According to etaizhou, Sicily is one of the most mysterious and unique regions of Italy, surrounded by rumors and myths of all stripes. The first association with the island is, of course, the mafia, but the notorious clans, if they exist, are in no hurry to show themselves to tourists. Travelers are not waiting for detective stories, but a comfortable stay in the midst of magnificent landscapes, amazing beaches and numerous natural and architectural attractions.
Sicily is in many ways the first and unique: it is the largest island in the Mediterranean, and the only region of Italy with its own parliament, and the location of the largest active volcano in the country – the majestic Etna. Epochs and cultures are closely intertwined on the island: there are ancient temples, medieval churches, luxurious palazzos, and gloomy catacombs. Add to this the temperamental hospitality of the locals and delicious cuisine, and you will understand why Sicily has been a favorite delicacy for gourmet travelers for centuries.
Communication and Wi-Fi
The most popular mobile operators in Sicily are TIM, Vodafone, 3Italia and Wind. The best option for negotiations with your homeland is a travel package from 3Italia. For 5 EUR per month (plus 9 EUR for connection) the subscriber receives 1 GB of traffic and 100 minutes of free calls with foreign countries, including Russia. After exceeding the limit, calls will cost 0.25 EUR per minute. The TIM International tariff for 10 EUR includes 1000 minutes of calls within the network and 3 GB of Internet, calls to Russia cost 0.08 EUR, to Ukraine – 0.18 EUR per minute.
There are payphones in all major cities, cards for 5 EUR are sold in tobacco and newsstands. Telecom cards are suitable for negotiations with Italy, for connecting with Russia it is more profitable to take red Welcome cards (brown ones are for calls from hotels or from mobile phones).
But there are problems with Wi-Fi in Sicily: not all hotels provide it, not to mention public places like cafes and restaurants. To have guaranteed access to the network, you will have to connect a local SIM card.
The beaches of Sicily
Sicily is a real paradise for lovers of a peaceful holiday in the bosom of nature. Almost all of its coastline is a continuous series of magnificent beaches. Soft golden sand is replaced by small pebbles, cobblestones – by volcanic lava, ground by time into black dust.
The best sandy beaches for families with children are beyond Syracuse. In Taormina, there is a rocky coastline, amazing landscapes and so clear water that you can see with the naked eye all marine life: from stars to crabs. True, you can swim here only in special shoes. And the shores of Catania beckon with exoticism: smooth volcanic black sand.
The main resort in Palermo is the sandy Mondello with a gentle entrance to the water and a developed infrastructure. The coast of San Vito Lo Capo with the azure sea and snow-white coating is reminiscent of the Caribbean. In the town of Cefalu, you can not only sunbathe, but also admire the ancient architecture. A great place for diving and surfing is the Mazaro beach in Taormina. It is not equipped with showers and toilets, but there are amazing views and a significant, gradually increasing depth.
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Shopping and souvenirs
Shopping in Sicily is unexpectedly good: there are noisy markets with rare gizmos, and shopping centers that are in no way inferior to those in Milan, and outlets with grandiose sales. The most popular bazaars are Vucciria and Il Capo in Palermo. The first one has existed since the 12th century, once Genoese and Venetian merchants traded here, and today sellers of fresh fruits, meat, fish and fragrant spices invite buyers. In the markets of Syracuse – products of local peasant farms at excellent prices.
The list of well-known shopping malls in Palermo includes Forum Palermo and Dell’Oglio. The main shopping streets are Vittorio Emmanuele, Liberta, Ruggero Settimo and Roma. Prada, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Max Mara and other cult brands are waiting for fashion fans here. For original souvenirs, you can look into shops with all sorts of little things. The best buys are Sicilian ceramics, coral jewelry, pupi knight puppets. Be sure to buy products from the frozen lava of Etna: they look very impressive.
Sicily is famous for its cold-pressed olive oil: the quality and taste are beyond praise.
Catania is even called the Sicilian Milan: shops and shopping centers are almost everywhere here. In the vicinity is the famous Sicilia Outlet Village (website in Russian) – a whole shopping town with boutique houses. During the sales period (from July to August and from December to February), prices for shoes, clothes, cosmetics and accessories are reduced by 70-80%. Souvenir shops and shops of democratic brands are concentrated on Etnea street, luxury brands are based on Corso Italia.
What to try
In their free time from mafia affairs, the Sicilians most of all succeeded in making popsicles with the addition of watermelon, pistachios, jasmine, cinnamon and almonds. The main fish delicacy is “recession”, in our opinion – swordfish. The best meat dishes are polpette meatballs, scaloppine veal schnitzels, involtini alla siciliana rolls and salsiccia sausages. As a side dish, we recommend choosing eggplant stew “caponata”, for dessert – crispy wafer rolls “cannoli” or biscuit “cassata” with ricotta and candied fruit.
The most popular local drink is the sweet limoncello liquor infused with lemon peel. Sicilian wines of the highest quality are famous all over the world – noble, tart and strong Marsala, Regaleali, Moscato, Faro di Messina, Nero d’Avola and others.
Cafes and restaurants in Sicily
Italians have a special relationship with gastronomy. It is unlikely that anyone else in the world cooks with such pleasure and receives such undisguised pleasure from delicious food. Not surprisingly, cafes and restaurants in Sicily are open on every corner. Most of them are family trattorias with a cozy atmosphere and excellent home cooking. The best establishments are always filled with both tourists and locals. Palermo trattorias near the Massimo Theater arrange buffets in the evenings: you can choose everything that is on display, without any menu and at affordable prices.
Pizzerias are very popular: the Sicilian sphincione pizza resembles focaccia stuffed with vegetables, cheese and anchovies. The osterias serve all kinds of pasta with wine, the gelaterias serve the legendary Italian ice cream. You can also grab a bite to eat at the many markets where local delicacies are prepared: from chickpea flour pancakes to panini sandwiches and lamb stigghiola.
Sicilian restaurateurs are happy to speculate on the criminal reputation of the island: here and there signs with names like “At the Mafia”, “Godfather’s Pizza” or “Ice Cream with Explosives” flaunt.
Gourmet restaurants are concentrated in popular tourist cities: Catania, Palermo, Taormina, Cefalu. Some establishments have even been awarded Michelin stars: for example, La Giara in Taormina is famous for its seasonal meat and fish dishes, Duomo in Ragusa for its original serving of signature treats.
A full meal in a trattoria or osteria will cost 10 EUR per person. Ice cream in gelaterias – about 3 EUR per serving, pizza in pizzerias – 3-10 EUR, depending on the filling. A standard Italian breakfast (coffee and pastries) costs 3-4 EUR. The price for dinner for two in a good restaurant is 40-100 EUR.