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A dive into Sicily, where a sea of art, culture and nature will seduce you and become eternal love

A predominantly hilly and mountainous area, but one that wins the hearts of tourists from all over the world with its wonderful sea and rich cities with a charm all their own. Sicily is a picture-postcard island characterised by the indelible marks of the people who have lived there and made it unique, amidst artistic and cultural testimonies of enormous value.

Palermo Trapani Messina Agrigento Caltanissetta Enna Enna Catania Ragusa Syracuse
Palermo
Palermo

Sicilian capital and crossroads of cultures and traditions, Palermo will cause you to fall in love with its exhilarating colours, fragrances and flavours. Palermo is a city teeming with churches, monuments and priceless works of art, animated by noisy working-class neighbourhoods adjoining sumptuous aristocratic buildings. Icing on the cake is the pleasant climate in all seasons, a breathtaking ocean view and a compelling culinary tradition.

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Trapani
Trapani

History, nature, art and islands Pristine nature overhanging the sea and hidden coves, art, culture and tradition: Trapani, the western tip of Sicily, is home to this and more. Nicknamed the “City of a Hundred Churches”, we recommend exploring the streets of the old town, stopping to admire the Tower of Ligny and walking along the Mura di Tramontana, the ancient defensive perimeter leading from Piazza Mercato del Pesce to the Bastione Conca. Don’t miss the spectacle of the salt pans, which turn a deep pink when bathed by the sunset. From Trapani, you can take the cable car to the medieval town of Erice, to admire breath-taking views of the city and surrounding area. Along the coast from north to south are the splendid gulf of Castellammare, the fishing village of Scopello and the Caribbean-like beaches of San Vito Lo Capo, which hosts the Cous Cous Festival every September. Nearby, you can explore the pristine nature of the Zingaro Nature Reserve. Mazara del Vallo is home to the famous Dancing Satyr, and from the Stagnone you can take a boat to the island of Mozia, once home to an ancient Phoenician colony. From Trapani you can visit the Egadi Islands, to spend a day in the coves of Favignana. If you love diving, Marettimo is the place for you. For ancient ruins, check out the temples of Segesta and Selinunte. Meanwhile, in the Mangiapane Cave you can discover the ancient village built into the rock.

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Messina
Messina

The majestic gateway to Sicily A renowned cultural and commercial centre, Messina is the gateway for travellers to Sicily. We recommend visiting the Norman Cathedral, which houses Italy’s second largest organ and the world’s largest, most complex mechanical astronomical clock. Also worth exploring is the seat of the university, founded in 1548 by St Ignatius of Loyola. The province is home to the beautiful Taormina, famous for its picturesque pedestrian streets, archaeological sites and breath-taking views. The natural terrace on Monte Tauro, 206 metres above sea level, offers unique views of the Mediterranean. The village is home to the Greek Theatre, the region’s second largest theatre. Be sure to treat yourself to a few hours relaxing on the beach overlooking Isola Bella, a stunning islet that has become the symbol of Taormina. While in the area, don’t miss a visit to the villages of Novara di Sicilia, Tindari and Milazzo. The latter is famous for the Pool of Venus, a paradise for anyone who loves snorkelling, from which you can also reach Lipari, Vulcano or Stromboli. You can discover the charm and power of nature by plunging into the icy waters of the Alcantara Gorges. You can walk among the lava walls, and go rafting, climbing and trekking in the geological park surrounding the gorges.

