Just back from Sicily blog

Just back from... Sicily!

Wednesday 28 June 2017

Lying just off the toe of Italy’s boot, Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean. This stunning Italian gem is home to dramatically diverse landscapes, bright blue waters giving way to verdant mountain scenery and the imposing presence of volcano Mount Etna. History lies around every corner on Sicily with a rich archaeological heritage boasting impressive ancient sites. This beautiful island is also famous for its simple but delicious cuisine which celebrates the native flavours of Sicily such as fresh seafood and fragrant citrus. Our Joint Managing Director Jeanne has recently returned from Sicily with top tips on where to stay and what to do while you’re there.

The lowdown…

While non-stop flights are not available from Newcastle, British Airways fly daily direct to Palermo and Catania from London Heathrow and Gatwick respectively.

With parts of the island on the same latitude as the North African coast, Sicily’s mild climate makes it an attractive destination for much of the year. Spring and Autumn are perfect weather-wise and while temperatures do tend to soar during July & August, sea breezes from the coast take the edge off the heat.

Sicily is a dream destination for food & wine lovers and will be a delight for culture vultures keen on taking in its many historical sights. Sumptuous sea views and flaming sunsets also provide a wonderful setting for romantic getaways.

Hotel spotlight…

Verdura Resort

Verdura Resort, Sicily

Set in 230 hectares of beautifully landscaped grounds along nearly 2 kilometres of private Mediterranean coastline, the resort’s low-rise buildings perfectly compliment the island’s topography. The 5* resort has a selection of deluxe rooms, suites and villas and with 3 golf courses, 6 tennis courts and a world class spa you won’t lack entertainment. Verdura’s main dining room Zagara (one of 4 restaurants and 5 bars on site) is beautifully furnished for a tasteful dining experience and the food and service at the terrace bar are also excellent. The fish restaurant Amare which is situated right on the beach has a great reputation, make sure to book ahead as it’s extremely popular with locals as well as hotel residents. 

HIGHLIGHT: Jeanne loved the hotel’s amazing location, its beautiful bathrooms, and sheltered courtyards, all of which contributed to the resort’s relaxing air of tranquillity.

Villa Sant’ Andrea

Villa Sant' Andrea, Sicily

Built into the rock face below street level, this hotel is a charming labyrinth set over many levels and all with a touch of class and opulence, giving the Villa Sant’ Andrea the feel of a luxurious private Italian house. The It’s the attention to detail and thoughtful touches that make this Belmond property so special; from chocolate strawberries and wine in your room to cashmere blankets and Egyptian cotton sheets you’re truly in the lap of luxury from the minute you check in.

HIGHLIGHT: Breakfast served on the terrace is a fantastic way to start the day where you can enjoy the beautiful views and soak up the lovely morning sunshine.

Grand Hotel Timeo

Grand Hotel Timeo, Sicily

The first hotel to be built in the Sicilian town of Taormina, this heritage building is a landmark in its own right. Sitting in the most perfect location, directly in front of the ancient Greek amphitheatre, the hotel enjoys sweeping views of the coastline with Mount Etna rising majestically in the distance. With a more formal atmosphere than the other hotels, the Grand oozes old-world glamour and its busy restaurant is definitely the place to be seen in Taormina.

HIGHLIGHT: The view from the terrace over Mount Etna is spectacular and is an ideal spot to sit with a glass of wine and watch the sun go down.

Jeanne’s top tips…

1.The Valle dei Templi (Valley of Temples) in Agrigento is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Sicily’s most famous attractions, with eight ancient temples dating between 510 and 430 BC.

2.The history of Taormina is fascinating and it’s well worth getting a guide to bring the Greek, Roman & Corinthian heritage to life. The amphitheatre here is the second-largest of its kind in Sicily.

3.The small fishing town of Sciacca is famous for its ceramics and plentiful red coral making it a great place to pick up gifts and souvenirs.

4.Take half a day out to see live lava trails and the smoking craters of Mount Etna. You don’t need a guide, you can drive up, take the cable car or walk if you’re feeling active.

5.Film fanatics will enjoy the Godfather tours that are available on the island, taking movie lovers to iconic locations that were used during the filming of the famous trilogy.

Don’t leave without…

Stopping for lunch or dinner at the stunning Villa Athena. This boutique hotel has incredible views overlooking the Valley of the Temples and is particularly pleasant in the evening when the air is cooler and the ancient temples are lit up against the night sky.

Villa Athena, Agrigento

Did you know…

The glorious public gardens of Taormina were developed by an English woman Florence Trevelyan who was born in 1852 in our very own Newcastle upon Tyne!

If you want to know more about Sicily, feel free to call our team of Personal Travel Experts on 0191 285 9321 or send an email to holidays@travelb.co.uk.

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