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10 Reasons Why Sicily Should Be On Your Bucket List
An autonomous region of Italy, the island of Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. It’s also a melting pot of different cultures , including Greeks, Arabs, Spaniards, and, of course, Italians. The island is known for its incredible architecture, iconic temples and theaters, gorgeous beaches, and some of the best food known to man. It’s still a part of Italy, you know?
Because of this, it’s not hard to see why millions of people visit the island each year. If Italy has been on your travel bucket list, visiting Sicily is an absolute must. Here are the top 10 things to do and see in Sicily!
Explore the History of Sicily’s Capital City, Palermo
If and when you decide to visit Sicily, you have to go to Palermo , the island’s capital. This vibrant city is perfect for those visiting for the first time because there is something there for everyone. If you love to eat and drink, you’ll enjoy the city’s range of bars and restaurants. If you’re into arts and culture, you can visit Teatro Massimo, one of the world’s greatest opera houses.
Every nook and cranny of this city is filled with something to do. The city is home to some of the most breathtaking architecture and catacombs that you will ever see, including the Palermo Cathedral , the Palatine Chapel , and Catacombe dei Cappuccini . And when you’re done taking in the city, kick back at the local beach, the stunning Spiaggia di Mondello.
Tap Into Your Adventurous Side at Mount Etna
If you are feeling adventurous, you should journey to Mount Etna . It is the second most active volcano in the world. It’s not unusual to see smoke and sparks of lava! Even though it’s active, it’s still a popular place for visitors to hike to the summit craters during the summer months. In the winter, visitors can even ski down its peaks.
All visitors must have a qualified guide or volcanologist who knows Etna. Climbs to the main crater are prohibited. Tourists also enjoy visiting certain areas around the mountain by cable car. The views are incredible!
Tour the Greek Theatre of Syracuse
The Teatro Greco, or Greek Theatre of Syracuse, is a huge theater built around 470 B.C. and expanded in 220 B.C. In its prime, the theatre held 15,000 spectators, and the arena was revered for its performances and plays.
The theatre was also used as a place of worship and public trials. It also was the stage for circus and variety performances in the Roman era. Today, actors give classical theatre performances in this legendary arena during the spring and summer months.
Celebrate the Culture of Sicily With Carnevale di Acireale
Carnevale di Acireale is considered the most famous and beautiful carnival in Sicily. Each year from February to March the streets fill with colorful, flower-filled floats, masks, costumes, and bands. This carnival has been around since 1594. It was a joyous time where citizens joked about the clerical class, like Monsignor Michelangelo Bonadie, Abbot-Bishop of Catania.
Today, the carnival still makes fun of powerful figures in Italy but also celebrates the festive city of Sicily and all that it has to offer. If you travel to Sicily between February and March, participating in the carnival is a must (and frankly, you’d probably find it pretty hard to visit the city and not get swept up in the festivities, whether you meant to or not).
Explore Ancient Ruins in the Valley of the Temples
If you are a history buff, you will enjoy visiting the Valley of the Temples . This archaeological site is the largest one in the world at 3,212 acres. Valley of the Temples has the remains of eight temples that were built sometime between the fifth and sixth centuries B.C.
One of the best-preserved temples on the grounds is the Tempio di Concordia . And if you’re more into mythology than history, you’ll find that the Temple of Olympian Zeus is another powerful sight. Though it is in ruins, the temple still stands at 130 feet, making it the largest temple here.
Splash Around at One of Sicily’s Many White-Sand Beaches
While Sicily is undoubtedly known for its history, culture, and adventure, some people want to just relax on the island. Sicily has gorgeous white-sand beaches where the sun vividly shines on the bright blue water. Who wouldn’t want to lay out in the sun and swim on an Italian holiday?
Residents and tourists travel to Sicily’s beaches all year round. The island has decent weather even in the winter, making the beaches a nice place to walk. Some of the most popular beaches are Cefalu, Mondello, Sampieri, and San Vito Lo Capo.
