All over the news these days is the latest report from the volcanic eruptions on the Big Island of Hawaii. If you had to take a guess you might think Kilauea was the tallest volcano on earth, wouldn’t you?
Well, it’s not. Mt Aetna on Sicily holds that distinction, and is also one of the most active volcanoes in the world.
But there’s so much more to Sicily than volcano watching. With thousands of years of fascinating history coupled with breathtaking landscapes, Sicily is worthy of a place at the top of your bucket list.
Let’s begin with the history. There have been humans living on Sicily since 12,000 BC. The Sicilian Wars and Punic Wars were fought here. Sicily has been ruled by an amazing variety of foreign powers including the Vandals, the Ostrogoth’s, the Byzantine Empire, the Normans, the Hohenstaufen, the Capetian House of Anjou, Spain, and the House of Habsburg. It was unified with the Kingdom of Naples and finally became part of Italy in 1860. Sicily is currently an autonomous region in Italy.
Sicily is heavily dependent on agriculture and is the third largest wine producing region in Italy. Of the 5 million people who live in Sicily the vast majority are Roman Catholic. Sicilians speak Sicilian and Italian.
There are 7 UNESCO World Heritage sites in Sicily, all of which are worthy of your vacation time. Here are just a few of the “must see” attractions and experiences in Sicily.
In Agrigento the Valley of the Temples is a spectacular array of Greek structures that have managed to survive 24 years of turbulent Sicilian history. Even those who have experienced Athens and Delphi will marvel at this assemblage of antiquity.
Moving on to the largest and most complex collection of Roman mosaics in the world, the Villa Romana del Casale sits just outside of Piazza Armenia in central Sicily. Who knew girls were wearing bikinis back then?
In Palermo no visit is complete without taking in the panoramic view of Conca d’Oro and a visit to the 12th century Norman Cathedral with its’ 50,000 square feet of Byzantine mosaics.
Why not stop and have a snack with a local, including some of their wonderful Marsala wine traditionally served with almond biscuits? A boat cruise over to the island of Motya is also a must do, where the remaining ruins will astound you.
As you continue to work your way around Sicily be sure to stop at the San Nicolo Cathedral and admire that amazing architecture. Then on to Syracuse where the archeological site of the 5th century Greek Theater, the Garden of Paradise, the Ear of Dionysus and the Alter of Hieron II, along with the incredible Roman Amphitheater will be highlights of your trip.
Are you a movie buff? Stop in Savoca and go inside the Church of Santa Lucia made famous as the site of the wedding of Michael Corleone in the Godfather. While you’re on the east coast of Sicily go on over to Taormina and inspect the 3rd century Greek Theater there.
As you can see, Sicily is literally covered with amazing ruins as well as gorgeous scenery and welcoming, hospitable people. Please allow at least 7-10 days for a visit to Sicily. We have several escorted tour options as well as independent travel options that we can customize to give you the trip of a lifetime in Sicily.