Part of Italy yet distinctively different, Sicily embodies the temperament and color of southern Italy blended with the exotic flairs of northern Africa and the Orient. The island was historically a crossroads that bridged the cultures of Greece, Europe, Byzantine and North Africa. The mix is intense and sensual with a rich cultural legacy and a beguiling history.
Named for the ancient Siculi people who emigrated there from Lazio, its history stretches back to the Phoenicians, but it was the Greeks who made a decisive mark on Sicily building cities in the 6th and 5th centuries BC. The ruins of their great temples and theatres continue to amaze visitors many millennia later.
The Arabs brought trade, farming and mining to the island, the Normans imbued it with artistic and architectural splendor, and the Spanish brought a unique version of the Baroque style. In short, Sicily is unique. It retains an Arabic-tinged dialect, uses spices, almonds and raisins in its dishes, similar to Moroccan meals, and basks in its sunny setting like the wealthy ancient Romans who were drawn here.
The landscape is just as varied – craggy coastlines, sandy beaches, rolling hills and high mountains are all found here. Almonds, pistachios, citrus and vineyards flourish in the fertile, volcanic soil. This is where Marsala wine comes from, along with other heritage vintages.
Its pinnacle is Mt. Etna, Europe’s highest and most active volcano that is still prone to bouts of activity. The resort of Taormina has attracted tourists since ancient times; today’s sandy beaches and swanky restaurants still draw crowds, as do the incredible historic ruins it is famous for. Cities like Catania and Palermo pulse with energy, while smaller towns exude a slice of island life. There are rural hamlets, national parks and vineyard-line hills to enjoy, too.
Sicily is famous for its seafood and its sweets. Enjoy a cannoli (or three!), the fruit-spiked cassata cake, or a granita; gelato is a must – it was born here!
The island is lapped by three seas, is dotted with a string of islands, and is home to five UNESCO World Heritage Sites. With so much to see, taste, bask in and enjoy, it’s no wonder that Sicily is considered to be the pearl of Italy!
On Sicily's north coast, Cefalù is a city of soft sand beaches, ancient ruins, and modern vitality.
The city of Siracusa was the most important city Magna Grecia for a period and declared by Cicero to be it's most beautiful, as well.
Taormina embraces its Greco history while sitting on the sandy beaches of the Mediterranean Sea.
High in the hills of south-central Sicily, Chiaramonte Gulfi is called a "balcony" for its sweeping views of the valleys, mountains and sea.
Ragusa looks fascinating, its stone buildings peeking up from streets that wrap themselves around the hilltop.
A volcanic isle in the Aeolian archipelago on the north side of Sicily, this island paradise is home to two coone-shaped extinct volcanic mountains and a handful of handsome hamlets.
A hamlet that isn't a town in its own right but offers several millennia of history in its small confines, nonetheless, Tindari is a must in northern Sicily.
Stretching out below Monte Erice in the northwest of Sicily, Trapani provides a variety of attractions and allures that will satisfy every taste.
This lovely town in Sicily is a stunning surprise, located half-way between Palermo and Cefalu, resting in the hills above the Gulf of Termini Imerese.
On Sicily's north coast, this seaside resort is more than just a beach, it is also a great base for exploring the mountains and nearby Cefalu'.
An historical and interesting town in the hills south of Cefalù, Castelbuono is part of the Parco delle Madonie and a really beautiful hill town to explore.
In the Palermo province near the city but away from the traffic and bustle, Casteldaccia is near the beautiful cape known as Capo Zafferano.
Listed as one of the Borghi Piu' Belli d'Italia (most beautiful villages) pretty much guarantees that you will like the ambiance of Castiglione di Sicilia.
On the Sicilian coast, you'll find golden sand beaches interspersed with reefs at Cava d'Aliga.
In northwest Sicily, the pretty city of Erice sits inland on a hill near Trapani, looking at the sea with Monte San Giuliano looming above it, and seems suspended between the two.
A sun-soaked island off the coast of Sicily, Favignana is in a world of its own, making it the perfect (true) getaway.
Located on the southern Sicilian coast and linked to its beautiful older city of Ragusa inland, the Marina di Ragusa is a hip beach resort.
Sitting in the hills, Montemaggiore has a beautiful setting among mountains and rivers, as its name implies.
The town of Nicolosi is at the base of Mount Etna and is the gateway for excursions to the famous volcano.