Hike Around the Zingaro Nature Reserve
If you love hiking in nature, you will enjoy exploring the Zingaro Nature Reserve . Here, the busyness of Sicily comes to a standstill. The area was established as a nature reserve in 1981 and is the first protected area of the island.
Previously, Zingaro was a land of farming villages. Smugglers and traffickers also used the reserve’s coves to hide goods. Now, tourists come to hike, swim in the reserve’s natural coves, and see the stunning views over the sea.
Visit “The Pearl of Sicily,” Taormina
The town of Taormina is a must-see city when you visit Sicily. It gives a fantastic view of Catania, Etna, and Isola Bella, another small island nearby. Because it is so popular, we suggest you go during the off-season (around November through February).
One of the must-see sights in Taormina is the Madonna della Rocca Church , which is often described as having been “built on the rock.” Set on a mountain, you have to climb 300 steps to get to the church. The quaint church, founded by Abbot Francesco Raineri around 1640, offers a fantastic bird’s-eye view of the town.
Have a Family Day With the Opera dei Pupi
The Opera dei Pupi , or puppet theatre, began in Sicily at the beginning of the 19th century. Puppeteers would use these stringed puppets to share medieval tales of Italian poems. The stories would often center around justice, freedom, and good morals, and were popular with working class audiences.
Puppet theatre has declined in recent years as puppeteers sought more lucrative careers. However, there are still a few puppet theatre shows available in Sicily. Kids and adults alike are sure to enjoy a show if you can find one.
Don’t Forget to Try Delicious Italian Desserts
You can’t visit Sicily without trying out some local cuisine, especially given that the fare you’ll find in Sicily is distinct from what you’re likely to sample on the mainland. The island has many nuts and fruits which are used in different desserts. For example, cassata siciliana is a tasty sponge cake made with rum, ricotta cheese, and candied fruits.
Many people are familiar with the Italian dessert cannoli, fried shells filled with a sweetened ricotta filling, and candied fruits or chocolate. But did you know that this is a Sicilian dessert ? You should get one or ten while you’re visiting; there’s nothing like a cannoli right from its homeland! Other treats found in Sicily include homemade almond milk and the treat granita , authentic Italian shaved ice made with fruit or almonds.
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Fans of “The White Lotus” are taking to the internet to figure out how they can vacation like wealthy but miserable romantic Tanya McQuoid-Hunt and her put-upon assistant, Portia .
Web searches for travel to the Italian island of Sicily, where Season 2 of the hit HBO show was filmed, are now up 50% after Monday’s record-breaking finale, according to economist Haley Berg from the mobile travel app Hopper .
“When we see very popular shows with incredible cinematography like ‘White Lotus’ air, we often see big surges in demand to destinations around the world,” Berg explained to ABC News on Tuesday.
But wanderlusters hoping to stay at the San Domenico Palace — the 111-room, 14th-century monastery-turned-luxury hotel where it was filmed — will have no such luck. The palace reopens in spring 2023 and is already sold out.
Rooms are averaging at around $3,000 per night for seaside-facing rooms — the highest in the resort’s history, Berg revealed.
Roundtrip airfare from the US to Sicily currently averages around $1,225, per the app, while the average hotel room on the Taormina coast, where other scenes of the show were filmed, is going for $192 per night.
HBO has renewed the show for a third season but its location has not been revealed.
A similar phenomenon happened for the Four Seasons Maui when the first season of “The White Lotus” aired last year. The final season of “Game of Thrones” raised searches for travel to Croatia while “Yellowstone” is driving up tourism to U.S. National Parks, according to “Good Morning America.”
America’s favorite MILF and “American Pie” star Jennifer Coolidge recently revealed that the season finale was influenced by her own real-life personality .
