After a two night stay in Messina, we packed our bags and caught an early train heading towards Acireale, a coastal city in the north-east of Catania, Sicily, Italy. The train tracks kept us close to the sea and time passed quickly as we zipped by beach after beach. About half way between Messina and Acireale is a small town called Taormina. Several people recommended we stop there and take in the famous views. We were traveling with our big backpacks but decided we could stop for the afternoon and stash our luggage in lockers at the train station. Sadly, the lockers were out of order. This meant we had to lug our bags up the cliff. Normally it wouldn’t have been a big deal, especially considering there was a bus to get us most of the way, but it was a super hot day. We sucked it up and made it to the top where there were two special things waiting for us: gorgeous coastal views and some of the best vegan gelato we found all year.
Here it is. It might look like regular ice cream or gelato but it’s not. The light stuff is the special part. It’s nocciola gelato di riso or hazelnut rice gelato. And it’s not like any other rice milk ice cream you’ve had before. It was thick, creamy and rich, just like gelato should be. We topped it off with a scoop of extra-dark chocolate gelato (dairy free, of course). Chocolate and hazelnut….pretty much the best combination ever.
Vegans in Italy are fortunate to have so many dairy free dessert options. They aren’t made for the health conscious, but for people who are allergic to milk.
I first heard about the rice milk hazelnut gelato from my friend Glauce who is married to a man from Italy. After keeping an eye out for it during the first three weeks, I was starting to think there was no such thing. We found the specialty gelato at Bar E Snackbar Capriccio (Corso Umberto, 85 – Taormina, Sicily), a very touristy spot where you have to pay to sit inside and enjoy the comfort of air conditioned seating. Paying to sit seemed like a ridiculous concept to us so we took our prize outside and plopped down on the pavement right beside the outdoor seating. After savoring every last bite, we continued on to check out the surroundings.
We didn’t have much time to walk around; we needed to make our way back down the cliff and catch the train. With the time we had, we did a quick tour, snapped a few pics, and then headed down and on towards Acireale. Having our bags on our backs made for an exhausting afternoon, but we made it back to the train station agreeing it was worth the trek.