We decided to visit Sicily for ten days with our (not yet) 2 years old daughter at the end of September. We only covered the east-south side of the island as we thought it needed a bit more days to make it justice. We didn’t visit any of the small islands, either, which are known to be paradisiac.
Here, hopefully a helpful summary of our stay.
We arrived early to Catania – Fontanarossa airport. Got our rented car and drove straight to Siracusa, our first stop.
I highly recommend you to book the car in advance, as the island is packed in the summer and car availability can be affected.
We stayed in an Airbnb in Ortigia, which is an island connected to the city of Siracusa, also its oldest and prettiest part. I would honestly recommend the apartment we stayed in, La Caletta. It was small but cozy, full of toys, one minute away from the sea and the owner was very friendly and helpful with loads of recommendations.
On the first day we walked around Ortigia, its narrow streets, ate in its restaurants and walked by the sea.
We woke up relatively early to visit the pretty daily market in Ortigia, close to the bridge that links the old and the new part of Siracusa. It has food, some clothes and souvenirs stalls.
Then we visited the Greek Theatre of Siracusa, which takes most part of the day, since it’s massive.
It’s worth taking the hop-on hop-off touristic bus which gives you a good idea of the main sites of the city in about an hour and a fun way to get kids around.
We wanted to dedicate two days visiting some of the unique UNESCO hilly Baroque towns in Sicily, like Ragusa and Modica.
Stopped by Noto on our way to Modica. The truth is I decided this stop way before I planned the trip to Sicily due to its renowned Caffè Sicilia which I discovered on Netflix show, Chef’s Table. They serve traditional sweets, granite and ice cream made with local products. I specially recommend the typical Granita di mandorla (almond) e brioche.
Arrived at Modica in the afternoon and what a surprise! Beautiful town with pretty old houses hanging from the hills…
We stayed in the old town, in one of those pretty houses. The apartment was called Il Cappero. Not as convenient for children as the previous one, since the distribution of the flat was not very common and not equipped with toys, but it just did it for two nights and the owner was really nice and helpful.
Narrow, steep and cobbled streets die on the main road of the old town, Corso Umberto I, where all the restaurants, cafes and shops are.
Modica is a livable town, with beautiful churches to explore, such as Chiesa di San Pietro on the main road, Duomo di San Giorgio, with its beautiful steps…
Getting around was made easier by the Trenino barrocco. The tour was good and it had translation to different languages. Certainly it helped us to get to the very top of town and gave us a good look around the bits we wouldn’t have had the chance to see otherwise. Besides, kids (generally) love trains!
Modica is also known for its chocolate, which we had the chance to try for breakfast and also take some with us. There is a Chocolate Museum but we didn’t have the chance to visit it.
After our sweet breakfast we headed to Ragusa, where modern life is separate from the more touristic historic centre in Ibla.
Stunning and hilly like Modica, mostly pedestrian. Not the ideal town when you have a pushchair with you but at least the are no obstacles. Spent the whole day walking around and enjoying its park and restaurants.
We treated ourselves with a two nights stay in the middle of nowhere and that was B&B Montemare near Agrigento. Pleased with the blind choice we made, it really was a break from the touristic towns we had visited so far.
From there, we had the chance to visit the Valle dei Templi in Agrigento. It’s a collection of seven Greek temples from the 6th and 5th centuries BC. All that history put together can be a bit overwhelming, but you can take as much time as you need since the site is pretty huge. Easy to get around with children and with audio guides available in all languages, made it a nice afternoon with a beautiful sunset behind the temples.
I would highlight the car park system. I am not sure if we were ripped off again but we parked in the main car park and then we got driven by a shared taxi up to the entry of the site.
And after the long walks, we headed to Agrigento for dinner and a drink. Just making the most of a sleeping baby in the stroller!
On the next day, we drove to Scala dei Turchi, an amazing site for a picture shared by many on social media… And I really had a good laugh when I saw the behind the scenes of those stunning pictures.
Don’t get me wrong. It is a beautiful white cliff by the sea with amazing views, but getting up there is not convenient at all. You have to cross the water from the shore of the beach to the cliff with all your belongings and climb up the cliff, which is not an easy task when you are carrying a baby. But, oh well, finally made it up there and people greeted me as a hero.
Finished off our day around the area, having late lunch in one of the restaurants and swimming in the sea.
We were recommended to visit Villa Romana di Cassale on our way to Taormina, but we skipped it since it was really hot and we were tired. We drove all the way to Taormina in one go instead.
Taormina is a pretty busy town on a hill. Therefore I wouldn’t advise to stay in the area we did, Via Nazionale, close to the sea. Not knowing the area at all before hand, made our apartment choice a disaster.
We survived, though. There is a cable car that goes every 15 minutes from the bottom of the hill, where many hotels and apartments are, to the centre of the city. So that saved us, but the walk to the station was painful, since there is no real sidewalk on the main road and it’s full of cars. There are other choices, though, like the hop-on hop-off bus, with many more stops along the way up.
Taormina is very touristic so all the main streets are full of restaurants, cafes and nice shops. And that’s what we did for the first day. The vibe is really nice.
The next day we were meant to visit the Teatro Antico di Taormina, an amphitheater with amazing views to the sea but we finally didn’t, even though I’ve been told it’s really worth it. It also holds different events so you could try and do both in one go.
Instead we had a more chilled day by the sea in Isola Bella, a small island rich in natural beauty and a pebble beach in front of it, set at the foot of Taormina. We payed a small fee to visit the private-owned island itself, but it was on maintenance so we couldn’t see much of it.
There are also boat trips leaving from the shore, something interesting to do with children if they are into it. We couldn’t do it because of the weather but it takes you around the main bays nearby and also allows one to see Taormina from the sea. I’m sure it’s beautiful.
In the afternoon we drove up to Castelmola, so we could see the Etna Volcano from closer, but it was quite foggy up there. Still, it was worth the visit to this tiny village.
We drove towards Catania for our last night in Sicily. We stayed in what looked like a pretty doggy area at first, but the accommodation, B&B XX Miglia, and specially the owners turned out to be the nicest people we came across. They recommended a quick tour around the city and few restaurants and bars.
We walked around the main sites: Teatro romano in the middle of the city, built with dark volcanic stone, Via Etna, the big park close to it and towards the piazza del Duomo, where the Cathedral is. We also visited the area around Teatro Massimo Bellini, an opera house named after the local-born composer Vincenzo Bellini.
We started the day with a nice breakfast and a walk around our area and then drove back to the airport with enough time to return car, get a kid ready for the plane and not die trying.
Generally speaking, we had a great time, except for some issues we had with the rented car, restaurant services and food, as it seemed we were easy target for a rip off.
I was also shocked with the amount of garbage on the side of some roads. But other than that, we overall enjoyed the towns we visited, the sun and the beach.