Italy
Sicily

Here you’ll find travel reports about Sicily. Discover travel destinations in Italy of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.

175 travelers at this place:

  • Day252

    Approaching Lido di Rossello in search of a wild camp spot, our initial impressions weren't promising. After passing through the built up streets of the quiet resort, we came to a dead end where a couple of cars were parked in front of the concrete wall separating the road from the beach. There had been road signs pointing towards a campsite and there was grafitti on the adjacent wall reading 'Camping' with a number to call. However, the tall iron gates into what could have been a site, were closed and chained up.

    We stopped to assess our options and after a minute, a short, grey haired man whose skin was as brown and thick as leather approached the van asking if we wanted to look? He proceeded to open the gates and lead us past a small hotel in the late stages of being built, to a seafront haven of gravel and grass. The area was cut into the soft cliff, bordered by flowers and low bushes with steps leading down to the sandy beach. While a paraglider played in the updrafts behind us, the man, whose name was Giuseppe, showed us around with just pride. A small lighthouse was perched precariously on the cliff above and he said that at night we could see its beam shining through the darkness. He pointed out the beautiful rocky cove to the right, where his small fishing boat and one other were moored, before directing our attentions to a stunning white cliff projecting into the sea a few kilometers to the left. Its striations stepped back as it rose and acted as natural pavements along which people were walking.

    Giuseppe took us via the basic facilities, down the steps on to the fine sand, but we had already fallen in love with the place and decided to stay at €10 a night. The late day sun was warm and Vicky paddled in the sea with Poppy while Will swam. We sat out on the sand for a while, much to the bewilderment of the locals, before returning to our 'room with a view'. From the van we watched the lively Mediterranean waters and noticed a banding of colour as they stretched to the uninterrupted horizon. It was almost like a rainbow, changing through different shades of green, to blue, to a thin strip of violet at its farthest point.

    We stayed 3 nights and each day Giuseppe came and checked that everything was going ok, despite not having a word of English. Will went snorkeling in the cove but waves whipped up the sand so much that he couldn't see his hand in front of his face.
    We took a picnic and tried to walk to the far chalk cliffs but rockfalls blocked our way, so we found a patch protected from the wind and ate our lunch there on the deserted beach.

    Unfortunately Vicky became badly ill again and this time Will wasn't feeling great either. We suspected it may have been something in the water we picked up at Marina di Ragusa and Caltanissetta, where both taps had been reduced to a dribble. It was impossible to know but when we felt able, we drained the water tank, wiped it round with vinegar and flushed it through with water from the site.

    On our last full day, a storm blew with gale force winds. The tall cliffs behind us confused the winds and it was fascinating to watch them blowing in several different directions on the water simultaneously. All day long the wind battled with the waves, ripping their breaking crests backwards and whipping the spray several meters into the air.
    Read more

  • Day4

    On arrival at the ferry terminal at San Giovanni, there was no need to disembark - the train rolled on to the ferry in two halves - one of the few places where this actually happens. It was exciting to watch, with the train rolling on, then our half reversing off and then travelling back on to lie parallel with the front half. We were able to leave our belongings and go up on deck as we crossed the Straits of Messina to one of Sicily’s main cities, Messina. It was good to get some fresh air and a walk about. The crossing only took about 30 minutes, just like going to Bute, although Messina had a bit more life about it and a good deal more sunshine than Rothesay usually does.

    The train reunited, we journeyed down Sicily’s east coast, passing the lovely Taormina and the shadow of Mount Etna, the most active volcano in the world, apparently - I think I’ll just stay on the train. Olive and orange trees and giant cacti lined the tracks here. As we pulled into our final destination I felt, like that Rodgers and Hart musical, one of ‘The Boys from Syracuse’.
    Read more

  • Day4

    Sleeper to Sicily

    June 7 in Italy

    At 20.10 last night, I boarded the overnight sleeper train from Milan all the way to Sicily. A marathon journey of some 19 hours 38 minutes. And if I was expecting a luxurious travel experience, I was about to be sorely disappointed - the Venice Simplon Orient Express this was not. The train resembled the kind of graffiti-decorated transport that you might expect of Italian railways on a short local journey from Roma Termini to San Pietro. My 2 berth 1st class compartment had certainly seen better days with little by way of creature comforts. Unlike the meticulously uniformed crews of the Polish and Russian trains last year, with their peaked caps and efficient welcome, this train attendant resembled an overweight and unkempt Reg Varney from On the Buses. With an ill-fitting uniform and grubby shirt which was too tight to fasten, he sported at least two days of grey stubble.

