Sicily Things to do
Seemingly just balanced off the ‘foot’ of Italy, Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean. In some ways, it enjoys temperatures more in line with the north of Africa due to its close position and it certainly enjoys a longer ‘season’ than Corsica. The island has a fascinating historical past. The various cultures and nationalities to live here have included Greeks, Arabs, Normans, Byzantines and a strangely named group known as the ‘Vandals’!A view from one of our featured villas on Sicily.
Sicily is a word that conjures various images in the mind, most noteworthy is Etna – the tallest active European volcano or perhaps Stromboli, near the Aeolian islands. Day trips to locations nearby to observe these natural marvels are of course possible, although visitors may have to prepare for the strong sulphurous smells.
In terms of sightseeing, the visitor who enjoys history and culture will be most well provided for. The ancient civilisations (as mentioned briefly above) have all left their legacy. Such sites of interest to visit include Syracuse or Agrigento (care of the Greeks), Taormina or Piazza Armerina (the Romans), Palermo or Mazara del Vallo (Arab) to Marsala (the Phoenicians). Clearly there is plenty more than listed briefly here as well as several other poignant civilisations, however for a first time visitor to the island looking for a variety of experiences, clearly these offer great insights to Sicilian life and history. Visitors interested in architecture may wish to travel to Noto, Catania or Ragusa for examples of Sicilian baroque.
There are plenty of beaches around the island, all offering bathing opportunities. Popular spots include Cefalu (http://www.italyguides.it/us/sicily_italy/cefalu/cefalu.htm
), San Vito Lo Capo, Marina di Modica, Marina di Ragusa, Taormina and Messina to name just a few. Cefalu is one of the most popular spots to the north of the island, in summer the ‘population’ can literally triple! Visitors include those from the Italian mainland who make the most of the seaside, however a number of cruise ships now also stop off at various points. City break stops include Palermo – a fascinating place to visit, whilst self catering is also popular, with some tourists taking a hire car and driving around the entire island.
Sicily is a fairly traditional Italian location, where family values are held close and culture and religious festivals observed. Some examples include ‘The Feast of Madonna del Mirto’, from the town of Villafranca on the second Sunday of each May. La Festa Patronale ( a religious feast), Acate (a town in the Ragusa province) which celebrates numerous events and La Settimana Santa (a week long festivity which starts on Palm Sunday in Enna). In a less religious sense, although some of the spectators may exhibit characteristics to the contrary, Sicily also has an avid soccer following. The most well known teams are Palermo and Catania.
For the food buffs (and any visitor to Italy or her islands soon learns that the best cuisine in the world is provided here!) Sicily offers an abundance of special dishes. Each part of Sicily has its own specialities. Cannoli (click for recipe link
) which is a dessert dish (fried pastry dough with ricotta cheese) is widely known, whilst Cassata is known to have originated in Palermo. Cassata incidentally is a classic Sicilian cake, believed to have Arab origins, although the name derives from the latin ‘Caseus’ meaning cheese, so potentially the world’s first cheesecakes were made here! Cooking is generally very healthy and dishes are usually inclusive of ingredients such as fresh vegetables and fruits (olives, tomatoes, artichokes, citrus, onions) and fish. Popular fish include bass, sardines, swordfish and sea bream. Popular cheeses include Pecorino or Caciocavallo.
Clearly no Italian meal would be complete without some fine local wine and Sicily excels. The most important Sicilian red wine is possibly Nero d’Avola. Wine connoisseurs compare it to new world Shirazes with a fruity, peppery finish. Marsala wine (produced near Marsala itself in Sicily) which is basically a fortified wine, is also well known.
If you are interested in knowing more about Sicily or seeking some luxurious accommodation
in the island, the following sample of villas might be of interest.
Located in a leafy, green corner with a spectacular panorama of mountainside all around is the Borgo San Vito, a charming property built in a Mediterranean style on the north-western tip of Sicily.
£1365 - £2680
Sicily seaside family villa – Mareblu is a splendid seaside property decorated in typical Mediterranean style, with stunning sea views. Set in a residential area on the rocky coastline between Siracusa and Catania, it offers modern comforts combined with the traditional feel of Sicilian life.
£1250 - £2320
Holiday villa near Taormina - Casa Ganzirri is a liberty style villa located on the north eastern tip of Sicily, in the region of Messina. The fishing hamlet of Ganzirri with local facilities is close by and so is a pretty lake, whilst the well known beach resort of Taormina is just 28 miles away.
£1555 - £2560
Luxury beach villa in Sicily - this modern beachside house built in Mediterranean style is situated near the town of Modica on the south-eastern side of Sicily, not far from Ragusa.
£1990 - £4280