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Sicily

Destination Guide: Sicily


Off the foot of the Italian boot stands the Mediterranean’s largest island, Sicily. With over 25,000 kilometres of land to call its own, and as the polygonal crossroad between Europe and Africa, it’s no wonder that Sicilians dance along to their own melody; a melody which differs from any other region of Italy.

Imagine the backdrop of Mount Etna, the blazing heat of neighbouring North Africa, a collision of the Ionian, Tyrrhenian and Mediterranean seas, all enwrapped with the Italian way of life. Sicily is a unique world, one which is full of exciting sights and flavours.

Getting There


 

Airports


The four major airports are Palermo-Falcone Borsellino Airport, Trapani Vincenzo Florio Airport, Catania Vincenzo Bellini Airport, and Comiso / Vincenzo Magliocco Airport. All four airports service international visitors but direct flights are at limited availability, with many flights connecting at Rome.

Trains


One of the easiest ways to travel to Sicily is by train. All major Italian cities offer trains services to the island; travel from Milan, Venice, Rome or Naples and expect anything up to 15 hours’ travel time.
Ferries

Ferry


There are eight ferry ports in Sicily alone; Catania, Messina, Milazzo, Palermo, Palermo Termini Imerese, Porto Empidocle, Pozzallo and Trapani. So getting to Sicily from mainland Italy is extremely convenient. For those looking to drive from London, a 20 hour ferry ride from Genoa to Palermo can help to break up the journey. There are also ferry links with Malta and Tunisia.

Sicily Properties


 

Casetta Maranzano

From £142/night
Star Rating:
A charming residence ideally situated on the edge of Buseto Palizzolo, a small hillside village in northern Sicily, 15 kilometres from Trapani.
3 Beds
2 Bathrooms
6 Guests

La Spiaggia Alta

From £111/night
Star Rating:
A bright spacious apartment set in a sought after location directly on a sandy beach.
4 Beds
2 Bathrooms
6 Guests

Villa Avola

From £356/night
Star Rating:
A fabulous beach front property on Sicily's East coast.
4 Beds
4 Bathrooms
6 Guests

Villa Buseto

From £510/night
Star Rating:
Ideally situated within walking distance of the village of Buseto Palizzolo (1 Km) and 20 Km from Trapani.
8 Beds
10 Bathrooms
16 Guests

Villa Enzo

From £400/night
Star Rating:
Situated on the slopes of mount Etna, Villa Enzo is ideally situated on the edge of a pretty village called 'TreCastagni'.
6 Beds
8 Bathrooms
12 Guests

Villa Marina

From £764/night
Star Rating:
An exclusive villa with private swimming pool situated in a splendid sea front position in Marina di Modica, a small seaside resort on the southern coast of Sicily.
5 Beds
5 Bathrooms
10 Guests

Villa Mazara del Vallo

From £214/night
Star Rating:
A modern detached villa, with pool, situated only 250 metres from a beautiful beach.
2 Beds
2 Bathrooms
6 Guests

Villa Taormina

From £728/night
Star Rating:
This exclusive villa offers sits in a prestigious location at the upper end of Taormina within easy reach the smart boutiques & restaurants of the popular shopping district of Corso Umberto and famous sights such as the Greek Theatre.
5 Beds
6 Bathrooms
10 Guests

Villa Tecla

From £485/night
Star Rating:
Situated in a panoramic position and affording splendid sea views over the Ionian sea.
4 Beds
4 Bathrooms
8 Guests
 

 

Top 10 Things to Do in Sicily


In the Med’s largest island, you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to cities, towns and historical sites. With the menacing milieu of Mount Etna and the outstandingly beautiful circumference of coastline, there is much to see. From the quirky capital of Palermo to the volcanic Aeolian archipelago, here are the top 10 things to do during your stay.

 

Get into the swing of true Sicilian life and join the locals at their historical city markets in the beautiful capital. Pick up fresh fruit and veg at Vucciria Market, breathe in the seductive smells at Il Capo’s spice stalls, or taste the local cheeses at Borgo Vecchio Market.

Valley of the Temples or “Valle dei Templi” is one of Sicily’s most exciting historical attractions. This archaeological site in Agrigento is one of the most remarkable demonstrations of Greek architecture and features the restored remains of seven Greek temples. The archaeological park is open every day from 8:30am to 7:00pm and guided tours are available.