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Caltanissetta
Caltanissetta

The essence of Sicily among the sea, castles and traces of a rich history Caltanissetta and its province are a destination to be discovered all year round, thanks to a pleasant climate even in the winter months. Discover the welcoming beaches of the Gela coastline and the green hills of the surrounding hinterland, with their archaeological remains from centuries of history. The entire area is dotted with small villages to be discovered at leisure, such as Borgo Santa Rita and Delia, during a camper van or car holiday. Caltanissetta itself has a lot to offer its visitors, from the imposing Baroque cathedral of Santa Maria la Nova to the colourful Church of Sant'Agata overlooking the large Corso Umberto I. Towering over the city are the ruins of Pietrarossa Castle, destroyed in the earthquake that struck the city in 1567. Be sure not to visit the Archaeological Museum to dive into this land's past. Overlooking the sea, the city of Gela is noted for its archaeological sites of great importance, starting with the Mura Timoleontee, for the Biviere Nature Reserve covering more than 300 hectares and for its historic centre full of Liberty-style buildings.

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Enna
Enna

At an altitude of almost 1,000 metres - the highest provincial capital in Italy - Enna has always been an 'urbs inexpugnabilis', and is still a great little town that the Italian Touring Club has described as a 'ring of wonder', an 'up-and-down town', a 'summit suspended over the land', a 'balcony of incredible views'. The austere and enormous fortified system of the castle of Lombardy, created during the Swabian domination, offers a panorama that dominates both the city itself and the other urban pyramid of Calascibetta, perched opposite. A classic journey through the Erei and Iblei mountains from here to the tip of Cape Passero would hardly begin from Enna: it is logistically too far inland for people arriving from the mainland or landing at Catania airport. However, it is worth driving half an hour from Piazza Armerina to convince yourself that Enna has preserved its character as a historical city with a sober medieval tone, together with some marginal Baroque and 18th-century contaminations. Archaeological finds have confirmed the age-old origins of the city, which tradition says was the ancient centre first of the Sicans and then of the Siculians. Today's gastronomic discoveries include maccaruna with meat sauce, lamb or mutton chops, omelettes with vegetables, focaccias stuffed with bacon and tomato, and piacintinu pecorino cheese flavoured with saffron and black peppercorns, and much more.

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Catania

With its breathtaking sea and unparalleled artistic heritage, Catania is fascinating and captivating. Indulge in the magnetic energy of a city with a long and colourful history, be swept away by its vitality and captivated by its art, architecture, food and wine. A visit to Catania is certain to be an unforgettable experience.

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Syracuse
Syracuse

The city of Syracuse is located in one of the most beautiful inlets on the Mediterranean. It is a vital and dynamic city, worthy of its great past, and in 2005 was duly recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A visit to Syracuse is a journey back in time and to discover the wonderful beauty of the natural environment in which the city is immersed. Syracuse has given rise to great figures of the cultural and artistic history of the Mediterranean and still has a very lively intellectual life. Archaeological evidence confirms human presence on the island of Ortigia as early as the 14th century BC, although urban construction dates back to the 8th century BC, with the foundation of the Greek colony of Syracuse. The political and economic growth of the city between the 6th and 4th centuries BC led to an increase in the number of inhabitants and the expansion of the city beyond the primitive walls. Having grown too large to be properly defended, Syracuse suffered enemy incursions from the hinterland and was besieged by the Athenians (416-13 BC). The war against Carthage in 405 BC placed the city in the hands of Dionysius I, who was forced to carry out major fortification works, remove the population from Ortigia and turn the island into a fortress for military purposes. The death of Dionysius around the middle of the 4th century started a long period of transition, which led to the defeat and sacking of the city by the Romans in 212 BC. Christianity had been spreading since the first centuries of the empire and the first buildings of early Christian worship began to appear in the third century. After a long siege, in 878 the city was taken and devastated by the Arabs, who, nevertheless, left a strong mark of their presence on its layout. Having finally the Arabs from the island, the Normans completed the work begun by the Byzantines, with their renovation of the ancient fortifications. The Aragonese government brought Syracuse considerable economic advantages, which left their mark in the construction of the ramparts that surround the island and of many buildings. The dramatic earthquake that struck in 1693 was a decisive event in the city's history, not because it caused irreparable damage but as the impetus for a Baroque-style restructuring, which gave the city an 18th-century appearance in place of its ancient identity. The city layout was then significantly altered by gutting operations during the fascist era, particularly the construction of Via del Littorio, the present-day Corso Matteotti. The economic expansion of the 1950s and ’60s heralded a period of coexistence with large industrial complexes, which was not always easy or lucrative. This sequence of often traumatic events has had a fascinating overlapping effect, in the form of a harmonious integration.

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Cultural cities
Syracuse

Syracuse

The city of Syracuse is located in one of the most beautiful inlets on the Mediterranean. It is a vital and dynamic city, worthy of its great past, and in 2005 was duly recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A visit to Syracuse is a journey back in time and to discover the wonderful beauty of the natural environment in which the city is immersed. Syracuse has given rise to great figures of the cultural and artistic history of the Mediterranean and still has a very lively intellectual life. Archaeological evidence confirms human presence on the island of Ortigia as early as the 14th century BC, although urban construction dates back to the 8th century BC, with the foundation of the Greek colony of Syracuse. The political and economic growth of the city between the 6th and 4th centuries BC led to an increase in the number of inhabitants and the expansion of the city beyond the primitive walls. Having grown too large to be properly defended, Syracuse suffered enemy incursions from the hinterland and was besieged by the Athenians (416-13 BC). The war against Carthage in 405 BC placed the city in the hands of Dionysius I, who was forced to carry out major fortification works, remove the population from Ortigia and turn the island into a fortress for military purposes. The death of Dionysius around the middle of the 4th century started a long period of transition, which led to the defeat and sacking of the city by the Romans in 212 BC. Christianity had been spreading since the first centuries of the empire and the first buildings of early Christian worship began to appear in the third century. After a long siege, in 878 the city was taken and devastated by the Arabs, who, nevertheless, left a strong mark of their presence on its layout. Having finally the Arabs from the island, the Normans completed the work begun by the Byzantines, with their renovation of the ancient fortifications. The Aragonese government brought Syracuse considerable economic advantages, which left their mark in the construction of the ramparts that surround the island and of many buildings. The dramatic earthquake that struck in 1693 was a decisive event in the city's history, not because it caused irreparable damage but as the impetus for a Baroque-style restructuring, which gave the city an 18th-century appearance in place of its ancient identity. The city layout was then significantly altered by gutting operations during the fascist era, particularly the construction of Via del Littorio, the present-day Corso Matteotti. The economic expansion of the 1950s and ’60s heralded a period of coexistence with large industrial complexes, which was not always easy or lucrative. This sequence of often traumatic events has had a fascinating overlapping effect, in the form of a harmonious integration.
Villages
Marsala

