“If someone asked me what it was I loved about Sicily, I’d say the perfect coffees, seafood spaghetti, thin-crust pizza, arancini, tiramisu, local wine, the summit of Mount Etna rising above the buildings, the warm sea breezes, the stubbly, barren landscape created by old lava flows, hiking through the snow at 2000m, collecting lava rocks, laughing at the crazy driving (and realizing why there’s a mechanic’s shop on every corner), walking through the colorful streets of Taormina (and thanking the lucky stars you’re there in January when it isn’t blisteringly hot) the typical Italian hairpin bends, the Italian language, the Italian pronunciation of English, the orange trees, the palm trees, the exotic fruit, the friendly people, and the Bialetti shop.” (2017)
“In Sicily, the southeast wind, the Sirocco from the Sahara, blows in mercilessly in July and August. In August, it is not recommended to visit Sicily, or really anywhere in Italy. August is ferragosto, the sacred general freedom of the Italians. Italians, regardless of age, flood the coast. They have no intention of vacationing outside of Italy. Sicily is a subjugated place at this time. Mass misery on the beaches. In addition, everything is much more expensive in August, including hotels and services. In Taormina in August, you will have to pay 50 euros (!) a day for two sunbeds and one parasol. It's better to visit in September and October. "
Sicily (east coast)
-Taormina's old town with its characteristic Mediterranean, charming, zigzagging, Italian streets with small restaurants, boutiques, fights of steps, orange trees, and flowering plants popping up everywhere
-in Taormina, an indescribably beautiful view of the Greek theater, with Mount Etna and the coast in the background
-the town of Castelmola and the hiking trail of steps leading up to it
-the old town of Syracuse on the island of Ortigia, the hustle and bustle of the local market - right next to the fish market there is a small street food buffet, Caseificio Borderi, where phenomenal (!!!) sandwiches are made from the finest local ingredients – always be prepared for a minimum one-hour wait in line, but every minute is worth the wait (for the sake of illustration: www.youtube.com/watch?v=zswRwwB3iyk)
-the island of Isola Bella, which you can walk to at low tide on a small tongue of sand. The island is a nature reserve, so only a small part can be explored (for a €4 entrance fee), fortunately, the “host” of the island was right there and was persuaded to personally guide it around and show the hidden treasures where tourists are not allowed in.
-on the long beach of Giardini Naxos you will find alternating soft, golden sandy beaches and areas with pebbles, so everyone can find the type of beach that suits them
- as in most places in Italy, even if you don't speak Italian (just like Italians often can’t speak English), thanks to the open, relaxed locals, you can easily make yourself understood, and the locals are very helpful. The Sicilians, anyhow, are very friendly – in the smaller settlements, they consider you an acquaintance after their first meeting with you and greet you if you run into them again in a shop, on the street, in the café, etc.
-Italian food, coffee, delicious ingredients, and juicy fruit - one of the signature ingredients of Sicilian cuisine is eggplant, which is used in a lot of local dishes
-on Sicily's east coast, all cities and attractions can be explored without a rental car, using Interbus and hop-on-hop-off services (the former costs around € 1-3, and you can get a one-day ticket on the latter for €10, while a long-distance journey, such as the direct bus between Syracuse and Taormina, cost €17)
-the driving style of the locals - they are simply amazing, they can maneuver on narrow roads and hairpin bends, use the horn as a kind of signal (watch out, I'm coming!) and they are especially attentive to pedestrians – as soon as we step off the sidewalk, they stop immediately
-the presence of Mount Etna, the most active and largest volcano in Europe - it's an incredible experience to watch the smoky crater of the volcano from the beach - sometimes you can even hear the sound of smaller eruptions – not the kind of experience you have every day!
-when you’re trying to relax on the beach, you keep getting hassled every few minutes by vendors – because of them, it’s not worth bringing valuables to the beach
-in the summer, sometimes in the scorching heat it can be a bit uncomfortable to explore the cities (it was no accident that the afternoon siesta was invented), so always bring sunscreen and water with you
-Beaches are very crowded during the summer season, but you can also find less frequented beaches
- most of the local restaurants and shops close for siesta time, which is from between about 1 pm and 4 pm – tough luck for anyone who gets hungry during this time
-there are just too many sights for a single week – the time we spent here went by very quickly – we’ll definitely have to come back!