Entries by Dominique Rizzo

The Best of Sicily – Why Sicily Offers More Than Most Small Islands

Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, is a captivating destination that offers a wealth of experiences and attractions. While it may be classified as a small island in terms of geographical size, Sicily boasts an impressive array of historical, cultural, natural, and culinary treasures. Here are some reasons why Sicily stands out and offers more than most small islands

Sicilian food is insanely good.

I’m sure this is why I fell in love with Sicily even at an early age, but I know for a fact that every time I sit down and had yet another perfect meal, I knew there was something special about this island. Between the expertly prepared restaurant meals, and the fresh and authentic street food, you’ll never go hungry in Sicily.

While there’s a lot of crossover between Italian and Sicilian food, Sicilian dishes have some unique elements that set them apart. Due to Sicily’s geographical location at the southernmost tip of Italy, it has historically seen a lot of Mediterranean, Arab and North African influences. Because of this, in Sicilian cuisine you’ll find a lot of seafood, pistachios, fresh produce and more varied spices than you might in mainland Italian food.

That being said, Sicilian cuisine still quite similar to Italian food, so don’t feel like you’ll be out of your depth when looking at a menu! Think of it as similar, but different. Sicily is a very rich and diverse culture, so there isn’t one particular food that is able to be identified as the most famous Sicilian food. However, I have a few that I want to recommend very highlyGranita, Arancini, Panelle, Pasta alla Norma, Pasta con Le Sarde and  Cannoli are just a few of the top Sicilian foods to try and which really encapsulate  encapsulate the food that Sicily is famous for—and for good reason. They’re life changing.

The Aeolian Islands

If you’re wanting to soak up the sun and have an ideal beach holiday, Sicily can absolutely deliver for you.

Being an island, Sicily obviously has endless coastline, and there are beautiful, well kept beaches on basically every part of the coast!

Sicily surrounded on all sides by three different sea and the water temperature is ideal during the high season. One of the best parts about Sicily, though, is that being located just about as far south in Europe as it is possible to get, the realistic swimming season is much longer than in other parts of Europe. The water begins warming up a the end of April or May, and you can realistically expect to be able to take a dip well into November.

The endless opportunities for beach space means that you can have the exact kind of beach holiday you want. Whether you’re looking for a crowded party beach, a more secluded nature reserve, a luxurious beach club, or something family friendly—Sicily has something for you.

I have travelled so many times to the little islands around the coast of Sicily and they don’t disappoint, in fact they are a must to tag onto your Sicilian holiday and Sicily has made it very easy to travel to them all.  You can even do day trips out to these little paradises if you want!  Click here for details on my Aeolian Islands Tour 2024

Cefalù and Mondello are the most famous options on the northwest side of the Island, while Isola Bella, Calamosche and Portopalo di Capo Passero are the best options for the east side. There’s also the stunning and famous Scala dei Turchi, which is a bit out of the way of a lot of other things, but if you’ll be near the Valley of the Temples, is absolutely worth it.

Wine lovers, this one’s for you!

Sicily is a wine lovers’ paradise (which shouldn’t be a huge shock to anyone, given that it’s a part of Italy), but Sicily boasts so many of its own incredible wines.

Probably the two most well known and popular Sicilian wines are Marsala and Nero d’Avola – both of which are excellent. We also fell in love with Cerasuolo di Vittoria the last time we were in Sicily.

However, there’s actually a huge variety of Sicilian wines, including FrappatoZibibboCataratto Bianco, and even the very widely known (but not usually from Sicily!) Chardonnay.

Another great thing to do in Sicily is a wine tasting, so you can be sure to really get a wide sampling. The beauty of this is that almost all regions of Sicily produce wine, so you’ll find excellent tours whether you plan to visit the foothill vineyards of Mt. Etna, the stunning Val di Noto wineries (near Syracuse, Modica and Ragusa), the famed Marsala wine region, or the more off-the-beaten-track vineyards of the north coast and Madonie Park. Actually, you can even sample a range of Sicilian wines and cheeses without leaving Palermo

Dominique Rizzo _ Italy Tour

Now, most of us associate Greek ruins with, well, Greece of course. However, you can find a ton of ancient Greek history all over Sicily!

The Valley of the Temples site is probably the most famous in Sicily, and is one of the world’s best-preserved Greek temples outside of Greece. I’ve been to Athens, and I have been to The Valley of the Temples while in Sicily, and I have to say that it was completely on par with the things I saw in Greece, and in some ways a bit cooler because way less people come to see it!

There’s also Segesta, which is easiest to visit if you’ll be in and around Palermo—another really impressive ancient city with a well-preserved temple, and Selinunte, which has the added bonus of being right on the coast, which makes for quite the view.

Last but not least, there are a number of Greek theatres across Sicily, the most famous probably being in Taormina, but there are similar experiences in Syracuse and Palazzolo Acreide, to name a few!

If you want to dip your toes into some ancient history, Sicily is the perfect destination

Sicily really is the type of place to leave you in awe no matter where you look.

The east coast is an unbelievable display of baroque architecture, from Catania, to Ortigia, to Noto, there is no shortage of opulent and impressive baroque structures to marvel at.

The reason for such an abundance of baroque buildings on the east coast is a devastating earthquake in the late 1600s, which led to most of the east needing to be rebuilt from the ground up! Today, it’s an impressive and unique aesthetic that makes for the perfect backdrop to any vacation.

On the other hand, cities like Palermo showcase the many phases of domination that Sicily has experienced, and you’ll see Arab, Norman and Spanish influence all in one city.

I feel like architecture is really taken for granted when considering a vacation, but personally, I love nothing more than looking at some pretty buildings while sipping on an aperol spritz in the late afternoon, and Sicily delivers this dream ten-fold.

Like so many places in the Mediterranean, Sicilian culture is a breath of fresh air while on vacation.

Stereotypically, Mediterranean culture emphasizes hospitality, neighbourliness, relaxation, and connection—and in my experience, Sicily embodies these all perfectly.

Everyone we have come across in Sicily is so unbelievably friendly and helpful, which totally adds to the already amazing experiences we’ve had there. Even when it has been difficult to communicate due to language barriers (which are very real in Sicily!) I’ve found people to be patient and so kind while I struggle through my Italian and even harder… the Sicilian dialect.

