5 Romantic Things To Do In Sicily
The Mediterranean island of Sicily combines the passion and beauty of Italy with the colour and fragrance of North Africa. From the ancient Roman world right up to today’s celebrity couples, Sicily been considered one of the world’s great romantic destinations. If you’re going there with your partner brace yourself for its irresistible effects. And to help you on your way, we picked five of the most romantic things to do in Sicily.
Simon Heptinstall, is a travel and food writer extraordinaire from Wiltshire. He once persuaded a 2-star Michelin chef to cook him a meal on top of a Norweigan glacier. Discover more about Simon’s discoveries on Twitter.
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Number One: See The Sunrise From The Slopes Of Mount Etna
You’ll have to wake your partner early for this enlightening romantic experience. It will still be dark when your air-conditioned Land Rover collects you from your hotel or apartment at 5am.
You’ll be carefully looked-after, the driver will be your mountain guide too. Dress warmly, for pre-dawn high on the slopes of Etna can be very chilly. Take water, a waterproof jacket and decent walking shoes too.
You’ll drive as far up the mountain trail as you can, then you’ll continue on foot using head torches to light the rocky paths. You and your partner may find that holding hands may be necessary. The eventually destination is a special panoramic lookout point.
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At first, you’ll just see the lights of the villages far below. Then gradually the eastern horizon will turn warm red as dawn approaches. The first rays of sun will peep over the horizon. They’ll hit the landscape beneath you like a golden floodlight sliding silently across the foothills, villages, farms and fields leading down to the sea. The sun will suddenly illuminate the strange volcanic rock formations of Etna and the luxuriant vegetation around you. Holding hands make be necessary once more.
The weather is typically much better first thing in the morning but, if you don’t like an early start, sunset tours are also available, cunningly described at ‘sunsetna tours’.
Number Two: Candle-lit Seafood Dinner At A Waterfront Restaurant
With a beautiful view on hand, Sicily’s excellent food is not to be missed. You’ll find that some of the most acclaimed dishes in Europe originate here thanks to the finest fresh produce from both land and sea. To have maximum romantic impact, take your partner to one of the very special local restaurants. Ask locals; they’ll know what you mean.
The best I’ve found on the island is the wonderful seafood specialist on the sandy beach at Porto Palo near Menfi on the southwest coast. Don’t be alarmed that Ristorante Vittorio has no menu.
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The colourful bearded patron Vittorio just serves up what the fishermen have caught that day. It’s casual but classy, as you sit gazing at the waves a few feet away. Expect the freshest ingredients and beautifully presented dishes, like pasta with sea urchins, a plate of sweet gambero rosso prawns or simply the catch of the day grilled on the barbecue. Excellent wines come from the neighbouring Settesoli vineyard. No wonder it’s a favourite among visiting chefs and celebrities.
Number Three: Take A Stroll Through Taormina
The magical atmosphere of this old hilltop town has made it a lure for lovers for decades. Richard Burton wooed Elizabeth Taylor amid the Greek ruins, medieval buildings, cobbled alleys and winding streets. Take a stroll together in the Public Gardens, through 19th century follies draped in colourful climbing flowers. Find a bench with sparkling views of the Ionian Sea far below and the snowy peak of Etna on the horizon.
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Later eat dinner on the open terrace of a restaurant watching the sunset, then potter along the pedestrianised main street, Corso Umberto. Try to decide on the best ice cream shops. The next day, take the cable railway to Lido Mazzaro, the beach just below the town. Explore the pretty little Isola Bella just off the beach. You can walk to it at low tide and find a hidden place to sunbathe together among the lush undergrowth.
Number Four: Cruise To Stromboli At Night
The volcanic island where Ingrid Bergman and Roberto Rossellini fell madly in love is a perfect romantic spot to schmooze your partner. You’ll discover no shortage of boat trips from the mainland and other Aeolian islands. Pick the evening departures for maximum romantic impact.
Stromboli is actually an active volcano in the middle of the sea so it’s a dramatic sight even if you’re not feeling particularly romantic.
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Out on the water, the warm Mediterranean sunset will be a delight to see. There may even be dolphins frolicking around your boat. Then as the Aeolian islands become dark silhouettes, Stromboli’s constant firework display begins to be visible. You may snuggle up together on the deck, as your boat circles the island, gazing into the dark as red spills of lava erupt from Stromboli’s open crater. The impressive display of volcanic power will include flying sparks and tumbling red-hot fragments, all at a completely safe distance.
These seven inhabited islands are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and you’ll find them romantic enough by day too. Among little villages with whitewashed houses decked with vines and flowers, look out for black sand beaches, donkey taxis and chic jet-setters’ hideaways.
Number Five: Take A Hot-Air Balloon Ride Together
Imagine the moment: silently drifting above the ancient Sicilian landscape, side-by-side, clutching the rim of a traditional basket as it dangles beneath a hot air balloon. It’s certainly an exciting and romantic way to travel – and Sicily is an excellent place to try it. The warm atmosphere creates ideal conditions and the varied countryside offers a perfect panorama.
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Your balloon rises serenely from its base near Enna in the heart of Sicily, but where you go and what you see depends entirely on the direction of the wind. Etna and the coast is to the east, the rolling farmland and villages are to the west. The expert pilot can only change your altitude, not your direction. And balloon landings often involve a slight tumble to the ground. Who knows, you may end up in each other’s arms?