“All of Sicily is a dimension of the imagination,” wrote the Sicilian author Leonardo Sciascia (1921-1989) of his island, summing up its very nature. Has any other island in Europe captured our imagination over so many hundreds of years as Sicily?
Its sun-drenched landscapes and rich cultural heritage have always attracted travellers from the North, hungry for learning. As early as the 18th and 19th centuries, Sicily was an essential stop on the \”Grand Tour”, the long educational trip around Europe that young aristocrats – mainly from England and France – took before starting out in life. And Germany’s great writer Goethe (1749-1832) embarked on a study trip around Italy over several years, which also took him all the way to Sicily. Not only thanks to its mild Mediterranean climate, Sicily is still a very popular destination today. The island’s main attraction is its wealth of archaeological and culturally significant sites – many of which are on the UNESCO world heritage list. Over the centuries, the island saw many different rulers, including the Greeks, Romans, Arabs and Normans. All of them left their mark on its character, alongside rich testimonies to their settlements. This wealth of cultural delights ranges from the magnificent palaces and baroque churches in Ragusa-Ibla, Modica, Scicli, Noto, Syracuse and Catania to the archaeological excavation sites in the Valley of the Temples of Agrigent, in Selinunt and Segesta, from the ancient villas and Roman baths in Piazza Armerina to the stylised architecture of the Norman cathedrals of Palermo, Monreale and Cefalù. Among the most beautiful resorts on the island, or perhaps in all of Italy, are without a doubt Taormina and Cefalù. Taormina, with its bright terraces high above the sea, offers an absolutely stunning scenic view: beyond the blue bay of Isola Bella, Mount Etna rises majestically in the distance.
Cefalù, with its magnificent cathedral, well-preserved medieval town centre and old harbour quarter, is often called the pearl of the northern coast. Sicily’s inland regions are just as attractive for visitors. Across the broad, softly rolling hills stretch citrus plantations, vineyards and fields of grain. Alongside them are nature reserves perfect for long walks on signposted paths, such as the Parco delle Madonie, planted with manna ash trees cultivated for their sugary sap, or the Parco dell’Etna on Europe’s highest active volcano. The greatest attraction of all, however, remains the sea. Be it bays with wide, white sandy beaches, spectacular cliffs or isolated rocky bathing points – Sicily has something to offer for every ocean lover. Among the best sites are Scala dei Turchi, the Riserva Oasi Vendicari nature reserve, San Vito lo Capo with the nearby Riserva dello Zingaro and the coasts of the 15 smaller islands surrounding Sicily itself. To make your stay on Sicily absolutely perfect, don’t forget the irresistible delicacies of the island’s cuisine. And why not take time to explore the local traditions, with popular and church festivals, markets and folk songs giving a first-hand taste of authentic Sicily.