It’s the most active volcano in Europe, yet it is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Italy. Go to Etna Sud and take a walk around the old craters or see the summit craters by taking the cable car to the top. Open to tourists all year round, this ominous volcano is one of the most spectacular sights on the island of Sicily.

Siracusa is one of the most significant cities of Italian and Greek history. This once very powerful city in the Magna Graecia Italian coast was described by Cicero as “the most beautiful of all Greek cities.” Visit Siracusa today and the Greek designs remain; combined with today’s modern Sicilian culture, it’s the keystone of two melding nations. Visit the historical sites which are open to the public, wine and dine in the lively city centre, or take a day trip to the surrounding sea caves.

Second largest to Sicily’s capital, Catania is alive with energy day or night. Despite the noise and chaos that greets you as you step into the city, this UNESCO World Heritage site still holds much of its ancient charm. Under the shadow of Etna, Catania comes bursting to life at night with bars and restaurants filling up with locals and visitors alike. For drinking / eating out, Teatro Massimo is a lively meeting place and draws a young crowd or you can find fine establishments by Piazza del Duomo.

Just north of mainland Sicily, you will find the striking Aeolian Islands. The UNESCO protected archipelago is made up of Vulcano, Lipari, Salina, Panarea, Stromboli, Filicudi and Alicudi, and each island offers its own unique charm. Head to Lipari for energetic island life and stunning beaches, sail to Stromboli for hiking and nature, or take a day trip to Alicudi for some off the beaten path exploration.

Vulcano is a small volcanic island which is a part of the Aeolian archipelago. Here you will find four volcanos (all of which can be explored on hikes) and natural mud baths which are healing to the body. Relax and wind down in the thermal baths and let the sulphur-rich mud work wonders on your skin.

Taormina is a small town on the east coast boasting spectacular views, magical sunsets and bustling streets filled with restaurants, bars and shops. For many years now, Taormina has been a popular travel destination and a holiday in Sicily isn’t complete without a day or two in Taormina. Walk around the winding streets of the commune, take in the Greek architecture and enjoy cosmopolitan cuisine in a glorious setting.

A few miles outside of the Sicilian town of Piazza Armerina is a Villa Romana del Casale; a great example of Roman exploitation of the countryside. This famous villa is one of the most excessive and lavish of its kind, and beautifully preserved mosaics decorate every single room. Be sure to pack your camera so you can capture the magic of the intricate mosaic designs.

Sicily is famed for its beautiful beaches but Cava Grande is a fantastic alternative if you’re looking for something a little bit different. There are no public transport links to Cava Grande so you will need to make travel arrangements by rental car or join an organised tour. Don’t forget to pack your swimsuit for a dip in the lush lakes of Avola.

Weather & Climate


Sicilian climate has moderate temperatures and fantastic dry summers, which makes the destination enjoyable all year round. Positioned right in the middle of the Mediterranean climate zone, you can expect summers to be hot and winters to be comfortably mild. Temperatures of 30°C are not uncommon in the summer season, with the hottest months expected to be July, August and early September. January is the coldest month of the year but with temperatures barely dipping below 10°C, January is still a good time to visit.
The best time to go swimming in the sea is between July-September when the sea temperatures are at their most warm and wonderful. When the summer heat starts to wane in autumn, the sea is still a glorious 20-25°C. Summers are usually dry so rainfall is very low from May to September. December and November have the highest levels of rainfall.

Regional Food & Wine


Sicilian cuisine can be defined by its unique fusion of the worlds. With Greek, Spanish, French and Arab influences, no other Italian cooking is quite like Sicilian. If you like Italian food with a twist, Sicilian food is for you. When eating in Sicily, you can expect everything to be fresh and grown locally on the island. In fact, the only imported foods are bananas and pineapples – so you can be guaranteed garden-fresh dishes wherever you go. What goes hand in hand with local ingredients is the seasonality of some dishes; remaining true to what Mother Nature provides is the beauty of Sicilian food.

 

Must Try Dishes in Sicily


Arancini is quite possibly the most famous local dish in Sicily; these creamy risotto balls filled with meat and cheese make a comforting street food and they are enjoyed by many travellers. Sicilian pastries also make great street food snacks; try delicious Cannoli or Granita e Brioche.

