Italy
Sicily

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

146 travelers at this place:

  • Day401

    Marsala in Sicily

    May 21 in Italy

    After leaving Tunisia on Sunday morning and this was delayed because we managed to fuel up much faster than expected so we were ready before 12 which was the time we had told the various authorities when we arrived and they weren’t all there so had to drive back to the port! Odd system.
    The trip was uneventful, it took 20hours and yet again wasn’t the beautiful flat trip I had hoped for. The one odd experience we had was early on, we were motoring along with foresail up to steady us, when we saw a yacht on the horizon but it kept changing direction it was like watching a North Atlantic convoy, was we got closer we concluded they kept going in circles and were fishing but still weird! We encountered very little other traffic until it got dark when we appeared to be crossing the main shipping channel with radar blobs in all directions but at least the shift passed quicker. We arrived in Sicily a port called Marsala, yes where the fortified wine is made, at 7:30am I awoke when we came through pier heads and John slowed the boat so no preparation and there were 3 small marinas didn’t know VHF channels which were big enough or anything. Luckily a marinara was already at work repairing pontoons and saw us milling and directed us in and helped with mooring up, he then suggested we breakfast as office wasn’t open yet.
    We did as suggested and after checkin* in went to get our Costituto as we had arrived from non EU country I don’t think anyone else does this as took ages to find papers and complete, we also did more shopping then rested before walking into town and being surprised how pleasant it was as the marina area was a bit grim. On our walk home we found a link to our own island a donkey.
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  • Day402

    As I am now thoroughly fed up of long trips and forecast looks fairly settled with only very light winds I persuaded John that we should go to these islands and anchor up at various bays for a few days. Our first stop is Favignana which seems nicer than the mainland probably because it is more touristy so cleaner. The Sicilians not seem to see all the rubbish on their streets and hard shoulders. These Islands used to have thriving tuna industries so there are some old canning factories but they were also defensive positions with forts on the hilltops. While walking through the town we kept seeing pits like the one photographed which we have concluded is where each family quarried for the stone to build there properties, the stone is soft. We also saw this old wooden boat and thought of Dave and Jane our friends from Almerimar though this is probably a project too far even for them. Now if the sun could come out tomorrow things would be great is has been drizzling all afternoon which puts a dampener on things and means the photos really don’t do the place justice.Read more

  • Day366

    Day 367: Down to Syracuse

    February 16 in Italy

    Up and out early again, farewelling Messina, we hardly knew ye. Walked to the train station where we managed to catch the surprisingly-infrequent train southwards to Catania, the main city on the eastern coast of Sicily. This took a couple of hours and we had great views of Mount Etna basically the whole way, since it dominates this side of the island.

    Found the airport bus here in Catania and headed out to the car hire place here, where we picked up our car for the next 10 days or so. We'd arrived about 45 minutes early so the guy refused to help me until it was the "right" time which didn't impress me, and then I didn't listen super carefully while he said he'd give us a Mercedes.

    When we eventually got out into the parking lot, the Mercedes was a large minivan with 12 seats!! Supposedly it was the only auto transmission car they had at the moment, but I made my feelings known to a nice lady who seemed to be a manager of sorts and she managed to find me a Ford Fiesta that had just been returned. It hadn't been cleaned, but after all the waiting around I wasn't that bothered! It's also a pretty crap car - no Bluetooth, reversing beeps or screen, but it's at least got USB so that'll do. But it's got an auto gearbox and nothing else really matters.

    So we finally drove off from Catania airport, heading southwards to Syracuse. It was mostly freeway and fairly unexciting, though the countryside is quite rugged and covered in citrus trees, reminding us both of Andalusia - a nice flashback considering where we were 12 months ago.

    More driving in the shadow of Etna before we eventually arrived in Syracuse. It's quite a decent sized town - not a city, but still fairly populous. I didn't realise, but Sicily is actually home to 5 million people, making it the fourth most populous region in Italy (behind Latium/Rome, Lombardy/Milan, Campania/Naples). Syracuse is an ancient Greek city around 2500 years old, and I'm looking forward to exploring it tomorrow.

