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Sicily Travel Guide

Visiting the Island of Sicily

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sicily picture, cefalu cathedral

Picture of 12th century Norman Cathedral in Cefalu, Sicily

James Martin
Sicilian cart photo

Traditional Sicilian Cart Made by Raffaele La Scala in Agrigento

James Martin
Taormina Picture, Taormina Greek Theater, greek theater picture

Greek Theater in Taormina

Kathi Rendon

Sicily Introduction:

Sicily is a popular Italy travel destination with a volcano, beaches, mountains, and centuries of history and tradition. You can explore Mount Etna, swim in the sea, or visit Phoenician settlements, Punic cities, Roman amphitheaters, Greek temples, Norman castles and Aragonese churches all on the Italian island of Sicily.

Sicily Location:

Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean, a place where Africa, Italy and Greece come together. It's southwest of the Italian mainland and east of Tunisia.

Transportation to Sicily:

Sicily has two main airports, Palermo in the west and Catania in the east, with flights to and from Italy and other parts of Europe. (See Italy Airports Map)

The train to Sicily from the mainland goes along the coast, south from Rome. Ferries connect Sicily to mainland Italy, Sardinia, Malta, Tunisia, and Egypt.

Getting Around Sicily:

Buses or trains connect all major cities of Sicily and also go to many small villages. Some of the train routes are very scenic but slow. The narrow gauge Circumetnea railroad circles Mt. Etna stopping at many small villages. There is transportation from both airports to several locations on the island.

Sicilian Festivals:

February 4-5 is a huge festival for Agatha's Feast Day in Catania that includes a 2-day procession, said to be the second largest religious procession in the world. Carnevale, Italy's mardi gras, is celebrated 40 days before Easter, especially in Taormina and Acireale. Holy Week and Ferragosta (Aug 15) are celebrated all over Sicily. In February is the Almond Blossom Festival in Agrigento. Noto holds a flower festival in May.

Food and Drink Specialties of Sicily:

Sicily is famous for its pastries, especially its Easter and Christmas desserts. Sicily has an excellent array of raw materials, including produce and seafood. Fresh fish is often the main course. Citrus fruits and almonds are used in much of Sicily's cuisine. Pasta with eggplant is common. There is also some North African influence.

Performing Arts in Sicily:

Palermo's Opera House, Teatro Massimo, is one of Italy's top opera houses and has year-round performances of opera, ballet, and music. Palermo also holds a performing arts festival in January. During the summer, Taormina's Greek Theater holds theater, opera, movie, and music performances. Siracusa holds its famous puppet shows in the Teatro dell'opera dei Pupi.

Sicily Hotels and Places to Stay:

You can see and book guest-rated and reviewed hotels on the coast of Sicily through Venere.com. Sicily also has a good selection of agriturismo or farm house lodging if you prefer to stay in the countryside - see Sicily Agriturismo Accommodations.

Sicily Attractions:

See Sicily Map for town locations

  • Agrigento has an outstanding complex of Greek temples, the Valley of the Temples, not to be missed. Its medieval center, with Arab and Norman influences, is also worth exploring. Agrigento lies along a ridge on the southwest coast. Agrigento Travel Guide
  • Catania, on the eastern coast, is one of Sicily's largest cities. The Benedictine Monastery Historic Site includes a Roman house, contemporary art museum, and church with Baroque frescoes. Visiting Catania
  • Cefalu is a popular seaside town east of Palermo with beautiful beaches and scenery, museums, and historical monuments. From the top of La Rocca, there are great views of the city and second-century BC Temple of Diana.
  • Enna, 1000 meters high, is noted for its fantastic views of the mountains, including Mount Etna. Enna is a fortress town with ruins of its 13th century castle.
  • Erice is a beautiful little medieval town perched atop a mountain with impressive views. It was once a place where gods were honored. Today it is famous for its pastries.
  • Mount Etna is Europe's largest live volcano and one of the most active in the world. The lower slopes have walking paths with good views while you can ski on the higher slopes in winter (see Italy Skiing).
  • Marsala is the heart of Sicily's wine-producing region. It also has a Roman archaeological site and museum and a historic quarter.
  • Palermo is a lively city with a fascinating central market and many historic monuments. Palermo's Archaeological museum has a good collection of Greek relics. Top Things to Do and See in Palermo
  • Ragusa and nearby Modica, Scicli, and Noto are beautiful Baroque towns and UNESCO World Heritage sites. Ragusa has a stunning old town. Ragusa Travel Guide
  • Segesta is a beautiful setting with some excellent Greek temple ruins, well worth a visit.
  • Siracusa, on the southeast coast, has more classical ruins and a Greek theater. Its also a good place for shopping and eating. Siracusa holds a big festival for Santa Lucia Day in December. (see December Events) Syracuse Travel Guide
  • Taormina is an attractive holiday resort with a beautiful Greek theater still used for summer performances. Lying on the slopes of Mt. Tauro, it has great views of the coast and Mt. Etna. It's also a good place for shopping and visiting beaches. Taormina Visitors Guide
  • Custonaci, a small town near Trapani in Sicily, has an interesting nativity scene re-enacted inside a cave around Christmas, usually December 25-26 and again in early January. A tiny town was buried in the cave by a landslide in the 1800's. Now excavated and it serves as a setting for live nativity events. The village is set up to resemble an ancient village with craftspeople and small shops.
  • Beaches - Sicily has many fine beaches along its coast. Here's a selection of five good beach towns to visit.
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