Sicily (Sicilia) is a rugged and attractive island on the southern tip of Italy, and is one of the country's 20 regions. It is separated from the mainland region of Calabria by the 5 km Straits of Messina. It can get very hot during the summer, so it is better to visit during spring and autumn, whilst it is still quite pleasant during winter.
- Agrigento Province
- Caltanissetta Province
- Catania Province
- Enna Province
- Messina Province
- Palermo Province
- Ragusa Province
- Syracuse Province
- Trapani Province
- Agrigento - to the south and particularly noted for the Valle dei Templi (Valley of Temples)(UNESCO World Heritage)the city
- Catania - busy university city & #1 economic center, great for nightlife, the gate to Mount Etna (World Heritage)Etna
- Cefalù - Sicily's main beach resort, with an attractive old town Virtual tour
- Enna - medieval town on the top of a mountain, in the middle of Sicily
- Marsala - Interesting museum, home of the famous wine
- Mazara del Vallo - Arab influences including a Couscous festival
- Messina - busy city & link to the mainland
- Palermo - throbbing capital, plenty of sights
- Ragusa - impressive baroque architecture (UNESCO World Heritage)
- Syracuse (Siracusa) - attractive old town and greek ruins (UNESCO World Heritage)
- Taormina - the main resort & tourist spot. Great Teatro Greco and views of Etna and the coast.
- Trapani - attractive city and gateway to Pantelleria and the Egadi islands
- Augusta - a town north of Syracuse
- Acitrezza - fisherman village on the coast of Catania
- Barcellona Pozzo di Gotto[]
- Caltabellotta - a hilltop village outside Sciacca.
- Castelbuono - a very pleasing town near Cefalù which is the self proclaimed capital of the madonie national park. Siciliangems 16:43, 12 July 2008 (EDT)
- Erice - Stunning medieval town, castle and great views over the west-coast. The cannoli at Cafe Maria are incredible and should not be missed.
- Gela - important Greek vases
- Milazzo - gateway to the Aeolian Islands
- Modica - Baroque town (World Heritage)
- Monreale - impressive norman cathedral above Palermo, offering great mosaics
- Novara di Sicilia - A beautiful medieval town near Mt. Etna
- Noto- center of Val di Noto, famous for baroque architecture (World Heritage)
- Piazza Armerina - Roman Villa del Casale with fantastic mosaics (World Heritage)
- Pergusa Lake and circuit.
- Pozzallo - quiet south coast port[]
- Santa Caterina Villarmosa
- Sciacca - quiet south coast port
Nature and main archaeological sites
- San Vito lo Capo - the most beautiful beach on the island, surrounded by mountains
- Giardini Naxos - under the hill of Toarmina
- Marina di Ragusa - fine golden sand with blue waters Virtual tour Beaches
- Vendicari - Natural Reserve with a great beach. Virtual tour Vendicari
- Fiumefreddo di Sicilia - Marina di cottone - It reserves natural neighbor very beautiful river that flows in a splendid sea.
- The Aeolian Islands - beautiful group of volcanic islands (World Heritage)
- The Aegadian Islands relaxing islands off the west coast
- Ustica - diving center near Palermo
- Pantelleria - Arab-influenced solitude
- The Pelagie Islands - most souther, in the Mediterranean Sea.
- Mount Etna - the impressive 3323m high active volcano virtual tour
- Gole dell'Alcantara - a deep impressive gorge carved by the Alcantara river on the edge of Etna
- Madonie - Madonie National Park, the national Park in the Heart of Sicily
- Monti Iblei - The highest peak is Monte Lauro (986mt), Parco degli Iblei.
- Agrigento - famous for its Greek Temple Valleyvirtual tour
- virtual tour tempio della concordia
- Eraclea Minoa - Greek ruins above an attractive beach
- Naxos - First Greek colony in Sicily. Today Giardini Naxos, near Taormina.
- Himera or Imera - Greek colony, founded in 648.BC on the north coast.
- Kamarina - Greek city dating to 598BC, built by the Corintian-Syracusan. Located at 25km from Ragusa.
- Leontini - Greek colony, Today the town of Lentini
- Mozia - Ancient Punic city built on the island of Mozia overlooking Marsala.
