Sicily – an enigmatic island

In April, I was given the chance of a long awaited visit to Sicily.

My journey started in Palermo, the island’s capital, an experience in itself with medieval streets to explore, Baroque churches and fine restaurants. It is a wonderful city, not at all touristy and well worth a stay of two to three days. The architecture is beautiful, if rather crumbling in many places, with many wonderful things to see, but the highlights for me were definitely the extraordinary Capuchin Catacombs and the dazzling mosaics of Monreale.

From Palermo, we drove south-west to Segesta, a journey of only 45 minutes, to view its unusually well-preserved Doric temple, then on a further 20 minutes to Erice. Clinging to the hillside, this predominantly medieval town boasts wonderful cobbled streets, a beautiful temple restored by the Romans and a Norman castle with amazing views. The famed Valley of the Temples in Agrigento was our next port of call. These amazing Greek are the most complete outside of mainland Greece itself, and I would recommend staying at the lovely Hotel Villa Athena for a night or two to give one the chance to visit the Valley before and after the hordes of tourists arrive during the day.

From Agrigento, a further 2.5-hour drive brings you to the charming harbour town of Syracuse and its historical centre on the small island of Ortigia. The cathedral of Syracuse here is a sight to behold, but there are also some fabulous squares and churches to explore.

My journey ended in the picturesque and charming town of Taormina. The place to stay here is Hotel Timeo, and I was blown away by both its service and atmosphere. Sitting on the terrace, pre-dinner drink in my hand, with a view of Mount Etna and the deep blue sea, the thought occurred to me that life doesn’t get much better that this!

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