Marsala

Marsala, the town of wine and salt Marsala is the name of a town, and also a wine. Both are elegant and rich in history. The town is enclosed within the ramparts of the 16th century, when it experienced its own Renaissance that enriched it with palaces, churches and monasteries. Wine is the product that made it world-famous, thanks partly to the vision of an English merchant who adapted it to British tastes. In the beautiful old town you can visit the vestiges of its past, as well as the historic wine cellars that uphold the prestige of its finest product, while on the coast salt is produced in the spectacular salt pans. Amid Baroque and nature Those who approach from Porta Nuova are greeted by a string of beautiful Renaissance and Baroque buildings, such as the Monastery of San Pietro, which houses the Civic Museum, with an archaeological section and an area dedicated to the Risorgimento. Garibaldi and the Thousand landed at Marsala to accomplish the feat of the Unification of Italy. A little further on you come to Piazza della Repubblica, Marsala's gathering place, with the beautiful Palazzo VII Aprile with its clock tower and Baroque cathedral - although the façade was not actually completed until 1956. Next door is the Tapestry Museum, where eight Flemish tapestries, a gift from a Spanish king, are on display. A few steps away is the Convento del Carmine, now the Museum of Contemporary Painting, with works by various Italian artists including Cassinari, Maccari, Marchegiani, Pomodoro, Sassu, Sironi, as well as temporary exhibitions. To immerse yourself in Marsala's more ancient past, visit the Baglio Anselmi Archaeological Museum, in the building of a former winery on the seafront. Several artefacts are on display, recounting the foundation of the city (then called Lilybaeum) by exiles from the Phoenician colony on the island of Mothia. Don't miss the wreck of a Punic ship that was probably shipwrecked during the battle of the Egadi Islands in the First Punic War; it is located off the Isola Lunga near Punta Scario. There are also Roman mosaics and an extraordinary collection of amphorae documenting trade in antiquity. The museum visit is completed in the Archaeological Park with the Roman Insula, the site of a large Roman villa from the 3rd century AD with baths, cisterns and the remains of an early Christian necropolis. The bustling hub of Marsala is its central Fish Market, which has recently been renovated. By day, it is the place where the catch from the Stagnone and the Strait of Sicily comes in, and by night, it is the centre of nightlife where you can dine and stay up late. The Marsala wine that pleased the English Wine has always been produced in Marsala, since Phoenician times, but it was towards the end of the 18th century that an English merchant, John Woodhouse, sent a few barrels of local wine to England to be tasted by his customers, adding, however, a dose of brandy so that the wine would not spoil during the voyage. This is how the Marsala we know today was born, a liqueur wine much appreciated by the English who imported it in great quantities from then on, making the fortune of local producers: Florio, Rallo, Donnafugata, Pellegrino, whose historic cellars are still located in the centre of Marsala. The Stagnone Reserve and Mozia The Stagnone Reserve is a lagoon to the north of Marsala, two-thousand hectares of shallow and very salty waters with four islands: the Big Island, which acts as a barrier to the lagoon, the island of Santa Maria, a strip of land, the Schola (meaning “school”), because in Roman times it housed a school of rhetoric, where Cicero is said to have taught when he was quaestor of the city of Lilybaetano, and Mothia (Mozia), an island on which a Phoenician city stood from the 8th century BC, which ancient sources describe as rich in beautiful palaces, one of the most important trading bases in the Mediterranean antiquity. Conquered by Dionysius of Syracuse, Mothia was destroyed in 397 B.C. and never rebuilt, so its ruins are “intact”, with no overlays - a true paradise for archaeologists. The survivors in fact founded Lilybaeum, present-day Marsala. The island of Mozia now belongs to the Whitaker Foundation, an English wine producer which bought it and started excavations in the early 20th century, and it is open for visits. The salt pans of Marsala and the windmills On the coast to the north of the city, overlooking the Stagnone, are the Salt Pans of the Marsala Ettore and Infersa Lagoon, one of the most spectacular places on the west coast of Sicily, with stretches of water that take on different colours depending on the season, against which you can see the outlines of windmills surrounded by mounds of white salt. It is a place that is not only very poetic and picturesque, but also of great historical and environmental interest, structured to give visitors the all-round salt experience: here one can take walks along the salt pans, visit mills that are still in operation, enjoy tastings, manually harvest salt with the salt workers and dive into pools that are not in production, but still fed by the hydraulic circuit, where one can float in salt solutions with different concentrations and lie on the salt crust.
Islands
Lipari - Isole Eolie, Sicilia