Not only that, but the entire laid back atmosphere of Sicily is just ideal for a vacation. While it can be nice to fit a ton of things into your trip, sometimes it’s optimal to spend a day doing nothing but sitting at a cafe with a book, and Sicily makes that doable and acceptable.

The culture in Sicily is unmatched, and is definitely a top answer to the question “Why visit Sicily?”

Sicily is obviously mostly known as a summer destination, and with good reason—considering the beautiful sun and endless coast, but one amazing perk of Sicily is that the weather is never truly bad.

Even in the worst parts of the year, the average temperatures are around 53 F / 12 C, which is certainly not ideal for a beach vacation, but hardly too cold to still have a nice time traveling!

In the summer on average you’ll see temperatures up to  83 F / 28 C give or take, and I’ll be honest the heat can be brutal. But the coast and pristine sea water make it all worth it.

Because there’s really never a bad time to visit, why visit Sicily only in the summer? I went to Sicily this past March, and had a really lovely time. Honestly in some ways it was a nicer trip than when I went in August last year. I love the versatility that the weather lends to your planning, and it definitely makes for a great reason to visit Sicily.

No matter what kind of traveler you are or what kind of vacation you’re after, there’s something in Sicily for you.

If you’re going for the backpacking, city-break traveler vibe, Palermo and Catania have the perfect alternative vibes for you.  If you’re looking for adventure and nature, Mount Etna and the surrounding park is perfect, as are all of the ruins you can find across the island.

If you want to explore small towns and enjoy the charms off the beaten path, Savoca, Noto, Ortigia and Cefalu are ready and waiting.  If you want to sit on the beach and not move until it’s time to fly home, you have endless coastline to choose from.

And if you’re a foodie then it’s genuinely not possible for you to be disappointed.  Even the fussiest traveler can find their perfect vacation experience in Sicily.


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5 Reasons Sicily Should Be Your Next Destination for 2024

Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, is a captivating destination that should be at the top of any traveler’s list.

With its rich history, stunning landscapes, vibrant culture, and mouthwatering cuisine, Sicily offers an unforgettable experience for all who visit.  Let me take you on a virtual journey to discover why Sicily is a must-visit destination.

1. Sicily boasts a history that spans over thousands of years, making it a treasure trove of archaeological wonders.

From ancient Greek temples in Agrigento and Segesta to the remarkably preserved Roman mosaics of Villa Romana del Casale, Sicily is a living museum of civilizations past. The island’s strategic location in the heart of the Mediterranean has attracted numerous conquerors throughout history, resulting in a diverse cultural heritage that is visible in its architecture, art, and traditions.

2. Beyond its historical significance, Sicily’s natural beauty is awe-inspiring.

The island is blessed with breathtaking landscapes that range from picturesque coastal villages to rugged mountain ranges. The majestic Mount Etna, Europe’s largest active volcano, dominates the eastern skyline, offering a thrilling backdrop for adventure seekers and nature enthusiasts. The azure waters that surround the island provide excellent opportunities for swimming, snorkeling, and diving, with idyllic beaches such as San Vito Lo Capo and Taormina attracting sunseekers from around the world.

3. Sicily’s unique culture is deeply rooted in its Mediterranean heritage and is celebrated through its vibrant festivals, lively markets, and warm-hearted people.

The island’s cities, such as Palermo, Catania, and Syracuse, showcase a blend of architectural styles, reflecting the influences of the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Normans, and Spanish. Strolling through the narrow streets of these cities, you’ll encounter bustling markets, ornate cathedrals, and charming piazzas that come alive with the lively spirit of the locals.

4. No visit to Sicily would be complete without indulging in its gastronomic delights.

Sicilian cuisine is renowned for its robust flavours and fresh ingredients, showcasing the island’s fertile land and bountiful sea. From arancini (stuffed rice balls) and pasta alla Norma to cannoli and granita, each bite tells a story of Sicily’s culinary heritage. Exploring local markets and trattorias is a must to experience the authentic flavours of Sicilian cuisine.


5. The warmth and hospitality of the Sicilian people leave a lasting impression on visitors.

They take great pride in their traditions and are eager to share their love for their island with travellers. Whether it’s striking up a conversation with a local shopkeeper, participating in a village festival, or simply enjoying a leisurely stroll along the coast, the genuine warmth and friendliness of the Sicilians make every moment in Sicily unforgettable.

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The 15 Must Try Traditional Dishes From Puglia

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Puglia, known for its rich culinary heritage, offers a variety of traditional dishes that highlight the region’s fresh ingredients and traditional cooking techniques. Here are some popular traditional dishes in Puglia:

1. Orecchiette

(Most Famous Puglia Food to Try)

This delicious and traditional pasta is one of the most popular foods in Puglia and is probably the region’s most famous dish. A small pasta made simply of durum wheat flour and water and is moulded by hand into a distinctive ‘ear’ shape which gives it its name (“orecchio“, the word for “ear” in Italian).

The history of orecchiette goes back centuries and the dish has been an important part of Puglian cuisine for generations.

In the narrow alleyways of Bari’s old town (Bari Vecchia), you can watch women making orecchiette by hand on wooden tables – it’s one of the most iconic things to see in the city.

Orecchiette is usually served with a simple sauce and vegetables, though there are many variations. You can find orecchiette on the menu of most restaurants in Puglia.

One of Puglias most popular and noted variations of this pasta is Orecchiette con le Cime di Rapa:  This dish combines orecchiette pasta with cime di rapa, also known as broccoli rabe. The sauce is made from sautéed broccoli rabe, garlic, chili flakes, and lots of olive oil. It’s a classic and beloved Puglian dish.

2. Polpette di Ricotta

These delicious cheese and herb balls are typical Puglian snacks. They’re made from stale bread, ricotta, garlic, parsley, and grated parmesan, and are deep-fried until they’re golden brown.

Polpette di ricotta is usually served as an antipasto or starter but can also be enjoyed on its own. Good ones aren’t too heavy but are incredibly flavorful.

As well as the ricotta variety, polpette comes in various other forms, including ones containing meat, vegetables, and/or fish. Sometimes they’re served by themselves, or other times in a rich sauce, where they take on the consistency of dumplings.

Polpette can be found on menus throughout Puglia. 


