October 27, 2017

A Deconstructed Kitchen in Sicily

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: http://baglioocchipinti.com  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:

http://bramasoleoliveoil.com Here’s a new photo by Steven Rothfeld of this transforming elixir: