Final winter, The White Lotus put the Mediterranean’s largest island on many a journey want checklist. The luxurious sea-view resort, alluring smooth sands, and obsession with ceramic heads did the gross sales pitch, sending couch detectives worldwide right into a Sicily spin. However now we’ve lastly bought that theme tune and visions of ‘Peppa Pig’ using on a Vespa out of our personal, barely much less embellished heads, my reply to the query “Is Sicily value visiting?” stays resolutely the identical: a convincing sure.
Among the best islands to go to on the earth, not to mention Italy, Sicily scintillates in a myriad of the way. A dwelling time capsule for human civilisations, historical past buffs can be laden with layers from the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Byzantines – and all of the others who’ve been and gone. Equally, it’s a haven for paradisiacal sands, and seashore seekers can be blown away by the cinematic shoreline backdrop of Cefalu or the bath-like waters of Isola Bella. Foodies, in the meantime, arguably get the most important win – every little thing on Sicily’s menu is delectable.
However maybe the perfect motive to go to Sicily is to decelerate and relish the island’s lot. Sicily packs in a lot, positive, nevertheless it additionally invitations you to linger in lazy hill cities, gawp at lively volcanoes, and dive a little bit bit deeper into the native way of life – it’s undeniably Italian, but distinctly Sicilian, and that’s a mixture value savouring.
The slower tempo of Sicilian life
I spent a little bit over a month in Sicily on my first go to and was enamoured with the Sicilian tempo of life. These particular islands – there are two archipelago teams alongside the primary island – had been virtually born for sluggish journey. Whether or not it’s lazy days sauntering between sands, tackling the multi-day long-distance climbing trails via the hinterlands, or spending time slowly exploring the Aeolian or Aegadian Islands the place harbour’s of fishing males present ample people-watching opportunites, lots of the greatest causes to go to Sicily boil right down to breaking-away from the fast-tourism mannequin.
Even within the typically chaotic capital of Palermo you’ll discover loads of time to pause and delve deeper, be it with a Sicilian cooking lesson on the Mamma Corleone culinary studio or a a pottery course at MUD to craft your personal creation and study extra in regards to the ceramic heads (teste di moro) which might be ubiquitous in Sicily.
Primarily, Sicily is an open-air museum, and with seven World Heritage Websites throughout the island, you’ll must both plan a slow-jaunt to cherish all of them, or guide one of many many unhurried excursions of Italy’s south, particularly people who dedicate a minimum of every week – or ideally ten days – to Sicily itself.
An archaeological journey via time
Why go to Sicily when the remainder of Italy has so many historic sights to supply, you is perhaps asking? Effectively, this island has been seducing seafarers for millennia, stacking tales, flavours and architectural types upon one another. A real time capsule of treasures, Sicily’s archaeological sights span epochs and eras which have formed not simply these shores, however Europe and past.
On the historic Greek Valley of the Temples, which dates again to the fifth century BC, you possibly can stroll atop the ridge the place considered one of Greece’s most influential cities as soon as was. Whereas subsequent invaders destroyed a few of the unique temples, don’t let that deter you; restoration work has been finished respectfully, and the positioning is each fascinating and photogenic.
One other of my favorite locations on the island is Villa Romana del Casale, the place you’ll discover what UNESCO name “the best mosaics in situ wherever within the Roman world”. This huge 4th century AD villa is carpeted in mosaics depicting varied scenes, with raised walkways permitting for optimum views.
Unforgettable lodging for all budgets
You don’t must splurge on a keep on the upscale White Lotus Resort (it’s an actual lodge, the San Domenico Palace in Taormina) to get a style of Sicily’s most interesting sea views or luxurious suites; the island has loads of unimaginable lodging for all budgets.
My most vital standards for our first week on the island was to have a sea view, and with an abundance of tranquil villas in Sicily, each on the primary island and the archipelagos (extra on these later), it wasn’t onerous to discover a surprisingly reasonably priced base to get pleasure from balcony evenings watching the final copper sparkles over the lapping waves.
One other in style motive to go to Sicily is the prospect to remain in a palazzo (small palatial constructing) as there are a lot dotted across the island, a lot of which have been transformed into quick time period leases which might be a good worth for the chance they provide.
Meals value savouring
If I used to be to reply the query ‘why go to Sicily’ in a single phrase, I’d be momentarily torn between responses earlier than giving arguably essentially the most compelling motive: the meals – and that’s actually saying one thing in a rustic as appetizing as Italy.
Scrumptious dishes based mostly on seasonal and flavoursome elements, mouthwatering morsels of candy treats, caught-and-cooked seafood, and recent, aromatic pomegranate juice stalls are simply a few of the island’s many unforgettable bites.
Be sure you hunt down signature dishes resembling caponata, a typical aubergine plate with candy and bitter flavours; cannoli, ricotta stuffed tube pastry; Pasta alla Norma, a aubergine and ricotta topped pasta tubes; and arancini, a fried stuffed rice balls – however that’s only some plates to get you began, Sicily’s full menu is extensively glorious.
