Sicily in 10 days “I’ll take two bowls of pasta, Grazij”

Last month, I escaped the U.S. and went on a 10-day excursion to the great island of Sicily, Southern Italy. The trip itself couldn’t have been better—perfect weather, beautiful scenery of beaches, mountainous foothills and wine that never gave a hangover. It was heaven on earth.

Sicily; known for its Mediterranean inspired pasta, the birthplace of organized crime and hailed as the capital of European street food from Forbes in 2015---it was everything I hoped it would be. Here is a quick guide to how I conquered Sicily! 

Palermo:

The island itself takes about 3.5 hours to cross from east to west, and 2 hours north to south. Start your trip in Palermo and spend at least 2 – 3 full days here. The piazzas are full of incredible restaurants and you'll adore the old architecture of the city. There's a photo op at every corner!  Search for a restauarant that serves a meat ragu! Our favorite spot was The Cucci Bistrorante, where we ordered 3 bowls of pasta for two of us and about 4 other items off the menu. You can read more about our experience HERE.

Just down the street from I Cucci Bistorante is the gorgeous Cathedral of Palermo, where you can pay 5 euro to climb to the rooftop to take in the most beautiful view of the entire city. Listen to the bells chime and watch the sunset fall over Palermo. You’ll witness the city glow!

View from the rooptop of Palermo Cathedral 

View from the rooptop of Palermo Cathedral 

Spend a day at Mondello beach. Just a quick 15-20 minute drive to the other side of the mountain, this beach is definitely one not to miss. There are dozens of bistros to grab a panini and some wine for a beach picnic with a view of the bay.

Mondello beach

Mondello beach

 Take a day to cruise the Aeolian Islands. Just off the coast of Messina. There are several charter companies you can select from and tickets for the day are approximately 60 euro each. The boat will cruise to Lipari and Vulcano (hike up the volcano—worth the view!)  The hike will take about 1.5 hours up and about an hour to get down. You can see the entire Aeolian Islands from the viewpoint! Skip spending any time in Messina, tho. There are other places around the island you should spend your time.

View from the top of Vulcano Island, Aeolian Islands 

View from the top of Vulcano Island, Aeolian Islands 

After our day cruise, we stayed in a lovely Airbnb in the cliffs and then took a two-hour drive first thing the next morning to Catania to my favorite Agriturismo of the trip- Barone di VillaGrande.

Catania & Taromina

If you haven’t ever stayed in an agriturismo, I highly suggest you do so. Agriturismo’s were my favorite part of the trip because we were hosted in old, beautifully restored Italian farmhouses where we were treated like extended family and served breakfast, lunch, and dinner with food and wine made fresh from the grounds.

Barone di Villagrande sat nestled in the foothills of Mount Etna (the most active volcano in Europe) overlooking the sea and acres of vineyards. Our hosts arranged for a guided hike up the hillside of Mount Etna on a jeep safari and I found my rest next to the infinity pool overlooking the grounds—with a glass of wine in hand.

Poolside wine-side at Barone di Villagrande

Poolside wine-side at Barone di Villagrande

Visit the Greek Theater in Taormina. Sicily arguably has better Greek ruins than Greece and this theater is a thing of beauty. Taormina is a town that is built into the cliffs along the seaside and this Theater boasts gorgeous views of the city. I took a chance and flew my DJI drone over the theater and was able to get some epic photos. Nearly got the drone confiscated--worth the risk ;) 

Greek Theater- Taormiona

Greek Theater- Taormiona

Explore Taormina shopping on cobblestone streets and take in the views of the city on the sea! Don’t forget to indulge in some gelato along the way. Check out the seaside area of Isola Bella, a beautiful beach with a pebble trail that leads to a small museum with views of Taormina and the sea.

Aragona & Agrigento

After we indulged in hikes, pools, wine, and pasta for 3 days on the foothills of Mount Etna, we headed West across the island to the town of Aragona to another agriturismo; Fontes Episcopi.  If you’re a fan of free roaming peacocks, kittens and pasta made from an Italian mother- this is your place. There are 7 guestrooms at Fontes Episcopi and ours had the biggest rooftop patio of them all.

We had plenty of room for sunbathing with fresh cappuccinos every morning and roamed the olive and lemon groves with the house kitten chasing our heels every step of the way.
Nearby, you can tour the famous Valle di Templi (Valley of the Temples) in the hilltop city of Agrigento. The grounds are massive and it will take you a solid 4 hours to see everything. The historical site is full of vast archaeological with well preserved Greek temples and catacombs.

Other great facts about Sicily!

  •  The island itself spreads about 10,00 square miles and is the largest in the Mediterranean Sea.
  • The sonnet (a popular form of poetry) originated from Sicily
  • Some of the great people who have hailed from Sicily include the mathematician Archimedes, Domenico Dolce, one half of the iconic fashion house Dolce and Gabbana, and musician and composer Vincenzo Bellini

 

  

Stephanie Zillmer