A journey through Italy is a journey through history. With ancient monuments, historic towns, and pastoral scenes aplenty, the country is practically brimming with its own past, carefully maintaining its most famous cities for the world to admire. The further south you head, the richer the landscape becomes, giving way to glittering ocean and rising hills. It should make sense, then, that Sicily is one of the most beautiful spots to behold in all of Italy, bringing together both culture and countryside in one perfect melting pot. The island might be deceptively large, but you can do a lot if you use your time wisely.
Head south to Siracusa and live life as a local. The southern Sicilian town has been thriving since ancient times, keeping many of the same customs over the ages. Located in the oldest district of the town, the daily market is surely Siracusa’s crowning glory. Crates piled high with fresh seafood and street snacks constantly sizzling, this market attracts locals from far and wide, looking for their share of the best local produce. Nearby sights are also a must; stumble just a few feet from the market and gaze upon the ruins of a sixth-century temple, the town’s ancient cathedral, and a scattering of medieval palaces.
Baroque architecture also runs rife through the island of Sicily, thanks largely to a huge 17th century earthquake that shook many ancient structures to the ground. In the wake of the event, architects took freely to the island’s cities, imposing their ornamental styles in many of the most important buildings. While there are any number of places to see (think UNESCO protected Ispica, or Modica), Ragusa is one of the most charming out there. Despite being relatively new (we’re talking 18th century origins), the town is an architectural wonderland, coming to a crescendo in the larger–than–life Duomo di San Giorgio. Take your camera and your walking shoes; those cobbled paths aren’t stiletto-friendly.
Exploring done, it’s time to take a moment to cool off at the beach. Thanks to its island status, Sicily has plenty of suitable sandy spots; it’s simply up to you to pick your favourite. If you’re sticking to the south, make a beeline for the Spiaggia della Marchesa. Get to paradise early and claim your spot; this is one of Sicily’s best beaches, and the sun-lover hotspot fills up fast.
Nature isn’t just confined to the beaches in Sicily. If you’re up for a little more of an adventure, try heading inland and taking a look at the Cavagrande, Sicily’s answer to the Grand Canyon. The forty-five minute walk to the end might be a bit of a workout, but the clear pools and waterfalls waiting for you at the end make it more than worth it. Continue on the same road and you’ll soon hit the Vendicari nature reserve, one of Sicily’s most peaceful spots. It’s perfect for bird watching, casual strolling, and coffee drinking. Can life get much sweeter?
On the hunt for something a little more upmarket? Fishing village Marzamemi has been shelling out some of the best seafood in Sicily for years, and finally it seems to have earned a bit of the limelight. A string of tourist friendly bars, boutiques, and concept stores have recently amped up the value of the town, and now it’s well and truly the place to be. Fill your basket, seat yourself at a premium lunch spot, and watch the world go by.