Sicily never ranked high on my travel list. But on a rainy day in the middle of Belgian October, it promised to be a great gateway from work and city life, with sun, sea and blue sky.
Also good food and amazing landscape all waiting to be enjoyed. All at an affordable price.
Ryanair took us late one evening to Trapani, and this is where our short journey into Sicily began.
Sicily, as I was to find out, has the fine smell of seafood, holiday and wears a scent I always fall for — that of the salty Mediterranean breeze.
TRAVEL IN SICILY
While Trapani is not my ideal city for a holiday, it is a rather convenient landing point and a nice intro into the Sicilian life.
We explored the city the following day, rays of sun guiding our way.
Trapani has charm at a closer look. There is always something utterly seducing and soul-soothing about walking on a street packed with ancient buildings showing signs of decay mixed with past grandeur.
The buildings look as if they should have collapsed a long time ago and yet, strangely enough, are still very much inhabited.
I like to let my hand slide along those walls painted in lively colours that wear off but that match the summer-like background setting so well.
I like to get their pulse, imagine their stories. A walk in places like these feels like being in a parallel dimension, in which reality is but a distant memory.
With the sea waves hitting the shore in the untamed wind, colours sprinkled everywhere, Sicily looked good.
WHAT TO EAT IN SICILY
And it was. If anything, Sicily is food heaven. If you are passionate (or nuts) about good quality coffee, real coffee, you shall be delighted in Sicily, of course.
Add sensational gelato to the list of goodies – one can never go wrong with Italian/Sicilian products anyway – and all is well with the world.
We sat down to plan our next move over a rich, delightful and extremely affordable lunch (count +/- 30€ for 2 people with primi and secondi piatti including 1L of wine.
In Sicily costs about 5-6 €) at Osteria La Dolce Vita – a small restaurant with a simple, unpretentious decoration governed by a giant picture of Marcello Mastroiani and some truly memorable food.
We decided on the spot that we wanted to climb Mount Etna, an active stratovolcano on the east coast of Sicily.
We had arrived in Sicily without hiking boots and had no adapted equipment whatsoever. Neither did we know at that precise moment how high a mountain Etna really was.
The accommodation we booked for the night at B&B Villa Loriana was in a splendid location, and I don’t think I have ever found a more considerate and helpful host than Gianluca.
The breakfast was copious and his guidance extremely valuable as he gave tips on how to do the trek the following day.
As we began our hiking adventure, we drove to Rifugio Sapienza, where we had the option to either hike for seven hours, or take the cable way and then hike for about four hours.
The slope is steep and the walk up looks hard, all the more so since you’re walking on volcanic ash, which means that your feet sink into it and you slide back with every step.
The cable way was the more reasonable option for two travellers wearing regular shoes, but was expensive. Count 30€/head for a return ticket.
We then walked up to 3345m – careful, it is very windy up the mountain and the highest peak with the steaming crater cannot be accessed without a guide and trekking equipment.
If you don’t want to walk on the lunar platform, you can also take the bus to see the craters, but that comes with an additional fee. It is a very touristy place, but worthwhile.
TRAVELING TO CORLEONE
As huge Godfather fans, travelling to Corleone was another highlight of our trip.
The village was rather quiet when we arrived, but the drive there was breath taking, one of my favourite moments.
Countryside is pretty special in Italy, we appreciated it more than driving along the coast.
There is not much to do in Corleone and the roads surrounding it are in bad condition, so make sure you take a sturdy car if you want to make it to your destination. And back.
We passed by Palermo rather in a rush, which is a shame, because I could have spent more time exploring.
Palermo has the disadvantage of being crowded and very reminiscent of Rome or any other beautiful Italian city, though, and we wanted to see something different about Sicily.
Back in Trapani, we decided to take a boat to Marettimo, one of the Aegadian Islands. Now this is one place to fall in love with and one that I would gladly go back to.
It is as blue and attractive as a little island can be. Had the weather allowed it, we would have gone cave-diving.
But we had a plane to catch the following day and there was a storm coming our way so we had to leave in a rush and much earlier than foreseen.
OUR AMAZING HOSTS
I’ll always remember our hosts at I Delfini, who made sure we caught our boat on time and packed all the good things they had prepared for us for breakfast.
We had on a rough sea, with massive waves blocking the view from the windows.
There is so much more to explore in Sicily. From rugged landscape to the richness and mix of culture, the good quality food and all the sun you can hope for, Sicily makes for a very attractive destination.
And when you go there, don’t forget to try something new: for me, that was the fish couscous, a true delicacy, which we stumbled upon in a restaurant called La Bettolaccia – definitely worth a detour.
If you go to Sicily, there are plenty of wonders, that, under the ray of sun and at affordable prices, are patiently waiting to being enjoyed. Take a flight.