    And if I had expected fine dining in the restaurant car washed down with a glass of Valpolicella, again it was not to be. Not a buffet car nor even a trolley appeared to exist - and on a journey which was to take the best part of 20 hours. How glad was I that I had had that McD’s earlier when accessing their free WiFi. All that was left for dinner was a half eaten packet of crisps, a bag of Mint Imperials and a bottle of water so warm I could have easily have made a cup of tea with it - if only I had a tea bag.

    My travelling roomie embarked at Genoa. He was a tall, bearded Italian who spent some time rearranging our tiny space, with a great deal of moving luggage, ladders, toiletries etc, while parading around (if one can parade in such a tiny space) in his briefs - why have Italian men never heard of boxers?

    Our Trenitalia ‘Welcome Pack’ included amongst other bits and pieces, an eye mask. After being dazzled by the evening lights outside our blind-less window, I decided to make use of them to get to sleep. The underside of the bunk above me was covered in a full-length mirror, and when I awoke I was startled to see who looked like Lady Isobel Barnett from ‘What’s My Line’ staring down at me.

    In spite of this, my lower berth was remarkably comfortable and I got a reasonable night’s sleep. After devouring the last of the Mint Imperials for breakfast, I was amazed to discover by accident that refreshments were available from a cubbyhole at the end of the compartment. A long-life apricot croissant and an espresso later and I began to feel human again. Even Reg Varney came up trumps in converting our two berths into a relatively pleasant sitting area with a few clicks and pulls of levers.

    My Italian friend disembarked at Rosarno in Calabria at 10.00, and I had the compartment to myself for the remaining leg of the trip. The train hugged the coast all the way with terrific views of the Tyrrhenian Sea. This wasn’t so bad after all.
    Read more

  • Day5

    Chaotic Catania

    June 8 in Italy

    Back on the rails again. Got chatting to a couple from Melbourne who had spent 8 days in Syracuse. ‘Don’t get me wrong’, he said, ‘we loved it, but it does need a bit of TLC and some of these old buildings want demolishing’. Ah, the Aussies…

    Today’s trip involved taking the train to Catania where after a 2 hour break there was a connection to Sicily’s capital, Palermo. The first train was brand new, with comfy leather seats and welcome air-conditioning. The only problem was that it was packed with over-excited teenagers on their way to Rome, and an even more excited teacher who screamed at the top of her voice, constantly waving her arms, pulling passengers from their seats, waving bits of paper and yelling at her charges to sit in their assigned seats. After about 20 minutes her pupils were all finally seated when the train conductor arrived to break the news that they were in the wrong carriage. More yelling and waving of papers, but at last they departed.

    On arrival at Catania with 2 hours to kill, I asked at the Customer Service window if there was any left luggage facility. Without lifting her head from her Bella magazine, the Customer Service representative said ‘no’. Do you have any WiFi in the station? ‘No’. Well, do you know anywhere nearby where I might be able to access WiFi, such as McDonalds or Starbucks? ‘No. We have nothing like that. Nowhere.’ I wondered if she had contemplated a career with the Catania Tourist Information Service.

    I had a hot but interesting walk into the city centre, laden with luggage. The main Duomo Square was beautiful, but the rest of Catania looked like a poor relation of Syracuse, only bigger and more built up - and the litter - cigarette butts everywhere - where were the Glasgow Central Fag Police when you needed them?

