I'm afraid I am not yet the type of person who flies off to somewhere where it's Summer in December. This is just another months late post, from holidays in October to the west coast of Sicily.
We stayed in a hotel near Catania and rented a car to drive around. It wasn't the best time to visit, it was often stormy in the afternoon and the days didn't last until 22h, but it amazing nonetheless. I got to eat fresh fish, sea food and properly cooked veggies for a week, swam in the Ocean everyday, even got slightly tanned. We'll be going back.
Some things we learned for next time:
- Don't book a hotel for the whole trip. After two days we realised we'd much rather have stayed in the south, near Syracusa and the beaches of Fontane Bianche, and another few days near Taormina and Giardini Naxos, but our booking was non-refundable.
- Most beaches weren't sand, just very small pebbles that cut everywhere. If it looks grey-ish in the photos, it's probably not sand (like the ones from Cottone below). If you prefer sandy beaches go south or to Giardini Naxos; if you like rocks go to Isola Bella and sit at Pizzichella, or to Aci Trezza and Aci Castello. I've read the north of the island has more sand as well, worth looking it up before deciding.
- I understand how disgusting it sounds to eat granita (a slushie) with brioche. That was my reaction. I had it anyway, and then kept eating it for breakfast for the rest of the trip. It makes no sense, but it's soooo good.
Isolla d'Ortigia, Syracusa
- Book a guide from the city you're in. Driving + cable car + walk up to where you're allowed to go alone won't lead to any place with volcanic activity, just dark basalt landscapes. They look the same from whatever height...
- Check the weather, there were clouds all over the base, so although the sky was clear up there, we couldn't see any of the island below.
- You don't need special hiking shoes and gear, it's just walking. Bring whatever you would wear on a chilly Spring day. I'm usually cold and was fine in a long sleeve dress with a coat and sandals.