A is for Aperol, San Lorenzo, and a Sicilian Miracle
Updated: Mar 17, 2020
Dear Friends and Family,
No more sleeps until my trip to Italy! In addition to a yoga retreat in Sicily, my friend Nina did an incredible job meticulously planning everything for a fun-filled second week on the Amalfi coast. Nina is a super organized kindergarten teacher. Plus, she is also a former world champion kickboxer with a 7th-degree black belt in karate. Either way, I’m confident Nina’s got things covered.
I knew this was going to be another super awesome trip as soon as I arrived at the airport. Sitting at the gate waiting to board our flight, we started looking for our other Sicily Sisters, girls who were on our flight, but that we hadn’t met yet.
While Nina and I were deciding what alcohol, we were going to drink during our nine-hour, Air Transat, all premium alcohol included Club Class flight, Nina suggested this was a teachable moment. That starting with A, we should come up with ideas using an “alcohol alphabet”, one letter at a time. The girl sitting next to me quickly piped up; “A is for Aperol…” and guess what? It turns out another Sicily sister is sitting right beside me the whole time! Just more proof in the pudding that like attracts like.
Sicily was amazing; a very hot dry climate with tons of olive, grape, and almond groves dotting the countryside. One of the most surprising and fun destinations was our visit to San Lorenzo Beach. Believe it or not, San Lorenzo is like the Barbados of Europe. Most European beaches are mostly gravel or small pebbles; yet San Lorenzo is a vast all sand beach with clear blue water and a fabulous beach club complete with restaurant, comfy loungers, umbrella’s, and a bar- with Aperol Spritzes galore of course!
One of my favourite destinations was the town of Modica, home of beautiful Baroque architecture, the world’s first chocolate makers, and my Sicilian miracle at the ORO Hotel. You must understand that in Italy you are often hard pressed to find restrooms, toilets with seats, or toilet paper. If you happen to find all three, that is a Sicilian miracle. My miracle was sort of related, but of a different sort…
As I was searching for a restroom and coming up short, of toilet paper, I suddenly decided that a hotel might be a good place to go. That’s when I found myself standing in front of the lovely ORO Hotel in Modica.
After the hostess kindly let me use their pristine bathroom, I decided that it was time to get away from the 35-degree heat and started chatting with the server. I quickly found out that the ORO hotel was indeed quite special. This former palace built in the 1500’s belonged to a noble family. Today it is a charming, quaint, boutique hotel and restaurant bringing warmth, Sicilian hospitality, and delicious gourmet food to patrons. It has only 8 rooms, a beautiful terrace, and a locally inspired menu. It also has a 5,000-year-old cave inside the restaurant where can customers can dine.
As I was sitting with my thoughtful server Katia, google translating our conversation, I told her I would like to write about the ORO Hotel on my website. Katia very excitedly pointed to the rows and rows of bookshelves in the dining room. “This is a very special place”, she said in Italian; it is a place where famous authors come to dine and leave a signed copy of their book for patrons to look at. We have been doing this for years and many famous authors have come to us. Our collection is housed in our library upstairs. When you write your book will you please come back and provide us with a copy?” Time stopped for me. I cannot explain the feeling other than to say it was a strong intuitive moment, a whisper I could not ignore. Although writing a book, and writing a review, had become lost in translation, that’s when I understood the reason I had been brought to the ORO Hotel. It was a sign I am on the right track; that I am destined to write that book I have been contemplating and return with it to Italy.
Gotta go…my Sicily sisters are heading to a shop down the road to buy famous cinnamon liqueur from Modica. L is for La TerraMadre-liqueur that is! Ciao for now and thanks for hanging in there with me. Stay tuned for more adventures from the Amalfi Coast!
Stay, Play, Dine and Shop in Sicily!
Via Tommaso Campalla n.15
97015 Modica (RG)
Close to shops and museums, and conveniently located in the heart of historic Modica, the ORO Hotel and Bistrot is upscale and quaint all at the same time. This hotel has 8 elegant rooms and a gourmet bistro with delicious Italian specialities, including the in-house library with famous signed titles. This unique, historic Stay and Dine experience is not to be missed.
San Lorenzo Beach
Beaches in Italy are generally public with private beach clubs that offer amenities such as chairs, umbrellas, restaurants and activities. The Aqua club offers all this yet seems to be a cut above the rest. Situated on a beautiful sandy stretch of beach in San Lorenzo Italy, the club is clean, well organized, and offers upscale amenities including changerooms, showers, washrooms with toilets, toilet seats, and toilet paper! Great bar, restaurant, and boutique overlooking the water with boat and kayak rentals too. It is a super fun place with a relaxed vibe for couples, groups, or families. For 10 euros per day the Sicily Sisters had use of a lounger, umbrella, with access to the beach, and amenities. A definite must do if you are in the NOTO area.
My friend and yoga instructor Elda Giardetti has been organizing yoga retreats worldwide for years, however, her retreats to Italy are particularly special. Like me, Elda believes the trip is more than just yoga, it is about the journey and savouring all that the destination has to offer. Elda is currently offering a retreat in Sicily in September 2020 and a retreat to Abruzzo is also in the works. Destinations usually include all accommodation and meals, and airfare and activities are extra. Tons of fun, retreats are a great way to travel if you are single and want to travel with other like-minded people. For more information you can visit eldagiardetti.com.
One cannot visit Sicily without visiting a winery. One of the most beautiful is Giasira Winery in Ragusa Sicily. Lush fields with cascading grape vines abound, yielding reds, rose’s, and whites; something not always found at one winery and all equally delicious. The Sicily Sisters had a fun and informative wine tour at Giasira with transfer, tastings, and delicious appetizers for 40 euros- great value and a great time.
Casa del Formaggio
Via Marchesa Tedeschi 5 97015
Modica RG Italy
This great little cheese shop is more than just a cheese shop. That’s because it has Georgio as its owner who knows all things cheese and can make you up a stunning charcuteurie board faster than you can say “Bob e ‘tuo zio,” aka, “Bob’s your uncle.” Georgio is super enthusiastic about cheese and has some great varieties of salami, formaggio,
and dry goods to choose from a quick bite or delicious picnic.
Boutique Savoia Leather Goods
Via Savoia, 29, 96100 Siracusa Italy
Ortigea is a small island off the coast of Siracusa Sicily where you can grab a great seafood lunch and visit some unique boutiques and restaurants along the way. Six days a week you will also find the local market where you can get fresh produce, seafood, spices and take a cooking class too if you want to pull all those flavours together.