Sicily – A Dreamy and Lively Island
Remote, dreamy settlements with historical houses look like they are from a different time and remind of the stories of characters like Don Corleone. However, Sicily has also become established as a modern tourist destination. Besides its rich nature, the island attracts visitors with relics from different cultures.
Geography - A hilly triangle
Sicily is located at Italy's boot toe, three kilometres away from the mainland. It is the greatest Mediterranean island, an autonomous Italian region and known as trinacria ("triangle") because of its shape. The most distinctive formation on the island is without doubt Mount Etna (3,345 m) as Europe's highest and most active volcano, followed by the well-known volcano Stromboli. Mountains and hills cover the major part of the island, while harsh, steep rocks and sandy beaches dominate the shores. The Mediterranean climate provides the island with permanent pleasant temperatures (26 °C in summer and 10 °C in winter on average).
Nature - Mediterranean atmosphere
Great areas of the typical Sicilian forest, which is home to the Sicilian fir, exist to the present day. Furthermore, the island is vegetated by wild flowers and herbs as well as rubber trees, papyrus and banana trees. Vast hillsides with vines and olive trees create a Mediterranean atmosphere. The sea around Sicily is rich in fish and crustaceans. Many reptiles, turtles and frogs live on the island.
Natural sights - Volcanoes, hidden grottoes and wonderful beaches
Mount Etna is definitely Sicily's most important natural attraction. The active volcano always seems to be active and fills visitors with awe with its four craters. In the north, you find the Aeolian Islands, which accommodate the volcanoes Stromboli and Vulcano. The small archipelago is popular with tourists because of its natural beauty, for example the hidden grottoes. Beautiful beaches, magical bays, Mediterranean atmosphere created by palms and olive trees as well as a view of eagles and falcons – you have all this in the Zingaro Nature Reserve. First-rate beaches are located around San Vito lo Capo, Bosa and Noto near Syracuse.
Culture - Following the traces of bygone times
Sicily has been an important hub for seafaring and trade from early on. The territory belonged to the great empires of the Greeks, the Romans and the Byzantines and was also ruled by the Arabs and the Spanish. The influences of these different cultures are apparent from a great number of buildings and monuments. In addition, they contributed to the fact that the Sicilians are characterised by traditions and temperament.
Cultural sights - History-charged buildings
Sicily's most significant historical city is Syracuse, formerly known as the "pearl of Greece". Numerous historical sights invite visitors to go on an imaginary stroll through history in this city, which was the birthplace of Archimedes. Particularly worthwhile attractions are the old town of the island of Ortygia with its many temples, squares, churches and the Castello Maniace. The archaeological site of Agrigento, which accommodates remains of the ancient town of Acragas, is equally impressive. Palermo should be on everyone's itinerary. Some of the city's most attractive sights are the Palace of Palermo (Palazzo dei Normanni), Palermo Cathedral and the many history-charged streets. The seaport city of Messina also holds numerous historical treasures. One of the most fascinating ones is probably the Cathedral of Messina.
Experience - Sweet pastries, fish dishes and exuberant religious celebrations
Theatre and opera are important parts of Sicily's cultural life. In Palermo, you find Italy's greatest opera house, the Teatro Massimo. The Sicilian marionette theatre, which developed from street music, has become an established attraction for both locals and visitors. The exuberant religious celebrations on Sicily are another special experience. Palermo is the best destination for going out at night. It offers party-goers a wide range of music, dance and entertainment. The island's cuisine is very traditional and varied. Local specialities are different sweets such marzipan in the shape of fruit, the colourfully decorated cassata cake and dough rolls filled with ricotta. Dishes containing fish and meat served with orange salad and pasta are part of the Sicilian lifestyle. Popular souvenirs are terracotta figures, hand-painted ceramic ware and fabrics.
Activities - Strolls through nature and activities at the beach
Travellers can reach Mount Etna's peak by cable car or Jeep, driving up 3,000 metres. In winter, winter sports are possible at its hillsides. You have a postcard view of the volcano from Taormina, the number one tourist destination on Sicily. There are several national parks on the island, some of which are located around Mount Etna, in which visitors can walk around for hours on end. Sicily is also the ideal destination for beach holidays. It offers excellent conditions for going bathing, surfing, sailing and diving.
The construction of the bridge over the strait has been stopped but there are several ferries plying between the Italian mainland and the island. They make it possible for travellers to arrive by car or train. In addition, there are airports in Palermo (PMO), Trapani (TPS) and Catania (CTA), at which visitors can arrive with international airlines. Within Sicily, you can use the four motorways to reach destinations. Alternatively, you can take the light railway. Although Italian is the official language, the Sicilians use their own language and gestures. Understanding them takes a bit of practice.
A beautiful landscape and pleasant weather create first-rate conditions for relaxing. In addition, holidaymakers can visit the island's historical treasures. This makes Sicily the ideal destination for travellers who are looking for sun and entertainment.