By Peter Woodaman.

We had the place, with its tasty food and welcome shade, to ourselves.

It was a quiet restaurant in the Sicilian town of Castelbuono, where my wife and I happily tucked into a local speciality — pasta alla norma.

It comes with salty cheese and is quite delicious.

It’s day two of our 11-night tour of the Mediterranean island, and we’d journeyed along winding roads from the coastal town of Cefalu, where we were staying, to Castelbuono — famed for its restaurants and views.

Sicily nestles neatly at the foot of Europe and offers some of the best beaches and most dramatic scenery of anywhere on the continent.

We were lucky to have visited in early September — the great heat of summer was subsiding and the crowds, seen in their hordes at the height of the holiday season, are much diminished.

Cefalu is lovely, with plenty of restaurants, a dazzling beach and an imposing cathedral. We stayed a little out of town at the Alberi del Paradiso, high up a winding side street with good views.

On afternoon, one of the hotel staff drove us to the imposing Grand Hotel Time, perched above the sea with great views of the moking Mount Etna.

Right next door is the old Greek theatre, built around 300BC where concerts are still staged.

Yes, the town is touristy and the restaurants aren’t cheap, but there’s a buzz about the place and some lovely gardens to visit, where you can escape the heat and crowds.

Peter Woodman flew to Sicily courtesy of easyJet which flies ex-Gatwick to Palermo, with outward singles from 27 euros and also to Catania from 29 euros. EasyJet reservations: 0843 104 5000 and