Sicily is the largest island in Italy and offers endless possibilities for an open-minded tourist. Here are chaotic big cities like the island’s capital Palermo, and picturesque little villages, whether they are located along the sea or in the countryside.
You can enjoy beautiful nature experiences, including visit Europe’s largest active volcano, Etna, or enjoy lazy days on beautiful beaches. Do you want to combine Sicily with other destinations such as Malta or small islands that are a bit closer, there are no problems.
High quality food and wine is readily available in Sicily. And you won’t be ripped off by expensive prices either. Of tourist resorts in Italy, you have to look for a long time to find cheaper prices than in Sicily. And now it’s easy to get here too, both by direct flights and via a stopover on the road.
If you are looking for a place with Disneyland, waiters and hotel staff who speak fluent English and “Sworsk” menus, then you’ve probably got it wrong. If you want to experience an exciting side of Italy and take the trouble to seek out the real Sicilian, yes, then you will most likely get a holiday you will not forget.
Get to know Sicily
Sicily is Italy’s largest island and is full of history and attractions. There are relatively large distances and it is difficult to get everything with you on a holiday. Here is an overview of some of the most important and best cities to visit.
- Abbreviation: TPS
- Country: Italy
In the west of Sicily you will find the regional capital of Palermo. With its approximately 650,000 inhabitants, Palermo is also the largest city in Sicily. After World War II, Palermo has evolved to become the island’s economic and cultural center. The city has a busy harbor. ferry connection with the Italian mainland and Naples, including Tunis (Tunisia) in Africa. After heavy bomb attacks in 1943, large parts of Palermo were destroyed. Despite extensive housing travel, some neighborhoods are still characterized by slums and poverty.
But the city’s lack of general housing standards takes Palermo back with its beautiful location, its pleasant climate and rich architecture. For there are not a few wonderful places and streets with beautiful plantings that Palermo discovers.
The seafront La Marina leads to La Flora, a park from the 18th century. From the harbor, Corso Vittorio Emanuele goes up to Palazzo Reale with the famous Cappella Palatina (from 1132), adorned with magnificent gold mosaic and marble works. Under the Cappuccini Monastery there are catacombs with a collection of approx. 8,000 mummies, which is a major tourist attraction.
Scopello northwest of the island, less than an hour’s drive from Palermo is a nice little town that is tempting to visit. Also because of its proximity to the Lo Zingaro nature reserve. Movie lovers should also come here to tell that they have been to one of the recording locations for the famous movie Ocean Twelve.
A little east of Scopello you will find Castellammare del Golfo. An alluring name for a holiday town – or? This small village does not have too many tourists. Fortunately we say for here it is cozy. Great sandy beach and quaint fish restaurants.
Cefalù is the name of a place where you will spend time vacationing in Sicily. Cefalù is located west of Palermo, a short distance to Messina. To many, Cefalù is known as the major tourist town of Sicily. This involves many tourists and good nightlife.
On the positive side, the city also has a nice beach and many places to go for great views. If you like the combination of being romantic and hectic, choose Cefalù!
Messina, with its approximately 250,000 inhabitants, is one of the largest cities in Sicily. Its proximity to the mainland, at the Messina Strait, means that many people meet with the city. The ferry traffic to and from Messina is very large. More than tourists are transported from the excellent natural harbor. On a daily basis, exports of citrus fruits, olive oil, wine, as well as chemical and pharmaceutical industrial products are exported from Sicily. Messina has many old buildings, including the University of 1548 and not least the Cathedral which dates in part from Norman times.
Throughout history Messina has belonged to many states, everything from Rome to the Arabs, and the accidents have often come to the tried city. In 1783 Messina was almost completely destroyed by earthquakes, and in 1823 there were major floods. In 1908 it was again ravaged by earthquakes and a subsequent tidal wave. And 84,000 of the city’s 120,000 inhabitants perished *. Like so many other cities in Sicily, major destruction was caused during World War II, and especially by 1943 aircraft attacks.
Mazzaro is half an hour’s drive south of Messina, and it is an idyllic harbor town. If you go to Taormina, which is just off Mazzaro, you will find yourself in a typical tourist town, more commercialized than Mazzaro, and with everything you need for amenities and shopping. Also, Taormina has interesting Roman ruins if you are a little interested in archeology and history.
In the south-east of Sicily you will find Catania, the island’s second largest city. One of Sicily’s biggest airports is outside the city. The port of Catania is one of the most important in Italy, with the export of southern fruits, wine, almonds and timber. Founded as early as 1434, the City University has a museum with a very valuable painting collection and library, founded in 1755.
The city has many old buildings. The cathedral was begun in 1091 in Norman style and completed in Baroque, the same style that characterizes a number of other buildings, including Benedictine Monastery of San Nicolò. Furthermore, there are ruins of a Greek theater, restored by the Romans, and a Roman amphitheater. Definitely worth a visit during the Sicily holidays. The distance to Palermo is about 200 km.
Europe’s highest volcano is located in Sicily and is called Etna. Etna extends a total of 3323 meters above sea level and lies like a completely isolated mountain mass on the northeastern part of the island north of Catania. Besides the main crater there are several smaller craters, up to 100 m high; these form on slits that open on the sides of the volcano during the eruptions. The lava then flows out of these slits. Around the main crater are a plethora of small crater mountains (“Etna’s 326 sons”). Steam from the main crater regularly emits glowing rock and volcanic ash.
The lower part of Etna is fertile and densely populated, the volcanic rocks crumble quickly and provide nutrient-rich soil. Agriculture is operated up to approx. 700 meters above the chestnut forest. Etna has been in business throughout the historical period with an average of 10 eruptions per century. The largest known eruptions were in 396 and 122 BC, in 1169 and 1669, when lava flows reached all the way to the sea and Catania was partially destroyed. The last major outbreak was in November 1928 when the city of Mascali was completely wiped out. For the sake of order, there have been frequent outbreaks in the 2000s as well. But Italian authorities are closely monitoring the volcanic activity.
Tours are organized at Etna all year round, and if you are interested in nature this is almost mandatory to attend.
List of Sicily Acronyms
The most commonly used abbreviations about Sicily is TPS which stands for Sicily. In the following table, you can see all acronyms related to Sicily, including abbreviations for airport, city, school, port, government, and etc.
|CALL-TO-ACTION||Catania, Sicily, Italy – Fontanarossa|
|CTA||Catania, Sicily, Italy – Fontanarossa|
|PMO||Palermo, Sicily, Italy – Punta Raisi|
|TPS||Trapani, Sicily, Italy – Birgi|