My Top 21 Family Travel Tips For East Sicily

Recently I have received a few lovely messages and emails asking if Sicily is a good holiday destination for families. The answer is YES.

Italians love children BUT Sicilians adore them.

Sicilians show deep respect and admiration for little ones and restaurants, bars and hotels are eager to accommodate families and children, so there is no need to be shy about asking for special favours or services and you will find that they will probably even have a fuss made of them in the streets by the locals while you are out and about.

Sicilian families stick together and often eat out in large groups sometimes into the early hours. As Summer drags on the afternoon siesta gets longer and evening meals start later so you will probably notice that the local kids stay up until well after midnight.

Food in Sicily is unlikely to be a problem, kids love pizza and pasta right?

Menus in Sicily do not always have a separate menu for children but a mezza porzione (smaller portion) is usually available on request.

High summer in Sicily can be hot and the heat and sun can be exhausting for little ones so always make sure that they are smothered in sun block, drink plenty of water, wear a hat and take a siesta.

Pharmacies and supermarkets carry most baby requirements from nappies to formula food however you may not see the brands that you are used to at home.

There are lots of activities and fun to be enjoyed by young explorers on the island, therefore here are my top 21 travel tips for families visiting Eastern Sicily to help create a magical holiday full of child's play together;

1 ... Volcanoes
Children love volcanoes and have most probably learned about them at school in science class making Sicily the perfect destination to see a real and live volcano up close to go home and tell their teachers about. Mount Etna is one of the largest and most active volcanoes in the world and its awesome presence dominates Eastern Sicily. Two more volcanoes can be found on two of the Aeolian Islands that lie off the north eastern coast of Sicily. Vulcano is a spent volcano although it still has constant sulphur emissions seeping out of its main crater and Stromboli has been active for more than two millennia spewing sparks and red hot rocks into the air. Day excursions are popular to Etna and the Aeolian Islands.

2 ... Beaches
Sicily boasts some incredible beaches both sandy and pebbles and most offer sunbed and umbrella rentals. Many rent out pedal boats and water sport equipment. Children love snorkelling in the islands clear water where they can identify fish and sea life that live near the shoreline. Masks, flippers, floating boards and other snorkelling equipment can usually be purchased from even the smallest shops in seaside towns.

3 ... Castles
All of Sicily's invaders needed to defend their positions so they built fortified castles along the coastline and on high points inland to guard the roads and towns. Sicily's countless castles are rich in history and offer good clambering around the ramparts, searching for secret passageways, dungeons, trapdoors, tiny spy windows and hidden places from which the occupants would pour boiling oil down onto the enemy creating more stories for your children's history teachers back home.

4 ... Archaeological Sites
More lessons in history can be found at Sicily's numerous archaeological sites. Taormina boasts a 3rd century BC Greek theatre which is the second largest in Sicily. The archaeological site of Syracuse has rich remains of its ancient colony dating back to 733BC, do not miss the Ear of Dionysius which got its name from a large opening resembling an ear. Thanks to the remarkable acoustics in the cave words whispered in one part can be clearly heard elsewhere creating lots of fun for children. At Agrigento you can explore the Valley of the Temples and in Piazza Armerina discover Villa Romana del Casale which shows the remains of a Roman villa where decorative mosaic designs adorn the floor.

5 ... Boat Trips
Sail around the Eastern coastline and spend a few hours of fun with your Captain. Visit grottos and sea caves and swim in beautiful blue waters whilst discovering the underwater world of the Ionian Sea with a snorkel. Trips usually include snacks, fruits and drinks.

6 ... Puppets
Sicilian puppet theatres offer rip-roaring, gory re-enactments of the Norman crusader sword fights with lively music and they encourage the audience to cheer for their favourite character. The puppets speak in Italian or in Sicilian dialect but usually an English written account is provided by the theatre. In any case it is usually easy enough to follow the action without understanding a word. A visit to a Sicilian puppet makers workshop is always a fascinating experience watching a skilled craftsman working his magic.

7 ... Alcantara Gorge
Deep in the Alcantara Valley not too far from Taormina, the Alcantara River runs at the bottom of a 20m (65ft) deep basalt gorge. From the car park walk down the steps or take the lift to the bottom where you can walk with waders, which are available to rent, between narrow walls and over waterfalls. The gorge is a perfect place as a respite from the Sicilian sun as the waters are icy cold, but please be aware that the currents can sometimes be strong for little legs. Pack a picnic and beach towels to make a day of it sitting on the smooth stone riverbank alongside the water.

8 ... Villas
Villa holidays are a great choice if you are looking for peace and quiet or the freedom to come and go as you please with no set itineraries or meal times to keep to. When travelling with a family they are an excellent alternative to a package holiday that come with all the necessary creature comforts also with the added options of a private chef. Villa holidays are a great way of spending quality family time together in a tranquil environment.

9 .. Agriturismi
An agriturismo is primarily a farm with a number of rooms for guests where you can enjoy the taste of local produce and be made to feel part of the family. Most often they are restored farmhouses located on quiet beautiful terrains where you can become at one with nature. They usually have an array of farm animals to pet such as horses, donkeys, cows, goats, ducks and chickens. What could be better than collecting your own eggs for breakfast or helping to milk the goats then learning to make ricotta cheese?

