Sicily, you know, is a mix of colors and flavors. When you spend a holiday here in our areas our senses are literally overwhelmed. Especially the Etnean territory, thanks to the fertility of the lava soil, is rich in food and wine of great value, there are varieties of fruit, fine wines and renowned dairy products.
Etna products has a not insignificant importance as far as denominations of origin and geographical indications are concerned: we remember the “Doc Etna” for different types of wine (that you can taste during our “Etna & Wine” tour) , the “Dop Monte Etna” for extra virgin olive oil, and the “Dop” for Sicilian Pecorino cheese, just to mention a few examples. Other Etna products are protected and promoted as one of the main economic resources of the territory, as in the case for example with the renowned Bronte pistachio, wich obteined the protected designation of origin in 2009.
A typical product of the Etna area with a Protected Designation of Origin is also the Prickly Pear (ficodindia in Italian), which received this designation in 2003.
Currently the prickly pear finds suitable land especially in the municipalities of Catania, such as S. Maria di Licodia, Belpasso and Adrano just to name a few, but is native to South America, those areas that were initially identified as “Le Indie”: here is explained the origin of the name. And here is also the reason why this fruit finds fertile ground on the slopes of Etna: perfectly resistant to the arid climate, it manages to make its way between the rocks and the lava soil in the so-called “sciare”. You will also have noticed the total absence of trunk: the fruit grows at the end of the leaves, the so-called “pale” and anyone who wants to take any must be careful not to forget to wear gloves! Like all ethnic products the prickly pear is rich in fiber and vitamins, especially vitamin C, and mineral salt: for this reason it is a fruit that has diuretic, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Three different varieties of prickly pears can be found: the “Sanguigna” with its red and juicy pulp, the “Sulfarina”, with its yellow pulp, and the “Muscaredda” with white pulp. This fruit is consumed fresh but it is also used in the production of typical local products: jam, liqueurs, jellies (the typical Sicilian “mostarda”).
It is possible to find, and also taste, these prickly pears in various festivals, the most famous of which is certainly the “Ottobrata Zafferanese”, which is held every Sunday in October. In the same month is also organized the “Sagra del Ficodindia” in Belpasso. In both events you can find demonstration stands of the most famous Sicilian distilleries, such as that of “Fratelli Russo” or “Distelleria Fichera”.
in the remaining months of the year you can taste these sweets and liqueurs at the bakeries of the city, including one of the oldest, “Donna Peppina” that is in the main square of Zafferana Etnea. To buy them and take them home, a stop at “Oro d’Etna” farm is a must.
Do you want to reach them and you do not know how to do it? You can take the Ast bus from Catania station, or you can ask for a transfer to a private agency.