Simply Sicily

CAA’s Solo Traveller Club is Sicily-bound! Find out what makes this southern region of Italy so spectacular for Tina Richardson, the Solo Club Guru.

by Tina Richardson

Sicily, in all its glory…you won’t have to look far to find breathtaking views, crystal clear waters, and deep historical roots. The Sicilian way of life is fascinating! Sicily is the biggest island in the Mediterranean, of course Italian, but you’d never know it. Rich in Greek influence, there is a mix of cultures that has left behind a unique mix of cuisine and a vast array of traditions.

I’m in love with Italy! For many reasons but most of all is its zany variety. Everywhere you go in this beautiful country, the traditions, the culture, the people, the signature dishes – all are so different! So, why should you head to the “toe of the boot”?

The History

More than 2,500 years at a strategic crossroads of the western world have left Sicily with an unparalleled historical legacy. Nowhere else have Greeks, Romans, Arabs, French, Germans, Spanish, Italians and even the British left such a lasting impression. Whether you are more attracted to Greek temples, Roman villas and aqueducts, imposing cathedrals or Baroque churches, Sicily offers a range of historical sites that is not to be outdone by other European cities.

Natural Beauty

It’s as if “Mother Nature” designed this one herself - with a little help from Mount Etna. A rugged coastline, brilliant blue-green waters and spectacular views. Lands sloping gradually upwards, fertile and rich in vineyards, olive groves, and citrus plantations. Mount Etna herself, is the highest active volcano in Europe, with more than one active centre, and eruptions dating back as far as 3,500 years.

The Mafia Stories

Organized crime and its criminal affiliations have been linked to Italy, especially Southern Italy, for centuries. Stories abound of how Sicilians, with their island ruled until the mid-19th century by a long list of foreign invaders, banded together in groups to protect themselves and mete out their own particular brand of justice. This alone has been the makings of some very interesting aperitivo-conversations.

Signature Desserts

Italy is world renowned for FOOD, and Sicily is no exception. But I can’t pick just one dessert! Cannoli comes to mind first, a sweet pastry filled with a creamy centre. But if that sounds too filling you can go for a granita, a flavoured shaved ice that is the perfect end to hearty Italian meal. But the true Sicilian masterpiece, in my opinion is the cassata. A sponge cake moistened with fruit juice or liqueur, layered with ricotta and decorated with candied fruit.

Okay, so FOOD!

With the sea in such close proximity, it’s no surprise that the typical Sicilian fare would be fish-based. Gambero rosso (red prawns) are caught by the local fisherman in peak season, and are so fresh that there’s no need to do anything more to them. They taste best simply dressed in fresh lemon juice and olive oil and eaten as they are. Skip over to Catania on the east coast of Sicily and you’ll find pasta alla norma (local tomatoes, aubergines, garlic, basil and ricotta salata, or salted ricotta).

Why Norma? It’s named after a 19th century opera of the same name, and both the dish and the music are regarded as true masterpieces. However you slice it, being rich with the influences of other cultures has made Sicily simply a “foodie heaven.”

CAA’s Solo Traveller Club simply LOVES Italy. This fall will mark its fourth escape to this beautiful country. Join the gang, as this time around the adventure leads all the way to the “toe of the boot” for a taste of what truly makes Sicily special. Not to mention the great lemon debate! Where are the best Italian lemons grown anyway? The lemons the group sampled on the Amalfi Coast last year were mighty spectacular, but how do they compare to those of succulent Sicily?

Find out by calling 1.855.402.4636 or emailing to save yourself a seat on this incredible tour. Click here to learn more about the tour or sign up for our Solo e-newsletter to follow the adventures of the CAA Solo Traveller Club!