I know it’s really selfish, but I am so sad that we have had to cancel our summer holiday this year. I am supremely glad we did; safety comes first – but, bloody hell, I am sad. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be itching to just go anywhere – so to beat the holiday blues, why not take a virtual holiday with me? Continue reading for some colourful, beautiful, and bright photos from our last holiday; Sicily! I’ve written this colourful guide to Sicily, which I hope will make you feel like you’re there (even if it’s just for 5 blissful minutes!).
My last holiday was back in October 2019 – we visited Sicily for the first time, and over my birthday too! We were incredibly lucky to be taken here by my husband’s parents.
This week, as I’ve been pottering away in the garden covered in sun cream, there have been so many things that remind me of being on holiday. The sun, of course – but the smells (does anyone else love it when their skin smells of the sun?!), the ice lollies and… well, that’s it. It made me feel nostalgic about holidays past, and just plain sad not to be on a beach. I was lay thinking about Taormina, Sicily, and all the colourful and beautiful places we visited there. I decided to have a flick through my photos, and oops, turns out I took over 300 photos in one week. Don’t worry, I’ve curated a select few to share with you in this colourful guide!
So, come with me now on a journey through time and space.. I mean, to Taormina, Sicily
Taormina is a hilltop town, situated in the East of Sicily, very close to Mount Etna. As it’s so close, you can pretty much always see the impressive (and active) volcano. We arrived at around 11pm, in complete darkness, and entered a cute traditional hotel.
We stayed at the Hotel Bel Soggiorno and little did we know that we would wake up to the most stunning view of the Bay of Naxos and fresh pomegranates growing right outside our door. The colours were amazing – like nothing I have ever experienced before or since!
The Hotel Bel Soggiorno is located halfway up the hill (I say hill – it’s positively mountainous) from the beautiful coast to the centre of Taormina. It was a 20-minute uphill walk to the centre, but there were many colourful treats along the way. There are winding streets with narrow passes between; art galleries displayed on steep steps, fresh lemons growing from balconies, and bright artwork adorning the walls. This was all just on the WALK to the centre!
Some of my favourite parts of the hotel, excluding the view, were the traditional lemon-themed ornaments!
My fave three things to do in Sicily:
Eat everything you can, the food here is unparalleled. Local delicacies include arancini (which always comes in the shape of a volcano, I wonder why!) and sweet cannoli; stuffed with sweet ricotta, pistachios, and a cherry at either end. The gelaterias are full to the brim with every flavour ice cream you can imagine, and the pastry shops are a veritable rainbow.
We enjoyed fresh pasta, unbelievable salads, and delicious steak – the food here is simple and fresh. The tiramisu I had for my birthday was made fresh that day by the restaurant owner’s mum (and it was incredible, we went back for more the next night).
Recommended restaurant: Ristorante Rosmarino for authentic Sicilian cuisine at a very reasonable price (3 courses and wine for two, around 40 euros) – the best tiramisu I’ve ever had.
Taormina is incredibly friendly, relaxed, and cultured. It’s not the cheapest place I’ve visited, but this doesn’t mean you have to always be spending.
There are plenty of streets, alleyways, and hidden gems to explore for free – the main street is called The Corso Umberto I and it is a vibrant and busy street. Walk up and down here to explore pastry shops, gelateria, souvenir shops, and all the side-streets twisting away. At the end of the main street, you will find Piazza IX Aprile, which is the main square in Taormina. Here you will find a breathtaking view of the Ionian Sea – the bluest blue you have ever seen – as well as a stunning view of Etna.
There are benches, street musicians, and even an old library you can visit to escape the sun for a while. From the coast to the winding streets, then through the bustling centre – Taormina is so beautiful, you don’t want to waste your time indoors..
Have a relaxed walk through the centre or chill out on a beach – you won’t regret taking some time to soak up the atmosphere.
Recommended stop: the beautiful gardens of Taormina Garden Hotel
If I’m honest, I’m not usually one for tour buses – we usually hire a car and just go off on our own.
However, we didn’t hire a car in Sicily, so we made use of the fantastic Hop on Hop off bus from Taormina to Castelmola.
For €12 each, we spent an entire day on the open-top bus, enjoying a coastal drive to the Bay of Naxos and then an amazing journey even higher up the hill (mountain) to Castelmola. We hopped off the bus at the Bay of Naxos, which seemed cheaper and busier than Taormina, and had a walk along the beach and some lunch. After we hopped back on the bus to Taormina, we then went on a magical ride up a mahoosive hill to Castelmola.
Castelmola has been described as one of the most beautiful villages in Italy, with panoramic views of the East Coast. This village is much smaller than Taormina, with even tinier winding streets – the main attraction to most is the ruined castle, but I loved all the colours.
There were colourful houses, postboxes, doors, amazing ceramics and souvenirs, beautiful plants and flowers – everywhere you looked, colour. You can also find an impressive Duomo and several smaller churches, including the Chiesa di San Giorgio (1450!)
This was one of my favourite days of our holiday – especially as we got to witness a fiery Italian dispute between a café owner and a dissatisfied customer (side note: my father in law couldn’t work out how to use the toilet door in this café and the owner laughed at him for about 10 minutes. Then the owner re-enacted the scene for us afterward too. He was a nice man!)
Recommended trip: Castelmola
There’s so much more I could write about Sicily – the people, the beaches, the plants and cacti. Mount Etna! We saw it erupt many times over the space of a week. But I think you’ll need a drink (pretend it’s a beach cocktail, eh) now you’ve read through all this! If you’ve got any questions about Sicily, please let me know in the comments – I love talking about travel, so ask away.