I recently took an amazing vacation to Sicily. I stayed in the Agrigento area in a little town called Ribera. It is in the south of Sicily and is home to just about 20,000 people. You can really feel the intimacy of the small town here, people started recognizing me on my second day there! By the end, the barista knew how I liked me coffee, and also my evening cocktail (cappuccino in the morning, Amaro del Capo at night). I used the website Wishsicily to find villas in Sicily, and was able to get a lovely one with a balcony in the central piazza. It was an enchanting week, and I recommend it to anyone who loves great food, southern Italian culture, small-town environments, stunning landscapes, turquoise waters and gorgeous beaches. What’s not to love?
Ribera is about 223 meters above sea level, but it is close to a lot of gorgeous beaches. For example, there are some white sand beaches at Sciacca, Seccagrade, Toree Salsa and the resort of Eraclea Minoa. Eraclea Minoa is quite stunning, it is set on a hill above massive cliffs made entirely of natural chalk. It is the remains of the ancient city of Eraclea Minoa, which was a Greek settlement. You can also check out the Greek Theatre ruins before heading down to the long sandy beach below.
Speaking of chalk beaches, don’t miss Scala dei Turchi. It is about 30 minutes south of Araclea Minoa and 15 minutes north of Agrigento. It is a huge chalk cliff in the shape of stairs climbing out of the turquoise sea below. You can cover yourself with the chalky substance, which is an amazing exfoliant for your skin. As it dries you will turn as white as the cliffs themselves. Then just jump in the water below and rinse it off. As you walk out, you will feel totally rejuvenated. Sprawl out on the sandy beach in the Sicilian sun with a good book… and I promise you, nothing is better.
For a bit of culture, I went to the Church of Our Lady in Ribera. It was built back in the 17th century and is simply stunning. The town hall is also lovely, it was built in the 18th century and still used today. Just a short drive from the center is the Castello di Poggio Diana, an enchantingly beautiful castle built in the 14th century. All that is left are the old walls, which are kind of falling down, and two amazing towers. You can get up close and personal, like many ruins in Sicily. It was constructed by the Normans, but very well preserved over time. It was a very strategic location, about 200 meters above sea level.
The views from the castle of Poggio Diana are amazing. I visited it with a friend of mine, Sicilian, that I had met in Ribera. He took some of the best pictures of me ever. I think it was due to the stunning location, the lovely orange light of the “golden hour” which is what cinematographers call the hour before the sun goes down. You can sea the Mediterranean Sea in the background, and I look simply joyful. Well, I was. It was the best vacation of my life.