Our recent travels to Italy led us to the country's largest region, Sicily.
An island famed for its cathedrals, vineyards, beaches, and amazing architecture.
A region we just really scratched the surface of but I know our return will be sooner than later.
Upon arrival into Catania we drove just north to a beautiful country inn between mountain and sea, Ramo D’aria.
It was the perfect way to start our Sicilian adventure and to get acclimated for a few days.
I was instantly drawn in by the air and its intoxicating scents of jasmine and roses. The aroma of burning wood and ripening citrus seduced me.The property is built on an orchard of citrus trees, they include a lovely breakfast each morning, and views of Mount Etna - definitely a site to wake up to. We took it slow on our first full day lounging poolside, enjoying spritz and fresh salads composed of tuna, fennel and orange.
After a day of relaxation we decided to venture to Taormina for aperitifs and dinner.
We walked along the main corso to Piazza IX Aprile, taking in the views of the Ionian Sea. I couldn’t help but notice all of the colours and patterns of the textiles. The shops filled with ceramics so enchanting.
Once it was time to head to dinner we travelled further down seaside where we dined to the beautiful view of Isola Bella.
Plates of vongole around the table. Each bite so simple in flavour but done so right.
Our next stop, was southeast to where we would call home for 4 nights in the majestic medieval Baroque town Noto.
My good friend Mike Caringi would always share with me this enchanting town he so loved.
Insert great food, beautiful palazzo’s to be discovered, Baroque architecture and artisans at every corner.
He was right, this town felt very “Nadia”.
I could now see the draw so many had to this ancient mecca.
Interestingly the whole city was completely destroyed by the terrible 1693 earthquake and that is why it was rebuilt from scratch on a new site 10 km from the original centre in the late Baroque style.
Resembling a triumphal arch, the 19th-century Porta Reale marks the entrance to the city.
We spent our days wandering the town, indulging in granita, cannoli and pistachio gelato. When in Sicily right?
Our evenings tasting like the flavours of the region with varieties of fish with tuna being season (my favourite), eggplant, sweet tomatoes, my goodness the caponata was better than I could have imagined…and the arancini, like nothing I have tasted before.
So many adventures to be had, we travelled to nearby seaside towns and Val di Noto villages equally as beautiful.
The drives being so picturesque winding around the villages that are all certified as UNESCO heritage sites.
All the way so many citrus trees and olive orchards. A feast for the eyes!
Here are some towns we visited along the way:
A wonderful spot to arrive at aperitivo hour and stroll around, be sure to visit the main piazza.
More can be seen here.
Divided into two towns, the lower (Ibla) and the upper (Superiore) is separated by a deep ravine.
We trailed the streets of the old town and visited the Majestic Duomo di San Giorgio.
Be sure to purchase chocolate from one of the many merchants. I settled on Bonajuto, one of the oldest chocolate shops in Italy. We headed just outside of town to the outskirts to dine at Invito, where Pepino and his wife cook you local dishes from what feels like their home.
I especially loved our visits to Palazzo Nicolaci, Palazzo Ducezio, and Palazzo Castelluccio,
We enjoyed a beach day at Agua Beach - a lovely beach club on Spiaggia San Lorenzo with chairs and umbrellas included.
The sand soft and the water clear.
Lunch seaside included seppie arrostite- grilled fish with a side of you guessed it, caponata.
Followed by a stroll through Marzamemi a small fisherman's town close by dating back to mid 18th century.
Where to Eat in Noto
Trattoria al Buco- I especially loved the caponata here
Norma Bistrot- Beautiful dining experience
Ristorante Dammuso- ate probably the best zuppe di pesce I have ever had
Sabbinirica a Pulita D’ercole- Great for lunch, a panino or pizzolo
Arancini Planet- All of it! Perfection
Panificio Maidda- Best cannolo I indulged in, as well as tasty scacciatas
Cafeè Sicilia- Loved the granita here, try the blood orange!
Bar Pasticceria Mangiafico - delicious pastries
Gelateria L'artigianale Noto -best gelato we had
I Crociferi- Great place for a night cap, live dj, good vibes.
From the local cuisine, to the ancient history and architecture, to a backdrop of mountain ranges and a magnificent coastline, you were wonderful Sicilia!