by Olivia Helvey
Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean, is a treasure trove of unforgettable moments that captivate visitors with its rich heritage and stunning landscapes. Italy boasts more than its fair share of beautiful places, but Sicily has a unique character that makes it a must-stop on the travel bucket list. Sicilian culture stands on its own, as it is quite distinct from the rest of the country. This makes it the perfect place to try new things and find your next adventure!
From culinary delights to mesmerizing natural wonders, every new experience I had in Sicily was one I would recommend to any traveler hoping to go there. It was nearly impossible to narrow down but here are the top six things that made Sicily the trip of a lifetime:
Upon arriving in Catania, the group quickly decided that arancini was the first order of business. After a tiring plane ride, nothing was more important than this fried ball of cheese and rice. We stopped at the nearest available shop and the arancini there did not disappoint in either taste or size. This jumbo treat had a tomato-y center and the ideal cheese pull. This first taste of Sicilian cuisine set the stage for an epic gastronomic adventure on the island.
When we reached our first hotel, Donna Corraly, we were welcomed with rows of fruit trees and lush Mediterranean foliage. This was the first of countless amazing gardens we would encounter throughout the island. In the shadow of Mount Etna there were grounds teeming with lemon trees, tropical plants, and vibrant blooms that flourish in the fertile volcanic soil. Each garden was a symphony of nature, captivating our senses and reminding us of Sicily’s distinctive character.
Perched high on a cliff overlooking the glistening Ionian Sea, Taormina embraced us with its timeless charm. Wandering through its narrow streets adorned in colorful bougainvillea, we felt like we had stepped into a postcard. Ancient ruins and quaint shops lined the winding alleys, adding to the town’s allure. However, the highlight of our Taormina visit was undoubtedly the ancient Greek Theater. From this vantage point, we marveled at the panoramic views that embraced the sparkling sea and the majestic Mount Etna. It was the perfect angle for capturing unforgettable pictures and etching precious memories in our hearts.
Sicily’s wine is a product of centuries-old winemaking traditions combined with the island’s unique landscape. At Barone di Villagrande, our second hotel, we were treated to a delightful journey of Sicilian wine tasting. We sampled varieties like Etna Bianco and Etna Rosso. My favorites were the light-bodied reds that paired perfectly with the local pasta dishes. I only wish I had squeezed more into my suitcase before leaving for home.
Hiking Mt Etna:
For adventurers seeking breathtaking views, hiking Mt Etna is an absolute must. The grandeur of Europe’s highest active volcano cannot be understated. Standing on the summit, you can’t help but feel humbled by the sheer power of nature. Hiking through this otherworldly landscape of cooled lava flows was awe-inspiring and eating my prosciutto and mozzarella sandwich with the whole island spread out below me felt like a dream – one I won’t soon forget.
The Sicilian people are renowned for their genuine and heartfelt kindness, which forms an integral part of their rich cultural heritage. Rooted in a strong sense of community and family values, their hospitality and warmth towards both locals and visitors alike are truly exceptional. I found this hospitality to be very evident throughout my trip to Sicily.The man who we bought arancini from took the time to explain all of the types and chatted with us while we ate. The driver we spent so much time with felt like a friend by the end of the trip because of his humor and openness about sharing his culture. The cheesemaker at a delicious sandwich shop in Catania even told us his story of how he went from being an engineer to a cheesemaker and the passion he had for his profession was so apparent. Whether it was offering a warm smile to a stranger, sharing a delicious meal with friends, or extending a helping hand to those in need, Sicilians embody a generosity of spirit that left a lasting impression on me.
Join our Wine & Wellness Small Group Trip
June 8-15 2024