Scooting around North East Sicilia

I have owned my beautiful chic shiny red Vespa for about eight years now and I love her.  Zorba loves her too and actually rides her more than I do these days.

Hiring scooters for the day and going off exploring the coastline was something we were looking forward to doing in Sicilia.  For 39 euro per day plus 3 euro for the lockable back box, I hired a Piaggio Liberty 125cc.  I specifically requested a scooter with big wheels and made sure they gave me a Liberty, not some other scuzzy scooter  – they did try to give me some Asian make with little wheels and I protested.  Zorba was initially given one with small wheels but after riding it down the hill 100 metres decided to take it back and request one with big wheels. He ended up with a Piaggio Beverly 125 cc.

I loved riding the Liberty. Ok, it’s not as cutesy-stylish as a Vespa, but it wins on performance on almost every level.  Better suspension, better handling, more power, smoother riding and better grip on the road making it so easy to zip around.

After spending 4 euro to fill her up, our first destination was the nearby town of Giardini Naxos.  Zorba and I stayed near here two years ago and feel as if we know the town well. We were on the hunt for the world’s best cannoli from a little patisserie we found back then.  We found a parking space so easily (love riding a scooter!) and walked up and down the main shopping street, twice, and still couldn’t find it.  Disappointed, we settled for an Illy caffe instead – which was at the perfect temperature so we could drink it down really fast.

What we did find however was a great little shoe shop that had everything in saldi at 40 per cent off.  Oh how I love a sale!! We both got excited to see good Italian brands such as Geox stocked.  Zorba bought some super cool casual lace up shoes that have green, white and red stripes, and I bought some really beautiful flat nude leather boots.  Yay!

On the scooter, Zorba did the Italian thing and carried all of the shoe shopping back between his knees, successfully may I add.

After dropping our new purchases off, we decided to ride the other way from our Villa Il Suk, aiming for a hilltop town we could see in the distance.  I’m not sure we made it to that hill top town exactly, but what we did end up doing was riding up and down a mini-mountain range passing through one non-descript town after the other including Letojanni, Melia, Mongiuffi, Roccafiorita, Limina, Lacco, and Sant’Alessio Siculo, for about an hour.

This is where we scooted around. It is far more mountainous than this map looks!

The roads were free from traffic and most signs of life.  The countryside was pretty dry and arid.  Each town we passed through seemed almost closed up and we hardly saw anyone around.

The conditions of the roads left a little to be desired. In more than a few places, the side of the road had collapsed or eroded away and was often just left without any warning signs or safety barriers.  It didn’t pose us any danger as it was easy to zip around the gaping big craters where the road once was.  It would have been a totally different story if there had been traffic.   We did eventually pass about three cars going the other way around lunch time, so people did exist in this part of Sicilia.


I was getting hungry so we stopped at Roccafiorita after seeing a restaurant sign.  The restaurant looked like it existed, but there was no one there.  No one answered the door and it looked very much closed.  Oh well. We headed to a Bar instead and in the little food warmer on the bar were some arancini. Zorba and I had one of those each, an espresso, and a little glass of water for a total of 4.40 euro (less than A$5).   The arancini was a delicious surprise.  Beautiful moist rice with a soft gooey centre of cheese, a Bolognese type sauce, and peas.  It was really yummy and quite filling!

Back on our trusty Piaggios, we decided to leave the mountains and head towards the coast.  It was so much fun riding down the windy hilly roads.  When we reached Sant’Alessio Siculo, we stopped for a gelato.  The gelateria also had crema di caffe granite too – yum yum slushy ice cold sweet coffee.  I love it!  We both had one of those and a gelato whilst looking out at the Mediterranean Sea.  Lovely!

Whist at the gelateria, we asked the friendly man where we were because we had no idea!  We knew we were on the coast, guessed that we were north of Taormina, but we didn’t actually know where we were.  We were told to follow the signs to Catania and we would see signs to Taormina.  Easy peasy.

By about 3pm, my poor skin was cooked in the baking hot relentless sun and I needed a swim. We rode back to our Villa Il Suk and jumped in the Hollywood pool – tzisssssss – my sizzling skin was cooled at last!  After that short stop, we decided to ride through Giardini Naxos and see what we could find.

We came across something I liked the look of:  Tutti Scarpe Megastore (Everything Shoes Megastore).  Two massive floors of discounted shoes – from Nike to Ferrari to Geox and a whole raft of brands I didn’t recognise.  Zorba bought himself some black leather Ferrari thongs – molto cool!  I bought some boring sports socks and that’s it.  I was conscious of carrying it and didn’t want to buy something for the sake of buying.  There wasn’t much in the way of winter shoes / boots and that’s really what I’m after (maybe I’ll find some in Spain?).

By the time we finished shoe shopping, it was time to return the scooters boo hoo L.  I loved my Liberty I really wanted to keep it. Zorba wanted to keep his too.   If I ever sell my shiny red Vespa in Perth, which I won’t, but if for some reason I have to, I’d buy a Liberty next for sure.

After being out and about all I day, I opted to stay in and babysit Miss 5, Indi and Master 3, Sam and let everyone else have a night out. As it turned out, everyone wanted a night in!  Gina cooked delicious pasta with a tomato sauce, I made a caprese salad, and Susie made a mixed salad.  We sat around the table and quaffed Nero D’Avola red wine and Syrah before finishing the meal with the world’s most delicious cannoli. I bought mini cannoli for everyone – 8 vanilla, 8 chocolate and 8 ricotta.  OMG they were heavenly!  It was a perfectly pleasant evening.

Mmm cannoli – best Sicilian food ever invented!

Happy family dinner at “home”

Buffalo mozzarella and tomato salad – salute!


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