Without seeing Sicily it is impossible to understand Italy - Sicily is the key to everything
The start of Gino’s Sicilian adventure takes him to Sicily’s capital, Palermo, probably best known for the organised crime network the mafia.
But Palermo is also famous for its street food and is ranked the fifth best street food city in the world. Gino visits street food market La Vicciria to try some tasty classics.
La Vucciria Street food market is open on Friday and Saturday evenings and the food stalls pop up (and close down) at startling speed! Three euros buys a plateful of anything from chickpea fritters (panelle), rice balls (arancina) or sword fish wrapped in aubergine.
Sicily's capital has eight UNESCO World Heritage sites: The Royal Palace with the Palatine Chapel, the church of San Giovanni degli Eremiti, the church of Santa Maria dell’Ammiraglio (della Martoriana), the church of San Cataldo, the “Palazzo della Zisa”, Admiral's Bridge, the Cathedral (all these in Palermo); Cefalù Cathedral and Monreale Cathedral (not far from Palermo). A historian's dream!
The Palermo catacombs are unsettling but incredible. It is closed to visitors at lunchtime and there isn't a step-free access route as yet. Not recommended for families with children.
You cannot escape the mafia presence here, so try and get yourself on an Addiopizzo tour. You can stay in Addiopizzo hotels, drink AP wine and even eat AP food. Just look for the signs, ask your travel agent/ hotel for recommendations.
Palermo is a coastal city with a huge harbour. Not far outside the city you can find small beaches, so hire a car and get exploring!
This might be a Top Five list BUT here's a bonus tip... if you head west from Palermo you hit wine country and you can easily lose a couple of days tasting your way around vineyards. As well as Marsala wine, Sicily's main wine is Nero D'avola, and is definitely worth sampling.
Gino says arrivederci to Sardinia and ciao to Sicily! Gino has never visited Sicily before and so this is a real journey of discovery for him.
Gino arrives in Sicily's buzzing capital city Palermo, home of the mafia, a vibrant street food culture and steeped in history. This port side city really stops Gino in his tracks!
After an unexpected encounter at a street food market, Gino meets the man who stood up to the mafia and tastes the infamous wine of the region, Marsala.
Gino finishes his day in a vineyard and cooks a beautiful chicken in marsala sauce.
Watch Gino's Italian Escape, 8pm Friday 4 December.
It's kind of a posh tuna salad and the flavour and texture combinations are truly heavenly
They get all sorts of fish from sea bass, sea bream, octopus, fresh prawns - unbelievable
Gino leaves behind Sardinia's rural inland and heads to the coast to celebrate the sea.
Sardinia has more than 1000 miles of shore with turquoise waters, golden sand, secluded coves and rugged cliffs with hidden caves. With all that coastline comes a sea full of sea life.
Gino heads south to the seaside region of Oristano where there's a thriving fishing community, and takes a trip on a fishing boat to meet a local fisherman.
There are lots of beaches to explore from Oristano down to Cagliari - even some on small, uninhabited islands. Go down to the harbour and get a boat to one of them. Take a picnic, sun cream, your towel and a good book. Heaven. Or get an ice cream and sit by the harbour. The gelato is outstanding.
The capital city of Cagliari is bustling with a lovely cento historica (old town). If you're feeling energetic climb to the top of the Elephant tower for fantastic views.
The market at San Benedetto is Italy’s largest covered market. Go there for tasty cakes, bread and cheese. The entire lower floor is dedicated to fish. And only fish. Just outside you will find hawkers selling all sorts that you might not need, but it's still fun to browse.
Taxis are cheap, reliable and most cab drivers can speak English. Beware on Sundays and public holidays the fare will triple so make sure you negotiate before you get in.
Take the overnight ferry from Cagliari to Palermo in Sicily, either as a foot passenger or in your car. There is only one company offering this route, Tirrenia, so book ahead as it gets very busy. On board there is a decent restaurant and one bar, but you can take your own supplies. The cabins are basic and clean, and you have your own bathroom.