It’s been five years since Ann Kent went on our Treasures of Sicily tour, but the memories still burn bright, and she would love to go back. So perhaps try Francavilla, The Aeolian Islands Explorer or Montalbano’s Sicily next, Ann?
So why am I blogging about a Ramblers trip to Sicily five years ago? Well actually, the time lag is the point. We’ve had other great walking holidays, but somehow it is Sicily which sticks in the memory, and not just because we were stranded by the Icelandic ash cloud at the end.
You might think that ruins are ruins, but ruined temples and streets look very different, drenched in sunlight under bright blue skies. Although we were led to our destinations, we lingered when we pleased and returned at our leisure. Then, every evening, we could share our impressions over dinner.
There were four stages to our journey, and admittedly some of the meals in the four hotels were better than others. We thought we might have an evening in a restaurant away from the group, but in the end always chose the company of our fellow ramblers.
So which experiences stick? There were the gruesome ones – the catacombs at Syracusa, where believers would stick their fingers through holes in the coffins to touch the relics, and the mummified citizens still dressed in their finery waiting for judgement day in the catacombs of Palermo. There were the fantastic mosaic floors of the Roman palace in the middle of the island, with a guide whose English became incomprehensible once he was paid. The frequent invasions of Sicily has left legacies of many civilisations – some of which we’d never heard of. After eating our sandwiches in the Greek amphitheatre, we were able to play gladiators in the ruined colosseum in Siracusa (a town which has a church shaped like an ice cream cone, with a weeping statue and a life-size sculpture of a monk who looks exactly like Sean Connery).
My husband had his wallet stolen after foolishly leaving it in his back pocket (don’t try this in Palermo) and I ruined a pair of shoes when part of our walk took us from one bay to another through seawater. The ash cloud delayed our return, but Ramblers Worldwide Holidays looked after our transport and hotel bills. None of this mattered. I’d go back in the blink of an eye.
As for the other things we saw … how long have you got?!