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Italy Travel Diary | Part One: Sicily

I know I’ve been shouting it from the rooftops so I hope you’re not sick of hearing about it. But, our trip to Italy earlier this month was so fantastic that I don’t want to hold back any details. I would highly encourage anyone to bump this type of trip up to the top of your bucket list and will henceforth be advocating all engaged friends to honeymoon there.

Planning your own Italy trip? Well, I’ve got three back-to-back posts for you this week! It was turning into too much of a marathon for one post so I broke it into three posts for the three main sections of our trip. Dreaming of a trip? Bookmark this one for later and read below for more #wanderlust.

Days 1-3: Sicily

Besides generally wanting to see Italy, T-man and I planned the trip so he could experience the towns where his paternal grandparents grew up alongside his parents who traveled with us, and meet some of his extended family members who still live there. Naturally then, Sicily was our first stop. We took a direct overnight flight from Newark to Rome with a few hours layover from Rome to Catania, Sicily. We were glad to have the extra time because we had to clear customs, change terminals (which took us a while to figure out – the Rome airport works so differently than ours!), AND re-check our bags all while being a sleep deprived.

The flight to Sicily was about 1 hour and we were greeted at the airport by the most loving, welcoming relatives (hi, Cettina & Nelo!). We decided to rent a car since there were four of us, four suitcases and European cars are tiny! I always think of that scene in Just Married where Ashton and Brittany first get into their rented Smartcar.

During our first day in Sicily, we explored the small town of Floridia, met lots of extended family and ate a traditional Sicilian dinner. The town has three churches, one main square and rows upon rows of intricately detailed, colorful buildings. They may be considered average for Sicilians but they were impressive to me. We heard a lot about the history of Sicily, T-man’s family and met lots of second cousins!

On day two, we had what can only be described as every kid’s dream breakfast. It’s called granitas & brioche (photos below). Yeah, it’s basically ice cream that you dip sweet bread into as your morning treat. Apparently it’s mostly a “weekend thing” but that didn’t stop us! Sweet breakfasts became a recurring theme throughout the trip.

After breakfast, we drove about 20 minutes away to Siracusa, Sicily where toured the Ancient Greek Theater, walked all over Ortigia (neighboring island), and had one of my top 2 meals of the entire trip at Frateli Burgio. We sat outside, ordered white wine and snacked on a sampler platter with the best olives I’ve ever had plus make your own miniature cannolis!

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On our third day, we made the 1.5 hour drive to Taormina from Floridia. It’s not far from the airport in Catania, so I’d definitely recommend it as a destination, even if you don’t do the more “local” detour we did. Nestled at the top of a hill, it reminded me a bit of the photos I’d see of the Amalfi Coast. A steep winding road brought us almost to the top where our hotel was located with sweeping views of the sea and Isola Bella, which looks absolutely divine.

We didn’t have a ton of time in Taormina as our flight to Naples left the next morning. So we headed out on a walking tour and quickly realized that (1) our hotel was not at the top — many more stairs were required and (2) Italians do not serve pizza between 3-7pm. Our hopes for pizza dashed, we settled on pasta & wine — it was a rough afternoon (jk, I could do that every day).

We spent the afternoon touring the city, which was notably more packed than anywhere else we’d been in Sicily. We saw the Ancient Theater, which is still used for performances and concerts today, the town square called Piazza IX Aprile and grabbed gelato along the main drag, Corso Umberto. When we were sufficiently tired, we wandered back to our hotel through the prettiest public garden called Villa Communale and by that point were ready for happy hour on our hotel deck. The night ended with dinner under a lemon tree at Andreas Restaurant.

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Where We Stayed: Floridia B&B, Grand San Pietro (Taormina)

Towns Visited: Floridia, Siracusa & Ortiga, Taormina

Why You Should Visit Sicily: It’s actually older than Rome, a little less touristy than mainland Italy and the food was truly some of our favorite — even just from the corner shoppes and delis!

On My Next Trip: Join T-man’s extended family at their beach house along the coast. Someday we’ll live like the Europeans and take 2-3 weeks off at a time! Ever since Julia’s post, I’d also love to see Scala dei Turchi and the western side of the island, too.

What I Wore: In case you missed my full packing list, here are some of the highlights from this part of the trip.

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