Sicily in May was one of the best travel decisions we made so far. The trip was Jan’s gift for my birthday. Indeed my present was no surprise any more, but when I heard about the destination, I really didn’t care about that!
The Godfather and Andrea Camilleri are to blame for
Of course, there were enough other choices, but there were three personal reasons for us to visit Sicily:
- We wanted to travel to Italy anyway. But to a region we haven’t seen yet.
- We’re both huge fans of the movie ‘The Godfather’. Therefore it’s just obligatory to visit the mediterranean island.
- Andrea Camilleri: I think he was the main reason. If you know the stories of Commissario Montalbano, you know what I mean. It was really hard not to dribble while reading the detailed description of Sicilian food!
Sicily is not Italy, they say
The island has a moving history and almost everyone was here: Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Normans. All of them left their traces and you can see the evidence in architecture, food, tradition and culture – Sicily is a meltin pot of these ancient cultures today.
Sicilians are said to be hot-tempered personalities. We got to know them as really helpful and communicative but not too punctual people. (I like the last one, this is why I felt very comfy with them.) We cannot understand Northern Italian’s dislike of the south.
Sicily in May
The first week of May was perfect. It was low season and except of the first grey day, we had warm temperatures and sunshine all along the week with sun tanning included towards the end of the week.
Whether it was the rental car, the flight or accommodation – everything was so cheap. It wasn’t as overcrowded as it is in summer and prices were acceptable.
The best part was: While in summer everything is dried up, in May everything is full of gorgeous blossoms. This includes the very dry inner part of the island, too.
Still a little bit of an insider tip
While masses of academics all around Europe and Italians themselves visit Sicily every year, the island doesn’t get much attention worldwide. While Rome, Venice and the Amalfi Coast have visitors from everywhere in the world, almost only Europeans visit Sicily. Still!
We’re huge fans of roadtrips. The flexibility you enjoy with a rental car is priceless. One week across the island. We skipped the south-eastern parts for this time.
Our stops: Trapani, Cefalú, Giardini-Naxos (next to Taormina), San Leone (next to Agrigento)
We had our hotel here. The city is good as starting point for nearby San Vito lo Capo and Erice.
San Vito lo Capo is a tiny cute place for beach holidays. If the weather would have let us, we would have continued to Sicily’s oldest national park Zingaro. But as I said, we just had bad luck!
We continued our trip driving along the coast in direction of Erice. This was a really wise decision. The sun was shining again and driving this route made us see some sleepy villages.
We’ve been here twice: At the beginning of the week and at the end. We had the time for it and the weather was much better at the end. Foggy and sunny – both fit very well to Erice!
This medieval town has 30.000 residents, belongs to the region of Trapani and is located at the top of Erice mountain. The road up was very steep and our small rental car was screaming all the way up!
Finding a parking lot turned out to be very difficult. Especially on weekends, when locals want to see their sights. If you don’t have a rental car: You can use the gondola starting from Trapani.
The city was founded in the 8th century B.C. and had its period of prosperity in the Middle Ages. You’ll find many churches, monasteries and squares from that time. Some churches are dated back to the 17th century. The city wall was build in Norman times.
Noon and the afternoon, it’s very overcrowded here. The view up there over the country and the sea is breath taking, except in fog, which we had on our first stay. But the fog creates a very interesting mood. The second time we had perfect conditions and could see as far as the Egadi Islands.
Before reaching Palermo, we enjoyed the coastal views as much as possible. We made some stops on the way and we could see the beautifully holiday town Castellammare del Golfo.
In contrast to this Palermo is very chaotic. It was difficult to find a parking lot, but not impossible. We only spent a few hours here because our actual destination was Cefalú. Luckily most sights in Palermo are located in the center, so you can see everything walking.
We visited the Cathedral of Palermo, the Palace of the Normans, San Giovanni degli Eremiti, Teatro Massimo and the maybe the best thing about Palermo: its alleys. If you have more time here, spend time getting lost here. It’s really beautiful.
Just as mentioned before, we spent my birthday in Sicily and to be exact in Cefalú. From far away, you can already enjoy a great view of the city and the huge rock Rocca di Cefalú. The sea is deep blue.
Cefalú is Sicily’s most visited holiday destination and has a 3000 years old history. The Old Town is beautiful. The Santissimo Salvatore Cathedral at the Piazza Duomo was built in the 13th century and is perfect to sit on the stairs in front and enjoy a little gelato.
Furthermore Cefalú offers endless beaches and bays. The little port looks painted. With the great view over the port and the adorable fishing houses, there’s no better place to enjoy a glass of wine.
Giardini-Naxos and Taormina
Our hotel was in Giardini-Naxos, which was perfect to explore the surroundings. Prices in Giardini-Naxos are way better than in Taormina and you can walkt to the beach. From here, we made trips to Etna, Taormina, Castelmola and Isola Bella.
Villa Romana del Casale
The way from Giardini-Naxos to Agrigento on the west coast leads through the inland. Far and wide there weren’t much people here. While in summer everything is dried up, the landscape blossomed in different colours. For our next trip, we will definitely focus on the inland of the island.
Not far from Enna, you’ll find the Villa Romana del Casale, a luxurious Roman villa, which belongs to the UNESCO World Heritage since 1997. The complex is 1,5 ha large and contains 45 rooms. It’s still not sure who owned this villa.
It was probably built in the 4th century and rediscovered in 1761. Because of a landslide in the 12th century, the ceilings and the walls collapsed. This way the mosaics were saved. The surrounding constructions were rebuilt later.
Besides the impressive area and the well preserved and restored rooms, the Bikini girls mainly attract the visitors’ attention. It’s a well equipped room with mosaics showing 10 girls doing sports.
You should definitely see this villa. It’s worth the ride here!
This city in the south west of Sicily was also found by Greek immigrants. We had our stay in San Leone, not far from the beach. You can reach Agrigento easily by car. The city itself wasn’t very interesting. We were here to see Valle dei Templi (Valley of the Temples), Scala dei Turchi (Stairs of the Turks) and the beaches.
We would say one week wasn’t enough! Actually just because it was so beautiful and we would love to spend more time here.
Have you been to Sicily yet? Did you like it and what can you recommend?