Sicily: The Quest for Cannoli

Stop number one on our cruise led us to the beautiful island of Sicily, just a few skips off the coast of Italy. Sicily is still considered part of Italy, but boasts completely different foods, different customs, and basically a different version of Italian. And if you ask Sicilians if they are Italian, do you know what they will say?

Yes, we are Sicilian. (Catch my drift?)

One of the main reasons Jessica decided to impulsively book the cruise with me is because she had a life long goal of eating her way out of a pile of Sicilian cannolis. And I too wanted to enjoy a big slice of thick crusted Sicilian pizza that I have come to enjoy in American.

So, we went to Sicily, because we were on a mission for good food. And not surprisingly, most of our missions here in Italy are based around this theme.

We had been sailing for just under a day when we reached the beautiful port of Messina, below.

The mountains in the backdrop led us to believe that our time here would be just as beautiful as the food would be delicious. We booked an excursion that mentioned the word “cannoli,” and we were off, not really having any idea what we were in for.

Our first stop was Mt. Etna, one of the only active volcanoes in Europe. The drive up was absolutely fascinating. There were sections of the mountain that were completely void of any vegetation and right next to it there was flourishing fauna. It was evident were lava had devastated the land.

And to reward us (for riding the bus), we stopped at a restaurant at the top of Mt. Etna, called La Cantoniera, where (we were told) there would be cannolis awaiting us.

Jessica began panting.

I began salivating.

The others on the bus became concerned at the state of our mental health.

And then we saw them. We saw the beautiful pastry that we had waited to consume for so long.

Behold, the original Sicilian cannoli.

Jessica made sure to tell us that this would not be her last of the day, and don’t worry, I whole-heatedly believed her.

I had obviously never eaten a cannoli from it’s homeland before, but never thought that I had a desire to because of the strange ricotta like texture of the filling inside.

Well let me tell you.

We are all making cannolis WRONG.

This was the bomb digitty.

No sign of soggy shell. It was crisp and cracked perfectly when bitten into. The cream inside was studded with a dash of cinnamon and crushed with pistachio nuts. Inside was luscious, yet light and creamy. The flavor combination was just incredible.

I got really happy. Like,” little girl just opened up her doll-house on Christmas morning” happy. Cannolo (the singular word for Cannoli) was in my belly and I was ready to flood the cannoli gates to my soul.

I’m considering writing a melody about it.

And after that, we were escorted back on the bus to see the Sylvester craters  part of Mt. Etna. But first, I used the ladies room and witnessed something rather noteworthy.

Here, I am told that if I die, I should pull the string.

Hmm…maybe Italians are still able to use their limbs after death befalls them?

Luckily, I did not die, and consequently, was not forced to pull the string. So, we packed up the bus and moved on.

 The craters were quite amazing. You could see the  lava that had formed into small multicolored rocks. The different colors are produced by the intensity of minerals in the lava.

And there were some very big chunks of lava.

And, then I lost interest in the lava and decided to play on it instead.

Very good decision on my part.

And we then packed up the bus for our next destination, Taormina, Sicily, a lovely town situated on the coast.

And we were given a bit of free time to stroll up and town the streets.

Translation: We were given a bit of free time to consume as many Sicilian cannolis as physically possible without vomiting.

And like I said, I was on a mission for Sicilian pizza. I had been talking about it for several days and NEEDED to get my fix.

And then I realized something after scanning the menus that claimed to have Sicilian style pizza.

Sicilian pizza is AMERICAN!

How depressing is that?

Yes, the Sicilian’s still have there “style” of pizza, but it isn’t shaped like a square and doesn’t contain unnecessary greasy dough that will most likely expand your waste line.

So after I had my small fit of anger, foot stomping, and pout session, we decided to sit down at this restaurant over looking the gorgeous coast.

Ristorante Pizzeria Taormina was perfectly quaint and charming. The terrace seating area was tucked away under shrubs and greenery. It was inviting and comfortable.

We were brought bread, which is standard in Italy, but then we realized something.



We didn’t know what to do with ourselves. There was no need to rudely ask for a salt shaker or use the bread as a mop for a salty Tuscan sauce.

So, I figured I would take a picture of it.

And I did.

