The Devious Temptress of San Vito Lo Capo

November 5, 2015 / Food & Wine
San Vito lo Capo, Sicilia

For the ancient Greeks and Romans, la sirenetta (“the mermaid”) was the devious temptress wooing sailors off course, leading them to their deaths. La Gelateria Sirenetta of San Vito Lo Capo – a favorite seaside town west of Palermo – spins spells, too: here, enticing gelati and granite woo bathing-suited beach-goers to the seaside tables under palm trees.


On our last visit, granita di limone for Pino (as always). But a quandary for me in choosing which of the crushed-ice Sicilian triumphs: granita of watermelon, mint, mulberry, or almond (to name a few)? I opted for granita di pistachio, grinning waiter Corrado conceding me a mezza-porzione: he’d seen gelateria co-owner Sebastiana (teaming with sister Maria) offering me tiny plastic-spoon tastes of their gelato front-runners, cassata and cannoli – and a gelato of crushed local almonds.

Sebastiana offers me a taste of cassata ice cream
!2 granite flavors at the Sirenetta
Corrado all set to serve up our granite

At the next table, a smiling young palermitana reveled in la granita di caffè e cioccolato and another young couple opted for le coppe della Sirenetta: fresh fruit dollops ice cream of choice in the gelateria’s signature temptation, “the mermaid’s cup.”

Swim-suited young Palermo woman all ready for her granita
Coffee chocolate granita
Two young palermitani ready for the coppe della sirenetta
Coppe della Sirenetta

As we left, we stopped to chat with elderly, bushy-haired Signor Gabriele in royal blue shirt, lounging in his chair against the white stucco wall of the gelateria entryway. In dialetto siciliano, he recounted to Pino his life hauling in fishing nets at the side of his San Vito fisherman papa’, before he wrapped up those nets to start making gelati with his wife, Paola.


Signor Gabriele and his wife Paola – in black dress, ubiquitous (in Sicily) gold chain – had been chatting there with cane-hugging elderly friend Caterina that morning when we’d stopped in. I’d asked them if they were “locals” and if all the filled veranda tables meant this was a gelateria buona…?

Paola, Gabriele and friend, Caterina

“Il migliore di San Vito Lo Capo!” beaming Paola had exclaimed. And after we sat down at an adjacent table, Signora Paola told us with a mischievous grin why she knew it was “the best”: “our daughters run this gelateria now – and we started it years ago.”

Every one of our Sicily adventures includes San Vito Lo Capo – and now la Sirenetta will be wooing us, too.

The sea near San Vito Lo Capo

Anne Robichaud

by Anne Robichaud

An authorized Umbrian tour guide, Anne and her husband Pino worked the land for many years in the 1970’s so rural life, rural people, rural cuisine are una passione for her. See Umbria from “the inside”: join her May 2017 ten-day tour centered on discovering Umbria, Anne’s Umbria.

See for more on her Umbria tours. Do see for news on the Assisi apartment – and Assisi countryside guest house – she and Pino now rent out.

Anne writes frequently on Umbria and other areas of Italy. Read about her annual U.S. Feb/Mar cooking classes and lectures, as well as her numerous Italy insights on her blog.

22 Responses to “The Devious Temptress of San Vito Lo Capo”

  1. Norman Tellis

    Anne, what a wonderful time – all that gelato, 1 spoon at a time :-)

  2. Suzanne and Jack

    Dear Anne,

    I so miss Italian gelato. Nothing compares. Thank you for another wonderful article.

  3. Marianna Raccuglia

    Hi Anne! As always, a wonderful column, delicious looking photos of gelati and most wonderful of all, the people (And the handsome Pino) tanti baci, Marianna

  4. Katie Larsh

    Annie, you really know how to keep the summer vacation alive with your southern Italy visits! This is a new addition to our already growing list of places to go! Thanks for sharing this delightful treat!

  5. James Giambrone

    Just the talk of gelati is enough to get my tastebuds into overdrive!! Wonderful pictures of people enjoying many different types of gelati and each others company, I love Sicily!!

  6. Janet Eidem

    Thanks Anne. Sicily is in my bucket list. I will follow my nose to the gelato.

  7. Sandie Potter

    Been there done that! We stayede there for a week and tried a different gelati everyday. Loved the place and surrounding area. Went back to Sicily another time seeing what we missed. Thank you Anne for bringing back the fond memory. Sandie

  8. Stephanie W

    When it comes to gelato in Italia, I can’t resist! The flavors sound sinfully delicious and I always love the way you tease those great back stories out of the proprietors, makes even something simple like gelato taste even better. Thanks for sharing another great spot & more of Italy’s wonderful people.

  9. Anellina

    Mille Gracie, Annie! We miss you! Thank you for reminding us about one of life’s wonderful pleasures ! ❤️

  10. Ciao Anne! I do so love the amazing gelato and would love to try more plus the yummy flavors of granite! Hopefully, I’ll visit southern Italia next year. Thanks for your wonderful account.

  11. Louise Montalbano

    You brought me back to my roots..San Vito Lo Capo, where my paternal grandfather was born. I know well, the Sirenetta and its gelati temptations . Thank you for reminding me that it is time to return to that “wooing” beautiful beach town, see the relatives and of course eat gelati!!

  12. Amazing food and even better people. I cannot say enough about the hospitality and incredible Italian atmosphere Anne and her husband have shown me. Just sitting down and having an Umbrian dinner together was an absolute pleasure and a check off my bucket list. I’m beyond fortunate to have met such fine people who’ve helped me make memories I will never forget. Grazie mille Pino e Anne per tutto.

  13. Francine Pasetti

    Ciao, Anne. The granite and gelati look sublime. What a wonderful find. Loved your description and the great photos. Un abbraccio e salute a Pino, Fran

  14. Janine Belveal

    Anne – your notes are a delight not to mention the pictures. Always enjoy seeing Pino. It all makes me feel like I am there. Magari!

  15. Anna Retsker

    Wow! I am going to Sicily in late April for 10 days and will be staying in Palermo. so San Vito Lo Capo will be on my list! Thanks for the story. Anna


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