- Morgantina - Greek colony in the province of Enna. virtual tour Morgantina
- Piazza Armerina - home of impressive Roman mosaics (World Heritage)
- Virtual tour Villa del Casale
- Syracuse or Siracusa - Archeological Park of the Neapolis with stunning Greek Theatre and Roman Anfitheatre.virtual tour Greek Theatre
- Segesta - another Greek temple, Theatre and ruins virtual tour Segesta
- Selinunte - another group of impressive Greek temples and ruins of Greek city.Virtual Tour Selinunte
- Solunto - Punic ruins near Santa Flavia, Palermo.
- Noto Centro StoricoNoto was once situated on Mount Alveria but destroyed by an earthquake in Val di Noto in 1693 and was rebuilt in another site in Baroque style
Sicily has a long history of foreign domination, from the Greeks to the Romans, Arabs, Normans, Spanish. Even Napoleon went here for a while. The result is a mixed culture where every single domination left something to see, to taste, to hear.
Sicily is a huge island where every little city seem to have its own culture. You will find great variety of local specialities in all cities over the island.
What else ? They are proud people and most of them are a little bit conservative, but open-minded to visitors.
Natives of Sicily speak Sicilian, an ancient Romance language that is comprised of many different languages like Spanish, Latin, French, Arabic, and others and is considered an entirely separate language from Italian.
Most Sicilians are proficient in Italian and modern day schools are teaching English to students. You can not count on being understood in English. You may have better luck with French. Be advised that when traveling to small villages, the people (especially the older residents) may not speak Italian. Even though Italian is the national language, Sicilian is still very alive in Sicily. They may ask you "Comu ti senti" instead of "Come stai".
If a Sicilian wants to say they don't speak English, they will most likely respond with "iu unn parru inglisi."
Usually Sicilians will get offended if you say Ciao to them if you don't know them. Instead, say "salutamu". That will get you a warm reception. Throwing in Sicilians words will impress the natives. Using the word "minchia" in public is not a smart idea, because it is considered very rude.
Also, saying that Sicily and mainland Italy are the same will most likely create a problem for you. Treat Sicilians as their own people, not as Italians. For example, if you are of Sicilian descent, and don't live in Sicily, tell them (if you can't say in Sicilian) La famiglia è dalla Sicilia!! (La città di Palermo, etc.. meaning the city or commune of..)
By Plane / Airports
- Catania (CTA) is the larger/busyest airport, with domestic flights to most parts of Italy, some international routes and many charter flights.
- Palermo (PMO) is the second aiport, with a good range of domestic flights and international budget flights.
- Trapani (TPS) is the third airport with a recent increase of traffic thanks to the low-cost Ryanair and AirBee.
- Ragusa/Comiso Airport (CIY) is a new airport and should open in Spring 2009 for low-cost and charter flights.
- There are also two other smaller airports in Sicily on the minor islands of Pantelleria (PNL) and Lampedusa (LMP) connected to Italy.
- Palermo-Boccadifalco (LICP) is a military airport open to national civil traffic.
From Naples, it usually takes 10 hours, 12 from Rome, depending how long you wait for the ferry at Messina. On the ferry, you should get on the deck and watch the sea. It's a wonderful view, but don't forget the number of your train.
Be aware: Trains on the island are very slow, for example it takes more than 7 hours between Siracusa and Trapani and it's about 450 km.
Large, slow car ferries link Palermo with Naples, Genoa, Livorno, Sardinia and other Mediterranean destinations. The are also car ferries between Milazzo, the Aeolian Islands and Naples, and between Trapani and Tunis. From Catania you can reach Naples and Malta. See all current ferry connections at Ferrylines.com.
Across the Straits of Messina, there are at least hourly ferries between Messina on Sicily and Villa San Giovanni on the mainland. There are also several hydrofoils each day between Messina and Reggio di Calabria.
Be careful, although public transport is very good during the week, there are not many services on Sundays - check the timetable carefully and ask the locals.
The main roads are good, with four highways (Catania-Palermo, Palermo-Mazzara and Catania-Noto witch are free and Messina-Palermo where you have to pay). Little roads, mainly in mountain zones, are slower but offer great views.
