Saturday, November 1, 2014

A word about Italy from author Patricia Schultz in her book, "1,000 Places To See Before you Die":  

During a newspaper interview about her world travels, the author was asked by a reporter: "What's your favorite destination?"  Patricia Schultz says: Italy. "I can't get enough. I lived there for five years, loving the idea that I was blending in with the locals......... At the same time I was the gung-ho tourist who scoured the country every weekend, from the big cities and the small towns to the islands and the Alps."

This edition of the blog will focus on one of my favorite regions in Italy. It is Sicily, and for many reasons which I will talk about here.

I have an admitted bias for Sicily because my roots on my father's side are in Sicily. He came to the USA as a 13 year old. I have many cousins still in the "home town" of Santa Caterina Villarmosa, in the heart of the island. The home my father was born in is still there occupied by cousins.

I think if you haven't yet visited Sicily, you will want to go. There are many reasons to like this island. The cuisine is remarkable with influences over centuries from Spain, France, Greece aand North Africa. The blending of the various herbs, spices, styles, etc. provide for the most distinctive cuisine in all of Italy. Of course there are many other reasons to visit this island. There are beautiful vistas along the miles and miles of coastline. The climate is the mildest in Italy mainly due to its location north of Africa. The wines have come into their own and there are beautiful wineries to visit. It is a fun place to drive. The main roads are excellent and allow you to criss-cross the island. There are many Greek ruins in Sicily, some of which are in better condition than those in Greece. There is of course, the most famous of volcanoes, Mt. Etna, just north of Catania near Taormina, one of the most visited areas of Sicily. Taormina sits high above the Ionian Sea with breathtaking views of the coastline.
There are fascinatiing cities to visit, Palermo, Catania, Messina, Siracusa, Agrigento, to name a few. There are very historical and well-preserved towns such as Modica, Noto, Taormina, Cefalu, Enna, and many more. The people of Sicily are warm and friendly. They love that you love their island!
A week is really necessary to see the island as it should be seen, but if you have less time, one can choose a few highlights and see them in 3-5 days. Note that Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean so it takes time to see it thoroughly.
You can fly into Catania or Palermo from almost any Eropean hub as well as connect in Rome, Milan, Naples and from most airports in Italy. There are ships and trains that also travel to Sicily from ports, and major train stations. There is even a ferry train for your car!

Well, that is enough talk. I will let some pictures speak for themselves.

By the way, the Spring and Fall are wonderful times to visit Sicily as part of your trip to Italy. The weather is great and there are fewer tourists. Another note, things in Sicily are somewhat cheaper then other tourist areas of Italy, especially if you stay outside the obvious tourist areas and take day trips to visit them.

Santa Caterina Villarmosa

Hillside near Taormina

View of Ionian Sea 

View from on high in Taormina

Amphitheatre in Taormina


View from Taormina

Ionian Sea

View from villa terrace

Mt. Etna entrance

Crater of Mt. Etna

Grapes for Nero d'Avola wine

Cathedral in Siracusa

Ionia Sea

Siracusa waterway

Ionian Sea at sunset from villa