    As it was a few hours since breakfast and I would be on the train to Palermo for the next 3 hours, I decided to take a packed lunch on board, given my experience of Trenitalia catering. I found a nice little coffee shop with a smiling senorita who explained she cooked everything herself and it was all health foods. By this time it was too late to make my escape, so I opted for a spinach and ricotta cheese flatbread. She cut me a square with the precision of a surgeon and carefully packed it in a crisp white grease proof envelope. ‘Van ov my desserts, perhaps?’ she suggested with the insistence of Frau Blücher from Young Frankenstein. I pointed to the least offensive - one of her whole meal chocolate and pistachio nut offerings and thought she wouldn’t win any prizes from Mary Berry. A bottle of home made Sicilian lemonade later and I started cramming the goods into my already packed backpack. ‘Oh no’ exclaimed Frau Blücher, ‘you must carry eet like thees’ and held the package up flat on her outstretched palm, a presentation worthy of the adoration of the Magi.
    I returned to catch the train balancing my precious goods and found an unoccupied table seat for four. As I reached for the luggage rack, my precious bakery item slipped from the envelope and landed ricotta side down on the floor. The two girls opposite thought this highly amusing, but I thought what the hell, and picked it up, dusted it down and ate it. Well it was either that or starve.

    I had bought a half kilo of cherries from a fruit stall outside and then proceeded to devour them instead of the nut tart. They were delicious, but the juice from an overripe one squirted over my shirt. By this time the girls were biting their lips and giggling helplessly. I couldn’t quite catch what they were saying, but it was something along the lines of ‘Poor old soul, he really shouldn’t be let out alone’. All I could think of was the lyric from that Francie and Josie song ‘Dae cherry stains come oot?’

    I enjoyed the journey to Palermo - lovely countryside with more oranges and lemons. I hadn’t realised how big Sicily was - the largest island in the Med, with a population similar to Scotland’s. Regrettably there wasn’t time to see much of the capital city, but I would love to come back. I found my way to the docks and boarded the GNV Ferry - Atlas - and was pleased with my cabin accommodation for my overnight sailing to Naples. So long, Sicily, it’s been good. Mostly.
    Read more

  • Day5

    Surprising Syracuse

    June 8 in Italy

    On arrival, Syracuse proved to be a bigger city than I had imagined. A bit careworn and unkempt, I was glad I was not staying near the station but across a short stretch of water in the attractive Old Town area of Ortigia, a 15 minute walk away. The Terre & Mare B&B was contained within an old palazzo just off the main drag. I pressed the buzzer and was told to come up to the 7th floor - you’ve got to be kidding, I thought, no lift and this heat and this luggage! However a charming young Sicilian rushed out to meet me - ‘sorry, I mean 2nd floor’. Grazie al cielo! He proceeded to provide me with a map and a suggested walking tour of the main sights of old Syracuse. He showed me my single room, small but perfectly formed, complete with WiFi, air-conditioning, ensuite shower room, designer toiletries, and bidet - all of which I put to good use within 10 minutes.

    The suggested walking tour was a hit, and I loved walking about the Old Town with its beautiful Duomo, Temple of Apollo, Castle and fabulous sea views, in the early evening sunshine. Syracuse was the birthplace of Archimedes, and they don’t let you forget it. The restaurant I ate in that night was called Arches. ‘It’s pronounced Arkes’ pointed out the owner, ‘after Archimedes’. And here was me thinking it was named after the 60s pop group who had a hit with Sugar, Sugar.

    I was struck by how many of the more mature ladies looked so glamorous, even when well passed their sell-by date. One particular lady out walking her small dog, looked like a latter day Marilyn Monroe, had she lived. Aged about 80, her hair was coiffed in a platinum blonde 1960s style, with pale makeup and ruby red lipstick. She even had a similar full-skirted white dress à la Seven Year Itch, the only saving grace being that there were no subway gratings nearby.

    The breakfast was a delight - served on the roof terrace with terrific views, and the staff were so friendly. The teenaged girl who giggled and brought endless coffee told me her dearest wish was to visit Scotland, where all the pretty houses had geraniums in their window boxes. Not the last time I was in Govan, senorita. I giggled back and left her to her delusions.

    I could certainly recommend the Terre e Mare B&B if anyone was visiting the area.
    Read more

  • Day248

    Marina di Ragusa

    March 1, 2017 in Italy

    We had planned to visit the hill town of Modica, stay in its free stopover, go out for a Sicilian lunch and sample its speciality chocolate. Arriving at the outskirts we picked up a 10 kilo bag of oranges from a street seller for €5. They were very tasty too!

    School was out and dozens of teenage boys zipped along on their scooters, their half face helmets angled back on their heads so their styalised quiffs could bee seen at the front. Two municipal police officers were on school duty, one standing blocking each lane to usher primary school children over the zebra crossing.