The actress also recently clarified a comment she made about the “best d–k” she got after playing Stifler’s mom in the 1999 classic film, saying she may have exaggerated the number of bed partners she acquired.
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Sicily is cementing its status as a prime second home destination
Why buy in Sicily?
• Prime prices are competitive compared with other established European second home destinations and key Italian cities and resorts • Highly accessible, Sicily offers direct flights from London, Paris and Frankfurt, as well as seven direct flights from major US airports, such as New York and Boston • Purchase costs remain low by international standards, around 2% for a primary home and close to 9% for a non-resident or second home purchase • Investment in the island is strong. Plans have been announced for a new bridge across the Straits of Messina linking Sicily to mainland Italy by 2030 • Italy’s flat tax, enabling ultra-high-net-worth individuals (UHNWIs) to pay a flat fee of €100,000 on all global income, is a key draw for those considering a permanent move
In the spotlight
Google searches for “Sicily property” increased 54% in April 2023 compared to a year earlier. The island’s profile received a boost in the first quarter of 2023 from several travel and home restoration programmes, as well as Netflix’s ‘White Lotus’.
Palermo Airport is the largest of Sicily’s four airports offering direct flights to over 210 locations including London, Paris and Frankfurt.
There are seven direct flight routes from major US airports, including New York and Boston, flying into all four international airports in Sicily. Tourist numbers have strengthened from 2.2 million in 2021, to 3.1 million in 2022, according to Knoema, an increase of 41%, providing a valuable pool of rental demand for potential investors.
At around €8,000 per sq m, prime prices in Sicily are competitive compared with other established European second home destinations and key Italian cities and resorts.
Mark Harvey, Knight Frank’s Head of International Residential comments, “Sicily is emerging as a popular second home destination for global buyers. Renowned for its rich and diverse history and culture, Sicily offers fabulous produce, clean and unpopulated beaches and high quality tourist amenities such as hotels, spas and golf courses.”
The International School in Palermo, the only school accredited by the IB programme in the south of Italy, is a key draw for families looking to relocate permanently.
According to Istat, Italy’s National Statistics Office, Sicily is home to over 180,000 foreign residents, more than some of Italy’s top second home destinations such as Como and Sardinia.
Investing in infrastructure
In March 2023, the Italian Government approved a law to proceed with the construction of the Messina Bridge linking Sicily to mainland Italy for the first time. Works are due to commence in 2024 with completion slated for 2030.
In addition, €3.4 billion has been invested to modernise the Palermo-Catania railway line, reducing current travel times by a third. The two cities will be linked by a two-hour direct rail service, further supporting Sicily’s development.
Home to 20 new villas with prices starting at €2.4m for a 3-bedroom villa, the Verdura Resort located near Agrigento on Sicily’s southern coast is the island’s first branded residence, allowing owners to generate a return as a holiday rental and achieve strong occupancy rates by offering occupants access to the Rocco Forte Hotel’s world-class amenities, from its two 18-hole golf courses to award winning spa.
Download the Italian Tax and Lifestyle Report or read our Italian Buying guide .
Subscribe to our research here to receive regular updates on the Italian property market.
Or contact Mark Harvey to learn more about the Verdura Resort.
Photo by Luiz Cent on Unsplash
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Vacation Drama of White Lotus Adds Murderous Spike to Sicily Tours Demand
Selene Brophy , Skift
December 22nd, 2022 at 8:01 AM EST
Sicily is turning to out to be every bit as seductive as the hit HBO satire series White Lotus makes it out to be.
Interest in Italy and its charming towns have seen web searches up over 50% following the series’ record-breaking finale in December. This is according to Alessio Virgili, co-founder and CEO of Sonders & Beach .
Quiiky, an Italian LGBTQ+ Tour operator and subsidiary of Sonders & Beach, saw its new White Lotus tour sell out in record time earlier in the year. Virgili said they anticipate high demand for 2023 – with registration only set to open in January.
