy.
The home of Cannoli, Pasta alla Norma, Granita, and the world’s best pistachios, Sicily is truly a foodie paradise. Combining your love of food and wine in Sicily is easy - from street food eating in Palermo to fine dining in Taormina, wine is always on the menu.
If you’re looking for something to pair with your favorite dessert wine, Marsala, when you’re in Sicily, grab a cassata or cannoli, or the world’s best granita from the world-famous Caffé Sicilia in Noto.
If fine dining floats your boat, Sicily has over 18 restaurants with Michelin stars, all of which have amazing wine lists. The small town of Taormina is home to almost 20% of them!
Sicily has all the styles of wine that you could ever want to pair with the foods you find on this amazing island. With one of the highest numbers of indigenous grapes in Italy, it would be difficult to get through them all in one visit. But that doesn't mean you can't try! Leave the Chianti and Barolo for later, and jump into Carricante, Nero d’Avola, and Grillo!
Historic Places to Explore in Sicily
Sicily has the most amazing history and architecture, from some of the world's best Greek temples to logic-defying Baroque architecture. You can easily weave together a love of history and art with wine if you see the sites.
Agrigento and Valley of Temples
This region has many wineries producing Sicilia DOC wines nearby. The warm and arid weather here is perfect for preserving those amazing Greek temples and wonderful for heat-loving grapes like Nero d'Avola and Grillo. Sciacca and Riesi, both known for their Cabernet Sauvignon blends, are each about an hour away.
This hilltop town just north of Catania provides amazing views of Mount Etna and the sea and has a well-preserved amphitheater from the 3rd century BC. If you want to drop by vineyards to see it, then Etna DOC is on your way, but Mamertino di Milazzo and its deeply colored wines made from the Nocera grape aren't far away either.
Baroque architecture - Val di Noto
This UNESCO world heritage site not only has some of the finest examples of Baroque architecture in the world found in the towns of Noto, Ragusa, and Modica, but it is also the home territory of Nero d'Avola. If ever there was a wine described as Baroque-like, it would be Nero d'Avola from this region - big, bold, colorful, and gives a sense of awe. Check out Noto DOC.
For lighter, more elegant styles of wine made from Frappatto, look no further than Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG to find some great examples. At the same time, peruse through the elegant architecture of Val di Noto.
Arab-Norman Palermo, Cefalù, and Monreale
This unique and amazing blend of architecture from Sicily's Norman and Arab rulers are some of the most visited sites in Sicily. You've got an excellent springboard to your wine destinations if you're visiting here. Monreale is on the doorstep of Palermo, with its powerful yet elegant Syrah wines, but you'll also be at the gateway of Western Sicily, the homeland of Marsala.
Useful Resources to Help Plan Your Trip Sicily
If you were thinking of visiting Sicily, you're in for an adventure. Be sure to check out some of these useful resources to help map out your trip: