In Taormina, taste your granita at Isola Bella



If you already love Taormina, the beautiful medieval “queen of the Ionian Sea”, you might forget it for a moment when you will see her little daughter, Isola Bella. This “Beautiful Island” will charm you as soon as you will admire it from the highway or from the view points, up on Taormina’s hill. You must explore it, and live it, but that is not easy since Isola Bella has always been “private”.

A “lovely island” for a few friends

The little island all covered in wild vegetation had been given to the town of Taormina in 1806 by king Ferdinand I Bourbon. In 1890 the rich British refugee Lady Florence Trevelyan, married to the taorminian Salvatore Cacciola, bought it. The couple built there their new home and Lady Trevelyan turned the wild vegetation into a nice garden.

After the Trevelyan-Cacciolas, the island became a property of their relative Cesare Acrosso. Later on, in 1954, the business men Leone and Emilio Bosurgi bought it. They added new rooms to the original house and created a super luxury hotel. As their firm made bankruptcy, in the 1980s,  the Bosurgi Brothers sold the island to Region Sicily.

Isola Bella is a “monument of historical and natural value” and in 1990 became property of the Regional Heritage Board. Today it is a Natural Park run by the University of Catania and the Archaeological Park of Giardini Naxos.

A Sicilian granita with a view

isola bella granita 02There are dozens of hotels, B & Bs and cafe-restaurants that open along the state road overlooking Isola Bella. And even more are the private houses or hotels that from the hill of Taormina overlook this precious rock from above. Experience the thrill of tasting a real Sicilian granita in front of this panorama.

And remember that to taste the true flavour of Sicily you will have to order a “granita with almonds and coffee”, a “granita with black mulberries” or a “granita scursunera – or jasmine flavoured”. But pistachio and the ever-present lemons are also Sicilian flavours you cannot miss.

How the Sicilian granita is born

Granita is not an ice-cream. It is usually introduced as crushed ice with some juice poured on. Unlike other granitas that you can enjoy anywhere in Italy, the Sicilian one stands out for its delicacy in mouth  and for the original mix of flavours. There is no real “recipe”, all you need to know is that it comes from snow, and not ice. In fact, in ancient times they used to pour syrups or juices  on the fresh snow, not on the crushed ice as is done elsewhere.

In order to obtain the softness of the snow, therefore, the ice must be crushed and minced several times. Then you must keep it constantly untied with a continuous mixing. You should not use milk, not even a drop. And above all they do not  “pour the flavour on” but mix it together with the ice until it merges with it.


The author: Grazia Musumeci