Located in the south of Italy, Sicily is an island rich in history, culture and gastronomy. With stunning scenery, pristine beaches and historic towns, this is a luxury destination for anyone looking for an authentic Mediterranean experience. The region is known for its unique cuisine, influenced by different cultures, and for its rich architectural heritage, which dates back thousands of years. It is the largest island in the Mediterranean and the largest administrative region of this transalpine country.
A luxury history
From Greek temples and Byzantine facades to Roman arches, Normandy Romanesque churches and Baroque palaces, Sicily is home to a fascinating history. On this enchanting island, eleven civilizations have left their mark. It is worth taking advantage of family traditions, where tourists are welcomed and can experience some during their stay, such as food preparation, which includes the famous passata, the genuine tomato sauce. Sicilian families love to cook and share meals, and visitors can try traditional dishes like pasta alla norma, caponata and Sicilian cassata with the locals. Another family tradition is the city tour at night, known as the passeggiata. Families go out together to hike, socialize and enjoy the beautiful weather. Visitors can also experience the tradition of the Sicilian “feast”, a special celebration such as a wedding or christening. These parties are known for their abundant food, music and dancing, and usually last all night. A visit to the famous open-air market La Vucciria, in Palermo, is a must, where you can discover and experience the local gastronomy, buy handicrafts and learn about many Sicilian traditions. Visiting the lemon orchards and participating in limoncello tastings, an alcoholic drink made with lemons from the island, should also be part of this vacation or getaway. Lemons from Sicily, which are often featured on postcards from the region, have a thick, rough skin and a very juicy interior. It is also important to rent a bicycle, a scooter or the famous Fiat 500, to visit and get lost in the picturesque villages, and then relax in the turquoise waters of the Aeolian Islands. Then it’s on to the ancient alleys that reveal breathtaking views of the active volcanoes. On Mount Etna, you can learn about local viticulture and have a wine tasting. Sicily is a world and a culture apart from anything known, and its people love to transport visitors to other times. To unravel the charms of this vibrant island, you need to slow down and appreciate each piece of land calmly.
Involved in several civilizations for centuries, due to its geography, Sicily reveals an eccentric and complex cultural mosaic for such a small and breathtaking island, where some of the best hotels in the Mediterranean are located. Therefore, to sleep we discover sublime experiences. For those who prefer a more authentic experience, Sicily offers several luxury villas available for rent, such as A Villa Tasca, a breathtaking neoclassical palace with frescoes, Murano chandeliers and gilded paintings. It has only four elegantly decorated suites. The 20 hectares of gardens include a swimming pool, dining area and a swan pond. And here you can live out the fantasy of the famous series The White Lotus. The Famiglia Montesano Altafiumara Resort and Spa is an absolute luxury space located in Villa San Giovanni. Situated on a hill, it showcases the splendor of the Ionian Sea and offers incredible panoramic views. If the option is a hotel, take advantage of our suggestion and make your stay at the Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo, overlooking the seductive landscape of Mount Etna. Another luxury option is the Verdura Resort, all facing the sea, where in the late afternoon an Apperol Spritz is mandatory while watching the sun go down. If you choose to have a meal here, know that the restaurants are Michelin starred, so the moment will be memorable. In most of these places of rest there are incredible banquets for breakfast such as cannoli, the delicious and fresh granita and brioche col tupo, among other divine delicacies. For an evening like the golden age of Sicily, discover Villa Igiea, which tells one of the most beautiful stories in Palermo. Built by the Florio family, a Sicilian business dynasty from the 19th century, with extensive businesses in medicinal herbs, wine, shipping and other sectors, it is now a luxury hotel with a privileged location. The suites are elegant and spacious, overlooking the Gulf of Palermo. The hotel has a swimming pool, spa, a leafy and exuberant garden and an admirable restaurant, which serves typical Sicilian and Mediterranean dishes. Villa Igiea is known to have hosted celebrities and royalty throughout its history.
Sit at the table with the gods
Gastronomy connoisseurs say that eating in Sicily is like sitting at a table with the gods of Olympus. In the corners of a picturesque village, on the street or in any Michelin star restaurant or other without any award, there are many traditional dishes with a unique flavor. The island is famous for the fish and shellfish that can be tasted in restaurants along the coast and for the ingredients produced in volcanic soil that result in aromas and flavors that are unique in the world. So that you don’t have to look too long, here are some suggestions, and it’s almost certain that you’ll find a famous chef, a movie or television personality sitting at the table. Apollonion Osteria da Carlo in Syracuse offers a range of authentic Sicilian dishes as well as a good selection of local wines. The atmosphere is cozy and intimate, with rustic and traditional decor. On the menu there is the famous gambero rosso, red shrimp, seasoned with sea salt and a little orange and rosemary, or the very fresh sea bass with fennel seeds and olive oil. Ristorante Duomo in the city of Ragusa boasts two Michelin stars and is renowned for its contemporary cuisine and creative use of local ingredients. The menu is a mysterious interweaving of Sicilian references that translate into a fascinating tasting. The wine list is an attempt to make a quick decision and it’s best to ask for advice. For another gastronomic experience, this time more local, go to Le Palle in Mercato del Capo, in Palermo. Here, the star goes to the street food, where you can taste the arancino, a local specialty stuffed with pecorino, and the panelle, a kind of delicious chickpea dumpling. Here they also prepare the most fantastic courgettes, breaded, served with homemade garlic mayonnaise. We finish close to Africa, with Hostaria San Pietro, in Trapani, on the west coast, a few meters from Tunisia. Here is the kingdom of couscous and every year there is a festival dedicated to these semolina balls, and you shouldn’t pass without trying the couscous with seafood, made with the freshest on the market of the day. Sicily is also known for its wines, including sweet Marsala and red Nero d’Avola, among others treated with care and elegance. And, so that you can’t miss a divine wine tasting, the Barone di Villagrande, in Bronte, is the ideal place. Located on the slopes of Etna, it has over 400 years of history. It is also a family business known for producing high quality wines that reflect the richness of the volcanic terroir. The property is set in 60 hectares, of which around 23 are used for the cultivation of vines that grow under sustainable methods, with a minimum of intervention in the production process. The winery offers tastings and guided tours, allowing visitors to enjoy the incredible volcanic landscape.
Let’s go to the beach
Sicily is also known for its stunning beaches and diverse coastal landscapes. There are for all tastes; of fine white sand, stones and rocks, hidden coves and even volcanic beaches. Some of the most exclusive are the beach of San Vito Lo Capo, with crystal clear water and white sand, Mondello, near Palermo, with views of the mountains, the beach of Cefalù, with calm waters and excellent restaurants nearby, and the beach of Isola Bella, in Taormina, a small island joined to Sicily by a strip of sand jutting out into the sea. It is also a must to visit the Scala dei Turchi (Stairway of the Turks), a white and limestone rock formation located on the south coast of Sicily, in the province of Agrigento. Its particular shape in steps and its whiteness in contrast to the turquoise of the water give this place a feeling of heavenly fullness. But the jewel of this stunning island is certainly Calamosche, in Noto, a breathtaking beach located in UNESCO World Heritage territory, on the southeast coast of Sicily. The beach, surrounded by limestone cliffs and amazing vegetation, is accessible only on foot or by boat. The water is turquoise blue and is also popular for snorkeling.