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Monday, October 19, 2020

5 (actually 6) places to see during your trip to Sicily

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Sicily is perhaps the most beautiful island in Italy: rich of Greek and Roman history (Magna Greece), of amazing examples of Baroque architecture, great Mediterranean food coupling with top red wines… then, above all, the clear blue waters of the sea, the white beaches and volcanic islands. Everything is nature in Sicily and the people are nice and friendly. It is easy to get friends to Sicilians, but it is also a hazard to discuss with them!

During your trip to Sicily, here five places to see and also five things to do when you are there:

1 –Taormine: few miles away from Messina, in Northern Sicily, Taormine has been a well-known gay destination during the 19th century. A favourite retreat for artists, writers, actors and intellectuals, it became a popular vacation spot for such high society families as the Rothchilds, Krupps and Vanderbilts. But a significant number of visitors are drawn by its notoriety as a capital of gay culture. A frequent resident was Oscar Wilde, who worked on poems, essays and plays here. The town was also home base for Wilhelm von Gloeden, a German-born photographer known for his pastoral nude studies of tawny, smooth young Sicilian boys. With the rise of Fascism, the gay scene faded, but after the war, Taorminae regained its allure, becoming a celebrity hangout for Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams, Christian Dior and others. Visit the Van Gloeden villa and its collection of nudes.

 

2 – Catania: on the Eastern coast, it is now considered the most gay town in Sicily. Here, the first only-male ballroom was opened at the beginning of the 19th century and the district of San Berillo became the place of gays and transgenders. Also, visit the ‘Arvulu Russu’ the ‘big tree’ where young men used to meet for furtive loves. If you have time, visit the nearby small town of Noto, a unique example of Baroque architecture, dating back to the 17th century. Here you are close to the Etna Volcano. Enjoy a trekking experience or a jeep excursion to almost 3,000 feet near the crater!

3 – Siracusa and Agrigento: plunge into the Greek history and its cult of beauty when visiting these two towns. From the Archeological Park to the Roman Amphiteatre, to the Ear of Dyonisus. In Agrigento do not miss the Valley of the Temple, recalling the Athenian gods’ temple. When in Siracusa, try the ‘Arancini’ fried rice balls you can buy and eat on the road. In Agrigento you can have couscous the Mediterranean way. Influences from Africa settled here centuries ago. It is  not by chance that 2020 world chef competition was won by a Sicilian couscous recipe!

 

4 – Palermo: the capital of Sicily. Palermo is a jewel of Moresque architecture, but also the place where you can taste true Sicilian cuisine in the traditional open-air markets of Ballarò and Vucciria. Discover a new way to shop, amongst the stalls of fruit and fish and the scent of Sicilian street food, such as fritters (a sandwich with chickpea flour and tortilla inside) or “pani ca meusa” (the Sicilian word for spleen, only for the brave). If you have the chance, visit the Zingaro Natural Reserve of Scopello: mountains, olive groves and fields that run to the sea, in an intriguing atmosphere. Clear waters and the rocky ‘faraglioni’ just in front of you. It is not casual that Dolce&Gabbana chose this place to advirtise their perfume.

Photo Roberto Chiovitti

 

5- Aeolian Islands – if you have time, take the ferry boat to the five Aeolian Islands! At the island of Vulcano you can bath in warm sea waters and black sand coming from the old Volcano, now sleeping. The beautiful Lipari and Salina, where you can buy the best capers ever. Not forgetting the smallest Filicudi and Alicudi. Not being part of the Aeolian Islands , but worth a visit is the Stromboli Island. Here the volcano is active and it is a good sign when you can see smoke from the crater!

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