The New York Times
A Bounty From Uneven Terrain
By MARY TAYLOR SIMETI
Pubblicato: Domenica, 15 luglio 2001
Our next stop was in Pettineo, a small town in the Nebrodi foothills on the northern coast, not far east of Cefalù. From the coast the road ran along the side of a valley, which narrowed as the road wound up through groves of centuries-old olive trees with massive contorted trunks. AS the road approached Pettineo, I pointed out a beautiful old house of yellow stone on a small hilltop just below us, surrounded by pines and cypresses. I had been told that to reach the farm we had to go through the town and farther along the road, but I had forgotten that mountain roads wind back upon themselves: the house we admired turned out to be our destination. Casa Migliaca is as layered with history as Sicily itself: the foundations, and the timbered ceiling of the bedroom we slept in, date from the 17th century; the oil press downstairs, whose workings are still visible, belongs to the 18th century, while the upper story was added in the 19th. It has been in Teresa Allegra’s family for several centuries, and was quite abandoned when she and her husband, Sebastiano, decided at the beginning of the 1990’s to give up their interior decorating business and reclaim the house and what was left of the estate, 25 acres of olive and lemon groves that had gone wild, and have now been pruned and nurtured back into production. The farm is organic and produces most of the fruit and vegetables that appear on the table. We had one of the four downstairs bedrooms, which look out over a terrace and down the valley to the sea. Ours was dominated by a high bed; it was a bit of a scramble to get into it, but once there I could hang over the edge and look down through a plexiglass pane onto the excavated press. A closet had a tiny bathroom and extremely simple shower. The bedrooms open onto a large room where the old olive press still stands, next to a table and chairs for reading. Near the fireplace at the other end is a huge circular stone platform on which millstones once crushed olives. Now topped by a wooden lazy susan of record diameter, this platform is a dinner table when guests are too numerous for the kitchen upstairs, where there are more bedrooms and a sitting room with a Franklin stove. As soon as we had unpacked we were invited to join our hosts for an herb tea. Teresa was finishing dinner preparations in her 19th-century dream kitchen in which modernization has spared the majolica tiling on the walls and on the wood stove with its ovens, fireboxes and copper cauldrons. In abandoning city life, Teresa embraced country cooking, and Casa Migliaca offers the rare possibility to taste the beautiful vegetables and wild greens that most Sicilians consider too humble for guests. Dinner round the stone platform brought pasta with wild cardoons; egg frittatas with potatoes, with broccoli and with wild asparagus; mixed salad and cooked greens sprinkled with the house olive oil, local cheeses and fresh ricotta — all served with good, abundant local wine, included in the price. Homemade limoncello liqueur wound up the meal. At the end of the evening Teresa and Sebastiano went off to their cottage next door. The first guest up in the morning found the coffeepot and kettle ready to go onto the flame, and breakfast — homemade jams, fresh bread, cheeses, oranges to eat or to squeeze — spread out on the big kitchen table. When the hosts arrive, there are guidebooks and suggestions for a trip to Cefalù or the hill towns of the Nebrodis.
The Boston Globe
Language no barrier to lots of good chats
Pubblicato: 28 gennaio 2001
The next day we headed to our second home stay, on a farm owned by Maria Teresa Allegra and her husband Sebastiano, Casa Migliaca near the village of Pettineo. Where the Pennisis had been a bit reserved, the Allegra’s treated us like family. Every morning, we awoke to the smell of Sebastiano’s coffee-cake baking in the 200-year-old kitchen and farm-fresh eggs, fruit, and jams. Outside, Maria Teresa might be hoeing her garden while Sebastiano hand-tended acres of ancient olive trees that grew in handsome terraces patrolled by fox and wild goats. We spent our days exploring the region around Cefalù, a beach-side city backed by the Madonie Mountains, home to the Tempio di Diana, an ancient Arab castle and Norman ruins. You hike up and up a megalithic mound to visit each site, passing ruined water mills, the remains of a Byzantine chapel, a Roman well, battered terra-cotta pavement and rooms hewn right into the rock. Far below, the roofs of the village of Cefalù grow smaller and smaller while the azure Tyrrhenian grows more deeply blue with each step. Each evening, we returned to our second-story room overlooking the sweeping valleys surrounding the Allegra’s home. Sebastiano showed us where to look for the “barbagianno”, or white-faced owl, that was raising young in an overhead eve of their farmhouse. The owl’s nightly exodus was our cue that dinner was ready. These were meals that, by no exaggeration, were the best food we had ever eaten – wild fennel baked into small cakes, pasta tossed with olive oil and broccoli a rabe, salt-cured olives and marinated beef, too tender for a fork, along with fresh fruit, homemade wine, and liqueurs. Ever better were the conversations that extended into the wee hours. If paradise can be found on earth, I’d make mine here in the Allegra’s comfy farmhouse with these lovely people.
Perfetti per + di una notte
di Giuliana Zoppis
Pubblicato: novembre 2006
… I coniugi Allegra hanno fatto un recupero integrale dell’antica struttura e trasformato le otto camere in piccole opere d’arte…