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The Upcoming Travel Hotspot

One of the hottest trends recently seems to be the “European summer.” People (particularly from the United States) are exploring the hotspots in Europe and sharing them online for everyone to see their adventures. This trend is exploding all over social media with travelers going everywhere from Portugal to Greece. The summer being peak traveling season, many tourists flock to the same cities and monuments around Europe. When I visited the Pantheon in early May, it was already unbelievably crowded and my friend in Rome claims the city is being taken over by tourists.

While the popular cities such as Athens, Madrid, and Rome are worth the visit, I would recommend one place to travel over many others. An island that has everything from one of the best food scenes to ancient Greek architecture. It is also not nearly as crowded as many other places I have traveled. Where is this place you may ask? Well, it is the breathtaking island of Sicily.

This island is a hotbed of many different cultures all gathered together to create some of the best food and architecture in Europe. The best place to start is Palermo, the capital of the island. The Arab influence is present throughout the city, in its buildings and beautifully mosaiced churches. The influence shows through the food as well with arancini (fried rice balls), being one of the most popular. Street food in Palermo has been praised as some of the best in the world and often shows the chaotic nature of the city itself. Within the chaos, it is also full of life and history. There is everything from people herding goats by the shopping center to a palace that has stood for centuries there is something for everyone to see here.

Past Palermo, there are the stunning Greek temples of Agrigento, with one almost entirely intact. The valley of the temples is a remarkable spot to see ancient Greek artifacts without having to travel to the remarkably crowded Athens. The town is charming, with winding streets to roam and a beautiful cathedral. There are tons of colorful staircases and delicious food spots throughout the city. It is well worth a visit to the top of the temples themselves. Then, there is the Val di Noto. A UNESCO heritage site with remarkable Baroque buildings and tiny streets to enjoy the views. There are eight towns scattered throughout this valley previously destroyed by an earthquake, and while all are worth visiting, Noto is one of the most stunning. The streets offer many places to sit, relax, and enjoy an Aperol spritz on a nice summer day. You can also wander into one of the many churches and pay a euro to go to the top of the bell tower or admire the beauty of the art inside.

Etna is also a hugely popular attraction, and there are daily tours to the top of the volcano, a must-do if you visit the island. The top of the volcano is awe-inspiring; you can even feel the heat through your shoes. Taormina is very close to the volcano and a great place to stay the night if you are touring it. This city was made popular by The White Lotus, but its charm will most likely continue to make it a popular destination. It has some of the best views of the volcano from its ancient Greek theater and great views of the sea and the lower town

Finally, there is Syracuse, a town I was lucky enough to live in for a year. It has an ancient Greek theater that puts on plays every spring and is extraordinary to tour the rest of the year. Life is slow here, and people often eat a breakfast of granita or gelato and brioche or even a cannoli. The island of Ortigia completes the city dating back to the Greeks and possibly the location where Archimedes was killed; it is full of history, and every street is filled with beautiful architecture ending at the imposing Cathedral in the piazza.

Also, you must remember the beaches when you visit the island. The water is crystal clear and a stunning shade of blue. The beaches are pretty clean and often have showers, bars, and changing rooms accessible right on the sand. There tends to be food nearby, and often, the beaches are close to cities people were planning to visit. They can also be secluded, and one of my favorites was a bit of a hike but worth it for the peace and fantastic view. The island is the best place to relax and enjoy the summer; from the most delicious food to the sandy beaches, the buzzing life of Palermo, and the ancient history, it is a must-visit.

Written by Katrina Reed

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