2012 seems to be our year for uncovering Italy, and after a brief visit to Sardinia last month, we decided we had to return as soon as possible, and have just arrived home from a wonderful break in Sicily.
The largest island in the Mediterranean and one that is steeped in history, architecture, language, and the arts, Sicily is rich in both culture and charisma, and it is easy to imagine why Italy’s most ‘prominent’ families choose to call this beautiful island their home.
With a limited amount of time to discover Sicily, we decided to base ourselves in the northern city of Trapani, a 2-hour drive from the capital of Palermo. Trapani feels much like a quaint seaside town, but it houses an important fishing port and provides both locals and tourists with access to the neighbouring Egadi Islands.
The historical part of town boasts the traditional cobbled streets one would expect to find on a southern Mediterranean island, and there is an impressive church on almost every corner. The narrow streets are filled with a miscellany of gift stores, pizzerias, coffee shops, and alfresco dining venues, so it is easy to spend a day trying new foods, shopping, and enjoying the new surroundings.
The capital city of Palermo is much like any other cosmopolitan European city, although it does seem to have more cars and mopeds than streets! With double parking considered “the norm” driving through this crowded city is only advisable for those with good nerves and buckets of patience, and so if you want to explore the touristic capital of Sicily at a leisurely pace, it might be better to do so on foot.
With a fine selection of Gothic, Baroque, and Romanesque buildings, tree-lined shopping avenues, and all the Italian restaurants one could possibly wish for, Palermo has it all.
San Vito Lo Capo would have to be one of Sicily’s best-kept secrets. A mere hop from Trapani, this stunning town offers one of the finest white sandy beaches we have ever seen in Europe. Similar to the beaches of the Caribbean, or dare I even say, the Fiji islands, San Vito Lo Capo is quite simply breathtaking, and a wonderful spot to enjoy an Italian summer beach holiday.
The three Egadi islands form a mini-archipelago that sits just 10km from the coast of Trapani. We decided to take the 20 minute boat ride to Favignana, also referred to as La Farfalla (the butterfly) due to its shape, and spent the day driving around the tiny island on a rather dated but practical moped. A stunning island of quaint villages and crystalline waters, it is the perfect retreat for anyone looking to escape daily life, and there is always plenty of fresh seafood available.
With great food, stunning wines, friendly locals, and amazing scenery, Sicily has something for everyone – and one day, we shall return!