Mafia. Cosa nostra. The octopus. Last week I got to travel to the birthplace of organized crime: Sicily. A cliché? Well, yes, of course and the minute I watched out of the window while approaching Catania airport, I could tell that this little beauty has many spectacular things to offer.
Sicily – a beautiful place in Europe
Sicily (ancient name: Trinacria) is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea – it extends from the tip of the Italian peninsula, from which it is separated only by the narrow Strait of Messina, towards the North African coast. Its most prominent landmark is Mount Etna, which, at 3,350 m (10,990 ft), is the tallest active volcano in Europe and one of the most active in the world. You can see the tip of the volcano in the picture above.
Travel inspirations Sicily
We stayed in the Ragusa region at the Donnafugata Golf & Spa Resort, from where we explored the area during our four-day-trip.
We visited three UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Scicli, Modica and Ragusa. Unfortunately, we only got to spend 45-60 minutes at each of the sites so that I cannot really provide you with any real, exclusive travel tips. Anyways, I do wanna give you a little idea of what to expect when travelling to Sicily:
Scicli (pronounced sheek-ly) is rather off-the-beaten-track compared with its more visited neighbours Noto, Ragusa and Modica. It shares its architectural heritage with other towns in the area and is one of the filming locations for the popular Sicilian detective drama Il Commissario Montalbano, which is exported to several other countries.
Modica is particularly famous for its chocolate, and it is an appealing destination for food-lovers. It is situated in the dramatic landscape of the Monti Iblei, a range of high ground divided up by deep valleys and surprisingly populous towns. Important in Medieval times, Modica was rebuilt after the great earthquake of 1693 and now boasts fine late-Baroque architecture as well as a medieval old town.
Ragusa is one of the picturesque towns in Sicily. The view from the upper town over Ragusa Ibla on its own separate hilltop is quite breathtaking. Ragusa is in the Monti Iblei, a large area of high ground, divided up by dry stone walls and incised with ravines. The town was originally built on a small steep-sided hill with deep valleys on three sides separating it from the high plateau. After the earthquake of 1693, which destroyed many of south-eastern Sicily’s buildings, it was decided to rebuild Ragusa on higher, more level ground nearby. This new planned town was built, with straight streets and a rational layout, but local aristocrats didn’t want to move, and instead built themselves new palazzi on the ruins of the old town. So nowadays Ragusa has two parts: Ibla (or Ragusa Ibla), the older nucleus on its hilltop, and Ragusa Superiore, the more modern upper town which spreads from the post-earthquake streets into more recent developments.
I definitely added Sicily to my personal bucket list, since there are so many interesting places to explore, so much history, adventurous tours in the Etna region, lovely beaches and just a beautiful scenery. So, next time when I travel to Sicily, I will be able to give you exclusive insights and share my personal tips and recommendations with you.
photo credentials: V’s World
special thanks to the Donnafugata Golf & Spa resort for hosting us