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Sexy Sicily ~ Aeolian Islands

hotel raya sicily

Sicily ~ So Close To Home Yet Feeling Like a Million Miles Away

It has taken me longer to commute to work in the mornings than the time it took for me to arrive in beautiful Sicily!  From London Gatwick Airport you could be in Catania in 2hrs 45mins, from Catania. Sicily was our oyster for 10 whole wonderful days.

First tip when travelling to Sicily; you need a car!  We pre booked our hired car from Hertz and picked it up at Catania airport which was no easy feat!  All of the car hire desks are predominantly in the same covered area and its BUSY!  They have a butchers “Take a ticket and line up” system which works reasonably well, although there are few seats for those of us waiting over an hour for their ticket to be called (Hertz Preferred cards mean nothing here!) In 36 degree temperatures, even those on their jollies can become a little irritable “Guity!”

I got over that hump pretty quickly as soon as I dropped into the seat of our convertible Audi and cranked up the air conditioning.  A convertible car in Sicily in August is like having a convertible car in UK in winter time.  It’s unlikely you’ll be having the top down. Sicily in August is very hot!

First Stop Noto

We stayed at a stunningly beautiful hotel in Notto called 7 Rooms: www.7roomsvilladorata.it/ This is (literally) a palace therefore suitable for any princess!  The hotel entrance is located behind a huge set of double doors which are pictured below, situated on a very small narrow street.  When the doors slowly opened I never imagined I’d encounter such an impressive vision!  We stayed in the Austro Room which was spacious, light and airy with ceiling to floor doors which opened up onto a petite balcony.  The hotel staff were friendly and helpful and went beyond the call of duty to provide excellent customer service. I would definitely stay here again.  If I had to pick one flaw it would be the fact that there was no bathtub.  To most, this is trivial but to me it matters!

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Ph Credit: 7 Room Hotel

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We stayed in Noto just for one night but I managed to get a wear out of the River Island baroque jumpsuit I bought especially which I was pleased about! (Links at the bottom of this post)

Modica…… Leave Your Heels at The Hotel!

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Modica has a certain rustic charm and is breathtakingly beautiful, full of history and culture, however the terrain is not Louboutin friendly!  Hotels, restaurants and shops are all dotted around the cobble stoned streets of the town.  Some are up hills (very step hills) with lots of cobblestone steps to climb. Others are mid way between hill and street level and some situated on the main street.  However; if you’re anything like me who prefers (and takes for granted) a taxi door to door when they go our for dinner, you will be sorely disappointed!  Taxi’s are virtually non existent in Modica (and I’m talking about the main square!)  This is something I learned the hard way when I decided to wear my usual 6 inch heels out for dinner!…….

 

We stayed at Casa Italia hotel, a quirky but pleasant hotel situated up on one of the (steep) hills. As we were told the restaurant we were going to that night was not very far, we decided to walk.  Lets just say 40 minutes later, breathless after climbing hundreds of stairs and feeling in need of a second shower, my language was not that of a lady!

There was a silver lining though…. the views from the restaurant were fabulous! 🙂

Ragusa

The next evening we drove to Ragusa for a delectable dinner at Laconda Don Serafino, a two michelin star restaurant with fantastic reviews.  The restaurant is in a cave which was quite surreal!  The experience was special.  The decor was something I’d never seen and the food amazing.  I hope I get a chance to re-visit this little gem!

Restaurant don sarafino ragusa

Restaurant don serafino ragusa

Restaurant don sarefino ragusa

Restaurant don serafino ragusa

Restaurant don serafino ragusa

Mt. Etna ~ The Biggest Active Volcano In Europe

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Ph Credit: Bob Travis www.flickr.com/photos/bobtravis/

 

Next we drove to Mt. Etna which homes the biggest active volcano in Europe.  We stayed at the slopes of Mt. Etna in a beautiful vineyard hotel called Monaci Delle Terre Nere.

Monaci Delle Terre Nere has been built with the features of a unique boutique hotel, surrounded by a Sicilian estate at the slopes of Mt. Etna, the biggest active volcano of Europe. It has the soul of a discreet and unpretentious hideaway, far from the hurly burly of urban life, in a place of special energy.

Monaci Delle Terre Nere 

We booked a beautiful suite called Suite Dependence Deluxe Sontuoso which is very unique with bold stone walls and exposed brickwork.  The room decor was based around many of the original features of the vineyard such as the actual wine press which was a large deep hole just at the foot of the bed as you can see in the image below.

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The hotel itself is set in a vineyard on an organic farm which provides many of the ingredients for the delicious and healthy cuisine served in their restaurant.  The suites are all dotted around the farm amongst the olive and citrus trees which were lovely.  It felt as though we were staying in a cottage by ourselves as opposed to a standard hotel which was nice.  We didnt explore very much as the hotel was quite remote and we only had a couple of days there.  But we chilled very hard and enjoyed the peacefulness and views of Mt. Etna.

