Bucket List: 14 Dreamy Days in Cinque Terre and Sicily
New York couple finds beauty in seaside Cinque Terre and scenic Sicily
Jorge Ariza and Yelena Danilova are motivated by many things. Beauty is definitely one of them. When it came to picking a destination from their bucket list, this NYC-based couple chose the scenic shores of Cinque Terre and the island of Sicily—with a short visit in Rome and Florence—to top it off.
What were the stand-out highlights of your trip?
Definitely hiking from village to village through the mountains in Cinque Terre, Italy, was beautiful and mildly challenging—it will take hours and a pair of good tennis shoes, but if you are up for it, stellar views will be your reward. We also had a great time walking all over Rome and shopping in Florence, although we were only there for a short while.
Where do you recommend staying when in Cinque Terre?
We think we made the right choice picking Manarola as our basecamp to explore the region. It was absolutely beautiful and so romantic. (The sunsets!) In Manrola, we tried some awesome fresh seafood, accompanied by local wines, at Trattoria Dal Billy. At Trattoria Il Porticciolo, the zuppa di pesce (seafood stew) was out of this world.
How did you get around Sicily? And which towns do you recommend exploring?
Exploring Sicily by car was not only necessary but a real adventure by itself. When in Taormina, do yourself a favor and drive all the way up to the little village of Corleone—the views and local flavors are fantastic. It’s no wonder that they chose that village to film “The Godfather.”
Definitely stop in nearby Cefalu for some Arab flavor, and then stroll through Palermo. We recommend stopping in the Il Siciliano restaurant and bar. The owner hangs out there, and he is such a character! The place has an artsy bohemian vibe and a young Sicilian crowd. Be sure to try a birria Minchia (Sicilian craft beer) and a selection of their appetizers.
What are some ways that you were able to add value or find travel deals?
Surprisingly, the food and drinks in Cinque Terre and Sicily were not expensive at all. We were able to get a good deal in advance on accommodations when booking with TripAdvisor and staying in Airbnb apartments.
A lot of people love to shop when they get to Italy. Any advice for maximizing your money while shopping for Italian goods?
While in Sicily, stray away from shopping malls or outlets, which are such a waste of time. If you want to shop in Sicily, you might as well do it in Palermo. If you want to buy good leather jackets, bags, gloves or shoes in Italy, the street markets in Florence are a must-visit. We brought an extra piece of luggage, and Yelena managed to stuff it full with beautiful leather jackets and outfits from local boutiques and shops. If you like beautiful Italian watches, Panerai and U-Boat have their official boutiques in Florence as well.
What advice do you have for first-time travelers to Italy?
- Pack super lightly.
- Bring comfy shoes and a light rain jacket.
- Mingle with locals in Palermo, Rome and Florence.
- Wake up early and have an espresso with a crostata (an Italian tart).
- Go swimming in Manarola, and dive from the cliffs.
- In Taormina, eat pasta and drink wine on the main street, Corso Umberto, while people-watching and listening to live Italian music.
- In Florence, if you are hungry for a really good (and BIG) piece of steak, you have to try the region’s favorite beef dish, Bistecca Fiorentina.