Cities with numerous layers
Understandably, the archipelago’s fame as a European seashore vacation spot stays one of many high causes to go to Sicily, however you shouldn’t snub the island’s cities throughout your go to both. With layers of artwork and structure, Sicily’s storied cities are personality-packed delights.
In Palermo, the attractive, sassy and typically overwhelming capital metropolis, your senses is perhaps briefly overloaded, however all for good causes. On Palmero’s boisterous backstreets, for instance, Ballaro Market can seem to be a whirlwind, however it would introduce you to the island’s character and most interesting avenue meals flavours. Enterprise contained in the Twelfth-century Cathedral, admire the Byzantine mosaics adorning the Cappella Palatina, and gawp on the Royal Palace of Palermo – the place additional mosaics, courtyards and hovering ceilings astound.
Throughout the island on the east coast, the second metropolis of Catania – a brief drive from imposing Mount Etna which gives a usually bellowing backdrop to her Baroque – provides a extra ‘classical Italian’ expertise with it’s fairly Bellini gardens, castle-turned-gallery Ursino, and Basilica embellished with a powerful marble façade – there’s additionally the stays of a Roman-Greek amphitheatre to tour. However it’s in spectacular Syracuse the place Greek historical past shines brightest, with the archaeological museum and amphitheatres ceaselessly imprinted on my thoughts.
Volcanoes and vines
You is perhaps questioning why go to Sicily if there are such a lot of lively volcanoes throughout the archipelago? Effectively, that’s very a lot a part of the attraction.
UNESCO-listed Mount Etna and Stromboli are maybe essentially the most well-known, however there are much more. On Vulcano Island, for instance, we had been greeted by the stench of sulphur and warning indicators that the volcano’s trails had been now closed because of worrying exercise – some residents had even briefly relocated. However past the concern, life continues and has even blossomed shut to those pure wonders. In addition to with the ability to hike up Mount Etna (with a information), those that would slightly take within the views from afar can pattern a few of Sicily’s unbelievable wines at one of many 100-plus-year-old vineyards which cling to the slopes.
Lazy days on the Aeolian Islands
Considered one of my favorite second throughout numerous visits to Italy was staying on the Aeolian Islands, a cluster of seven inhabited volcanic and dramatic isles. For me, these idylls are motive sufficient to go to Sicily, as exterior of the busy August holidays, they continue to be one thing of a lesser-visited Italian vacation spot.
We based mostly ourselves on the most important island of Lipari, sipping spritz overlooking Stromboli’s steaming crater at sundown. It was a pleasant place to whereas away the sunny November days, hopping between a few of the different islands, resembling Vulcano and Salina, utilizing the native ferries for day journeys. Volcanic black sand seashores, lovely climbing trails, and straight-from-the-boat eating places had been all highlights. In the event you’re questioning if Sicily alone is value visiting, then these small scenic detours must be an additional motive to make the journey.
After all, you don’t must go to any of the opposite Sicilian islands to search out beautiful seashores – the primary island brags a lot. Chill out on the silver-screen-worthy sands of Cefalù, an impressive mediaeval coastal spot full of seashore golf equipment and backed by spectacular structure – the Cathedral past the worthy star.
At Isola Bella, the jewel of Taormina’s coast, you’ll discover a beautiful sandbar main out into the glowing turquoise waters, whereas the extra untouched swathes of sand close to Noto are perfect for a get-away-from-it-all seashore day.
Timeless cities and villages
However there are as many causes to go to Sicly’s dreamy hilltop hamlets because the island’s shore-hugging cities. From panoramic cities with far-reaching views, to smaller villages tucked-away removed from the tourism path, a highway journey throughout the island will deliver you to some really unimaginable areas.
Head inland to the Baroque wonders round Val di Noto, the place Modica, Ragusa and Noto itself all serve up a timeless environment amongst their re-constructed storied streets. Throughout the island, Erice, a beautiful small borghi hugs the slopes, topped by a Regular fortress. Sperlinga is one other of Sicily’s ‘most lovely borghi’ so as to add to the checklist, whereas Piazza Armerina’s cluster of museums makes for a pleasant afternoon after visiting the mosaics at Villa Romana del Casale.
An opportunity to reconnect with nature
Sicily has lengthy held a status as an inspiring sluggish journey vacation spot by in-the-know travellers, writers and artists. The emerald inexperienced hills, pistachio and vine coated hinterlands, and contrasting colors of the cobalt Tyrrhenian and turquoise Ionian Seas being mystical muses – and that’s earlier than you think about the bewitching and bellowing Mount Etna.
Among the best methods to take all of it in and reconnect with nature is on the island’s trails. There’s a community of various routes you possibly can go for, however the 116-mile, coast-to-coast Magna Through Francigena is an effective wager if you happen to’re on the lookout for a ten day choice. Crossing from Palermo within the north, to Agrigento within the south you’ll traverse from city sprawl to dense forests and vineyards, virtually forgotten villages with ageing populations, and discover shelter at rural visitor homes the place lakes, mountains and pastures are by no means distant; the island’s inside is certainly idyllic.
Why go to Sicily, you say? The reply is nearly self-explanatory. All of Italy’s greatest experiences are blended right here, an impressive microcosm of a mighty nation.