Europe,  Italy,  Travel Tips

The four must-dos in western Sicily to have great fun with your kids. And eventually negotiate some sight-seeing.

Hello moms and dads! Here we go again! We have been through a couple of tough weeks with baby Princess starting nursery! I guess she is on her way not to be a baby anymore and I need to figure out a solid way to be a mom and not an Italian mom, which means approaching her as a “bambina” until she is in her sixties. And buying underwear to her until she is in her fifties. Yes, I do have sound evidence that Italian women do this (more than one). Fortunately enough, she is a girl, which means that we should avoid the risk of me treating her as an idiot. This happens to be an exclusive Italian mother – boy thing. It’s a common ground that a boy is not able to take any kind of responsibility, even if they have a normal qi. This is the reason why we are a society of men that cannot cook an egg and women that are more boring than my grandma when she is sick. And old, even when they are in their twenties. As I was exercising my indipendence skills towards Princess, my laptop break down, so it took me a while to write this post. By the way, I’m sorry if the layout s***ks. I’m also realizing that autumn is approaching. This means searching for some new Netflix series to bingewatch at night, bake some apple pie/apple muffins (perks of the fresh air) and …organizing one the last weekend off before winter! Alternatively, one can also start planning some Christmas break trip! Let’s start from the easiest one: where can we go to live an extra weekend of summer. We have an easy answer! Sicily. After following our guest blogger Giulia on her road trip from Milan to Ischia, stopped for focaccia in Liguria and enjoyed the amazing French Riviera, our summer tour of Italy ends in one of the most beautiful island in the world. Sicily is the biggest island in the Mediterranean sea. It’s huge, so we are concentrating on the Western part, which we visit often as we have family there. A full tour of the island requires at least ten days, better two weeks, as it takes 350 km, several towns and many cannoli to cross it (and it’s better to take your time when it comes to cannoli). General advice: avoid July and August. All italians vacation in that period, beaches are crowded, it’s very hot to visit archeological sites and everywhere is packed with people. The best season to visit Sicily is, in our opinion, April to June and September to October. Anyway, if you are not a beachaholic, it is also a nice spot to spend a winter break as temperatures are mild and sightseeing it’s so much easier. Let’s see the must dos for a family!

Palermo city centre
Downtown Palermo has a lot to visit. It’s more fun if you buy your kids a “pupo” (marionette)

Palermo: don’t miss Pupi (marionette) show. The region capital, it’s located on the North Western coast of the island. You can easily travel there with a low-cost airline from all over Europe. Surprise, surprise : at the exit of the airport a playground for the little ones wait for you! What a nice way to kick of a trip!! The city has a big historical center that it’s in part closed to car traffic (Via Maqueda). You have to visit Palazzo dei Normanni and Capella Palatina: this is a must-do. We all know that kids complain when it comes to long historical visits, especially if they could stay at the beach, but you can negotiate a full day sighseeing Palermo with a puppet opera show in the evening. Pupi (litterally “child”, here it means marionette) are a traditional marionette show from Sicily that dates back to the 13th century. The show are about The Song of Orlando and the deeds of the frank emperor Charles the Great. Since 2001, Pupi show has been declared World intangible heritage by UNESCU. Some theaters perform shows for tourists . You can find pupi marionette for sale, as a memory of the trip for the little ones.

A day off at Mondello to enjoy the seaside

A day at La Favorita park and Mondello. Palermo is not only history, but also great fun for kids! If you are staying a couple of days (I recommend at least two, better three), one should be dedicated to open-air activities. La Favorita Park is the biggest green area in the city, neighbouring Mondello, the beach district in Palermo. Visit one of the bike rentals in town and enjoy a family bike ride through the park and a relaxing afternoon sunbathing. Your kids will love it. If your family is fond of travelling on two wheels, you can consider taking a guided tour by bike in town.

Ice cream in a bun: worth the whole trip.

Visit Cefalù dome after a day at the beach. This town is definitely worth a visit, especially being less than hour away from Palermo by train. It is an ideal spot for families as you can combine time at the beach with a visit to the lovely Town. With respect to Palermo, the beach is less crowded and more pictoresque: you can find both organized beaches (Italian style: you pay for the sun chairs) or free areas. Another perk of visiting Cefalù is that you can have brioche con gelato (ice cream in a bun, typical of Sicily) with an amazing view to the sea at Gelateria di Noto. And this could be per se worth the whole trip.

Cefalù old village
Cefalù dome

Trapani, the unmissable salt pans and Egadi. The extreme Western part of the island is probably the best spot for those who are fond of beach life. Trapani town features a very nice sea walk (mura di tramontana) and a baroque centre. It is also the point of departure to the Egadi Islands. This small archipelago hosts the glamorous, though crowded, Favignana, the white-and-blue Levanzo and the far-away Marettimo, for those who enjoy wild sea life. If your kids enjoy being in the nature (they probably do), that’s the place to be. Don’t miss a day hiking at the amazing Riserva dello Zingaro: a wonderful protected area where the mountain meets the sea. You should bring your own food and water for the day and wear confortable shoes. This a baby-carrier kind of place. Strollers are not a good idea. Do you think it is more than enough? Well, the best has yet to come. The very must-do here is for sure a visit to the salt pans next to Trapani. Known as Saline di Trapani e Paceco, in the summer this WWW-protected coastline becomes a white extent of salt ponds and old windmills. Several bird species have their home here. A museum explains the history of the salt business, that dates back to the medieval times. Believe me: your kids are gonna like history if you put it this way! Don’t miss an apéritif at Mamma Caura to admire the sunset on the Reserve. This is probably my favorite spot in Sicily and one of the most entertaining for kids in school age. If you are fond of movies, don’t miss a visit to Ocean’s 12 movie set, Scopello. For combining some historical sightseeing and kids fun, you can take a ride on the cableway to Erice from Trapani. Erice is a perched village with a magnificent castle and medieval streets, where time seems to have stopped. Definitely worth a visit. What if your kids are going through a non – collaborative moment (we all know that they will, sooner or later) while you are off? No problem : just stay at the lovely, family-run Hotel Ciuri di Badia and let them enjoy a day at the pool, in the middle of the countryside. It is also an opportunity for you to take a breath on a sunchair, sipping a beer and reading that novel that was parked on you bedside table. Staff is the most adorable and can provide the best advice (in English) to make the most of your stay.

Levanzo Island from the sea.

Sounds to good to be true? As everything in life it comes with a price: be ready to take on average one kg per day on Sicilian food. This is also a reason why it’s better to go off summer. Winter clothes are perfect when you need to hide something!

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