    But that'll have to wait, because after another 5 hours of travelling today neither of us felt like going out to explore! We settled for staying home and working on various things, while Shandos drew the short straw and went to the supermarket for supplies.
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  • Day365

    Day 366: South to Sicily

    February 15 in Italy

    Our one-year anniversary of this trip, and we passed it appropriately enough - on the road! Hard to believe that 12 months ago we stepped off a plane in Madrid, worrying about our dog and wondering what the future held for us! At that point we had basically zero plans for the future other than meeting up with people when they made it to the UK later in the year.

    Side note - I realise this claims to be day 366, while the FindPenguins numbering calls it day 365. The app's numbering is correct, I accidentally doubled-up a day on our second stint through London (the one in July) and fixing it is just way too hard. Oh well!

    We got up quite early, around 7am, shivered our way through breakfast and then hit the road back towards Naples. Fairly long 2.5 hour drive, but mostly on the freeway so not much exciting happened. Made the car rental return place by 11am where we had no problems dropping the car off. It still stunk of cigarettes after a week, but otherwise it's been fine.

    Onto the shuttle bus back into town where we made it in plenty of time for our train south. Here in Italy the long-distance trains come in three varieties: Frecia Rossa (Red), Argent (Silver), and Bianca (white). Ours was a white, indicating the cheapest and least luxurious, but it's still a mile above the typical regional trains we've had through most of Italy. This train had started in Milan and was going all the way to the southern tip of Italy so was quite crowded.

    We'd tried the travel hack of booking diagonally opposite seats, hoping that nobody would take either of the other two in the four, but when we boarded there was already a guy sitting in one of the seats. Oh well. In went the headphones and the train chuntered off south through Campania and then Calabria.

    Four hours later we hopped off the train in Pizzaro San Giovanni, right next to the wharf where ferries run continuously between the mainland and Sicily. Although there was a boat right there being loaded, we were told the next boat was at 5:30pm, an hour from now. Nothing to do but sit and wait in this little outpost of civilisation, watching the trucks roll past onto boats.

    Finally the time rolled around and we were able to board - quite a few people on as well! The journey across the straight was only about 20 minutes and very flat & calm, it's surprising how close Sicily is at this point. No wonder the Roman empire fought so hard for it over the centuries!

    It was nearly dark when we disembarked, but thankfully our accommodation for the night was right nearby - about halfway between the port and the train station where we'll be leaving from in the morning. Headed out for a short wander, where we found a really good burger place. I ordered a burger with double meat, tomatoes, bacon, fried melanzane cheese and a serve of fries on the side - defeated! Couldn't finish a burger for the first time basically ever. Very tasty though.

    Headed home and didn't get much chance to look around the city, but there doesn't seem to be much here anyway. Oh well, onwards!
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  • Day368

    Day 369: Val di Noto

    February 18 in Italy

    Next world heritage site time! Hopped in the car and headed out of Syracuse, heading westwards and inland. As I mentioned yesterday, a devastating earthquake struck this area in 1693 and during the rebuilding over the next century, most of it was done in baroque style unique to this area. There are a bunch of towns on the world heritage list for this reason, so we picked out a few interesting ones and headed over.

    The first stop was Noto itself, which turned out to be quite lovely. Nice quiet streets, picturesque buildings and lots to see. It was all very charming - a little touristy but that didn't really bother us. We wandered around for a couple of hours, ducking in and out of churches and other buildings and just enjoying the atmosphere. It was also warm and sunny which helped!

    Drove to the next town of Modica, where it was a little quieter and a bit cloudier. Not as impressive, and nowhere seemed to be open for lunch which was a bit distressing! Eventually we found a place selling fish and chips, which turned out to actually mean fried anchovies and chips which was also a bit distressing! But at least the buildings were nice.

