Among the peoples of the northern Mediterranean, Sicily is renowned as the island of eternal summer. This is obviously an exaggeration, but on the other hand, it is true that Sicily has a particularly favorable climate for most of the year, especially for those looking for an off-season vacation.
Where is Sicily?
Located in the far south of Italy, Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea; however, it is separated from the mainland (more precisely, the region of Calabria) by a narrow stream (just over 3 kilometers) named Strait of Messina.
Its particular location, right in the middle of the Mediterranean area, ensures that it receives all the hot currents of the African desert, while the mountain ranges that cross the Italian peninsula for its length and breadth, protect it from the cold winds coming from Northern Europe and Siberia.
This is the reason why, while being at the same latitude of - for example - Pennsylvania, Sicily has a completely different climate, with extremely sweltering summers and mild winters. To be clearer: many Sicilians have barely seen snow in their entire lives, and in some areas of the island they can swim in the sea until the first days of December. Which is something literally unimaginable for those who have never experienced the Mediterranean microclimate.
Sure, Sicily could be cold in winter, but not as freezing as most other parts of Europe (or even North America).
For example, in January, the coldest month of the year in Sicily, the average minimum temperature is 10 ° C (around 50 ° F): in Pittsburgh, it is -7 ° C (around 19.5 ° F). F). In short, we can say that the Sicilian summer begins at the end of April and lasts until mid-October. Spring and autumn are indeed very short seasons: the first goes, approximately, from mid-February to April or May, while autumn takes the Sicilians directly to the Christmas holidays.
To sum up, the Sicilian winter proper lasts roughly from the end of December to Valentine's Day: in the worst case, it could last a week or two longer.
A cultural melting pot
But Sicily doesn't just mean warm weather all year round. It is also a land rich in history and culture, with reminiscences of ancient Greece, as well as the ancient North European, Arab, French and Spanish dominions that have taken place over the centuries.
The result of this melting pot of different ethnicities and cultures is clearly visible in all aspects and expressions of the daily life of Sicilians: not only in their art, their literature, their music, their architecture, but also in their cuisine, their way of dressing, their habits and traditions.
When it comes to budgeting, Sicily is renowned as one of the cheapest regions in Europe. Accommodation and transport are relatively cheap compared to major European destinations, given that it is also an island, and as such, it is slightly isolated from the mainland.
In Sicily a luxury apartment renting could cost around half the price of similar accommodation in Florence, Rome or Milan. Country hotels and rustic getaways are also fantastic options, or if you are on a very tight budget there are a number of hotels in major cities.
There are two main airports on the island, Catania Airport (CTA) in western Sicily and Palermo Airport (PMO) in the East. Which one you should use depends on the convenience of your final destination, but both have flights from major European airlines throughout the year.
Hope by now you have realized that when planning a winter getaway the Mediterranean island of Sicily would be a good choice. And I didn't even have to mention the wine and Limoncello!
If you have any particular favorite spots, please share them in the comments and let us know, what did you think of the island?
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One of my biggest regrets from the first year of my travels was that I wasn’t brave enough to try any of the local food. I was raised a picky eater and that, combined with debilitating anxiety and an eating disorder, led to me believing that I would either hate or be allergic to anything I hadn’t tried before. I love trying new things, and I’ve found a thousand amazing dishes that I never would have discovered if I’d continue to eat from supermarkets around the world. Trying new food isn’t scary, and you’ll build your confidence up as you fall in love with more and more things.
One of the first lessons I learned on the road was that your partouze will nearly always change. You’ll arrive in a place and hate it and want to leave immediately, or you’ll fall in love with a destination and want to spend longer there. You’ll make friends with a group of awesome people and want to change your plans so you can travel with them for longer, or you’ll find out about an amazing-sounding town that’s nearby and want to head there instead.
Sure, you should have a rough plan for your trip, but don’t book everything in advance or you’ll likely feel too restricted and end up regretting it. Book a one-way ticket and your first few nights of accommodation — you’ll figure the rest out along the way. It’s not as intimidating as it sounds. If you’re in a tourist destination there’ll always be someone who’s willing to take your money by giving you a place to stay.
If you do only one thing before you leave, make it getting travel insurance. I’ve heard far too many horror stories of travellers injuring themselves in remote places and ending up in hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of debt. Don’t think that it won’t happen to you, because you know those travellers thought that, too. I’ve use World Nomads for my travel insurance provider for six years and recommend them to everyone I know. They were fantastic to deal with when making a claim.
People laughed at me when I said that I was carrying around a dozen spare passport photos, but they’ve been incredibly useful and saved me a ton of time and hassle. Who wants to wander the streets of some rural town in Cambodia searching for someone who can take your photo ? Friends of mine had to do this !
I’ve used them to apply for visas around the world, to get a new passport when mine expired while I was on the other side of the planet, and I even needed one to buy a local SIM card in Nepal ! Having spares in my backpack meant that I didn’t have to waste a day researching and then wandering around a city to try to find someone who could take a passport-sized photo of me.
