A Deconstructed Kitchen in Sicily

October 27th, 2017

In the next three weeks, I am wrapping up the travel for SEE YOU IN THE PIAZZA: PLACES TO DISCOVER IN ITALY. It won’t be published until April, 2019. This coming April, my new novel WOMEN IN SUNLIGHT comes out. The travel book is such a joy. We have been on the road for most of a year. It has been revelatory: Italy is truly endless! We are finding staggering variety in this country that is the size of Arizona but holds so many worlds.

Just back from the south of Sicily and I want share photos of a kitchen. The inn is Baglio Occhipinti near Vittoria, a wine center and lively town. Fausta, a young landscape designer, restored a tumble of white stone farm buildings, with roots back to the Arabs. Baglio is Arabic for courtyard. Her sister, Arianna, did the same with other buildings down the road where she makes Occhipinti wines. She’s raking in the awards. A big salute to these two women making a difference! And having a grand time. The inn has six calm and welcoming rooms. Ours was all white–sofa, chairs, bed, curtains. The art on one wall was a piece of old painted door, on another, framed botanicals from the property. The were charmingly amateurish, like a project you’d do with a child on a summer afternoon. It’s that kind of place.

In the kitchen, Sebastiano cooks. You can have a cooking session with him, or Fausta can arrange for a wonderful local woman to come cook with you. “She speaks no English,” Fausta said, “but everyone understands her.” Candlelit dinner is served in a lofty space that used to be a winemaking room and, probably a granary, since the ceilings are so high. Dinners are Sebastiano’s set menu–whatever is fresh from the garden. More on all that, and their wine, in my book. What amazed me is the kitchen. I look at Remodelista and other design sites frequently. This kitchen made me laugh thinking of those curated wonders. I love this old world quirkiness and heart.


Here’s the oh-so-necessary island. Tart for breakfast cooling. Pull up a chair. Pumpkin for evening all chopped for Sebastiano’s risotto:



What would be cupboards and counter space:



The stove and stone sink. Door opens to garden tables where breakfast is served:



Food storage and wood oven:



Dinner both nights was excellent. You can talk to guests at the next table or not. Only those staying here can dine. White clad, candlelit tables are set up to the right of this cozy space, the table stacked with books. Guitar by the hearth.



We discovered so many unique-to-the-place, interesting towns. This inn, deep in the countryside is surrounded by fascinating towns where you might be the only tourist. Sicily is another world. Read more about Franca and Arianna’s places:  and


Thanks so much for the suggestions for travel! I welcome more. Can always add a chapter or two.

Also! We have a small olive oil crop this year, due to crazy weather, but the oil is, as always, sublime. You can order for holiday delivery up until 1 November, and anytime after for delivery in and after January. Check the website, which my grandson William designed: Here’s a new photo by Steven Rothfeld of this transforming elixir:


Browse all articles from October 2017

Share this post:

8 Responses to “A Deconstructed Kitchen in Sicily”

  1. DAVID S ROBBIN says:


  2. DAVID S ROBBIN says:


  3. Gregory Mowery says:

    Italy has no better advocate than you, Frances. What a lovely visit. I loved the photo of the side table all covered with silver serving pieces. It’s a rustic house full of charm.

  4. Sanja Janes says:

    Dear Frances and Ed,

    I am very happy that I have been able to see you even for a few moments, although I’m sorry I did not succeed in greetings with Ed. As I assumed, you are full of obligation.
    I’m staying in Tuscany by Friday and I’d be very happy to have a quick drink with you.
    Even half an hour will do.
    Frances’s, the warmth of your words in the books prompted me to think that it’s possible to start a new life somewhere after the unhappy ending of the former one.
    Your advice would be precious because you are now natives here and I believe that you still remember your dificulties at the very beginning. One more difference is that I am all alone in this and you had the valuable help of a man’s hand- Ed.

    I’m sorry that this has come off this way (on the road) and I would love that I was able to announce my visit.
    I went back to the house 4 times yesterday and in the end it was awkward but I hope you at least like the pumpkin.
    I have prepared another gift for you and Ed, hand made as well. It was at the back of my car but with you two so tired and me so excited I finally forgot everything I had in mind.
    I have had my Croatian edition of the first book with me and in the end I did not give it to you for a signature and did not take photograph with you, either. Grrrr
    I can not write to you through FB since I closed my profile 2 months ago with a reason, belive me. But please do contact me through my e-mail or text me on my handy – 00385 95 16 15 920.

    I sincerely hope you will be able to find some time for me in your packed schedule.
    Since the first edition of the book in Croatia (2004), I have been following all of your revelations and blogs and I’ve been strongly affected by your words. It took a long time for me to decide and try to reach you, and now that I am here it is extremely important to me.
    Even that brief glimpse yesterday filled my hart with warmnes.
    The house and garden are astonishing as are you two, looking inseparable, full of energy, warm and sympathetic.
    PS. I am visiting FESTA DEL MARRONE in Campiglia dOrca today and then SAGRA DEL TORDO a Montalcino and finally Olive fest in Montepulciano. Although I am a bit sad,while here, I just want to live under the motto LA VITE E BELLA !!!! Soprattutto in Toscana.

    • Frances Mayes says:

      Sanja, very sorry I wasn’t able to meet with you. You caught me at a very busy time with a photo shoot here, guests, and travels. I hope being here gave you the clarity you are seeking. Sounds like you made great adventures for your time in Cortona!Thanks again for the white pumpkin and all the best to you at this crossroads in your life.

  5. Jacqueline Hearne says:

    ah! that floor under the vegetable baskets!

  6. RiccardoDeMedici says:

    Thank you for sharing! The photos and words do the same thing to me as a sugo with a bit of peperoncini – they create all that delicious warmth in bocca… Drool, drool, drool!

  7. Teresa Allen says:

    Thanks for sharing Frances. Goes to show that improvisation works a treat. Why not use separate items of furniture. As we know, the best ingredients for a great meal come from quality produce & cooking with love. I’m so looking forward to Women in Sunlight. I was so eager earlier in the year I ordered it for last April. Lol.

Leave a Reply