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Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Sicily

I’m in doubt about writing this blog on Sicily. I'm still in love with this island and part of me prefers keeping this destination to myself. I haven't been there for a while. It doesn't really matter as a significant part of Sicily still feels like the previous century anyway. It’s like the 1991 Bad English classic rock song “Time Stood Still”.

Sicily is a huge island with many faces: beach life at the coast, a working volcano in the east, Greek temples in the south-west, mountains, an ancient Roman villa with lots of floor frescos, a town where the Godfather 1 was filmed, and obviously plenty of cafes, ice cream shops, pizzeria, restaurants and Sicilian wine. I still remember a seaside restaurant located on a cliff, overlooking the Mediterranean from almost 270 degrees. I'm skipping adjectives deliberately.

Sicily is part of Italy since 1860. Before it was affected by several other cultures as the island was long considered of strategic military interest. Part of Sicily’s charm is that it shows an image of Italy which is no longer found in the popular Italian tourist destinations (e.g., Florence, Rome, Siena). It shows the Italy that we know from The Godfather movies (IMDb).

I've been on Sicily 4-5 times and the number of non-Italian tourists is quite low. Most tourists are from mainland Italy. This gives a unique flavour to your vacation as Italian is the dominant language unlike Dutch or German. The only foreign license plates I've noticed on Sicily were – obviously – Dutch caravans and motorhomes.

Renting a car and discovering the island will take several days given the long distances, low average speed, and the absence of highways. You will gain memories for life though. The rental car needs an automatic gearbox, good brakes, and adequate engine power as some mountain roads have excessive curves and slopes. The resulting views are worth it.

Why do I recommend Sicily? It just has everything: architecture, beach life, cafes, Etna volcano, food, forests, Greek and Roman history, mountains, people, shopping, panoramic views, Taormina, and finally Sicilian wine (e.g., Planeta). If I omitted something then it's my unintentional mistake. Sicily probably features my omissions as well.

Why do I not recommend Sicily? Life is really slow. Each city outside the coast feels like an open air museum that you cannot pass without visiting. Once I noticed a barber shop with an interior that backdated my father’s hairdressing saloon in the 1960s. At times, I felt like walking on a movie set. In Bar Vitelli (Savoca) I actually did as the Godfather pictures on the wall evidenced.

Some readers may wonder if Sicily is a place for all ages. The answer is "Yes" as it suits couples, families, teenagers, and also retirees. For many years, I thought of retiring on Sicily. I'm less sure now. Perhaps a renewed visit will make me fall in love again. Out of sight, out of mind. Writing down some of my travel and vacation stories brought back pleasant memories.

Time Stood Still (1991) by Bad English – artists, lyrics, video, Wiki