3. Focaccia Barese

This traditional Puglian bread originally comes from the city of Bari and is usually served as an appetizer, paired excellently with local olive oil. It’s made of a simple dough that’s seasoned generously with rosemary and salt, then topped with tomatoes, onions, and olives.

The result is incredible. Good focaccia barese is rich yet light, crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside, and never too oily. 


4. Taralli

Taralli comes in many shapes, sizes, and flavors, but the traditional variety from Puglia is typically made with flour, white wine, olive oil, and salt.

They’re crunchy rings of dough that have been boiled before baking – this gives them an extra special texture which makes them really addictive!

Traditionally they are not spiced or flavoured but now you can find them with all sorts of additional flavours such as  either chili or fennel seeds, rosemary and even sweet combinations. They pair perfectly with wine or an ice-cold beer.

Taralli is a great snack to enjoy while you’re out exploring or during a picnic lunch. 

You can buy bags of taralli in virtually every shop and supermarket in Puglia for a couple of euros, and many bars and restaurants will serve them as a snack to enjoy with an aperitivo. 

5. Burrata

No trip to Puglia would be complete without trying burrata, a type of cheese made with mozzarella and cream. It’s one of the most popular foods in the region and you’ll find it on many restaurant menus.

Burrata is creamy and delicious – perfect for spreading onto salty focaccia or pairing with tomatoes and basil as an appetizer. Traditionally it was made using buffalo milk, but cows’ milk is used more often now. I’ve tasted both types and, honestly, they’re equally as tasty!

6. Tiella

One of the most traditional dishes in Puglia, Tiella di Cozze, Patate e Riso.  Tiella is a layered casserole dish that combines mussels, potatoes, and rice. The dish is assembled by layering the ingredients with a mixture of tomatoes, onions, parsley, and olive oil. It is then baked to create a flavorful and hearty seafood dish. It’s usually cooked in a terracotta pan over an open fire which gives it an incredible, subtly smoky flavor.

Even if you don’t like mussels, you can still enjoy other varieties of this amazing dish. A popular vegetarian variety is made with eggplant and zucchini.

The combination of ingredients in tiella makes it a hearty meal that’s perfect for any occasion. It’s often served with some crusty bread and accompanied by a glass of white wine.

7. Fave e Cicoria

Fave e cicorie is a popular peasant dish in Puglia. It consists of fava beans, which are cooked until creamy with garlic and olive oil, and served with sautéed chicory greens. The combination of the creamy fava beans and the slightly bitter greens creates a delicious and nutritious dish.  This simple combination of ingredients creates a hearty soup that’s full of flavor and nutrition.




Panzerotti are fried turnovers similar to calzones. They are made by folding and sealing small circles of dough filled with ingredients such as tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and sometimes other fillings like ham or mushrooms. They are then deep-fried until golden and crispy. Panzerotti are a popular street food in Puglia and can be found in many bakeries and pizzerias.

9. Cartellate

Cartellate are traditional Puglian pastries made during the holiday season. Made from flour, white wine, olive oil, and sugar, and are pressed into shapes like small stars or flowers.

The unique shapes are made by rolling out strips of dough, which are then twisted into various shapes and fried until golden.  The cartellate are then soaked in warm honey or vincotto (cooked wine syrup) and sprinkled with ground cinnamon or powdered sugar. The sweetness of the pastry combined with the sticky honey is truly divine. They make the perfect ending to a typical meal in Puglia.

These fried pastries are usually served as a dessert and are traditionally eaten during the festive winter period, although you can find them in bakeries throughout the year.

10. Puccia

Puccia is a type of bread roll that is popular in Puglia, especially in the Salento area. It is typically made from a simple dough of flour, water, yeast, and salt. Puccia is baked until golden and then sliced open to be filled with various ingredients such as cured meats, cheeses, vegetables, and sauces. It’s a delicious and satisfying street food option.

11.  Fritto Misto

This delicious dish combines a selection of seafood and/or vegetables, which are lightly coated in flour and fried. Think of it as a bit like Puglian tempura.

Fritto misto is usually just served with lemon juice and salt, although some places offer other sauces on the side too. It’s one of the most popular dishes in Puglia and can be found on many restaurant menus, as well as from food trucks and outdoor stands in most major cities.

As a cheap and quick meal on the go, fritto misto is hard to beat. 

12. Gelato

I know you can get gelato everywhere when you’re traveling around Italy, but the gelato in Puglia is some of the very best. It’s creamy, smooth, and incredibly rich.

Delicious at any time of day (or night), a scoop or two of high-quality gelato is one of the best things to enjoy after a typical meal in Puglia.


13. Pettole

These are essentially Puglian donuts, and they’re a real treat! They’re small balls of dough that have been deep-fried and are usually served with various sauces or sprinkled with sugar.

You can get sweet pettole and savory pettole, and some are even savory-sweet. Any way you have them, they’re incredibly moreish – it’s almost impossible to just eat one!

The savory ones tend to be served as appetizers (sometimes stuffed with cheese or mushrooms), whereas the sweet ones make great desserts (especially if they’ve been dipped in honey).

Pettole can also be found in bakeries and street food stalls throughout Puglia, and also feature on many restaurant menus in various forms. In Bari, they’re known locally as popizze but are otherwise the same.


14. Melanzane Ripiene

A famous dish of Puglia, this is essentially an eggplant stuffed with a meat mixture (though you can also get veggie versions), tomatoes, and herbs. The resulting flavor is simply delicious – the sweetness of the eggplant combines with the salty flavors of the filling to make something truly mouthwatering.

Melanzane ripiene is usually served as a main course and is perfect with some crusty bread and a glass or two of red wine. 

15. Panzerotti

Another famous dish in Puglia is panzerotti. These are small parcels of pizza dough with a pocket of filling – a bit like mini calzones. They’re usually deep-fried and served warm, so they make the perfect quick lunch or snack on the go.

There are all kinds of fillings available, from cheese and tomato to spinach and ricotta, but my favorite has to be the traditional version with mozzarella and tomato.

A Panzerotti filled with cheese, salami and stew leek.

You won’t struggle to find these tasty treats across Puglia, so be sure to give them a try when you’re there. In Bari’s Old Town, Bakery Santa Rita serves particularly good ones.

