Sicily: Which Experiences Stand Out After 2 Years?

All content, including photographs and text is copyright 2013-2015 by Maria Richard. All rights reserved.

Exploring Europe by Trail

"Trains are one of the best ways to navigate most of western Europe. Borrow or buy Insight Guides' Great Rail Journeys of Europe for advice and inspiration."

It's been two years since my visit to Sicily and I am just now writing about it. This is an interesting exercise because I am writing this as I plan a trip to Spain. What stayed with me will impact this upcoming trip. Other than my visit to Mt. Etna, and crossing the Straits of Messina, it is the interactions with the local people and the appearance of the landscape that first come to mind.

Straits of Messina

Palermo was the last stop of my rail journey from Naples. Included in Insight Guides' Great Rail Journeys of Europe, this train ride was accurately described down to the industrial areas. The time is not spent exclusively on the train, though. The Straits of Messina are in an earthquake zone and the authorities believe it unsafe to build a bridge. The rail cars are decoupled and moved into the hold of a ferry. What a feeling to be up on deck with the wind in my hair and blue skies above after being on a train for 6 hours! Once on dry land, the rail cars were reconnected and we continued on our way.

(Approaching Messina, Sicily)

Approaching Messina, Sicily

(Train car in  the hold of the ferry)

Train car in the hold of the ferry

Puppet Show in Palermo

Puppet shows are a tradition on Sicily and there are a couple theaters in Palermo. The one I chose might have been a tourist trap due to its location across from the duomo but Teatro Argento (1A Via Novelli, Palermo, Sicily) has been in the same family since 1898. The afternoon I was there, the show didn't start until the local school children arrived. I understood the nonno's pre-show comments in Italian but the show itself was hard for me to follow. No worries, the response of the bambini and the colorful puppets were show enough for me.

(Nonno explains)

Nonno explains the history of the puppet theater

Mt Etna

Mt. Etna is definitely a once in a lifetime experience. The warm weather at sea level disappeared as the cable car rose up the side of the mountain. It was windy and downright cold when I transferred from the cable car to the specially equipped bus that transported us to the summit. The snow was deep, but there had been a eruption a couple weeks before adding a layer of hard pea-sized black lava balls on top of the snow. A word of advice - don't wear maryjanes on Mt. Etna unless you want to have lava balls in your shoes. Numerous tour companies run excursions from Catania. I chose Etna Tribe ( for my day trip which included a walk through laval tubes and a visit to a local honey vendor.

(Summit Mt Etna)

Mt Etna Photo Op

While searching for the photos in this post, my list of memorable places and experiences on Sicily grew. I'll share those another time. Ciao!