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Perks of the Job - Sicily

One (amongst many) of the lovely things about working with the fabulous people at Essential Italy, is that I get to stay in the most amazing places and see the most amazing things.

This year, we decided on a week in Sicily in September. Once the crowds have subsided, the beaches are quieter but the weather is still hot. It was perfect!

We chose the north of the island, having never been there before. We flew to Palermo and drove, cross country, to the city of Trapani on the west coast of the island, staying in La Gancia Residencies - right on the coast with only the blue sea as a view. Heaven!

I'm not a sitting on a beach kind of person. I can last a couple of hours max., there's always way too much to see. So our holidays consist of a lot of doing and seeing; discovering hidden coves, visiting islands, walking through nature reserves and being bowled over by ancient sites - Favignana, the Greek temples at Agrigento and the incredible Zingaro Nature Reserve - all so worth a visit.

After three days, we packed our bags and drove to Palermo for some culture. Driving in Sicily is like nothing I have ever experienced. Every time I go, I think I'll be prepared, but I never am. Driving in Palermo, even with four eyes on the roads, was quite something!

Palermo is vibrant and noisy and messy and a maze of winding streets that we often got lost down. It's also extraordinarily beautiful. It doesn't feel like an Italian city - there seems to be a glorious mix of Italian, African and European cultures. We arrived at our hotel pretty frazzled, but stepped into the chic oasis of Il Giardino di Ballaro, an amazing B&B behind a huge wooden door offering a welcoming calm. Wonderful spacious rooms with a green courtyard garden full of glorious cooling trees - a real haven.

The architecture in Palermo is incredible. Every corner brings another church - I always have to step inside, I have severe church FOMO - or a square or a lovely avenue of Baroque-ness. Remember to look up!

It isn't holiday. It's research (can I get away with saying that?). If I'm telling people about these places, I need to know these places - it really helps if I can write from knowledge and not just from descriptions. AND there was a lot of social media posts and stories to share documenting the wonders of this enchanting island.

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