Italy’s largest island, Sicily, offers exceptional beaches, charming villages and towns, and an abundance of ancient ruins and archeological sites across the warm waters of the Mediterranean. Historically, Sicily has been at the crossroads of cultures, landscapes, and cuisine. Our best itineraries are those that include stays on the East Coast visiting Taormina, Catania, Mt Etna, Siracusa, Noto, Ortigia, and Ragusa, and then the West Coast such as I have highlighted in this post featuring Agrigento, Sciacca, Marsala, Trapani, Erice and Palermo. The Aeolian Islands and Pantelleria are additional highlights with their charm, history, natural wonders, wine, and gastronomy. I have been to Sicily a half dozen times, but there remains so much more for me to discover.
Palermo stretches along a beautiful bay on the Tyrrhenian Sea. Founded by the Phoenicians in the 7th and 8th centuries B.C., it was conquered by Arabs in 831, and a period of immense prosperity commenced. I was enchanted by the city’s wide boulevards, traditional Sicilian Old Quarter, and baroque palaces. We walked the Norman section, Quattro Canti di Città (the Four Corners of the City), Palermo’s extravagant baroque square, and the twelfth-century Duomo (Cathedral) of Palermo enchanted all along the way by the hustle and bustle of the people, the sights and sounds of Sicilian life, and the mouthwatering gastronomic delicacies at every turn.
The fascinating capital of Sicily was ruled by both the Normans and the Arabs— a unique and brilliant convergence of Western and Eastern influences! We wasted no time digging into the street food at the Capo market, the oldest in Palermo. Local must-trys include “panelle”, “arancine”, “crocchette” and “Pani Ca Meusa”. The colorful stalls overflow with perfectly tempting fruit, vegetables, seafood, and meats as the sellers banter back and forth with hungry buyers.
A beautiful lunch of street food specialities with our wonderful guide, Pepe!
And of course, the famous cannoli is as good as it gets. Is one a day too much?
Shopping in Palermo for jewelry, clothing, ceramics, linens, art, and dishes is a highlight!
Enjoy an exclusive visit to the Teatro Massimo, the largest theatre in Italy. The final scenes of Francis Ford Coppola’s film The Godfather Part III (1990) were filmed at the theatre, as much as one of the iconic scenes of the Golden Globe-awarded series ” The White Lotus” (2022)!
Cathedral of Monreale
The Cathedral of Monreale is, without a doubt, one of the most valuable artistic, cultural, and religious sites in Italy. Not surprisingly, it is one of the top tourist attractions in Sicily. Built in 1172, it is famous for the extraordinary Byzantine mosaics that decorate its entirety, giving it a rare artistic solemnity. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2015. A tour of the Cathedral cannot be complete without visiting its adjoining cloister: an ancient Benedictine monastery built in the 12th century; it is a Romanesque construction of broad scope.
The beauty of this masterpiece of mosaics, made come to life by our passionate guide!
Where to stay in Palmero, only at Villa Igiea!
Discover history, majesty, and serenity at Villa Igiea, a turn-of-the-century palazzo right in front of the Gulf of Palermo. A long-loved seaside-meets-city sanctuary for royalty, dignitaries, and Hollywood luminaries, trace their paths through tiered villa gardens that sweep down to the port and out to the Tyrrhenian Sea and through Igiea’s palatial Art Nouveau interior, revitalized as a Rocco Forte hotel.
Accommodations are all carefully and elegantly furnished as if a modern noble Sicilian home. Below is the entry level category, AKA, as bad as it gets. 🙂
The standard superior room is very well appointed as you can see below but I would suggest to splurge for a suite with balconies and expansive sea views.
Villa Igeia decor and details make it abundantly clear that you are in Sicily!
This is a city where you can dine al fresco a good amount of the year and plenty of spaces to do so at Villa Igeia.
The Gardens and Pool area at Villa Igeia are breathtaking – a city hotel that feels like a seaside retreat.
