Hear about travel to the Island of Sicily in Italy as the Amateur Traveler talks to Barbara Riedel from barbaralicious.com about the home of her mother’s family and the “home of her heart”.
Barbara says of Sicily, “It’s a very unique place. During the last 3,00 years, Sicily has been a melting pot. People from everywhere around Europe and even Africa came there and tried to proclaim it theirs. So many many nationalities have been there and have left traces. It’s very different from mainland Italy and it’s also very different from the rest of the countries around Europe.”
Barbara who is a child of a German father and a Sicilian mother has been coming to this island for many years. She gives us a one-week itinerary around the island starting in Palermo and hitting Mazara del Vallo, Agrigento, Syracuse, Catania, Mount Etna, Taormina, and Cefalù before returning to Palermo.
In Palermo, Barbara starts us at the Palazzo dei Normanni or the Palace of the Normans which is part of a UNESCO site. The Normans first came to Sicily in 999 and over the course of more than a century conquered all of southern Italy. They eventually formed the Kingdom of Sicily and ruled southern Italy and Sicily until 1194. Barbara also recommends the beautiful Monreale Cathedral as well as the best place to get Pani câ meusa… a spleen meat sandwich. For a beach and a promenade by the sea, she recommends a side trip to Mondello.
Mazara del Vallo is a beautiful village along the coast that Barbara fell in love with. It is only two hours by bus from Palermo.
The Valle dei Templi (Valley of the Temples) in Agrigento has some of the best examples of Greek architecture including a temple that rivals the Parthenon in Athens for beauty. The Valley of the Temples is a UNESCO site. Sicily was once part of Magna Graecia (Greater Greece), a string of Greek trading cities in southern Italy that pre-date the rise of Rome.
Syracuse has a Greek Theatre which is also from the time of the Magna Graecia. The old town in Syracuse and the nearby Necropolis of Pantalica are a UNESCO listed site.
Catania sits at the base of Mount Etna (UNESCO) which is the most active volcano in Europe. You can ski Etna in the winter or ascend it by gondola to get magnificent views of Sicily.
Taormina also has an ancient theatre. It is a beautiful old hilltop town. Nearby you can find the Piazza Armerina (UNESCO) with some of the best examples of Roman mosaics.
Barbara’s last stop is Cefalù which is a beach vacation spot where she recommends you stop for a relaxing end of your trip. The cathedral is worth checking out. You can also hike the Rock of Cefalù.
Fall in love with Sicily by seeing it through Barbara’s eyes.
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Palazzo dei Normanni
Kingdom of Sicily
Pani câ meusa
Pani Ca’ Meusa Porta Carbone
Mazara del Vallo
Valle dei Templi
Necropolis of Pantalica (UNESCO)
Piazza Armerina (UNESCO)
Palermo Guide for Digital Nomads
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