Travel

Dreams of Sicily and How I’d Spend My Sicilian Holiday

Sicily

Usually, I’m the first to grab an end, one of four prime pieces of corner real estate, but I’d gladly settle for a middle slice of Sicilian in the form of a 10 or 13 day cruise on the Carnival Horizon once it hits open waters in Europe next spring.

Then again, in looking at photos of Sicilian hilltop villages, Greek theatres overlooking the Mediterranean sea, white sandy beaches, and epic Sicily villa rentals, I think a week long stay in the lap of luxury in Sicily would be more to my taste.

We were fortunate enough to visit a few Italian cities last year while cruising on the then brand-new Carnival Vista. Livorno was lovely enough, Rome hectic but grand as usual, and Naples gave us an entirely different style of pizza as well as access to the island delight that is Procida.

Sicily however remains a dangling travel carrot for us despite going right past it on the way to Greece and Turkey on that same 2016 cruise.

Here’s what I’d love to do in the toe of the Italian boot during a vacation in Sicily during a Sicilian holiday:

Explore The Archaeological Sites of Sicily

We’d start in the Valley of the Temples in the ancient city of Akragas. My kids and I would love to explore the Tempio della Concordia (Temple of Concordia), an 800 year old olive tree, Byzantine tombs that are built into city walls (what??!!), and the stunning Tempio della Concordia. This temple served as the model for Unesco’s famous logo and remarkably is pretty much still entirely as it was when constructed in 430 BC. That is bonkers!

Next stop on my archaeological tour of Sicily: Syracuse for the massive 5th century Greek amphitheater and the perfect acoustics of the catacombs made infamous by Dionysius.

This is one of the most magical and mind-bending parts of visiting Europe: the ability to stand, touch (sometimes) and see construction and art from thousands of years ago. In America, we slap on a historical marker if a building makes it to its 100th birthday but in Sicily, Greece, Turkey and all over Europe, the century mark is literally the blink of an eye in the timeline of some of their archaeological treasures.

Relax On The Epic White Beach of Scala dei Turchi

I’m kinda of the opinion that ‘you’ve seen one beautiful beach you have seen them all’ but Sicily has something I’ve never seen but would LOVE to see, explore and sink my toes into: White marlstone cliffs that form a natural staircase, known as the Scala dei Turchi (Turkish Steps). This is a beach of pearly white sand and crystal clear sea water. OMG you have to Google image search this place right now!

Walk The Ancient Streets

I’m a big fan of getting lost. Not the ‘scary I will never get home’ kind of lost but getting lost inside a city by meandering on foot without a fixed destination while visiting a new place. The journey is always more rewarding then the destination, even more so when you don’t even have one in mind!

I would like to walk the ancient streets of Sicilian cities with my camera and a few lenses, to see the colors on the facade of ancient building emerge early in the morning as the sun begins to rise, in the moments just before the cities come to life.

I’d walk up and down streets, buying fresh baked treats to nibble, patting dogs on the top of their heads, smiling at children as they rush off to school and absorbing as my own the gentler pace of Sicilian life as I occasionally find myself spilling unexpectedly out into grand sun-drenched Baroque piazzas.

Get A Lesson in Sicilian Cuisine

Tasting the food of a new place that has been made with passion and tradition by its native people is one of the most exhilarating parts of traveling for me. The cuisine of a country or city or region is also one of the most reliable ways to come to quickly understand its history, culture, climate and of course, to learn all about its local people. We all know and love Sicilian pizza but the cuisine of Sicily goes well beyond a thick square slice of tomato pie. For one thing, the cuisine of Sicily is Pasta alla Norma which is a tasty sounded dish from Catania, the 2nd largest city in Sicily.

Hike The Stromboli Volcano

Okay, maybe I am being a little overly ambitious with this idea of what to do in Sicily but after hiking the switchbacks up to the top of Wizard Island inside Crater Lake in 2014 and last year, hiking the Hadrian’s Wall trail the width of England, this deliciously named volcano in Sicily looks and sounds absolutely magnificent, and kind of like something I would be able to handle.

It would be a real challenge of course, but hiking up to see the fiery activity atop the Stromboli Volcano on Sicily would be incredibly memorable. They say it takes 5-6 hours to get up and down. That’s absolutely how I would love to spend one of my days in Sicily.

Days in Sicily for a Sicilian holiday are now what I must try to make happen sometime very soon. Italy, I’m ready to return!

flickr photo of Sicily by Scott Wylie, used under Creative Commons license.

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