“We always stay in a small town called Scicli, near Siracusa. It’s a baroque town filled with magnificent churches, winding cobbled paths and gorgeous crumbling facades. We usually arrive late at night, so on our first morning there’s no food in the house. So we head down to the main piazza for breakfast, which is a cappuccino and croissant. The girls can run around the square and we all start to unwind a little.”
“While I pride myself on being a thoughtful and organised packer, it’s not such a bad thing to leave a few gaps in your holiday wardrobe. It makes it easier to justify those small treats! I love popping into one of my favourite local shops, Boutique Scicli. This year I came across a go-anywhere raffia mini tote that I carried with me everywhere.”
“To really get on island time, we spend the first few days on our local beach. Now, a word on Italians and the beach. We don’t pop down for a swim. We arrive and we stay. All. Day. Long. And we don’t pack up until the sun sets. Don’t expect water sports or an energetic game of volleyball, either. In fact, the most activity you’ll do is wandering to a nearby beach hut for a drink or ice cream.”
“My favourite beach is Sampieri – it’s closest to our town and very, very beautiful. You can sit anywhere on the beach or rent an umbrella. We eat lunch late at a little pop-up restaurant called Votavota, which has delicious pasta, fish and, of course, fritto misto. Keep one eye on the beach for vendors selling white linen dresses. I picked up two a few years for 10 euros and still wear them every summer.”
TO MARKET, TO MARKET
“We buy our food daily at the local market in Scicli. We’ll usually wander down once the weather starts to cool in the early evening with our baskets and buy just what we need for that evening and the next morning – everything from pasta to fresh seafood to fruit and vegetables. You’ll find everything you need and quite a bit you don’t, as well.”
KEEP IT SIMPLE
“For dinner most nights we have a really simple meal at home. We marinate fresh plum tomatoes in olive oil, basil and ricotta salata (a hard style of ricotta made in Sicily) for a few hours. Moments before we’re ready to eat, we stir through freshly cooked spaghetti and then wash it all down with a huge Aperol Spritz.”
DRESS THE PART
“One of the things I love about going to Sicily is how perfectly matched the holiday is to my dress wardrobe. Anything goes. And you really can’t overdo it. As some of you may have seen on my Instagram Stories, I packed 10 dresses and wore every single one. I even matched the palette to the crumbling facade of our village and the gorgeous ocean views. A word of warning: only wear your flattest flats. The bumpy streets are impossible to navigate in anything else.”
STYLE YOUR TABLE
“While the food in Sicily is a huge highlight, I cannot resist the chance to bring home some beautiful, traditional ceramics. You’ll see them everywhere, but the very best place to go is a town called Caltagirone, where you’ll find brightly coloured bowls, plates, pots and traditional pieces, like the two ancient kings (“testa di moro”), which I bought for a friend as a housewarming gift. You’ll find many, many artisans and ceramics workshops – and they’re all fabulous. Even if your style at home is more minimalist, you can dip in as much or as little as you want. It’s like accessorising with a bright bag.”
HIT A BEACH CLUB
“Sometimes it’s nice to visit a beach club, and our favourite is the Agua Beach Club in San Lorenzo. We make a booking as soon as we arrive in Sicily for the following week, as it gets really busy, especially on the weekends. We usually arrive at about 1pm for a lunch the Italian way, which means it is long and decadent! Then we lay on sunbeds under a parasol for the rest of the day. It is heaven. Once the sun sets, we head to my favourite restaurant in Marzamemi.”
STAY UP LATE
“There may be a lot of amazing food in Sicily, but I like to play favourites. So here goes: my absolute favourite restaurant is La Cialoma in Marzamemi. Italians head out for dinner, with their children, at about 9pm. And that’s exactly what we do too. The restaurant tables spill out onto the piazza, and it’s completely acceptable for little ones to run around late into the night.”
“For me, this restaurant on this square in this town is like stepping back in time to my own childhood, and it’s also a quintessentially Sicilian experience. My favourite dish is aubergine involtini, which is aubergine rolled with mozzarella and tomato. And for dessert, I have a kind of cake with ricotta, honey and almonds.”
TAKE A STROLL
“Another spot I always make sure we visit between beach days is the tiny island of Ortygia, which is reached by a bridge from Siracusa. It has everything you need – the sea, great restaurants, ancient streets to explore, and even famous, namesake beauty products.”
GO WITH THE FLOW
“Last time we visited Ortygia, it was just another one of those magical days. We ran into a religious festival coming down one street (when that happens, just roll with it). We strolled along the edge of the town to the beach. It was a beautiful golden evening. The girls took off their clothes and had a swim. We all tried to pretend that we didn’t ever have to go home.”
GET SOME CULTURE
“As tempting as it is to laze on the beach and eat for the whole trip, even as Italiana, we like to get out and see the sights. In Sicily, you’re spoilt for choice. On our most recent trip, we spent a day exploring an amazing Roman ruin, Piazza Armenia. We wandered around and I was really surprised at how much I loved it – I just got swept up in the history and the beauty of the place. I also noted that the women in the ancient mosaics were in very cool bandeau bikinis! We finished the day with a visit to the beautiful baroque cathedral in Noto, which is also well worth a visit. Not least because we could all have a few delicious scoops of gelato afterwards.”
The closest airport is Comiso, but it’s often more affordable to fly into Catania, which is a larger airport that is just a little further away.
A car is essential in Sicily, but please remember to rent a very small one. The streets are narrow and you don’t want to get stuck.
Laura’s been travelling to the Italian island of Sicily since she met her husband (as a teenager!) and now it’s one of her favourite places. Sicily feels like a whole world of its own, unique in so many ways. It’s packed with ancient temples and Roman ruins, grand baroque towns, the most delicious food, endless stretches of idyllic beaches, fantastic ceramics… and of course Sicilians! Here’s how to enjoy Sicily like an Italian.
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