Sicily Travel Guide- Top Tips To Uncover This Magical Island!
As summer draws slowly to an end, HUGE sigh, what better way to end the best season of all on a high note than by taking one final sunny trip to a stunning and exciting island? This way we'll be ready to welcome fall in a great mood, and a tan line to match!
Sicily, a Mediterranean paradise that ticks all the boxes:
Lots of sunshine, sea, and awesome beach temperatures.
The views are spectacular and diverse! The island offers a bit of everything; from mountains and even an active volcano to valleys, green countryside, the coastline of course, and even waterfalls if you know where to look...
You can enjoy bustling cities alongside picturastic small villages, both are just full of character and history!
The food is delicious! Culinary wise, you'll have a ball here!
The island is full of culture, history, and architecture to admire.
The fact that it's easy to travel to and easy to get around is just a bonus.
Where to stay:
The options for accommodations are of course endless and depend very much on personal preference and budget. We chose to stay just outside Cafelu, it's a wonderful and relatively central location, from here you can easily travel around the island either by train or hired car. The beach is right there, and you can enjoy the evenings in lovely and cozy Cafelu. There are many restaurants, bars, and piazzas where you can enjoy a drink and a meal with a view.
Palermo, on the other hand, the biggest city, is very pretty and vibrant, it is also very busy and chaotic! If I had to pick a location to stay in, I would look for something smaller and more relaxing so to enjoy the best of both worlds. And if you plan to drive yourself, brass yourself, driving in Palermo is quite the experience! Not for the faint-hearted.
The best times to visit Sicily: These are from April to June and September to October, this is mostly because the temperatures are still reasonable, the island is not yet crazy busy, and the prices are slightly lower compared to the summer months.
Top attractions and places you can't afford to miss out on:
Cafelu: It's where you'll find the finest beaches alongside Arab-Norman architectural and dramatic mountains as background. This town is filled with character and charm wherever you look! The piazzas, the narrow colorful streets, and churches are picture-perfect. Fun fact: Did you know that the film Cinema Paradiso was in part shot here?
Mount Etna: Located on the Eastern coast of Sicily, at 3,300 meters high, it is among Europe’s tallest not to mention the world’s most active volcanoes, the most recent eruptions occurred in the spring of 2017. It has also been declared A UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2013. It's a unique experience walking in actual volcanic craters and lava fields. There are hiking routes you can follow to explore higher up the mountain where fascinating views await you.
You can hike, ride a bike, or take the cable car up the mountain also, things you need to know beforehand: Wear appropriate shoes and don't forget the essentials such as sunscreen, water, and a camera to capture the magic. Tours leave from the major town in the area daily.
Palermo: Palermo is the capital city and holds an amazing history visible in every direction. Past glory and centuries of domination by Roman, Byzantine, Arab, Norman, and ultimately Italian powers are showcased around the city. Sicily was finally unified with the mainland in 1861.
My favorite thing to do here was to just get lost! It's great to enjoy authentic vibes, explore non-touristic areas, and interact and absorb the people. You'll discover beautiful hidden spots, architecture, and tiny piazzas off the center. Here you'll also find the small neighborhood tiny restaurants where the locals eat, it's where the food is simple yet delicious. Visit one of these fascinating markets: Capo, Vucciria, and Ballarò. Stroll around the historic quarter of the city: Starting at the intersection of Via Maqueda and Corso Vittorio Emanuele, you'll find Piazza Vigliena. Fountains, buildings in Baroque style, churches, and Domes...there's so much to see here! Don't miss Piazza della Vergogna, the square of shame. You'll see why...Stopping by the Palermo Cathedral is of course a must!
Golden Tip: Have locally made ice cream! They have the craziest flavors, it's was the most finger-licking ice cream I have ever tasted.
Corleone: Visiting this area in general and this village, in particular, was my favorite part of the trip! I have seen the 'Godfather' so many times so it was amazing to have it all come to life so to speak. This small village is located right at the heart of Mafia territory, several Mafia bosses have come from Corleone; Jack Dragna, Giuseppe Morello, and Leoluca Bagarella to name a few.
Don't miss a visit to the local museum! Corleone was the center of a very bloody period affecting the lives of all Sicilians for a long time, the museum showcases that very real part we normally don't consider. Here you'll be able to learn more about the organization, it's customs, traditions, and laws.
The area is beautiful! The neighboring towns of Savoca and Forza d'Agro outside of Taormina were used as shooting locations for the 'Godfather' films to stay true to origin. This is where you'll find the church Michael was married in for example.
Stop by Laboratrio della Leglita, this once belonged to most feared Mafia boss Bernardo Provenzano. Here you'll see art treasures and famous paintings relating to the Mafia.
Visit Messina: This is a harbor city known for the Norman Messina Cathedral. Nearby you'll find several marble fountains decorated with mythological figures, like the Neptune Fountain. Faro Point is worth a visit as well as a drive out to Lago di Ganzirri, a lake perfect for enjoying the outside and possibly having a picnic while taking in the views.
Visit the Valley of the Temples: An archaeological site located in Agrigento, a place where you can admire ancient Greek temples wonderfully preserved. The area was included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site list in 1997 and for good reason.
Bonus tip! Remember the waterfalls I mention at the start of this post? When chasing waterfalls, explore Due Rocche waterfall!
Have a great trip and if you have tips of your own, do tell: Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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