16. Pasticciotti

Pasticciotti is a traditional Puglian pastry that’s made with a sweet crust and filled with custard. It’s usually served at room temperature, but can also be heated and served with cream or gelato.

They make a great snack or dessert and can be found in pretty much any bakery or cafe throughout the region.

The Top 6 Cheeses to Taste in Puglia

A picturesque region located in southern Italy, Puglia boasts a rich cheese-making tradition that has been honed over centuries.

Puglia’s cheese heritage is deeply intertwined with its agricultural landscape, which features fertile plains, olive groves, and grazing pastures. This combination of abundant natural resources and a dedication to traditional cheese-making techniques has led to the production of some exceptional cheeses that are celebrated both locally and internationally.

The cheeses of Puglia are often characterized by their simplicity, authenticity, and high-quality ingredients. The region’s cheese artisans take great pride in using locally sourced milk, whether it be from cows, sheep, or goats. This emphasis on local production ensures the freshness and unique flavors of Puglian cheeses.

1. Burrata

One of the most renowned cheeses from Puglia is burrata. This delicacy, often considered a specialty of the region, is a true masterpiece of cheese-making.

Burrata is a creamy and delicate cheese that originated in the Apulia region. It is made from cow’s milk and is characterized by its outer shell of stretched mozzarella and a filling of stracciatella cheese ( shredded mozzarella) and cream.  The result is a luscious and creamy cheese with a delicate texture that oozes when cut open. A delectable and luxurious treat.   Burrata has gained international acclaim for its exquisite taste and has become a popular ingredient in various culinary creations.

 2. Canestrato Pugliese:

Canestrato Pugliese is a traditional aged Puglia cheese made from sheep’s milk. It has a firm crumbly texture and a slightly sharp salty flavor. The cheese is typically aged for several months, during which it develops a distinctive taste. Canestrato Pugliese is often grated over pasta dishes, enjoyed as a table cheese or accompanied by cured meats and bread eaten with  wine.   

3. Caciocavallo:

Caciocavallo is a semi-hard cheese made from cow’s milk. Well-regarded for its firm texture and distinctive flavor. Caciocavallo Podolico, made from the milk of Podolica cows, exhibits a nutty and complex taste that intensifies with age. It has a smooth and elastic texture with a slightly tangy flavor. Caciocavallo is traditionally shaped like a gourd and hung to age. It can be enjoyed on its own, grated over pasta, or melted in various dishes.

4. Ricotta:

Ricotta is a popular cheese found throughout Italy, including Puglia. It is made from the whey left over from the production of other cheeses. Ricotta has a creamy and slightly sweet flavor. It is used in various Puglian dishes, such as pasticciotti (a traditional sweet pastry found all over Puglia especially in Lecce) and pasta fillings.


5. Pecorino:

Pecorino is a family of cheeses made from sheep’s milk. In Puglia, you can find various types of pecorino, such as Pecorino di Grottaglie and Pecorino di Murgia. These cheeses have a firm and crumbly texture with a slightly sharp and nutty flavor. They are often enjoyed grated over pasta or served on cheese platters.

6. Stracciatella:

Stracciatella is a cheese specialty from the region of Andria in Puglia. It is made by mixing shreds of mozzarella curd with cream, resulting in a creamy, stringy texture. Stracciatella is commonly used as a filling for burrata or served alongside tomatoes and basil.

These are just a few examples of the popular cheeses you can find in Puglia. The region’s cheese production is diverse, and each cheese offers its own unique flavors and characteristics. Exploring local markets, cheese shops, and traditional Puglian cuisine is a great way to discover and savor these delightful cheeses.

Puglia’s cheese-making traditions are deeply rooted in the region’s culture and history. Many cheese producers in Puglia are small-scale, family-owned businesses that have passed down their cheese-making techniques from generation to generation. These artisans take great care in preserving the traditional methods, ensuring the continuation of authentic Puglian cheese.

Whether enjoyed as a standalone treat, melted into dishes, or used as a flavorful ingredient, Puglia’s cheeses captivate the taste buds with their unique profiles and regional charm. From the creamy indulgence of burrata to the robust flavors of aged cheeses, exploring Puglia’s cheese offerings is a delightful journey through its culinary heritage.

Join me in Puglia to taste of some these beautifully hand crafted cheeses.

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The Most Popular Wines of Puglia


located in southern Italy, is renowned for its wine production. The region is known for a variety of grape varieties, producing both red and white wines. Here are some popular wine varieties you can find in Puglia:


Primitivo is one of Puglia’s most famous red wine grape varieties. It produces rich, full-bodied wines with high alcohol content and flavors of dark fruits, spices, and chocolate.

Primitivo is often compared to California’s Zinfandel due to their genetic similarities.
Negroamaro: Negroamaro is another prominent red grape variety in Puglia. It yields robust, deeply colored wines with flavors of blackberries, plums, and spices.


Negroamaro is another prominent red grape variety in Puglia. It yields robust, deeply colored wines with flavors of blackberries, plums, and spices. Negroamaro wines often have a velvety texture and can be aged to develop additional complexity.



While Aglianico is primarily associated with the southern region of Basilicata, it is also grown in Puglia. This red grape variety produces structured, tannic wines with intense flavors of dark fruits, tobacco, and earth. Aglianico wines can benefit from aging.

Primitivo di Manduria:

Primitivo di Manduria is a specific appellation within Puglia that focuses on producing high-quality Primitivo wines. Wines labeled as Primitivo di Manduria often exhibit concentrated flavors, higher alcohol content, and a velvety texture.


Fiano is a notable white grape variety grown in Puglia. It produces aromatic white wines with flavors of tropical fruits, citrus, and floral notes. Fiano wines are known for their crisp acidity and can be enjoyed both young and with some aging.


Verdeca is another white grape variety found in Puglia, particularly in the Valle d’Itria area. Wines made from Verdeca grapes offer fresh, lively flavors with hints of citrus, green apple, and herbs. They are often enjoyed as a refreshing aperitif.

Bombino Bianco:

Bombino Bianco is a widely cultivated white grape in Puglia. It produces light, crisp wines with delicate floral aromas and flavors of pear, apple, and citrus. Bombino Bianco wines are often consumed young and make a great choice for warm summer days.

