Monday, May 07, 2018


Lido Caravelle beach club, Taormina
To the parents out there, is there anything better than waking up before your kids? Waking up when your body wakes up? Not because a little person comes to you, whacks you over the head with a mini Qantas jet plane and squeals "Mama, it's morning. I want Weet Bix."

Well to be honest, I didn't know about this feeling until a holiday where my husband and I found ourselves in this most wonderful of worlds where adults wake when they want and kids wake after. It's so incredibly liberating after years of fun dreams being rudely interrupted and thick, motionless sleep being cut short ever so abruptly.

This realisation came to me in Sicily. That gritty, salty, hot haven on the arch of Italy's foot. It's possibly not high on the must-do list of the family travelling set but there are at least 4 good reasons why it should be. 

1. The Italians love kids
I see quite a few similarities between Italians and Australians, particularly when at rest. And I saw a lot of evidence of that in Sicily. In the beach-side, cliff top town of Taormina, at a stunning hotel where things might have been a bit stiff, the warm waitstaff at breakfast in the mornings always stopped to play with our kids. They made jokes and offered them the most incredible hot chocolates, in teeny little china cups, before turning to us to talk espressos. I was told a few times by different staff members that my son was "trop bello" (too beautiful). Don't get me wrong, our two-year-old regularly had tantrums at meal times, much to our horror and whilst a couple sitting nearby did not find this remotely amusing, the locals take it all as part of the moment. God love 'em. 

2. The Food
Oh gosh where to start. If you're like me and you think Italian food is everything, then you can almost cure any pain caused by children whilst traveling just by diving into a bowl of homemade pasta. Again, the Italians are just so accommodating. At several restaurants when the staff spotted our young kids, they made the offer or easily agreed to make a simple pasta with butter and Parmesan (pasta bianca).

At breakfast, I always found it easy to get yoghurt, toast, croissants or cereal.  I even managed to get them to try some new things like vegetable fritters at breakfast and sardines (heavily disguised) with breadcrumbs and Parmesan at dinner. Just mouthfuls, but culinary victories nonetheless I think.
Some of the food offered at the breakfast sitting at the Hotel Villa Carlotta, Taormina.

3. The Relaxed Lifestyle
In Europe in the summertime, often you end up waking late and staying up late, it's just kind of the way they roll so you do too. Which means, you can cruise into the day at a very civilised 10am, have a siesta back at the hotel/apartment at 3pm and then stay out walking in the piazza til after 9 and still have normally functioning kids the next day.  

The other thing is that when you need to offer a bribe, it is 100% perfectly acceptable to offer your kids a gelato or granita at pretty much any time of day - no judgment. It's also perfectly OK to order espresso martinis from your sun lounger at 11am (just ask the wacky Russians next to us at a beach club) or knock back a few vinos at lunch, at dinner, by the pool - wherever. All completely acceptable and encouraged behaviour.
Lemon Granita - Lido Caravelle Beach Club, Taormina
4. The Climate
And then there's the weather... I can't speak categorically but having been in these parts a few times now, I can say that I've never had a rainy day in July. In fact, it's a reliable 27+ with low humidity and a far less scorching sun than ours. This means that a day at the beach, with two young kids, was not only completely doable, but actually very enjoyable. We applied sun cream once upon arrival and again after lunch. No sunburn on the whole trip.
Author's stone-covered toes - Taormina
We never saw a rip or dangerous current, they don't have sharks and you'll find your own kids the only ones wearing hats and rashies all day. It's pretty easy really. The beach clubs which are popular there, provide water and umbrellas and even beach toys for the kids. We spent a few days at the Lido Caravella beach club otherwise known as HEAVEN. And when you get hungry, you walk a few metres to the ristorante and load up on spaghetti all vongole, birra and canoli. La bella vita indeed.

Spaghetti alle vongole - Lido Caravella, Taormina.