For a taste of the sea, a plate of Linguine ai Frutti Di Mare is the perfect lunch time dish and washes down well with a glass of white. Arabic influences are palpable in the delicious mixed seafood medley of Cous Cous al Pesce. And a fine example of local ingredients from both land and sea can be enjoyed in the Pesce Spada alla Ghiotta. For non seafood lovers, try Sicily’s most iconic pasta dish, Pasta alla Norma, a Catania speciality which is made with fresh aubergine, juicy tomatoes and ricotta cheese.

Wine in Sicily


Whether it’s Dionysus God of Wine who blessed Sicily with its wine-making talents or the benefits of having volcanic soil from Mount Etna, it’s no secret that the Sicilian wine industry is booming. Whether you have a penchant for red or white, Sicilian soil provides the perfect melting pot for both tastes. Try the Guigal St Joseph Vignes l’Hospice Rouge which is one of the most highly rated reds of the region or the Stemmari Syrah for its Eastern flavours. If you want a delicious white to pair with your seafood, ask for a glass of Regaleali.

 

Recommended Restaurants


The pan-European influences in Sicilian cooking makes it truly distinctive. But what really makes Sicilian food stand out for most travellers is the seasonal variety and the fresh, local ingredients. The resources for Sicilian chefs are remarkable to say the least, and as a result it is practically impossible to eat poorly in Sicily. Here are some fantastic restaurants to try.

 

I Cuochini (Palermo)


For a light brunch or for the world-famous Arancini rice balls, I Cuochini in the capital is a must. Listed as one of chef Giorgio Locatelli’s favourite daytime haunts, it’s definitely worth a visit. Find this fast food rotisserie in the old town area of Palermo. You won’t be disappointed.

Da Vittorio Ristorante (Siracusa)


On the beach of Porto Palo di Menfi is a fish restaurant with no menus. If you love the element of surprise and love to go with the flow of what’s available on the day, be sure to visit Da Vittorio Ristorante. The antipasti could be anything from octopus and red prawns to delicious anchovies and mains could be anything from lobster to sea urchins.

 

Al Duomo (Taormina)


Taormina is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Sicily so dining out can sometimes be pricey. But Al Duomo along Vico Ebrei is very reasonably priced and has some of the most delectable local dishes to try. Eat on the terrace to get a great view of Piazza Duomo

Al Fogher (Piazza Armerina)


The chef and owner of Al Fogher is a celebrated talent across the whole of Europe. People travel from all around the continent to dine at his prestigious restaurant in Piazza Armerina and it is one of the finest places to eat in Sicily. Enjoy a traditional setting with unpretentious décor and an unfaultable dinner service.

 

Annual Events


Sicily is a melting pot of culture, world-class cookery and some of the finest wine in Europe. And as the largest island in the Mediterranean, it really is no surprise that there’s always so much to celebrate. The vast island of Sicily offers a colourful calendar of events and festivals – and here are just a few of our favourites.

 

Almond Blossom & Folklore Festival (February)


Sicily is a fusion of nationalities; to soak in this unique culture, which is unlike anywhere else in Italy, head to Agrigento in February to watch the traditional parades and peruse the craft exhibitions. Let the festival take you back in time and learn more about the Sicilian people.

Sagra della Ricotta e del Formaggio (April)


For cheese lovers, festivals really don’t get better than this. Head to Sicily’s oldest food festival in the town of Vizzini (near Siracusa) and celebrate with the locals to rejoice in producing one of the world’s tastiest cheeses. Try the freshly made ricotta in the form of a tasty Cassata or Cannoli.

Inycon a Menfi Wine Festival (June)


Menfi is a small commune in Agrigento and every June a prestigious wine festival is held here. Taste the finest wines of Sicily whilst enjoying the concerts and shows available around town. There will also be a chance to taste some of the local olive oil and other tasty food products.

 

 

Feast of Saint. Rosalia (July)


Head to the capital to enjoy this lively celebration of the patron of Palermo, Santa Rosalia. Watch the dramatic street procession and enjoy the celebratory food of Pasta con le Sarde or Babbaluci Snails served in venues across the city.

Cous Cous Festival (September)


The delicious grain of cous cous is not as abundant anywhere else in Italy as it is in Sicily. Taking Arab influences, cous cous is a major part of Sicilian cuisine and the Cous Cous Festival in Trapani celebrates Sicily’s unique gastronomy with six whole evenings of music and dance – and of course plenty of cous cous to go around.

 

 

 
 

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