    Old Modica was a stunning sight, its worn, light stone brick buildings covering the steep sided summit with no apparent pattern except that houses further up the hill looked out over those below. Unfortunately a main road was closed, making it very difficult to get to the stopover. The van isn't the easiest thing to drive around narrow streets, even outside of rush hour. Vicky wasn't driving but her anxiety was playing up and so after going round in circles several times we decided to abandon the plan, have a van lunch in a layby and move onto the next place.

    Ragusa had a similarly higgledy piggledy arrangement of houses on a hillside that ran along a ravine. It was much eaiser to appreciate their charm from the road that bypassed the town and took us to a service point for emptying and filling in the modern, easy access area. All that remained was to find a place to stay for the night! Marina di Ragusa offered a free stopover, but it was concreted and had no grass for Poppy. It also looked packed and had a chain across the entry so we carried on, keeping our fingers crossed we'd find a wild camping spot soon.

    Closer to the sea there was a main road with many small lanes leading off past the sides of apartments, a short distance to the beach. It was at the end of one of these roads that we parked, with the van facing out on to a golden sand beach with the Mediterranean Sea just 50m in front.

    The three of us tested the water but it was too cold for anything other than paddling without wetsuits. Unfortunately Vicky became quite ill while we were there but Will donned his neoprene and spent a happy few hours taking his belated birthday present of a body board out for the first time.
    Read more

  • Day263

    Capo di Milazzo and the Venus pool

    March 16, 2017 in Italy

    The Cape of Milazzo, a long finger of rock projecting out near the North East corner of Sicily, was the final place we had planned to visit on the island. Vicky had read that the Venus Pool, at the very tip of the finger, was good for snorkeling.

    We took the road as far as it went then set off on foot with our wetsuits and snorkeling gear. The walk took us through an olive grove carpeted with wildflowers before the floral display led us down a narrow path, past exotic plants, lizards and stunning views of the sea on three sides.

    The Venus Pool was a shallow pebbly haven, separated from the sea by a natural low wall and protected from the wind on either side by vertical projections of hard rock. It felt cold as we got in but we soon acclimatised as we explored the underwater world of rock hugging weeds, fish shoals and the interesting stripy loaners that drifted between the groups. On closer inspection we found sea urchins, see-through shrimps, bottom feeders and even an eel hiding under a large smooth stone.

    Towards the boundary wall the pool became deeper and outside in the sea, it became so deep in places that we couldn't see the bottom, despite the incredible clarity of the water. It was colder and the waves sizeable as we swam to a rocky outcrop. On our return to the pool we met a man feeding the fish. We got chatting and found out he was a poet called Franco Cambria who came here every day for inspiration. He gave some bits of bread to Vicky to feed the fish who swarmed up on top of each other and out of the water to get their share. He said Vicky looked 'as happy as a child' sitting on the rock and watching the fish eat. He also cried out jokingly 'una balena' (a whale) as Will enthusiastically plunged into the pool for a second dip!

    We took the longer walk back to the van, along the side of the cliff and watched a huge orange sun set over the water, while further round to the south large plumes of smoke were rising from Mount Etna, once again in silhouette 60km away. Later that evening we got a government notification that the volcano was erupting more frequently and the next day we read that 10 people, including BBC journalists had been injured in an eruption of hot rocks and grit just an hour before we saw it.

    We found a large layby, not far away, to stay the night. We could see the sea far below on both sides and spent the rest of the evening trying to digest the fantastic experiences we'd had that day.
    Read more

  • Day242

    Augusta & the craziness of Catania

    February 23, 2017 in Italy

    We descended from Mount Etna via the southern slopes, which proved quite different to the ascent. Evidence of the most recent lava slick was prominent, with vast areas covered by nothing but craggy ridged black basalt. No trees grew and we even saw a submerged house. We were delayed by a few minutes while we waited for a herd of goats being driven along the road - great entertainment for us!

    One thing we do differently to many motorhomers, is to avoid motorways when travelling from A to B. We sometimes come across good wild camping spots but we always feel we get a better experience of the character of an area. Well Catania, Sicily's second city certainly has character! We drove through at school pickup time. We'd previously seen small children travelling on adults' laps in the front of cars and even a baby being held to the driver's chest. Catanians went one step further by riding their mopeds with their small child standing on the footrest in front of them. Without any helmet.