At the southern end of Sicily, the Pachino promontory is washed by both the Ionian and Mediterranean Seas.
A volcanic island off of Sicily, Pantelleria sits in the Straight of Sicilia and combines a delightful blend of cultures mingled through the centuries into one.
In the hills below Mt Etna, Piedimonte Etneo is a town suspended in time as well as between the mountains and the sea.
At the southernmost point in Sicily, Portopalo di Capo Passero is a pleasant old fishing village.
An enchanting spot near Ragusa, Sicily, Punta Secca offers lovely landscapes and clear seas.
The town of Rosolini has its official beginnings in 1712, making it "new" as far as Sicily is concerned.
Built on a cape on Sicily's north coast, San Vito Lo Capo is a renowned summer destination.
A lovely town located near the sea, Santa Croce Camerina offers a nice atmosphere amidst flowering fields.
This tiny town is officially part of the city of Ispica, but is set apart on a long stretch of seacoast.
The North African-influenced town of Sciacca lies north of the spectacular Greek ruins of Agrigento.
This beautiful Baroque town sits in a gorge in southern Sicily just a few miles from the Mediterranean Sea.
A still active fishing village combines with beach resort in a charming combination on Sicily's south coast.
Lying in the hills of southern Sicily, minutes to the beaches but in its own world surrounded by vineyards, Vittoria offers city amenities and small town hospitality.
At about 500 meters above sea level, Zafferana Etnea provides a cooler climate during the oppressive heat of summer.
Resting at the foot of Monte Bonifato, the town of Alcamo, like so many in Sicily, has ancient roots and a medieval soul.
Between Taormina and Catania, Altarello is a hamlet that is part of the city of Giarre, resting in the shadow of Mt Etna.
Located on a cape on the outskirts of Palermo, Bagheria is a historic and interesting city in its right, though it is often overshadowed by its urban neighbor.
Sitting like a balcony over the gulf of Castellammare, Balestrate is called 'the last town" in the province of Palermo.
A quiet community in the olive-rich hills above the sea, Capri Leone basks tranquilly above the coastal bustle below.
A places so beautiful it's been named among Italy's prettiest towns, Castellammare del Golfo does have a castle on the glittering gulf.
In the shadow of Mt Etna, the town of Fiumefreddo di Sicilia is along a river and near the Ionian Sea.
Once a sleepy fishing town, the seaside resort of Giardini Naxos grew in the 1970s and become one of Sicily's premier beach destinations.
On the Gulf of Gela in southern Sicily, Licata sits on the coast between Agrigento and Gela, at the mouth of the Salso River.
Gracing the gulf of Milazzo along with six other isles, Lipari is the largest and most populous of the Aeolian islands.
A part of the town of Fiumefreddo di Sicilia, the Marina di Cottone is the seaside village that faces the Ionian Sea.
Mascali has a long history but the town as you see it today dates only to 1930, the rebuild after the original town was destroyed by lava flows from Mt Etna in 1928.
An intriguing and exotic city of 51,300 people, Mazara del Vallo has a melding of cultures and a mix of interesting sights, along with choice beaches.
On a glorious gulf, resting between two promontories, Mondello is a district of Palermo but feels a world away from the chaotic city.
While the name may not be familiar, the scenery of this town certainly is, having been immortalized in films.
At the sea near the city of Agrigento, the former fishing hamlet is now a bustling resort town but also hosts some fabulous natural formations and intriguing beaches.
Founded in 1681, the town of Realmonte is "young" as far as most towns in Sicily go, but it does offer some historical sights nonetheless.
One of the Messina area's most fascinating towns is the small but history-packed San Marco d'Alunzio.
Santa Flavia sits just 17 kilometers from Palermo and is part of the city's metro area, but feels like another world.
The town of Sant'Alfio is suspended between the mountains of Mt Etna and the beaches of the Sicilian coast.
Along the shore of northwest Sicily, the seaside town of Alcamo Marina is a modern beach destination.
The town of Leni on the island of Salina is set between two mountains, with an additional hamlet that sits on the sea.
A hamlet in the hills above Giarre and Riposto, Nanziata is a frazione of Mascali, in view of Mt Etna and minutes to the Ionian Sea.
The valley-sited village of Presa is a frazione of the big sister town, Piedimonte Etneo, just three kilometers away.
The largest contrada (district) after Pantelleria centro, the area of Scauri is just eight kilometers from the primary city, and offers a relaxing atmosphere.
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