There has never been a travel feature columnist at The Tonic. From time to time, over the years I’ve written about personal vacations, if I felt there was a credible health and wellness slant. I suppose that ‘credible’ is purely a subjective notion when you’ve written about healthy things to do in Las Vegas…twice. But as travel became more viable, with post-Covid restrictions easing, I thought there might be an opportunity to write about our recent trip to Sicily as a feature in this issue. I was incorrect.
I suppose that I could have written about the amazing local cuisine of Sicily – an island ruled by the Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Turks, French and Spanish – all who contributed culinarily. The hot climate and rich volcanic soil supports extensive agriculture – fruits, vegetables, wine, dairy products etc. And the fish caught in the Mediterranean sea couldn’t be fresher. But this is also a food culture that has cake and ice cream (and pastries and pies and antipasto) for breakfast. It is the birthplace of cannoli, cassata and arancini. They have a town (Modica) which seems to exist for the sole purpose of making chocolate using antiquated processing methods from the Aztecs. I also ate the best (and perhaps biggest) sandwich I’ve ever had – at Caseificio Borderi in Ortigia (Google it: You don’t pick the sandwich, the sandwich is picked for you).
I might have written about any of our three hikes. Climbing Mount Etna was fun, but not super challenging. (No, we didn’t go to the top). But I’d have to omit that the guides served us “Fire of Etna ” liquor after to celebrate…which is 70proof and is supposed to and did taste like lava…and that the volcano was actively spewing lava a few days later. Or that one of us may or may not have accidentally dropped a verboten plastic water bottle at the restricted area near the crane and flamingo sanctuary in Vendicari national park. There was an incredible walk down and up a rock-walled river gorge. Here are the instructions to get there. Drive up and down an unpaved country road, 30 minutes from the nearest town, until you find a small hand-written sign (in Italian), which leads to an unmarked parking area in a meadow clearing, beside what is clearly a private sheep farm…that you walk through…to get to a small kiosk where three guys will give you the option of one of two paths to take you to the gorge (which was breathtaking, once we found it).
In the past I’ve also written about cutting edge spa treatments at Canyon Ranch or the old school therapeutic mud baths in Ischia (…and even the deluge shower at the Spa at the Wynn in Las Vegas). But when we booked our his and her massages this trip we didn’t realize that the masseuses were not registered therapists. The first tip-off might have been the ridiculous paper g-string thongs they made us wear (no, there are no pictures and it wasn’t “that” kind of massage). The second was that the actual massage consisted of strange manipulations which I can only describe as what a 9 year old who’s never seen a massage thinks a massage is. They called it the ‘California Therapeutic Massage’. We called it the ‘Italian Nonsense Massage’. On the upside, it was expensive. I did manage to take a nap for half of it.
So while the trip to Sicily was amazing (truly), it just didn’t lend itself to a great health and wellness article (or did it?). But do you know what does? Master organic gardener Melissa Cameron’s advice on edible crops you can grow yourself . Or my struggles with emotional eating , Joel Thuna’s ideas on boosting your energy naturally or Carlye Jansen’s thoughts on spontaneous and responsive desire. As always, if you want to discuss what makes the perfect sandwich or anything else in this issue, please feel free to reach out.