No other place in the world captured my heart as deeply as Sicily. Having grown up around the Mediterranean might be one reason but the beauty of its landscape, Greek and Roman vestiges, and Arab, Norman and Spanish influences in architecture, decorative arts and culture would ravish anyone's soul.
Follow me in my journey around Sicily and get inspired like I did.
Santa Caterina's Convent
The old Palermo had been neglected for decades but its rich history is visible behind doors of old palazzi, churches and convents. The Arab, Byzantine, Norman and Spanish styles compete with each other featuring the most beautiful frescos, wood ceilings, sculptures and colored ceramics. It is a rich and complex city to explore.
Hotel Villa Igea just on the outskirt of Palermo is a beautiful property on the harbor, built out of love from a father for his sick daughter. The hotel feels of old Italian glamour.
Grand Hotel Timeo
Taormina, perhaps the most popular city of Sicily, has been part of the Grand Tour since the 18th century. Busy during the day, Taormina streets in the evening are a pleasure to discover under the spell of a Datura or Jasmin blooming. Don't miss the walk down to Isola Bella and a lunch on the beach at the old glamorous Belmond Villa Sant'Andrea.
Siracusa, the most populated and richest city in the world during the Roman empire, is part of the first Greek settlements on the East coast of the island of Sicily. The highlight of the old city is a church built on an ancient temple using the old greek columns and foot print.
Hotel Seven Rooms Villadorata
I was told that you come to Noto to settle down from busy Taormina. Indeed, you find peace in Noto, a cinematographic city built after the earthquake of 1693 in the style of late Baroque. And Baroque it is ! Push the doors of the incredibly well restored Palazzo Castelluccio and travel back to the 18th century.
Don't miss a cafe and delicious pasticceria at the Caffe Sicilia and a dinner at the Dimora delle Balze, a 30 minute drive outside Noto. A charming hotel built in an old Masseria, farmhouse, with specular views on the country side and a fabulous organic restaurant.
Ragusa and Modica
Cathedral of St. George
Ragusa and Modica are cities in Southeast Sicily displaying more late Baroque beauties. If you are lucky you may find opened the doors of the Church of San Nicolo Inferiore in Modica with its 12th century frescoes in a cave that was rediscovered in 1987.
Don't leave Modica without tasting the excellent chocolate made from old cocoa recipes imported by the Spanish after the discovery of the Americas.
Villa Romana del Casale