These are just a few examples of the popular wine varieties you can find in Puglia. The region’s diverse terroir and grape cultivation contribute to a wide range of wines with unique characteristics and flavors. Exploring local wineries and trying different wines is an excellent way to experience the rich wine culture of Puglia.


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Surprising Similarities Between Italian And Mexican Cuisine

Italian and Mexican cuisine are two of the world’s most popular and beloved culinary options.  But did you know that they share many similarities? 

From ingredients to cooking styles, Italian and Mexican cuisines have more in common than you may think. 

Italian cuisine is known for its hearty and rustic flavours. 

The popular dishes of Italy are deeply rooted in regional traditions, with ingredients like olive oil, garlic, tomatoes, onions, and herbs being used liberally.  Italian food is also characterized by the use of fresh herbs and vegetables to enhance flavour. 

Photo by Tai's Captures on Unsplash

Common ingredients used in Italian cooking include pasta, olives, capers, anchovies and cheese.

Mexican cuisine is a vibrant and flavourful blend of traditional ingredients such as corn, beans, chilies, tomatoes, herbs, and spices. It is a culinary tradition that dates back thousands of years to the ancient culture of the Aztecs. 

Mexican cuisine utilizes fresh ingredients such as fruits and vegetables, which are used in a variety of ways to create unique and flavourful dishes. 

Common ingredients in Mexican cooking include jalapenos, cilantro, onions, garlic, and tomatoes.

So if you’re looking for a new twist on classic meals or just want to learn more about each culture’s food traditions, read on!

Common Ingredients

One of the most notable similarities between Italian and Mexican cuisines is their reliance on fresh ingredients. 

Both cultures are known for using a variety of fresh herbs, vegetables, fruits, spices, and other flavourful ingredients in their dishes. 

For example, garlic and tomatoes are two ingredients used frequently in both cuisines.  Olive oil is a common ingredient in Italian cooking, while chilies are often used in Mexican dishes.

Regional Variations

Italian and Mexican cuisines share many similarities, not just in ingredients but in cooking styles as well. 

For example, both cultures favour the use of slow-cooking methods such as simmering and roasting, which bring out the natural flavours of their dishes.

Both are known for their intense seasonings and spices like garlic, chilies, oregano, cumin, and paprika.

Cooking Techniques

Italian and Mexican cuisines both feature an abundance of fresh, vibrant ingredients that are used to create flavourful dishes. 

Both cultures rely heavily on vegetables, herbs, and spices like garlic, chilies, oregano, cumin, and paprika for intense flavour.

Both cuisines favour slow-cooking methods such as simmering, baking, and roasting to bring out the natural flavours of their ingredients.


This is a popular cooking technique used by both Italian and Mexican cuisines. It involves slowly cooking foods in liquid over low heat, allowing the flavours of the ingredients to blend and deepen.

Simmering is an important cooking technique used in both Italian and Mexican cuisines to bring out the intense flavours of a dish. 

In Italian cuisine, simmering is often used to make soups, stews, sauces, casseroles, and other cooked dishes. Onions and garlic are commonly added to the liquid while simmering to enhance the flavour. 

In Mexican cuisine, simmering is often used to make salsas and sauces like a mole, which feature a combination of sweet, sour, and spicy flavours. 


Another popular cooking technique used by both Italian and Mexican cuisines. 

Baking allows for a slower, more even cooking process, which helps to bring out the natural flavours of the ingredients. 

In Italian cuisine, baking is often used to prepare dishes like lasagne, pizza and focaccia bread. 

Meanwhile, in Mexican cuisine, baking is used to create dishes like tamales and enchiladas. 


This is a popular technique in both Italian and Mexican cuisines. 

It is a dry-heat method that uses hot air to cook food at high temperatures, allowing the ingredients to caramel and develop a rich flavour. 

Roasting typically takes longer than baking or simmering, but the results are worth it. In Italian cuisine, roasting is often used to prepare dishes like roast chicken and pork. 

In Mexican cuisine, roasting is used to create dishes such as roasted peppers and tacos al pastor. 

Flavour Profile Comparisons

Italian and Mexican cuisines have a lot in common when it comes to flavour profiles. Both offer dishes that are hearty, flavourful, and rustic. 

The flavours of Italian cuisine come from the liberal use of olive oil, garlic, onions, tomatoes, and herbs. 

On the other hand, Mexican cuisine favours chilies, coriander, garlic, tomatoes, and other spices to create its signature flavour profile.

Similar Presentation Styles

Italian and Mexican cuisines share a lot of similarities when it comes to presentation styles. 

Both rely on vibrant colours and presentation techniques that draw the eye and elevate the dining experience. 

For example, Italian dishes often feature an abundance of vegetables, such as tomato and onion slices, which are artfully arranged on plates. 

Likewise, Mexican cuisine also uses vibrant visual appeal, such as colourful salsa and guacamole toppings

Both cultures also favour plating food with vibrant garnishes like olives, peppers, or cilantro sprigs.

Countries Where They Meet

Both Italian and Mexican cuisine has many surprising similarities in their ingredients, preparation styles, and flavours. 

Although these two cuisines come from different parts of the world, they share a surprisingly large number of culinary connections. 

Surprisingly enough, these similarities can be found in countries around the world where both cultures have had an influence. 

United States

In the United States, Italian and Mexican cuisines have been combined in ways that are unexpected but delightful. 

For instance, tacos often include toppings like mozzarella cheese or marinara sauce. 

Enchiladas may be filled with ricotta cheese and topped with a savory tomato sauce. 

Both cultures can also be seen in the popular Tex-Mex dishes, such as chili con queso and nachos. 


Cartagena, Colombia is an amazing city that offers some of the best of both Italian and Mexican cuisine. 

Cartagena is known for its vibrant culture and beautiful architecture and notably scrumptious cuisine, making it a great destination for travellers looking to experience the culinary fusion of Italian and Mexican cuisines. 


Spain is another great destination to experience Italian and Mexican cuisines. 

Spain has a unique style of food preparation, known as ‘tapas’, which combines ingredients from both cultures, such as olives, tomatoes, peppers, and chorizo. 

This type of cooking also gives an exciting twist to classic Italian pasta dishes by adding Mexican flavours such as chilli and coriander. 

The widespread influence of Italian and Mexican cuisines can be seen around the world. In many countries, Italian-style pizzerias and Mexican-style taco stands are ubiquitous. 

