To tell the tale of a place, it is not enough to experience it. It takes the eyes of those who look at it every day as if it were the first time, as well as the informed gaze of those who have seen it over time, with the right critical spirit and wise, innate sensitivity, like the journalist Angelo Augusto, the perfect guide to discover Licata in ten stages.
1. The port of Licata Until the sixties, the port of Licata was, after Catania and Palermo, the most important, particularly for the extraction of sulphur, which was one of the island’s most profitable mining resources. Today, it is one of the few where, every day, fishermen return with the fish used to make Licata’s typical dishes in trattorias like Donna Rosa: mpalavittati, like sardines in beccafico or pasta in the ‘milanese’ style, with sardines, tomato and breadcrumbs, called that because it was invented by someone on their way home from Milan.
2. Instagram beach Cala Paradiso has been a secret for years. A secret that has been guarded by the select few who frequented this beach, whilst everyone else crowded onto Torre San Nicola, Rocca and Mollarella. Then, the advent of social media led to #calaparadiso, which has suddenly appeared everywhere in photos and hashtags on Instagram, becoming a preferred destination. Cala Paradiso may have lost its intimacy, but its beauty has remained intact – getting to know it is still a privilege, albeit a viral one.
3. Places of the American landing During the night of 9 and 10 July 1943, the most important landing of the Second World War took place in Licata. 160,000 soldiers, 4,000 planes, 285 warships, two aircraft carriers and 2,775 transport units were involved in Operation Husky. Angelo, a lover of history, will take you to all the places where you can try to imagine the sheer amazement that those few soldiers from Licata would have had when faced with the immensity of the Allied landing. Finally, there may be someone still around, old enough to tell you their own tales of the landing… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2Py3Oeek1Y&feature=youtu.be
4. Coffee in the Drogheria Now is the perfect time to have a coffee break in the Drogheria, where all of Licata’s youth gathers. Here, the coffee is toasted directly in the workshop, made with selected grains from various botanical species, today available in their select blend, which makes an 100% Licata espresso.
5. Mollarella and the sand boa A Muddrareddra is one of Licata’s famous beaches, where the Imera, the longest river in the region, reaches the bed of the Salso in winter. But there is also an anecdote linked to this place – it seems that, in the surroundings, around ten years ago, a farmer found the sand boa, the àpita. This species was thought to be completely extinct, so much so that its name had entered in common use as an insult: si un apita!, as they say. When they found it again, it led to new research, which confirmed the introduction of this species to Sicily during the Punic War. Be careful, as studies about its current presence are still underway…
6. Slushy with bread in the American Bar Everyone knows about having a slushy and pastry, but few know that it was traditionally paired with the Mafalda, bread with Sicilian oil. This is the bar where you can try a real slushy prepared with fresh ingredients, where you can also find Licata’s old storyteller, who will start to tell you stories with music, provided that one of the few remaining puppet masters has not arrived yet.
7. La Rocca and wild garlic La Rocca is what people from Licata boast about, because, deep down, they know that it is one of the most beautiful beaches on the entire coast. It is not, however, solely beautiful, but it is also full of history. A few metres from shore is the point where, for centuries, ships travelling through the Mediterranean would moor. During the journey, which takes place on foot, look around you: you might be able to see people collecting wild garlic, which is commons and often grows in this Mediterranean shrubland.
8. Castel Sant’Angelo Once, instead of the port, there was Castel San Giacomo, then destroyed because of “building demands”. But Castel Sant’Angelo, instead, resisted and still exists in its magnificent form, on the extreme eastern spur of the mountain with the same name. Surrounded by archaeological remains, it is one of the city’s most precious areas. Furthermore, this is the place where you can enjoy one of the best views over Licata, its port, the old city and the cemetery.
9. The Cemetery of Licata The Cemetery of Licata will remain in your memory forever. Its image will continue to come back to you in the days following your visit, because it has something different from all the rest: the way it looks towards the south, over the sea, where the more you feel an end, you feel a beginning.
10. A snack with Marilia in San Calogero A well-deserved tasting at Angelo’s home with his wife, Marilia Peritore, the President of the Qanat Association, in the San Calogero district, the oldest part of the historic centre. Here, until the Sixties, they lived with goats in houses that were caves. The snack includes typical products from Licata prepared by Marilia, like the muffulettu, a special bread that was once only prepared on the Thursday before Good Friday, but can today be found in almost all bakeries. The muffulettu is made with flour, and several spices are added to it, like wild fennel, cumin, aniseed or cinnamon. Today, every family has its own personal version, ready to swear that theirs and theirs alone is the original. But the only truth about this bread is the Arab influences that it entails, the latest proof of a people who left their traces everywhere.