It happened to me a few times and is one thing that makes me laugh: Every time I say that I come from the Canary Islands everybody says: Aaahh! What a paradise! And I say: But you do not live in Sicily?
So I want to dedicate my penultimate free theme article to the other protagonist of my EVS: The stunning island of Sicily.
It is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Although officially divided by provinces, historical and cultural level is divided into 6 parts: Palermo Area, African Sicily, Baroque Sicilian, Central Sicily, Ionian Sicily and Tyrrhenian Sicily. And it is an island with an amazing story. Sicily has been habited since prehistoric times. Here have lived the Sicani, Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, various Germanic tribes (Vandals, Heruli and Ostrogoths), Byzantines (Byzantine Sicily was for half a millennium), North Africa Saracens, Normans and Spanish until the Italian unification in 1861 when it became part of the Kingdom of Italy. All of them have left a great cultural heritage that make Sicily an island so rich and so many contrasts.
Every part of Sicily is different, starting with Palermo which is amazing. It is a kind of mixture between Africa and Italy. I do not think there is another city in the world as Palermo. With all the people throwing away the trash from the window, the little baskets hanging on balconies by rising home purchase, the old men who leave their chairs chained to a tree in the square to keep them there when they go to play dominoes the Sunday, awnings you have to dodge when you’re walking down the sidewalk, at least three people on a motorcycle (obviously none with case and certainly none with the driving license), the man who fill his car with oranges that he has picked that morning in the garden and parked under my house to “offer” a kilo for 30 cents, the streets filled with garbage … It is a city that you love it or you hate ir, and in my case I love it dearly.
The part of Baroque Sicilian is absolutely stunning: Ragusa, Modica, Noto … All cities declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO. In 1693 there was an earthquake that destroyed most of the cities which were reconstructed according to the Baroque style of the time. The simple act of walking through its streets full of baroque palaces, buildings, plazas, churches… it’s incredible. In Ragusa, which is a beautiful city, is recorded Il Comissario Montalbano tv serie and in Modica, where, is also recorded Montalbano, you can eat the best chocolate in the world. They do it by following a very old recipe: they do not melt the cocoa beans to make a cream but press them, so when you eat it you can notice them. Normally they do it with lemon, pepper, salt, with Jasmine … delicious.
Syracuse, besides being one of the most beautiful cities in Sicily, is the one with the most impressive story: It has been the most important city of the island, even the third richest city in the Hellenistic world. Plato and Archimedes lived there. In the war against the Romans was when Archimedes invented catapults and giant magnifying glasses to set fire to the enemy fleet. Archimedes was killed in this war and in fact his tomb is one of the many things you can visit in Syracuse. It is said that after this conquest Rome felt in love of Greek art and from there they copied it relentlessly.
My favourite part of Sicily is the African one: The Gulf of Castellammare is very nice, not touristy but very authentic, the Faraglioni in Scopello is the most beautiful beach I have ever been with pristine and turquoise water, the Riserva Naturale dello Zingaro is impressive, Erice is a medieval village on the top film of a mountain, the salt flats of Trapani, Segesta temple …
When somebody ask me if Canary Sicily is nicer than Sicily the truth is I do not know what to say. I’ve always thought that our archipelago is a unique paradise in the world, but an island in which it is an active volcano, a village of Albanians, Baroque towns, African souks, beaches, lakes, Greek and Roman ruins, a lot of nature reserves…. It’s a good opponent.
Well I hope I have left you with the grief, I certainly do not want to leave… So if you ever have the opportunity to come I’d recommend you do not hesitate and do it!