Sicily is an island of many
splendors and a rich but complex history. Situated as one of the main
stepping stones between Europe and Africa, Sicily has been coveted by many
civilizations due to its strategic location and resources (both mineral and
During periods in its history, Sicily was occupied or controlled by the
Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Byzantines, Muslims, Normans,
Austrians, Spanish and the Bourbons. In 1861 Sicily joined with Sardinia and
regional states along the peninsula to become the country today called Italy.
Sicily is approximately the size
of Maryland or about 1/9th the size of the island of Great Britain. Sicily
includes the Aeolian Islands to the north, which are popular with tourists,
as well as lesser known islands to the northwest, west and southwest.
Messina, located in eastern Sicily, is just 30 minutes by ferry from
Calabria (the toe of the boot) on the mainland of Italy.
Modern Sicily is an enigma. It
historic treasures are decaying at an alarming rate and urban decline is
widespread. Monies designed to be applied to preserving its attractions
mysteriously disappear and rumors of Mafia involvement are widespread. To be
honest, many travelers are disappointed when visiting Sicily.
Well, if things are so gummed up,
why visit? Our answer involves the attractiveness of Sicily's historic
buildings, its impressive archeological sites, sunny beaches and, of course,
its food. So, let's start by describing Sicily’s treasures and then you can decide whether a
trip to Sicily should be on your list of places to vacation. If you decide
to go, avoid the summer months if possible, as the island bakes in extreme
heat, especially in July and August.
host of interesting sites that highlight the Norman period of the island's
history. Be sure to see the Temple di Normi, the regional Archaeology
museum, the Duomo and the buildings of the Old Town in the historic center
of the city. Also, visit nearby Monreale for its delightful Norman
cathedral and cloister and more distant Cefalů for another Norman cathedral
famous for its mosaics.
was one of the first areas colonized by the Greeks in Sicily. Eventually conquered
and razed by Carthage, Selinunte offers several
excavated temples that are worth a visit. Although there are fewer
standing-temples here than Agrigento, there is also less surrounding development.
of the Temples), founded in the 6th century B.C., was an important and
center of the Mediterranean world in the 5th and 6th centuries B.C.
Today, the remains of the city can be found in Agrigento's Valley of the Temples,
an archaeological site that is world famous for its
outstanding collection of excavated Greek temples.
is the closest town to the famous
Roman Villa at Casale. Although the
identity of the Roman luminary who built the villa remains unknown, this luxurious, large estate is
famous for the number, quality and beauty of its numerous mosaics. Be
sure to consider at stop at Casale, as it mosaics are
regarded as the
finest Roman mosaics still in situ, anywhere in the world.
was once the largest city in Magna Graecia (Great Greece) and was proclaimed by Cicero as
the "The greatest Greek city and the most beautiful of all." Siracusa was the birthplace and home of Archimedes, as well as other famous Greeks.
is the largest volcano in Europe and one of the most active in the world.
Catania is the closest stop for a tour for the volcanic Mount Etna, although
many arrange a tour from Taormina instead.
leading vacation and resort area of Sicily. The town has many
delights, including a fantastic Greek theater that overlooks both the
sea and Mount Etna. Taormina's beaches are prime sunbathing
The Aeolian Isles
comprised of seven
islands off the northern shore of Sicily, were named based on the
belief that they were the home to the Greek God of the winds. The islands
are scenic, fun to visit and extremely popular in the summer. Lipari is
largest island and the one most popular with visitors.
If you need information about another travel destination, try
Destination Guide Index
or Googling ThereArePlaces.
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Fortress architecture in Sicily was influenced by the Norman conquest
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The Temple of Concordia in Agrigento
Taormina's historic Greek Theater