Lipari

Lipari the sweet, the most placid of the Aeolian Islands At 37 square kilometres, Lipari is the largest of the Aeolian Islands, a World Heritage Site for anyone who has passed through here and, since 2000, for UNESCO as well. The administrative and economic centre of the entire Sicilian archipelago, it is the least “volcanic” of its 7 islands, as evidenced by the weak hydrothermal and fumarole activity in its western part. Take note, however, it is the one that best harmonises the wild Aeolian charm with the convenience of connections and services. The evening nightlife and the flow authenticity of the quarters The urban area stretches between the bars and restaurants overlooking the beautiful Piazza di Sant'Onofrio, also known as Marina Corta, and Via Francesco Crispi, known as Marina Lunga: in between, from May to October, the local nightlife and movida is focused in the evenings. The rest of the island is well-connected to the centre by a network of paved roads, but if you really want to get into its flow of scents, sounds and sights and savour some of that placid sweetness alluded to by its Greek name, Meligunis, we recommend that you go around Lipari by bike or walk around the island, loitering among the dry stone walls of its districts: Canneto, Acquacalda, Quattropani. Like on a film set As well as beach life, if you are planning to delve into the culture and history of Lipari, the advice is to visit sights and monuments by sunset, when the air is cooler and the streets come alive. A must-see is the Chiostro de normanni, part of the first Benedictine monastery built in Sicily at the behest of King Roger II, so well preserved and evocative that you will feel as if you are on the set of a costume film. Equally scenic is the imposing structure of the castle, a veritable acropolis, which stands on a promontory inhabited since the Neolithic period. The city walls ideally enclose the historic centre: in the fortified citadel, an archaeologist's paradise, every nook and cranny in which you stand tells a page of history: it will be like retracing the long list of dominations that have taken place here, leaving an indelible imprint. To explore further, venture through the fifty rooms of the Regional Archaeological Museum, one of the most prestigious in the Mediterranean. Bartholomew's thumb On the other hand, if you are a fan of relics, make a stop inside the Castle at the Cathedral, dedicated to St Bartholomew, the patron saint of the entire archipelago: the church still houses the saint's “sacred thumb”, the only fragment that mysteriously escaped the 833 abduction of the apostle's body by the Beneventois. Now the finger “rests” in a silver reliquary in the shape of a blessing arm, displayed during festivities in honour of the saint. Belvedere hunting For collectors of views, we recommend feasting your eyes on Lipari's most scenic spots, starting from the Acropolis promontory. Worth a souvenir photo, and perhaps even a romantic selfie between sky and sea, the horizon contemplated from Belvedere Quattrocchi, against the backdrop of the Pietra Lunga and Pietra Menalda stacks. Instead, the view from the church of Madonna della Catena in the hamlet of Quattropani, a small, white-plastered Doric-style sanctuary overhanging the sea, is reminiscent of the Cyclades. Finally, the so-called “Semaforo”, the geophysical observatory housed inside a disused Royal Navy traffic light, is worth a hike, from which you will feel as if you are touching both the stacks and the island of Vulcano with your finger. In the mood for trekking... or rather scekking On the other hand, if you pursue the wild soul of the island, one of the most interesting trekking trails is the rather demanding one that leads from the kaolin quarries to the San Calogero thermal baths, along the sulphur fumaroles, a geo-mineral park, up to the 19th-century thermal baths converted into a museum, built on one of the oldest known thermal springs: next to its pools, dating from the Hellenistic period, is a funeral monument of Mycenaean origin. But the most typical experience you can have along these paths is that of scekking, or trekking on the back of a donkey, scecco in Sicilian, proposed by the environmental guides of Lipari: an original way of redeveloping the island's former tenants for tourism, now promoted as guides for slow itineraries, divided into appetising stages where local products can be tasted. Beaches: to each his own stone White and sandy or volcanic and rocky: the coasts and beaches of Lipari satisfy the needs of every bather. You just have to decide which stone to lie on. The entire north-eastern coastline is covered with the dazzling white sand from the pumice and obsidian quarries that descend to the sea: from White Beach, reached by a steep flight of majolica steps, to White Beach, the most fashionable and exclusive establishment, which can only be reached by sea. If you prefer empty and secluded shores, head to the beaches at Pietraliscia or Porticello, or to the Secca della Forbice, in the Cappero area, much loved by the locals.
Villages
Erice

