“You may have the universe if I may have Italy.” – Guiseppe Verdi.
Italy has become one of our greatest love affairs. My wife spent her childhood visiting family in Naples, Sorrrento, Rome, Capri and Milan. We have since traveled together each summer to the same great places, and almost always explore new places that have become our hidden gems.
In the south of Italy, we feel there is everything. Just a few things that bring us back to this surreal place are the memories of swimming along the Amalfi coast, eating the freshest mixed seafood risotto and experiencing the passion and culture of Italy.
Since 2010, we have shared this experience with our friends, family and yoga community. Leading yoga retreats along the cliffsides has been a dream come true and an unforgettable vacation for anyone able to experience it. On our honeymoon and over the last two years, we discovered an area even more remote and exceptional. We found Sicily.
Sicily takes us back to a time that feels much older and very traditional. The beaches in this area are magical and the food is uniquely mediterranean. Our favorite dishes from this region include Arancini, Pasta al Pistacchio, and of course, the Cannoli. No one makes Cannoli like they do in Sicily!
Some areas are hard to describe and the experience is best to see in person. We will host a Yoga Retreat this July in a small undiscovered part of Sicily called Scopello. If you travel with us or on your own, make sure you experience these amazing places.
Mondello was one of the first places we visited on our honeymoon to Sicily. A friend of ours had family there who welcomed us into their home. We spent most of the days laying on sandy white beaches while eating panini and drinking la limonata soda. This area was small and quiet, but easy to get to from Palermo. We had beautiful views of clear crystal blue water and great food at every corner. The best cannoli we found was from a corner cafe owned by our friends, called Bar Pasticceria Alba.
Favignana is a small island just a short ferry ride from Trapani, and home to some of the best beaches we have seen in all of Italy. What makes Favignana so special is that most of these beaches are only accessible by bike or scooter. We recommend getting there early, renting a bike or scooter, grabbing some arancini at Scialae and heading to the beaches. It is a safe place to ride, considering there are few cars in the area. Don’t miss Cala Rossa’s exceptionally blue water and Cala Azzurra for sandy beaches and snorkeling. Right before heading back to the ferry, you will find a small cafe near the ticket booth that serves Caffe al Pistacchio. I have never seen or tried this anywhere but here and it is delicious.
Scala Dei Turchi first caught our attention because of the amazing photos we had seen of this place. Wanting to discover this for ourselves and be sure it was not just photoshop magic, we headed here with a group of friends and spent half a day laying out, taking photos and practicing yoga. The Turkish Steps as they are called in English, are a large white mineral rock formation that looks bright white along the sea. On the drive to this area we discovered a great area for gelato and even gelato sandwiches which is a scoop of gelato between two fresh brioche buns.
Lo Zingaro Nature Reserve is just a short walk from where we will be hosting our yoga retreat this year. It’s a beautiful hike surrounded by over 650 varieties of flora. You can choose an easy path to remote swimming areas only accessible by boat or foot. If you are in the mood for a more challenging hike, you can follow any of the paths that lead you to more difficult terrain. When you reach any of the many beaches, you can stop for a swim and we recommend bringing with you a light lunch. We discovered Pane Cunzato from the town of Scopello. This is a seasoned fresh bread sandwich with simple ingredients of tomatoes, local cheese, salt, pepper, oregano and olive oil. Like all things in Italy, simple can be delicious.
Tonnara di Scopello was featured in several films, most notably Oceans 12. Tonnara is perhaps the most important Sicilian historic estate, and probably the only intact evidence of a traditional Mediterranean tuna fishery. Today it is a private residence but day access is offered for those looking to lay out and swim amidst an unbelievable scenic view. Just a short walk from the town of Scopello, we will spend much of our days here at Tonnara.
Florio Winery located in Marsala, Sicily is just a short drive from Scopello and home of century old wine makers. They specialize specifically in Marsala wines, which are not all as sweet as you may think. We discovered the history of Marsala wines and several other varieties as we traveled through this region. Sicily is a wine-lover’s paradise and some of Italy’s finest wines are now being made here. It’s no surprise considering the island’s enviable climate, its autochthonous grape varieties and its fertile soil. At Florio, we were treated to a variety of tastings accompanied with Italian aperitivo. We also enjoyed visiting Donnafugata winery, Marco De Bartolli, and Planeta. Most of the wines in this area are classified as “Vini Naturali” or Natural Wines. Taste good and good for you!