In my quest to visit as many places as possible that I haven’t seen, I decided to go to Sicily, Italy in October, 2013. In case people out there think with all my travelling I’m rich!! I’m not!! My travels are achieved by finding low fares and staying in cheap hotels (most of the time!). I’m a jetsetter courtesy of Ryanair and Easyjet. I’ve become the master of the cheap deals.
As it turned out Sicily was an inspired choice. We stayed in a nice hotel in the centre of Palermo which is a fascinating city. It’s also surprisingly friendly (no Mafia jokes please) because it’s not too touristy. Mind you the driving in Palermo is possibly the craziest I’ve ever seen until I got used to it and realized that there was method in the madness! There is only one main rule and that is that you don’t stop for anything unless you really have to!! Ominously, as I drove around in a hire car, I realized that virtually every car on the island had a dent in it!! Still, I got through two weeks driving and only scraped a wheel on a kerb once which I got away with when it was checked at the end. Whew!!!
It really is very lovely but there is no way you can see the island in one visit. We stayed in Palermo and visited that side of the island including Cephalu and Agrigento. There are some great beaches that are pretty unspoilt or attached to fading old fashioned resorts. Very charming. The architecture ranges from jerrybuilt apartment blocks to remarkably preserved Greek temples. Erice is a picturesque town in the mountains with a well preserved castle. Monreale has a remarkable Norman cathedral that incorporates mosaics inspired by Islamic designs. Shows that even at the height of the Crusades they could learn things from each other. Quite astonishing really, and the weather was good most of the time. Also, Cephalu is a quaint old town with a beautiful beach where occultist Aleister Crowley had his headquarters until he was expelled by the Italians!
There was a bit of excitement while we were there. The riot police was out in force as a demonstration against austerity got out of hand. Very exciting!! The food was great, as you might expect. Palermo is incredibly varied with an area of posh designer shops and another that is still in ruins from the end of WW2. Will be back next year to explore some more. Here’s a gallery of pictures taken while I was there: