Sicilian Secrets tours have started and the season is ready to get into full swing. What makes an itinerary unique? The experiences, the emotions, the memories to take home. Details make a difference. Ottavia Grasso, travel expert for the Spain, South America, U.S. and Australia market at Dimensione Sicilia, told us some curiosities.
Q: What is the value of experiences in creating a customized itinerary by Dimensione Sicilia?
A: The presence of local experiences within an itinerary, I believe is something that is indispensable today. I would define them as something extra that allows us to perceive the authenticity and peculiarities, the nuances of the place we are visiting. They also enrich the emotional baggage that the travelers will take with them when he returns home. We, Dimensione Sicilia, are tailor-made experts, and it is important for us to propose all the beauty that our wonderful island has to offer, while maintaining and respecting the preferences, interests and needs of our guests.
Q: You constantly work with foreign people: what activities/experiences are they most curious to experience once in Sicily?
A: Definitely guided tours inside archaeological areas, I am happy to say that the interest regarding cultural heritage is quite high. Also wine tastings inside historic and renowned wineries such as the Florios are appreciated, as well as boat trips exploring the Sicilian coasts and smaller islands, with crystal clear waters and breathtaking landscapes. So many are the requests and proposals for our mother Etna: from trekking to off-road, from cable car to hiking. The cuisine is always in the wish list with street food, cooking classes and gastronomic surprises.
Q: You recently had the opportunity to go trekking in the Aegadian Islands, what can you tell about this experience?
A: It was something wonderful: indescribable landscapes, colors and emotions. I admired several times a wide variety of trees, bushes and flowers of a thousand colors, but at the same time I was totally surrounded by the boundless blue of the Mediterranean and silence. I believe that the Aegadian Islands are the perfect combination of sea and nature. Without forgetting that they are also a place of important historical events as well as a treasure chest of ancient traditions that are still remembered today. Moreover, by visiting them in the low season, you have the opportunity to experience them in their tranquility. You can meet the local people and have a chat. The Aegadian Islands are islands on the island, and this is how I feel, every time I experience them. Island.
Q: Beyond the wonders of nature that the archipelago offers, you had the chance to meet the former deputy rais of the Tonnara dei Florio. What did you take home from this meeting?
A: Excitement is the right word, it was a meeting I had wanted for a long time. Years after the end of tuna fishing with the ‘tonnare’ (tuna fishery), you can still see in his eyes the passion for what was his job. He loved and loves everything related to tuna fishing, it is something that runs through his veins and is perceptible in the way he talks about it. Another important thing he passed on to me is the respect he always had and continues to have as much for the sea as for tuna. You have to live the sea but you also have to know how to fear it, because it is something much bigger than us.
Q: Ottavia Grasso, you are a tour guide: what makes your work unique and special each time?
A: I love my land and its past, the cultures that have passed through here…everyone has added something that has led us to be the civilization we are. And I feel a part of that every day. I feel affection and belonging for my origins. All this already makes my work special. The uniqueness comes from every single person I accompany to get to know Sicily, because each traveler gives me something different that I carry inside.
Q: Your role at Dimensione Sicilia constantly takes you around Sicily. What are your ‘secrets’ for making each tour magical? What places on the island do you love the most?
A: I am a local expert because I know what I propose to the tourists. Knowledge and experience are the winning formula. This way I can propose an offer that is perfectly in line with demand. There are so many beautiful places where I am comfortable, and so many more I have yet to discover. But surely my favorite place is Portopalo di Capo Passero, the extreme southeastern tip of our island. Along with the Tonnara of Vendicari and the seaside village of Marzamemi, Mount Etna. And, finally, I like the Trapani area: the ancient city of Selinunte (which now features Europe’s largest archaeological park), the salt pans of Trapani and Marsala at sunset, the stagnone of Marsala and the Aegadian Islands.
Q: Why should people choose a tailor-made tour by Dimensione Sicilia?
A: Because with us you don’t just travel, you experience Sicily. We manage to give emotions to our travelers. Why? We have experience, knowledge and mastery of the destination. And all this is needed for the success of the trip. But then there is more: we put love into the work we do, and every day we do our best to ensure that our travelers return home not just with souvenirs inside their suitcase, but with something stronger in their hearts.
Q: And finally, what are Ottavia Grasso’s travel tips for our readers?
A: To dwell on capturing the details of a place. To not have a global view of the trip or the single visit. I recommend focusing on the particularities of a person, a smile, a stone, a tree, a feeling, a taste, a smell… and above all, I thank all travelers who choose to get to know Sicily, because it is a wonderful land rich in history, culture, nature, beauty, cuisine and traditions.