Sicily is ancient elegance disguised in crumbling walls and peeling paint. The name of the region evokes images of Don Corleone-like characters, corruption and stranded refugees on Lampedusa.
But the island in southern Italy is much more than that.
Attractions and sightseeing
The visitor will find Italian beauties, the legendary Fiat 500, the special light created by the reflection of the blue Mediterranean, black lava tracks of ancient volcanic eruptions and of course the many attractions that Greeks, Romans, Arabs and Spaniards have left behind to please future generations of culture lovers.
Yes, this island is raw and unpolished but above all it is authentic, a rare treat these days in Europe.
Sicily is surprisingly hip, cool and timeworn
The people are like their country; hip, cool, elegant and sometimes very old. The women graceful like only southern belles are, adorned with a hat and sunglasses. The guys cool, macho on their Vespas whilst their grandfathers are strategically seated on benches from where they can keep watch over time passing by.
Their wives are at home, in the kitchen, where they prepare the next tantalizing meal.
Mediterranean sun, sea and gastronomy
Yes, the local cuisine in itself is a reason to spend as much time here as your budget and time allow.
A Sicilian will tell you without blushing that the best wine/olive/ fruit/fish is produced in Sicily. Actually, my Italian mother will swear – and she is from the north – that the best olive oil is from the Lake of Garda – and yet the Sicilians, like my mother are equally right. For a pasta freshly prepared with local products, nowhere tastes as good as enjoyed al fresco under the stars, of course, washed down with a locally produced glass of wine.
Furthermore, the Mediterranean diet is healthy. The Italians have, despite the murderous mob connection, the longest life expectancy in Europe (source).
The food is not only healthy, it is prepared with fresh local ingredients. Ingredients are grown sustainable and organical. Not because it’s hip, but because this is the way it has always been done.
The devotion to the local gastronomy is probably even greater than to the other religious pillar, the Roman Catholic faith.
Almost all Sicilians are Roman Catholic. Especially the Saints Mary Agatha, Antonio, Lucia and Rosalia are popular with believers. Each town has a patron saint, whose name feast day is celebrated with processions, street festivals and, of course, delicious snacks, such as the marzipan breasts of Agatha. The many churches, monasteries and saints are attractions in themselves.
In short, it doesn’t matter what kind of vacationer you are, Sicily is always a good idea whether you want to enjoy its food, tourist attractions, religious events or you simply want to go to the beach. Just keep in mind that one season is more suitable than another for various activities.
- Summers are hot, if you like sunbathing on the beach, or island hopping around the coast, then this is for you the ideal season.
- The weather in spring and autumn is milder, cooler and thus more suitable if you mainly want to go sightseeing.
- If you want to go skiing (yes, that is possible on Mount Etna) then obviously winter is the best time.
Summer holiday or cultural getaway
- You can get almost anywhere by train and/or bus in Sicily. You probably would not expect it, but the trains are usually punctual.
- If you prefer using your own transport, you can consider to fly and rent a car. If you like to hire a car, check prices here.
- Ensure always, even in winter, your skin is adequately protected, so wear a hat and sunscreen because the sun is quite intense in the south.
- Accommodation is available for all budgets and tastes. To check prices and availability click here.
Would you like to go island hopping?
The volcanic Aeolian (or Lipari) Islands are in their entirety on the UNESCO World Heritage List. These islands: Lipari, Salina, Stromboli, Vulcano, Filicudi, Alicudi and Panarea are part of the Sicily region. The volcanic island of Stromboli is probably the best known and Vulcano and Lipari are the most touristy. Both Lipari as Vulcano are easily accessible by a ferry from Milazzo. It takes an hour to sail to the islands. To reach Stromboli takes about four hours. There you can experience live volcanic eruptions.
Note that in autumn the wind can be too strong for the ferry to sail for several days in a row.
Finally, I will mention a few typical dishes of Sicilian cuisine, just to get the taste buds going:
- Cannoli, a kind of pancake stuffed with ricotta (soft cheese);
- Frutta Martorana marzipan sweets are often in the form of fruit;
- Arancini are stuffed fried rice balls.
- And of course the thousand and one different homemade kinds of pasta.
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