10 ... Pizza Making
Children love pizza and Sicily is full of pizzeria's which are often geared towards families. What could be more fun than making your own pizza? However do not be surprised to find the dough base ending up being topped with toppings such as fried eggs, hot dogs and French fries.

11 ... Ice Cream
Children love Ice Cream. What makes Sicilian ice cream (gelato) so special is its base, a crema developed from Arab and Spanish culinary influences producing a rich, smooth and light treat. However a trip to a Gelaterie is a treat in itself with all the delightful colours in the display cabinets and an abundant choice of tempting flavours such as bubblegum, tutti fruiti and a whole lot more.

12 ... Street Food
Join a walking tour of Catania discovering its street food culture whilst learning everything about this amazing city rich in art, history, architecture and culture. Explore the cities famous markets sampling traditional Sicilian street food such as Arancini and get a certificate stamped to say you ate it all. Every child likes to go home with a certificate don't they?

13 ... Horse Riding and Donkey Trekking
Horses are good for children and horse riding is one of the most amazing and fun experiences for children in Sicily. Whether it is just a gentle canter around the arena of a stable, a trek through the forests of Mount Etna or along one of the beaches. A trek on a donkey is a slower ride and done in small stages over time so that you can enjoy the surrounding areas. Whether you choose horse riding or donkey trekking your little ones will make a new four legged friend for life.

14 ... Bike Rides
The hilly and mountainous landscape of Eastern Sicily is ideal for cycling and mountain biking. Either rent a bike yourself or with older children join a mountain bike tour with a lead cyclist riding in the beautiful Alcantara Valley passing the Alcantara Gorge, riding through amazing volcanic landscapes, citrus and olive groves and through medieval towns. For 15 years and over only.

15 ... Ceramic Painting
Visit a traditional Sicilian workshop for a ceramic painting class and take home your finished creation as a souvenir. With the help of a local artist you will learn about Sicily's ceramic history as you paint and discover some of the island's centuries old techniques and traditions. It is a fun 2 hour experience for all ages and abilities and the lesson even includes a glass of prosecco for adults.

16 ... Etnaland's Aquapark
Etnaland is Southern Italy's largest theme park. Etnaland also has the largest water park in Europe with over 24 attractions, including the dinosaur park, the cableway, the crocodile rapids and an amazing laser show amongst many others, all under the watchful eye of Mount Etna. The atmosphere is cheerful and it is a lot of fun for everyone. For tiny ones they can play in the mini lagoon and mini waterslides. There are lifeguards who monitor the safety of the park's guests.

17 ... Lava Museum
Go down into the bowels of a volcano whilst comfortably seated in the 3D projection room of the Museum of Lava and Volcanoes. Moving images stir emotions and excitement that seem real. See rivers of lava flow beside you, peer inside the heart of a volcano full of fire and magma. The museum offers a modern and interactive view of volcanology and offers the opportunity to appreciate, in a simple and attractive way, the complex world of Mount Etna.

18 ... Butterfly Park
At Monte Serra Park there is a tropical garden which is the natural habitat for hundreds of colourful butterflies flying free to feed and reproduce. Your children will be amazed to see a caterpillar turn into a butterfly all while a snail is sheltering under a leaf and a giant millipede goes across a branch. Colourful birds, that inhabit the greenhouse, fly around you docile and curious. You can marvel at the silkworm in the exhibition dedicated to the history of silk in Sicily during Arabic and Norman rule on the island, when it became a centre of silk production and silk weaving for royal robes.

19 ... Adventure Park
At Parco Avventura Etna you can fly like Tarzan and Jane. With walkways, funicular railways, cable cars and bridges, children can experience many stunts in the air suspended in the woods of Mount Etna. They can experience different levels of difficulty by hanging on a harness with a safety helmet, experiencing the sensation of flying. A strong desire for adventure and fun is all you need to plunge into the world of Adventure Park Etna. There is also plenty for the adults to do to.

20 ... Aquarium
The Acquario of Syracuse offers a close look at marine life in the Mediterranean and the seas surrounding Sicily, housed in 40 different tanks. Additional sections are dedicated to fresh water and tropical habits. The aquarium is located at the beautiful surrounding of the mythical Fonte Aretusa on the island of Ortigia.

21 ... Chocolate 
The South Eastern town of Modica is famous for its chocolate which is considered to be the best in Europe. The town's chocolate production has been hand crafted there since the 1600's and follows an ancient Aztec recipe. Chocolate can be eaten at the height of Summer without it melting in little peoples hands, a dream come true for most parents. This is possible thanks to the cold processing of the cocoa solids that does not blend with the sugar. Take a tour of a chocolate factory and imagine Willy Wonka Sicilian style.

So as you can see Sicily IS the perfect destination for a family holiday,
you will spend a memorable time that just keeps going on and on.

Your perfect family holiday is waiting for you.

Please feel free to contact me for more
information on experiences, activities
and accommodation

If you enjoy this post then you might enjoy my previous post
"Mount Etna and the Legend of King Arthur"

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Love Sarah and Daisy ?xxx