Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Holiday in Sicily

I've recently returned from a holiday in Sicily. This is our fourth holiday in Southern Italy, working our way further south each year, and next year the only way is back up! All the regions we've been to have been unmistakably Italy, and Southern Italy, but each has had that which is obviously distinctive. Sicily is no exception.

We were situated just north of Catonia, near Acireale, with the sea two kilometres on one side and Mount Etna on the other, surrounded by lemon trees. The place, a lemon farm, is aptly called Il Limoneto. It was pretty idyllic, constantly sun-drenched and extremely hot - by the end we were looking forward to the air conditioning at the airport - and the only down-side was the mosquitos which were a bit fierce.

For us, Italy provides a wonderful context to slow down, read, listen to music, eat and drink, visit leisurely places of interest, and of course passegiata. And all these are possible because of the nature of a holiday which opens up space by limiting the options normally available to us.

Sicily is featured in many films, notably, The Godfather trilogy, and Cinema Paridiso which for me is one of the all-time favourites. We have yet to see Il Postino, which again is set in Sicily, but the DVD is waiting at the top of a pile by the tv. Even for Southern Italy, Sicily feels like going into a bit of a time warp. Like the rest of Italy it might be becoming increasingly secularised, but the centrality of the church in local culture still seems fairly dominant, especially in August when every small town seems to be celebrating their local saint.

Italian ice-cream is something we always look forward to, at least once a day. But in Sicily the big thing is granita, which is a sorbet coming in an assortment of flavours, sometimes with cream on and eaten with an accompanying brioche. I thought they were a bit over-rated and kept faith with the ice cream.

Etna was awesome and although we drove some distance, we got less than half way up Europe's biggest active volcano. We met some French guests at Il Limoneto who were vulcanologists combining work and holiday and had some fascinating conversation.

Other places had particular historical interest, or were just beautiful. In Enna, a town built high upon a hill, there wasn't a great deal to see other than extensive views of the surrounding countryside. However, I loved the humour in the Rough Guide to Sicily about the Museo Musical Art 3M, 'a mishmash of an exhibition that features projections of the work of artists who have a (sometimes remote) connection with Sicily - for example Caravaggio, Lo Zoppo di Gangi and Antonello di Messina - all to the rather hammy accompaniment of originally composed orchestral music. A few photographs and costumes are also on show, as well as a reconstruction of a sulphur mine, a reminder of an industry that once dominated this part of Sicily. If you're in a tolerant mood, it'll do to pass twenty minutes or less.' Sadly it was just closing so we didn't have the pleasure.

Driving in Italy is usually something of an experience but in Sicily it's taken to another dimension. Again, the Rough Guide comes up trumps likening the Sicilian driver to 'a dog on drugs'. I thought that veered on the side of generosity. A lovely touch which we were reminded of once again as we touched-down in Sicily, the Italians clap the pilot - nice! 

1 comment:

Villas in Bali said...

love to have the chance to visit Sicily..someday..