Beautiful beaches, dramatic mountains, active volcanoes, ancient temples and high class resorts and accommodation are just some of the reasons to tempt to you to Sicily. You will also find some of the finest food and arts and crafts in Italy.
Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean just off the coast of Italy but it is also close to Tunisia. Its a land of vivid landscapes, people and culture which, although an autonomous region of Italy, is more like its own country in many ways.
The Sicilian language is a completely separate language, not a dialect of Italian. It reflects Sicilys unique cultural and artistic heritage.
The regional capital is Palermo, an important centre for Italian opera, but there are many other interesting towns and cities to explore, including Catania, Messina, Syracuse, Trapani and Ragusa.
Palermos Teatro Massimo is the largest opera house in Italy and the third biggest in the world but this beautiful city offers more than just opera. Ancient districts compete even with Rome as a grand setting for wining, dining and having fun. Norman, Moorish and Roman buildings stand along side each other against a backdrop of palm trees and pretty foothills. Palermos shopping and restaurants are regarded as the best in Sicily.
Other tourist highlights include the citys stunning cathedral plus the Palazzo dei Normanni, a breathtaking Italian palace built by the Normans. This majestic structure includes the 12th Century Cappella Palatina, or Palatine Chapel, a glittering work filled with exquisite mosaics and fine art. One of the most interesting and unusual visitor attractions is the Palermo International Puppet Museum with thousands of exhibits of ancient puppet theatre and folklore.
And if you want a change from the city do not despair. There are more than 200km of coastline at hand with some fine beaches. Mondello Beach is one of the most popular with a good range of sea food restaurants.
An abandoned ancient Greek colony on the South West coast of Sicily which includes some of the most impressive ruins in all of Italy, including a vast acropolis and many other ancient temples. The city was founded 7 BC but was obliterated in 409 BC.
Otherwise known as Castellammare del Golfo, it offers views of a spectacular bay and coastline. The name means Sea Fortress of the Gulf because of the medieval fortress in the harbour. Castellammare is a charming town in which fishing continues to be the main industry.
Idyllic town set above a gorgeous valley and steep cliff which offers spectacular views. Known for its beautiful tranquil landscape and unspoilt beaches. There are also several superb examples of baroque and neo-classical churches, including the impressive Basilica of St George with its grand dome.
Mount Etna, the largest active volcano in Europe, is 3,396km high and dominates every view of the island. A cable car will take you to the top. Its base alone is 40km wide. The ancient Greeks believed Mount Etna was the home of Vulcan, god of fire, and his monster, the Cyclops. Nearby visitor attractions include castle Ursino Friedrichs II which combines as an art museum.
International Airport - Falcone Borsellino is 30km West of the city. Journey time between airport and city centre is about 30 minutes by car, bus or taxi via the A29/E90 road. A regular shuttle train also operates between the airport and Palermo Central Station every six minutes between 5.40 and 23.40. Travel time is an hour.
The summers are long and hot and dry but a good time to visit is April to May or October to November when the climate is milder. The scenery is more attractive and the crowds are smaller. Plan on spending at least a week in Sicily and hire a car if you want to take in the sights. Sicily is 110 miles north to south and 175 miles wide so there is a lot to see.
Although Sicily has ancient associations with the Italian organised crime syndicate, the Mafia, these days the nearest you will come to a mafia experience is an organized Godfather tour. Many scenes in the Oscar winning blockbuster were filmed in Sicily and the locations remain powerful tourist draws. The famous wedding scene was filmed in Savoca, for instance.
Crime is no more an issue in Sicily than anywhere else in Italy and is certainly a lot less of a problem than in major cities throughout Europe. Serious problems are rare but always follow sensible precautions which include keeping purses and valuables safe while you travel.
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