Final Word

The merging of Italian and Mexican cuisines creates a unique gastronomic experience and allows for the creation of flavourful dishes. 

From fusion restaurants to food trucks, these two cultures offer an abundance of flavours and textures that can be combined in exciting ways. 

For instance, Italian Mexican fusion restaurants such as Itamex typically offer dishes such as spaghetti and meatballs or fajitas with fresh vegetables. 

By combining the fresh ingredients, intense spices, and slow-cooking methods that are common in both cuisines, a delicious meal is sure to be enjoyed by all.  

With a little imagination and skillful preparation, Italian and Mexican cuisine can come together to create flavourful dishes that are sure to satisfy. 



Tricks to Maintaining a Healthy Sleep Cycle When Traveling Often

Getting a good night’s rest is important to your health and well-being. It’s also critical when you’re traveling. 


Studies have shown that 50-70 million Americans have some form of sleep disorder. Traveling can make things worse, so it’s good to know some useful facts about quality sleeping and traveling.

Set a Sleep Schedule

Keeping a regular sleep schedule can help you align your body’s 24-hour cycles of wakefulness and sleep. This helps you get the most rest possible each night, so that you feel recharged and refreshed the next day.

There are a few ways to do this. One is to set a specific bedtime and wake up time for yourself each day.

This will eventually become a routine and your body will be accustomed to going to bed at the same time each evening and waking up at the same time each morning.

Once your schedule is set, don’t be afraid to vary it just a little bit, if necessary, for example if you have to get up early for work or for a family event. But it’s important to stick with it most of the time, as straying from your sleep schedule can lead to serious health issues.

Having a healthy sleep schedule is also key for maintaining good mental health, so if you find that you’re constantly feeling tired or irritable during the day, it could be time to look at your sleep habits.

Bring Your Own Comfort Items

Bringing your own comfort items is a great way to prepare your brain for sleep, even if you aren’t able to have the same bedtime routine that you do at home. This is especially helpful if you’re traveling to a place that feels and smells different from your home.

If you normally change into pajamas before bed, bring a pair of slippers with you to wear on your flight. Changing into these comfortable shoes will help your body feel more at ease and get you in the mood for sleep.

One of the biggest challenges of traveling is overcoming jet lag, which can disrupt your sleep cycle. Taking melatonin supplements and getting light exposure can help with this, but it’s important to have the right schedule in place.

Using your own blankets is also a great way to comfort yourself on long flights. These will be a more sanitary option than the blankets that airlines provide and they can give you a sense of familiarity when you’re away from home.

Invest in Noise-Canceling Headphones

Whether you’re traveling for work or pleasure, noise-canceling headphones can help you get a good night’s sleep. They’re finely tuned to detect low-frequency sounds like airplane engines and air conditioners, reducing them to a comfortable level.

Noise-canceling headphones also reduce loud snoring, making it easier to sleep with a partner. And, since they can reduce incoming sounds by up to 45 decibels, they’re an absolute game changer for long-haul flights.

Headphones with active noise cancellation (ANC) use a combination of microphones and mini-computers to listen to background sounds, and then “cancel” them out before they can reach your ears. You’ll find this technology on many top-of-the-line models from Bose and Jabra, but you’ll need to pay a bit more for them.

However, it’s important to note that these headphones can sometimes cause “eardrum suck,” which is a sensation where the pressure in your eardrum feels like it’s being squeezed by the headphones. So, if you have any problems with them, it’s best to talk to your doctor about whether or not you should wear them while sleeping.

Make Sure You Have Comfortable Bedding and Pillows

Whether you’re planning an exotic getaway or a weekend road trip, a few well-chosen pieces of bedding can go a long way towards enhancing your travel experience. 

Be sure to pick out the best bed sheets, pillowcases, and a matching duvet cover. They should be made of materials that are soft, breathable, and durable enough to handle the rigors of frequent use. You can also opt for a plush mattress topper.  A high-quality duvet is a must, and you’ll want to snag one that boasts a quality filling such as Egyptian cotton, merino wool or down. 

The aforementioned duvet should be accompanied by a matching down-filled blanket and a set of high-quality pillows that fit atop it. 

You’ll also want to consider the quality of the pillow-fill material and whether or not it’s machine washable. The best pillows are the softest, and should be replaced annually or more frequently as they wear down over time.

Using the right bed accoutrements and a little know-how can help you sleep like a champion. The following tips will ensure you and your partner get the snoozes you deserve.

Get Light Exposure When You Can

Getting exposure to sunlight is a great way to strengthen your circadian rhythm and promote sleep health. Sunlight is a natural cue to the brain that it’s time to get ready for bed and helps your body naturally produce melatonin, which is crucial for sleep regulation.

For example, getting outside in the morning for 15 minutes can help you fall asleep faster and sleep longer at night. It also promotes cognitive function and healthy weight.

If you can’t get outside, try using a light box or other bright artificial lighting. These devices, typically used for seasonal affective disorder (SAD), are often helpful for those who travel and work in dark rooms or who suffer from a lack of natural light.

Getting light exposure when traveling is one of the best ways to prevent jet lag, which is caused by changing your body’s internal clock and can be hard to adjust to. If you’re traveling eastward, aim for light exposure in the morning to help your body adapt to the new time zone, while if you’re traveling west, seek out light later in the day to facilitate your transition.

Respect the Time Difference

Keep an eye out for the time changes when you’re traveling so you know what time it is at home as well as when you’re away. Then, use that knowledge to your advantage by staying on top of the schedules of everyone in your travel party and adjusting accordingly.

While you’re at it, make sure you also get the recommended amount of exercise and eat plenty of fruit and veg. This can help you maintain a healthy weight, which will ultimately improve your overall health and productivity. 

The best part is you’ll feel a lot more energized and refreshed when you finally get back to your normal routine. The best way to do that is to have a solid bedtime and wake up routine that works for you, your family and your work schedule.

Avoid Alcohol and Caffeine

Drinking alcohol while traveling can have negative consequences both short and long-term. It can have a direct impact on your sleep cycle and lead to physical harm, including a hangover or alcohol poisoning.

The best way to avoid these problems is to stay away from alcohol and caffeine when you are traveling. These substances have a number of negative effects on your body that can make you sluggish, irritable and unfocused.