    The market was on and by on, we mean on the main road. Stalls were set up on the carriageway where you would expect to see cars parked and customers simply pulled up beside or in between them to shop. People popped out from behind these parked cars on either side to cross the road while scooters overtook us on both sides and wove in and out of the traffic ahead, somehow managing to avoid the cars reversing out into the thoroughfare. We were tempted to stop and sample the delights of the market but our delicate English sensibilities prevented us from finding a 'suitable' place to park.

    Away from Catania's clamour we pulled up for the night on a strip of land between the sea and a lake, near the port town of Augusta. It was around 5pm and the passagiata was in full flow. We joined the locals who were strolling, striding, cycling and running along the promenade.

    The car park we stayed in was well used but quiet (apart from the lorry that emptied the bins and bottle bank at 2am!). There was a pack of stray dogs that kicked up a fuss whenever poor Poppy came out, but they had moved on by the morning. The van was adjacent to scrubland with a wonderful variety of wildflowers that we weren't familiar with. The lake had a rundown hide and as we were leaving we saw a few people with huge telephoto lenses taking pictures of the reed birds and spoonbill that was sifting through the water for something tasty.
    Read more

  • Day245

    Viewpoint nr Cava Grande Nature Reserve

    February 26, 2017 in Italy

    The Grey Gappers who we met at Giardini Naxos had recommended finding parking spots on surfing websites and so Will had entered several in the sat nav. Rolling up at the one in Avola, who should we meet but the German couple we'd seen only yesterday! They'd stayed there the previous night with two Italians but had returned from a ten minute dog walk on the beach that morning to find their quarter light window smashed! Apparently a fisher had been casting close by, but there was nobody near when they returned. They'd reported it to the police but were now going to get it fixed and return to Germany. We were able to give them a roll of duct tape to stick over the gaping hole and wished them luck. It brought home to us how quickly things can change.

    Vicky had read about Cava Grande del Fiume Cassabile, a huge gorge that had stunning walks descending to the river and natural swimming pools along its floor. On the journey we passed the now common lemon groves and climbed back and forth up the terraced and striated hillside. Passing into the cloud layer we eventually arrived at the start of the walk, 513m above sea level. However, looking over the precipice of the gorge, all we could see was a small bare tree against a background of light grey cloud vapour. The entrance to the walk was behind a locked gate and it wouldn't have been sensible to attempt the hike in those conditions, so we put the kettle on and brewed us up a cuppa. By the time we'd finished, the view had cleared. The precipitous sides, dotted with caves, dropped down to what looked like a relatively small river hundreds of meters below, its pools a beautiful blue.

    Moving on, we drove along the border of the national park surrounding the gorge. Along the way we met a tractor driving four horses towards us but with a bit of shuffling we just managed to pass on the narrow road. Although the scenery was pretty, the views and opportunity for parking were limited and so we doubled back down the hill to a viewpoint jutting out from the road that we'd seen earlier. It offered a fabulous vantage point of the valley, where rock strata accentuated the stark relief, before it opened up and flattened out to the peach coloured buildings of Avola and the grey Ionian sea beyond.

    Vicky donned a fetching fluorescent vest and walked round the hairpin bends to take an overnight photo of the van from above. She passed a wide variety of wildflowers and saw the apple trees beginning to blossom. The air smelled like a mixture of nectar and goats! Back at our viewpoint we watched the clouds rolling over the sea, casting their dark shadows over its rippling steel coloured surface, while other spots were highlighted in sparkling silver by the sun. We watched a weather front roll in and boy what a front it was! Rain lashed the side of the van while gail force gusts blasted it, creaking the suspension, chinking the glass bottles in the cupboards and causing the tape that held the canoe to vibrate loudly. We slept very little but that's what you get for choosing to spend the night at an exposed viewpoint half way up a mountainside and it wasn't so bad that we'd not do it again!
    Read more

  • Day246

    Portopalo, 8 months away!

    February 27, 2017 in Italy

    We've been away from home continuously for 8 months today. As the crow flies we are over 2200 kilometres from where we started and have pretty much reached the most southerly point we'll get to, before starting our journey north for summer. Despite the number of new experiences we are having, we've found a rhythm to everyday life. There are the regular necessities such as emptying the toilet and grey water, finding fresh water and somewhere to buy the food we need. We've also adopted routines to best suit Poppy, each other and ourselves. Living so closely, if a small thing isn't right, it affects us all more than it would back home and so we've learned through experience to take the time, deal with it as early as possible and make changes to improve the way we do things in the future. There is still a lot of fine tuning to do but we are blessed with the time to do it.

