A Journey to Sicily, Italy
I just returned from Sicily and it was the trip of a lifetime! Filled with history, culture, art and delicious cuisine, it was perfect from start to finish. We absolutely cannot wait to return. We chose two different hotels as we were going to be there for 8 days. For the first four days, we stayed at the Grand Hotel Timeo which is located in Taormina, on the east coast of Sicily. Set high in the hills, it has been a favorite destination for Europeans and Hollywood stars. Sophia Lauren and Marcello Mastroianni, Audrey Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor have all stayed at the hotel. It has the perfect location, as it was the first hotel to be built in Taormina and it sits directly in front of the Greek Theatre with sweeping views of the coastline and majestic Mount Etna. It is now enveloped in acres of lush parkland. The heated pool is breathtaking as it is surrounded by beautiful terraced gardens. We enjoyed cocktails sitting out at the pool a few times! Upon arrival, we were given a welcome fruit basket and flowers. We also enjoyed lunch in the Pool Restaurant and broadband Wi-Fi access. All of these are compliments of Signature Travel when you book with us. Next, it was a stay at the Rocco Forte Verdura Golf & Spa Resort. I had high expectations as the Rocco Forte Hotels are always a favorite of mine. Inspired by the warmth, passion and beauty of Sicily, Verdura Golf & Spa Resort is a five-star destination and is sure to give you an unforgettable holiday experience. It is the first resort in the Rocco Forte collection, and takes their trademark Art of Simple Luxury to a whole new level. It is located on the southern shores of the Mediterranean's most enchanting island. It is like a secret hideaway and is blessed by the sun and the scent of fresh olives. You definitely know you are in Italy. Verdura's exclusive beach stretches into a glittering azure sea and is a magical place to relax, revive and unwind. Enjoy full breakfast for two daily and an 85 Euros food and beverage credit, per room per stay as our special gift to you. Everywhere we went the food was scrumptious. Sicily has its own distinct cuisine, based on the history of the area. Some of my favorites were Arancine, which are fried or baked rice balls filled with ragu (meat sauce), mozzarella and coated in bread crumbs or caponata Gato di patate (potato and cheese pie) for my starters. I fell in love with the pasta dishes, as one was better than the next. The spaghetti ai ricci (prepared with sea urchin) is mouth watering good and pasta alle sarde (with anchovies) was spectacular. The main dishes were always meat or fish based. My favorites were couscous al pesce (Trapani) and pesce spade alla ghiotta (swordfish). When we were not relaxing poolside or enjoying the view from our room, we were out sightseeing. Some of our favorite spots were the Aeolian Islands. These are better to tour in the warmer months, but can get quite crowded around August. The beaches are fantastic and the cuisine is exceptional. This is where I had some of the best seafood I have ever tasted. We enjoyed our trip to Cefalu, where we toured a splendid Norman cathedral. We also saw an ancient Sicilian temple on the rocky cliff overlooking the town and the ruins of a castle. The town itself offers pleasant medieval streets and interesting shops. There is also a public beach here and you won't want to miss it. Of course, we went to Mount Etna. This is Europe's greatest natural wonder and is a living, sacred mountain of legend and myth. We took a jeep excursion to the upper regions. We were glad we dressed for the cold weather, as it is always cold at the top. It is Sicily's highest mountain and is approximately 3350 meters high. We visited Palermo, Sicily's regional capital and largest city. It is perhaps best compared to a rough and uncut jewel. Its beauty has to be revealed through careful discovery. This bustling city is chaotic and dusty, yet it is very interesting. A quick trip to the wine country was a must for our last day there. We toured the vineyards, which were lush and beautiful. The wines were delicious and we couldn't resist taking a few bottles home for friends. I would recommend this trip to anyone who has interest in traveling to Sicily.
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