Insider tips from Sicilian marketer and self-confessed Instagram addict, Alba, from Messina.
Alba was born and still lives in Messina on the north-east tip of the island. She is lucky to enjoy the best of both worlds, living in the city centre during the winter, and a little village by the sea in the Municipality of Messina in the summer.
We caught up recently to get some insider tips on Sicily. Over to Alba…
I love living in Sicily for many reasons, including the mild climate, the landscapes, art and history, and our amazing natural resources, such as the sea, the mountains, the hills, and of course, the food!
It’s impossible to say which is my favourite place but the most astonishing is Mount Etna, with its volcanic landscapes, craters, and kaleidoscope of colours.
I love trekking and taking short weekend trips away discovering new places and cities, their architecture, history, art and all that made Sicily famous in the world.
The most interesting aspect about Sicilian culture stems from a series of colonisations. Greek, Byzantine, Arab, French and Spanish all introduced traits of their own culture, including the architecture, language, agricultural techniques and literature, to name but a few. The mash up between all this produced, with the passing of time, the Sicilian man as we know him today.
Things to do in Sicily
Sicily is a vast region. It would be hard to visit every corner in only one trip, so I suggest you plan more than one!
The first thing a visitor should not miss is certainly one of the symbols of Sicily, the volcano Etna, which is the most important and highest volcano of the Euro-Asian plate. It is both a source of life, thanks to its fertile land, as well as destruction. It well represents the temperament of Sicilian people who call the volcano “Iddu” (him) or “A muntagna” (the mountain) as if it is a person.
Mount Etna by Alba
On the Aeolian Islands, you can experience a wild and authentic life among volcanos and crystalline seawater.
Aeolian Islands by Alba
The town of Taormina is known as the Pearl of the Ionian Sea. It’s a perfect mix of Sicilian spirit and glamour.
Taormina by Piers Golden
In Syracuse and Agrigento, you can discover the inner history of Sicily with the Greek temples, churches, and castles.
In Modica, Ragusa and Noto you can see the magnificence of the Sicilian Baroque architecture.
In Montalbano Elicona you can admire the village as well as the Megaliti dell’Argimusco, a group of huge sandstone rocks carved in ancient times whose origin is still unknown.
Megaliti dell’Argimusco at Montalbano Elicona by Alba
For nature lovers, there are many reserves to explore: the Riserva dello Zingaro near Trapani, the Parco Fluviale dell’Alcantara between the Provinces of Messina and Catania, and the Riserva of Vendicari near Syracuse, to name just three.
Riserva Vendicari by Alba
Alcantara River by Alba
There are also some lovely woods and protected areas in Peloritani and Nebrodi Mounts.
Peloritani Mountains under a layer of snow in January by Alba
When it comes to our cuisine, my personal favourite local dishes are the most traditional and come from a poor background, namely arancino and granita. The arancino is a typical kind of street food and the first kind of food Sicilians are likely to want when they return to Sicily by boat crossing the Stretto di Messina. The arancino is the most requested kind of food - just a bite and we immediately feel at home.
Arancino by Alba
And, if you don’t know what a granita is there’s only one thing to do, come here and taste it!
Granita and Brioche by Alba
Food and restaurants in Sicily are really good.
- There are restaurants where you can eat very good fish dishes such as Anselmo or I Ruggeri in Messina.
- You can taste gourmet versions of traditional dishes at the Granduca in Taormina, or at the Taverna San Paolo in Messina.
- Sicily is full of excellent farm restaurants such as La Casa degli Angeli in Caltagirone, or Fra Michele in Monforte San Giorgio.
- And in any village, you can find a tavern where you can taste the dishes just like the ones our grandmothers used to make, such as at the Sciarbonata in Montalbano Elicona.
You can see more of Alba’s images covering a range of nature, food, travel, and lifestyle in Sicily on her Instagram account @Talbame.
If Alba’s Sicily has tempted you to book a holiday in the North East of the island, we’ve a wonderful selection of properties in Taormina and beyond.