Photo Credit: Ruth Troughton
Heading to Sicily? Do These 7 Things Before You Leave
Sicily has a wild, unforgiving terrain, and its people are just as wild and unforgiving. (I would know.) Still, it’s a land that’s filled with amazement and color, and its varied influences — from the Normans and Phonecians in the north, to the Spanish and Arabs in the west, to the Greeks in the east, and even the Africans in the south, all with a bit of an Italian flair — are still present to this day.
Once considered the crossroads of the Mediterranean, Sicily was a port city in ancient times. Its monuments to its various invaders — from the Valley of the Temples to the Greek ruins in Taormina — are also a testament to its resilience, and ability to bounce back from even the strongest of adversities.
Today, Sicily is a tourist hotspot, with everything from beaches to museums to cultural events waiting at the ready for your arrival. (And please, for the love of everything holy, do not believe the media depictions of Sicily as a lawless land riddled with mafioso influence. While the mafia does, indeed, have a presence on the island, it’s minute and nowhere near what is advertised in the media.)
Best of all, Sicilians are people that live in harmony with their natural surroundings. They’re committed to taking advantage of the world around them, and using everything from nature and the sea to their advantage, while also securing the future of the world around them. Conservation efforts of both the culture and the natural environment are prevalent, ensuring a future for generations to come.
It can be difficult to decide what you want to do first, so we’ve come up with this list of 7 must-try things to do in Sicily before you head home.
Stunning views of the Aeolian Islands 😍#sicily #sicilia #taormina#palermo #catania #messina #travel#siracusa #summer #italy #italia #winter #holiday #europe #vacation #photography #motivation #happy pic.twitter.com/pZS5I0y8h6
— Learn Sicilian (@Learn_Sicilian) September 20, 2021
The Aeolian Islands are considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and to get there, tourists leave from the northern city of Messina to arrive at the central Aeolian Island of Lipari.
From there, you can head to the island of Stromboli, where an active volcano has been letting off steam continuously since 1932. (It’s safe, or so they say, to travel inside the volcano.)
Visit #LEVANZO the smallest of the #Aegadian islands, west of #Sicily, #Italy. It is a magic village with crystalline water ! Don’t miss also the other islands of the #Aegadian Archipelago: the splendid #Favignana and #Marettimo 🌞 #IsoleEgadi ! #Sicilia #Italia #dcqitalia ⛵️ pic.twitter.com/rTlRzHQKbI
— DCQItalia 🇮🇹 (@dcq_italia) March 10, 2018
Closer to Tunisia than to Italy, the Aegadian Islands are a protected marine reserve that’s easy to get to with just a quick boat ride from Trapani. If you like snorkeling, you can check out the marine life up close and personal off the islands of Favignana and Levanzo.
If you’re a scuba diving type of person, check out the shipwreck off the island of Marettimo.
Villa Romana del Casale
Roman women playing sports and exercising. Floor mosaic from Villa Romana del Casale, Sicily, early 4th century AD. pic.twitter.com/aideuZvvPx
— Marina Amaral (@marinamaral2) February 25, 2021
Villa Romana del Casale is a large and elaborate Roman villa — one of the few purely “Italian” influences on the island — in the central city of Piazza Armerina. It’s filled with Roman friezes, murals, and artwork, and was built in the 4th century.
The Baroque Towns of Ragusa
Modica, Ragusa is known for its spectacular Baroque architecture and is one of UNESCO’s listed historic towns.
It’s also home to the best chocolate in Sicily. 🍫 pic.twitter.com/i0tpJ1kMXQ
— Learn Sicilian (@Learn_Sicilian) July 21, 2021
In the 16th century, a horrible earthquake wiped out the town of Ragusa and its inhabitants. By some estimates, 600,000 people were killed, and the town was razed. When the people rebuilt, they did so in a style that was so unique to the region, it became known as the Sicilian Baroque style.
Today, the Baroque towns of Ragusa are considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site — and it’s also home to the best chocolate in all of Sicily.
Museo Storico dello Sbarco in Sicilia
Un agradable descubrimiento en Catania: el Museo Storico dello Sbarco in Sicilia 1943. Lamentablemente tiene pocos visitantes. pic.twitter.com/WNaf0ocBCo
— Manel Miró (@ManelMiro) August 17, 2017
During WWII, Sicily was a battleground that both the Allied and the Axis powers wanted control over. Sicilians — as per usual — wanted nothing to do with either side. So when the Germans started invading the eastern shores just outside Catania on July 10, 1943, the Sicilians decided to let the Germans know exactly what they thought of their invasion. The Museo Storico dello Sbarco in Sicilia depicts the battles in the most Sicilian ways imaginable.
The Beaches of Cefalù
— Giancarlo (@Gianchi60) September 18, 2021
Though Cefalù hasn’t changed much over the years, it’s considered a wonderful “beach town” for those who like to vacation on the beach. And what better way to dip your toes directly in the Mediterranean than in front of a rustic Sicilian home in this northern town?
Today’s #DiscoverItaly brings you to Sicily, to glance at the aethereal beauty of the Gole dell’Alcantara, where the river cut through lavis stone, leaving this characteristic marks. Enjoy the view! pic.twitter.com/5u3pPjtKnf
— Francesca Tacchi 🫒 (@jackdaw_writes) April 28, 2021
Just outside the Castalgione region lies the Gole dell’Alcantara, a series of canyons located inside the national park of the same name. And they are, in a word, magnificent.