Palermo is the capital of Sicily, and it often gets a bad rap for being chaotic and crazy. This may be true, but it is chaotic in a beautiful way! For example, get lost in the chaos of one of Palermo’s open-air markets. You will find all sorts of fantastic artistic treasures at low prices (you can always negotiate with the vendor, too!) Some of the best street food in the world is made at these open markets, and I recommend spending a lazy morning wandering around, taking in the street scene, munching on a fresh arancina, medusa, or cannolo and soaking in the beautiful chaos of Palermo.
Erice is smaller than Palermo, but not too far away (Province of Trapani). This quant town perched atop a hill above Trapani was at one time in it’s history Roman, Carthaginian, Elymian and Phoenician. What remains is a strong sense of pride in people from Erice. They are proud of their history, and also of their local pastries (the Genovese). They have much more to be proud of, too, from the Punic walls to the well-preserved castle, gorgeous churches to medieval streets. If you happen to be there on Good Friday, don’t miss the annual parade that is quite frankly the best I’ve seen in ten years of living in Italy!
Val di Noto
Val di Noto is not one town, but a valley composed of eight cities in south-eastern Sicily. The villages are Noto, Palazzolo, Militello Val di Catania, Modica (amazing chocolate, Catania (the biggest), Caltagirone, Ragusa and Scicli. They became an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2002 because of the high level of artistic and architectural restoration and achievement. The towns are characterized by crumbling palaces in Baroque style architecture, modest and picturesque homes, and gorgeous churches nestled into the south-eastern Sicilian hills.
San Vito Lo Capo (and the nearby Zingaro Nature Preserve)
The north-western part of Sicily is known as the “Sicilian Caribbean,” and for good reason. From Castellammare del Golfo to San Vito Lo Capo lies the Zingaro Nature Preserve. It is composted of majestic mountains that look like they are sinking down into the turquoise sea. The area is great for mountain climbers, hikers, divers and boating enthusiasts. Once you get enough of the 1,600 hectares of protected land in the Zingaro Nature Preserve, check out the city of San Vito Lo Capo. It is famous for the annual Cous Cous Fest, held during the last week of September. It is a hot-spot for mediterranean cuisine and you can find some of the best experimental and traditional restaurants on the island here.
(Photo by robynhooz via Flickr)
Article written by Francesco R.