Sicily is the biggest Italian island in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, which also includes the Aeolian Islands, the islands of Egadi, Pelagie and Ustica and Pantelleria.
UNESCO has included six areas of the region as World Heritage Sites: the Roman Villa del Casale, the Valley of the Temples, the Aeolian Islands, the Late Baroque towns of the Val di Noto, the ancient center of Syracuse and Mount Etna.
The infinite natural beauties and the island's long history offer several points of interest.
The northern side of the island facing the Tyrrhenian Sea has high and rocky coasts alternating with wide bays and small beaches of fine sand. The eastern side facing the Ionian Sea is more varied with narrow, fine pebble beaches and coves, such as that of Giardini Naxos and Acireale. After the Gulf of Syracuse, the sandy coast resumes, similar to the southern coastline facing Africa.
The nature of the is marked by the presence of three active volcanoes (Etna, Stromboli and Vulcano) offering spectacular lava eruptions, also fountain shaped ones.
Due to its strategic geographic position, the island has been inhabited since the Paleolithic era and was for a long time also a Greek colony, but it was later subjected to the Roman Empire, who took advantage of its large agricultural and wheat production. Sicily then became part of the Eastern Roman Empire, as it remained until the Arab invasion, which brought Sicily to become the new thriving capital of Emirate of Kalibi. In 1061 Sicily was conquered by the Normans and after various vicissitudes it then fell under Spanish control, thus becoming the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies under Ferdinand IV, King of Naples. With the landing of Garibaldi at Marsala in 1860, the process began which would eventually lead the island to become part of the Kingdom of Italy.
The art and culture of Sicily are therefore the result of this intense mixture of populations who left their traces on the city. Among these, the most interesting are:
Palermo. The capital of the region offers countless monuments of which we mention a few: the Palace of the Normans (with the court of the viceroy Maqueda, the salon of Hercules with frescoes from 1799 painted by Velasquez, the hall of Ruggero, decorated with mosaics depicting hunting scenes, animals and plant elements, the Palatine Chapel adorned with delicate mosaics of Byzantine tradition); the Church of St. John of the Hermits, with the typical five domes, clearly of Muslim influence and the cloister of the Benedictines, the Zisa castle and the Sterni Palace.
Agrigento. In this territory stands the Valley of the Temples, the most impressive monumental ensemble of the entire Magna Grecia, also the thermal city of Sciacca.
Catania. Dominated by Etna, which often offers spectacular eruptions with lava fountains, is the city of St. Agatha, a venerated virgin and martyr. Nearby are two delightful seaside resorts: Acicastello and Acireale.
Syracuse. The nucleus of the ancient city is concentrated on the island of Ortigia, joined to the mainland by a bridge, near which there are the remains of a temple dedicated to Apollo. You can admire the church of St. Paul, the Greek Palace, the Church of St. Christopher, Lanza palace and the Mergulese-Montalto palace. The Fountain of Arethusa, also located on the island, spouts fresh water a few meters from the sea. Also worth a visit are the "Latomie" (Stone Quarries), ancient quarries, where there is a large cave called the "Ear of Dionysius".
The other smaller capitals (Messina, Enna, Trapani, Caltanissetta, Ragusa, Taormina, Giardini Naxos) offer many points of interest, as do the smaller towns.
Many Sicilian wines, especially red wines with a high alcohol content, have been awarded the DOCG label.
Sicilian cuisine offers typical and very tasty dishes: Sicilian "arancini" (rice balls stuffed with meat sauce and peas); pasta with sardines (sardines with capers, wild fennel, pepper, pine nuts and raisins), "pasta alla Norma " (with fried eggplant and seasoned ricotta ); among the main dishes serving fish, "le sarde a beccafico" (with sardines, breadcrumbs, lemon, pine nuts) and "pesce spada a ghiotta" (swordfish cooked in a pan with tomato sauce, potatoes, olives, capers and celery).More