Discover Sicily

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Beauty and History of Sicily
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Sicily has stunning examples of several empires and civilizations due to its prime location on the Mediterranean Sea. That location provides Sicily with abundant seafood. 

The island was repeatedly conquered by other empires over thousands of years. One result is that Sicily is a melting pot of every great civilization on the Mediterranean—Greek, Roman, Arab, Norman, French, Spanish, and Italian.

But what draws so many to enjoy the treasures of Sicily goes far beyond its eclectic character of conquering civilizations. Sicily is also rightfully known throughout the world for its wide abundance of foods – particularly street foods and seafood – its delicious, bold Frappato wines (nourished by the mineral-rich volcanic soils of Sicily), the seemingly endless olive and citrus groves on the island, its mild climate, its being home to some of Italy’s best cities, and its still active Mount Etna volcano – the tallest active volcano in Europe.

Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean. There is a fantastic mix of architecture from around the world, impressive monuments, and a fascinating history.

There are many pleasant beaches in Sicily. With 1,000 kilometers of coastline, Sicily offers plenty of beaches ranging from sandy to sharp rock formations. Among the best are Scala dei Turchi, near Agrigento. Isola Bella (“beautiful island) at the base of Taormina is called the “pearl of the Ionian Sea.” A a nature reserve is found here. While this beach is relatively small, the location is lovely.

The slopes of Mount Etna are a wonderful place to hike a surreal volcanic landscape – after which you can visit an abundance of impressive wineries sprinkled along the slopes of the mountain.

Sicily has large airports in both Palermo (PMO) and Catania (CTA). There are also a number of ferries that link Palermo and Catania with mainland cities.

Sicily has a temperate Mediterranean climate. The summers can be quite hot and dry. The winters tend to be mild – which explains the abundance of citrus trees found on the island.

Best of Sicily
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In our opinion and that of many others, Sicily is home to two cities – Palermo and Syracuse/Ortigia  – that are in the “Best of the Best” category for our best cities in Italy. Two other cities in Sicily – Taormina and Modica  – are in our “Great” category for Italian cities. 

Sicily is also home to four of the best outdoor food markets in all of Italy: (1) Mercato di Ortigia in Syracuse (Siracusa)/Ortigia; (2) Mercato della Vucciria in Palermo; (3) Mercato del Ballarò in Palermo; and (4) Mercato di Capo in Palermo.

One of the best piazzas in Italy is located in the medieval Ortigia neighborhood of Sicily’s Syracuse. Here one finds the stunning Piazza del Duomo.

Don’t forget to participate in the charming Italian tradition of La Passeggiata – the evening comminity stroll – on their main walking street of Via Maqueda. this is an unforgettable, inspiring and enjoyable way to spend your evenings.

Sicily produces four of the upper shelf, super high-quality wines of Italy: Nero d’Avola, Frappato, Maria Costanza Rosso, and Perricone.

Last but certainly not least, Sicily is home to two of what we consider to be the most fun cities in Italy: Palermo and Syracuse (Siracusa)/Ortigia.

Essential Infomation

Sicily is a safe place in general. Its sordid history with the Mafia is now happily and comfortably behind it.
When to Travel to Sicily
We like to travel to Sicily during the “shoulder seasons” (the off-peak months such as late fall or spring, when travel and lodging prices are lower and crowds are smaller). Our favorite time of year is late November and early December, as tourist season is at a low ebb, weather in Sicily is often sufficiently pleasant at that time, and best of all, we LOVE the festive, romantic ambiance one finds in Sicily in December. It is a magical time of year.
Time Zone

Central European Standard Time (CET)

Italy is in the Central European Standard Time (CET) which means Italy is 6 hours ahead of the state of New York (Eastern Standard Time – EST). When it is 12:00 noon in New York, it is 6:00 pm in Italy.

Sicily’s Mediterranean location puts it in the middle of the Mediterranean climate zone, which only covers two percent of the Earth’s surface. The Mediterranean climate is characterized by moderate temperatures, wet winters and dry summers. In the United States, Southern California is the only area with a Mediterranean climate zone similar to the climate of Sicily. Sicily’s climate also varies between its coastal and inland regions. Sicily’s temperature is moderated by the warm Mediterranean sea and its location in proximity to the equators. Sea temperatures around Sicily range from around 60 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter to approximately 80 degrees in the summer. The coastal regions of Sicily have pleasant spring daytime highs from March through May that range from 60 degrees and up to the mid-80s by May. In summer months, coastal regions have daytime highs in the 90s that last into September until the temperatures fall in autumn. It is very rare for the temperature to drop below freezing on the coast, with daytime highs dropping no lower than 50 degrees in January. Inland mountain regions see temperatures about 15 degrees less than the coast throughout the year. In December and January, Mount Etna often receives snow for skiing and sledding. October, November and December are the wettest months with more than three inches of rain each month. June, July and August are the driest months with less than 0.05 inches of rain per month.

Best Things To Do

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Sicily boasts a wide range of wonderful activities for all age groups, skill levels, and interests. Here are a few of the best places to see and things to do in Sicily.

La Passeggiata in Matera

La Passeggiata

Nearly every Italian town or city engages in a nightly community stroll – La Passeggiata – from approximately 5 pm to 8 pm. It is a lovely way to be sociable and enjoy the “togetherness” of the community. Finding a passeggiata is usually just a matter of finding a “walking street” near major piazzas where cars are not allowed or where so many people are walking that walkers simply take over the street. In some cases, our website will point out to you where you can find and join in on this wonderful Italian tradition.  Read More

Visit an Enoteca

Nearly all Italian towns have an “enoteca,” which is Italian for a wine bar. Such establishments provide you with an affordable, fun, enjoyable way to sample the best of the locally-made wines and a platter of typically local fruits, vegetables, and meats. As we point out elsewhere, an enoteca visit can be an economical way to reduce how often you must pay a lot of money for an Italian restaurant lunch or dinner.

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Stroll through an Outdoor Market

Sicily is full of high-quality, boisterous, fun-loving outdoor food markets. Nearly all towns have at least one, and the larger towns and cities in Sicily have several. This is yet another way to “live like a local” and be able to interact with local residents in a colorful, fun, delicious, and aromatic setting. Read More

Winery Tours

Sicily is home to several wineries making delicious wines. A guided tour of a Sicilian winery is a wonderful way to learn about this special, age-old craft. Platters of delicious local foods often accompany the wine tastings.

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Hike Mt. Etna

Hiking Mt. Etna is unforgettable. There is a long lava tube to explore, many craters where lava formerly erupted, an amber and black sand throughout the landscape, and an active volcano that is likely to frighten you as it can loudly rumble during your hike. Don’t worry, though! The chances of being caught on the mountain during a serious eruption are small. We recommend a guided hike to learn much about the volcano.

Guided Tour of Geology, Neighborhoods, Sights

Many of the geological features, museums, medieval neighborhoods, and tourist attractions are so famous and so rich in history that we have sometimes found it is worthwhile to hire a guide to provide us with a lot of knowledge we would not otherwise know. The guide is also often helpful in giving you useful tips about Sicily in general.
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Take a Cooking Class

What better, more fun, and more educational way to learn about preparing the world’s best foods than to take a class from the world’s best in Sicily?

Bicycling the Centro Storico

Bicycling is very safe, enjoyable, and efficient if you rent bicycles to get around – particularly within the historic town center (Centro Storico). You will be less tired than if you walked for an entire day, you will be able to more easily carry your daily sightseeing supplies, and you will be in a much better mood. We regularly notice people looking at us with envy when they see us cheerfully riding bicycles.

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