Archive | San Vito Lo Capo

6 Places in Sicily that are Worth the Trek {Over 1 Hour from Sigonella}

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Last week I shared our 10 Favorites in Sicily Within 1 Hour of Sigonella, which is also within one hour of Catania, the capital city on the east coast. Sicily is about the size of Massachusetts, though, and it takes about three hours to drive across it and two hours to drive the width of it.

What is your point, Becca?

My point: there is a lot to explore far, far away from Catania and Sigonella!

So, without further ado, here are a few places within two or three hours of Sigonella. They’re all very kid friendly (we took our little kids!) and showcase some of Sicily’s unforgettable beauty.

If you have questions or if my directions are wrong, please let me know in the comments, and I’ll be sure to get them updated. And if you have suggestions of your own, add them there too!

Agrigento

becca-garber-agrigento-kiss-family Agrigento, or the Valley of the Temples (Valli dei Templi), is about 2.5 hours from Sigonella/Catania. Here’s a map. We’ve visited twice and stayed overnight at this lovely B&B and at this agriturismo (farm stay). Both were very close to the archeological park, where we spent several hours exploring the ancient Greek and Roman ruins.

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The Greek temples are in beautiful condition, rivaling the magnificence of Athens. Some of the ruins are open for exploration, which is a lot of fun for kids and adults alike. The three temples are all in a line along a ridge overlooking the sparkling Mediterranean sea, so bring a picnic and enjoy the view if you can!

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While you’re there, don’t miss the dazzling Scala dei Turchi, or Turkish Steps. It’s a huge white limestone rock rising from a quiet beach, and the rock is easy to climb on with dazzling views. Here’s a map to the Turkish steps, which are about 20 minutes past Agrigento along the coast.

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Here are posts from my blog about our visits to Agrigento and the Turkish Steps:

San Vito Lo Capo & Zingaro Nature Preserve

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For almost three years, we heard friends rave about the turquoise water and soft sand beaches of western Sicily’s gem: San Vito Lo Capo. Finally we got to visit in March of this year, and it was just as dazzling as everyone said! The drive from Sigonella/Catania takes about three hours, which is arduous with small children, but the beauty and beachy low-key vibe of the area were worth it.

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We stayed in this rustic apartment with a gorgeous view. We were about 20 minutes from the town of San Vito Lo Capo, which is famous for that beautiful beach. We also were about 20 minutes from the Zingaro Nature Preserve, where we hiked through the preserve to find three gorgeous white stone beaches.

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The whole area is very popular in the summertime, and for good reason! Be sure to book your hotel or apartment well in advance. Our friends have enjoyed the option of “camping” at La Pineta very close to the beach.

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Here is my blog post about our visit to San Vito Lo Capo.

Granelli Beach

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I’m actually writing this while staying at Granelli Beach, where we have come for the second summer in a row. It’s a quiet cove on the very southeastern tip of Sicily, a 1.5-hour drive from Sigonella/Catania. Here’s a map. We loved the warm, shallow, calm water for the kids.

becca-garber-granelli-beach-sicily-12 Elliott first discovered it because he wanted to stay in a house ON the beach. Weirdly for an island like Sicily, rental houses on the beach are extremely rare. You almost always have to walk or drive a short distance. But he found one, and we rented it with our friends the Arthurs for a long weekend.

This year we returned to a pretty little cottage about three houses down the street from the beach, and I like this house even better. The enclosed garden is lush and beautiful, perfect for kids!

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Here are three posts from Granelli Beach:

Cefalu

becca-garber-cefalu-sicily-3 Continuing with the beach theme (clearly we’re obsessed!), Cefalu (cheff-ah-LOO) is a gorgeous town with a wonderful beach just less than two hours from Sigonella/Catania. Here’s a map. We stayed in this three-bedroom apartment just across the street from the beach.

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We spent a day exploring Cefalu, which has several lovely sites including the gorgeous cathedral and La Rocca (the Rock), which you can hike up for spectacular views of the town. We could even see the Aeolian Islands (described below) in the distance across the pure blue water!

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From my blog, see this post for more of our pictures of Cefalu, and check this one out if you’d like to have lunch in a castle nearby!

Aeolian Islands

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We visited the Aeolian Islands in May for the first time and, to be honest, it was not our best vacation. We both agree that was the weather’s fault, though; it rained most of the long weekend, and we were stuck inside with our kids. Two of my friends have visited since then and have had the same weather! So my first piece of advice about the Aeolian Islands is to check the weather report before you go!

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Nevertheless, the islands are a lovely vacation spot. Here are a few things we learned to make your trip easier:

1) There are five islands, all volcanic, but only one of them (Stromboli) is still an active volcano. The largest and most populated island is Lipari, and the main town on the island is Lipari Town. There’s no beach in Lipari Town, though, so we stayed in Canneto, which has a gorgeous beach and is about a 10-minute drive from Lipari Town.

2) We drove to Milazzo (20 minutes past Messina) where hydrofoils leave every hour for Lipari and the other islands. We parked our car at this reliable, popular garage, and then we took the hour-long ferry to Lipari Town.

3) We rented an apartment in Canneto, which has the only good beach + accommodation on the island of Lipari. It was a 10-minute drive from the port, and our apartment rental lady picked us up. We rented from these apartments. They were small but had great views of the beach! And they were super cheap, so that was nice. They were also right above the main grocery store in the town and right outside the bus stop, which came in very handy. If I could do it again, though, I might rent at Mistral Residence, which we passed and where I went inside to get information. The woman was lovely and spoke English, and it’s really an apartment-hotel situation with very good prices.

