Go on a romantic break to Eastern Sicily and discover the wonders of travelling ‘slow’ – taking your own sweet time to delve deeper into the heart and soul of a destination, stumbling across gorgeous towns, fantastic chocolate, and maybe even crashing a wedding or two
Words: RADHIKA LALLA
Photographs: JEREMIAH CHRISTANAND RAO
“We’re going to the mattresses!” has a very different meaning in Sicily. It’s a phrase that implies an upcoming battle, a signal to gather beds for the fighters, so they can rest until it’s time to gain vengeance for their family. This, of course, I have learnt from Mario Puzo and his seminal series about the godfathers of the Sicilian mafia. Though, if I’m being completely honest, it’s a phrase I first heard in a rather different sort of film – that rom-com classic, You’ve Got Mail.
Wherever you may have heard it, though, (and whatever it might have originally meant) ‘going to the mattresses’ is a great way to describe what being in Sicily should be about. I’ll give you a few seconds to get your mind out of the gutter; what I mean is that it’s the sort of place that invites you to burrow in and disappear from the world, to ‘temporarily relocate’ to. This little island at the southern boot tip of Italy has always enjoyed its space in the sun, though sometimes for more unpleasant reasons. It was once best known for its mass export of deadly gangsters, who spread their reach out from here all the way to the Americas. Now, it’s got a whole bloom of gorgeous little villas and B&Bs scattered all over, looking out over its sparkling blue waters and nestled within its bucolic countryside. It’s a land of balmy tropical weather and an unfair advantage in the looks department, what with all its gorgeous beaches and sun-kissed locals. Sicilians aren’t really living under the threat of imminent payback if they put their feet down wrong, and, once European holidaymakers figured that out, they’ve made their way across to get a little taste of the island life. It’s time we caught on, too.
Photographer Jerry and I have plans to meander along Sicily’s east coast, which offers a great mix of beach-bumming, culture and great heights (more on that later). It’s got just about enough to see and do that there’s plenty of time to embrace the ‘slow travel’ philosophy, which encourages you to immerse yourself in the local way of life, to pretend to be a resident. And this concept is ideally suited for a first-time visit to Sicily, or a first shot at travelling slow – especially with someone you’re wanting to go to the mattresses with, and yes, this time, I mean exactly what you’re thinking. Try as you might, though, the lure of the myths and legends that surround The Godfather are hard to resist – more so if you’re a pop culture junkie. Which is how Jerry and I find ourselves eating a breakfast of gelato in brioche at a café made very recognisable by the films.
Yep. Ice cream in bread. That’s what passes for a filling breakfast here – and I’m not complaining. It’s two generous scoops of pistachio gelato, stuffed into a fresh-from-the-oven brioche, and my biggest challenge is eating it before the ice cream melts.
It’s a good life.