Here is our ultimate top ten things to see and do when visiting this beautiful island in the Mediterranean.
Whether you are looking to escape for a week relaxing on one of the island’s many beautiful beaches, a more active break hiking through the lovely countryside and up the slopes of Mount Etna, perhaps you are seeking to explore some of the archaeological gems found all over the island or you are a lover of fine wine and cuisine, Sicily has it all.
And I for one am very excited to be sharing this special island with you but I’ve so much to tell you it’s hard to know where to start. To help you get the most out of a holiday with us let’s set the ball rolling with our ultimate Sicily Top Ten.
Dating back to 4th century BC, the town of Taormina offers an eclectic mix of the old and the new. A chic resort, though unashamedly touristy, it is arguably the most enchanting town in Sicily. Her many charms include beautiful restored mediaeval buildings on winding streets, the famous passeggiata along Corso Umberto and the stunning Greek amphitheatre with spectacular views across the Gulf of Naxos and an impressive backdrop of Mount Etna.
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Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2013, Mount Etna is one of Sicily’s most famous landmarks. The largest active volcano in Europe and Sicily’s highest peak, Etna dominates the landscape on the North East coast. A tour up to the crater or even the summit is a must for anyone visiting this part of the island.
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3. Sicilian Cuisine
You are sure to be spoilt for choice when it comes to Sicilian cuisine. The island offers an extensive range of gastronomic delights with influences from mainland Italy as well as those from North Africa. Fresh local ingredients are aplenty with citrus fruits, wild herbs and spices, aubergines, cherry tomatoes, olives, ricotta, pistachios, swordfish and sardines repeatedly on the menu. And who could forget the Sicilian sweets; from the scrumptious gelato to the ever popular Cannoli.
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A fascinating and beautiful town, Syracuse has many wonderful attractions but the absolute gem for us is the stunning cathedral on Piazza del Duomo adapted by the Byzantines and later the Normans from a 5th-century BC temple to Minerva. This lovely café-lined, piazza is on the island of Ortgia with its enchanting cobbled streets and many more Baroque churches and piazzas to discover. Be sure to also explore the ancient Greek and Roman part of the city, as well as the contrasting modern town with its seaside promenades and broad avenues. Syracuse, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has so much to offer.
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5. Val di Noto
Eight towns in the South East of Sicily; Caltagirone, Militello Val di Catania, Catania, Modica, Noto, Palazzolo Acreide, Ragusa and Scicli, make up the late Baroque towns of the Val di Noto. Another UNESCO world heritage site, the valley is home to this series of highly picturesque towns composed almost entirely of Baroque churches, palaces and houses – an absolute must see for architectural and historical enthusiasts.
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Sicily has in recent years become renowned for its quality wine production and with more vineyards than any other region in Italy; there are many delicious wines to choose from. For those wishing to sample the local specialities, wine tasting and vineyard tours can be found in most areas.
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7. Villa Romana del Casale, Piazza Armerina
The most remarkable Roman ruins in Sicily and listed as a UNESCO world heritage site, this grandiose 4th century Roman villa is home to one of the finest floor mosaics in existence.
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8. Valle dei Templi, Agrigento
The Valle dei Templi holds some of Sicily’s most impressive Greek ruins and indeed, some of the best preserved ancient Greek temples in the world. In particular ‘must see’ Tempio della Concordia, among the ruins of the ancient city of Akragas, is a remarkably intact temple, constructed in 430BC. And it’s no surprise that the valley is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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Palermo is another fabulous ancient city packed with historic masterpieces waiting to be discovered, not least the magnificent Cathedral di Monreale. But it is so much more than this being famed for its nightlife, Mondello beach, its open-air theatre, museums and art galleries, as well as its excellent street food, reputed to be among the best in the world. The list of attractions goes on and on.
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You can’t leave Sicily without experiencing one of its vibrant and colourful markets. Some of the best on the island include Palermo’s Mercato di Ballarò filled with every food imaginable and Catania’s La Pescheria, a lively morning fish market behind the Piazza del Duomo with tables full of the catch of the day.
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With so many wonderful places to visit, we hope our Sicily Top 10 will help you decide how to make good use of your time here yet we’ve barely even mentioned the beautiful beaches, let alone the festivals or the cheeses or…..
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