In particular, alcohol and caffeine can mess with your normal sleep cycle and increase your risk of a number of health problems like heart disease, depression, stroke and even death.

Caffeine is a stimulant that increases blood pressure and heart rate, while alcohol can affect your central nervous system by slowing down reaction times and causing drowsiness. This can also trigger parasomnias, which are sleep disorders that interfere with normal sleep patterns, such as nightmares or daytime drowsiness.

It is safe to consume up to 400 milligrams of caffeine a day, but consuming too much can cause serious health issues. This includes muscle tremors, headaches, anxiety and insomnia.

Talk to Your Doctor About Sleep Aids

Jet lag can be difficult to overcome, especially when you travel long-distance. But a doctor can help you understand your situation and give recommendations for both medical and non-medical options.

If you are having trouble sleeping, ask your doctor about sleep aids, which can include over-the-counter and prescription drugs. These medications are typically safe to take short-term, but they can have side effects.

Over-the-counter sleep aids, which are usually composed of antihistamines, can be effective for occasional sleep problems. But they can also lead to drug tolerance and dependence, which means you need more of them to get the same drowsy effect.

Prescription sleep aids are safer than over-the-counter versions because they require a doctor’s prescription, which ensures the right dosage and potency. But they can have a number of side effects, including allergic reactions and abnormal behavior after taking them.

You may be able to find sleep aids that are safe and effective without a prescription, such as melatonin supplements or other natural substances. However, they don’t have the same level of FDA approval as prescription drugs, so it’s important to speak with a doctor about their use.

Final Words

Traveling often can disrupt your sleep cycle and make it difficult to maintain a healthy sleeping pattern. However, prioritizing sleep, controlling light and sound exposure, managing stress levels, avoiding caffeine and alcohol late in the day, scheduling naps on long journeys, and being mindful of changing time zones can help you develop better sleep habits when traveling. With these tips, you can ensure that your sleep cycle remains healthy even when jet-setting around the world. 

What to Do in Grand Rapids MI When You’re Only in Town for a Day

Are you looking for a fun and exciting day in Grand Rapids, Michigan? With its vibrant culture, beautiful scenery, and diverse attractions, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Whether you are visiting with family or traveling solo, the city of Grand Rapids has plenty to offer. 

From outdoor activities at one of the many parks to shopping downtown – no matter your interests – you’ll find it all here!   Let’s discuss some of the best places to explore when you’re only in town for a day. So get ready to experience all that Grand Rapids has to offer! 

Dining Options

Grand Rapids is a vibrant city with plenty of great dining options to choose from.   Some of the best restaurants in Grand Rapids are San Chez Bistro, Brewery Vivant, The Winchester, Grove Restaurant & Bar, and Terra GR.  These restaurants offer delicious cuisine ranging from traditional American fare to unique regional specialties. 

If you’re looking for a more casual dining experience during your day trip in Grand Rapids, there are plenty of great options as well. 

Popular casual restaurants include Kuzzo’s Chicken & Waffles, Slows Bar BQ, Founders Brewing Co., and Friesian Gastro Pub.  There are many excellent food trucks and street vendors located throughout the city.  No matter what type of cuisine you’re looking for, you’ll find something to satisfy your hunger during a day trip in Grand Rapids. Bon Appétit!

Morning Activities

If you’re looking for some morning activities in Grand Rapids MI, there are plenty of options to choose from. 

One option is to visit the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. 

This 132-acre botanical garden and outdoor sculpture park features a variety of gardens with over 5,000 plant varieties and hundreds of sculptures from around the world. 

You can also enjoy a tram ride and take in the many lakes, streams, and woodlands that make up this beautiful environment.

Alternatively, you could visit one of Grand Rapids’ local art galleries or museums. 

The Grand Rapids Art Museum has an extensive collection of modern and contemporary art as well as historical exhibits. 

The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum is also worth checking out, as it offers visitors a unique look at the life and legacy of the former president.

For those looking for something active to do in the morning, you can go kayaking on the Grand River or take a hike on one of the many trails in Millennium Park. 

If you’re feeling brave, you can even try a free-fall experience at the Grand Rapids Skydiving Center.   You could also explore the city on two wheels by renting a bike or joining one of the city’s bicycle tours. 

Noon and Afternoon Activities

Grand Rapids is a great destination for those looking to explore during their noon and afternoon hours.  The city is bursting with energy and activities that are sure to keep you entertained throughout your stay. 


Here are some popular activities:

Visit the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park 

Enjoy art, gardens and nature at this unique 148-acre botanical garden and sculpture park located in Grand Rapids. 

There are plenty of interactive activities to enjoy as well as a tropical conservatory, children’s garden, outdoor amphitheater and much more.

Explore Downtown Grand Rapids 

Take a stroll through the downtown area and enjoy some of the great local shops and restaurants. 

The Grand River runs throughout downtown, providing beautiful views along the way. 

Take a Segway Tour 

Get to know the city on two wheels with one of the popular segway tours available around Grand Rapids.  Tours will take you to some of the most popular sights in town. 

Visit one of the Local Breweries 

Grand Rapids is home to many breweries, some of them offering tastings and tours.   Stop by one of these unique spots and sample some delicious beers crafted locally. 

Take a Boat Tour 

Enjoy a peaceful boat tour on the Grand River or take a kayak out for an adventure up the river.   Enjoy the beautiful views of the city and its surroundings from a different perspective. 

Photo by Jonathan Mast on Unsplash

Evening Activities

The city is home to dozens of lively bars and pubs, as well as a wide variety of restaurants with everything from traditional American fare to international dishes. 

Theater lovers can take in an evening show at one of the many theaters around town, such as the Grand Rapids Ballet or the Civic Theatre.  If you want to spend some time outdoors, you can explore the many parks around town.   Millennium Park is one of the most popular spots and has plenty of activities like biking and walking trails, lakeside beaches, a fishing pier, and sports courts. 

Or if you’re looking for something more relaxing, you can take a leisurely stroll through the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park.

If you’re looking for some nighttime entertainment, there are plenty of pubs and clubs around town offering live music and dancing. 

Or if you’d like to explore Grand Rapids’ rich history, you can visit the Grand Rapids Public Museum or take a guided tour of the historic and iconic neighborhoods like Heritage Hill. 

