Sicily isn’t usually the first place people think of going for holidays in winter, but my German friends pointed out to me it is actually a great choice.
This isn’t just because you can often get winter sunshine, but also because there is lots going on, you can see the sights without the crowds, and you can avoid the heat that a lot of people find absolutely stifling.
Their brilliant and long list of ideas on the Trip Tipp website is HERE, accompanied by general tips about travelling in Sicily in Winter.
Below are my own top ten ideas.
1. The Sciacca Carnival in February
Who needs Rio? You can go to Sciacca instead!! The carnival may be a little less sexy, but I bet it is way more hilarious.
Last time I went, I saw girls wearing feathery head-dresses and sequinned bikinis… on top of their warm jeans and anoraks. What good Sicilian girls! They would never dare make Mamma angry by letting their kidneys get chilled.
2. Christmas Nativity play in Termini Imerese
This is a nativity play which takes part in the streets, and you walk in among the actors as they work their way through the ancient medieval town.
It was one of the most amazing and moving experiences of my life. It is a truly unique thing to do, and you don’t even have to be particularly religious to find it fascinating and emotive.
And I am pretty sure Sicily is the only place where the nativity plays have live belly dancers in them.
3. Christmas nativity play in Cammarata
This is a different kettle of fish, and more or a reconstruction of traditional medieval life in Sicily made up of real people engaging in traditional crafts. It is ideal for children. Audience participation is encouraged.
Oh, and they give you stuff to eat as you walk around.
4. Visit the Botanical garden of the Kolymbetra
Most botanical gardens look a bit sad in winter, but not the Garden of the Kolymbetra! It is a citrus garden, so winter is the season when it fills with the colours of ripe citrus fruits like jewels, and is definitively at its best.
5. Go shopping in Palermo, and look out for Christmas markets
Palermo has a lot of lively street markets selling food. There are also street markets and fun shopping to be done at Christmas time.
6. Go Beachcombing
Winter in Sicily is about like summer in Britain. The locals think they will get pneumonia and die if they go near the beach, but if you are British you can take your shoes off, roll up your trousers / tuck your skirt into your knickers at each side, and enjoy a jolly good paddling session in the water.
There’s one beach in Sicily where you can actually pick up real Sicilian amber (which is different from Baltic amber as it dates from a different period). Many other beaches have all kinds of lovely shells, pebbles and intriguing driftwood.
7. Visit the museums and archaeological sites without crowds
This isn’t really one thing to do, but hundreds. I have a lot of recommendations for archaeological sites here and for museums here. They are always better in winter as you get no crowds, no sunburn and no mosquitoes. Also, the custodians in some places get bored and will give you a free guided tour of the whole place if you speak Italian, which is always fascinating.
8. Take a Cycling holiday
I haven’t ever done this, or even wanted to, frankly. But, you know, you could.
They tell me it is a wonderful way to see the countryside. And if I ever did, I certainly would not be mad enough to try it in summer. Winter in Sicily would be just right for a bit of hard pedalling.
This picture came from the Zenith Holidays website. As I said before, untested by this particular Sicilian Housewife.
9. Sit people-watching at pavement cafes
Well, I most certainly have done this!
You get T-shirt or cardigan-weather in winter, you get people wearing hilarious outfits with sequins on walking past endlessly, and you get cake. What more could you want from a Mediterranean pavement caff?
10. Eat Sicilian citrus fruits and other vegetables that are out of season when you take your holidays in summer
If you haven’t been to Sicily in winter them I am sorry, but you just don’t even know what good, sweet organic oranges taste like. In winter they sell them by the carrier bag, and any bar you walk into will make you a glass which they squeeze by hand, right there in front of you.
It’s no wonder Sicilians don’t get colds very often.
One particularly hilarious thing Sicilians do is drink fresh squeezed orange with bicarbonate of soda added. This makes you burp like Etna in eruption, and they believe that is good for your digestion and generally gives you a sort of gaseous clear-out. There is a bar in Palermo famous for serving this, and it is considered fully acceptable to stand there belching your head off as you “reset your digestion”.
Well, there you have it, a plan for your winter holidays in Sicily. Don’t forget to buy my novel for your holiday reading, if you haven’t already.
AN ENGLISH WOMAN TAKES ON PARENTHOOD, THE MAFIA AND A SICILIAN MOTHER-IN-LAW, ALL AT ONCE
Available on all Amazon website worldwide, in paperback and Kindle
Buy or read reviews on Amazon.com
Buy it or read reviews on Amazon.co.uk
“The diary is filled with biting wit, an astute knack for observation and a powerful sense of determination which makes it a joy to read. Di Grigoli’s strong personality comes out as she deftly sketches out the intricacies of life on the complex island of Sicily at the heart of the Mediterranean.”
TIMES OF SICILY
Career-girl Veronica flies to Sicily for a friend’s wedding, hardly expecting to fall in love with one of the groom’s three-hundred cousins. Yet a year later she is living in the shimmering heat of Sicily with her Latin Lover.
