Wanda Tornabene

Wanda Tornabene
Did you know?

Roman ruins from 1,700 years ago have been unearthed in the abbey’s courtyard. It is believed that Greek ruins are also there.

Wanda Tornabene
Wanda's Featured Recipe
Gangivecchio's Sweet-and-Sour Meatballs

Click here for recipe

Wanda Tornabene and her daughter Giovanna, have run their restaurant out of the 13th-century abbey Gangivecchio, in Sicily’s Madonie Mountains, since 1978. The Tornabene family has owned the property since 1856 and for about a 100 years it was a summer home and farm. Today, it is a destination for tourists to Sicily, as well as Sicilians. Nestled at the base of a magestic mountain, the ancient abbey and surrounding land invite visitors to explore and enjoy the bounty of the island. The family also runs a cooking school and inn on the premises.


Wanda and Giovanna’s first book, La Cucina Siciliana di Gangivecchio, won the James Beard Award in 1997 for best Italian cookbook. They followed that up with  Sicilian Home Cooking written with Michele Evans, which won another Beard Award in 2002. In 2005, they wrote 100 Ways to be Pasta, written with Carolynn Carreno, was published. The books are replete with stories rich with the atmosphere of the Sicilian countryside. In addition to recipes, the authors share memories of the annual grape harvest, a special Christmas snowstorm, and an illicit trip on a commercial fishing boat, and they tell funny and touching stories of relatives, friends, and pets, both old and new.


Latest Recipes

Classic Baked Lasagne

Lasagne was born in the north of ItalyEmilia, to be precisebut today it is a national dish. In the past, we always made the pasta by ha...

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Fiery Spaghetti with Anchovies, Olives, and Capers in a Quick Tomato Sauce

You can eat like a Sicilian with this fabulous spaghetti recipe that incorporates classic ingredients including anchovies, black olives and peppers. These are the staples found in Italy, which now can be found in your own kitchen. This dish also includes a specific type of capers, the ones packed in salt, to achieve the proper flavor the dish needs to succeed. If you decide to use a different type of caper or somehow wash off the salt from this particular type, you risk losing the appropriate flavor that makes the dish soar among your taste buds.

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Bavette with Pistachio Pesto and Shrimp

I had this in a restaurant in Selinunte, a small seaside town in western Sicily famous for its enormous Greek temples. I love to visit hi...

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Farfalle with Sweet Green Peas and Prosciutto Cotto

We used to grow our own peas here at Gangivecchio, back when there was someone to shell them. But times have changed. Now we have a small...

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Borlotti Bean and Pasta Soup

My mother’s pasta e fagiole is the best I’ve ever tasted, because she’s able to make the beans creamy. Her secrets are that she soaks the...

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Fresh Tomato Sauce

Fresh tomato sauce is the base of much of our cooking. In the summertime, when we harvest tomatoes from our garden, we hire a woman here ...

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Sicily’s Famous Spaghetti with Eggplant and Ricotta Salata

This spaghetti, named for the famous Sicilian opera Norma, is a classic. It was first made for the famous composer Vincenzo Bellini to re...

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Pappardelle with Asparagus, Walnuts, and Speck

If you find fresh fava beans at the market, they are great instead of or in addition to asparagus in this dish. We are not used to steami...

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Bucato with a Carnival of Sweet Peppers

This pasta is as beautiful to look at as it is to eat. I tried this recipe for the first time with our coauthor, Carolina. It was a happy...

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Maria’s Sedanini with Salmon, Fennel, and Rosemary

I love salmon. It is one of my favorite fish, and I think that the taste of salmon with wild fennel is perfect. Maria is my auntie, my ma...

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