All this cold winter weather is making me dream of warmer days! So what better time to reminisce about my weekend in Sicily last June….

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June 11th – 15th, I attended an alumni reunion with former co-workers in Siracusa, Sicily.

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Although we used the island of Ortigia, the old town of Siracusa, as our base, we explored a good bit of the east coast of the island in our three full days.

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I had been to Sicily once before, back in 1999, and after this trip I still feel similarly: I like Sicily, but for the scenery, it’s still not my favorite part of Italy. (Nor is Sardinia, although it’s definitely worth a visit. I’m much more enamored with Corsica.)

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But I would still go back to Sicily anytime at the faintest excuse for the food alone!

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I’m not going to post the full itinerary here as I wasn’t the one who developed it. But are the highlights of my time in Sicily:

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You can fly direct from Paris CDG to Catania (about a 45 minutes’ drive north of Siracusa) quite cheaply. I paid U.S.$161 round-trip on EasyJet. For less convenient times, I found prices as low as U.S.$138 round trip. Air France also flies this route.

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I stayed at the Antico Hotel Roma 1880 on Ortigia, Siracusa. Aside from the very slow elevator, it was a great pick, right in the center of the pedestrian zone and in walking distance to everything. They have a nice breakfast and a restaurant with a great terrace.

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The Antico Roma is right next door to the Greek temple-turned-Cathedral of Siracusa, which is definitely worth a visit. Some of our group stayed at Des Étrangers–also a great location but more of a splurge.

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Caravaggio’s famous painting, the Burial of Santa Lucia, is also within a five minutes’ walk of either hotel, across the Piazza Duomo in the Church of Santa Lucia.

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I found a great little trattoria when I was on my own for lunch the first day, and come to find out, we had a big dinner planned for that same spot that evening! Osteria da Mariano doesn’t get the best reviews on TripAdvisor, but trust me, it’s great!

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We saw a performance of Euripides’ tragedy, Iphigenia, in Siracusa’s Greek theater, the oldest stone theater in the world. We also took a walking tour of Ortigia and toured the archeological site across from the theater.

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We climbed Mt. Etna, something I have always wanted to do.

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Honestly, the “climbed” part turned out to be quite disappointing. I expected to burn off the whole weekend’s pasta consumption, but the “climbing” ended up being by bus, cable car, then a hybrid jeep/bus creation, followed by a 15-minute light stroll at the top. But it was still worth seeing this infamous volcano’s moonscape.

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On the last evening, we explored the Baroque town of Noto, in the southeast of Sicily.

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Sicily is only about a 2h30 flight from Paris. Perfect for a weekend of sightseeing or just a weekend of relaxing with some great food and wine.

 

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