A feather in the tour’s itinerary is a two-night stay at the Four Season ‘s San Domenico Palace in Taormina.
Fans can’t seem to get enough of the destination or the luxury hotel, which hosted the eccentric cast of characters, with the psuedo White Lotus resort also sold out before it reopens in 2023. And what’s not to love about its beautiful beaches and lavish vineyards that set the backdrop for characters of Aubrey Plaza, Will Sharpe, Theo James, and Meghann Fahy in the series.
Destination appeal thanks to hugely popular TV shows or movies has been an ongoing trend for almost a decade. Season 1 filming location Maui also saw a boost in visitors. In addition, the epic Game of Thrones’ Westeros added some $200 million in tourism spend to Croatia between 2013 and 2018.
HBO confirmed the third season of White Lotus would go ahead but the destination remains undisclosed.
Tour operators should ask themselves what the next smash hit series is and where it will be filmed.
Tags: tour operators , tourism , tours and activities , Travel Experiences
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The 'White Lotus' Effect? Tourism Is Booming In Southern Italy
Madonna, the tv show the white lotus , fashion shows, weddings — little by little, the beauty of neglected regions like sicily and puglia has rightfully emerged in the algorithm of digital desire. finally, the secret power of southern italy has gained a global audience..
Aubrey Plaza as Harper in The White Lotus
The trend began with British aristocrats who, at the end of the 17th century, embarked on what was known as the Grand Tour. Then, in the 18th century, this fashion extended to the courts of Northern Europe, as rumors spread about the fascinating Italian Peninsula. In the 19th century, it was all about Byron, Shelley and Keats – the rebellious rockstars of romantic poetry – who added their celebrity stamp of approval before the arrival of the American nouveaux riches (including Mark Twain).
What started as an English fashion has long since become a global tradition: after France, the U.S. and Mexico, Italy was the 4th most visited country in the world in 2022. Now, there’s a new twist in the digital age : Italy’s global allure is updating and focusing on the South.
What’s different is that in the last decade or so – slowly at first and then with a sudden surge – foreign tourists, who used to concentrate on breathtaking destinations in the northern “Portofino” of Italy , now venture throughout the entire country. Not long ago, Naples was seen merely as a gateway to Capri or the Amalfi Coast – long established luxury spots – rather than the unmissable destination it is today.
Puglia, long frequented by only a few pioneers, has been the talk of the town for years now. And today, the desire for Sicily is surfacing all over the world. But what is the reason behind this boom? And how has the international perception of Southern Italy changed?
Between Puglia and Sicilia
I have my theory. As those reading this may be aware, there is a profound distinction between the North and the South in Italy. Most tourists traditionally visited the North, with the popular northern perception of their southern cousins as wild and dangerous influencing visitors' decisions. In other words, it was better to play it safe and not venture beyond Tuscany .
But like with everything else, the advent of smartphones in the late 2000s disrupted the hierarchy of information, turning it into a newfound democracy. Gradually, the obvious beauty of these neglected regions rightfully emerged in the algorithm of digital desire.
All of a sudden, the trulli were in vogue.
Ten years ago, I visited Puglia for the first time when most of my non-Italian colleagues in the fashion world had never heard of it. Four years later, Madonna celebrated her birthday there and, the following year, Justin and Hailey Bieber chose it as their wedding location. All of a sudden, the limestone trulli dwellings were in vogue.
Puglia’s moment has rightfully arrived, and the region seems destined to remain one of the top Italian destinations for visitors from all around the globe. Dior held its Resort 2020 fashion show there, and just this month, Dolce & Gabbana set up the final stage of their Alta Moda collection in Monopoli and its surroundings. This event brought about 400 new super-rich visitors from all over the world to experience the territory firsthand.
In the evolution of the South as a global destination, the 2010s were characterized by the rise of Puglia, but in these 2020s, it is Sicily leading the charge. Thanks to its role in classical civilization, the liberation of Europe, and movies like The Godfather , Sicily had already started its ascension from a level of respectability. I first visited in 2012 when Dolce & Gabbana showcased their Alta Moda collection in Taormina.
