Cefalù is a charming fishing hamlet that has been transformed into a resort, with surprisingly small streets lined with seafood restaurants and gelateria. It’s the tourism hotspot of northern Sicily, yet most tourists are unaware of the hidden gems that await them just a short journey inland.
It’s a rural paradise where everything moves at a much slow rate. Carmelina Ricciardello, an Australian of Sicilian origin who now lives in the sleepy town of Sant’ Ambrogio, can guide you through the world of cheesemaking, lambing, olive and lemon harvests. Sicilian Experience, her one-woman firm, offers a variety of day walks that include visits to villages and farms where you may engage with the locals.
The Swimming Pools of Cava Grande
Heading inland to one of Sicily’s few year-round rivers is a quite certain way to avoid the throngs. The Cava Grande is a crystal-clear mountain stream that accumulates in azure pools deep enough for a delightful swim at any time of year (20 kilometres north of Noto). The Swimming Pools of Cava Grande
It’s simple to go to the stream. In approximately 20 minutes, use the route next to Pizzeria Ra Zia Gina that zigzags down to the riverbed. Head upstream for less crowd or downstream for larger pools, but save some strength for the climb back up!
Menfi is a small province in Sicily’s wine-growing region, bordered by some exceptional vineyards, notably the well-known Planeta. This is an excellent spot to sample Sicilian wines, especially because the town hosts the three-day Inycon event every year. Menfi is also a fantastic spot to try some of the region’s most famous dishes, such as pane cà meusa, sea urchins, and sfincione.
The Catacombe dei Cappuccini, or Capuchin catacombs, near Palermo, are perhaps one of Sicily’s most peculiar attractions. The catacombs of the Convent of the Capuchin Friars are a treat to watch and one of the greatest things to do in Palermo, despite being a rather morbid tourist attraction.
Around 8,000 mummies are housed in the crypts, many of which are incredibly well preserved and provide fascinating insight into Palermo society. The mummy of a two-year-old girl named Rosalia Lombardo, embalmed in 1920 and dubbed “the world’s most beautiful mummy” because of her wonderfully preserved complexion and hair, is by far the most famous. The Palermo Catacombs are eerie but fascinating, and they are well worth a visit!