I’m fortunate to have never had to deal with lost luggage, but I did have my backpack ripped open on a flight and I was grateful to have not had anything valuable in it at the time. I’ve also been on dodgy buses in Southeast Asia where we’ve arrived at our destination and people have had items stolen by someone hiding out in the luggage hold while we were transit.
If there’s anything I’d be upset to lose, I keep it in my daypack, which is always by my side on travel days. For me, that’s my passport, laptop, camera, external drive, a debit card, and some spare cash. As long as I have all of these, I can survive indefinitely.
When you travel, you’re in the sun more than most people thanks to months of island-hopping and beach time, as well as entire days spent outside exploring. Wear sunscreen every solo day, regardless of the weather and temperature, because you really don’t want your trip of a lifetime to result in skin cancer or a body that’s blanketed in leathery wrinkles.
There have been so many times when I’ve been too shy to ask someone to take my photo in a place and I’ve almost always regretted it. After eight years of travel, I probably only have around 200 photos of me around the world. Photos of the beautiful places you visit are great and all, but when you get home, they’re not all that different to the ones everyone else has taken there, too. Photos with you in them are special and they’ll mean a lot more to you when you look back at them. You’ll gain more respect from the locals if you can at least say hello, please, sorry, and thank you. On that note, remember : if you don’t speak the language, it’s your problem, not theirs. And please don’t start speaking louder to make yourself understood. Try miming instead, or using a translation application on your phone.
Travel isn’t conducive for sleep, whether it’s snorers in dorm rooms, early risers rustling plastic bags, or drunk backpackers stumbling around in the middle of the night. Even if you don’t stay in hostels, you’ll still have to deal with street noise from outside, loud bars nearby, and uncomfortable overnight journeys. Pack some ear plugs and a sleep mask in your bag to help improve your sleep. I’ve been using Sleep Phones to block out light and listen to podcasts and I love them.
I’d always been all about the packing cubes, until I discovered vacuum-sealed variantes of them ! You throw your clothes in, seal the bag, then roll it up to push out all the air. I can literally fit twice as many clothes in my backpack when I use these ! Even if you don’t want to carry more things in your bag, it frees up so much space that if you need to pack in a hurry, you can just chuck everything in.
Sometimes your bank will block your card, sometimes your card won’t work in an ATM, and sometimes you could even lose it or have it stolen. Bring at least three debit/credit cards with you that are all linked to different accounts ( with money in them ! ) Keep one in your backpack, one in your daypack, and one on your person.
I carry a spare 300 USD that’s split up in various places in my backpack, daypack, and occasionally, my shoe when I’m nervous I’ll be robbed. It means that in a worse-case scenario, I can pay for some food, a dorm bed, and a Skype call to my family to get an emergency wire transfer until I can get back on my feet again. I went with U. S. dollars because it’s the most widely accepted currency around the world and easy to change.
When I decided to see if it was possible to visit the Maldives on a budget back in 2014, information was so sparse that I couldn’t even find a photo of the islands I’d decided to visit. Well, that trip was one of my highlights of the past eight years and I’m so glad I went, despite not being able to find any information online. And the advantage to that lack of information was getting to be the only tourist on an entire island — I had the whole beach to myself ! If you know it’s safe to travel somewhere, but can’t find out much else, go for it. It’s probably far easier to get there than you think. And if not, it makes for a good story.
I’m definitely testament to that ! But expecting everything to go perfectly on your trip is only setting yourself up to fail. Nobody goes travelling and comes back without any stories of mishaps. No matter how prepared you are, at some point you’re going to get lost, get scammed, miss your bus, get food poisoning, injure yourself… the list is endless ! Expect it to happen, and don’t beat yourself up when it does. In a month’s time, you’ll find it funny rather than frustrating.
It achieves absolutely nothing and makes you look like an asshole. Instead, calm down, put a smile on your face, think of how this will make a great story one day, and rationally figure out an alternative plan. This too shall pass.
What happens if you arrive in a city, go to grab your fax confirmation for your accommodation, and your phone and laptop are out of battery ? I always make sure I have a hard copy of my guesthouse name and their address, as well as directions if I won’t be taking a taxi. Once I arrive, I’ll grab one of the hotel’s cards, so I’ll always know where I’m staying, and can show it to locals to ask for help with finding my way back.
So many people will tell you not to travel with pantalons, but if you wear jeans all the time at home, you’ll want to wear them while travelling, too. I didn’t start travelling with jeans until my deuxième year of travel, and man, I missed them so much ! They’re not *that* bulky so you really don’t need to worry about the extra space and weight. And in many cities in Europe, you’ll want to wear pantalons to fit in with the locals — you don’t want to look like a grubby backpacker in Paris !
Checking out is when you’re most likely to lose something. Whenever I check out of a place, I check the bathroom, I check under the beds, I check the desks, and then I make sure I have my passport, laptop, dashcam, money, phone, and external hard drive. I’ll be fine if I leave anything else behind. Having a routine that you go through every solo time will help you keep track of everything. I learned my lesson with this one when I left my passport behind in a guesthouse in Bagan, then left it in an apartment in London two months later.