A trip to Sicily! (Una gita in Sicilia!)
“To have seen Italy without having seen Sicily is to not have seen Italy at all, for in Sicily lies the key to everything.”—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Last winter, my wife and I took a turn around her native island home and ever since I’ve been bewitched by what I saw and experienced. We flew from Rome to Palermo, then took the train to Messina to see her family. From there we rented a car and took off to explore the southeast corner of the island. We started in Modica and then drove to Ragusa, Scicli, Noto, Donnafugata, Siracusa, finishing up in Catania. While in Catania we drove around the circumference of Mount Etna, stopping in Bronte for a transcendent lunch where I nearly died of a pistachio ice cream overdose. I have no regrets about that, however.
What Sicily lacks in infrastructure, it more than makes up for in historical and cultural treasures. Many consider the food to be the best in Italy—which by association would make it the best in the world. The pace of life is slower than in Rome. The people are proud of their heritage and among the friendliest folks that you’ll meet anywhere. (And no, grazie, they don’t want or need Berlusconi’s stupid bridge! The traghetto system has been working just fine for centuries.)
Very little is handed to you in Sicily, unlike Rome or Florence or Venice where “must-see” itineraries are well known by all. Sicily invites discovery, which is half the fun. Sure, there are some good guidebooks, but I guarantee that your greatest memories of that enchanting island will be happy accidents and unexpected encounters.
I’m ashamed to say that I knew very little about Sicily’s history before travelling there. And the history is a rich one, filled with tales from Greek mythology, Roman outposts, Arab influences, Norman conquerors, Spanish domination, and two World Wars. They have all left a little something behind, much of which is still visible today. If you want to retrace the course of Western civilization over the last 2,500 years, you could easily do so without ever leaving Sicily.
If you’d like to take a trip to Sicily yourself, please visit Navigate Italy’s website to read my full article on Sicily’s highlights entitled, “The Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Add Sicily to Your Itinerary.”
There are convenient flights from Rome or Milan several times a day and the weather is generally pleasant all year around. The coastal resort areas can get a bit crowded in July and August, however.