My favorite scent memory is the scent of the Sicilian sea.
Waking up to wonderful jungle like sounds (like in the video beneath) with tons of birds singing in the trees while you hear at the same time the sea and the tidal waves hitting the beach. Welcome to Sicily!
So how did we end up at such an amazingly relaxing place? We had had several plans for our summer holidays, but nothing had been confirmed until about one and a half weeks ago. Yes, that's correct, we didn't book the trip until three days before departure! Sometimes one needs to do something widely crazy, and this belonged to those times. I had been saying to my better half that I was in need of relaxation this time, since I've had a tough spring and such a busy time at work. I needed to get away and just enjoy life and quality time with my boyfriend.
When he found a last minute travel deal to Sicily, he didn't need to convince me of going. I had been dying to go to Sicily for years, since it was one of the few places in Italy where I hadn't been before. I'd heard only great things about the so called sunny island, so I was very eager about the trip. I think I actually jumped up and down when he had the booking confirmation in our hands, that is how excited I was!
The last minute travel deal we found was bought through the Finnish travel agency Aurinkomatkat. We flew to Catania, and from there we had a bus connection to our hotel destination Giardini Naxos. Already driving in to Giardini Naxos, we were amazed over the views. In Sicily, or at least in the North East part of it where we were, the volcano Etna was present in the landscape all the time! The combination of volcanos, verdant land and the beach was just beautiful!
I've been on beach holidays before to Italy, e.g. to Sardinia and I used to work for three months in a beach resort hotel in Lignano Sabbiadoro back in 2009 (you can read about it in previous blog posts, among others here and here), so it was easy to understand how to rent a beach bed and parasol. Under the flapping parasols, listening to epic Italian music like Jovanotti, Negramaro and Ligabue from the speakers on the beach, life felt so carefree and perfect.
What set Sicily a part from the rest of Italy, was that sometimes they played even Arabic house music at the beach. That really showcased how Sicily differs from mainland Italy; in Sicily three cultures come together - the Italian, Arabic and African. I'm sure it causes frictions as well, but I found these three cultures to work together in perfect harmony, supporting each other.
I was surprised that already when we arrived to Catania's airport, we were told "Welcome to the African continent!". Many times during our one-week-stay, we heard local people proudly say that Sicily once belonged to Libya and that even though culturally speaking we were in Europe, in one sense we were also on African soil.
I quite enjoyed the so called "aqua gym" sessions on the beach where one of the lifeguards functioned as a dancing teacher and showed people how to dance on the beach underneath the sun.
I instantly fell in love with its floral beauty! I mean, look at these vivid colors!
One of the best features of Italy, and therefore of course also Sicily, is its marvelous food! Despite the fact that we made day trips outside of Giardini Naxos, about which I'll fill you in on in later blog posts, at Giardini Naxos we went to restaurants like e.g. Lanterna, Da Angelina and La Cambusa, and I recommend them all! I had some of the best food of my life!
I found that the most typical local dishes were related to seafood. There were also delicious desserts like sweet cannellonis and the Sicilian ice cream, the granita. Having said this, of course, Sicily has its own and unique collection with some certain dishes, belonging to a particular town or even village.
I was once told that the only place in the world, where McDonalds has been forced to close its doors due to lack of customers, is in Sicily, and I understand why. In Sicily, local fast food is e.g. arancinos (fried rice balls coated with breadcrumbs), grilled chicken, risotto, pasta and pizza. What can beat that?
We even saw a local fisherman as he caught an octopus! In the evenings, Giardini Naxos became a very romantic city with seaside lights. For a boat lover like me, this view made my soul rest.
Even though I've lived in Italy for a couple of years, the country never seizes to amaze me. I was happy to notice that the internet was much more widely used now than back when I first went to Italy back in 2005. There were no need for adapters either: the hotels were all equipped with sockets that fit even our chargers.
Here some of the items I wore during my days in Giardini Naxos. These looks were created by items from Seppälä, H&M, Atmosphere and second-hand shops. In addition to these dresses, I also wore my green dress from Asos that you might remember from this blog post.
I wish I could portray the scent of Sicily to you. Maybe if you close your eyes and think of flowers, coffee, sand, barbeque, the sea, spices, and pistachios, you might get an idea.
During our one-week-travel to Sicily we also visited Taormina and Etna, which I will tell you about in my upcoming blog posts.
Have any of you readers been to Sicily?