A friend has asked me to send her the itinerary for our Sicily trip last spring. As there may be others who find that the only way of getting over the sad fact that the Christmas holidays are over is booking a nice holiday in a sunny place, I set it out below:
We flew with BA from London to Catania where we rented a car. The first 3 nights we stayed in Taormina, a beautiful city on the cliff above the sea with an impressive Greek theatre and nice shops and restaurants (in particular, the Osteria Nero d'Avola - amazing traditional Sicilian food and a great wine cellar). We stayed at the Hotel San Pietro (http://www.grandhotelsanpietro.net/) where we had a nice room with view on the sea. However, the place is pretty dated and breakfast and dinner do not deserve the five stars. Next time, I would stay at the Hotel Metropole instead (http://www.hotelmetropoletaormina.it/). It is in a great location (right in the old town), has a beautiful terrace for cocktails and dinner and generally cool decor.
Following our stay in Taormina, we drove South to Syracuse. En route we visited Etna which is a spectacular hike from Rifugio Sapienza up to 3,000 meters above sea (which was maybe not such a good idea at 6 months pregnant...).
Syracuse is worth a visit for its Greek theatre which forms part of the Neapolis Archaeological Zone, the Archaeological Museum and the old town of Ortygia. We wanted to stay at Caol Ishka (http://www.caolishka.com/) but they had a 2 night minimum stay. Instead we stayed at the Grand Hotel Syracuse which is well located but nothing special.
Our next stop was Ragusa, a beautiful baroque town and close to Noto (where Corrado Costanzo does the best ice cream in Sicily) and Modica which are also both worth a visit. We stayed outside Ragusa, at the Relais Parco Covalonga (http://www.parcocavalonga.it/ENG/relais-parco-cavalonga.html) which was a disappointment (it was very noisy, the hotel restaurant was closed most nights and the pool was so wind exposed that it was impossible to sun bade). I would instead stay in Ragusa itself at the Locanda Don Serafino (http://www.locandadonserafino.it/) which has an excellent restaurant in the hotel itself but also in Marina di Ragusa, the nearby sea side, called Lido Azzuro Ristorante da Serafino. If you are for lunch in Ragusa, you should go to Restaurante Il Barocco which does amazing antipasti and traditional Sicilian pasta.
After Ragusa, we went on to Agrigento to visit the Valle dei templi. We stayed at the Azienda Agricola Mandranova (http://www.mandranova.it/en/resort.htm), a beautiful hotel on an olive oil farm. The owners Giuseppe and Silvia are absolutely lovely. Giuseppe will explain to you all about his olive oil production and Silvia can teach you some seriously good Sicilian cooking.
We finished our Sicily trip with five days on Salina, a beautiful island off the Northern coast of Sicily (see my separate post on this: http://diaryofaswissmiss.blogspot.com/2011/10/salina-sicily.html). Salina can be reached by boat (hydrofoil Ustica Lines or Siremar) from Milazzo and the rental car safely parked until your return at the port at Garage delle isole.