Puglia: a harbour and fishing boats with Trani cathedral in background.
Sterlinglanier Lanier/ Unspash
Villa restoration: the tourism cycle
In the following decade, my wife and I frequented the eastern coast of Sicily , witnessing firsthand how the island, already popular among Italian visitors from other regions, grew into a global destination. Initially, most of the other foreigners I encountered were intrepid French and German tourists or Americans with family ties to the island. However, the demographic gradually shifted to become truly pan-national. Last summer, I happened to be an accidental guest at a fantastic wedding attended by several hundred friends and family members. The charming young couple getting married were of Persian origin, residing in Canada .
The wedding took place at La Chiusa Country House, a farmhouse located between Noto and Modica, meticulously restored by my friends and co-owners, Andrea Di Franco and Sebastiano Italia.
It reflects a broader trend in the entire area.
“In the last two years or so, especially after the Covid situation, we’ve seen an increase in bookings and requests from abroad, particularly from the United States, United Kingdom, India , France and Canada," says Di Franco. "It reflects a broader trend in the entire area. There’s a significant influx of foreigners visiting or choosing to live in Sicily. The first were the French, followed by Germans, English and a few Americans. We mostly see them in Ortigia, Noto and the surrounding countryside. They invite guests who fall in love with the area and start looking for ancient buildings to purchase and restore, creating a cycle. So much so that we’ve started referring to the area as Notoshire.”
When asked about the single most important factor in promoting Sicily’s sudden popularity, Di Franco didn’t hesitate: “The White Lotus.”
@epic.stays Season 2 of the #WhiteLotus was filmed and set in #Sicily #Italy at the 📍San Domenico Palace, Taormina, A Four Seasons Hotel 🎥 @Neil James #traveltiktok #sicilytravel #travelitaly #sicilyhotelguide
The White Lotus tour
The second season of the popular HBO series, set in Taormina with an important cameo from Noto, has generated a massive wave of interest among visitors, particularly Americans – but not limited to them. Fueled by extraordinary media coverage from renowned foreign outlets, Sicily saw the signs of what was to come this summer as early as May, a month that is not typically overwhelmed with tourists .
Locations like the Fratelli Burgio kiosk in Ortigia had lines stretching out onto the street. At a rave in the vineyard of the local Giasera winery, I met people who had come from Paris and Bali. Tour operators are now offering tailor-made White Lotus tours to cater to this new clientele.
Sicily’s popularity is set to receive a further boost with the release of the new Indiana Jones film, which features several scenes filmed on the island (though it is depicted as if it were Greece). Additionally, the Netflix remake of The Leopard, starring Saul Nanni and Deva Cassel is on the horizon. For the Southern economy, this new wave of interest is undoubtedly beneficial. For those who were among the first to discover these regions and are amazed by the influx of new visitors, it might be the perfect time to take a look at Calabria: perhaps the next hidden gem of Italy’s magnificent South.
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With Each Passing Day, Israel Is Losing Support In The West
Taking the u.s. and france as leading indicators, with different histories and relationships inside the middle east, israel should be very worried about maintaining the support of its western allies. the criticism of israel and calls for immediate ceasefires are coming not only from the streets, but also inside the halls of power..
Pro-Palestinian demonstration near Columbia University in NYC on Nov. 15
PARIS — In the U.S., public support for Israel is falling, even though it remains one of the staunchest allies of the Jewish state. At the same time, there is also a serious revolt underway inside the Biden administration against the policy it has pursued since October 7.
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More than 500 senior career civil servants and political appointees from past and current administrations have written to President Joe Biden calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. A similar initiative has been launched within the State Department itself, invoking an internal procedure introduced at the time of the Vietnam War, which allows dissent to be expressed within the diplomatic corps without incurring sanctions. A third initiative received more than 1,000 signatures from the international aid agency USAID.
