Italy is a very provincial country where the regions differ a lot in terms of food, wine, culture, style and personality. The North are known for being efficient and fashionable (but maybe a bit boring?) and the South for having the best food and a very relaxed lifestyle. The South is also known for it’s very dramatic and beautiful nature and coast lines. Many Italians themselves prefer to go South since it is less touristic and the food is amazing. We were eager to start exploring these parts so we packed our bags and were off towards the South.
We took the scenic coast road and enjoyed stunning ocean views while driving South, stopping for long lunches at beautiful restaurants before reaching the historical town of Tropea where we stayed in the very stylish Villa Paola. This part of the Italian riviera is spectacular and so much more beautiful and chic than the more well-known Northern seaside destinations like Portofino or Cinque Terre. While the Northern riviera has mostly been taken over by tourists wealthy Italians still use the grand villas here in the South as private homes.
After Tropea we continued South and finally took the 30 minute ferry from the mainland to Sicily, eager to start exploring the Sicilian food that we had heard so much about. In Palermo we checked into iconic Villa Igiea Hotel. This place is divine and we hardly wanted to leave this ocean front hotel where we also had some excellent food in the fine dining Sicilian restaurant as well as the more laid back ocean front restaurant. The historical centre of Palermo is beautiful and pet friendly. Cicero was welcome to join us everywhere, including in the Cathedral!
After Palermo we crossed over the island to reach Syracuse and the historical centre located on Ortigia Island. This is a very charming ocean front town with great food and lots of charm.
They say that the further south you go in Italy the better the food gets and we couldn't agree more. We enjoyed so many brilliant meals, from real fine dining to easy going street food and it was all fantastic!
After a week in the South it was time to drive back home to Arpino for some work but we will soon head South again and continue to explore this fantastic region!