As February draws to a close, we can finally start looking for those first glimpses of spring… Those most impatient to welcome the new season can even save a bit of time and plan a trip to Sicily – just a couple of hours by plane from France.
The island is the largest in Europe, and is unique in that it offers travelers a vast diversity of landscapes such as mountains, hills, beaches, prairies, and even volcanos! During their stay, visitors can either take a tour of the island and experience its overall beauty by sleeping in a different place every night, or instead settle down on one of the coasts in the north around Palermo or in the east near Catania.
If you choose the east, you can set off from the majestic city of Syracuse that singer Henry Salvador dreamed of visiting. From there, make your way along the coast up to Messina and its famous strait. This route will take you through the adorable town of Taormina in the foothills of Mount Etna. French writer Guy de Maupassant once said that “Were a man to spend only one day in Sicily and ask, ‘What must I see?’ I would answer him without hesitation, ‘Taormina.’ It is only a landscape, but a landscape where you find everything on earth that seems made to seduce the eyes, the mind, and the imagination.”
The flowering orange and lemon trees offer another major argument for visiting Sicily in early spring. Not only are they beautiful to look at, they also exude an exotic fragrance that gives you that instant vacation feeling. As the season continues, bougainvillea plants and their endless hanging purple flowers cover the façades of buildings and contrast with the palms and oleanders.
But back to our citrus fruits, as Sicily is well and truly an isle of oranges (irresistible blood oranges in particular), lemons, mandarins, and grapefruits. Each fruit is produced in enormous quantities (60% of citrus fruits in Italy are grown in Sicily), without scrimping on quality. This impressive performance even led to the EU granting AOP certification to Ribera oranges, and IGP certification to fruits such as Syracuse lemons and Sicilian blood oranges.
Sicily is also a wonderland for those who are nuts about… nuts! They say you haven’t tried an almond until you try an Avola almond, whose perfect oval shape and distinctive flavor are quite incomparable. The same can be said for the renowned pistachios from the town of Bronte, nestled at the foot of Mount Etna. And don’t leave without trying the island’s premium walnuts and hazelnuts, which are also used in a range of local dishes.
Regardless of tastes and expectations, no one can resist the charms of Sicily. Picture the scene: You are sat in the sun on a terrace. After finishing your arancini (rice balls stuffed with mozzarella, meat, or vegetables) and a cannolo, (delicious pastry filled with sweet ricotta cream), you take the time to enjoy an almond green tea. Earlier in the day you visited a sumptuous Greek amphitheater, and later you plan to walk up Mount Etna to admire the view over the Bay of Catania. What better way to spend a day? Allora andiamo!