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Staying for a while in Sicily - memories in photos and the odd travel notes

Posted by Suzanne Turrisi on 20 Mar 2023

Spending a while in Sicily with weeks in Rome and Florence, through December and January was...a very nice dose of wonderful Italy. 

This is my first blog for 2023. Rome and Florence will feature in later blogs (impossible to leave them out!). And Sicily... there is lots to share. This blog gives a quick look at weeks on this fabulous island.

Polizzi Generosa, Taormina, nights in a lava town &...Palermo

To stay a while in Sicily... more discovery, the warmth of nostalgia, and the joy of being back. I spent some weeks, throughout December and early January in Polizzi Generosa at The Sicilian House (my home when in Sicily).

Then time in Sicily's most charming winter 'resort' town in a lovely old yellow house, some nights in a handsome lava stone village on the slopes of Etna at a small hotel, and at the end... nights in Palermo. A favourite.

Polizzi Generosa 

Via Garibaldi, Polizzi ... Christmas lights strung across the town's narrow main street.


The sitting room on the first floor of the house... in the Sant' Orsola apartment. One of a few quiet rooms for holidaying guests to enjoy.


Rooftops and bell tower from the terrace of the house.


Mandarins from a small fruit shop near Piazza Zingari. Citrus in Sicily means Christmas. Owned by Gandolfo Taravella. Boxes are stacked high with fresh Sicilian produce. All sold by the kilo. 


Green broccili ....seasonal perfection. Prepare with pasta for a quick, tasty winter lunch


Artichokes are loved....a delicious staple


When winter mist descends the town becomes otherworldly


Christmas Eve sunset from the terrace of the was glorious. And an unseasonlly warm Christmas day followed.


Lights in Bar Trinita...on Piazza Trinita. A touch of Christmas.


Winter menu, "Menu Inverno"... delicious food at Baroon, a small modern bistrot owned by Stefano. Just up from Piazza Umberto. (Baroon is one of a few good restaurants in Polizzi along with... 'U Bagghiu', 'Itria', 'Donna Lavia', 'I Templari' and some pizzerie).


Then a few days in my favourite Sicilian winter ‘resort’ town, Taormina where staying in Sicily’s best house ever – beautiful Casa Cuseni was again an absolute pleasure;


Taormina's treasure...the entry door to Casa Cuseni. A wonderful garden, a loved and shared history, a good small museum, the most relaxed friendly hospitality, rooms with views of the sea, Etna and charmimg houses. Only five rooms with a wonderful museum. If you get the chance and have not stayed....try to!  It is a retreat.


Mt Etna seen from Casa Cuseni. Etna...always captivates.


Classic site...really one of the best. The Greek theatre set in the most outstounding position. A homage to the Ancient Greeks. Catch a performance here, particularly in the summer.


From Casa Cuseni...Mt Etna with a tiny bit of snow in late December. Normally almost covered.



And three nights in the grand looking lava stone town of Linguaglossa on the northern slopes of Mt Etna. Nights spent in a hidden, small hotel on a narrow backstreet with a very good restaurant.

The entry to Shalai. Shalai is a retreat from the world...small, with only 13 rooms, a spa and a wonderful Michelin Star restaurant. Good modern Sicilian food, quiet hospitality and very good wines. On a narrow backstreet in Linguaglossa. And the renown L'Ahambra pasticceria is only metres away.

Shalai is a perfect base to explore Etna, wineries and other lovely lava towns.



Once the old chambers of the town hall.


Stay and if not staying, do try and eat here.


A walk on the lower slopes of Etna.. a quiet adventure. The tour was organised by Shalai.


Palermo- art, lived streets, exotic history, a grand hotel and good  food

And finally…Palermo where I did see Renato Guttuso’s 1974 painting ‘La Vuccciria’ (for the first time!). It is great. Mesmerizing in its colour and detail. It made my stay along with… great food, beautiful  Sicilian art at the Gallery of Modern Art (GAM), antique markets, enjoying the best small bookshop, and the well stocked shelves of Feltrinelli bookshop on via Cavour.

And...a stay at one of those Grand Sicilian hotels (think... once old family villas, palazzi or monastaries) that really are wonderful, and they take you in as a guest (though a paying one).

They can quietly take your breath away, loaded with so much history, great hospitality and spaces to while away some holiday time.

Christmas, Quattro Canti.. Palermo's early 17th century Baroque masterpiece in the historic  centre. Work by the Spanish viceroys. 


King Roger crowned by Christ. An exotic Byzantine mosaic in the 12th century The Church of St Mary of the Admiral, also called La Martorana. In Piazza Bellini. Splendid.


Forense bookshop on via Roma just up from La Matorana. Run by a rather eccentric bibliophile. Small and intriguing with a lovely Art Nouveau shopfront, also some English titles.


Palermo...captivating in its charming chaos. Curtained balconies for privacy


Michele Catti late 20th century work. A section of  his 'Domenica Piovosa' in enchanting street scene. 


Teatro Massimo Palermo's opera house. Majestic and it rightfully takes centre stage. Performances run throughout the year.


Sunrise from my room at Grand Hotel et des Palmes. on via Roma, central Palermo. One of those fabulous Sicilian grand hotels. This one was a Ingham- Whittaker villa built 1874. Transformed into a hotel early 20th century. It has a wonderful winter garden sitting room filled with cane furniture. The restaurant and bar cannot be missed and breakfast is well worth lingering over. A great spot to be based to enjoy exploring Palermo. 


Bread delivery, off via Vittorio Emanuele.


Renato Guttoso's iconic "La Vucciria' (part shown here) 1974. It hangs in the 14th century Palazzo Chiaromonte -Steri (once the seat of the Spanish inquistion), Piazza Marina. Vibrant depiction of the once renown Vucciria market in central Palermo. Now more subdued and changed ... filled now with the odd  fruit shop, butcher and eateries and  bars.


Self portrait, Renato Guttoso, Gallery of Modern Art Palermo (GAM)

When visiting GAM (via Sant' Anna) try and eat at Osteria dei Vespri...good modern Sicilian food and great wines. Sit outside in warmer weather in Piazza Croce dei Vespri (next to Palazzo Gangi where the lavish ballroom scene was filmed in Visconti's famous 1963 movie of Guiseppe di Lampedusa's classic novel, The Leopard) or sit inside. Charming, small and subdued.




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