Sicily East to West: A Road Trip Along Sicily’s Southern Coast

From its Baroque cities and ever erupting volcano to its ancient Greek ruins and crystal clear waters, Sicily holds a beauty like no other.

Almost two years ago Matt and I took a trip to Sicily, where we spent a week traveling from Catania to Palermo along the southern coast of the triangular island.  Matt and I are currently planning our next big international adventure for after I graduate in December.  As I’ve been in graduate school, I haven’t had much time to write about our travels, but I’ve been asked a number of times over the past year to provide recommendations on places to see and things to do in Sicily. Here’s our itinerary from this epic trip.

Itinerary:

Day 1: Flight London Gatwick -> Catania Sicily (easyJet)

Julie and Matt Catania
Photo of me in front of the ruins of a Roman Amphitheater in the center of Catania by Matt Cameron

We arrived on a steamy Saturday afternoon in the middle of July, meaning the streets of Catania were pretty much empty as everyone had made there way al mare (to the beach). Our first stop before finding something amazing to eat was meeting our host Andrea and settling into our quaint, conveniently located Airbnb (right above the fish market).  We then made our way to my favorite pasticceria, Pasticceria Savia located on Via Etnea where we grabbed a picnic of fresh arancini and a few sides of leftover grilled vegetables.

We spent the afternoon walking around the city center and exploring my old favorite haunts around Catania including: the Fish Market, the university, and Piazza Vincenzo Bellini/ Teatro Massimo.

We then enjoyed a small dinner, drinks, and live music with friends at Ostello,  a place where the atmosphere is honestly better than the food.

For my Catania food recs, check out Catania Where to Eat.

Day 2: Catania/ Aci Castello/ Acitrezza

We ate breakfast on our second morning in Sicily at Il Chioschetto, a small cafe where my good friend and her family work, and where they serve up some great granita with brioche in the summer for breakfast.  My favorite flavor is of course pistacchio!

We then made our way by bus to Aci Castello and Acitrezza two coastal towns slightly north of Catania.  Aci Castello as the the name suggests boasts a seaside castle, providing a scenic backdrop for a romantic stroll.  Acitrezza, a part of Aci Castello, is a quaint fishing village, where sharp giant boulder sized islands jut out of an azure sea.  It holds a place in my heart as well as Greek mythology as the location where the cyclops Polyphemus hurled large boulders after Odysseus.

Day 3: Drive Catania -> Sciacca, Sicily via Licata

On our third day we rented a car in Catania (a FIAT obviously), and started our drive west.  Our drive took us up into the hills, through beautiful farmland as we made our way to a tiny town named Licata for a quick coffee/ walking break.  For those of you who are history buffs, Licata was an Allied landing point during the 1943 Operation HUSKY Allied invasion of Sicily during World War II.

Sciacca
Looking out over Sciacca

Day 4: Explore Agrigento

IMG_9005

We spent our fourth day exploring Valle dei Templi (Valley of the Temples) a UNESCO World Heritage site located outside of Agrigento, Sicily.  This archaeological site is one of the largest in the world, and includes the remains of seven Doric Style temples built in the 5th century BC.  The site is considered one of the best-preserved sites of ancient Greek archaeology in the world, and part of the reason I chose to study abroad in Sicily in 2011.

After we’d had our fill of  traipsing through history in the dust and hot Sicilian sun, Matt and I headed to the beautiful beach of Eraclea Minoa which lies below the ruins of the Greek city of the same name.

Day 5: Drive Sciacca -> Palermo

We spent the morning exploring the narrow streets of Sciacca, chatting with some of the local craftsmen, and even picked up a few pieces of pottery to bring home (Sciacca is famous for it’s colorful pottery).  We then had a lunch of fresh seafood pasta and local wine overlooking the ocean, packed up the car and made our way to west to Mondello.

Day 6: Enjoy Mondello

We spent our last full day in Sicily enjoying the warm ocean water in Mondello, a beach town close to Palermo.  The water was crystal clear and after a packed week, it was wonderful to spend an entire day relaxing in the water.  Other than breaking my insulin pump by swimming with it on (it was supposed to be water proof), it was the perfect end to an incredible vacation.

For more on traveling with type 1 diabetes, check out Traveling with Type 1: A T1D Packing List


Day 7: Flight Palermo -> London Stansted (Ryanair)

Photos shot on Canon EOS 60D or iPhone 7+

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