|Overlooking Ragusa Ibla|
The answer is easy. A big, giant si.
We flew an easy ryanair flight from Pisa to Comiso Airport, about an hour and a half, where we rented a car and got going. We had no plans at all, besides a return ticket home from Catania Airport, so we woke up each day and decided as we went along where we would wind up.
|Tomato fields in Pacheri|
From here, we continued on our coastal road up to the famous beach of Calamosche and the Valicari nature reserve, which has been voted one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. We thought it was certainly very pretty, with it's crystal blue water nestled between two cliffs covered in so much varied vegetation - a praying mantis crossed our path - but I was honestly a little underwhelmed.
Then, our adventure continued, as we decided to explore the unmarked national marine park of Plemmirio. Getting to this nature reserve was a bit of an adventure, but when we did our hunt was rewarded as we discovered one of the most beautiful little beaches I've ever seen. This marine park allows swimming only in certain areas to preserve the sea, and these different spots in the peninsula are called varchi. Each varco (there are over 35) has a different character - varco 3 was a longer, open beach, whereas varco 26 was rocky with no beach to speak of. Varco 34, however, was our favorite, and we shared this little piece of paradise with only 2 other people...and lots of little fish! You need a car, patience, a GPS, and definitely a snack, as again - when I say that these towns close for the winter and off season, I mean that in a worse sense than Monterosso. At least we have a bar or restaurant open (just one, but still better than nothing), whereas here, we needed to drive quite a bit to find an open market. We wised up after the first day, and brought little provisions everywhere we went.
|Varco 34 in Plemmirio|
|Varco 34 in Plemmirio|
We then headed up to the "pearl of Sicily", Taormina. We unfortunately arrived in the rain, dressed still for the 30 degree weather of the province of Siracusa, but even just an hour further north, the temperature dropped to about 20. Not cold by any means, but we certainly would not be doing any swimming. It cleared up the next day, and we hiked down to Isola Bella where we rented a boat and sailed along the coast, entering a grotto unimaginably blue, gazing up the whole time at this volcano that dominates everything.
On the way to Catania airport, we stopped first to eat some cannoli and take home sweets to Liguria (as our carry on bag...2 kg of them!), and then moved south to Aci Trezza and Aci Castello, where we took a quick swim next to the fabled rocks that Cyclops threw at Odysseus many, many centuries ago. It was an easy 30 minute drive to the airport after lunch on the beach, where we dropped off our car and boarded the plane back north.
|In the boat!|
|Blue grotto off the coast by Giardini Naxos|
|Taormina from our hotel, El Jebel|
|Cannolo from Roberto!|
The best part about these 5 days is that Sicily is so close and accessible, and Sicilians are just wonderful. Sometimes I feel terrible when I hear the old stereotype that Ligurians are rude and unwelcoming, but even Manu - a Ligurian himself - admitted freely that after all of these happy, sunny Sicilians, there is certainly a backbone to the stereotype. We ate incredibly well, spent very little (being used to prices on the Riviera), and explored a small part of a big island exactly as we wanted to. We can't wait to go back, having missed so many things in the west, north, and further southwest...and as it's so close and so much warmer than here during the winter, who knows?
|Ancient theater in Taormina, with Etna in the background|
|Aci Trezza, the rocks of Cyclops|