Matt and I flew into Palermo, Sicily for a short 3-day trip to explore the island for the first time. Even though I had traveled through Italy a bunch before, Sicily always felt so untouchable. No one I knew very well had been to Sicily before (except one sweet friend) and it felt like information about the island was kind of hard to find. We rented a car out of Palermo and stayed at a beautiful hotel a little bit outside of Palermo.
Matt and I walked into the city of Palermo the day that we arrived and let me tell you, it totally freaked me out. If you have ever been to Naples, it felt like a much crazier, more sort of rugged Naples, Italy. (I also do not ever recommend spending a lot of time in Naples). I also had just done a bunch of research about the mafia in Sicily and that did not help my anxiety level at all. It may have been a combination of having been gone for so long and having read too much about the mafia in Sicily but I was just very afraid.
We went back to the hotel that night and I was kind of exhausted and afraid of the whole city. I told Matt about how I was scared and he did such a good job helping to calm any anxiety I was feeling. He so sweetly reassured me that he would always make sure we were safe and would not let anything ever happen. I fell asleep, so far away from everything familiar but so safe with the only person that is supposed to be my home. I like thinking about this part of the trip because even though the actual city of Palermo itself is horrible (in my opinion) this was a moment where we placed yet another building block in the intimate creation of our marriage. Being so far away from everything and everyone we know really has brought such a beautiful depth and closeness to our relationship. It is only us in this foreign country and we are on the same team day by day building this life and family together. It has given us so much good space from the familiar to really lean into one another and to create a life that works for us.
The next day we woke up and drove about an hour and a half to Cefalu, Sicily which was basically a 180 degree difference from Palermo! Cefalu is such a gorgeous beach town. The town itself is totally untouched by tourists. We were only surrounded by Italians on their beach vacation. Cefalu had such a gorgeous beach and the town itself was much more substantial than I had expected. Beautiful little restaurants lined the streets. We could have stayed there for a few more days, we had such a wonderful time.
Side note- the driving in Sicily is totally insane. There are basically no street lanes and everyone drives according to their own rules and what works best for them at that moment. It is insanity. Luckily Matt is an incredible driver and can basically navigate any tough travel situation so he was not phased by it at all but if you are a slightly nervous driver, I would definitely not drive there.
I wish that we had more time to explore the other towns we had on our list for Sicily. If we ever go back, we are definitely going to visit Noto and Siracusa. If you are heading to Sicily, you must, must see Cefalu. It was one of our very favorites.