All such cases, which have been leaked to the press, denounce the Hamas attack of October 7, but consider the humanitarian consequences of the Israeli response indefensible. They called for action to protect Palestinian civilians.
Two-thirds of Americans want ceasefire
Secretary of State Antony Blinken has written to all his department's employees to show that he is listening, and reminded them that he had personally asked Israel to spare civilian lives. But Washington has so far refused to call for a ceasefire, preferring talk of "humanitarian pauses."
The administration's position is less and less comprehended by the public . A new poll shows that more than two-thirds of Americans want a ceasefire. The proportion of respondents who believe that the United States should support Israel has fallen from 41% at the start of the crisis to 32% this week.
Studies show that there is a generational break at play: younger people, including young Jews, are more sensitive to the Palestinian cause; they see in it an extension of the themes that have occupied American campuses for years, such as Black Lives Matter, or the de-colonization debate. With less than a year to go before the U.S. presidential election, there is rising concern that Biden's Democrat party may be taking the wrong track.
French President Emmanuel Macron welcoming Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Paris earlier this year
Israeli Prime Minister Office/APA Images/ZUMA
Dissent in Paris
In France , dissent is not on the same scale, though as daily Le Figaro reported this week, a dozen former French ambassadors to Middle Eastern countries wrote a letter to express regret at what they see as Paris' initial alignment with Israeli policy. In their view, this stance fails to take into account the full complexity of the region — and above all breaks with the French position, which traditionally finds a more healthy middle ground between Israelis and Palestinians.
The conflict is creating new fault lines.
These former ambassadors reflect a growing discomfort within the Quai d'Orsay foreign ministry. When President Emmanuel Macron , during his recent visit to Israel, floated the idea of an anti-Hamas coalition, his government had not been informed, and the initiative eventually flopped.
Since then, Macron has rebalanced his position by supporting a ceasefire and criticizing the fate of civilians under the bombs in Gaza . He has just sent the French Minister for the Armed Forces, Sébastien Lecornu, to the Middle East to explain the French position.
In both Paris and Washington, it is clear that this brutal conflict, which has taken everyone by surprise, is creating new fault lines. Governments are wise not to ignore them.
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‘White Lotus’ Has Caused Flight and Hotel Searches to Sicily to Surge: Report
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“With Sicily’s sun-soaked vistas and stunning coastline, it’s no wonder travelers are itching to replicate the glamour of White Lotus with their holidays,” says Sebastien Texier, a travel expert at Hopper, in a press statement. Want to take in the scenery on a chaotic Vespa ride à la Tanya McQuoid (Jennifer Coolidge’s character)? You could always stay overnight in a Sicilian palazzo—just not Quentin’s. Of course, there’s no harm in hanging behind at the beach with an Aperol spritz in hand. Or is there?
It should be a “memorable time.”
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Tourist arrivals in the Italian region of Sicily 2019-2022, by province
Number of tourist arrivals in the italian region of sicily from 2019 to 2022, by province (in 1,000s).
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Home » News » Sicily the place to be after HBO’s ‘The White Lotus’
Sicily the place to be after HBO’s ‘The White Lotus’
If you watched HBO’s hit show, ‘The White Lotus’ and are thinking of a trip to Sicily you aren’t alone. Marketers worldwide have jumped at the opportunity to promote travel to the gorgeous Italian hotspot.
According to iStock’s visual GPS insights program, which analyses real time visual trends and popular images, Sicily has been a top content search with a massive 350 per cent increase in November, around the time season two of the show was airing.
Dubbed ‘The White Lotus effect,’ the show has also increased the broader idea of an island getaway with destinations like Sardinia and Greek islands trending higher than usual for Australian businesses during this period.
