Sicily is beyond beautiful. History filled, this island has it all: the vines, the mountains, the beaches and some very memorable food. If you have not read the first part of our Sicily Diaries, you can find it on here!
Our journey from Ragusa continues north towards Catania (avoid it at all costs), past the hustle and bustle of this city towards beautiful Taormina. Taormina is Sicily's most sophisticated summer destination. From boutique hotels to chic stays, the town is extremely touristy, yet preserving its charm. We loved the medieval churches and the small streets where you can have Insolia wine at Arts Cafes, shop for antiques and handcrafted souvenirs. The vast choice of restaurants is overwhelming. For real food go to Osteria Nero d'Avola. Order anything pistachio and aubergines. No matter how simple the food, you will not be disappointed. The local wine is great too.
Photo: Views of the Coast from Taormina
From here Taormina is your oyster. You cannot miss the Teatro Greco, as close to perfect for an ampipheatre, it is Roman in origin going back to the 1st Century AD. The colonnaded backdrop will give you a view which will leave your speechless. When we were there, the theatre was being prepared for a concert, but we walked around and it was breathtaking. Overlooking the coast and Mt Etna this is one of the most special panoramas. From here head to Villa Comunale, the brainchild of Lady Florence Trevelyan Cacciola, a 19th century Scottish aristocrat who escaped to this beautiful part of Sicily after an affair with the heir to the English throne. Hibiscus and cypress trees are one of the main attractions.
Photo: Traditional Sicilian Dish
For the afternoon or a swift lunch and then stay at the beach, head to la Isola Bella. It's a tiny island set in a most beautiful cove. This too was home to Florence Tevelyan and her house sits solitary on the top of the hill. You can go diving into the clear water which remains crystalline due to its rocky nature. For a more traditional beach, head to Spisone. The sand here conveys a slightly different feel, but the views are equally beautiful.
In the evening we head to the city to explore the shops which stay open late - a byproduct of the long siesta (everything shuts between 2pm and 5pm). We have booked dinner at the famous La Giara and upon arrival were impressed by the great views and the scenic location. The food however was not the best we had in Sicily and the service somewhat disappointing. We would recommend it for a drink - and for the little bar and nightclub downstairs where you can spend a few hours after a meal elsewhere unless you are happy to pay a lot of ok food. We buy pistachio and stracciatella ice-cream at one of the corner shops as it is the best dessert you can have in Sicily.
Our journey continues with one of the best night sleeps at Castello di San Marco, one of the most surprising and beautiful hotels we have come across on Winerist's travels. Our apartment was spacious and our bedroom cosy, ethereal almost. The beautiful dreamy bed and the built in wardrobe give the room a slight Alice in Wonderland feel. The bathrooms are luxurious with high powered showers and the bathrobes were superb! With our slippers on, we stepped onto our terrace overlooking the pool, at the core of the garden and watched the bunnies (yes, that's right) and listened to the crickets sing as we had a cigar and a glass of local rose.
On the next day we got up early to catch the sun and went straight to the breakfast room. The peaches, the ricotta, the coffee. It was all there. We had as much of the above as possible and went straight to the beach - a pirate themed private beach, clean and quiet.
At lunchtime we head into Mt Etna for a visit at the Grasci winery. Nestled in Passo Pisciaro, this is one of the most beautiful wineries we have ever visited. We meet Uveta - a diminutive for grape, the winery dog. She is dirty (from sleeping under the jeep) and happy (to see visitors). We walk into the winery and taste some pretty special wines. Alberto Grasci is so passionate about his wine, he wants to share it all and he takes us for a 2 minute drive into the vines. The sunlight, the cactus plants, the flowers and the olive trees make it most special winery.
Photo: Graci Winery Visit with Alberto
We head back in awe with Alberto and stop in Linguaglossa to buy some peaches, plums and a watermelon. In the last 48 hours spent in Sicily, we make most of our hotel and lounge by the pool, on the beach and eat as much pasta and pistachio parfait as possible. We came back to London with a different outlook on Sicily and look forward to being back. Soon please!
Written by Diana Isac, Winerist CEO and Co-Founder