Despite being so close to the mainland, Sicily feels isolated and completely unique. Never before have I travelled somewhere in Europe with such a special atmosphere and character.
On the surface, Sicily is a distillation of traditional, stereotypical Italy. The food is, obviously, incredible: the freshest produce, the richest coffee, the cheapest pizza. Behind the most unassuming tenement block you find a market stretching down ancient, winding alleys which proffers heaps of tomatoes so red and plump they seem about to burst, or aubergine so purple they look made of wax. The olives are so fresh they are spicy, and everything is cooked in this fragrant, almost overpowering olive oil that melts all of the flavours together.
The art, the culture, the siestas: Sicily has all the ingredients of a classic Italian holiday.
But Sicily is much older than Italy. There is a darkness to her soul. Her people have seen everything, felt the hardships of the 20th century, in a manner unlike any Western European country. The society that remains is hard, welcoming but strong.
Sicily is so much more than Italy.
In my first series of posts I hope to convey some of the magic of this perfect, unforgettable island, and I hope this inspires you to find out more about this strange little corner of Europe.
Over and out x