Welcome back to Ask a Local, a series of posts in which I interview locals all over the world about what to see, where to go, what to eat, and how to fit in in their city or town. The following interview was originally published in my Italy guide.
Today I’m happy to introduce you to Beatrice Cinnirella, a lawyer, thinker, and people person here to tell us all about Vittoria – a young city famous for its wine and relatively undiscovered by the tourism industry.
First, tell us about you.
I am Beatrice Cinnirella. I am 33 years old and I have a degree in law. I have lived in Vittoria my whole life, with the exception of my five years away at university.
During my free time, I like to meet new people, especially foreigners. I love to learn about different cultures and to exchange ideas, thoughts, and points of view, especially with people who have vastly different backgrounds. This is like oxygen to me. Living in a Sicilian town, it is easy to fall into routine, so to have a coffee or a tour with someone from another part of Italy or the world is a moment to discover yourself and another person.
I also like to go to some exhibitions (photographic or other), shows, and cultural events.
If someone is visiting Vittoria for the first time, what do you recommend they see or do?
I would recommend a visit to the historic center (it is the heart and soul of town), Piazza del Popolo (which is wonderful for concerts, comedies, social events, etc.), the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie (near Piazza del Popolo), and the small, recently restored monastery near Santa Marie delle Grazie, where you can find some cultural events and a library full of cultural books.
You should also visit Basilica di San Giovanni Battista (San Giovanni is the saint of the city), the small artistic shops in the city center, and the former prison (Henriquez Castle), which is now a wine association headquarters. Vittoria is internationally famous for its Cerasuolo di Vittoria wine.
Il Calvario is a little square and monument that becomes popular during Easter, when they put on a version of the Passion of the Christ.
What neighborhoods or parts of town are best to stay in?
The historic center, where there are some nice B&Bs.
Let’s talk about day trips…what nearby places should everyone make sure to visit?
Donnafugata Castle; Ragusa Ibla and Scicli for Baroque architecture; Modica for chocolate (home of the oldest chocolate factory in Sicily); Scoglitti (a fishing village and UNESCO World Heritage Site); the archeological ruins of Kamarina (near Scoglitti); Pozzallo, whose port connects to Malta Island; and the seaside villages of Marina di Ragusa, Punta Secca, and Punta Braccetto.
Tell us about the local dishes. What should people try here?
Focacce bread (called scacce in Sicilian dialect), arancini (fried rice balls), cannoli, sweets in general, and, of course, local wine!
What are your top three favorite bars and restaurants?
There are so many good ones! Some of my favorites are Acqua e Vino, located at Via Principe Umberto 98 in Vittoria, Al Castello di Beatrice in nearby Comiso (address: Via S. Biagio 38), Pasticceria Di Pasquale at Corso Vittorio Veneto 104 in Ragusa, and Pizzeria La Perla at Via Giardina 4 in Modica.
Is there anything tourists do that locals find rude or strange? What can we do to better fit in with the culture?
I think tourists are just more open-minded than Sicilians. In Sicily, it is still seen as strange and rather dangerous for a woman to travel alone. That said, even if they aren’t the most open-minded people in the world, Sicilians are very hospitable and if you need help, they are ready to help you however they can.
What is the best way to meet locals and make friends?
Go to a pub, bar, or restaurant and you can meet someone to chat with.
Why should people make sure to visit Vittoria?
Vittoria is a young city in the southeast area of Sicily. Most tourists only know the principal Sicilian cities of Palermo, Catania, Trapani, Messina, and Siracusa. Which means Vittoria and the Ragusa province in general is a more genuine area with good sea, good food, lots of history, and so many traditions to discover and live. Here, you can choose so many different experiences: cultural, sea, gastronomic, etc.
What is the best place to go take beautiful photos of the city?
Villa Comunale—the central, green, natural park. It’s the nicest park in the Ragusa province. I would also recommend the old electrical center near the wine association, which is a modern space for shows and events, Piazza del Popolo, and the historic center of town.