This post is very special to me because it was my first time visiting my ethnic native homeland. I met long-lost cousins and learned so much about my grandmother’s birthplace. As well as, the life my great-grandmother and great-grandfather lived growing up. I had the chance to celebrate Christmas with my family in this place that instantly welcomed me home with warm open arms and a sense of belonging. This country holds a special place in my heart and I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to find home in another country. However, if you know me, you know that I also took this opportunity to travel, and though you might not be able to stay with my family in Sicily (actually, you might HA), you can take this advice for places and foods to eat, budget visits, sights to see and activities to adventure on.
This is the town of Gagliano. My grandmother was born and lived her first year of life here before her mother (my great grandmother) immigrated to America. A large majority of my great grandmother’s family still live in this small hillside town; making their own olive oil, wine, and sausage, and marveling at the castle ruins and panoramic views. I was greeted with so much love by relatives that have only ever heard of me on paper or seen me when I was a toddler. It’s true what they say — Chi si volta, e chi si gira, sempre a casa va finire… No matter where you go or turn, you will always end up at home.
Note: I stayed with family and Couchsurfed in each city I visited, so I cannot give personal advice on a place to stay – except for trying Couchsurfing; Italians are VERY hospitable and welcoming; I was even invited to dinner with one host’s family.
none (for US citizens under 90 days)
be aware of pickpocketing
A.M.T. buses all day for 2 euros and they go to every part of the city and suburbs, smaller buses hit the narrower streets.
- Arancini rice balls — my favorite & the best in Italy are in Sicily!
- Granita with brioche –the best is chocolate and almond
- Cannoli with ricotta–from literally, anywhere
- Pistachios, Duh.
- Fruity di mare (seafood pasta)
- Plopo (octopus) — you can eat Plopo in many different forms, I think in a salad is the best
- Pasta all norma (macaroni with eggplant)– the original pasta dish
- Sicilian Pizza — basically fried dough with cheese and anchovies inside
- Any type of seafood — SO good.
- walk on Via Garibaldi street
- hike mount Etna (if you don’t want to hike, there is a lift to take you to the summit)
- see a performance at Massimo Bellini theater
- olive oil tasting
- homemade wines’ tasting
- Centro storico
- Fontana dell’elefante
- Cathedral of sant’agata
- Basilica della collegiata
- Fontana dell’arenano
- Castello usino
- Roman & greek theatre
- Catania university (inside courtyard)
- Fish markets (la pescheria)
- Caltagirone stairs
- Piazza del duomo
- Teatro massimo bellini
- Roman amphitheater ruins at s Biagio church
- Day trip to Taormina to see the blue coast and medieval town on the hill
As a second generation Italian-American, I’ve always felt a bit unfulfilled when it comes to my heritage. When the opportunity to travel to Sicily presented itself, I took it. Being here and experiencing my roots— where my grandmother was born, where my great grandmother and her siblings grew up, and meeting my great grandmother’s family is filling a part of me. Maybe it’s acceptance, maybe it’s belonging, but all I feel is gratefulness and gratitude for everyone and every experience in my life right now.
and with that, it’s a quick 1-hour flight to the mainland …
Check out this blog post for budget itineraries for Naples and Roma.