Look down from the balcony. The fruit and veggie boxes displayed there belong to Carmela Scandurra’s grocery store. She’ll be most happy when you shop at her place - and give you the sad looks when you pass by her loaded with plastic bags from a soulless supermarket elsewhere in the area... It is not just that Carmela has way better fruit and vegetables than the regional supermarkets, being at least partially homegrown, she will also happily get you anything you need in no time that’s currently not available in the store. It may just as well happen to you that the day after you first visited with your small children, the store suddenly is stuffed up to the ceiling with diapers of all sizes and prices... (You need eggs? Take the ones from the bucket!)
The macelleria (butcher) at Piazza Dottore Cammarieri — the square between church and petrol station, where the cars park and the regional bus stops — unfortunately has closed for good; in its shop, however, you will now find a bakery which has quickly become popular among the local youth for its focaccia. Anyway, you won’t have to become a vegetarian: in Sant’Alessio Siculo, the first coastal town on the left, there’s an excellent butcher, and, by the way, there’s also a fish monger nearby which will happily sell you the catch of the day.
A sweat treat not-to-be-missed are the so-called „mafiosi“ in Roberto's Pasticceria in Taormina, and his cannoli with crema and candied nuts or pistaches. From Piazza IX Aprile, walk down Corso Umberto towards Porta Messina for about 150m, then turn right into Via Fratelli Bandiera (the 5th alley on your right). This alley joins Via Calapitrulli after 80m, and that's where you find Lab. Pasticceria Roberto at the corner with Via Bagnoli Croci (via Calapitrulli, 9/A).
Zafferana Etnea (Mt. Etna, take the „Giarre“ motorway turnoff) is regarded to have the best honey of the region. Enrica has, however, also found some excellent pastries here: mandorlini (almond meringues), torrone (almond honey nougat), and especially the delicious „Foglie da Tè“ (thin leaves made of ground almonds).
And while you’re already in the area, here some recommendations for wine shopping: good local wine is available on „Barone di Villagrande“ estate in Milo (same motorway turnoff „Giarre“), where 5 liters of red or white wine sell at around 8 Euros. Highly recommended: the estate restaurant with rustic but excellent cuisine and included wine-tasting. Even cheaper is „Murgo“ wine from „Tenuta San Michele“ estate between Santa Venerina und Zafferana Etnea.
Serious shoppers may find — besides Taormina — Catania and Messina nice places to ramble. Catania's main drag is centrally located Via Etnea, whereas in Messina, Viale San Martino would be the place to go (also by tramway). At its far end, close to the harbour, there is pleasant Piazza Cairoli, providing nice shade in summer with its impressive canopy, the place where the local youngsters clump around the ice cream parlours. One parallel left of this square, traffic calmed Via dei Mille is another nice street to stroll along.
(...to be continued...)