I’ve been meaning to post this for a while now… After all the talk about Italy and the intensity of its sights, sea and food, I almost forgot that I made a pit stop on my way to Rome. With a six-hour layover in Zurich, I followed the advice of all the braver travelers before me and took the 15 minute train ride into the city. Not surprisingly for Switzerland, the trains are frequent and punctual. I didn’t have a plan for my layover (big surprise), but discovered a few things this pristine, almost-too-clean city has to offer other than chocolate and duty-free.
Sometimes imagining what a place is like, miles away, with only illusions, photographs and stories to guide you, makes for the best kind of daydreaming. And dreaming about magical places comes most naturally when your city turns sad and pessimistic; Jack Frost teasing from the horizon. We watch our skin go from golden-brown to pale, as we picture a place with 360 days of sunshine, where row boats in primary colors lie washed up on a white, smooth beach. We daydream about rhythmic music and drums and fresh fish markets that are brimming with people. We daydream about a place like Cape Verde.
We’ve come to the the last leg of a short, but intense, trip through Southern Italy: a three-day escape to the north western coast of Sicily. From the markets and church domes of Palermo, to the natural and rustic Isole Egadi, there was a lot of ground (and sea) to cover in only a few days. I discovered hidden coves frequented only by locals and Italian vacationers, and cycled over dusty coastal paths in Favignana. I swam in cleansing, crystal blue water that was so clear you could spot jellyfish before they stung you. I walked through streets of white cubed houses with bright blue shutters that inspired the decor of a non-existent, future home. And now, I’m going to share with you just how to make the most of 36 hours in Sicily.
It’s hard to compress eternity into just two days… It is Roma Aeterna, after all. But I’ve discovered that if you’re savvy at crowd-dodging, willing to wake up at sunrise and generally a good power-walker, then you can actually squeeze a lot into 48 hours. There are many itineraries out there on what to see and where to eat when in Rome, yet I find that the best itineraries are our own – the ones that come from wandering. So, an espresso in my veins and a map in my hand, I braved this chaotic city without a minute to waste. Because while Rome may be eternal, nobody should wait forever to see it.
In just over 24 hours, I will be getting on a plane to cross the Mediterranean for Rome. From there I will eventually make my way down and over to Sicily: the ball that the boot kicks, the haven for Italian mafia, the island of volcanos and waters in brilliant blue. In anticipation of such an adventure (and as I sit staring at an empty duffle bag) here’s what my ideal Sicily-bound suitcase would contain…