After an incredible night’s sleep in the most peaceful surroundings we awoke to warm, bright sunshine streaming in through the window. I wasted no time getting my swimmers on and making a beeline for the glistening turquoise blue pool.

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I must admit to being a bit of a sun worshipper and Josie and I quite happily laid on the grass soaking up the rays, snoozing and reading our books for a few hours – I can’t remember the last time I felt so relaxed!

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Just as we were about to head in & scrub up, Fausta (our host) appeared with a tray of lightly toasted brown bread and a fresh tomato salad.

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She instructed us to help ourselves to wine and enjoy, which we gladly did. Sitting in comfy, padded armchairs in the dipping sun we sipped on her family-owned delicious white wine and munched away on, genuinely, the best tomato salad that any of us had ever tasted.

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Eating local, organic, freshly grown produce was one of the highlights of our trip as everything we ate had so much more flavour than what we’re used to back home. The makeshift bruschetta most certainly hit the spot!

After showering & beautifying ourselves we piled into our rental car for our first explore of the nearby town, Vittoria, but not before taking a few snaps of the stunning surrounding countryside.

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… And ourselves.

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Vittoria turned out to be slightly less exciting than hoped, but we still managed to spy out all of the main attractions.

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The squares that we came across were attractive enough, with a real South American feel to them.

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The buildings within the town were wonderfully colourful, but very run down.

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But I still loved the colours and the detail in the architecture. All of the properties also had lovely, quaint balconies.

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Everything about the town really reminded Michael and I of San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica. Having seen all the sights of Vittoria we moved on to Scoglitti, a charming fishing town just a 5-minute drive away.

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Being the over-excitable human that I am I simply had to have this shot:

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Alas, we’d already chosen where to eat for dinner, so Andrea will sadly have to wait till next time. We wandered down by the port and admired the view & setting sun.

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After a quick round of drinks it was finally dinner time; in true Italian style the restaurant doesn’t even open until 8:30pm, so us Brits were chomping at the bit for some food by the time we were seated! We ate at a very well-rated fish restaurant called Il Sakalleo, which had a really unique menu concept in that you choose a price bracket of €35pp for starters, €40pp for starters & mains, or €45pp for starters, mains & more mains (dessert is included). However, within each price bracket you can re-order as much as you want, so you are never going to leave hungry!

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We picked the €40pp for starters & mains option and waited eagerly to see what was in store for us, as the fish served changes every day depending on what the fishermen have caught; it doesn’t get much fresher than that. First up was a giant serving platter of ‘RAW’… featuring raw red prawns, white prawns, langoustines, tuna and a type of white fish with cheese.

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I loved everything bar the white fish, the texture of which I didn’t enjoy and found too meaty, without any flavour. I thought all of the shellfish was delicious and super tasty though, but the ‘rawness’ was a bit too much for Josie! Next arrived our favourite fish dish; pan-fried calamari served with orange segments.

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The squid was cooked to perfection and the orange juice complimented the crisp exterior beautifully. Then came a type of fish meatball containing cheese.

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Although I’m not a fan of cheese there was no distinctive or overpowering cheesy taste and I enjoyed my fishy ball, although a sauce would have been most welcomed (by myself anyway). Seared tuna swimming in a light, buttery sauce appeared next.

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I don’t love cooked tuna; there’s just something about it I find really boring, but it was pleasant enough and cooked very well. Whitebait (which just means ‘fried baby (any) fish’ for anyone who didn’t know – I certainly didn’t) followed.

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Rory and I munched our way through the majority of these. Despite being a little dry for my liking (some tartar sauce would have gone down a treat), I appreciated the flavour of the miniature fresh fish and perfectly crisp batter. Then there was octopus.

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I will admit that the texture was a little slimy, and too much for Josie to handle, who likened the outer coating to jelly! It takes quite a lot to put me off but in fairness I didn’t love the consistency – I did however eat all of it so it can’t have been that bad. A plate of fresh clams was our next starter.

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We picked out the little beauties until there were none left. Then came mussels.

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The mussels were cooked beautifully but we all agreed that a sauce (and some chunky bread) wouldn’t have gone amiss.

And that brings us to the end of the starters (would you believe?!). Although we could have ordered more of any of the dishes that we’d sampled, we decided to make a start on the mains.

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The mains turned out to be two fish pasta dishes. The first was hands down one of the best pasta dishes that I’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting, and we all agreed that it was just phenomenal.

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It was spaghetti with the most incredible thick sauce coating, with fresh clams and a sprinkling of what I believe was fried breadcrumbs, which added delicious texture. The pasta was cooked to total perfection and the simplicity of the dish made it all the more outstanding. We didn’t stop talking about it for the rest of the holiday. The second pasta dish had a lot to live up to, and unfortunately didn’t quite meet the same mark, but that’s hardly surprising considering.

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Squid ink penne with large pieces of juicy octopus dotted throughout – the dish was tasty but the squid ink sauce was a little overpowering & fishy. Although that’s not to say that the plate wasn’t left empty. Since we were pretty full we opted to switch from savoury to sweet. Thank God we’d left some room, because the included dessert was utterly sublime and so authentic.

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All made on site, we received lemon sorbet, handmade cannoli’s and pistachio biscuits.

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The lemon sorbet was just beautiful; the cannoli pastry itself should perhaps have been slightly crisper, and was not quite sweet enough for me, although I thoroughly enjoyed the ricotta filling; and the piece de resistance, the pistachio biscuits, were simply divine with a chewy density and moreish flavour. I actually asked if I could buy a bag of the biscuits to take home but much to my dismay they’d run out! However, we were given more cannoli’s and homemade limoncello to ease the pain.

It was an incredible meal and a really unique Sicilian experience. The service in these remote local villages and towns is second-to-none and we were gob-smacked to find that the two bottles of wine and 3 bottles of water that we had enjoyed were all included in the price per head for food, meaning that the total bill was simply €160 (€40pp). I guess it pays to visit the non-touristy outback as I loved our evening at Il Sakalleo more than I can describe!