It was winter time when we booked the tickets for our honeymoon- it really didn’t take us long to choose the destination, because Sicily has it all: the culture, the sun, the food, the nature, the sea, the people, and as all islands, it is a bit edgy!
We wanted to experience a bit of everything, so we rented a car and circled around the island. Of course, that didn’t cover everything worth seeing, but I think that in the 10 days we spent there, we got to know the island pretty well.
Our first stop was the town of Cefalù, situated only an hour’s drive from Palermo. We liked Cefalù immediately, as it reminded us of Rovinj, our favourite Croatian coastal town. Many guides describe it as overcrowded with tourists, but we where there in June, and the atmosphere was laid back, with just the right amount of people for it not to be overcrowded nor empty.
Cefalù is a medieval town with narrow cobbled streets, little shops, a long sandy beach, a stunning Norman cathedral, and all of that in the shadow of a steep rock! According to local legend, king Roger II of Sicily erected the church as a vow after escaping the storm safely and landing on the shore of Cefalù.
We had Sicilian specialties for dinner, drinks with the night view of the cathedral, early morning dip in the sea, croissants, juice and ice cream for breakfast, our first encounter with flat peaches called tabachera (translated: ashtray!!) and a nice walk through its colourful streets. And because we’re in Italy, we even tried a capuccino (we normally don’t drink coffee), but ended up just eating the milk foam from the top! :D Just what we needed on the first day of our well deserved holiday after the wedding!
The next day, we wanted to explore a bit of the Sicilian countryside. So we did the opposite of what our host suggested, and took a longer, mountain road on the way to our next stop – Taormina. An hour’s drive from Cefalù, we found ourselves in the mountains, exploring the medieval hilltop town of Petralia Soprana and the prehistoric cave dwellings of Sperlinga.
We expected this mountain towns to be abandoned and empty, and we were surprised to find them bursting with life! In Petralia, there was a group of majorettes practicing their performance on the main square, a group of Sicilian grandpas arguing with an officer about a parking spot, kids chasing each other through the streets... The entire town is built out of stone, and the view of the hilly countryside is beautiful!
Both of the towns are obviously off the beaten path for tourists, and we were the only visitors of medieval fortress of Sperlinga. The fortress is situated on the steep rock above the town, and also above the honeycomb of caves inhabited already in prehistoric times. I am repeating myself here, but the view from the fortress is amazing, and really worth climbing up!
We had a delicious 3 hour long lunch at a farm near Petralia, and I will write about it in a special post dedicated to the best Sicilian restaurants we tried. I'll just say that every course was prepared from scratch just for us and that I was greeted with a hug from the nonna!
We arrived to Taormina by night, and our first impression was that it was too touristy, but spending a few days there, we actually got to truly like it! When lots of people are coming to visit, there must be something worth seeing, right?
No one can deny the beauty of this town above the sea covered in magenta bougainvillea blossoms. Our apartment was located on the main street, and had a cute little balcony overlooking the sea – for breakfast, we would enjoy the fresh fruits and the sea view, for dinner a glass of wine with olives and cheese – accompanied by jealous looks from the passers-by.
Taormina is known for its impressive Greek theatre, dating back to the 7th century BC, where concerts are held even today – the atmosphere must be something special! The beach below the town is connected with the town by cable car, so we had to try it out. Unfortunately, the sea was full of jellyfish, so we only dared to dip our feet in the shallow water.
By night, there is a vibrant atmosphere in the town – all of the restaurants are full, the shops open, the main street and the square full of people enjoying a typical Italian custom – the passegiata! Paseggiata is an evening ritual for Italians, where the locals take a walk on the main street, meeting friends or acquaintances, drinking a glass of wine and observing the passers-by. They even have a special greeting for it: Buona passegiata!
Next stop in our Sicilian adventure was Mount Etna, and you can read all about it in the next blog post!
I would love to hear some of your Sicilian experiences and ideas!