If you are chasing the sun into the autumn months then look no further than the sunny Italian isle of Sicily (hint: Sicily is that large island that hangs over the tip of the boot)! Keeping things hot and heavy at a steamy 30 degrees well into September, you can be guaranteed to make the most of your Euro summer adventures in picturesque Sicily.
Sicily isn’t your typical Euro vacation spot however and remains fairly unadulterated in the sense that it has a prevalent culture (look out for the Moor heads adorning every free surface) and has retained a distinct village style. You won’t feel the pulsing club beats as you walk home from dinner and despite the beautiful beaches, beach clubs are few and far between.
With a population of over 5 million people, Sicily isn’t small by any means. Therefore, it is a good idea to have a rough plan of where you want to go and what you want to do before you work out where you want to fly into. After a deep dive of Instagram, we chose Taormina and Cefalu, conveniently located on almost opposite sides of Sicily. We flew into Palermo and drove 1.5 hours to Cefalu. It took us approximately 3 hours to drive from Cefalu to Taormina and a further 1.5 hours from Taormina to Catania to fly out.
If driving Italy’s notoriously windy, cliffside roads isn’t your thing, Italy’s train system is fairly reliable and will get you to most of the busiest places in Sicily (in fact the main trainline sits alongside Isola Bella in Taormina).
WHERE TO GO
Taormina (1.5 hour drive from Catania airport)
Taormina is everything you envision of an Italian village in summer. Cobblestone streets, that famous beach and bustling with tourists munching on arancini, brioche or granita (or both!). The town of Taormina sits atop a hill and access to the beach is by a 15 minute cable car ride (€6).
The most famous beach at Taormina is Isola Bella, found a five minute walk to the right at the bottom of the cable car and down a treacherous set of stairs. Despite the rocky terrain, this is a beautiful stretch of coastline and when the tide is low you can walk across to the curved spit and blue grotto to laze the afternoon away.
Cefalu (1 hour drive from Palermo)
The smaller sister of Taormina, Cefalu is the more traditional of the two towns, with a long sandy beach and quaint old town.
WHERE TO EAT
Sicily’s culinary staple is Cogranita in brioche, for breakfast. Granita for breakfast in wrong in so many ways, but you can’t knock it until you’ve tried it.
Bam Bar is undoubtedly the most popular spot and was independently recommended to me by about five different people. For this reason, be prepared to wait, but I can promise it will be worth it!
Bam Bar, Via di Giovanni, 45, 98039 Taormina ME
This Michelin star restaurant is a little something out of the ordinary in Cefalu.
Cortile Pepe, Via Nicola Botta, 15, 90015 Cefalù PA
Restaurant Oliviero at Hotel Belmond Villa Sant’Andrea
Head here for an aperitif for the ambience alone. Set on the beach at Taormina at the bottom of a long sloping driveway, Hotel Belmond oozes opulence (but you will pay for it too!)
Hotel Belmond, Villa Sant’Andrea, Via Nazionale, 137, 98039 Mare, ME
Enjoy dinner in this fairy light lit courtyard on Taormina’s busiest stretch. The ambience, food and drinks in this beautiful garden are on point.
Medousa, Via Pompeo Sesto 1, 98039, Taormina
Other recommends in Taormina are: Babilonia Restaurant, Trattoria il Barcaiolo and Osteria da Rita