This blog begins with a short, thirty-minute car ferry ride across the Strait of Messina from Villa San Giovanni to Messina, Sicily.
By the time, our rented Audi A4 hits the pavement on the Sicilian side, this couple will have been on the road for three-weeks.
We’re now half-way through September and we’ve devoured most of Italy, beginning in Tuscany in the north and edging our way slowly south, ending our month-long travels with a seven-day finale on this beautiful island.
We’ll be chartering a daily course from Taormina, which will be home base for the week. Scheduling day trips to Scopello one day, Cefalù or Ragusa another and so on. It’s what we love. Stop and go as we please. We’re looking forward to exploring and photographing the many seaside towns and fishing villages that dot the coast. I just hope we have enough time to discover them all.
Here’s a peek at six of our favorites. You’ll find each location marked on a map of Sicily that I’ve placed at the back end of this post.
Sicily’s finest beach? Who am I to argue. Just look at the colour of the water in this photo. Located on the north coast of Sicily (about an hour and half from Messina) this sandy beach stretching alongside the town is a prime magnet for this couple.
We’ll wander Cefalù’s medieval district, luring us to another popular attraction, Duomo Basilica Catterdrale. Built in 1131 this two-towered mosaic-adorned Cathedral dominates the honey-hued stone buildings of the centro storico. Get the camera ready.
Ragusa is favored as one of Italy’s most picturesque towns. Ragusa sits amidst the rocky peaks northwest of Modica, in the Val di Noto of southeastern Sicily about 90 kilometers (56 miles) from Catania.
As you round the bend on the road from Modica, the town appears to rise like a giant sandcastle, with its tanned walls and roofs contrasting against fields of brilliant green sprouting crops.
We’ll meander along the character filled lanes photographing tangled alleyways, grey stone houses with elaborately sculpted balconies, baroque palazzi and the grandest church in Ibla, Duomo di San Giorgio.
3. Scala dei Turchi
On beach day we’ll head to Scala dei Turchi on the Mediterranean side of Realmonte, near Porto Empedocle, along the south coast of Sicily.
The first thing you’ll notice about Scal Dei Turchi is the chalky white cliff that’s been conveniently eroded into a giant staircase.
Dressed for the part, we’ll hike down one of the few steep sandy trails leading to the beach to test the welcoming warm, Mediterranean and dry ourselves sunbathing on the folds of rock conveniently shaped into lounge chairs.
Our attraction to Scopello was immediate. This tiny village on Sicily’s north-west corner offers every ingredient this couple finds charming. Pocket-sized beaches, jagged cliff faces, windswept mountains with spectacular sea views and a tiny village offering little more than a few minutes of sightseeing.
Scopello village rests on a plateau, a short distance from the sea below and neighboring Riserva Naturale dello Zingaro, Sicily’s first nature preserve. Zingaro has become the center of attention on the gulf, attracting nature-lovers and outdoors enthusiasts.
No itinerary would be complete without a day or two pilgrimage to this countries regional capital. This busy port city (especially with cruise ships) is located on the north-western coast of the island. Bill Phelps images of Palermo are what inspires me. The beauty of Palermo are perfectly captured in his photos.
Chaotic and bustling souk-like markets are famous in Palermo. Our challenge will be deciding on which market to go to. Ballarò Market, Il Capo Market, Vucciria Market, the busiest in Palermo, Sant’Agostino Market, Lattarini Market and Calderai Market. We’re anxious to taste Palermo life; dialects fly through the air between the stall awnings as vendors hawk piles of silvery fish, jeans, bootleg CDs, olives from barrels, spicy sea urchins, and steaks carved directly from swordfish.
Note to self: Be on guard with your camera, and remember the markets are closed on Sundays.
Another Palermo highlight will be our visit to Patella Palatina. This chapel is Palermo’s most popular tourist attraction, (which means that queues are likely, but the wait will be worth it).
Located within the Palazzo dei Normanni (Palace of the Normans), Patella Palatina, an 11th century church, is adorned with extravagance: glittering gold mosaics are complimented by inlaid marble floors and wooden muqarnas ceiling, the latter a masterpiece of Arabic-style honeycomb carving reflecting Sicily’s cultural complexity.
This chi-chi resort town, a popular Italian summer destination, is conveniently perched high on Monte Tauro, offering sweeping views of Ionian Sea. Likened as a Sicilian Monte Carlo, Taormina boasts Mount Etna as its backdrop and an ancient Greek theatre, Teatro Greco as part of the scenery. It holds a reputation where Hollywood celebrities traveled – where once a jealous Elizabeth Taylor broke a guitar over Richard Burton’s head.
Picturesque lanes above and below the Corso are interesting to explore, while if you want to stretch your legs further there are attractive walks up into the hills, or down to the sea. Given its compact size, Taormina has a huge range of bars, cafes and restaurants where you can while away pleasant hours while admiring the views.
Have you been to Sicily? Do you have a favourite seaside town or beach that’s not listed here? Don’t be shy, flip us an email and we’ll pass it on to our readers. Otherwise, safe travels.