It was the week of my birthday and I had planned it long ahead. It would be a place i hadn't been before and honestly it could not be too expensive as well. So, as each time, I started looking for flights. After considering many places, I chose for Sicily. I asked some people first but met nobody that truly explored the island. Then I looked a bit online and found plenty of positive experiences. So I booked and flew to Catania, on the east coast. The first morning started with a cappuccino and a view on the Etna volcano. I really liked Catania. It's a city with an edge and it's pretty undiscovered so far, most people pass by on the way to better known places, of which Sicily has plenty. Yet I wouldn't have wanted to skip Catania. It has its own atmosphere, many young people and also a good nightlife. I came during the first warm days and everyone was outside, in the streets, having drinks and enjoying themselves. In addition, Catania has plenty to see in terms of sights. The whole center is just stunning and it's on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The Cathedral of Catania, just like its many other churches, is just stunning. It was destroyed by Etna several times and was last rebuilt in baroque style. The cathedral has an interesting history. There's plenty of other sights to see, such as the Amphitheatre of Catania, the Fish Market and the Botanical Gardens. The Fish market's mediterranean bustle is really something you shouldn't miss. Catania is easy to get around on foot. There's a metro system but it doesn't seem to reach the most convenient places, apart from the station. Besides, it doesn't work on Sundays.
I visited Taormina by train for a day trip, what I didn't know (no preparation) was that it's a hilltop city and it's pretty steep uphill. I can't imagine what it's like in high season. I like long walks so managed but it's not something to do if you're willing to relax a bit. Still, a stunning amphi theatre with good views to even the mainland. Then I took a train south to Syracusa, which I really enjoyed. I made long walks by the sea and had some wine listening to the waves. A quiet town outside high season, just what I loved. I had a Seltz Limone e Sale drink, which is sold in the streets in this part of Sicily. It's freshly squeezed lemon, sparkling water and salt. Simple but delicious. From Syracusa, I went south to Noto which is stunning as well. A completely different architecture than both Catania and Syracusa. I had no idea that Sicily would be so diverse, and so large. After Noto, I got to Scicli, then to Modica and then Ragusa. From Ragusa, I took a bus to Comiso, but there was nothing much to do. I did enjoy every other town. Especially Modica and Ragusa, where I made some long hikes through the surrounding area.
I recommend downloading the free app maps.me and download the Sicily map. All paths are on there. It's easy to just walk out the towns, there are plenty of paths. It used to be a place where sheep and livestock were a big source of income and it seems all the paths are still there. You'll be walking through the green hills, past abandoned farms and cultivated terraces, one time full of crops. It will make you think of how Sicily must once have been, before many people moved to the cities and abroad. I loved every bit of the island. The trains work fine, although there might be some delays, there's always a place to get a good coffee nearby. The people are friendly and the wine is good. What else is there you need for a great vacation? I can suggest looking into springtime and early autumn to visit. It was just perfect and it can get extremely hot in summer.
The first row of pictures below are of my first night in Catania. Below are all the other towns. Enjoy!