Sicily by oldtimer

We are in Sicily, Italy, for a special kind of road trip. We land at the Catania airport where we rent an old Alfa Romeo Giulia to discover the eastern part of the island. At the coffee corner we meet Ben, the owner of the old timer road trip company Sicily by classic. He takes us to Linguaglossa, the start point of our trip. Like a real Italian he races trough the busy airport traffic while using the horn and hand gesticulations very often. We are in Italy, so much is clear.

oldtimers Sicily
The three old timers used for tour trips

After an hour we arrive at the Shalai hotel in Linguaglossa. We stay here for two nights to rest before we start our journey. We read the roadbook, relax at the spa and test our Giulia on a drive over the Etna volcano.

The Etna

On the third day, the adventure really begins. With the roadbook, a combination of arrows and dots as a route description, as our guide we head for Ragusa. After a little hour we leave the autostrada for smaller country roads. The further we get to the south, we see olive trees make place for orange trees, who smell delicious. Parallel to an old cattle road we continue to Vizzini. After a good lunch in this small town, we start the last stage to Ragusa. We pass Giarratana follow some spectacular small country roads, it’s a feast to drive the Alfa here.
When we arrive in Ragusa we take a little nap in the hotel, to recover from this exhausting day. After a shower, we head for dinner. La Locandina, a small trattoria in the center of Ragusa Ibla is suggested. And with reason, we have a great meal in a cool wine cellar between all these valuable bottles. If this is going to continue, we’ll gain some weight this vacation.

olive trees
Olive trees

Tuesday morning we start the Giulia again to drive via Modica and Ispica to Masseria degli Ulivi. We stop in Modica for lunch and to shop. Laboratorio Bonajuto is the only place left where they make chocolate following the old, original recipe. In the small shop we discover tastes like we’ve never tasted before. Chocolate with sea salt, with red pepper and with cinnamon. The friendly lady at the counter offers us another specialty: pork meat with chocolate, impannatiggia. Enthusiastic as she is, she tells us that chocolate is very healthy and you don’t get fat from it. A simple look at her tells us she’s lying, but sure she can sell her delicious foods. We leave the shop with a few bags full of chocolate.

Duomo Modica
Duomo di Modica

From then on, the stress begins. Following the roadbook, we leave the main road and turn into a dirt track. This wobbly road get smaller and smaller, turning back isn’t an option. To our relief, the roadbook descriptions seems to correspond to what we view. Slowly, we follow the track, avoiding the holes in the road. We are in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by rocks and wild nature. After some miles arrive at Noto Antica, the ruins of a town which was destroyed in 1663 by an earthquake.

After 30 minutes of looking at old stones we drive further over a very small bridge. Down the road we see an old monastery with a magnificent view. Some miles later we’re back on the main road and arrive at Masseria.

Noto Antica
Noto Antica

After a good night of sleep, we’re back in the car for the next stage. Today we drive to the coast to see small village like Marzamemi and the Vendicarì national park. We take a stop at Noto for an Italian breakfast and to see the baroque monuments. The planned cappuccino and croissant are replaced with a local variant: almondgranita, a sort of espresso which is slowly poured through a granita while eating a brioche. Magnificent.

Granita panno soto
Granita panno soto

We leave Noto taking the SP 19 to Portopalo. We leave the national park for what it is and drive to Calamosce, a small beach. We park the car near a small restaurant and go to the beach on foot. Sand, sea and sun is all we need. While we are baking on the beach like a burger in a grill, we start to think about our lunch plans. Lobster at Popeye’s in Portapalo, or more chique near Cortile Arabo is Marzamemi. We choose the latter. Mariangela the waitress recognizes our roadbook and proposes to make some dishes for us, without looking at the menu. We agree, and soon our table is flooded with grilled little fish, scampi’s, vegetables and pasta’s. After an espresso we walk through Campisi to buy some botarga, which is dried tuna, and some other local specialties.


Wednesday morning we start with a visit to Villa Telaro. Our roadbook says there are some beautiful mosaics here, as good as these at the tourist crowded Piazza Armerina. On different places, they are still being renovated, but the parts we can see are worth the detour. The archeologist on site are also very friendly and give us a lot of historical background about these mosaics.

Villa telaro mosaics

In the afternoon we descend into the Cavagrande del Cassibile. Down there we can swim in the different little pools near the river. The climb back up is exhausting. Two hours later and with sour calves we’re back at the car.

Cavagrande del Cassibile
Cavagrande del Cassibile

After a last swim in the pool of our hotel, we head Thursday morning for Siracuse. After our trip through the countryside, we’re back into the modern world now. More and more industry and road construction works everywhere. Lucky enough, Ortigia, a peninsula and the old heart of Siracuse, is an oasis of rest. Malin, our hostess at the hotel Gutkowski kan can’t be Italian. After a while she tells us she Swedish, which explain her blond hair an blue eyes. Anyway. We decide to give our Giulia a day of rest and start to explore Ortigia on foot. We visit the Jewish bathing house, Il Duomo and discover Scenaparenti, a small shop with old theater and movie artifacts.


Friday morning we’re back in the Giulia and drive to Catania. We arrive at noon and follow the roadbook tip to restaurant Mm. Four hours later we can be rolled out of the restaurant and we’re happy to have followed the good advice. We wander through the streets and take some cocktails at the local bar during our last evening on the island.
Saturday morning, Ben awaits us to take us to the airport. After a last cappuccino we say goodbye to La Giulia, Ben and a wonderful time on Sicily

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La Giulia
La Giulia

road trip, europe, italy