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Al Fresco Jazz night!  Great ambience with some fantastic (healthy) food and (sulfate free) wine!

 

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On The Road Again!! ~ Panarea Aeolian Islands


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We left Mt. Etna bright and breezy for our next destination which I was looking forward to most of all this trip; Panarea in the Aeolian Islands 🙂

We set off early morning and drove to Milazzo where we picked up a private boat transfer to beautiful Panarea!  There is a ferry that can be taken from Milazzo to any of the Aeolian Islands but we decided to take a private transfer instead because a) we thought it would be nicer and b) it would be quicker. The private transfer was a speedboat which is a fun way to travel (for most guys at least) BUT…. if you are a girly girl like myself who doesn’t like to get salt in her eyes and her hair wet, there are a few things to consider before using this mode of transportation!

Check out this post by clicking here for my top tips to being a happy speedboat passenger!

hotel raya sicily

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Smoking Mt Etna in the distance!

Views from our hotel terrace suite at Hotel Raya. We stayed in the Raya Alto Junior Suite for 3 nights which boasts spectacular views.  I was not disappointed to wake up to this every morning!

hotel raya Exotic Principessa

panerea views Exotic Principessa

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Nightlife

There is an uber cool vibe in Panarea.  A mixed bag of people that range from bohemian foreign students to monied individuals (both old and nouveau riche).  Regardless of where they come from, people take pride in their appearance yet the trend seems to be boho-chic.  You will be hard pressed to hear the clip clopping of Monolos here. Almost everyone are in flats both day and night.  This was a strange concept to me, being born in heels but a refreshing change to be relaxed on my feel all evening for a change.

Bars and clubs don’t get going until around midnight and dinner is eaten late.  We ate most nights between 9-10pm.  Bars are pretty much all open air and are situated upon the hills so some stunning views can be seen.  However drinks are VERY expensive.  Two rum and cokes cost €50.00 <gulp>!  Not a place for large groups buying rounds!

My favourite restaurant was Hycesia.  Ambience was great, atmosphere buzzy and food delicious with one of the most extensive wine lists I’ve ever seen!!

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wine list sicily panarea

The Sicilians take their wines very seriously!

Speedboat to Stromboli

We did an island hop over to one of the other beautiful Aeolian Islands, Stromboli.  We took the private speedboat again which took around 45mins (I was well prepared for the waves this time!)  Stromboli is a quaint little island that’s very quiet in comparison to Panarea.  The weather wasn’t so good that day so we had a few cocktails and wandered on up to the highest point and admired some more spectactular views.  Stromboli was lovely but I prefer Panarea which is more buzzy, lively and a little more elegant.  The speedboat journey back to Panarea was very pleasant and the sunsets were perfect!

panerea from stromboli boat sunset

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Stromboli Sicily ~ Aeolian Island Sunset

Final Stop Taormina

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Taormina was our final destination and in a cliche fashion… saved the best for last!  We had two days here and planned to spend that time doing nothing but R&R.  Taormina is a small little town that doesn’t take you long to walk around.  We covered it in one afternoon!  There are plenty of niche boutiques and a few designer brands, all scattered along the main street.

We did some shopping, stopped for a Gelato and headed back to the hotel.  We stayed at the Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo in a Deluxe Junior Suite which overlooked the ocean and much of Taormina.  I was in heaven.  This is my kind of hotel; traditional, opulent, romantic and luxurious!  The perfect way to end a beautiful trip 🙂

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Breakfast on the balcony

grand hote timeo our views

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delicious dinner

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Have you ever been to Sicily or any of the Aeolian Islands?  If so which did you visit?  If not, have you heard of the Aeolian Islands?

 

Shop The Post ~ Links 

Baroque Jumpsuit | River Island ~ Sold Out but similar is available here at ASOS
Print shirt | River Island ~ Previous Season
Yellow tweed shorts | River Island
Berry & Yellow Ombre Sequin Leather Clutch | ASOS ~ Previous Season
Camel Caged Sandals | River Island
Yellow & Swarovski Swimsuit | Zeki purchased in USA ~ Previous Season
Cream Floaty Top |River Island ~ Previous Season
Denim Shorts Guess in Miami ~ Similar here at ASOS
Floppy Straw Sunhat | Babylonstoren in Cape Town Town South Africa ~ Similar here
Black Bardot Top | ASOS
Black and White Mesh & Net Skirt | ASOS ~ Previous Season
Olive Green Chain Necklace Dress ASOS ~ Previous Season

 

Photos | Yours truly unless otherwise stated