October 28, 2018

Sicily

We spent this year's autumn vacancies in Sicily and experienced it as a bit difficult, to be honest.

The thing I (we) disliked the most on the island was waste. When you are driving around the countryside you find huge piles of waste bags at more or less each parking spot, under each bridge and actually everywhere else, too. Stray dogs rip open the bags and the wind distributes the stuff. Believe me, there were some roads where you were driving for a hundred meters through waste. Actually I should have taken photos as it was unbelievable… I really ask myself if there is something like organized waste disposal in Sicily - especially in the rural areas.

The next thing that wrecked my nerves was driving. Italy is always a tad difficult to drive but Sicily is … just bad. The country roads are typically in terrible condition - for this reason there is - quite always - a speed limit of 50 km/h and you are not allowed to overtake. Actually. At the first day I still tried to obey the limit but everything else on the road will overtake you. The next day I decided it is maybe more safe to go quicker but people were still tailgating and overtaking at 70 km/h.

Another thing I experienced as being quite cumbersome was visiting many smaller towns. You first drive an hour through the littered country side at 50 km/h to reach the spot. Then you see the town, typically located on some mountain, and you think: Wow, that looks spectacular! Then you spend further 10 minutes squeezing your car through narrow roads that lead through visually highly unpleasant residential areas to reach the area close to the center. Then you search 10 more minutes for a parking lot. Then you walk another 15 minutes to the historic center aaaaand then you notice: the town is actually not that great and after visiting the local church you get an espresso somewhere and leave.

So … honestly … I was a tad disappointed from this trip and I never had a real wow moment. No idea why. At least the food was good more or less all the time and it has been reasonably priced all the time. Well, after saying out loud what no guidebook would tell you, let us come to polished and selected pictures of the trip.

Catania

The maybe nicest part of Catania are the areas around the Fontana dell'Elefante and the opera. Besides that we thought that Catania is quite dirty.

In case you are wondering if it is necessary to stay in Catania for two days: Well, our plane arrived at 8:30 and we reached at maybe 11:00 the historic center. At around 3pm we had the impression that we had seen what Catania can offer… So I'd say: one day is more than enough.

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

Taormina

Toarmina was maybe the nicest town we visited. It was also by far the most touristic one. The old town and the amphitheater attract busloads of people. Nevertheless, Taormina is worth visiting and especially the amphitheater is great.

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

Mount Etna

Mount Etna would have been a highlight of this journey but the weather did not allow to do the (quite expensive) trip to the top. The photos below were taken around 11:00. When we arrived after noon, clouds had piled up over the top of the mountain. Sight would have been 0 up there and we decided to skip the trip to the top.

Bronte

Bronte is well known for the pistachios that are growing in the area. At the day we visited the town, which is actually not that interesting, there was some kind of pistachio market where you could buy food and other products with pistachios in it… On this market we had the maybe best food on the entire trip: an Aranchino with pistachio and truffles:

🌍 Picture location - these balls are called Aranchini and they are made of risotto (!), which is filled and deep fried. Super nice…!

🌍 Picture location

Castiglione di Sicilia

In Castiglione we had booked a hotel which was right on the top of the right part of the mountain near the church. They sent me a mail the day before we arrived and warned me that I will get stuck with the car on each road except one that leads to the hotel. Let me assure you: driving through Castiglione to the hotel at night and with rain was an … interesting … experience.

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

Cascate catafurco

A hiking trip our guidebook suggested. A can do, not a must. I accidentally drove most of the way with the rental SUV without knowing it as the GPS somehow did not work.

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

CefalΓΉ

Besides Toarmina, CefalΓΉ was the maybe nicest town we visited. Be sure to go there.

🌍 Picture location

Parco delle Madonie

The Madonie mountains are a nature reserve which is pretty much uninhabited. In the forests you need to take care that you do not run over pigs which roam around everywhere.

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

Monreale

Monreale is a town on a mountain next to Palermo. The most interesting bits are the cathedral and the area around it, and the view down to Palermo.

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

Palermo

I think Palermo is the 5th largest city in Italy and by far the largest one on Sicily. Palermo has some nice sights like the Teatro Massimo, the roads and the fountain at Quattro Canti, the Cattedrale di Palermo, etc. However, I was not super impressed. I think I was expecting too much.

Oh, a friendly suggestion: I would not try to drive into the center of Palermo by car… Park your car somewhere outside and use a bus.

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

Segesta

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

Trapani

A town our guidebook mentioned with only a few words. We however liked it more than some other towns the book praised and glorified.

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

Marsala

Marsala is best known for wine but they also do have a lot of salines around the town and a nice coast area. We experienced Marsala itself to be quite boring and deserted…

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

Cave di Cusa

Pretty interesting: an ancient stone quarry where they produced pillars for the Selinunte temples.

🌍 Picture location

Parco Archeologico di Selinunte

I guess the pictures speak for themselves. Pretty cool in my eyes. And highly impressive that people were able to build such massive things without modern cranes. Well, … I don't want to know how many slaves were used…

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

Valle dei Templi

The Valle dei Templi is near the town of Agrigento, which itself is not very interesting or beautiful. The temple complex is pretty cool but visiting it is also quite expensive. Parking: 5 EUR. Entrance fee for one person: 12 EUR. Museum: 3,5 EUR. Map: 2 EUR. Audioguide: 3 EUR…

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

Scala dei Turchi

The white cliffs of Sicily. Nice.

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

Enna

Enna is the perfect example of the kind of town I wrote about at the top of this post. The guidebook praised it for some reason, it was difficult to get there and except a cathedral - which was closed - there was only the outlook to the next mountain with the next town.

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

Villa Romana del Casale

Actually, this was pretty cool. The Villa Casale is an ancient and pretty huge roman complex with hundreds of square meters of mosaics on its floors. Unfortunately, the buildings are not nicely restored and the presentation of the mosaics is pretty bad… However, the mosaics themselves are pretty fascinating.

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

Aidone

Again a town not worth visiting. We were there to visit a small archaeological museum which presents stuff found in Morgantina.

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

Sito Archeologico di Morgantina

The archaeological site of Morgantina was neither interesting nor nice to visit, to be honest. Most parts of the site are again overgrown after being dug out some years ago, and the signs that should describe things were blank as all letters and graphics had come off for some reason.

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

Caltagirone

Caltagirone was another town that we found to be surprisingly nice. The town is famous for ceramics and you can buy tiles, busts, and other stuff made from ceramics everywhere.

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

Ragusa

Ragusa is a town which has two historic centers. As we found out, each of them is located on a different peak of the same mountain. So while visiting some baroque buildings and churches, you can also do some workout.

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

Modica

Modica is another example where our guidebook failed. The book spent 3 pages on Ragusa but maybe 3 sentences on Modica. But Modica was actually nicer to visit than Ragusa…

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

Noto

Again: highly praised by the guidebook. But honestly: a bit overrated…

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

Siracusa

Siracusa has nice areas close to the cathedral and you also find some ruins of temples in the town.

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

🌍 Picture location

© holger 2015 - 2020 |