island has a typical Mediterranean climate.
Mediterranean location places it directly in the middle of the
Mediterranean climate zone, also called the dry summer subtropical
climate. The Mediterranean climate is characterized by moderate
temperatures, wet winters and dry summers. Sicily's
temperature is moderated by the warm
beautiful and perfectly placed in the heart of the
if its classical heritage weren't formidable enough,
is bursting at the seams with later artistic and architectural gems. In a
short walk around
you'll see Arab domes and arches, Byzantine mosaics, baroque stuccowork
and Norman palace walls. This embarrassment of artistic riches remains one
of the island's most distinctive attractions.
the crossroads of several important Mediterranean trade routes and subject
in its long history to Phoenicians, Romans, Byzantine Greeks, Arabs,
Normans and Spaniards, Sicily’s regional capital is a fascinating
historical palimpsest – and, with its palm trees, prickly pears and
banyan trees, a botanical melting pot.
miss the glorious 12th-century mosaics in the
of the great cities of the Western Greek diaspora (it was home to
mathematician and engineer Archimedes),
(Siracusa) is today undergoing something of a Renaissance.
and second-home buyers are discovering the charms of Ortygia, the old
town, surrounded by the sea on all sides and connected to the city’s
“modern” westward extension by three short bridges.
sights include the Parco Archeologico, with its fifth-century BC theatre
where Ancient Greek plays are still performed in summer (information and
booking at indafondazione.org), or the Duomo, a cathedral made by filling
in the gaps between the columns of the Greek temple of Minerva –
eloquent testimony to this beguiling town’s depth of history.
Greek temples (Agrigento, Selinunte,
three great Greek temple complexes of western and southern
are the equal of anything you’ll see in
is the most famous, where the archaeological site known as the Valle dei
Selinunte, on the south coast between
Mazara del Vallo and Sciacca, may not have such well-preserved ruins, but
its position on a coastal promontory carpeted with wild flowers and the
celery that gives the site its name is hugely atmospheric. If you seek out
Cave di Cusa, seven miles to the north-east, chances are you'll have it
all to yourself. Suddenly abandoned in 409BC, this was where the stone
used in Selinunte's temples was quarried, and it's a fascinating place,
with great fluted column sections, carved in situ, still anchored in the
is that of Segesta, the closest
of the three sites to Palermo: though it was never finished, the elegance
and fine state of preservation of the fifth-century-BC Doric temple that
perches romantically on the crest of a hill makes it perhaps Sicily’s
most impressive and affecting Greek ruin.
Taormina & Etna
by European travellers and winter-sun seekers as long ago as the 18th
combines a breathtaking position – on a distant spur of Etna, dominating
the island’s eastern coast – with a balmy climate that allows jasmine
and bougainvillea to flower even in December.
fame, and the picture-postcard views of Etna from the town’s Greek
Theatre (actually a predominantly Roman construction from the first
century AD), make it one of
most touristy towns.
In high season (Easter through to the end of October) there are days when the place bursts at the seams. But it’s still an undeniably pretty place to while away a few days, and its proximity to Etna means it’s easy to combine with eastern Sicily’s other great visitor attraction – the ascent of the volcano.
Roman mosaics unearthed in the 19th century at Casale, three miles south
of Piazza Armerina, are among the richest and most complex in situ
collection anywhere in the world.
huge complex that was in use from the fourth century BC right through the
12th century AD, the villa most probably belonged to the owner of a large
estate, and would have been used to entertain guests and as a base for
hunting parties. The site is well worth a detour.
is local, especially fruit and vegetables: bananas & pineapples are
usually the only imported fruit. You’ll find the freshest fish in the
coastal towns, whereas the mountain villages are famous for their cheese (formaggi),
salami, sausages (salsiccia), mushrooms (funghi). Tomatoes (pomodori) and
aubergines (melanzane) are widely used and have a special taste and
perfume. You will find a large variety of ice creams (gelati) all year
round, the fruity ones being more popular during the summer. The Sicilian
way to have it is in a freshly baked brioche!
Food and Wine
Sicily is seasonal: take the time to go to a local market to see what’s in
few things “not to be missed” for each season:
- oranges (arance), mandarins (manderini) and grapes (uva) fill the
markets with theirsea many varieties. Arancine (rice balls filled with
meat or ham and mozzarella) or the many kinds of panini (sandwiches) make
a perfect quick lunch or snacks. Cassate and cannoli (made with ricotta
cheese) and marzipan sweets (frutti & paste di martorana) are well
presented in all the “pasticcerie”. Restaurants often offer the
delicious “semifreddo di mandorle o pistacchi” (almonds or pistachios
parfait –“solid” ice-cream- with hot chocolate sauce.). Spring -
medlars (nespole), the little orange fruit originally from
and strawberries (fragole) are followed, towards the end of May by
apricots (albicocche), cherries (ciliegie) and tiny, sweet pears (perine).
The countryside is full of wild fennel (finocchio selvatico), asparagus (asparagi)
and artichokes (carciofi).
the best time to try the “pasta con le sarde” (with fresh sardines,
wild fennel, and pinenuts), the tuna (tonno) and the sword fish (pesce
- different kinds of prunes (susine), peaches (pesche), cantaloupe
(delicious with ham as an appetiser or served cold, with fresh mint and
red wine or port as dessert), watermelon (anguria). Try the “gelo di
melone” (watermelon gelly with chocolate and jasmine) and the
“granite”: our favourite ones are coffee and almonds (caffe’ e
mandorla), lemon and peach or cantaloupe….or figs, towards the end of
- it’s time for the olive harvest. Prickly pears (fichi d’india) and
roasted chestnuts (caldaroste) are sold in little kiosks in many towns.
Specialties such as caponata (vegetarian dish with aubergines, celery,
olives and tomatoes) and peperonata (with peppers) are worth trying.
red wines include... Nero D’Avola, made of one of the oldest
indigenous grapes and Sicilian wine-makers are justifiably proud of the
recognition that this variety is now receiving, Etna Rosso, born on the
rich, fertile volcanic slopes of
white wines include the Bianco D’Alcamo, produced in the rich area
dessert or aperitif wines include the
though it has a reputation as a sweet wine, there are also some excellent
dry aperitif varieties. Then the Passito di Pantelleria, made from Zibbibo
grapes which have been dried in the sun to increase the sugar
concentration. Pure heaven from
southernmost offshore island, Pantelleria! Malvasia
delle Lipari, an excellent sweet wine. Known as Malmsey to Shakespeare in
Loves Labours Lost, George, Duke of Clarence (brother of King Edward IV of
was possibly executed by drowning in a "butt" of it. Malmsey was
also well known to Nelson’s sailors (who allegedly drank a lot of it). Passito
di Noto: a harmonious sweet wine, with honeyed hints.
is best done outdoors. The outdoor markets on the island are an experience
in and of themselves. Visitors can purchase plenty of quality handicraft
items, ceramics, artifacts and antiques; generally at lower prices than in
boasts several flea markets, two of which are famous throughout
In Masculucia there is a good flea market held every second week in the
Piazza Trinità, where among other things visitors can purchase beautiful
ceramic food moulds. On the third Saturday and last Sunday of every month
a market is held in Giardini Naxos. Here visitors can purchase many types
of antique items and locally made handicrafts. These items are generally
sold at low prices making them perfect for souveniers. Children also love
markets because of their painted carts and traditional marionettes.
AIRPORTS OF SICILY:
Sicily has four international airports