What do you do when you have 4 days to pass in Italy before you can return to Rome to pick up a passport? You head down to Sicily! To avoid backtracking we decided to take a 10 hour overnight ferry from Naples down to Sicily. Fortunately we were very lucky to find a cheap ferry ticket and although it meant spending the night on the floor of the ferry, it was worth it.
With only a day stop over we didn’t have all that long to explore Naples. As soon as we got off the train, we immediately felt the “grungy” vibe that Naples is known for. Graffiti filled walls and gritty streets are almost everywhere you look and some may say this makes the city, but looking past all of that, Naples, the 3rd largest city in Italy, still has a lot to offer.
One day in Naples
- Underground City (Naples Sotterranea) – This underground city was quite impressive. 40m below the historical streets of Naples you become entrenched in a different world. You walk through extremely narrow tunnels carrying only candles in parts to see your way, you see the wells that were built some 2400 years ago and learn about the history and mysteries of the Naples underground city, which was even a bomb shelter during WWII.
- Stations of Art – Quite possibly the coolest metro station we have seen – ever. The station was filled with a range of bright over the top colors & modern abstract art installations, lit up throughout. The one we stumbled across was as at the station “Universita” (shown below) although the “Toledo” station on the main shopping street is also worth a visit.
- Spaccanapoli– Take a walk down Spaccanapoli. This is the straight and narrow main street that divides the old historic center of the city of Naples, Italy. The name means “Naples Splitter”. From this street you can easily access a lot of Naples attractions.
- Eat Pizza – Naples is the home of pizza! We set out for one of the top recommended Pizzerias in Naples, L’Antica Pizzeria Da Michele founded in 1870. To avoid waiting in line for hours, get there when it opens at 11am and you’ll be eating by noon. The medium size (shown below) is more than enough to share between 2 people, only downside is due the high demand, the pizza isn’t as crispy as we personally like, but it was still very delicious. Cost €4.50.
Although we would have loved to explore the whole island of Sicily, we had to pick one destination for our 4 nights there, and we chose Mondello Beach (3 nights), just outside of Palermo (1 night), which gave us the perfect taste of the Sicilian lifestyle. Our favorite thing: all of the street food!
Mondello was an awesome beach town located 25 minutes from Palermo. It was easily accessible via bus from the city centre. The town itself was small but it was a very relaxing few days. Sometimes its tiring to be in large cities where you feel you need to be out and about all day every day snapping pictures of all the European monuments and sites that sometimes taking a break is just what you need. We didn’t feel we had anywhere to be other than the beach or getting in some much needed exercise.
We stayed at Mondello Home Hostel which was amazing. Very good value for money, located 15 minutes walk from the beach into the suburban streets of Mondello and only hosting 16 people, it felt like a home away from home. The host was a local Sicilian lady who hang out with us, provided an awesome breakfast and was there whenever you needed anything. We also made some friends from Argentina who we will be visiting next year! The joys of traveling 🙂
The main beach in Mondello during the summer is extremely crowded, its hard to find a comfortable spot unless you pay up for a sun bed. To avoid some of the crowds walk to the far end of the beach and around to the National Park known as Capo Gallo (shown below). Here you will find rocks to sit on & jump off and water clearer than at the main beach. It is a massive 50c to enter!
Palermo was much larger than we had anticipated, although you could see most of it in a full day and night. There was a lot of shopping, a selection of markets and an array of street food to be consumed.
We booked our 1 night in Palermo at Vespa bed and Breakfast. We chose this for its location and security. Located on the main street of Via Maqueda, you were within walking distance to all you needed in Palermo along with the bus to the airport. The rooms were very spacious and breakfast items were included.
What to do in Palermo
Honestly, in Palermo, other than walk the streets all we did was eat and shop and then shop and eat. Eating is what we did and do best. There were many different restaurants to try out and in the space of 1.5 days we stopped into numerous places, most recommended by locals.
- Bar Touring – Best place to try out an Arancini Ball. Yum Yum Yum.
- Trattoria Al Vecchio Club Rosanero – Very Authentic italian food run by a local family. Huge pasta portions for €4.
- Alcoholix – Interesting choice of name but it worked for us! A newly opened restaurant close to the area of Ballaro. Here we were able to get a sample plate of typical Sicilian dishes. (see below) The most interesting one? Just pure deep fried batter. Hmm.
- Drunks – Another interesting choice of name 😉 A locals bar for drinks in Piazza Magione.
- You definitely should try the “Torta Setteveli”. This cake is a combination of alternating chocolate and hazelnut layers, with a crunchy layer that combines both those flavors. This cake is native to Sicily and should be tried at Pasticceria Cappello.
- Trattoria Al Vecchio Club Rosanero – Cheap, local and decent portions!
Aside from restaurants, a Sicilian street market is a harmony of sights and sounds. From a colourful assortment of fruits, vegetables, fish and meats to vendors barking about bargains for anybody who will listen. The top markets to visit in Palermo at Ballaro’, Capo & Vucceria.
For any foodies out there, we recommend taking the Palermo Street Food tour. Donation based and you can try up to 9 different street foods with a history background to each of them.
Full as ever & potentially 4kg heavier we headed off to burn some calories ‘romeing’ the streets of Rome.. 😉
Married days survived: 170