Sicily’s fresh fruit, vegetables and fish are probably among the best in the world, and for keen cooks, one of the great pleasures of being on holiday in Sicily is having the time to shop slowly, beginning each day with a wander around the local market or a visit to the local fishing harbour to get inspiration for the day’s menu. With this in mind, we’ve put together a collection of villas for foodies – all of which have kitchens designed for those who are truly passionate cooks. And to whet your appetite, we are launching a regular guide to the best of Sicily’s seasonal produce – including some fruits, fish and vegetables you may never have heard of. What’s more, we’ve been badgering family, friends and professional cooks in Sicily for their favourite recipes, and we’ll be passing these on to you as well.

An unusual cooking classes is at Villa Valguarnera by the owner Princess Vittoria Alliata di Villafranca who evoke the Gastrosophy invented by her ancestor Enrico Alliata. An estate where, in 1910,  Duke Enrico Alliata di Salaparuta, the pioneer of vegetarian cuisine and the inventor of Gastrosophy, the philosophy of “healthy eating”, introduced  Rudolph Steiner to organic biodynamic agriculture.

Enrico Alliata was the author of “Cucina vegetariana e naturismo crudo”, the first western recepy book on balanced vegetarian diets, published in 1920.
 It explained for the first time to western readers why all sustenance needed by man can be provided by nature and its cycles.Well ahead of his time in his in-depth studies of  food, mainly  thanks to his deep knowledge of ayurvedic medicine and science,  Duke Enrico succeeded in creating both elaborate mediterreanean vegetarian dishes, accurately balanced on ayurvedic principles,  and a number of raw food recepies that can be considered the ancestors of present day vegan diets.

Written by Julia Bellhouse