Located just off the toe of Italy’s boot, Sicily bears the marks of the many civilizations who dominated it over the centuries: the Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Moors, Normans, Spaniards, and the modern Italians. Visitors will find Roman temples, Greek theaters, and Norman cathedrals– and a food with a dash of North Africa.
The island’s natural appeal is similarly outstanding, from its stunning Mediterranean beaches to the looming existence of Mount Etna. The active volcano produces regular snaking clouds of smoke and regularly alarms with deep orange lava flows, however it’s likewise responsible for the island’s fertile, ash-rich soil, which is producing a few of the world’s most exciting white wines. There’s been a cultural renaissance in recent years, apparent in the architectural repair of cities, museums, and palazzos, which lots of hope is a precursor of the loosening grip of La Cosa Nostra, the Sicilian Mafia.
The View Over Cefalù
Cefalù sits on the northern coast of the island, on the Tyrrhenian Sea. An hour from Palermo by train, it consists of an impressive, two-towered Norman cathedral full of Byzantine mosaics, surrounded by winding medieval streets and squares (Giuseppe Tornatore set parts of the motion picture Cinema Paradiso here).
Rising above the centro storico, the Rocca, a towering crag topped by the ruins of the Temple of Diana, provides remarkable views over Cefalù and beyond (as seen here). Be prepared to hike.
With Time at the Beach
It’s all an attractive background to a long stretch of golden sand beach with calm waters that’s ideal for kids. There are, naturally, the obligatory lines of vibrant beach umbrellas from regional hotels through summertime, however the determined can constantly find an empty patch of sand.
Temple of Concordia
The ancient Greek Doric temple of Concordia– a ridge-top structure built around the fifth century B.C. as a beacon for sailors– is one of the best-preserved monoliths in the Valley of the Temples, a 3,212-acre archeological website. Rediscovered at the end of the 18th century in southwestern Sicily near the town of Agrigento, the temple was called after the Roman goddess of consistency because of a Latin inscription discovered close by.
There are a couple of theories about how it stayed in such excellent condition: One credits its conversion to a Christian basilica in the 6th century, saving it from the damage that befell other pagan monoliths. The fallen bronze Icarus statue, seen here, became part of a 2011 exhibition of 17 sculptures by the artist, Igor Mitoraj.
Catania Fish Market
Found behind the Baroque Amenano Water Fountain near the Duomo, the bustling pescheria in Catania is a must-visit, with excellent displays of swordfish and all way of other glittering seafood, which yelling stallholders keep cold with regular pourings of icy water. Get lunch at the popular market dining establishment, La Paglia.
Photographer: Wulingyun/Moment RF
Exploring Mount Etna
Europe’s highest volcano, at 10,922 ft., is an imposing presence on the skyline, typically smoldering gently as a tip that it’s still active. Forming around 500,000 years back, the volcano has long been a prominent presence; the ancient Greeks thought Etna was home to the Cyclops, and it was included in Homer’s Odyssey. The consistent eruptions have led authorities to attempt numerous methods to divert lava flows for many years, from concrete dams to dynamites.
To explore its lunar landscape, either walk from Rifugio Sapienza, on the mountain’s southern side (the trek around the crater from here takes about four hours), or catch a cable car to the cold peak, which uses gorgeous views of the highly fertile island stretching below its barren volcanic slopes. An official guide is required at the summit.
Professional photographer: Westend61
Gold Mosaics at the Capella Palatina, Palermo
The amazing interiors of the Capella Palatina are a must-see in Palermo. The 12th century golden mosaics were the handiwork of the Normans, who were as skilled at architecture as they were at military conquest.
In the private chapel of Roger II, on the second floor of Palazzo dei Normanni (Palace of the Normans), craftsmen from three different religions worked on the three-aisle nave, which includes a wood vaulted roof decorated with “muqarnas,” standard Islamic geometric styles likened to a honeycomb. The mosaics are mainly Byzantine in style, but some are Roman in character; they illustrate scenes from the Crusades as well Bible stories, consisting of the Production and St. John in the desert. The theme in the main cupola is Christ Pantocrator, surrounded by angels, prophets, and saints.
If you like what you see, visit the Cathedral in Monreale, five miles southwest of Palermo, which is also renowned for its spectacular golden interiors.
Low Tide at Isola Bella
Isola Bella is a lavish islet linked to a quite beach at the foot of Taormina on Sicily’s east coast. The narrow course that connects the tiny island to the mainland gets covered at high tide.
The islet has grottos and a rocky beach and an outrageous history: It was independently owned by Girl Florence Trevelyan, a pioneering English conservationist who was exiled by Queen Victoria following a prohibited relationship with the future king Edward VII. Trevelyan toured Europe and ultimately decided on Sicily. She constructed a home on the island and planted a garden of exotic plants. It is now owned by the World Wide Fund for Nature.
There are a couple of markets to explore in Palermo. La Vucciria around Piazza San Domenico is the city’s oldest and was once a big chaotic place. It’s a smaller sized, more tourist-driven market nowadays, and an excellent choice for keepsakes and local handcrafts. To see a dynamic regional grocery store in action, attempt Il Capo on Via Sant’ Agostino or the Ballarò, southeast of the Palazzo dei Normanni.
Greek-Roman Theater, Taormina
Its dramatic location, set down on a cliff-top outdoors Taormina’s city walls, with views to Mount Etna and the Ionian Sea, appears apt for a theater. The Greeks started building and construction in the 3rd century BC, and it’s remarkable to see Greek inscriptions on the limestone seats. The Romans contributed to the amphitheater. Through the summer season you can still see efficiencies and films in this sensational spot.
Red Wine Harvest Near Trapani
There’s a present buzz around red wines made from grapes grown in volcanic soil, which tend to offer complex fragrances, high acidity, and earthy tastes. While oenophiles are championing Sicily’s wines like never in the past, volcanic vineyards are far from a current advancement– white wine has actually been made on the island for around 6,000 years. Recommended wineries to go to while in Sicily include Benanti, Tenuta delle Terre Nere, Vino di Anna, and Sciaranuova.
High-end at Capofaro Resort, Salina
The advanced resort of Capofaro sits on a cliff on the verdant Salina, one of the eight Aeolian Islands off Sicily’s northern coast. The refurbished farmhouses are owned by Tasca D’Almerita, among the island’s top wineries, popular for its Malvasia. 6 brand-new rooms in the Capofaro lighthouse keeper’s accommodations sign up with 21 cottages scattered among 17 acres of vines, fruit trees, and flowers. Interiors reflect the spectacular white outsides, a combination of discreet high-end and minimal Aeolian style.
Highlights of the resort include its bar and dining establishment, which serves meals created to complement red wines from Tasca d’Almerita’s estates, along with a teak-terraced pool, tennis court, and garden cottage that’s now used as a massage treatment space. One of the island’s attractive beaches is within strolling range, while a luxury yacht is offered solely for guests.
Climbing up the Scalinata di Santa Maria del Monte, Caltagirone
Constructed in 1608, the staircase has 142 steps, each edged with a various hand-decorated tile to showcase the southern town’s historical reputation for ceramics. Once a year the Scalinata is used as a backdrop for images of saints and local themes developed from flowers or candle lights.