Ciao from Italia! We arrived in Sicily on Saturday afternoon and have packed in so many amazing experiences and meals that it was really hard to pick which post would come first. On Sunday night, we drove out to the breathtaking Baglio Donna Franca hotel and vineyards for a tour of the winery, a delicious meal, and an unforgettable night.
It was one of those experiences that are so special, magical, and surreal that it’s hard to put into words. I’ve tried to explain it, but words don’t do it justice.
The story starts a few weeks ago when a family friend, Eleanor, who happens to also be an expert on Italian wine (read her incredible adventures here) had read on Lemon Stripes that we were heading to Sicily. She lives in Italy and offered to take us to one of her favorite wineries on the island to meet the owners, try the organic wines, and eat at their restaurant. It sounded too good to be true!
We arrived at the Baglio Donna Franca at around 6 and met the husband and wife owners, Giacomo and Paola, who bought the place 10 years ago, completely renovated it, and have dedicated their lives to studying and creating organic, natural wines. We got a tour of the grounds including a peek into the basement where they keep their “vino perpetuo”, a very rare and special wine that I literally cannot explain but part of it is that they add more wine to it every year to mix with the year before. This process has been going on for over 50 years!
For dinner, we started with Giacomo’s white variety paired with a platter of seafood antipasti. We ate sardines wrapped with breadcrumbs and lemon rinds (sounds weird but it was out of this world), tuna marinated in a sweet sauce, fish cakes, and octopus. The secondi (pasta course) was hand made pasta with fresh tomatoes, garlic, and olive oil with local fish caught earlier that day. We then moved on to branzino followed by a lemon semifreddo cake and dessert wine.
While we ate, Giacomo and Paola explained to us that their restaurant isn’t just a restaurant, instead it’s “their kitchen that they share with people they love.” Their hotel isn’t just a hotel, it’s “a home for family near and far”, and they don’t make wine for money or prestige, they “make wine for their hearts and souls.” Seriously could these people have a better attitude?
After dinner, we retired to the lobby of the hotel where Paola played the piano for us. Then, of course, my little brother Jackson jumped on for his lovely rendition of Twinkle Twinkle.
The night ended with baci, hugs, and promises to return. I will never in my life forget this night and hope to take just a small piece of the lessons we learned from Giacomo back to reality with me.