Just 5km from mainland Italy, across the Straits of Messina, lies the rugged and striking island of Sicily. It’s surrounded by the smaller Aegadian Islands, Aeolian Islands, Pantelleria and Lampedusa, and has an abundance of great architecture, archaeological ruins, art, breathtaking scenery and fabulous food.
The rich history has made the island a melting pot of cultures influenced by every great ancient civilization. This fusion of cultures can be seen in the Byzantine mosaics, Greek temples, Roman amphitheatres and baroque cathedrals that stand side by side. The land is as diverse as the culture, from the lush forest in the northeast, and the rugged hills of central Sicily, to the fragrant orange and lemon orchards along the coast.
There is an abundance of things to do and see in Sicily. Every town and city seems to have it’s own culture and atmosphere, which makes this large island a pleasure to explore on sunny summer mornings.
The capital city, Palermo, is bursting with historical and architectural gems including the Cappella Palatina, the Norman Cathedral, the Palazzo Reale (Royal Palace) and Baroque churches. Narrow streets are lined with quaint shops and traditional restaurants, and lead to vibrant squares, including the piazza in the heart of the city where you’ll find the tiered fountain Fontana Pretoria. If you’re feeling slightly macabre you can visit the Convento dei Cappuccini catacombs.
The lively city of Messina is the gateway to Italy’s mainland region of Calabria, and is full of fascinating gothic architecture. The marina, the Piazza del Duomo, the medieval cathedral and the Museo Regionale are all worth exploring.
The medieval city of Agrigento is the perfect place to explore Hellenic temples, theatres and ruins. The Valley of Temples is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can also spend a morning taking a stroll through the ancient ruins in Catania, which is the gateway to the smouldering Mount Etna.
If you’re feeling very energetic you can go trekking in the Nebrodi or Madonie mountains of the Parco Naturale Regionale Delle Madonie, or enjoy water sports like diving, sailing and wind surfing.
…and Lazy Afternoons
Relaxing on the beaches of Palermo is the perfect way to spend a lazy afternoon. There are also secluded towns like Ragusa that have quiet beaches where you can sunbathe away from the crowds.
If you want to see experience the peaceful rural countryside of Sicily why not have a picnic in an olive orchard, or just relax around the pool of your Sicily holiday rental.
Another great way to spend a relaxing afternoon is wine tasting at one of the many vineyards in Sicily. Sample Sicilian wines like Nero d’Avola, Bianco d’Alcamo, Malvasia, Passito di Pantelleria, Cerasuolo di Vittoria, Etna Rosso and Etna Bianco.
Tantalise your Tastebuds
Sicilian cuisine is the stuff food aficionados dreams are made of, and even if you aren’t a foodie, a large part of anyone’s visit to Sicily will be taken up with eating. Here preparing and eating food is an art so it’s no surprise the island is sometimes nicknamed “God’s Kitchen”. A stroll through Palermo’s Mercato della Vucciria or Catania’s La Pescheria will get your mouth watering.
Popular ingredients in Sicilian dishes include fresh fish, tomatoes, artichokes, citrus fruits, almonds, pistachios, sultanas and, of course, the home grown bright green Castelvetrano olive. One of the best ways to experience traditional Sicilian cuisine is at street stalls. Hot snacks (buffitieri) prepared at these stalls are simply delectable. Favourite Sicilian delights include cannoli, impanata, which are bread dough snacks filled with meat, vegetables or cheese, and arancino.
Whether you choose a Sicily holiday villa because you want to tantalize your taste buds, to see ancient ruins, to relax on the beach, or to climb a volcanic mountain, the experience won’t disappoint.