SICILY, L’ISOLA DEL SOLE
In the last post we tell you how the idea of the trip to Sicily came about. But you will wonder: What if you wanted to travel around Italy? Why didn’t you go to Rome or Florence?
Dani had lived in Perugia for a year, and knew both cities well enough; so, counting on the mass of tourists that there is in July, when we thought about the trip, plus the suffocating heat and how overwhelming Rome can be, we decided to opt for one of the islands.
Collapsed architecture evoking epochs of greater glory, gastronomy such as Arancini, Cannoli or the famous Dolci di Pistacchio, and especially the famous Mafia or “Cosa Nostra” will be the images that come to mind when thinking about Sicily. However, throughout the different posts we want to discover the ingrained and traditional culture, history, gastronomy, landscapes and magic that envelops this ancient island of the Mediterranean.
HOW TO PLAN YOUR ROUTE TO SICILY
Two factors must be taken into account when planning your route through Sicily. The first is the large size of the island. If you will spend 9 days traveling in Sicily, like us, I have to warn you: 9 days are not enough to travel it. The most difficult part of the organization was to discard areas of the island, which we would really like to see. But hey, we’ll sure be back someday.
The second thing you should look at is how to move across the island. Communications are not exactly the strong point of Sicily. Public transportation is based on non-existent buses and old and extremely slow trains. The most convenient (and practically unique) way is to travel by renting a car.
Faced with this situation, we decided to make a route through the middle of the island trying to see the different points in greater depth instead of making an entire return to the island in a superficial way. Thus, the route would start to the Northwest in Palermo and would finish in the Southeast in Catania. In these two cities there are airports that fly to Madrid and therefore save time compared to making a circular route.
Even so, we had to decide if we would travel through the North, with the possibility of visiting one of the tiny Aeolian Islands, or if we would travel to the South to visit the famous valley of the temples in Agrigento.
OUR 9 DAY ROUTE FOR SICILY
The decision was easy after talking to a friend of Dani, Ruben, who is a historian and archaeologist. He, who knew the island quite well, told us that he slept outdoor in Stromboli (Aeolian Islands) while he watched the lava fall from the volcano. As soon as I heard the story, I knew I wanted to go there. (From there came the name of Amazon but I will tell you better later). So we finally chose the northern route.
But not only did Rubén help us with the organization of the trip. Dani also had another Sicilian friend, Jonathan, whom he met while living in Oxford. As soon as he heard that we were going to his beloved Sicily he invited us to stay at his house. He lived with his girlfriend Anthea in the small but cozy village of Giarratana in Ragusana. Obviously we could not refuse the offer to know Sicily by the hand of a local.
So having those 4 clear points (Palermo, Stromboli, Ragusana and Catania), the others Dani choose them, while I was traveling Southeast Asia with my cousin.
Finally, the route we did was the following:
- Arriving at a ruined Palermo where we saw decadence and beauty in equal parts.
- Trying the best cannoli in the world in Cefalu.
- Climbing the Stromboli volcano.
- Returning to a Sicily dominated by the mafia in Savoca.
- Discovering the most luxurious and tourist side of the island in Taormina.
- Revived the splendor of the ancient Greek civilization at Syracuse.
- Impregnationg ourselves with Sicilian tradition and culture in the Ragusa region.
- Saying goodbye shocked by the faraglioni of Aci Trezza.