Is it the American in me that loves a road trip? There’s something about getting in the car with a map in hand (I’ve yet to be converted to a GPS) and discovering what is around the corner. During my recent trip to Sicily, that was baroque towns, fishing villages, or sandy beaches. Despite the Sicilian reputation for suspect driving, I decided to brave the roads and explore the southeastern corner of the island.
Approaching the town of Noto in the afternoon sunlight, the golden color of the buildings on the hilltop was especially striking. After reaching our hotel, we stepped out onto the balcony for one of the best views in town. From the church to the town hall to the former fish market, we could see over the crumbling roofs to all of Noto.
The following day, we left the town behind for a few hours basking in the Sicilian sunshine. Despite being early May, the Mediterranean looked too appealing to resist a swim. On a Saturday, locals carried barbeques down to the beach and flew kites. Surrounded by the local dialect, I was once again glad to have my trusty rental car, otherwise this was a sight I never would have seen.
In the afternoon we headed towards Siracusa, another of Sicily’s little treasures. The old town is surrounded by water on three sides, making for a beautiful stroll in any direction. We stopped in the main piazza for a cappuccino and before we knew it a crowd had gathered on the church steps. Soon after a shiny black car arrived and a bride stepped out to the cheers of her family.
For the affordable price of a tank of gas, I found myself in a series of situations to understand the Sicilian culture. From encountering a group of girl scouts painting in the park to senior citizens going for an evening stroll, my rental car gave me the chance to see a more authentic side to Sicily.