When you have been summoned by friends to join them in Sicily for a wedding and Italy has been at the top of your bucket list for a while, you only have one option – YOU GO.
At the eternal crossroads of the mediterranean lies a gorgeous, dazzling island that has been luring travelers, poets and even the ancient cultures of Carthaginians, Elymians, Romans and Greeks. Sicily is often a forgotten a gem amongst the tourist giants of Europe, and we hope, selfishly, it stays that way. However an increase in budget friendly RyanAir flights and the Comiso airport may put an end to this.
Our journey took us along the narrow roads that winded through the hillsides from the Catania Airport to Marina Di Regusa.
This little beach town, board walk and all, is a local favourite. Every crevice of the sandy beaches quickly filled up with colourful umbrellas, bikinis and steaming thermos of thick, syrupy espresso. Two-door cars lined both sides of the street, narrowing the roads to an almost impassable distance, except for bikes and scooters.
Donnalucata – Sicily
We stayed at an AirBnB studio ( https://www.airbnb.ca/rooms/6386386 ) for about $45 per night (it’s even less in the off season). Our hosts fast became our Sicilian parents and only responded to Mama and Papa.
A five minute stroll takes us to the local “M” market. Enough wine, cheese, limoncello, fresh bread, olives, water and fresh fruit for at least few days all add up to under 20.00 EURS. We checked again… apparently we’re a long way from Rome.
We eat. We drink. Speak in broken english & french to our hosts as they bring us endless shots of cafe noir. They call their daughter, currently in Milan, who eventually translates and the next thing you know, a scooter has arrived!
A scooter is most certainly the quickest and most rewarding way to truly get a feel for the beautiful coastline. The zig zagging roads guide you to endless discoveries between the ocean and the distinct beach towns that dot the coast; Donnalucata, Cava D’Aliga, Sampieri – it goes on and on. Stop for a beer – 2 Euros. Stop for an espresso – 1 Euro. Stop for a pizza for two – 8 Euros. It’s official, we are definitely not in Rome anymore.
Road to Sicily – Italy
Consisting of a thin layer of Terra Rossa (red dirt) and massive amounts of limestone, the penetrating heat and air of the ancient world that came before you lays heavy on your mind. Despite the intense midday sun, flowers blossom in abundance from every nook and cranny in a waterfall-like fashion; pouring from every orifice they can possibly find. Beautiful pinks, reds, purples, whites and yellows are everywhere, and the faint yet intoxicating smell of jasmine follows you so closely that it is easy to believe it may be the actual smell of the country. The next olfactory tickle you encounter is the smell of coffee. Most of social media has trained us to believe that coffee culture is first and foremost a morning ritual, meant to be long lasting; a way for us to pause our busy days. However if we fully embrace Italian culture (which we always encourage), coffee is meant to be had standing, is usually only espresso, it is quick, revitalizing and a caffeine headache never precedes this daily ritual (no matter how many you have!). Quick and dirty, dare we say? Only if you consider fresh from the beach, speedo clad coffee goers “dirty”.
Our nights were spent living as the locals do. The afternoon “Riposo” which is similar to the Mexican siesta, takes everyone into a later evening meal followed by the “Passeggiata”. The after dinner ritual is an Italian tradition where families of all ages, dressed in their Sunday best, enjoy “Dolce far Niente,” or the sweetness of doing nothing. This stroll of the boardwalk in Marina di Ragusa brings the community together to gossip and eat gelato; to be with one another in a simple way.
Villa Zinna – Sicily
Moving inland feels different. Everywhere you go, old limestone farmhouses manage to remain elegant despite their unkempt state. The land takes on a desert-like appearance, throwing paler colours all around you. Cacti, shrubs and dry stone walls trail the landscape. Despite the smouldering heat (yet again), you find olive, lime, fig, almond and pomegranate trees living prosperously.
Sicily – Italy
Tasting wine that has grown from that land feels like a right of passage here. You must do it to know and to experience what the earth can make. Farm to table eating is a term not recognized here, it is just how the people eat. If you are inland, you cannot find a scrap of any meal cooked with seafood. Meals are made based on what is in season, with Grandma’s timeless recipes. Pasta is always homemade, the ricotta is indescribable and the pomodoro, or tomato sauce is enough to make the tomato hater a friend of the red seedy fruit.
The Italians are a passionate people, they are friendly storytellers who have mastered the art of empathizing with whomever is currently holding the podium. We were consistently offered smiles everywhere we went, and we found it easy to navigate the language barrier with hand gestures and charades.
After spending time in this beautiful southern tip of Italy, we can honestly say we are in love. Of course Syracuse, Palermo, Modica, Catania and the plethora of Unesco World Heritage Sites and beach resorts – all accessible although not all as budget friendly. If you take your time, you’ll be surprised with how much you can see on non-standard euro vacation costs.
Our adoration for this place flows freely from the people, to the food and the sheer captivating and timeless beauty of the land seals the deal. Sicily is a hidden gem and we’ll certainly be back.
You will find below a list of key items we brought with us for our 6 day stay in Sicily.
- 1 x Washed Clothes
- Packed 1 Pair of Dish & “X” Du’er Live Lite A/C Pant
- Packed 1 Pair of Dish & Due’r Live Light Journey Shorts
- Packed 1 Swimsuit
- Just In Case Matador Duffle
- Dock & Bay – Microfiber Travel Towel
- 2 Cotton / Linen Buttondown Shirts (Short Sleeve / Long Sleeve
- 3 T-Shirts
- Lems Primal 2 Shoes
- Travel Journal
- Travel On Universal Adapter
- Personal Item – Skipping Rope
- Paperback Book: The Essential Rumi
- Audio Book: Extreme Ownership – Jocko Willink & Leif Babin