She suspects her seaside dream-villa is being built by the Mafia when the foreman visits, brandishing a hammer and demanding money.
Then her rosary-flailing Mother-in-law throws down the gauntlet: Can Veronica live up to the standards of a Sicilian housewife? She’ll have to scrub floors with ammonia and iron underpants to win this duel fought with wooden spoons.
Resourceful Veronica works out how to solve all her problems by pitching one adversary against another, embarking on an unpredictable adventure of hilarity, reckless driving and dangerously large portions of spaghetti.
This belly-laugh of a novel exposes the staggering, perplexing and often hilarious reality of life in Sicily.
Available on all Amazon website worldwide, in paperback and Kindle
Read reviews on Amazon.com
Read reviews on Amazon.co.uk
18 Comments Add yours
Not exactly winter — Easter in April.
Misteri di Trapani
The Processione dei Misteri di Trapani or simply the Misteri di Trapani (in English the Procession of the Mysteries of Trapani or the Mysteries of Trapani) is a day-long passion procession featuring twenty floats of lifelike wood, canvas and glue sculptures of individual scenes of the events of the Passion, a passion play at the centre and the culmination of the Holy Week in Trapani. The Misteri are amongst the oldest continuously running religious events in Europe, having been played every Good Friday since before the Easter of 1612, and running for at least 16 continuous hours, but occasionally well beyond the 24 hours, are the longest religious festival in Sicily and in Italy
Oh, the Easter traditions around Sicily are amazing, aren’t they? I have never seen the Misteri of Trapani, though – so that is another on to add to my bucket list. In fact I need to make a full list of them for another blog post, I think! 🙂
Resetting your digestion by force of burp… what a concept 😉
I did try it, but I didn’t really feel it was working for me. Perhaps I needed something to help me fart at the same time? 😉
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Anything that doesn’t do that is a fail in my book 😉
Guy— I Misteri is not the longest. See the three-day and night Feast of Saint Agatha in Catania, Starting Feb.3 with many events happening the entire month before the date. A million people in the street.
I’m curious, which beach near Catania has real a sicilian amber?
Some pieces are found on the beaches between Punta Braccetto (the riviera of Santa Croce Camerina on the southern Sicilian coast) and Contrada Chiappa in the Pachino region, which is also known as the Amber Coast (Costa dell’Ambra). The beaches closer to Catania have less of it these days.
Here’s a blog post about it:
Bentornata Casalinga Siciliana! I need to go to Sicilia period! I’ll take any season. Ciao, Cristina
Yes you MUST!!!! 🙂
I’ve just visited SIcily a month ago, been to Palermo, San Vito lo Capo, Cefalu, Trapani, Aspra…. We fell in love and feel that we could spend the rest our lives eating arancini and watching Sicily’s beautiful sunsets. My husband, being Neapolitan, felt very welcomed there, and everyone we met, called him ‘fratello’, so he is even considering moving there, specially because he thinks it’s always summer time there and would like to ask you: All this winter adventures seem great, but will be the weather like?
You get four months of “winter” in which you would probably want to wear an anorak most days, though some days a cardigan would be fine. It can rain, but you can also get plenty of days where it is pleasant to sit at a pavement cafe or eat in your garden.
People who live further north generally fly down and it feels like summer to them; when you are acclimatised to the rick-splittin gheat of living in Sicily all summer, it does feel a bit like real winter…. but it only lasts about 3 months really.
Love the idea of the citrus drink with bicarb added. Must give it a try and will force it on my guests after my next dinner party.
Just be prepared for the fact that the dinner party will no longer be genteel at all!!!
My experience is that museums are closed in summer – are they open in winter?! Is this the trick? But the cycling idea is really nice. But only with electric cycling, it goes up and down! 🙂
Ha haaa! Now that is my kind of cycling!
Yes the museums are usually open in winter. It is ridiculous how some of them close for the summer, just when you could take your children to see them in the holidays or make some money from tourists. Another of the many SIcilian paradoxes. 🙂
Hi Veronica, we are travelling to Sicily the first week of Feb(7 nights), however, I will be 27 weeks pregnant by then. I am a bit worried reg where to stay as we would ideally want to rent a car and tour the island(and sleep in 3-4 places), but I would prefer to always have handy a good hospital a max at 30-60 min away from us (private or public). Could you suggest any hospitals which we could trust in case of emergencies? Much appreciated, up front!
Happy holiday season!
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There are hospitals all over the place in Sicily and I think you would be within 60 minutes of one anywhere on the island, and in most places closer.
My own experience of sicilian hospitals is that they look run down, but the doctors are fabulous.
So I wouldn’t worry if I were you, but I would probably find out where the nearest hospital was each day so that you already know where to go just in case. Assuming you’re staying in hotels, you can ask them which is the best and nearest hospital.