In mid-September my boyfriend and I spent 6 blissful days to explore, eat and relax our way around Savoca, in the North East of Sicily. This was the first leg of a 10 day two-centre holiday, with the second element being on the island of Gozo, Malta. We stayed at the Borgo San Rocco Hotel, which was perhaps one of the most charming, and beautiful hotels I’ve ever stayed in. It was in Savoca, perched up high in the Sicilian mountains this traditional village is about an hour North of the popular resort of Taormina, it has the most amazing views from everywhere you look (it’s an Instagram lovers heaven!) and the owner is very welcoming and charming. TIP: the roads are very narrow and winding, so ensure you book the smallest hire car possible!
Here’s a guide of what we did during our trip…
Day 1: After a falafel, humus and halloumi burger lunch (yes it was as good as it sounds!) at Comptoir Libanais, an amazing Libyian restaurant in Gatwick North Terminal. We boarded our British Airways plane to Sicily for the 3 hour flight. We passed over the South Downs National Park and I managed to take some amazing pictures from my window seat.
After collecting our baggage at Catania airport, we then picked up our car and made the hour and a half journey to our hotel. After getting lost in the dark in a tiny Sicilian village, where the roads are not designed for 21st Century traffic and having to squeeze through seemingly impossible gaps. We (somehow) made it to our hotel without denting our car and settled down on the terrace with two large glasses of red wine and a huge plate of tiramisu, whilst being watched over by the local owl. Our holiday had very much started!
Day 2: On the morning of our second day we woke up, opened the curtains to our balcony and our jaw dropped when we saw the view as it was so incredible. The previous day was quite hectic we spent the morning exploring Savoca, the village surrounding hotel, and I seemed to be stopping every few minutes to take pictures as everywhere was so beautiful! We then spent the rest of the day relaxing by the swimming pool. The great thing about the Borgo San Rocco is that there are only 25 rooms, meaning that the pool was never too busy.
Day 3: After a lazy morning we ventured into nearby Taormina, the major tourist town in the area it is also a hub for cruise ships so it was busy in places. We stopped at a Pizzeria for lunch and after that we pottered around the town and there was plenty to see including Roman mosaics and the very impressive Greek Theatre (10 euro per person entrance cost) which commands stunning views of Mt Etna and the sea. Just off the main street there is also ‘The Odeon’ a Greco-Roman theatre this is free and also well worth a look. There are also lots of souvenir shops in the area and we had some delicious gelato, it was well worth the visit and a must see if you’re in the area.
Day 4: On our fourth day we were thoroughly into the holiday swing and in full relaxation mode. We spent the day by the hotel pool, reading and topping up our tan. Later in the afternoon we went and had a drink in ‘Bar Vitelli’ in the heart of Savoca the bar which was the setting of part of the film ‘The Godfather’. From there we went to Cripta del Convento dei Frati Cappuccini, a crypt which is free (only a small donation needed) it houses the mummified remains of well-to-do Sicilians. It is very creepy and a bit macabre (not suitable for children) but I found it quite interesting to see what people were wearing in the 17th and 18th Century.
Dinner was at our favourite restaurant, Dioniso like everywhere in Savoca it had amazing views over the church which was used in the Godfather scenes. The pasta and antipasti that I had were particularly nice.
Day 5: Today we started with a trip to Etna, we got there early before the crowds (and clouds) arrived. We didn’t go all the way to the top as it was over 30 euros each just for the cable car! But we did walk around the craters on the lower levels which fulfilled our crater curiosity and sat and had a drink in the sunshine. TIP: Don’t be stupid like me and wear flip flops… Volcanic rocks can be sharp!
Later we went to Alcantra Gorge, a pretty gorge near Toarmina, it costs 10 euros to get in and you can swim in the river (just to warn you – it is freezing!!) and there are lots of little attractions in the area such as museums and walks.
Day 6: On our final full day in Sicily we sadly checked out of our hotel and made our way down towards Catania, as we made our way to Malta very early the following day, so we had booked a hotel near the airport. However we still wanted to make the most of our final day, we visited Syracuse and Ortega a town on the coast South of Catania where we pottered around the streets and visited the most amazing fish market. Once there, we had what I think was the best meal of our whole trip… My boyfriend had fresh mussels in gorgonzola and I had spaghetti alla vongole which was delicious. It was so hot, so we decided to find a beach nearby and stumbled on Fontaine beach about 15 minutes’ drive from Syracuse. A beautiful but busy sandy beach which was the perfect spot from which to spend the afternoon.
Overall we had a fantastic trip to Sicily, the people where friendly and the food was amazing, parts of it are extremely beautiful but it’s what I would describe as a ‘gritty’ country. It’s hard working and industrial, so they don’t spend the effort to have things looking spotless for tourists, but I feel that this kind of adds to its charm and appeal. I hope that I can return soon to explore Palermo and the West coast. Look out for part 2 where we’re in Malta!