Sicily is the biggest of the Italian islands, top places to visit and a wide range of activities to do. Home to a wide variety of archaeological sites, famous beaches, archipelagos and several islets. Moreover, thanks to its mild climate, Sicily offers many opportunities throughout the different seasons. Here I give you a good source of travel ideas if you are planning a holiday in Sicily.
“ History, good food, night life and, above all, a warm atmosphere. “
The best sights to visit in eastern Sicily
Catania was founded by the Greeks in 728 BC; due to the catastrophic earthquake of 1693, the city today appears to visitors as a typical baroque city. Its deep history is clearly visible just through those impressive Greek-Roman or medieval monuments that survived to the seism. The reconstruction extended throughout the 18th century and at its end Catania was a complete city. The magnificent sicilian baroque art triumphed and characterised all the elegant aristocratic buildings and the splendid churches and convents.
UNESCO declared Catania part of the human patrimony and registered the city on the World Heritage List. To complete the visit of this particularly charming area, around the baroque city we can also appreciate some important historic, artistic and naturalistic areas: Acicastello with its Norman castle, Acitrezza and the legendary Cyclops islands, the majestic Mount Etna.
On the eastern coast of Sicily, close to Catania and Taormina’ towns, lies the UNESCO World Heritage site Mount Etna. The Sicily’s greatest natural attraction and also its highest mountain. Furthermore, Mount Etna is the highest Mediterranean island mountain and the most active stratovolcano in the world. The height of its summit changes with each eruption. Although over the centuries a few lava flows have reached the coast, it is one of Sicily’s main tourist attractions, with thousands of visitors every year.
The volcano also supports important terrestrial ecosystems including endemic flora and fauna and its activity makes it a natural laboratory for the study of ecological and biological processes.
Mt. Etna offers breathtaking hikes during the summer months and skiing holidays in the winter.
This exceptional volcanic activity has been documented by humans for at least 2.700 years – making it one of the world’s longest documented records of historical volcanism.
Top places to visit in SicilyTop places to visit in Sicily
The particular location of the city increases the notoriety of Taormina. A small town full of layers of different civilizations that have followed one another since the 800 BC. This narrow terrace at about 200 m above sea level overlooks the Ionian coast, midway between Messina and Catania, a good base for day excursions in eastern Sicily.
The beauty of Taormina is given mainly by the presence of important monuments and historical rarities as the Greek Theater. Today’s stage of many concerts and cultural activities, the theatre is among the best things to visit in Sicily and Taormina.
Syracuse and Ortigia Island
Greek settlers from Corinth founded Syracuse in 733 BC on the island of Ortigia, linked to the mainland by a narrow strip of sand. In a short time, the city became the major Greek settlement in Sicily and it was an important bulwark against the Carthaginians. Despite the unscrupulous Tyrants’ policies, Syracuse became a capital of culture, attracting the major Greek tragedy writers and philosophers.
Syracuse was recognized, thanks to this illustrious history, as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and considered…
…an exceptional testimony of the development of Greek colonization in the western world and the finest expression of human culture in the Mediterranean.
Besides its ancient monuments, Syracuse also retains several medieval and modern buildings, where different architectures are often superimposed. Sights such as the Cathedral, built in the Byzantine period over a Greek temple and later transformed into a splendid Baroque church.
Visit Syracuse to know the history of Sicily. In particular, its most ancient monuments reflect the importance of the millenary history of Syracuse.
Top places to visit in SicilyTop places to visit in Sicily
Baroque of the Val di Noto
The earthquake of 1693 devastated the south-east of Sicily. The Val di Noto represented one of the three major administrative provinces in which the island had been divided since the 9th century. On January of that year, the earth trembled throughout the Val di Noto; the terrible seismic shocks caused the death of about 93.000 people and the destruction of 60 urban centers. The reconstruction of the cities began immediately and at the end of the 18th century.
South-Eastern Sicily was a magnificent region where Sicilian Baroque art reigned. It characterized all the noble palaces, the splendid churches and the imposing convents. The uniqueness of this artistic period has prompted UNESCO to recognize it as a “fundamental testimony to the exuberant brilliance of late Baroque art and architecture”.
The Val di Noto cities entered in the prestigious list of World Heritage Sites. Considered as the representation of the flourishing baroque art of the south-east of Sicily of the seventeenth century: Noto, Palazzolo acreide, Ragusa, Modica, Scicli, Catania, Caltagirone and Militello in Val de Catania.
The Aeolian Islands are seven islands in the Tyrrhenian Sea, formed by volcanic activity. In the north coast of Sicily: Lipari, Vulcano, Salina, Stromboli, Filicudi, Alicudi, Panarea and Basiluzzo. Studied since the 18th century, the islands have provided vulcanology with examples of two types of eruption: Vulcanian and Strombolian. Thus have featured prominently in the education of geologists for more than 200 years. The largest and most touristic island is Lipari. However, Vulcano and Stromboli give travellers the opportunity to hike up to the active craters.
The Aeolian Islands are listed by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites.
The islands’ volcanic landforms represent classic features in the continuing study of volcanology world-wide; it continue today enriching the field of volcanology’s studies of on-going geological processes in the development of landforms”
Agrigento and the Valley of the Temples
Agrigento in known as the city of temples, placed on the southern coast of Sicily. Founded as a Greek colony in the 6th century B.C., Agrigento became one of the leading cities in the Mediterranean. The magnificent Doric temples that dominate the ancient town, demonstrate its supremacy and pride; much of which still lies intact under today’s fields and orchards. The Valley of the Temples is a magnificent collection of seven temples from the 6th and 5th centuries BC. Agrigento boasts not only ancient and fascinating ruins, but also Baroque architecture, as well as sparkling beaches, marvelous islands and crystal-clear waters.