Diverse and gorgeous island of the Mediterranean. Having been colonised by over 14 different civilisation, Sicily is your best call to explore and learn from several Mediterranean cultures and mythological beliefs. In fact Sicily is also known as land of Cyclopes, often praised and mentioned by Italian and Greek poets. You will be surprised and amazed on how much there is to explore and see. Below are my top city recommendations and must-eat dishes whilst there.
Where to land
Catania – Make a spectacular entry to the island and land in Catania, overlooking the majestic volcano, Etna (active). Many airlines land/depart to/from here. My favourite being Norwegian due to its comfortable planes at a very competitive (if not unbeatable price!).
Palermo – Start by exploring the western coast of Sicily and enjoy some of the most beautiful beaches, gulfs and landscapes. Given a strong influence and dominance of Arabs and Normans, the architecture is predominantly Arab-Norman, giving it an extra uniqueness touch to this city.
How to get around
If you wish to travel between East and West coast of Sicily (ie Catania-Palermo) and do not want to rent a car, I strongly advise to avoid the train as it takes a very long time and get on a bus instead. Please also note that Sicily is not equipped with good taxi services (not even in major cities), and buses or trains are not always reliable (sad but true reality). I have lived in this beautiful country most of my life (19 years) so it is a genuine local advice I give: rent a car if you can!
Spectacularly located on the side of a mountain, Taormina is one of Sicily’s most popular summer destinations to experience and enjoy a taste of Sicilian dolce vita.It is also home of UNESCO world heritage Greek’s masterpiece from the 3rd century BC: The Teatro Antico. This was originally born to accommodate dramatic performances or musical, was transformed during the Roman times to host games and gladiator battles. Now? It hosts concerts and movie premieres. Imagine watching a movie here at sunset. Events tickets at teatrogrecotaormina
Belvedere and Isola Bella
An elegant and fashionable terrace, which recently seen hosting G7 leaders is commonly used as a meeting point for locals before meandering up and down Taormina’s Corso (main street characterised by its petite arts and crafts boutiques and designer fashion outlets). This is your perfect spot fro watching the sun as it disappears behind the mighty volcano, Etna against the backdrop of sicilian musicians playing in the Piazza.
Another lesser known panoramic view point is the Piazza IX Aprile where best appreciate idyllic beauty of Isola Bella (beautiful island) as you make your way down to the water front. Part of the attraction of the island draws from it only being accessible by foot at low tide. The more adventurous among you can still swim to the island during high tide (from 7-8pm). Also note that you can visit the inner island and climb it to the top whilst exploring its flora and fauna by paying a nominal fee of 3euros.
BEST SEAFOOD WITH A VIEW
Al Saraceno – Treat yourself and end your evening watching the sun setting over the Volcano, Etna whilst enjoying some of the best local dishes of the island.
Tiramisu Taormina – fish, meat and pizza dishes
Try granita witch brioche
BAM BAR (a favourite bar among celebrities and locals) – if you like ice-cream (who doesn’t) this is a must-eat Sicilian specialty. However it is not an ice-cream: it is like a semi-frozen dessert made from sugar, water and various organic flavorings/fruits. Served with a hot brioche and whipped cream on top (depending on the flavour you go for). My favourite combo is: Strawberry and lemon. Bam Bar Taormina is your BEST CALL out to try this glorious breakfast-meal as they offer a wide variety of flavours.
Caltagirone, Agrigento and Acitrezza
Hire a car and visit nearby places which will impress you for their historical and natural beauty. I recommend driving from Catania to Caltagirone, reknown for its finest ceramic. If you are looking for an unique souvenir THIS is the place to get it from.
Scala dei Turchi and Agrigento
Among the many stairways you know, this is definitely one of the most unusual. This is where locals go to sunbathe from the nearby city of Agrigento. They come here to chill and wait for the sunset on surprisingly smooth and ‘soft’ rocks: just like I did. Only 15′ mins drive from ‘Valley of the Temples’/Agrigento City.
Free-access stairs from Lido Restaurant Scala dei Turchi. This is your easiest access point to the beach.
Lounge Beach (try their amazing cocktails and take them to the rocks for the perfect moment)
IlMediterraneo – for amazing an pizza or delicious sword and tuna fish steaks. Ask for medium rare.
VISIT A VOLCANO
You cannot go to this side of Sicily and not pay a visit to the might lady, Etna. Go PRO and hike all the way up to the summit (3k meters). Start the experience from Crateri Silvestri and then opt to either walk around dead craters in the area or get cable cars all the way to the top from the ticket office (the only one there by the parking space). Alternatively explore a variety of tailored made tours here.
VISIT NEARBY ISLANDS