Jessica ordered a typical Sicilian pasta with anchovy and I, of course, ordered a Sicilian pizza (with zucchini).

And, I had one of those moments where you enjoy something and wish a certain someone was there to experience it with you.

Daddy, I wish you were here. Your love for crunchy (almost burnt) pizza with thin crust makes me want to share all of Italy with you. This would have been the best pizza you ever ate. It had all of your proper qualifications. Just slap some meat on there and you would have been in foodgasm territory.

Daddy, I love you. I miss your strange obsession with burnt things, and your ignorance to the fact that I’m learning how to make anything other than pizza in culinary school.

I’ll be back soon,daddy, I promise.

Oh, and just so you know. This may have been the best pizza (other than Sienna) that I have eaten in Italy.

But forget about that, because as soon as I licked my fingers and took my last swig of sparkling water, Jessica and I were ready for cannolis. So, we just started running around, buying a cannoli from EVERY pasticceria that caught our eye. And here is how is started.

Our first stop (well, technically second, if you count Mt. Etna’s cannoli…which we don’t because it had been over 2 hours) was Pasticceria Gelateria Etna. Everything in the store looked incredible. There was candied fruit, marzipan creations, gelato, and the Sicilian cannoli, which is what we were after.

This cannoli had a unique design, which allowed the shell to hold a higher percentage of filling. Which, once we tasted the filling, we realized why these people had engineered it that way. And after your first or second delightful bite into this crunchy creamy treat, you realize that there is an added surprise: an even disbursement of candied orange.

Let’s just say, I didn’t think of that. And didn’t expect it to taste like that.


So at this point, I have had the two best cannolis of my life. I had no idea how there could be anything better.

But I was willing to try.

This shop caught my eye mainly because there was a gigantic cannoli in the window.

And so I went in a bought one.

Not bad, just a different texture with  a more crispy shell.

Actually, I was kind of glad that I didn’t like it that much. When you experience to many incredible things in one day, you become a dessert snob.

And I’m just not into that.

I’m an equal opportunity dessert enthusiast.

Jessica looked like this all day. It was like she was wearing a happy mask.

She told me that she could die now because she had completed her life goal.

Do you understand why she is my friend now?

And if the day couldn’t get ANY better, we were greeted by a wedding party and decided to wait to see the procession of the bride and her father.

It was absolutely beautiful. And all of the tourists outside decided to congregate and pretend like it was a televised game show. Someone knocked over a flower vase and the crowed went, “OHHHHHHHHHHHHH.” The bride got out of the car and crowd clapped. Then the bride went inside and suddenly no one was interested anymore.

I think I saw someone tearing up.

Oh, actually, that was me.

In total, the group of us 4 had consumed a total of 16 cannolis, walked on an active volcano  and ate Sicilian pizza that wasn’t square.

I would say it was a rewarding day…but wait…

Jessica secretly purchased a piece of Cassata (a Sicilian cake with layers of sponge and filled with ricotta cream and candied fruit) and decided to share it with me on the bus ride home.

These Sicilians. They make me want to gain lots of weight and build a house around myself.

It was fantastic.

But then, something else happened.

We forgot about a cannoli that Jessica had purchased at the beginning of our walk in Taormina. The filling looked like it had a different texture and so I wasn’t really keen on purchasing one.

But, she insisted that I take it because she had consumed the length of a football field in cannolis already.

So, being the kind-hearted individual that I am, I took the cannoli.

To my absolute delight, it was lined with a light layer of chocolate, which allowed the shell to remain crunchy. The filling did have a different texture, but it spoke to me in the most luxuriously creamy kind of way.

This, my friends, IS the best cannoli I have ever eaten.

I’m seriously considering blowing this picture up and framing it so i can look at it every day.

 And sometimes, when you eat 5 tons of sweets in one day, you kind of feel like you want to die.


Didn’t happen.

I just kept taking bites of that cannoli, praying that it would never end.

I’m a believe, my friends.

I’m a believer in the Sicilian cannoli.

And as we embarked back on our journey through the Mediterranean, I realized what a truly blessed day I had the privilege of enjoying. I never anticipated the life-changing tendency of Sicilian desserts.

Off to Greece! Ciao for now!