Italians often say that they don’t need to go abroad for holidays and this is often true as there is so much history, stunning beaches, beautiful mountains, lakes and a favourable climate.. which can offer a lot to a holidaymaker.
As a child, my parents would travel extensively though Italy. We visited most of the regions and most of the times by car. To go from “top to tail” it takes 15-16 hours.
Every region has his own characteristics: the food is different everywhere you go, so is the dialect spoken within the regions and their traditions. It is like visiting many different countries and this should come as no surprise if you think that Italy was only united 150 years ago.
One of the regions that will always be in my heart is Sicily. My parents had friends near Catania and I still have memories of walking through their lemon and orange groves. The fruits were huge and the colours magnificent. The lady of the house used to make her own pasta all the time and she would let it dry on a wooden rack. It was so beautiful to see; they were so hospitable and I have never forgotten them. Especially in the south, people are renowned for being very friendly and welcoming.
Sicily is the largest of the Italian islands and it has a natural and beautiful landscape and plenty of history. There are beautiful mountains and crystal clear waters where swimming will look like diving into a swimming pool. The colours are incredible.
Sicily has many little islands: Pantelleria, Ustica, The Aeolians, Egadi and Pelagie islands. All with beautiful and natural landscapes.
I love the area of Catania where the volcano Etna dominates the landscape. This is still an active volcano. If you are going to Sicily, Agrigento is a must go place. This is one of most beautiful cities in Sicily. You will visit “La Valle dei Templi” which is situated near the sea and it is part of UNESCO World Heritage Site and has important archaeological excavations of the ancient Greeks.
Palermo has splendid coasts and beaches and the city has an interesting historic centre with a majestic Cathedral.
Syracuse with its Greek theatres and uncontaminated nature will leave you breathless.
But now I want to talk about which culinary delicacies Sicily has to offer: Arancini di riso are well known all over the world. You can easily do them when you make a risotto by using up leftover rice. You fill the risotto with some mince, mozzarella or vegetables and make it into a ball. Then you fry it.
A dish I do on a regular basis is Pasta alla Norma which is a sauce made with aubergines and tomatoes. A very tasty one.
Sicilian sea salt (which I use too) is a natural salt rich in iodine, fluorine, magnesium and potassium with a much lower percentage of sodium chloride than regular table salt and It is still entirely harvested by hand.
Almond granita is something you only get in Sicily. This is a semi-frozen dessert made from sugar, water and almond flavouring. Granita is available all over Italy but In Sicily has a coarser, more crystalline texture.
The Sicilian cannolo, a fried pastry dessert and the cassata are both made with fresh ricotta cheese. Also almond and pistachios pastries are very popular.
What to say, this is heaven for your palate. If you enjoy good food, stunning beaches and history Sicily is the place to head to!
These photos come from my sister’s honeymoon, lucky her!