I sat down looking at a map of the Mediterranean and pondered where to go. I wanted to go island hopping but I did not want to do the usual Greek island hopping or visit Croatia (though both are beautiful in their own way). So I Googled Mediterranean island hopping and stumbled on the beauty of Sicily. I poured over articles, Pinterest boards and Google images of attractions in Sicily and wondered why so many overlooked it (it appeared that many travel bloggers did not go further than Naples). I wanted to see all of Italy but I only had one week so I decided that the beautiful churches, ancient sites and beautiful beaches in Sicily would be a great introduction to Italy.
I landed in Catania and stayed in a couple of days. I went to Syracuse for a day trip and explored the square and the church. I did not have enough time to visit Noto, Ragusa or Modica though I really wanted to (my next trip to Sicily perhaps ;)). I then based myself in Lipari, the main hub of the Aeolian islands. I really wanted to stay on Salina but as it was high season there was no more accommodation available. I only had time for a day trip to Vulcano, Panarea and Stromboli so another trip needs to be arranged for the other islands.
Sicily gets overlooked because it is gritty. However with it’s fair share of delicious food, historic sites and beaches you may find that you don’t need to visit the mainland after all. Sicily lacks hostels but the bed and breakfasts are affordable. I found that I only really had 1 proper meal a day – the portion sizes were big and I love gelato.
Accommodation: B&B Antica Profumeria (Catania); AirBnb house in Cannetto (Lipari)
Transportation: Avoid the train – it’s so slow. Take the bus on the mainland. To get to Lipari and the other Aeolian islands, I used Siremar. There’s also a direct bus from the airport to the port (Milazzo) if you want to head straight to the islands.
Food: I really struggled with my Italian here – very little people spoke English. As a result, I didn’t feel confident to experiment with the food. I did try a cannoli but it was so sweet that I couldn’t finish it. Make sure to try the gelato – especially on the islands because many times it is home made. My fave was the Kinder Bueno flavour.
Highlight: Going off the grid in Lipari. Truly a special place and Syracuse was beautiful to behold.