It is in spring 2021 when due to the worldwide pandemic unfortunately everybody is somehow locked down at their home countries .
For this reason probably it is quite normal that we begin to remember and to dream of our travels that we have done in the past and spring time is such a nice time for the Medditerrean region and what comes into my mind is our trip to the beautiful island of Sicily .
For me these kind of islands have a very different and special attractive ambiance – islands like Cyprus , like Corfu , Rhodes , Sardinia , Cyrenia – their ambiance is somehow very similar to each other and they are so charming – a little wild but very natural and virgin !!
It is in May 2017 when we do our trip to the island of Sicily which is the biggest island in the Mediiterrean Sea and located at the south end of Italy .
I call it the Island of the Sun since in the mythology the son of Helios , the God of the sun , Phaeton is the prince of this island .More than 300 days per year the island is sunny and gives it such a sympathetic and bright touch .
The symbol of the island is the Trinacria with its Medusa head in the middle having 3 legs which are symbolizing the 3 bays at Sicily island which are Cape Pachino , Cape Peloro ve Cape Lilibeo and 3 wheat ears which are symbolizing the fertility of the island on the other side . Siciliy was the depot of wheat for Italy all centuries long .
The island is famous for its very special and tasty olives , grapes , wine , herbs and any kind of vegetables and fruit .
The fertility is coming from mount Etna , a volcano that is still active from time to time and whose lava is giving the soil such valuable minerals that the agricultural products are that tasty and fresh .
We start our journey and see mount Etna from far as we are driving towards Taormina , one of the pearl villages of the island . We can see some little smoke at top of the mountain , the volcano is slightly active .
Around there are all the wonderful gardens and terraces with all the colorful wild flowers and lemon trees . The color of the soil is dark brown or even black .
Our first station is as said Taormina with its little flower decorated streets , restuarants and cafes and its stunning terrace at the piazza del 09 avrile with its nice floor tiles .
The view is stunning – we can see the turquoise blue bay of Naxos down there , Mount Etna on the other end and the green gardens inbetween .The piazza is so beautiful as there are quite some ancient buildings such as the Church if San Guiseppe in Barok Sicilian style from the 17th century and the clock tower at the other side from the 12 th century .
Walking up the hill from one of the side walks you arrive at the ancient Greek amphitheatre of Taormina which is also a pearl with its stunning view from the seats of the theatre also to the bay , to Mount Etna and the natural gardens around .
You have the feeling that you are sitting on the crown of the island – it is really amazing !
To have an Italian coffee at this place , to watch the people around and to admire the view under the bright sun is giving such a positive feeling .
For a week we travel around the island and visit one by one the villages of Taormina , Gotto , Cefalu , Palermo , Trapani , Marsala , Mazara del Vallo , Agrigento , Noto , Scicli , Ragusa , Avola , Caltagirone, Syracuza and Cattania .
All of these places are very characteristic and have their own landmarks – Taormina with its piazza and theatre , Cefalu with its breathtaking rock Roman Catholic Basilica which is part of the Unesco World heritage in Sicily.
By chance there is a wedding when we arrive at the rock church and climb up the steps to the cathedral and at the same time the bells are ringing but the whole rest of the village is very quiet . All of a sudden we then see the bride and the groom stepping out of the cathedral – it is as if we are in a movie scene as it is all so unreal , so mind blowing .
This location is really outstanding !
Palermo as another station on our round trip is a gorgeous city with all its ancient and a bit dark and dusty buildings .
The city was once home to the Sicilian mafia and this darkness somehow reminds me of those uncomfortable and bloody days .
One building is more impressive then the other and all are so well preserved.
Anosther stop is Mazara del Vallo , a fishers village with very narrow streets with its North African migrants and their cultural quarters.
In some villages the streets are so narrow that you will be not able to pass with a vehicle – impossible !
Behind each wall or corner another secret or surprise is awaiting you and you might be blessed with another beautiful view .
In the backyards of the narrow streets the local people lead us to a little cathedral that is so artistic and so impressive !
We cant believe our eyes that such a beauty is hidden behind these wooden ancient doors – the colors , the paintings, the atmosphere is diffciult to describe .