You could also head over to the downtown art district, where you’ll find dozens of interesting galleries, shops, and cafes.

Shopping Options

Grand Rapids hosts a variety of shopping centers that cater to a range of tastes. 

The Downtown Market is the largest indoor/outdoor market in Michigan and offers locally sourced produce and artisanal foods, as well as unique gifts from local artisans. 

For those looking for big-name brands, Woodland Mall has all the major stores along with many dining options. 

Rivertown Crossings Mall is another popular shopping destination that features stores like Apple, Sephora, and Victoria’s Secret. 

Final Word

Grand Rapids, Michigan is a great place to visit for anyone looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.   Whether you’re in town for a day or an entire week, there are plenty of activities that can fill up your itinerary with fun and excitement. 

From visiting museums and art galleries to exploring nature trails and taking part in outdoor sports, Grand Rapids has something for everyone. 

With its vibrant culture, delicious cuisine options, rich history, and stunning natural beauty — it won’t be hard to find things to do while you’re here!


How to use technology to help you manage your sugar intake.

Too much sugar is bad for our health. It can raise cholesterol, increase the risk of diabetes and contribute to tooth decay. The CDC advises that no more than 10% of our total daily calories should be made up of added sugars. It can be hard to moderate our sugar intake, particularly when we rely on processed, pre-packaged foods which are often high in added sugars.

Luckily, advancements in technology are helping us monitor our nutritional intake and take better control of our diets and lifestyles. Here are three ways you can use technology to manage your sugar consumption.

1. Use food diary apps to monitor your nutrition

Smartphone apps like Lose It!, MyFitnessPal and Noom allow you to log your food and monitor your intake of sugar easily. Many of these apps use the nutritional information from food packaging to calculate the intake of protein, fat, carbohydrate, sugars and other nutrients. When you input data into these apps consistently, you’ll be able to see which foods impact your sugar consumption the most, allowing you to make more informed choices.

2. Use meal-planning apps to prepare healthy dishes

It’s common to turn to processed and pre-packaged foods for the sake of convenience, but this is where sugar tends to hide. Added sugar is contained in more than 60% of foods and drinks bought in American grocery stores. Therefore you’re typically much better off cooking your own dishes from scratch, as you’ll have complete control over the amount of sugar in your meals.

If you’re limited on time or inspiration, try using a meal planning app instead of resorting to pre-made food. Depending on the app, they can help you to organise your own recipes into shopping lists and weekly menus, or give you pre-set recipes and menus that work with your nutritional and budgetary goals.

3. Use screen time settings on devices to cut blue light exposure at night

Many people use their devices for some entertainment before they fall asleep, but it’s now thought that excessive exposure to screens at night could lead to increased sugar cravings. A study conducted in 2019 found that the blue light emitted from our devices at night can alter levels of the hormones that control appetite and glucose tolerance.

By limiting screen exposure in the hours before bed, it may be possible to reduce cravings for sugar and in turn, reduce your sugar intake. Our smartphones have various features to help us reduce screen time, such as timers to limit the usage of certain apps, and reminders to encourage us to take frequent breaks.

Embrace tech to build healthy habits

Much of the technology that can help you manage your sugar intake can also help you to adopt a range of healthy diet and lifestyle habits, so there’s really no reason not to. Embracing this technology can put you on the right track to an overall healthier lifestyle, so find the way that works for you.


Discover the Beauty of Sicily in June

Five reasons why June is the best month to Visit Sicily

“Are you looking for a vacation destination that combines stunning beaches, delicious food, rich culture, and beautiful weather?” Look no further than Sicily in June! The island of Sicily, located in the Mediterranean Sea, is a treasure trove of history, art, and natural beauty. June is the perfect month to visit as the weather is warm and sunny, the crowds are smaller, and the island is bursting with vibrant colours and flavours. From the ancient ruins of Agrigento to the crystal-clear waters of the Aeolian Islands, there is something for everyone in Sicily. So, pack your bags and get ready for an unforgettable June vacation in the heart of the Mediterranean! 

Here are 5 reasons why June is the best month to experience all that Sicily has to offer:

The weather is perfect for outdoor activities:

With temperatures averaging between 25-30°C, June is the perfect time to take advantage of the warm weather and explore this breathtaking island . Whether you’re looking to hike through the island’s natural beauty, visit the many historical sites, swim in its crystal-clear waters, or lounge on its beaches, June is the ideal time to experience the beauty and diversity of Sicily.

Enjoy longer days

June is the start of the summer solstice, which means the days are at their longest. You’ll have more time to explore the island’s many sights and attractions. From the ancient ruins at the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, to the sandy beaches of Cefalu, or the stunning baroque architecture of Noto and Modica, there is something for everyone.


Festivals and events:

June is a month packed with festivals and events celebrating Sicily’s rich cultural heritage. To name a few, there is the famous “Infiorata” flower festival in Noto, or the “Fiera di San Giovanni” market in Trapani featuring a colourful parade of floats and fireworks, or the vibrant markets in the capital Palermo. These are just some of the opportunities available to experience traditional Sicilian life and culture.

 Low crowds:

As June is considered the shoulder season, there are fewer crowds in Sicily compared to July and August. This means you can explore the island’s many historical and cultural sites at a more leisurely pace. It’s the ideal time to visit Sicily’s famed active volcano Mt Etna, which is a popular destination with travellers during peak times.

Local Cuisine:

No list is complete without mentioning the culinary delights on offer!

The favourable weather conditions mean June is peak season for local produce. There is an abundance of the tastiest seasonal fruits and vegetables, and of course locally caught seafood. Enjoy Sicily’s traditional dishes such as arancini or caponata, made with the freshest ingredients or sample mouth-watering seafood, there is no doubt that Sicily’s food will be the highlight of your visit.


Whether you are fascinated by Sicily’s rich and varied history, are wanting a gastronomic experience like no other, or simply looking for a relaxing beach vacation, June is the ideal time to experience the beauty and culture of Sicily. Don’t miss out on this amazing destination – plan your trip now and discover for yourself why June is the best month to visit this Mediterranean paradise.

Why not join me on my Savouring Sicily – A Tour for the Senses Travelling in June. For more information and to view the itinerary visit  https://dominiquerizzo.com/sicily-food-tour/