Experience Sicily’s Extreme Sporting Activities

Although many travellers associate staying in one of the many villas in Sicily as a sightseeing and beach holiday this could not be further from the truth. The Italian island’s varied, and sometimes, wildly rugged terrain makes it an extreme sports enthusiast’s playground. With the magnificent backdrop of Mount Etna, thrill-seekers can have all their dreams come true on this exciting island!

Water Sports Paradise

Being an island naturally makes this a prime destination for all water sports. Villas in Sicily can be found right on the beach, giving easy access to all types of water sporting activities. Conditions for surfing, windsurfing and kitesurfing are ideal almost all year round.

For the best surfing and windsurfing opportunities, most travellers head to the sandy coastline of Catania. The gulf’s landscape is dominated by the awe-inspiring view of Mount Etna creating an ideal combination: thrilling action set in some of the most magnificent scenery in Italy. The Catania beaches, known as the Playa, offer ideal conditions for both beginners and more seasoned water sport enthusiasts, and the area is very popular with Sicilian youth. Windsurfers should also visit the rugged northern coastline of Palermo, which is renowned as being exceptionally beautiful at sunset. Continue reading

Madeira Yesterday and Today

My first visit to Madeira, Portugal, was during the 1950’s, and I was so impressed by the natural beauty and quaintness of Funchal, the Capital, and with my visit to the ancient city of Machico with its pedestrian only cobbled streets. Machico was the first town built on this Portuguese island.

Picturing the Past

In the fifties you could still see ‘pearl divers’ as they dove down deep off the high cliffs of Funchal to retrieve coins from the ocean bed. This pastime later became abolished by order of the EEC, due to the many lung problems it caused. Nevertheless, it was an amazing sight to witness.

Another fun thing to do for us tourists was to ride on a brightly decorated wicker cart hand pulled by young men in traditional dress to the mountain top and then to hurtle down again over the narrow cobbled streets, guided by a man at the back, who somehow managed to miss anything in the way. Hairy but survivable! Or else, there was great fun to take a ride in a bullock cart through the town streets. This too ended with the modernization of the island road structures. Continue reading

Southeast Sicily – Villas, Beaches, Palazzos and More

The southeast region of Sicily holds some little known and rarely visited gems. As with other areas of Sicily, villas are scattered throughout the landscape, leaving travellers with many options as to where to stay – and each location seems to offer a different terrain and experience.

In the southeast region, the options are endless. From beaches to elegant Baroque towns, the southern tip of the island is filled with authentic and unique Sicilian experiences.

The Best Beaches

The southern coastline is dotted with sandy beaches that gently ease into the deep blue Mediterranean Sea, making them some of the best beaches in Sicily. Villas can be found within a very close proximity to the beaches and some even have direct access. These beaches are very swimmer-friendly during the months of June to October, and after August the crowds are rarely an issue.

Historical Sights

Although the southern region of the island has numerous towns and sights well worth seeing, there are a few locations that should make it to the top of your list. One of the most notable cities worth visiting is Ragusa Ibla. This town has 14 UNESCO World Heritage buildings, all within a space of one square kilometre. The exquisite Baroque architecture and limestone streets were all built, amazingly, clinging to the steep slopes of the Sicilian landscape. The town centre is dominated by the Cathedral of St. George, which is said to be one of the most beautiful structures in the region. Continue reading