Here in Mazara de Vallo we have some great fish meal at the seaside which I also will never forget as the owners of the restaurant have been so friendly and the meal was so delicious !
Life in general is very cosy ,slow and quiet in Sicily Island and you can really enjoy the environment .
Agrigento is also a nice location on top of the hills which is a kind of valley of the ancient greek temples .
Approx 400 BC this was one of the leading big cities of Magna Graecia and it is estimated that about 200.000 – 800.000 people were living at this place which is an archeological site today .
Different ancient buildings or ruins of those as the Temple of Zeus , the temples dedicated to Heracles and Asceplius , the sanctuaries of Demeter and Persephone and many other buildings are part of the Unesco Heritage Site in Sicily in Agrigento today and definitely worth to be visited.
Noto , Scicli , Ragusa , Caltagirone , Avola are also very charming little villages that are definitely worth to be seen and they also belong to the Unesco World Heritage of the island .
In Caltagirone you will like the stairs with their beautiful tiles and flowers to get up to the cathedral .
To stroll around the streets , to admire the beautiful balconies and terraces with the colorful flowers , the flowerpots in yellow , green and blue colors on the streets, the little cathedrals , the opera buildings , the ancient fountains , stairs here and there , the cute little cafes , restaurants and shops to buy some souvenirs are gorgeous and you always explore something new .
Everwhere you will also see lots of old Italian classical cars which is also fun !
Whereever you go the seaside is always very close and you either have the opportunity for a swim as there is a nice beach or you can have the opportunity to be at a little port of a village and it is usually very pictoresque and panoramic over here .
There are so far 7 Unesco World Heritage sites in Sicily in total by today but one I have to mention in special which is the Villa Romana de Casale .
This villa is an old Roman villa which is worldfamous for its mosaics.
The whole villa has a mosaic space of about 3500 square meter .
These mosaics are partly inside the villa and partly outside .
Most of them are nearly undamaged and their sizes and themes are very unique eg there are hunting scenes , Roman ships , lots of ancient animal figures , scenes from daily Roman life .
There are lots of mosaics which show how wild animals such as lions or leopards and elephants have been brought from Africa to Sicily by ships .These images proof that Sicily was also a place where these wild animals were stored before they were prepared and then transported to Rome for some fights with the gladiators in the Collosseum in Rome .
These mosaics are whitnesses of these times and tell us a lot about the Roman life in those days .
If I am not wrong the biggest of those mosaics was about 50-60 meters long- one of the biggest that I have ever seen .
A supernice and special archeological site to visit when you are in Sicily .The villa looks as if people who were living here just left by yesterday – everything is that vivid and well protected over hundreds of years .
Our last stops on our route then are Syracuse and Cattania while Syracuse is really a beautiful and bright city with its big fish market that we are going to visit .I always love fish markets or markets in general all over the world , the market sellers, the products , the atmosphere and the fresh food .Here you can fish, seafood, local herbs, olive oil, vegetables and fruit . We love to be at this place .
Certainly we need to have a great fish meal in the evening after this fish market visit – we get some fish of the day , some mussles , some shrimps and lobster , some good wine and salad with good herbs and some olives and good oil – all is so fresh and so delicious .
Finally you need to get your Italian desert or what is also great – some Italian ice-cream – gelato and some espresso of course !
What you should never forget in Sicily is to have your swimsuits and towel with you during your trip since everywhere there are hidden beautiful bays where you can get lost and have a nice bath or swim.
Turqoise waters , gems of nature , gorges , little canyons , lagoons – dreams of crystalclear waters that you definitely need to have on your agenda !
After a full week of having done a full tour around the island we are full of happiness and nice impressions of the nature and architecture , culture and people of the Sicilian Island .It is a great experience and pleasure to be here but we feel that it is just a little dip to get to know this gorgeous place .
We defintely need to come back one day to spend some more time in this beautiful part of the world and deeply enjoy the medditerrean climate at the slopes of the Etna , at the lemon tree gardens , the wineyards , the blue bays and historical sites – I can just recommend it to everyone from the bottom of my heart !