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Top 5 Places to Visit in Sicily – Inspiration for The House by the Sea by Louise Douglas.

We can’t physically go to Sicily at the moment, but we can travel there in our minds. Here’s a brief, guided tour of some of my favourite places. I’m not an expert, and I’m sure I’ll have missed out some great spots, so it would be brilliant to know of your favourites.

The three best known attractions in Sicily are the city of Palermo, the tourist-magnet hilltop town of Taormina with its spectacular Greco-Roman amphitheatre, and Mount Etna, but everyone knows about them, so we won’t go there today.

  1. Let’s start in the old city of Modica. The loveliest, most unassuming city rebuilt after the terrible earthquake of 1693 on the hills on either side of a deep valley. Don’t miss the Chiesa di San Giorgio. It has an incredible Gothic façade rising above steps and gardens lush with bougainvillea tumbling over the walls and jasmine winding though the limbs of ancient trees. On the floor inside is a working, elliptical sundial which is illuminated by the sun coming through the windows at noon; mysterious and wonderful.
  1. Next we’ll go to visit the Valle dei Templi at Agrigento. These are the ancient ruins of seven Doric style monuments built by the residents of the then Greek settlement several centuries BC. The temples are dramatically perched along the top of a hillside with fantastic views and are breath-taking in their scale and magnificence. There’s also a very good museum which helps put everything in perspective. Don’t forget to bring a hat, it can be very hot on that wonderful hill and the sun shines brightly up there. Salinunte is another marvellous spot for ruins.
  1. Siracusa next, for a spot of lunch. This wonderfully relaxed city is famous for its archaeological park comprising a Roman amphitheatre, Greek theatre and the Orecchio di Dionisio – a limestone cave shaped like an ear. But for now, let’s simply wander around the sea front, where a beautiful blue sea splashes gently against the stone; let’s eat some pizza and enjoy a cold drink and watch the little fishing boats coming in.
  1. Erice is a perfect little medieval hilltop town built above the town of Trapani, interesting in its own right for its saltpans. Trapani is also the place to catch the ferry out to the Aegadian islands. This is a good time of year for us to visit Erice, it gets really busy in July and August. We can take the cable car up the steep hill and marvel at the views from the top. We can explore the narrow streets, look at the display in the window of the most amazing bakery, Maria Grammatico; we could even treat ourselves to a bitter espresso and an almond and lemon pastry before we explore the castle.
  1. I was going to take you to the amazing city of Ragusa so we could climb its tiny, steep streets together passing fountains and gardens, richly ornamental facades, alleyways, piazzas, balconies and churches. And we haven’t visited Montalbano’s house in Punta Secca or the picturesque town of Cefalu or the Torre Salsa nature reserve, or the Tonnaria di Scopello, no longer used for butchering tuna, thankfully, but the prettiest place set above the clearest, emerald water. Instead, let’s go to the beach. Hardly anyone will be there, and the sand will be warm and the water cool and clean and inviting. Let’s sit in the sun and lean back against a rock and be grateful that we’re here.


The House By The Sea is out now in ebook, audiobook and paperback.
Get your copy now by clicking on the cover below.

Cover design for The ouse by the Sea book. Iron gates, gravel bath and old white mansion on a cliff.

The House by the Sea cover.


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