Spectacular coastlines and glistening waters are not all Sicily has to offer. Iconic architecture, a rich culture, and a relaxed vibe that is impossibly infectious – all this combined with the excitement of the volcano bubbling in the background. It really does have everything. From Palermo to Catania, each area is so different and the islands are easy to reach but completely unspoilt, just waiting to be explored. No wonder Mr & Mrs Auree fell head of heels with this gem on their honeymoon.
There’s no better place to soak up the sunshine than nestled in an Italian garden or picnicking upon rocky shores, lined with toppling trees. Seek shelter from the Mediterranean heat in shaded stone streets, washed white by the sun. Later enjoy an ice-cream whilst exploring local villages, perhaps even stopping for a sweet glass of Sicilian wine.
WHERE TO STAY
Perched on the mountainside of eastern Sicily is Taormina. Get lost in a pastel maze of decorative archways and cobbled paths, and barter for trinkets in rowdy market stalls. Return each day to the Hotel Villa Carlotta for stunning views from rooftop terraces, lined with earthy ceramics and wicker baskets. If you’re here during the summer months, try and see one of the open-air performances in the town’s spectacular Greek amphitheatre.
Sweet-toothed lovers shall not be disappointed by the spread of pastries each morning, best enjoyed with a hot cup of Italian coffee – a match made in heaven. We wish we could have stayed longer.
Situated between the Mediterranean coast and Mount Etna lies the rose-tinted villa Monaci Delle Terre Nere. With impressive eco-credentials (half of the hotel’s energy is from renewable sources) there is an abundance of homegrown goodness – we challenge you to try the full selection of over 20 jams that are served with breakfast. The picturesque Sicilian countryside is the perfect setting to read a book and cool off in the infinity pool. Clear a bottle-shaped space in your suitcase (note to book hold luggage) for their Uranaci wine, which is produced onsite.
Henry’s House Hotel, Island of Ortigia
Cross the bridge to the Island of Ortigia and you’ll find the charming Henry’s House Hotel. This family run establishment is artistically furnished with antiques and modern art, and is just a short walk from the beach and lively streets, full of restaurants and bars. Devour platters of antipasti and pachino tomatoes freshly prepared to accompany your evening tipple (and don’t forget the olive oil). Plenty to see and the most wonderful views to wake up to (the best view from a room Mrs Auree has ever stayed in).
WHERE TO EAT
Nestled in the small village of Buseto Palizzolo lies the fun, family-run and deliciously Sicilian, La Casetta – Home Restaurant. Stroll through the tranquil Scorace woods nearby, then let yourself be pampered by the lovely hosts and indulge on beautifully prepared local dishes and wine. No one can resist the hospitality and romance of the mood, food and décor of this little gem.
Silkulo – Umori & Sapori is a divine restaurant in the heart of Palermo, best known for its vivid atmosphere and a favourite with the locals. The ambient setting provides the perfect backdrop for its full-bodied flavours and sweet delicacies. Leave in a state of Sicilian satisfaction.
Wander down softly lit alleyways to Hostaria del Vicolo, an establishment fuelled by a passion for flavour. You will not be disappointed by the exquisite presentation and intimate atmosphere of this fine-dining experience. Fresh Sicilian flavours and sea-food specials are the ways of restaurant owner Nino Bentiogna. Explore the surrounding area of Sciacca, the home of fishing, ceramic art and food festivals.
WHAT TO DO
Salina, Aeolian Islands
If you fancy travelling a little further afield, the Aeolian Islands provide the perfect haven for a scenic venture. Take a short boat ride across the Tyrrhenian Sea to stumble upon dark sandy beaches, volcanoes and evocative countryside. We suggest settling into Hotel Signum (the best hotel Mrs Auree has EVER stayed in), situated on the island of Salina, for a night or two. Enjoy a welcoming atmosphere and excellent service in this authentic and minimally decorated setting, with an incredible spa and pool. Finish your day by taking in spectacular views of neighbouring islands whilst dining on the most amazing food and wine.
And make sure to head down to the famous Postino beach for your daily dip, settling into one of the nooks and crannies, where the cliff face meets the sand.
Enjoy the serenity of the Botanical Garden of Palermo, one of the oldest centres of botanical studies in the Mediterranean region. Weave between the curling vines and overhanging leaves of this tropical scene, and venture into the humid greenhouse bursting with life and colour.
Image credits: slh.com, villeecasali.com, hotelhenryshouse.com, discoveritaly.alitalia.com, media.audleytravel.com, cct-seecity.com, facebook.com/lacasettahomerestaurant, facebook.com/sikuloumoriesapori & hostariadelvicolo.it