What a beautiful way to serve the aperitf – so many delicious nibbles!
If you are a White Lotus fan you will recognized this villa as the one where the two ladies escaped to “Noto” for the night. on their own.
This is a beautiful venue which can be taken over for a family or small group stay or for an event or dinner.
What a fun surprise to visit Villa Tasca for our own private dinner.
In the small commune of Contessa Entellina art, history and literature intertwine and this is where famed vineyards of Donnafugata are found.
We visited the winery of Donna Gabriella who is the pioneer of quality female wine-growing in the region.
Dolce & Gabanna have partnered with Donnafugata to create the most exquisite marketing campaign with stunning labels and boxes to showcase the beautiful wines of this female wine-making success story!
Verdura Resort is set on 230 hectares of Sicilian countryside with its own vegetable garden and orange and olive groves. It is a golf oasis with nearly two kilometers of private Mediterranean coastline. It’s a place with a true sense of space where your room will seem woven subtly into the landscape with uninterrupted sea views from your private balcony or terrace. Verdura is an easy long weekend destination on its own or the perfect leisure stop in a busy, culturally immersive Sicilian holiday. As part of the Rocco Forte collection and sister property to Villa Igeia, service standards are high as expected.
Olive trees, orange groves, and white-sand beaches. Tennis courts, water sports, championship golf, and kids’ clubs. Infinity pools, thalassotherapy, and the flagship Irene Forte Spa. Fine dining, healthy eating, and world-famous local wine. Luxurious eco-architecture and organic ingredients are grown on our land. Verdura is an oasis, a center of well-being, escapism, and indulgence set against a backdrop of charming Sicilian villages, ancient Greek and Roman sites, and the beautiful blue Mediterranean Sea. What is not to love?
Designed to challenge golfers of all levels, the links-style courses designed by Kyle Phillips are built on spectacular playing surfaces to provide golfing conditions of the highest level. Using the natural green contours of the landscape and lined with orange and olive groves, the courses offer stunning Ocean views and service on par with a private club experience.
The resort offers several cute boutiques with everything from bathing suits to Sicilian homegoods.
Rooms and Suites
Verdura Resort’s newly decorated rooms and suites were unveiled after a soft renovation in 2023. Nature, attention to craftsmanship, and local materials embody the signature style of Olga Polizzi, the Director of Design for Rocco Forte Hotels.
Multi-bedroom private villas with serioulsy luxuriously equipped kitchens make longer stays with privacy for families ideal!
Amare is located on the beachfront with a lively cooking station and serves the finest local produce. Fresh fish and seafood. Barbequed meats. Sample the restaurant’s specialty, ‘crudo,’ served for generations in Sicilian fishing villages. Thinly sliced catch of the day with extra virgin olive oil, citrus fruits, and a pinch of rock salt—Busiate with shrimps and pistachio.
Cooking class at Casetta dell’orto at Verdura
Our cooking class started with a garden tour. Everything grows perfectly in Sicliy!!
Then it was all hands on deck preparing the most beautiful salad of green beans, local prawns and Sicilian oranges, followed by fresh fish and herbaceous sun-kissed tomato pasta.
We prepared a pretty spectacular lunch, but of course when you have the best local produce on hand and local chefs by your side, how can you go wrong?
Today was an absolute trip highlight as we seemed to float from the highway to Agrigento, the sight of some of the most preserved Greek temples in the world. Nowhere else will you find ancient ruins so faithful to the originals, nestled within the famous Valley of the Temples in the famous archaeological Park of Agrigento. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Agrigento’s treasures are many. Still, most striking are the fully intact 2500-year-old three main temples overlooking the Via Sacra: Temple of Juno, Temple of Concordia, and Temple of Hercules, standing proudly, seemingly oblivious to time.
And as always happens on RTLM trips, a surpise awaited under a tree near Agrigento, a picnic with local Sicilian wines, snacks, and treats. My kind of touring!
Siclia, ti voglio bene!! Ci vediamo pronto!!!