One of my favorite new blogs about this complex isle I live on is Secret Sicily written by a fab virtual friend of mine named Oriana. I love meeting new people through their blogs and I think good blogging is about bringing out your own personality, passions and interests.
It was great to have a talk to the gal behind this wonderful resource for anyone planning a trip or currently traveling the island.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your blog… Introduce yourself.
I’m originally from Palermo, but I’ve been living outside of Italy (in the UK and the Netherlands) for about seven years now. I’m a Digital Campaigner during the day, and a blogger at night, and I started writing Secret Sicily in 2015 to share what I know about the ‘real’ Sicily with the world.
How would you describe Sicily to someone who has never visited? Are the people welcoming to foreigners?
When you go to Sicily for the first time it just blows your mind. It’s a place full of history, natural wonders and amazing food. But it’s also a ‘marmite’ place; you can either love it or hate it (sometimes both). The great thing about it is that some parts of Sicily are still totally unspoilt by tourists. The downside of this is that some itineraries are pretty much hidden and finding information can be tricky, even for locals.
On your blog you mentioned how you ‘escaped from Sicily’ and how you ‘don’t miss Sicily’ and how you ‘think Sicily sucks on many levels.’ Can explain what you mean? It sounds like you are a little disillusioned, that’s all.
Have you ever spent hours in your car, stuck in a permanent traffic jam with people yelling at each other and honking like crazy because about ten cars triple-parked in front of a bakery shop – including a police car? Well, that sums it up.
Name five things I should see and do in Sicily?
1) Hike and swim at Zingaro Natural Reserve 2) Visit the Temple Valley (Agrigento) 3) Climb Mount Etna 4) Watch a Greek tragedy in the Greek theatre of Syracuse 5) Go to at least one of the hundreds ‘sagre’ and festivals across the island.
What should I taste in Sicily?
Anything edible that comes your way, as long as it’s local and not part of a tourist menu. An absolute must is Palermo’s street food. Keep an open mind and be adventurous – it’s totally worth it.
Tell us about how to spend perfect day in Sicily?
Start with a sweet breakfast at a local ‘bar’: iris con ricotta or brioche col gelato will do. Go spend a day hiking and swimming in a local natural reserve like Zingaro and bring an arancina or two with you for the perfect lunch. If you’re not into hiking, visit one of the amazing and not very well known beaches in Sicily, like Capo D’Orlando (3 hours from Palermo). Enjoy an ice-cream or a granita in the afternoon and get ready for aperitivo time (around 7pm). Watch the sunset somewhere nice, possibly by the beach. At night, go for a concert, a theatre performance or just a relaxing walk by the beach.
Do you ever suffer from homesickness for Sicily?
Of course I do. Despite all the bad things I say about Sicily, I do miss a lot of things. Going for aperitivo with my old friends, making arancine with mamma Franca, laughing at silly jokes that only Sicilian people can get. This is why I try and go back as much as possible.
What led you to the world of blogging?
I’ve always worked in the digital sector, in one capacity or another, and blogging has always been part of my daily job, as well as my nocturnal hobby. A few years back, I co-founded a blog called Clicktivist, where myself and a dear friend of mine talk about digital campaigning, and last year I started writing for Osocio, a website about non-profit advertising and marketing for social causes. Now the problem is keeping up with all my blogging duties!
How would you describe your blog, tell us more about it …
Secret Sicily is a blog for real travellers who want to see Sicily through the eyes of a local. It’s also a place for people who are generally interested in the Sicilian culture and enjoy a bit of irony here and there.
What kind of blogger are you, is it all about getting a zillion visitors/subscribers, selling your books or is it therapy?
My blog is my playground. It’s a way to have fun and get to know people who, like me, enjoy traveling, learning new things and telling stories. I love every single aspect of it, from searching stories and writing posts, to optimizing my website and improving my social media reach. Obviously, getting a zillion visitors is also part of the plan 😉
Books can take us places without leaving home, do you have a favourite travel book which you think best describes a particular place or the art of travel in a particular way for those who are unable to travel.
‘A fortune teller told me’, by Tiziano Terzani is one of my favourite books. It’s the story of an Italian journalist who, warned by a fortune-teller not to risk flying for a year, decided to travel around Asia by rail, road and sea. He consults fortune-tellers wherever he goes and learns to understand and respect other forms of beliefs. It’s a great read and it describes exactly what travelling is all about for me.
What would be your ultimate dream trip?
A cycling trip across South East Asia. Though I’m not sure my slipped disk would appreciate it.
What are the five things you would never leave home without …
Oyster card, phone, wallet, and home keys. These four things are usually scattered in a large bag also featuring: an e-book, the latest issue of Wired magazine, a sketchbook and a pen, glasses, packed lunch, gym gear and lots of tissues.
So what’s coming up on Secret Sicily that we can look forward to …
I’m currently working on my Etsy shop, where you can find crafty gifts for travel lovers, like my collection of handpainted travel journals. More designs and a new range of products will be available soon, so watch this space!
Have you discovered any other wonderful travel/expat blogs that we should be reading?
Some of my favourite blogs include Sicilian Godmother, An Englishman in Italy, Savoring Italy and Driving Like A Maniac. As an Italian living abroad I find it very interesting (and sometimes hilarious) to read about what foreign people think about living in Italy.
Thanks ever so much to Oriana for taking the time to answer my questions and I look forward to discovering more about Sicily from such a dedicated local.
Oriana is a digital campaigner and a blogger. She is the brain behind secretsicily.org – a travel blog about all things Sicilian. She loves travelling, enjoying good food and doing her bit to change the world.