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Published: June 25th 2012
Sunny, Scintillating Sicily!!
Greetings Blog fans, here is part one of my two part blog for the 8 days we had in wonderful Sicily. We seemed to have spent our last few trips in cold places so we wanted a bit of sunshine, culture and food and drink for this break so, with that criteria in mind Sicily came out top of the wish list.
We flew into the Palermo airport which is actually 30km outside of Palermo and picked up our hire car. As we had 8 days we had decided to do a loop around the island finishing in Palermo. 8 days is no-where near long enough to see all of Sicily (you need 3-4 weeks) so we sadly had to skip quite a large section of this fascinating island. We picked up the hire car and headed to the nearest beach for a quick swim to wash away the tiredness from the flight and to grab a bit to eat. Our accommodation that evening was in the Port of Trapani a beautiful old port in the North West corner of Sicily which is a jaw droopingly beautiful province of the island.
We had a couple
of stops on route planned, the first being to Segesta, an ancient Greek temple that can make a valid claim to being the best preserved in the world. It has an amphitheatre that boasts a hilltop position on Mount Barbaro second to none. Segesta was built in 430 BC and is set in a magical valley with no real sense of modern world intrusion, it’s a very special place to visit with its mix of ancient Greek and beautiful Sicilian landscape blended with the local wildlife and Fauna.
Our next stop for that afternoon was Erice, which is an unforgettable medieval hilltown with ancient origins in Sicily, Erice is located on top of Mount Erice, at around 750m above sea level, overlooking the city of Trapani and the surrounding area. It clings to the top of the mountain and is full of Medieval churches, tiny cobbled streets and alleyways and we spent an really enjoyable afternoon strolling round it eating the local cakes which are delicious.
For our first evening in Sicily we stayed in Trapani which is a nice port town with an old historic centre full of restaurants and bars. We had a delicious seafood meal
and the best pistachio gelato I have ever tasted.
The next day we were up early as we had a few hour drive along the coast to Agrigento where we would be spending the night. As we both fancied a beach day we had a couple of stops for lunch and also again for a late afternoon swim at a couple of the coasts famous sandy beaches which I really enjoyed as the water quality is superb. Agrigento is a lovely hilltop town that overlooks the Valley of temples (more on them later) that has another lovely old town to explorer (most town in Sicily have a lovely old town).
We had a lovely hotel in Agrigento that had a roof top terrace that looked out over the city on the hill, and also had a view down to the Valley of temples and the sea below. I really enjoyed it and we had a wonderful afternoon and evening strolling around its main street watching the locals go about their business
“Agrigento is situated on Sicily's southern coast, and the town's Valley of the Temples is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the
greatest legacies of ancient Greece. This parade of well-preserved Doric temples (5 in totaly), just outside town, dates back to the fifth and sixth centuries BC and is what remains of the Greek city of Akragas.
The temples are spread along a rocky ridge a short way to the south of the medieval town centre. Agrigento was one of the greatest cities of the ancient Mediterranean world, and it has been preserved in an exceptionally intact condition. Its great row of Doric temples is one of the most outstanding monuments of Greek art and culture.”
We spent most of the next day exploring the Valley of the temples and it certainly lived up to its reputation as being one of Sicily's biggest draw. That evening we were scheduled to stay at Catania, Sicily’s 2nd biggest city that has something of a party reputation.
It’s a couple of hours drive from Agrigento so we set off late afternoon and drove through the interior of Sicily which is mile upon mile of hills and agriculture. You know when you are getting close to Catania when Mt Etna looms into view as it is Europe’s highest active volcano and it
dominates this region of Sicily.
If I am honest I didn’t think much of Catania by day, its noisy, smelly and full of cars rubbish and pollutions. There are a few nice squares and old buildings but by day it has a rough and ready feel to it. It’s a different city by night as all the bars and restaurants come to life and every side street and square is full of bars its a good place to spend a boozy weekend.
You cannot really visit this part of Sicily without a trip to Mt Etna which is huge!! It took us the best part of an hour to drive up the incredibly winding road which is full off hair pins and switch backs. The view from the ski station at the top is incredible. You can see Catania at the foot of the mountain and the see sparkling in the distance. It was a clear day so you could even see across to the Italian mainland.
Coming soon part two, Sicily’s best beaches and resort towns!!
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