The data also revealed the most popular visuals downloaded by brands on travel and Italy are aerial images of the iconic Taormina coastline, not dissimilar to the White Lotus cinematography of the Sicilian beaches and white and blue parasols.
Isola Bella, Taormina. (iStock – VanSky)
“Many Australian travellers turn to popular shows like The White Lotus as their sources of travel inspiration, so it’s no surprise that brands are using it to their advantage,” Kate Rourke, head of creative insights, Asia pacific, Getty images and iStock, said.
“As many people return to work and start daydreaming about their next big holiday, which is the upcoming June – July school holiday period in Australia, it appears travel brands are using the iconic seaside visuals of Sicily seen in The White Lotus in campaigns to lure holidaymakers.”
It’s not only travel brands in Australia who are using the Emmy-award winning show to reach and engage new customers. According to the data, searches on “Sicily” are also trending above expected among Australian businesses in the food & beverage industry, which suggests that brands could be tapping into the cult following of millions of The White Lotus fans to market Italian-styled food, wine and hospitality experiences.
“Brands want to be a part of the cultural zeitgeist and engage in cultural and social conversations in a genuine, authentic way with their audiences,” Rourke said.
“Visual storytelling is one way to do this and we often see this through the creative use of gifs, memes and visuals tied to popular TV shows and movies.”
Email the Travel Weekly team at [email protected]
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‘We’re booked until April 2023’: The White Lotus effect on Sicily’s glitziest town
The second series of HBO’s hit drama has moved from Hawaii to the Italian island. What has filming meant for the town of Taormina?
I t must have been like manna from heaven when, in October 2020, HBO decided to locate its new hit drama, The White Lotus , at the Four Seasons on Maui, Hawaii. The luxury resort had been closed since the islands locked down in late March, but this meant suites could be reopened for filming and furloughed staff brought back to work.
Now it’s the turn of another Four Seasons hotel, the San Domenico Palace in Taormina , Sicily, to be the star turn for the second series , which airs from October 31 on HBO/Sky Atlantic. Though lockdown is now just a memory for Italy, the choice of one of Sicily’s most beautiful towns (and certainly its glitziest) was welcomed by a country hit hard – and early – by the pandemic. The arrival of the international cast and crew in February was forecast to mean a €2m boost to the town’s hotels, rental flats, bars and restaurants, along with work opportunities for local people, including roles as extras. And the benefits are expected to continue.
“These have been intense months,” said Gabriele Zuccaro, owner of Ristorante Badia in the town centre, “but [director] Mike White’s team has showed off all the loveliest parts of Taormina. For our town it is extraordinary worldwide publicity.”
But will the bling of Hawaii translate to the luccichio of Taormina? The design team for the first season found the Four Seasons Resort Maui too bland for filming, and added brighter soft furnishings, flowers and plants, to make a hotel that was “kitschy and flawed and rich, like the characters”. In the way of luxury hotels the world over, the San Domenico Palace is similarly muted – white linens and sandy neutrals – so may have received the same treatment, though the flashy marble bathroom of its most expensive suite (about €5,000 a night) features prominently in the season-two trailer.
Visitor numbers to Maui in the first half of 2022 recovered to within a whisker of pre-pandemic levels, with spending up by more than 16%. The hotel’s general manager, Ben Shank, told journalists the phone had been ringing nonstop since the show aired. “It’s taken on a life of its own. You couldn’t imagine the amount of calls we’ve gotten.”
In Sicily, the San Domenico Palace, a former monastery overlooking the sea, has similarly reported being “booked to April 2023”, but now, in shoulder season, with pleasant temperatures in the low 20s, there is plenty of availability for those happy to pay Four Seasons-level prices (doubles this weekend from €1,050, including an “exceptional” breakfast).
Despite Maui’s Four Seasons oozing luxury, director Mike White found it dispiriting: “You go to these places where you’re supposed to be escaping from all of the problems of the world, and you realise you can’t really escape them,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “The sense of unease you feel is almost amplified in places where you’re supposed to feel so relaxed.”
