Sicily is magical. There, I’ve said it. The cat’s out of the bag. Beyond the stunning scenery and some of the yummiest food I’ve had in the whole of Italy, it radiates beauty and a unique peacefulness.
Palermo is buzzing with culture and a history influenced by all the different groups of settlers who passed through, from the Greeks to the Normans. If you’re there for a weekend, I’d recommend visiting the 17th century baroque Church of Casa Professa: you will be blown away by the level of detail. Sicily is renowned for its puppets, and in Palermo you can visit Museo Internazionale delle Marionette Antonio Pasqualino, as well as the UNESCO Heritage Puppet Theatre.
Palermo is also home to a vast amount of palazzos, including Palazzo Comitini and Palazzo Sant’Elia. If you’re a fan of dark tourism, Palermo has something for you: The Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo are both peaceful and eery, housing 8,000 mummified human remains, from 1500 till the late 19th century. Catania was also one of my highlights.
Palazzo Biscari is a marvel of baroque architecture and fine art, but for something more modern, visit the Museo di Arte Contemporanea Sicilia housed in the UNESCO protected Monastery San Benedetto on via Crociferi. If you can, also stop by the fish market: it will awaken all your senses! If you’re sporty, why not hike around Mount Etna, where you can see lava flows and caves?
But I’ve saved the best for last: the breath-taking Taormina. The city’s architectural heritage, particularly Greek, is incredibly well-preserved and forms an integral part of the city. Don’t miss the Ancient Theatre, where you can soak up the history of Greek theatre and Roman gladiators. Make sure to also wander along the old fortifications of the city, taking you from Palazzo Corvaja to the adorable Piazza del Duomo.
The best view in Taormina is, in my opinion, Isola Bella: why not walk there or take a cable car? Taormina also offers many palazzos to visit, but I would also make sure to explore the public garden of Taormina, blending botanical gardens and late 19th century architecture, and from where you can enjoy stunning views.
So don’t delay, book yourself a romantic weekend, a girly break or a family trip to Sicily: you will come back with stars in your eyes and the overwhelming need to go back again soon.