Sicily is considered a melting pot of culture, history, and natural beauty located on the border of Africa and Europe. The largest island in the Mediterranean, Sicily reveals unique features of ancient sources that can`t be found in many places around the globe.
There is plenty to see in Sicily and you will probably need more than one single visit to the region to make the most of it! So, it is better to start booking your perfect villa rentals in Sicily before moving straight to a complete guide of what-not-to-be-missed when visiting (once or twice) this amazing spot!
History – when Sicily was known as Sicania
Its triangular-shaped island paradise is not heavily populated, nearly 6 million people are spread all over its 9.923 square miles of the largest region in Italy. The famous Sicilian shore is made of 1000 km (625 miles) of stunning coastline and almost untouched landscapes visited by thousands of tourists annually.
For its strategical location between two continents, Sicily became a true mishmash of different landmarks and heritage with fishing villages, mountains, glorious beaches on distant islands, and memorable ancient buildings.
Phoenicians, Greeks, Roman, Moors, Spanish, English, and French helped to build the history of Sicily and these features and history are spread in every corner of the region.
It is known that Sicily started to be civilised yet in 4000bc. Back in that time, each group that ported to that part of the world already had their proper language and culture. The Sicani, The Siculi, and the Elymni were some of the indigenous people living spread in the area. The region was known at that time as Sicania, and apparently, the Siculis were responsible for choosing the name Sicily.
Having a stroll in the Capital Palermo
If you want to get immersed in the history of Sicily, Palermo is a place to be first. The old capital of the Norman kingdom is the residence of magnificent ancient building remains and splendid architectural features found in Baroque churches and other religious buildings. The city was bombarded in 1943 amazingly, being totally rebuilt years later.
When in Palermo, don’t miss the chance of stepping into history by visiting the Capella Palatina also known as the royal chapel.
Founded in 1132, this basilica is decorated with biblical scenes and its wooden ceiling is a true representation of how used to be portraited the local faith and the beauty of unique monuments like this.
Another well-recommended spot is the Catacombe Del Cappuccini. This convent preserves mummified bodies and some skeletons of eight thousand citizens of Palermo. It can be a macabre site to visit, but also a curious tour of these underground tunnels.
You should have a stroll in the historical streets of Palermo to see several historical sites that are still preserved from east to west of this magical city. Just don’t forget to put your most comfortable shoes on!
Food and Wine Walking Tours
It does not matter which part of Sicily you are visiting; just try to join the first winery or food walking tour you see. From the Palermo Street Food walking to the Italian opera and wine tasting experience in Taormina, the fun will be guaranteed. Food in Sicily is treated with respect.
The Sicilian gastronomy is a unique experience that takes you back to a great cuisine of many heritages. There are lots of fish, crustaceans, vegetables, and meat to be tried. The variety of restaurants shows how grandiose and noticeable is the influence of many different people in the region.
Anyone should be thankful to the god of the wine, Bacchus, for introducing this fine beverage to Sicily. The region is home to the finest types of wines in Europe and there are famous vineyards to check even in Etna. And if you like cheese, the market of Syracuse is a place to put on your list as well.
Mount Etna – The Fertile Mountain of Fire
Another popular site in Sicily is Mount Etna (3323m); one of the largest volcanoes in the world and the most active one in Europe. Several serious eruptions have happened over the last centuries at Mount Etna. Even though, this is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Sicily the visitors reach the top through Etna’s National Park to gain better insight from its summit.
There are several ways of reaching the top of Etna from the North and South by bus, cable car, or even walking. It is a challenge that many tourists face to have one of the best views of Sicily.
Cefalù e Catania- Sicily by the sea
The Sicily coastline is made of fabulous sandy beaches, ancient islands, gorgeous marines, and breath-taking natural swimming pools. It`s spoilt for choice. The finest resort of Cefalù is one of those stunning stops.
It’s located between Palermo and Messina. Its long stretch of sandy beach and historic streets have attracted visitors from all over the world. It has everything that you expect from a summer spot: great restaurants, views, and buzzing nightlife.
Catania is Sicily`s second-largest city. It’s a port city but you would be surprised with how much this village must offer to visitors. As an important historic centre, Catania is fulfilled with baroque buildings. Don`t miss the chance of getting a taste of the best carnival parades in Italy: The Catania Carnevale. Plus, it is in this city where you get one of the best views of Mount Etna.
The Mafia Trail
Who never heard of the Sicilian mafia before? Yes, the word mafia originated from Sicily. That is the term mafioso (mafia) comes from. Organised crime in Italy used the term Mafia to refer to members of the Cosa Nostra; a criminal syndicate from Sicily.
There are different theories of how it was developed, but experts say it was formed in rural Sicily in the 19th century.
Famous mafiosos such as Giovanni Falcone have certainly left their marks in some spots of Sicily’s history and some building sectors of cities like Palermo were controlled by Mafia organisations in the past. Caltanissetta is also known to be a province where various families involved in the Italian mafia used to live. The Mafia Trail from Corleone to Bagni di Cefata is also a popular route to be researched.