    We headed over to the final town of Ragusa, though by now we were both a bit over it and wishing we'd stayed in Noto. Ragusa was more of the same, though just as quiet as Modica had been - at least we weren't trying to find lunch though! Looked at a handful of buildings since we felt obliged, then drove the couple of hours back home to Syracuse. Felt very lazy and went to the pizza shop nearby for dinner. Not the greatest pizzas we've ever had, but still good enough!
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  • Day367

    Day 368: Exploring Syracuse

    February 17 in Italy

    Full day of exploration today! We headed out fairly early and made our way down to the waterfront area of the city. Syracuse is almost on the south-eastern tip of Sicily, and the oldest part is actually an island known as Ortygia, just slightly off the mainland. It was founded by Greek colonists around 500 BC and was one of their most important cities. Home to Plato and Archimedes, we couldn't wait to get started.

    We walked over to Ortygia and had a look around - lots of narrow streets, old churches and the like. A couple of Greek ruins here and there, including a nice temple, but mostly just Italian stuff. There was a devastating earthquake that hit Sicily in 1693, which resulted in a lot of the buildings being rebuilt in contemporary baroque style, so we enjoyed looking at that too.

    Checked out the fortress on the waterfront, but that was a bit of a let down as large areas were closed off for restoration. Acted on a good tip from a friend for lunch to visit a particular panini shop in a market, but realised the queue was going to be several hours so bailed and headed to the place next door.

    By the time we'd been seated, ordered, eaten our paninis, paid the bill and got ready to depart, we would've been maybe halfway through the original queue. It was a good idea, but oh well.

    Departing Ortygia, we headed back up through the city to the archaeological park. Both the Greeks and Romans left a strong legacy here of buildings, and these are now slowly coming to light. There's a large amphitheatre from Roman times, very reminiscent of the Colosseum in Rome (though I suppose they all are in a way!), a couple of temples, and a huge Greek theatre as well which was quite magnificent. The Greeks had a way of building theatres in spectacular locations because the crowd's panoramic view was as much of the performance as the actors, so this had great views down across town and to the sea as well.

    Pretty great condition too, and only a couple of groups so if you dodged them it was mostly to ourselves. Fairly exhausted and by now late in the day, we headed back home. Stayed in again, with more home-cooked pasta.
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  • Day370

    Day 371: Temples of Agrigento

    February 20 in Italy

    Woke up to overcast skies, but at least no rain! The accommodation we'd chosen was actually inside the archaeological park, so we headed out after breakfast and walked to the entrance. The main entrance here is known as the Valley of the Temples, a fairly inaccurate name since it's a bunch of temples stretched out along a ridge line. Normally people start at the top of the ridge and walk down past the temples to the bottom then get a taxi back to the top, but we figured we might as well walk the lot, so started at the bottom.

    Most of the temples are from the same era, around 500 BC when the city was founded by Greek settlers. There's ruins of several temples still here, though since most of the records are gone it's not really known what each specific temple was used for.

    First up was the Temple of Juno, of which only six columns remained. When I say remained it's a bit of a misnomer, since they were re-erected in the 19th century.

    Next up the hill was the largest temple, dedicated to Zeus. This is the only one with surviving contemporary records, so we know for sure who it was dedicated to and why. It covered a huge area, though it was mostly just a pile of rubble sadly. It was distinguished though by a bunch of atlases - or columns in the shape of people (named after the titan Atlas, condemned by Zeus to bear the weight of the world on his shoulders for eternity).

    Up next was the Temple of Hercules, though I can't remember why it had that name - it was something added much later. Only a few columns remained of this one, but it had a very dramatic position right next to the edge of the ridge.

    Further up the hill was the temple of concordia, so named because there was a Roman-era inscription discovered nearby that spoke about agreements and harmony. This is the best preserved temple on site, and looks in fantastic condition. Apparently this is the temple that inspired the UNESCO logo which I thought was a really cool touch! It also shows a few signs of fire damage from a Carthaginian invasion in 406 BC.