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4) There wasn’t much to do in Canneto besides go to the beach, so I recommend going in the warmer months when you are guaranteed to have no rain and warmer water. September (after the high season and when the water’s warmest) would be a dream.

5) Because we had little kids (ages three and one), the only thing we did outside Canneto was take the bus to Lipari Town to wander around and eat pizza for dinner. Other activities would be to take the bus around Lipari to other beaches and hikes, or take the hydrofoils to other islands, or going to Stromboli, the permanently active volcanic island. Tour guides arrange evening hikes so you can see it erupting inside at night, and it’s apparently really cool. You get home around midnight.

6) People also rent cars on the island, or you can take your own, but it’s pretty expensive and those larger ferries run less frequently. I think it’s cheaper just to rent at car in Lipari Town. We didn’t need a car, though, because the buses are very reliable, at least on the island of Lipari.

Madonie Mountains

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To be honest, other than my own house, the Madonie Mountains are my favorite place in Sicily. We visited them in December when the air was crisp and cool, when the fall foliage was at its peak, and when the mountains were lush and green after the autumnal rains. I loved the quaint mountain towns, the focus on Slow Food, and the taste of high mountain life that is so different from the plains of Catania.

For our long weekend in the mountains, we stayed at this wonderful agriturismo and ate amazing farm-to-table dinners in their restaurant every night. Spectacular food! We also hiked in the mountains on one of their guided tours and visited Castelbuono, the largest mountain town in the area.

If you have any interest in the mountain towns of Sicily (including many on the slopes of Mt Etna), I highly recommend this beautiful memoir.

For more information and photos, see this post.

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———

Of course, there are approximately 973 other amazing things to see, do, taste, and experience in Sicily, and — even with three years here — we ran out of time. I hope you get to see all these places and more during your time in Sicily! It is a rustic, gorgeous land, and living here has been one of the best experiences of our lives.

If you’d like to see more of our favorite places in Sicily, check out this post.

As always, I’d love to hear from you if you have any questions about visiting Sicily. Happy exploring!

5 :: in agriturismo, beach, Italy, memories, military life, San Vito Lo Capo, Sicily, travel

Our Beach Vacation in Sicily {San Vito Lo Capo}

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For two years now, everyone has been telling us that the beaches on the western coast of Sicily (three hours from us on the eastern coast) were beautiful, but WOW!!! We were dazzled by the grandeur, the colors (so many shades of blue!), and the landscape.

Added bonus? Elliott’s parents were with us for their annual spring visit!

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Reunited! Lena was literally squealing with glee as she ran to hug them.

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I think my mother-in-law and I made “Mom and Wife of the Year” status on the morning we baked cinnamon rolls. Note to self: make ’em often!

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Early morning artwork with our breakfast.

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Our beautiful-but-rustic apartment was a 15-minute drive from the stunning Zingaro Nature Reserve.

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Pointing out fishing boats on our hike down to that perfect, perfect little beach.

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Feeding Grampa some pebbles. By the way, I have learned to vote for pebble beaches over sandy beaches. Pebbles stay on the beach, but sand seems to follow us everywhere for days.

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More early morning projects.

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Grampa and his two baby birds.

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Hiking to the beach on our second day in Zingaro.

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She’s got the beach babe pose all figured out.

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One night we drove into the town of San Vito Lo Capo for dinner and took a walk along the huge beach there. It was breezy, chilly, and totally empty, ie. the polar opposite of summer.

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The day we left San Vito, we had a looooooong drive ahead of us and no real schedule, so we stopped a couple of times to picnic and explore. Perhaps we’ve finally figured out how to roadtrip with toddlers?!

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Stretching our legs in the town of Castellammare, where I just learned many famous American Mafia leaders were born. Western Sicily has historically had a much stronger Mafia presence than our part of eastern Sicily. (No complaints here.)

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About an hour later, we dropped off Grampa and Marmee at the Palermo airport and said, “See you in Paris!” Then we drove across Sicily, unpacked, packed again, and flew to France two days later. A whirlwind, but I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

I can’t think of two more different cities than Paris and San Vito Lo Capo, though! Photos of Paris coming soon.

5 :: in beach, family, San Vito Lo Capo, Sicily, travel, visitors

portraits of my children {15/52}

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The 52 Project: A portrait of my children once a week & every week in 2014.

Lena: Well, if these photos are not evidence enough, we went to the beach! Elliott’s parents visited for a few days, and we met up with them in Palermo on the western coast of Sicily. From Palermo, we drove a couple of hours down the coast to the beach town of San Vito Lo Capo, where Elliott had found this picturesque apartment rental for us. It was about 15 minutes from the beautiful nature reserve of Zingaro, where both of these photos were taken. Can you believe those colors?!

Gil: This little man might be turning a new leaf with his beach-phobia. He loved the smooth pebbles and amused himself for hours by throwing them against other rocks, piling them up on our laps, or trying to feed them to his Grampa. He also started saying “Lena” this week (“Neee-nah!”), is almost running, and continues to delight everyone he meets with his irresistible blond curls.

I’ve got more pretty photos to share of our hike, apartment, and time with grandparents. I’ll see if I can get my act together to share them tomorrow!

What were you up to this past weekend? Any vacation plans around spring break?

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6 :: in 52 project, pretty places, San Vito Lo Capo, Sicily, travel

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