The harvest season in Sicily and Puglia is in full swing. Just as the fruits of the locals’ labour are ready for the picking, September and October are also the months to enjoy deserted beaches, warm seas, quiet towns, and a tranquil atmosphere.
Here are the highlights of the season and where to stay.
Lose yourself amongst the market stalls
Market stalls in Sicily and Puglia brim with multicoloured prickly pears, luscious black figs and the last, sun-sweetened melons. Autumnal foods such as roasted chestnuts, porcini mushrooms, olives and extra virgin olive oils are all showcased. Stay at The Thinking Traveller’s most luxurious villa, Rocca delle Tre Contrade, a former aristocratic estate built in the 1850s, situated nearby to the famous Catania Market.
Discover the wines of Mount Etna
With its rich, fertile volcanic soils, Mount Etna is a wine growing paradise known by many in the trade as the new Burgundy. What better way to experience its vineyards than by joining in with the harvest? Stay at Oliva, a traditional Sicilian baglio close to the vineyards of Menfi.
Try Puglia’s nectar – olive oil
With its nearly 60 million olive trees, Puglia accounts for around 40% of Italy’s entire olive oil production. If you’re visiting during the olive harvest, be sure to head to an oil mill to sample some freshly pressed oil. Stay at Masseria Cisterna Rossa, surrounded by its own olive groves.
Celebrate with a Sagra
Both regions come alive throughout the harvest with sagre (food and wine festivals). There are sagre to celebrate the sausage, pistachios, arancini and even cous cous, in San Vito Lo Capo in Sicily. Stay at Ai Faraglioni, a white-washed modernist villa, not far from the Cous Cous Festival.
Taste the local cheese
The transumanza is an age-old autumnal traditional when the shepherd’s bring their flocks down from the mountain pastures to the valleys below, a millennial activity that also signals the recommencement of ricotta production. Stay at Masseria Palmieri, a short drive from Martina Franca where The Thinking Traveller can organise a private visit to a local cheesemaker.
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