You don’t need to be in a billionaire bolthole to enjoy Taormina’s beauty – though the generous sprinkling of super-rich visitors does mean the people-watching on Piazza IX Aprile is just as fascinating as the ancient Greek theatre and the volcano views.
Nor do you need to be a billionaire. For about a tenth of the cost of the San Domenico Palace, visitors can stay at another former monastery, the Splendid Hotel (doubles from €115, B&B), half a mile away. It has a pool and restaurant, and is handy for the cable car down to Mazzarò beach. And if valet parking à la San Domenico is important, you can have this too, for €15 a day.
The first season of White Lotus was praised for showing the malign influence of the wealthy visitors on local people, but also for treating Hawaii as a character in itself, rather than as a backdrop. The new location also has much to offer: from the towering bulk of Etna to ancient Syracuse further south, eastern Sicily is as well supplied with wonders as Four Seasons guests are with Gucci luggage.
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Destination Benchmarking: Sicily and Sardinia
- May 23, 2023
- Europe , Reports , Smart Destinations , Trend Studies
Sicily and Sardinia are two magnificent Mediterranean gems. Both are highly popular leisure destinations for Italians and international visitors seeking paradisiacal beaches, delectable culinary offerings, and a rich cultural and historical heritage.
We have conducted a comparative analysis of these two destinations to identify their main tourism competencies as well as their similarities and differences.
The analysis of visitor satisfaction and perception on both islands, based on millions of comments shared on social media and review platforms, confirms high traveller satisfaction during the summer of 2022 in all aspects. International visitors perceive both islands as safe. Despite experiencing heatwaves last summer, both Sicily and Sardinia have exceptionally high levels of weather satisfaction. Regarding the hotel offerings, Sicily receives a slightly higher score, possibly due to the significantly higher accommodation costs in Sardinia during the peak season.
The main reasons to visit Sicily include activities related to art, culture, gastronomy, and family-friendly experiences. Meanwhile, in Sardinia, visitors primarily seek to enjoy the sea, beaches, active tourism, and local cuisine.
Both islands attract visitors from the same source markets, although it’s important to highlight that Sicily is more popular among American tourists while Sardinia attracts more British tourists. Additionally, Australian tourists show great interest in Sicily, ranking fifth among the top five international source markets, while Germans hold that position for Sardinia.
Air connectivity is of great importance for tourism, especially for island destinations. This summer, the total air capacity is slightly lower than in 2022, with a 1% and 5.8% decrease for Sicily and Sardinia, respectively. However, an increase in the number of international visitors is expected for the summer of 2023, as international air capacity has increased while domestic air capacity has decreased. Sardinia stands out with a 135% growth in connectivity with Spain, and France also shows improved connectivity with the island, with 27% more available seats.
On the other hand, in Sicily, growth is observed in the top 10 source markets, except for Italy and the Netherlands. The source markets with the highest growth rates are Malta (+42%), Greece (+20.4%), and France (+14.5%).
The accommodation costs for the summer of 2023 have increased in the 3, 4, and 5-star categories on both islands. However, hotel prices in Sardinia are significantly higher than in Sicily. On average, the prices for 3 and 4-star accommodations in Sicily are 27% and 40% lower than in Sardinia, respectively. The 5-star category is particularly noteworthy, with an average price of €703 per night room, which is 140% more expensive than in Sicily.
The analysis of Sicily and Sardinia as popular tourist destinations highlights the importance of implementing big data in the tourism industry. By leveraging data from social media, review platforms, and other sources, destinations and travel companies can gain valuable insights into visitor satisfaction, perception, market trends, and competitive analysis. By harnessing the power of data, destinations can make informed decisions, optimise their resources, and deliver exceptional experiences, ultimately attracting more visitors and fostering long-term success.
Stay tuned to the latest tourism trends and insights
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