Christian Sciglio, owner of Morgana in Taormina, tells us about perhaps the most difficult season in recent history, a situation that everyone on the island is facing with their heads held high and with renewed enthusiasm. The Italian summer will happen!
Taormina between yesterday and today: how has tourism changed?
Taormina has always been an extraordinary place, both for its natural and architectural beauty and for its hospitality, which is very different today compared to the past. It may seem incredible, but in the 50s and 60s, Taormina was a winter tourist destination, in August everyone closed for holidays. Already at the time it was among the favorite destinations of national and international celebrities, which over time allowed it to be known throughout the world. Today we are a point of reference for summer tourism, but as a Taormina native I would like my area to experience 360° hospitality all year round. Today the season runs from April to October and then everything stops, except in the period between Christmas and New Year, but Taormina is beautiful, alive and rich at any time of the year. We are therefore working at the level of hospitality and proposals to become a destination capable of satisfying any type of tourist at any time, starting with catering and mixology, because today more than ever the public knows how to drink and eat well and, rightly so, demands it everywhere.
What type of mixing is done in Taormina now?
Let's say that this year, in the wake of the centenary of the Negroni, whiskey has had a significant increase in our mixology, even in summer. For example, I proposed a reinterpretation of the Old Fashioned with Bourbon, fat wash with coconut oil, bitters with ginger, lemon drops and sugar, which is then mixed chilled so that the whiskey also becomes fresh and the cocktail can be pleasant and drinkable even on the beach. It is a way of "updating" the classics and adapting them to the climate and the territory, another element that is always present in my cocktails, both in the signatures and in the twists, which are rich in products from our land such as citrus fruits, basil, parsley , and all the native species of the island. This doesn't mean giving up more exotic flavours, on the contrary: not everyone knows it, but nearby there is a production of maracuja and mango which are extraordinary, so obviously we use them in blending. Who knows how many can say they have drunk a Daiquiri with Sicilian mango (laughs ed.)!
How has the lockdown affected your activities?
It was a big problem because Taormina lives for the 90% of tourism, and the lockdown prevented the start of the season, which in our country is usually around Easter. However, the administration and citizens behaved very well, we didn't even have a case of Covid and we all reinvented ourselves a bit: for example, I started making cocktails from home and, through Instagram live broadcasts, I sent recipes to I travel around the airwaves to involve all those who, like me, were confined to their homes. The recipes were highly appreciated and allowed many enthusiasts to understand how much time and effort goes into studying a new drink or a new dish.
How's the summer going?
We're starting to see a restart now, I'm confident!
Will tourism in Taormina change?
Our tourism depends on the period, but it is undoubtedly more foreign than Italian. At this moment however Sicily, Sardinia, Puglia etc they are among the most popular destinations in Italy, so it is likely that those who live in the North or Center will spend their holidays in the South this year. It will be a different season, people will frequent the places with more attention, and not only from a health point of view , because during the lockdown there were many enthusiasts who delved into the history and techniques of cooking and mixing, so I believe that tourism this year will also be more culturally aware. Beyond the tourists, however, I hope that the period we are living in can teach everyone to respect the world we live in more. We have discovered something that has always been evident, that is, that on this Earth we are only guests and that only by respecting it can we continue to live there. For the Taormina of hospitality I imagine an important change, a new way of working in which we pay even more attention to detail, where competition is healthy and where the promotion and protection of our territory are the main objectives.
Morgana: what are the plans for the future?
During the lockdown I was considering the possibility of keeping this summer closed, but in the end I didn't. In 20 years, every year we have presented ourselves to the public at the beginning of the season with a different Morgana, and now we have reinvented it further, come and visit us and we will be happy to show you how!
Plus, I'll tell you a secret: the dream that I've had in my drawer for about 5 years is about to come true. I'll just tell you two things: new distillate and December 2020, I won't add anything else!