    Lastly we came to the top of the ridgeline and the temple of Juno. As we'd been walking the weather had turned extremely nice - warm and sunny which made for an excellent change! We had our picnic lunch in the shadow of the temple and then bought a gelato which the guy stacked up huge! We took in the sight of the temples, reflecting on how Juno and Concordia were essentially twins of each other (though we aren't the first to make that observation).

    Unfortunately we were now at the furthest point of the park from our accommodation, so rather than just walk back down the ridge we opted to walk around the perimeter to the museum. But worse luck - because of the road closure the museum was also closed, so we walked the long way round for nothing! Alas.

    Home late afternoon and quite tired, but satisfied with the day - I'd really enjoyed the temples in particular. Annoyingly, in addition to this house being very cold, it was also very poorly connected with internet! Extremely slow, so we couldn't get much done online either. Instead I just got on with editing videos. Since my YouTube schedule is still posting videos from Germany, I've been extremely slack and let a huge backlog build up. Time to start clearing things!
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  • Day375

    Day 376: Visiting the Islands

    February 25 in Italy

    Woke up early and decided to give the islands another shot. The weather was pretty miserable - overcast and raining, but we hurried down to the dock around 8am and lucky for us, the boat was running! Grabbed our tickets and boarded, then waited out the 20 minutes or so across to Vulcano.

    To our surprise only a couple of people got off, though this isn't actually the main island (Lipari is home to the largest settlement). The town was quite small and obviously a holiday spot - lots of closed ice-cream stores and boat rental places fronting a beach. It would be quite nice, but it was raining steadily and not super warm either. But we were here, and committed.

    Had a quick coffee at literally the only place in town, then walked about 20 minutes along a road to where the crater rim hike starts. It's normally not too arduous, but carrying a dog and an umbrella each certainly upped the difficulty! After about an hour of climbing we made it to the crater rim.

    Sulfur clouds and rain clouds drifted past fairly constantly, meaning that we only had intermittent views down into the crater and back across the islands. The town was well below us, but still quite close by. I guess farming the fertile volcanic soil must be worth the risk of living on an active volcano!

    Fairly quick trip back down as it's obviously much easier going, and by 11:30 we were already back in town and waiting for the boat. Still raining! Thankfully we'd managed to line up our return with a hydrofoil, so we weren't waiting more than about 15 minutes, and then with the 20 minute trip back it wasn't long after 12pm and we were back on Sicily proper.

    Not feeling inclined to find another restaurant or cafe and just wanting to get out of the rain and somewhere warm, we walked back to the car and drove out of town. Lunch was at McDonalds which is honestly just the easiest option sometimes. Italian food culture is great, but a quick lunch on the road isn't a strong point!

    Spent the next couple of hours driving around the north-eastern coast to the town of Taormina, one of the more famous tourist spots on Sicily. Parked in a garage and took a shuttle bus up to the old town, where a famous landmark stands - the Greek Theatre. Dating in large part from the Greek period on Sicily, ie ~500 BC, and it's mostly still there. It's also in a super dramatic spot, perched on cliffs high about the ocean and the rest of the town - very impressive. To the Greeks, the panorama behind the stage was almost as important as the stage action itself.

    It had stopped raining as well by now, though still quite cloudy, and we didn't hang around for long in Taormina once we'd had a good look around. Back to the car where we continued southwards to the town of Trecastagni on the south-eastern slopes of Mount Etna. Found our Airbnb with no problems, a lovely rooftop loft. Everything was newly renovated, the heating worked, we had a nice balcony with views of the ocean in one direction and Etna in the other direction. The host was very nice, and had left us a bunch of supplies for the next two nights, including fruits, sweets, pasta and local pistachio pesto.

    It had been a very long day, so we stayed in and chilled out - had the pistachio pesto for dinner!
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  • Day376

    Day 377: Mount Etna

    February 26 in Italy

    Up and out early again! Today was our last full day on Sicily and in Italy, and we were going to use it to conquer Mount Etna - the largest active volcano in Europe! Our Airbnb host had recommended a local guide who we'd chosen to go with, so he (Dario) picked us up at 9am out the front along with his assistant Basilico. In a funny coincidence, Basilico was from Bronte, the same village my sister's in-laws hail from, just on the other side of the mountain! Small world, though I don't think he knew them.

