The island of Sicily is famous the world over for its amazing food, stunning countryside, unique culture, and rich history. It’s the largest island in the Mediterranean sea and boasts one of Europe’s tallest volcanoes – Mount Etna – in its eastern half.
Sicily, as we know it today, is the product of a long and checkered history. It was an ancient Greek colony, part of the Phoenician, Roman and then Byzantine Empire, became a Moorish emirate, was conquered by the Normans, and then passed through the hands of many European powers.
These various cultures have exerted significant influences on the Italian island, all evident today in the unique culture of Sicily, including its language and arts – ancient historical sites abound. This culminates in arguably the island’s most famous archaeological region – Valley of the Temples – where the ruins of seven magnificent Greek temples continue to amaze visitors.
The towns and cities are picturesque affairs. They’re nestled in mountains or set along the island’s jagged, rocky coastline. Hiking, snorkeling, or simply eating your way through the incredible amount of quality food on offer in this unique Italian region is the order for any trip to its shores.
Whether you’re into history and culture, you’re a total foodie, or you simply want to relax, there’s a place in Sicily for you.
Set on Sicily’s northwest coast, Palermo is the island’s capital and is a grand showcase of the region’s history. It’s nestled between the folds of a mountainside landscape and boasts the big, crescent-shaped Mondello Beach, where the town meets the sea. Full of history, it’s the perfect place to begin any journey to this beautiful island – especially to witness Sicilian architecture. A good example can be found at the 16th Century Church of Casa Professa, whose Baroque interior is like a lesson in stunning opulence.
Palermo also boasts the Lyric Opera – Italy’s largest theater and, in fact, the third-largest in Europe (after the famous Paris Opera and Vienna State Opera). Street food and ancient markets abound in town and it’s easy to spot a bit of local culture by just wandering around these lively areas. Stay in a ritzy hotel in the older neighborhood or something more affordable near the beach.