Always a favorite with our Mediterranean yacht charter clients, and to finish up our series of three blogs on magical Italy, See the Amalfi Coast and Italian Riviera writeups, we felt the need to showcase Sicily the enchanted island.
Come discover an island of delightful surprises, a sumptuous confection of Greek, Roman, Arab, Norman, and Byzantine cultures. A yacht charter around Sicily is fascinating above and below the waterline. Feel history come alive at underwater wrecks and mountaintop ruins. Choose local wine and authentic cuisine at a family-run trattoria, or dine at Michelin starred restaurants.
Awake in scenic harbors to the call of seabirds and the putter of gaily painted fishing boats heading out to open water. In the evening take cocktails on deck to witness a purpling volcano spit orange sparks high into the crimson sky.
This is a city of complex personality, a harmonic composition of old and new. Perfectly positioned on a crescent bay at the foot of Monte Pellegrino, almost every culture in the Mediterranean world has left its mark.
Ornate stucco, gilt mosaics and profound works of art adorn the city, in the Palazzo Federico, the church of San Giovanni degli Eremiti, and the remarkable Cathedral. The modern city is famous for its exceptional street food, colorful markets and lovely piazzas where residents gather for coffee and conversation. In the evening, join the sundown celebration when everyone assembles to stroll arm in arm down the delightful passeggiata.
San Vito Lo Capo
Yachting from Palermo you will cruise through the Riserva Naturale Zingaro, with beautiful Blue Flag beaches, sunken ships and underwater archeological sites, trails to hike, caves to explore, and cliffs to climb. San Vito Lo Capo is a relaxed, resort town with expansive white sand beach on the Gulf of Castellammare. In September, the town’s signature dish is showcased at the International Couscous Competition, a culinary tribute to Mediterranean food and wine, with live music and plenty of free tastings.
Zingaro Nature Reserve – http://www.riservazingaro.it/index.php?lang=en
Nearby, catch the cable car to climb 2,400 feet to Erice. This once sacred medieval village was dedicated in antiquity to Aphrodite, Astarte, Venus, and the cult of love. Walk down narrow cobbled lanes, worn by the tread of countless footsteps. Poke around the little souvenir shops and open market.
In the main square, have coffee and pastries at Maria Grammatico’s, nationally famous for cakes. Stand atop the castle wall to admire the incomparable view. With luck you’ll see the Tunisian coast.
This village is popular for two extraordinary attractions; a geologically unique beach and a magnificent archeological site. Scala dei Turchi (Turkish Steps) is a rocky cliff on the coast of Realmonte, very famous because of its unusual white color, and fun to climb about at any age.
Agrigento is on the outskirts of the ancient city of Akregras, with the Valle dei Templi (Valley of the Temples), a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The vast complex has outstanding examples of ancient Greek frescoes, sculpture and architecture.
The city has recently attracted wealthy ex-pat artists, architects, fashion designers and authors, as both summer and full-time residents. The level of sophistication is appropriately high in a city that was once a capital of the ancient Mediterranean world.
Explore Ortigia Island, connected by bridges to Syracuse, which is a splendid testimonial to the wealth of Greek, Roman, Medieval and Baroque nobility. The Piazza del Duomo is a trove of Baroque treasures and sidewalk cafes. Visit Syracuse’s Duomo, an archive of island history reaching back more than two millennia.
High on a mountain with panoramic views of Mt. Etna and the sea, Taormina takes your breath away. Fragrant wisteria and rich bougainvillea wrap the homes that climb the hills. For thousands of years Taormina has enchanted hearts and minds visitors to Italy.
Maupassant, and Goethe, Sophia Loren, Cary Grant, and Elizabeth Taylor, Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, Kaiser Wilhelm II and Christian Dior have each spent summer evenings here on a veranda overlooking the stunning Bay of Naxos.
An open-air performance attended at the ancient Greek Theater poignantly links past and present. The main pedestrian street, the Corso Umberto, is lined with irresistible art galleries, boutique shops, fine dining and nightlife.
From the island’s eastern coast ascend the steamy lava slopes of 10,000-foot high Mount Etna, Europe’s largest, active volcano. Hike around the moonlike surface, all the way to the smoking crater if conditions permit.
The less energetically inclined can ride the ski lift to explore the eerie volcanic surfaces and enjoy a vista that encompasses all of eastern Sicily. There is also a single-track train, the Circumetnea Railway, which transports passengers on a scenic, three and a half hour ride around the volcano’s base.
Nearby Catania, Sicily’s second largest city has grand palaces, Baroque churches, liberty style mansions, urban parks and bustling piazzas. At the Grand Hotel Excelsior, the guest book is a roster of who’s whos, the Old World bar is elegantly cozy, and the acclaimed restaurant offers a seven-course tasting menu and regional wines.
The seven Aeolian Islands offer a wide range of activities from high-energy hiking to five-star spa treatments, with sparking volcanoes, fairytale castles, world-class fishing, shopping, dining and great beaches in the mix.
History buffs will be impressed with the collection at the Museo Archeologico Eoliano, dating back to 4000 BC. Vulcano is known for luxurious and therapeutic spa treatments of mineral waters and muds. The reward for the hour uphill trek to the crater is a panorama of the entire archipelago.
Anchor in Lipari’s picturesque harbor for the social scene. Visitors and locals fill the waterfront cafes, wine bars, shops and nightclubs. Explore the caves and coral reefs around Stromboli. Your sundeck is a vista to the old world sailors that plied this region.