    We set off in Dario's 4WD and headed straight up for the base station of the cable car, since this is where most tours start. Unfortunately, there was basically a blizzard up at this altitude - howling winds and driving snow, so we couldn't really see anywhere. We briefly explored a large crater nearby (Etna is actually pock-marked with 2000+ craters and volcanic mounds), but the snow and wind made it too difficult to do anything realistic here. It was the kind of wind where you could comfortably lean into it, well past your balancing point, and feel very confident you weren't going to fall!

    So we hopped back in the car and descended, driving around various parts of the lower slopes. We got to see some lava valleys, forests, a few more craters and other various bits and pieces.

    Dario had OK English and Basilico was pretty fluent, so we had some good chats and a few laughs - they were quite entertaining! Stopped briefly at a store selling "local products" but thankfully no pressure to buy anything which was nice. The wines were quite good but since we were getting a flight the next day we didn't end up buying.

    Did about 45 minutes of hiking up a lava field which was quite interesting, though unfortunately we weren't able to see the summit crater since it was shrouded in heavy clouds - the same ones that had battered us earlier in the day.

    Eventually it was time to head back down, and we were back at our apartment around 3pm. Quite hungry since we hadn't had lunch (only a few snacks and fruit), we walked over to the main piazza 10 minutes away and had some arancini - delicious as always.

    Retreated home and spent the rest of the afternoon and evening there, though I ventured out for a takeaway pizza later in the evening. Not a bad way to complete our two months in Italy!
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  • Day369

    See ya later Syracuse, we're outta here. Packed up and left the city in the morning, heading westwards roughly along the southern coast. After a couple of hours driving we arrived at the town of Piazza Armerina, where our next world heritage site was located.

    This one was a good one - a late Imperial era Roman villa (so dating from the 4th century AD), with absolutely exquisite floor mosaics (and some wall frescoes as well). We've seen quite a few Roman mosaics lately, but these were absolutely outstanding - lots of scenes of hunting, gods and goddesses, intricate patternwork, etc.

    We spent a few hours wandering around, since the villa was quite large though not on the same scale as Hadrian's villa outside of Rome. What I found interesting was that very little written record of the villa exists; quite unusual for the period. As a result, it's not actually known who built the villa or why, nor do we know who lived there! Though the common theory is that it was a particular governor of Sicily during the mid 4th century who was renowned for being wealthy and powerful.

    After indulging in our fill of floor mosaics, we got back in the car and headed towards Agrigento. We had the problem though that it was lunch time, but of course no lunch places were anywhere to be found. Eventually we stopped at a random town and managed to find a place that was open, though it was more expensive than we wanted. A sit down meal of (admittedly good) pasta with drinks ended up at 30 euros.

    After a couple of hours we arrived in Agrigento about halfway along the southern coastline of Sicily. Like Syracuse, this was a Greek colony founded around 500 BC that eventually fell under the sway of the Romans. But there's some fantastic remains of temples here to check out which we were both looking forward to tomorrow.

    First problem, however, was that the road to our Airbnb was closed for resurfacing! Our host lives elsewhere in Italy (Bologna I think), and although her mother lives on the property and manages things on the ground, she hadn't thought to mention that fact! So with a bit of difficulty, we managed to talk our way in Italian past the barricades and construction workers, and finally found the place. They weren't particularly impressed, and even less impressed when we went back out straight afterwards to visit the supermarket!

    Like others we've stayed in, this place was horrendously cold at night. It's been a common problem in the south of Italy - houses just aren't designed at all for the winter. It's a problem in Australia too, but this is much worse. So we went to bed early and shivered under the blankets, listening to rain on the roof. Hopefully it clears up tomorrow!
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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

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