Hazelnuts in southern Italy

Hazelnuts are everywhere in southern Italy which are used in typical recipes such as hazelnut ice cream, cakes, biscuits and liqueurs. I would like to share with you my experience of hazelnuts and a hazelnut festival in Sicily. You will find many towns and villages in Sicily celebrating the harvest of this wonderful fruit. There are many hazelnut trees in the Nebrodi mountains. Not so far away, there is the beautiful hill top town of San Piero Patti, which celebrates this delight every year in August.

Hazelnuts everywhere

The best way to find hazelnuts is to go trekking in the Nebrodi mountains. There are countless hazelnut trees. You can pick the hazelnuts directly from the trees or at the bottom of them. I could not believe it when I saw all those trees in the woods. You will also find many people like yourselves waiting to fill their baskets full of these delicious fruits. There are trillions of trees so no need to feel like you could miss out. I think its wonderful that the local people can fill their baskets full of hazelnuts free of charge while in shops and supermarkets, you can pay up to a small fortune for these sought after treats. You can read about the health benefits here.

Sicilian horse and cart
The Sicilian horse and cart

The hazelnut festival

There are of course many hazelnut festivals to celebrate the harvest of this fruit. I went to the hazelnut festival in San Piero Patti. The beautiful hill top town is located 450 metres above sea level above the hills of Patti. Every year in August the local people get ready for this amazing festival. The inhabitants from all over Sicily wait every year to come here and what a welcome and a feast they get. It usually starts at about 8pm in the evening and finishes late at night. You will see stalls displaying many of the hazelnut delights as well as the hazelnuts. You will then be entertained with beautifully decorated Sicilian carts led by the most beautiful horses.

A Sicilian band plays while people dance and enjoy themselves in the pretty square. You can then enjoy the local delicacies made of course with hazelnut such as hazelnut flavoured arancini and cannoli with hazelnut flavoured ricotta. There is home-made bread with barbecued sausage and a hazelnut filling followed by the local hazelnut liqueur.

Local liqueurs

hazelnut liqueur
antipasto with hazelnuts

You can also try this wonderful liqueur after a delicious lunch or dinner at the trattoria Da Luciana not so far away from the village, which I highly recommend. The views from this restaurant make the trip rewarding as well as the tasty dishes. You should definitely try the mixed antipasto. It’s never ending as well as the hazelnut liquer and other assorted liqueurs such as pistachio, fennel, almond, orange and many more flavours. You can drink as much as you like as the kind owners don’t charge you for it. I would say drink them in moderation as they are really strong.

You can read about another food festival in this town in my earlier post which I think is one of the best in Sicily. The street food festival “Ca’ food” takes place in August and is definitely worth seeing. You can read about it here You can also visit the Aeolian islands from Milazzo which is about 40 minutes away from Patti Marina.

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