It’s no secret that I love Italy. It’s not a mellow kind of love. It’s a full blown passionate love affair – it’s the kind of amorous liaison that refuses to cool down. I’ve written loads about offbeat things to do in Venice and exploring crumbling buildings in little sea-side towns like Genoa, but I’ve never really spoken about Sicily.
Long back – almost ten year ago (yes that does make me feel very old!), I spent a summer working in Sicily. It was a dreamy one, every bit as perfect as it usually is in the movies. I would drive past Mount Etna on my way to work and the drive back was littered with fruit orchards, olive groves, and vineyards. That was probably when I first fell in love with Italy – and all it has to offer. I thought about my first encounter with Sicily’s gorgeous panoramas just the other day while browsing holidays on First Choice.
If you’re wondering why I haven’t blogged about it – aah well I think I’ll have to blame that one on cameras – or the lack thereof. The omnipresence of Iphones, DSLRS, and Ipads makes it easy to forget that less than a decade ago, we had very few ways of recording our travels. I don’t have much visual proof of my travels in Sicily, except a few hard copies of photos on stunning Sicilian beaches.
There is no dearth of special things to do in Sicily – one can hike or bike up Mt. Etna, visit the incredible Valley of Temples or explore the world-renowned theatre Taormina. Most people visit Sicily just to watch a performance at Taormina. But if I had to think back to the time I spent in Sicily and advise anyone, I would surely tell them to concentrate on the smaller things that make Italy special.
Guess what tops that list? Food of course! Italian food is known the world over and needs no introduction at all. But a lot of Sicilian delicacies never make it to the menus of Italian restaurants in UK. I love Arancini -rice balls stuffed with cheese, meat, and tomatoey goodness. The best place to score the perfect Arancini are hole-in-the-wall Sicilian eateries. If you’re craving a sit-down meal at a restaurant, you HAVE to try Pasta alla Norma – the unique combination of smoked ricotta cheese, tomatoes, and aubergines will leave you wanting more. Of course you need to wrap up either meal with a gelato – there is no arguing that is there? You’re in Italy for a reason!!
For a perfect combination of Sicily’s atmospheric markets, culture, and gourmet food, wrap up your holiday with a trip to La Pescheria – this crowded fish market is perfect if you want a taste of real Sicilian life. It’s situated in the square below the Cathedral and is really easy to find. It’s a photographer’s delight and the perfect place to feel the rhythm of Sicilian life.
Right I’m off to book a holiday to Sicily as soon as I publish this post 🙂