Sicily the largest Island in the Mediterranean and the largest region of Italy, is an amazing destination to include in an Italy Vacation package. The best time to go to Sicily is anytime because of its mild climate year round. January is the coldest month where the temperatures can dip to 55 Fahrenheit. July and August are the hottest months with temperatures well in the 80’s.
Which are the main Sicily attractions? Well there are plenty of places to visit in Sicily. The Islands strategic position facilitated the passage of many different cultures on its shores. Greeks, Arabs, Africans, and Europeans have all left their mark in the architecture, traditions, culture and cuisine of the Island. Because of this the Island has much to offer. History abounds, the island boasts 5 of the largest Unesco archeological sites. Some of the best preserved Greek archeological sites are found there. You will see baroque influence in cities like Catania, Noto and Modica. The Island has over 1000km of beautiful beaches making it a great place for sun and sand. It has a still active volcano on whose slopes you can ski. Then there is the wonderful food with influences from the many cultures that lived there making it a must for foodies.
So let’s talk about some of the amazing Sicily attractions.
Palermo, the capital city of Sicily is a fascinating city of contrasts. You will find beautiful baroque palaces and churches from its glory days of the 1200’s when it was the kingdom of Sicily and Naples. At the same time you will think you are in an Arab souk when you visit the lively markets with their winding alleyways filled with food and other things being sold by colorful characters.
The mains sights to visit in Palermo are:
The Palace of the Normans from the 9th century which now is the parliament of Sicily houses the Palatina chapel with outstanding mosaics of the Byzantine era.
San Giovanni degli Eremiti once a Benedictine abbey is an architectural marvel as it combines Norman, Byzantine and Arab influences.
The exterior of the Cathedral of Palermo combines Gothic, Moorish and neoclassical styles. As you enter you will be fascinated by the Norman tombs and Roman sarcophagi and the beautiful crown of Catherine of Aragon.
Not to be missed is the Vucciria Market which is 700 years old. Here you will see the real Palermo with its wonderful daily life.
You should make your way to the Teatro Massimo for a guided tour of one of the largest and best opera houses in Europe.
For those who enjoy a bit of the macabre a visit to the Catacombs of Palermo is just for you. Here for centuries Capuchin monks mummified corpses sent there for burial. There are hundreds of mummies on display.
Another great Sicily attraction is the town of Monreale with its amazing Duomo. When the Arabs invaded Palermo the turned the cathedral into a mosque and drove out the Bishop. He settled in a small village in the hills now known as Monreale. Here he built a small church. In the 1100’s King William II ordered a new church to be built in Monreale. Being a admirer of different cultures and architectures, he commissioned craftsmen from Arabia and Byzantium to build and work on the cathedral giving this amazing structure a mélange of styles.
Agrigento, home of the Valley of the Temples, is a must see for all who appreciate history. In this amazing archeological site stand some of the best preserved ancient Greek structures to be found. This Unesco world heritage site is one of the most important in the world. On this site which was once the cultural center of Akragas the ancient Greeks erected 8 temples to their gods Hera, Lacinia, Concordia Heracles, Zeus, Castor and Pollux, Hephaistos and Asklepius.
Another of the Sicily attractions could be a visit to Syracuse. This lovely town boasts a vast archeological area with temples and amphitheaters. You can also visit the Island of Ortygia with its winding streets that show the traces of its ancient and medieval history from the times of the Greeks, Bysantines and the medieval Jews.
Taormina is an elegant resort with its commanding views of Mt. Etna makes a great home base for visiting the east coast of Sicily. This very charming town has beautiful shops and restaurants. You can also visit its famous landmark, its ancient amphitheater with its postcard view of Mt. Etna where in the summer many festivals are held.
Mt. Etna is great excursion from Taormina. This volcano is the tallest in Europe and one of the most active in the world. It has more than 400 craters. In the time of the Greeks it was considered the home of the god of fire, Vulcan. You can visit the volcano by 4×4 jeep or you can take hikes of various difficulties.
Ragusa and Noto are two baroque cities that are worth a visit. Ragusa has two sections, Ragusa Ibla the anceint city and Upper Ragusa or the new city built after an earthquake destroyed it in 1693. Upper Ragusa was rebuilt in the 1700’s and thus the style is Baroque and Neo Classic. The most famous church is the Basilica of St. George considered a Baroque masterpiece.
In Noto you will find outstanding examples of Spanish Baroque architecture. Its beautiful Piazza Municipio where the town hall is located is a Baroque jewel.
To truly complete your visit of Sicily a trip to the Aeolian Islands is a great addition. With a ferry or boat you can visit the islands of Vulcano, Lipari and Panarea and Stromboli. These volcanic Islands offer sulphurous baths, beaches and interesting vegetation. Panera is the most exclusive Islands where you will find the rich and famous with their beautiful yachts. For those who enjoy diving the Islands of Filcudi and Alicudi are a must.
Sicily is truly a unique destination to add to your tour of Italy. Road to Italy can help you arrange the perfect Sicily vacation. Have a look at our sample itinerary Best of Sicily for some ideas.
For more information on Sicily or other Italian vacations options call one of our professional tour designers today at 1 800 848 8162 or email us at email@example.com