Finding a get-away destination that allows for both lazy days at the beach and epic sight-seeing is hard enough, but when you add life-changing food to your wish list it becomes a very tall order. One of the few places that satisfies all those demands: Sicily. Due to its position as the largest island in the Mediterranean, Sicily has played host to a wide variety of cultures — including the ancient Greeks, Romans, Normans and Moors — over the centuries, and they left it with a diverse array of world-class landmarks.
Of course, its location in the middle of the Mediterranean also means the island is blessed with beautiful beaches and dotted with glamorous seaside resort towns. The best vantage points for seeing the island’s natural and historical beauty can be found in the unspoiled countryside and the smaller cities such as Taormina, Agrigento, Siracusa and Selinunte. You can divide up your days between sight-seeing and sun-soaking, and spend your evenings feasting on the region’s mouthwatering cuisine and local wines — a recipe for romantic bliss if we ever heard one.
Before You Go: Need-to-know info
Entry requirements: Passport
Flight time: To Rome, 8 hours from NYC, 13 1/2 from LA, plus a 1 hour flight to Catania, Sicily
Getting around: Car, taxis, buses
When To Go: Sicily at its best
Best weather: The weather is mild and sunny all year long, with average highs in the 60s during the “off season” of November through April, and in the 80s during the summer months, when tourism peaks.
Best prices: Prices drop in the late fall and winter, and reach rock bottom in January and February. This can be a brilliant time to go as you’ll also have many of the sights to yourself and be able to mix and mingle with the locals more freely than you could during the high season. You should be able to get a discount during the “shoulder season” of September and October, when highs are still in the 70s and 80s but the summer crowds have gone.
What To Do
Mangia e bevi: Sicily’s cuisine is unique – and uniquely delicious. Think lots of fresh fish and vegetables. Perhaps Sicily’s most addictive signature delicacy is arancini (fried rice balls), though the island’s desserts are also to die for. Cannoli are just the beginning. Wash it all down with blood orange juice at breakfast, and at all other times with the island’s signature fruity, full-bodied wines.
Glimpse ancient cultures: Sicily possesses architecture and ruins that are arguably as impressive as those of Athens or Rome. You’ll find them along the island’s eastern edge, from the shadow of Mt. Etna to the town of Siracusa, and on the western shore in the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, a breathtaking collection of well-preserved classical ruins.
Live la dolce vita: In the coastal resort towns like Taormina you can bask in the sun with European jet-setters, who flock here for the beautiful beaches and sybaritic atmosphere. You can also soak up the sweet life by going for a drive into the island’s heartland, where you’ll find vistas of vineyards, olive groves and citrus orchards, and small farming communities that haven’t changed in decades, if not centuries.