My love affair with Sicily began years ago. Being in the travel industry for over two decades has resulted in me spending a large part of my life traveling and until this day, Sicily continues to be one of my favorite destinations.
A quote that I read long ago in Catania’s Porta Garibaldi has stayed in my mind due to how perfectly it captures Sicily’s essence. It reads, ‘I am reborn from my ashes more beautiful’. Thirteen foreign dominations have left their mark on Sicily’s culture, turning it into a fascinating place unlike any other region in Italy. Where else in Italy, or even Europe, would you be able to admire Carthaginian, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Arab and Norman influences, all in one region?
These influences can be seen not only in art and architecture but also in the region’s dialect and cuisine. Did you know that much of Sicily’s popular street food is fried because it was the Arabs who popularized fried foods in the region?
Sicily is also the land where several myths of antiquity have their origins. It is where Hades stole Persephone away from her mother Demeter, where Odysseus blinded the Cyclops and where Daedalus who escaped from Crete along with his son Icarus, built a temple to Apollo.
Sicily’s Eastern Coast
Our first stop was the bustling city of Syracuse. We stepped back in time and began our day in Ortigia, the city’s charming city center which is also an island. As we strolled through its narrow streets, we admired its medieval buildings and visited its vibrant markets while taking in the delightful aromas of the spice shops. The highlight of our day was definitely the breathtaking ancient Greek theater and Roman amphitheater.
The next day we took a day trip to Noto to discover the town that is considered Sicily’s Baroque capital. As we set foot in this town that is now a UNESCO heritage site, we were pleasantly surprised to be surrounded by architecture that was almost fairytale-like.
Following our Baroque adventure, it was time to visit another Sicilian city that offered up an eclectic mix of cultures. Catania, being one of the most vibrant cities in Sicily, is home to lively markets, mouthwatering cuisine and some fascinating archaeological remains that pay homage to the city’s long and complex history.
Our final stop on the Eastern coast of Sicily was Taormina, also known as the ‘Pearl of the Mediterranean’. As we explored the city’s elegant buildings, cozy cafes and boutiques, all the while being surrounded by breathtaking views of its golden-blue coastline, we realized why the city is the preferred vacation spot for celebrated personalities from around the world. Taormina is also a great starting point to explore Mount Etna. But that is a story for another day!
Returning to Rome
And so ends another of Marilena’s Italian excursions. Whilst her journey through Sicily is over, the area lays in wait for new explorers yearning to experience its vibrant culture. Through our strong connection of contacts in the region, Italy with Class can help tailor your very own vacation in Sicily or any other destination of your choosing. From luxury accommodations and wonderful restaurants to hidden gems and unforgettable experiences, we will make sure that you have an unforgettable experience. So, what are you waiting for?