Falling in love with Sicily
Sicily offers the unique ability to take you back to ancient Greece with the temple at Agrigento or on the scenic twisty roads through the Savoca mountains. Glenda Beagle/Camrose Canadian Contributor
Sicily, my one true love!
This past year I had the honour and privilege of hosting an incredible group of people to Italy. We spent time in Sicily as part of this tour, and I’m so happy that we did. Sicily has long been on my own personal bucket list. Having grown up watching the Golden Girls, I just had to see where Sophia came from. Sicily did not disappoint. From the architecture to the people it was all so much to explore. A territory that still sees itself independent from Italy, they even vote their own president into power.
Sicily was first settled by the Greeks in the eighth century BC, in the second century BC the Romans invaded. By ninth century the Arabs had conquered it and by the eleventh the Normans had conquered the region. Many of their churches, for example, are in an Arab architecture, making for stunning and unexpected discoveries.
While in Palermo we travelled to the most spectacular viewing point above the city. High up on the mountain you will discover the Shrine to the Patron Saint of Palermo, Santa Rosalia. The stories are incredible, however the journey up the mountain is not for the faint of heart — especially after an all night ferry ride from the mainland. Up on top of the mountain I was fortunate enough to experience the most spectacular Pomegranate juice I’ve ever had. The cross pollination of the oranges with the pomegranate made for a very tasty drink.
The markets in Palermo were incredible, the vegetables, the uniqueness, the colors they were all so much to take in. Sicily as a whole was much more about visiting where the locals live and work rather than just the typical tourist traps.
We toured the Greek temple ruins in the Agrigento area, they instantly transport you to ancient Greece. We then toured an amazing vineyard where we learned how the soil changes the taste of the wine. In particular the volcanic rock within the soil. This particular vineyard was run by just three generations. Vineyards in Sicily are somewhat new, especially compared to those found in Tuscany. The love and passion for what they do was so incredible you couldn’t help but fall in love with this family. They were so kind and welcoming. They told us all about how they operate their vineyard, from harvest to bottling. In fact it was such a quaint experience that those that wished to purchase wine got to do so from the family dining room, while the grandfather played his harmonica and danced with our group. I could have spent an entire week with this family, we just didn’t have enough time with them.
Finally we ended in Taormina. Wow … I'm not sure what else to say but wow. From the different hilltop towns and villages to the beaches and coastlines. We started out by travelling to the hilltop town of Taormina. The views were amazing, in particular from the amphitheatre. The shopping was pretty awesome as well — the look on the poor driver's face when he saw all the bags of purses and shoes as they came down the hill was unforgettable.
The following day we travelled to the hilltop town of Savoca, the filming site of the Godfather. We walked the streets of this quaint and quiet little village. Almost like walking through your very own movie set.
The treat you can’t miss when you travel to Savoca is their Granita. Granita is a Sicilian type of lemon sorbet. Legend has it, it was the Granita that enticed the director to film in Savoca. Later that day we travelled to the top of Mt. Etna. It was shocking to see how the weather changed as we climbed high up the mountain. Mt. Etna is an active Stratovolcano. Stratovolcanoes are a crater volcano Mt Etna is home to several craters as well as having the title of the most active volcano in the world.
All of these experiences coupled with amazing views while we drove. The fields filled with citrus trees. Beautiful green trees loaded with yellow or orange polka dots. The coast line offered up their own flavour of viewing.
Overall the people were wonderful, kind and so very welcoming. I’ve dreamed for decades of travelling to Sicily, and I have to say, she did not disappoint. In fact, I will return, soon.