By Nora Fahmi
Prosciutto and mozzarella sandwiches wrapped in aluminum foil. Check. Arancine di riso. Check. A few trays of cannoli and cassata. Check. Ten litres of water. Check. Off to the beach!
While spending time on the beach is an Italian passion, Sicilians have made it an art form. Equipped to feed an army, or two, many Sicilians spend their precious summer Sundays at the beach with family and friends eating and sunbathing. With a plethora of stunning coastlines across the territory, who wouldn’t? Western Sicily is especially famed for its varied seaside destinations.
One of the island’s most beautiful beaches happens to be just 12 kilometres from the capital, Palermo. Getting there by bus from the city centre is cheap and easy; it’s no surprise Mondello beach is popular with the locals. It’s important to note that given the number of people who opt for the bus, the ride can be quite unpleasant. But the journey is quickly forgotten once at the heavenly destination.
With a 2-kilometre stretch of white sand, clear turquoise water and distant rocky peaks, the setting is picture perfect. For a succulent seafront dinner, restaurant options are plentiful. Mondello also attracts lovers of architecture with its stunning Art Nouveau-style villas lining the shore.
Lo Zingaro Nature Reserve
West of Palermo, Lo Zingaro Nature Reserve’s hiking trails leading to pristine little beaches draws those who prefer a more peaceful day under the Sicilian sun. With fewer people who take to the trails, only a handful will set their towels at one of the pebbly beaches of Punta della Capreira, Calla della Dista, Berretta, Marinella or Torre dell’Uzzo. Established in 1981, the Nature Reserve stretches over 7 kilometres and is home to roughly 650 species of plants and 39 species of birds. Crystalline water, steep peaks, grottoes and coves make for an unforgettable beach adventure.
San Vito Lo Capo
Undoubtedly one of the most gorgeous beaches of Italy, San Vito Lo Capo’s azure water, white sand and dramatic mountains attract thousands of beachgoers every year. With its shallow waters and its great facilities, it is particularly popular with families with young children. Every September since1998, San Vito Lo Capo hosts the delicious international Couscous Fest – an event adored by locals and tourists alike.
The Egadi archipelago is made up of three larger and more visited islands (Favignana, Levanzo and Marettimo) and a series of smaller ones. Just west of Trapani, frequent hydrofoil trips take visitors to the glorious crystalline waters that lap these charming hilly islands. The largest, most developed and closest to the coast, Favignana attracts the most vacationers. For those who seek solitude, the smallest island of Levanzo guarantees a peaceful time surrounded by picturesque scenery. The most isolated island of Marettimo is especially attractive for its hiking trails, unspoilt panoramas and shallow waters.
Scala dei Turchi
For a beach experience like no other, Agrigento’s Scala dei Turchi (Stairs of the Turks) is an obvious choice. Two beaches are divided by the impressive scala, or cliff, made of white sedimentary rock called marl. This natural work of art rises above striking blue waters – a bather’s paradise. Scala dei Turchi’s memorable sunset is the icing on the cake.