Erice

Erice, city of the goddess Venus One of Sicily's most enchanting locations, Erice is like an eagle's nest from which you can enjoy magnificent views over vast areas of the island as far as the Egadi archipelago and the Tunisian coast. Perched on a cliff 750 metres above sea level, its curious triangular perimeter preserves not only monuments and mediaeval churches of great worth, but also a contemporary art centre and a prestigious scientific institution. Erice is a jewel of art and culture with a thousand-year history, that deserves to be visited at least once in a lifetime. A treasure chest of artistic and archaeological treasures The origins of Erice are very ancient and can be traced back to the Elymian people; it was founded by the union of the local population with Trojan exiles. Beyond the myth of its foundation, Erice was also known to the Romans due to a sanctuary built on a steep cliff, dedicated to the worship of the Greek goddess Aphrodite and the Roman goddess of fertility and love, Venus Ericina, where sacred prostitution was practised. To erase that pagan symbol, a thousand years later, the Norman princes of Altavilla had a manor built, which is still called the Castle of Venus: inside, you can visit an exhibition of archaeological finds from the Archaic to the Norman age. From the castle, through the Balio garden, one enters the elegant mediaeval old town with its carpet-like stone pavement and narrow alleyways, because space within the walls has always been scarce. Here, you must see the church of San Giovanni Battista with its round dome and Norman Gothic portal, the Antonino Cordici museum in the former convent of San Francesco where, among the finds from the Erice necropolis, a head of Aphrodite from the 4th century BC is on display; and the museum of contemporary art La Salerniana in the former convent of San Carlo. Continuing towards Piazza Umberto you will find the Centro per la Cultura Scientifica Majorana (Majorana Centre for Scientific Culture) in the former monastery of San Pietro, which hosts symposia and conferences on various scientific disciplines every year. Towards Porta Trapani is the elegant Piazza Matrice with the 14th-century Cathedral of Erice, with a Gothic pronaos and portal and, inside, majestic naves with pointed arches. The nine Greek marble crosses on the south wall were hung in 1685 and also come from the temple of Venus, whose cult is believed to have been still practised at that time. Beyond the Porta del Carmine along Via dell'Addolorata you come to the so-called Quartiere Spagnolo, which is not a real quarter but a building, that was supposed to house Spanish troops but remained unfinished. Today it is home to permanent exhibitions on Erice and the territory. The view from its terrace will leave you breathless. Trekking on Mount Erice The amenity of the place is such that you will yearn to explore the territory of Mount Erice. To do so, there are the Agro Ericino trails, various trekking routes that start mostly from the arrival of the funicular railway from Trapani to cross the state forest, or to discover the three rock churches scattered around the mountain. Above Erice, there is also a CAI (Club Alpino Italiano - Italian Alpine Club) hut, to explore the area and also go to Mount Cofano and San Vito Lo Capo. Genovesi and martorana fruit: discovering traditional sweets If you have worked up an appetite on your walk, there is no shortage of patisseries in Erice. The town has a strong tradition of sweets whose recipes are said to have been handed down by the nuns of the cloistered monasteries of Erice. The most typical are the genovese, a shortcrust pastry morsel filled with cream that is eaten while still warm; mustazzoli, aromatic biscuits made of hard, crunchy pastry; ripostetti, filled with citron conserve and decorated with pastel-coloured icing; almond morsels, quaresimali and martorana fruit. The most renowned pastry shops are those of Maria Grammatico, which also organise cooking classes, and San Carlo, both in the old city centre. The desserts are well matched with a glass of sweet Marsala from the vineyards grown just below Mount Erice.
Region

island of eternal summer, culture and archaeology

A dive into Sicily, where a sea of art, culture and nature will seduce you and become eternal love. A predominantly hilly and mountainous area, but one that wins the hearts of tourists from all over the world with its wonderful sea and rich cities with a charm all their own. Sicily is a picture-postcard island characterised by the indelible marks of the people who have lived there and made it unique, amidst artistic and cultural testimonies of enormous value.

 

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