When to go
We travelled with friends who had holidays in August, meaning that we were there smack bang in the middle of the high season.
I know that most of Europe is pretty crazy in August, but I think Sicily, Santorini and the South of France (at least in my experience) are extra-crazy. If you can, May, June or September will always be more relaxed.
Sicily is huge (it’s the largest Mediterranean island with a population of over 5 million) and requires a fair bit of driving to get from town to town, so I would 100% recommend staying within walking distance to the beach. Waking up each morning and waking straight from our beach house into the sea was easily my favourite part of the trip.
Nestled in a hidden courtyard (complete with lemon trees, grapefruit and wisteria overhead), Babilonia Restaurant is exactly what you wish every traditional Italian restaurant could be. Home made pastas, fresh fish, juicy burrata; all with friendly service in dreamy garden.
Babilonia Restaurant, Via Timoleone, 10, 98039 Taormina
Trattoria Il Barcaiolo
Another favourite from our trip, Trattoria Il Barcaiolo has an adorable courtyard covered in vines right on the sea edge. If you can it pays to book in advance, although there’s no harm in winging it for the lunch service.
Trattoria Il Barcaiolo, Via Castelluccio, 43, 98039 Taormina
It’s no secret I’m forever in search of the perfect beach. And Italy does an excellent (if a little rocky) beach.
You’ll find Mondello beach a short drive from Palermo, and it’s pretty amazing. It’s a long stretch of soft sand (which isn’t that common in Sicily) set against a backdrop of milky blue sea and rocky cliffs.
The downside is that it’s not a public beach; various beach clubs have sectioned off whole portions of the sand for their sun beds and umbrellas, which you can’t even pay to access if you’re not a club member. So basically you have to sit very near the port or right on the water’s edge. Still, it’s worth at least a drive-by; busy, but incredibly beautiful.
I know it’s extremely irritating when people say ‘in my country’ whilst abroad, buuut as someone from New Zealand it just seems so crazy that all beaches aren’t public property.
There’s basically three beautiful beaches in Taormina; Isola Bella is the most famous with its curved spit, island and blue grotto. It’s rammed with tourists during the busy season, but still special nonetheless.
Cefalu Beach sits right up against the old town of Cefalu with its stone walls and worn wooden boats that make you feel as though you’ve just stepped back in time.
Traditional striped umbrellas and sun beds line the beach, although there’s plenty of space on the sand if you don’t want to hire an expensive lounger.