    ---------------------------------------------

    Leaving our exposed overnight spot, we wound our way back to the coast and found a car wash big enough to give Martha a much needed clean. Despite the number of campervans in Italy we haven't seen many facilities large enough down south and she was getting pretty filthy!

    Today's main point of interest was the Vendicari nature reserve where the Rough Guide book said we might see Flamingos! We never know what we are going to find so try not to get our get our hopes up by doing things like exclaiming excitedly that we were going to Flamingo Land! The road that led to the reserve was single track and so overgrown that peculiar driving strategies needed to be employed, such as deciding which type of tree foliage might inflict the least damage to the side of the van when it was necessary to scrape against trees on both sides. There was no turning area at the end other than an entry to a field that had a barrier across it. All it took was a 9 point turn and we were facing the right way and tucked in as much as we could be.

    Although the nature reserve was at a beach, the hides looked out onto salt lakes set back from the low dunes.
    The first revealed a mixed group of Great white Egrets and Spoonbills, large white birds with long distinctive spatula shaped bills, all standing on a strip of land in the foreground, most of them dozing in the afternoon sunshine with their heads tucked away. Behind them and more difficult to distinguish were a group of large black birds that could have been mistaken for Cormorants. We'd come prepared and through the telescope we could see that they were Black Storks, a species we have never seen in the wild before. Moving on, Vicky spotted another salt lake and from the hide looking out over this one, we could see literally hundreds of Flamingos! It was an amazing experience to have driven so far that we were seeing species like this in the wild! The sun was behind them which made visibility difficult but we spent a good long time watching them sleep, strut, fly and even mate. They were spread out in several flocks over the large lake and Vicky wanted to go on and see how far the track could take us. It was at this point Will admitted he had twisted his ankle and needed to go back. Vicky went on for a little while, but would have had to go a long way to get better views than we did in that hide.

    We found home for 2 nights at the harbour of Portopalo di Capo Passare, another place Will had found from the surf website. We parked up behind some old land ridden wooden boats bigger than Martha, some of which had been destroyed by fire. A walk up the small headland allowed us to watch a few surfers at sunset. The last persistent one waiting for his final big wave and being rewarded after 10 minutes or so by a long smooth surf inwards.

    The next day we used the van as a luxury hide to watch little Bonelli's Warblers amongst other small birds feeding in the profusion of yellow wildflowers in front of us. Will fished while Vicky relaxed indoors, resealed the shower tray and attempted to fix the problem of water dripping through the hob into the drawer below.
    Read more

You might also know this place by the following names:

Sicilia, Sizilien, Sicily, Sisilië, ሲኪልያ, Secilia, Sícilia, صقلية, ܣܩܠܝܐ, سيسيليا, Siciliya, Сіцылія, Сицилия, সিসিলি দ্বীপপুঞ্জ, སི་ཅི་ལི་ཡ།, Sikilia, Sicilija, Sicília, Сицили, سیسیلیا, Sicílie, Sisili, Sicilien, Siciliska, Σικελία, Sicilio, Sitsiilia maakond, Sizilia, سیسیل, Sisilia, Sicile, Sicilie, Sisylje, An tSicil, Sî-sî-lî, סיציליה, सिसिली, Sicilska, Szicília, Սիցիլիա, Sikiley, シチリア, სიცილია, 시칠리아, Sîcîlya, Sicilië, Siçillia, Sicīlija, Сицилија, സിസിലി, सिचिल्या, Sqallija, ਸਿਚੀਲੀਆ, Sycylia, صوبہ سسلی, Сициилийэ, Sitzìlia, Sasiiliya, Sycylijo, சிசிலி, సిసిలీ, แคว้นปกครองตนเองซิซิลี, Sicilya Özerk Bölgesi, سىتسىلىيە, Сицилія, صقلیہ, Siciłia, 西西里岛, סיציליע, 西西里

Join us:

FindPenguins for iOS FindPenguins for Android

Sign up now