This triangle-shaped island at the bottom of Italy’s boot is a constant travel award contender. In fact, Condé Nast Traveller readers voted it ‘The World’s Favourite Island’ in 2009. And it’s easy to see why this romantic slice of Italy has clocked up so many devotees over the years.
It may be small, but Sicily is perfectly formed. Medieval villages, Roman ruins and sprawling countryside make up the island’s interiors, while vineyards, olive groves and lemon trees march down to the coastline. Then there’s Mount Etna to think about. Sicily’s volcano is the tallest in Europe and, at 10,890 feet, it towers over the cities below.
The big three
Taormina is the Italy you see on postcards. Its sand-coloured buildings are hidden behind vines and flowers that spill over balconies. And, at its centre, a Greek amphitheatre overlooks the beach. Down the road from Taormina is family-favourite Giardini Naxos. Cefalu is another big-hitter. This place flaunts a maze of backstreets and a collection of ancient Greek ruins, like the Temple of Diana.
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Cary Grant and Greta Garbo used to be regular visitors to Taormina, on Sicily’s east coast. And today this charismatic resort still attracts a glamorous crowd with its Medieval old quarter, elegant piazzas and hold-your-breath views of Mount Etna. There’s also a well-kept Greek amphitheatre, designer shops and some of the best pasta in this part of Italy.
For most of the year, this town on Sicily’s north coast is a sleepy fishing port. But come summer, its population is swelled by a cosmopolitan mix of holidaymakers from Italy and further afield. Cefalu’s giant sandy beach is the obvious draw, but its rustic fishermen’s quarter and Medieval old town, backdropped by La Rocca, add to its rock solid pedigree.
Size-wise, Letojanni doesn’t come on a grand scale, but its narrow sweep of Sicilian coastline certainly maximises its exposure to the sandy shore. It’s a haven for holidaying Italians as well as international tourists, and part of the appeal is the pace – it’s more siestas and sunsets than clubbing here. And it’s also really close to upmarket Taormina, dubbed the Monte Carlo of Sicily.