Sicilian Notes

Dearest Friends and Travelers, and Admirers of Italy,

While most of you have been saving for your future retirement, in contrast, I have decided to live my life now, today; day by day. And with this philosophy of, carpe diem, I have dedicated many of the past fifteen years of my life researching the subject of my hearts delight, in reckless pursuit of La Dolce Vita. I have devoted myself to the exploration of every nook and cranny of Italy. I have had the good fortune to make this my career choice.

Contained in this series of articles, are full of my secretly guarded hints and travel tips on Italy. These tidbits collected at the expense (literally) of my retirement funds, represent years of travel research. Cherish them dearly, as I do. I believe I have spent more on the collection of this research, than any attorney has for the acquisition of their degree. Attorneys once they have passed the bar can write Esq. My accolade from all the years of study is; DSI- Destination Specialist Italy.

While in this pursuit of any and all information relative to Italy, I have amassed a large library devoted to all things Italian.  Within my library there are piles of books and magazines, in both English and Italian, which contain advice on food, vino, history, and hotel accommodations.  Printed in England, Italy, USA, I also have an assortment of Italian maps; regional, local, city, train routes, hiking paths and even waterways. I have ever pamphlet ever produced on areas often traveled and not frequently traveled. Included on my shelves  are new and vintage issues of Classic Italian  novels; Dante- Inferno, Boccaccio-Decameron, I Promissi Sposi-Manzoni not so well known classics such as -The Italians, Mussolini,  and not even close to being classics novels; La Bella Figura, The Birth of Venus, City of Fallen Angels, and Brunelleschi’s Dome.

Once you have decided that Italy is the destination for your vacation, perhaps you have noticed how difficult it is to select one guide book which fulfills all of your needs for your perfect Italian trip.    The majorities of shelves in any bookstore or library travel section are dedicated to Italian travel and can be found on a variety of subject matter relative to Italy.   They can vary from general to quite specific.  Well know names in travel such as Michelin, Touring Club, Rick Steves-(ugh), Fodor’s, Blue Guide, Slow Food Guide, Rough Guides, and Italy on $5.00 a day (today it would be more like Italy on EU150 a day). A guide to Rome, A Pilgrims Guide to Rome, A Romans guide to Rome, An Americans Guide to Rome, A Jewish travelers Guide to Rome, just to name a few.   I wanted to offer you something more, a comprehensive travel guide based on my notes for each region, collected over the years.

My objective in writing these essay’s was to compile concise data, on areas I have enjoyed the best, and to put the information all in one place, so you can enjoy the fruits of my research easily. The criteria were based on the following standards;

    • CULINARY- I follow the snail wherever I can.  Slow Food’s recommendation usually do not steer you to the wrong place. I look for examples of regional plates and wines that are produced locally.  Gamber Rosso Magazine is also a wonderful resource for those Italophiles in us.


    • HISTORICAL- The Blue guides are the best travel bibles for the complete story. I could not, nor would not profess or attempt to include the depth of information that they have in their guides in my Libretto Nero.


    • HOTELS  Gamberrossos’  Viaggiare Bene one of the best guides for hotels. Relais and Chateaux and Leading Hotels are of course worthy if you can live with that price point.   I search for inns in all price points, which are historic, smaller, not involved with a chain.


    • TRANSPORTATION- you need to be there to see the logistics of how it all works together. Transportation recommendations are based on experience.


    • TRAILS- The sentieri are paths,I have personally walked.

The collection of information over thirteen years was obtained through a multi media, mish mash of sources, with personal experiences providing the authentication.   Advice came from numerous methods and in many forms but was mostly accrued from the local people, and by asking questions.   A Park Ranger in the Parco Nazionale di Etna- a retired farmacista turned inn-keeper in Castiglione Falletto, a waitress in San Gimignano, or retired business magnate sitting on a bench in Chiavari , Liguria all were contributors to this information as well as so many others met during my travels.

Vai Diretto-sempre diretto.” “Go straight -always straight” Was terminology heard often enough from locals. “Non Si Puo` sbagliare”   The literal translation meaning “You can’t go wrong” which really meant “good luck”.

The culmination of this entire gathering of information, are these notes, which is a true college of what I consider is the essence of each region.  I am delighted to finally put this information down so all of you can enjoy Italy with less effort and expense.

To all of you I say Buon Viaggio- And keep discovering Italy, there is a life time of places to go without retracing your steps.

Joyce Falcone

Falcone’s Libretto Nero

Traveler’s Advice for Touring Italy

Aeolian Islands

If there was one place to live in all of Italy, as long as you had internet and did not need to leave (ever) then the Aeolians would be the place.  Mediterrean blue sea set against the white wash of aeolian architecture.  I adore it here.  Panarea would be my pick, no cars, only ape , the island is small.  I admit that one could develop "isalnd fever" but I think it would take a while.   When I first went there was no ATM, police or any medical assistance at all.  You would have to go to Lipari for those things.  Apparently they did not have electricity until 1992  ( sounds a like like our house, we obtained electricity in November 2009.)


Lipari- Villa Melingunis-4 star 0909812426 Great location, nice hotel staff, rooms simply decorated- needs an uplift but it is the best on Lipari at the moment. Otherwise head to the out islands.

Panarea-Hotel Raya-4 star

For the snobs among us, not for those with knee problems,  don't stay here many stairs!

Panarea-Liscia Bianca- 3 star 090      

Wonderful family run hotel in the center of it all.   Could be loud in high season

Salina-Malvasia Capo faro resort 

Top of the line on this island with a killer ristorante.  Ultra modern decor-expensive set amidst the malvaisa grapevines.

Hotel Signum- 4 star 

charming bohemian hotel with pool and newly opened spa with salt bath. 

Old world feel.

Stromboli-La Locanda Del Barbablu 090 986 118 Hotel and trattoria


Panarea-Da Pina 090 98 3032 One of my favorite islands dining experiences.   Order anything with Aeolian grown cherry tomatoes.  Pina will give cooking lessons on request and also has apartments for rent

Lipari-Ristorante Filippino090 9811 002 Once had a Michelin star, now it is still a great dining experience, and to add to that, it is a piatti ristorante! E Pulera 0909811158

Stromboli-Ingrid’s- to be seen, for ice cream, for a light lunch

BEST CANOLO-Lipari- near Marina Corta Pasticceria

BOAT RENTALS Panarea Service 090 983 300

TOUR OF LIPARI- TAXI Gasparino 090 9811 436 Note: Unfortunately he passed away last year but his son has taken over the business./ You can find thsi handsome young man at the port on Lipari.

BEST DRINK Malvasia- sweet dessert wine

BEST BREAKFAST:Lipari- inMarina Corta-  when the sun comes up. Order a Granita di caffe, con panna e brioche

TRANSPORTATION to the ISLANDS: this can be tricky until high season begins June 1-September 1 Boats are irratic and infrequent. There is helicopter but that is really costly.

BOATS   SNAV- 090 362 114 091 582688


Meridiana Airlines Alitala Airlines


    • Figli di Papa-the spoiled brats show up around the last week of July and stay for a month.  Many arrive on their parents yachts.  For those who haven’t experienced a Mediterranean summer the routine goes something like this; Up at Noon, café then al mare- to the beach until 17:00.  Then it is time to rest, regroup and time for  the passeggiata- evening promenade, Rest, 21:00 out for dinner, midnight to the discoteca until 4:00ish. Café` and brioche and then bed.


Copyright @ 2010 Joyce Falcone

And if you like what you’ve been reading, like us on Conde Nast Traveler’s Travel Specialists List, where I’ve appeared for the last three years straight.

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