Three weeks ago our family of four visited seven destinations in two countries (technically, London was a stopover 🙂 ) in 12 days with four carry-ons. Our first stop, Sicily.

Sicily is a stunning Mediterranean island that sits off the toe of Italy, full of history and culture. This beautiful island is known for its stunning landscapes, wonderful weather, and beautiful beaches.

Sicily was a special vacation for our family, especially for hubby and the twins. Finding their roots and learning their ancestral histories was very profound and emotional. It gave me so much joy to witness and be part of that experience.

Here’s what we learned while having fun and making memories in a foreign country:

We Fly

Getting to Sicily can be a challenge visiting from the states. And it’s not cheap either, especially for a family of four.  However, we managed to save close to $3k total by booking two separate roundtrip tickets from two separate airlines with stopovers in London, Rome, and Milan.  British Airways was awesome. Alitalia, on the other hand, needs a lot of improvements when it comes to refreshment services – just water and coke ain’t gonna cut it for a lot of people, especially when you have kids!

Tip: Pack light by bringing a carry-on.  This gives you the flexibility in changing flights if needed.

We Stay

We chose to stay at a flat in Sicily. I can’t tell you how convenient and gorgeous this place was. It is located in Ortigia, listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, with breathtaking sea views from almost every balcony.  A two bedroom oasis that can sleep up to 6 people!  We saw so many quaint/chic hotels in the area while walking around.  So, in terms of lodging, you won’t have an issue locating a place, and the rates are reasonable too!

Tip:  Stay in Ortigia because the entire tip of the island is safe, walkable, clean, and full of festivities.

We Drive

Although there are trains available we preferred to rent a car to roam around the island ( a very big one indeed!) given the heat. Car seats are optional and not required for kids 6 years or older.  Getting around is not easy if you’re not familiar with the place or the language.  The signage there is terrible.

Unless you have a GPS you won’t know when to exit from the highway to get to the beach.  Luckily, we were able to use the Here WE Go app to reach all the points of interest without a hitch.  This app pinpoints where you are and tells you turn by turn to go while offline.  We didn’t have to use our international data plan at all 🙂

Tip: If you decide to rent a car, go with an American company – their terms are lenient and better in terms of customer service.  And make sure to specify an automatic transmission if you are not familiar with driving a manual transmission car.

We Explore

We had a day or two setback due to some car rental issues so we didn’t get to see other places like Palermo and Taormina that we had originally planned. However, we were able to pack in a lot of destinations that are known in Sicily from Ear Dionysus in Siracusa to Duomo of San Giorgio in Ragusa Ibla.  Stay tuned for upcoming posts regarding these destinations.

Tip: The weather is nice and crisp in the morning and late at night.  If you can, start your day trip as early as possible to avoid the sun and the heat.

We Eat & Drink

If you love seafood and pasta then you will love Sicilian food. Almost every restaurant has the same menu but there are a few that are better than others. We mainly dine in Ortigia for dinner after our day trips.  Here are some of our favorites in Ortigia:

Timilia – If you want to experience good, local, satisfying food, make an effort and visit Timillia.  Our host recommended this place to us.  They have the best pizza in town – order the Truffle with Mushroom pizza.

Sicilia in Tavola – Order the Ravioli with Pistachios.

Don Camillo – Order the prawn with sea urchin rolled in black seaweed.

Ristorante cinese Shanghai – Yes, there is one Chinese restaurant in Ortigia, if not the only one.  We stumbled upon this place while walking around.  By then we had to have Chinese food because you can only eat so much pizza, pasta, and seafood for 9 straight days.  The portions are small but the food is very delicious.  Order the fried gelato for dessert.

Tip: The restaurants are not open until 7:30pm for dinner so plan accordingly.

We Play

You will be shocked to know that hubby and I are not beach people.  However, our twins absolutely love the beach.  To keep them from getting bored, we made sure to incorporate our day trips to the beach every couple days.  The beaches are clean, beautiful, and not crowded.  The twins had a blast playing with the sand and the waves – the best natural sleeping pills!

Tip:  Make sure to bring SPF for the entire family so that you don’t end up getting fried.  You can also buy them at any grocery stores in Sicily.

We Indulge

I think this place is heaven for kids because no matter where you look and turn there’s always pizzas and gelatos!  And of course, there’s no bad espresso here so it’s heaven for hubby too!

Tip: If your kids want two or three gelatos a day let them.  You’re on vacation so enjoy 🙂

The Sicily vacation has been dreamy. Sicily is filled with so much natural beauty. The people are warm and friendly (they love kids BTW). The food is delicious. The places are clean and surrounded by beautiful beaches.  Make sure to bring a universal adaptor as well as a portable charger for using your phone – you will need it!

We learned so much and saw areas and things that we would never imagine to discover when in a public transportation.  Until then, our next adventure awaits!