Springtime in Sicily

Let me offer you a piece of advice.

Should you ever find yourself, on a particularly dark winter day, opening your inbox to find an email inviting you to spend a week in Sicily in early spring, here’s a few things you shouldn’t do. Don’t stop to think about your schedule, or how any number of things might come up in your life between now and then to prevent you from going. Don’t start looking at your travel options yet, which on first glance always appear to be more convoluted and/or expensive than they will actually turn out to be. Don’t start wondering if your family will ever speak to you again when you announce you’re abandoning them to their frigid northern fates while you jet off for a romp in the Mediterranean sun. Don’t hesitate even for a minute, just hit the reply button and type the biggest ‘YES!’ your sense of propriety and font options will allow, and hit send.

There’s plenty of time for worrying about the rest later, and no matter what that rest might be, I promise it’ll pale in comparison to everything Sicily has in store for you when you get there.

Like almond trees in bloom, and fragrant, purple bushes of wild rosemary.

And citrus trees, their branches buckling under the weight of more blood oranges, mandarins, lemons and citrons than you could consume in a lifetime.


And Palermo, a city you’ve always wanted to visit, which turns out to be full of chaotic energy and surprising elegance…

…and awe-inspiring baroque, moorish and modern façades that transport you, as you walk down a single city block, through centuries of the island’s tumultuous history…

…and vivid, bustling street markets teem with edible treasures the likes of which you’ve never before seen, from the tiniest artichokes…


…to the biggest cauliflower (called, confusingly, broccolo, and the size of a basketball)…

…and whose streets offer some of finest edible temptations on offer anywhere in the world: gelato in brioche (flavored with pistacchi di Bronte, the Lamborghinis of the pistachio world)…

arancine (risotto balls stuffed with ragù and fried, and when they’re as big as this one—the size of a grapefruit!—offer an entire meal in a convenient package), and the famous seven-layer chocolate and hazelnut cake called setteveli

…pane con panelle, thin, crunchy chickpea-flour fritters stuffed into a soft sesame roll…

…and sfincione, Sicily’s soft, spongy answer to pizza.

And then there’s some of the most varied and beautiful landscapes you’ve ever seen, emerald green from spring rains and dotted with craggy, snow-covered peaks.

At times you could almost be forgiven for thinking you’d taken a wrong turn, and ended up in the Scottish Highlands, or the Swiss Alps.

But then you round another corner, and there’s no mistaking where you are.

And best of all, there’s the whole reason you came to Sicily in the first place: to spend one of the most magical weeks of your life in the company of this magnificent woman and these extraordinary, hilarious, dazzlingly talented people, learning, laughing, cooking, and above all EATING.

I’ll tell you all about it next time.

p.s. My time in Palermo was frustratingly short, but the suggestions I was armed with thanks to these brilliant ladies (who have, I was happy to discover, impeccable taste) helped me make the most of every second. Next time I go I’ll definitely be following more of their advice.

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27 thoughts on “Springtime in Sicily

  1. Glorious! I promise to follow your advice when people invite me on similar adventures, Italian or otherwise. I hope you have some recipes to share later, but even if not, the photos are inspiring to cookery. Thank you!

  2. Looks like you got wonderful weather in Sicily! I love the setteveli cake – which bakery did you get it at?Hi Sara! We got it at Cappello. Was that a good choice? -m p.s. Thanks again for your great suggestions!

  3. Your post almost gave me an ulcer, I don't even want to think about the one that follows :)) I would go anywhere in Italy in a heartbeat, if invited, I'd skip that too.

  4. I believe Sicily and Palermo are the true hidden gems in Italy – well, not hidden, but nowhere near as popular as they should. I am fascinated by how Palermo clearly has one foot in Africa and one in Europe. Thank you for the beautiful pictures.

  5. Oh dear, the memories…I loved that about the families left to their friigid northern fates. I'd leave mine again in a flash. Beautiful post, as ever.

  6. I'm very very envious of your trip, the photos and all the food. I'm longing to visit Sicily and hope to do so asap. The photo of gelato in a brioche made me laugh out loud! who ever would have thought!Anna x

  7. I will be in Sicily in November, although I find that Spring is the best time to travel, e take what we can get. I am looking forward to all you have mentioned!!

  8. Gelato in brioche o.O Sounds too tempting to be true. I want to go to Sicily. Right now. When is the next flight?

  9. Love your pictures. Story. Memories are flooding. What a treat that was to spend time together there. I am still feeling bad from accidentally putting K's bag of chocolate in my luggage ;-) Lulu and I made cake with it

  10. Spring in Sicily sounds like the perfect way to begin new exciting things. When I was in Italy a few years ago, I unfortunately did not get to wander south of the country. I told Italia that I will for sure return someday soon. Great blog! *Pauline

  11. What a fabulous trip with such a talented group of people. Your photos have me wanting Sicily on our must go list, so thank you. I'm green with envy over all of it!

  12. The pictures look like parts of Central Washington, although they run more to apples, pears and stone fruit (too cold in the winter for citrus). If only they had the food!

  13. Sicily in the spring sounds and looks amazing thanks to your story and photos! Thanks for sharing. In line with your advice, I said YES to an opportunity to go to Europe, without thinking through the "how", and now have some brilliant memories from that trip. I said YES again to the chance to go to Paris this spring, again without figuring out the "how" yet, but will make it happen and will be creating more memorable experiences. Carpe Diem!

  14. Just discovered your blog and I really love it. Was in Italy myself last year for 3 months and your pics took me back – thank you.

  15. I appreciate you sharing these pictures with us. I felt like I was on tour and I looked through them. The second to last photo is one of my favorite landscape pictures from the ones you've taken and displayed here. I like the openness of the land and I think I would blow something like that up and use it to cover a wall. It makes it seem as if you are stepping through the looking glass into another country.I would have wanted to have a few of those stuffed risotto balls. The food looks really good- all those fresh ingredients make a difference.

  16. Born and raised in Sicily (specifically, Palermo), I stumbled upon your website by way of finding your blog post on Panelle (which, I might add is a lovely post). But discovering this post (and having spent the last 15 years in the U.S.) made my heart swell with love, pride, and nostalgia for the beautiful, and deeply underestimated, island of Sicily. Each picture tugged at my heart strings!! You capture Sicily's beauty and culture so well, and you surely make we want to get back to visit! Thanks again for your wonderful post! And, glad you enjoyed Sicily :)

  17. These pictures are amazing. I loved being in Italy. I never made it to Sicily though but now that is on the list after seeing this post.

  18. "..pane con panelle"Yum. I want to go!. And YES, forget schedules and itineraries, they get in the way of connecting!

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