Bye bye Canada, Ciao Italy!
In early 2020, as I prepared to graduate from Ryerson University, now Toronto Metropolitan University my family was also preparing for a bit of a celebratory trip across the Atlantic, to Italy. Our plans were rather quickly crushed in March of 2020 as the COVID pandemic took hold. We decided to put off our travels until April of 2021, but as the new year rolled around, we, again, had to put a pin in it.
Finally, last summer, we decided to take the risk and book the trip, and on April 1st of 2022 we jetted off for our first European, family vacation!
We took an overnight flight to Munich where we spent a few hours before connecting to Palermo, Sicily. After a short flight to Palermo, we landed at an airport with one side of the runway that dropped off into the sea. It was our first picturesque, quincuncially Mediterranean view, and we were instantly gob smacked! We quickly realized that Sicily has gorgeous hilly terrain. Cliffs that overlook the ocean, pebbly beaches and rock stacks around the coast.
Fun fact about Sicily, driving rules seemingly don’t apply there. We were picked up from the airport by a local driver who, to our North American driving standards, was quite terrifying. But with all the other cars on the road following similar lax cautions we labeled it as “normal”. Here’s an example: there are lanes marked on the road, but no one uses them. They just drive wherever they’d like, weaving around other cars, potholes, garbage and even pedestrians. And as for the pedestrians, they just put a hand out and start to walk. It seems like the assumption is that if you go someone else will stop, which even by the end of our 3 week stay was still quite terrifying. We drove a winding hillside road that dropped off the right hand side into the sea. quite terrifying but overwhelmingly beautiful.
We spent the first week on the northern side of Sicily, near Palermo. We stayed just below the the little town of Scopello, at a cliffside villa with breathtaking views across the Tyrrhenien Sea. Wildflowers filled the greenspace and as we walked the small winding roads to the nearest gelato shop we were often greeted by little lizards and even small parrots.
Scopello is well know for the Zingaro Nature Reserve which was saved by the people of Scopello in 1981 when it was set to be a building site. The day we visited Zingaro, the temperature was hot and beautifully sunny. Despite it's deceivingly warm, Caribbean look, the ocean was freezing, but I was determined to get in. With a fear of being cold I had packed a wet suit and was very grateful for it's protecting as I snorkeled the chilly water, looking at smally sparkly fish and corals.