A18 Messina - Catania (toll)
A18 Catania - Siracusa (under costruction)
A18 Siracusa - Ragusa - Gela (under costruction - open from Siracusa to Noto)
A19 Palermo - Catania (free)
A20 Messina - Palermo (toll)
A29 Palermo - Mazzara (free)
A29dir Alcamo - Trapani (free)
The railway network in Sicily is quite good and cheap. Regular, quite fast trains run on the main lines between Messina and Palermo and Catania, with fewer trains on the other routes. See www.trenitalia.com
The bus network in Sicily is quite extensive and cheap. The main hubs are Palermo and Catania, but routes link most of the main towns frequently and most small towns at least once a day. From virtually any town you will be able to get a bus direct to Palermo.
There are regular ferries and hydrofoils from Sicily to its Islands, although services are somewhat reduced during Spring and Autumn and even more so during Winter. For timetables see a summary at: Booking Italia or the individual companies: SIREMAR, Ustica Lines and NGI. The main routes are:
- The Aeolian Islands from Milazzo. A few also run in Summer from Cefalu, Palermo and Messina.
- Ustica from Palermo.
- Trapani to the Egadi Islands and Pantelleria.
- Porto Empedocle (near Agrigento) to Lampedusa and Linosa
- Sicily tours and tour guides  Suggestions for tours and itineraries all over Sicily directly from Sicilian tour guides
- Bike tours in Sicily  Guided and self-guided tours through Sicily, mediterranean island of myth and legend.
- Yacht charter in Sicily  Windward Islands, one of the worlds largest yacht charter companies, can take care of all charter requirements, from bareboat to luxury yacht in Sicily and Calabria.
* Walking Tours  Guided tours in Sicily and specialising in the Madonie National Park. Sicilian Gems is a UK, Sicilian based agency based in the Park.
- Siciliasud tour guides  I miglioti tour virtuali della Sicilia
Making the most of its island coasts, Sicily has some of the world's best cuisine to offer. Much of the island's food is made with creatures of the sea. Unlike the northern parts of Italy, cream and butter are hardly used for typical dishes in Sicily. Instead, the natives usually substitute tomatoes, lard (rarely) or olive oil. The cuisine is very exotic and has many spices and unique flavors to offer. Sicilians cultivate a uniquely Sicilian type of olive tree, which they affectionately call the "saracena". The food is typically Mediterranean but there are strong hints of Arabic and Spanish flavor (Sicily was conquered by many people during its long history). Sicilians like spices and have particular affinity for almond, jasmine, rosemary, mint and basil.
Sicilians have notorious sweet teeth and are among the best dessert makers in Italy. Try the cannoli (tubular pastries filled with sweet ricotta cheese), granita (ices mixed with real crushed fruit and their juices), and their most famous export, cassata (Arabic inspired cake). Make sure not to pass up the pine nut and almond cookies, as they are always a crowd pleaser.
Arancini (sometimes Arancine), fried rice balls with fillings, is a Sicilian fast food that is relatively cheap. They can be hard to find outside of Sicily, so try them while you're there.
Sicilians are not big alcohol drinkers (Sicily has the lowest rate of alcoholism in all of Italy) despite the fact that the island is home to more vineyards than any other Italian region and boasts one of Italy's most progressive wine industries. Noted mainly in the past for strong bulk wines and often sweet Moscato and Marsala, the island has switched its emphasis toward lighter, fruitier white and red wines.
Sicily is divided into three main producing wine districts:
- Trapani province in the west;
- Etna in the east;
- Noto and Ragusa on the South east tip.
Most well-known Sicilian wines: Nero d'Avola, Bianco d'Alcamo, Malvasia, Passito di Pantelleria, Cerasuolo di Vittoria, Etna Rosso, Etna Bianco.
Some Sicilian wine producers: Planeta; Cusumano; Tasca d’Almerita; Tenuta di Donnafugata; Feudo Principi di Butera (Zonin); Morgante; Duca di Salaparuta; Benanti; Palari; Firriato; Marco De Batoli; Salvatore Murana; Icone.srl ( http://www.ic1.it).
Sicilians enjoy a fruity lemon liquor called Limoncello during the long, hot, and dry summers.
Like in most of Italy, you should be aware of pickpockets. There is not too much violence, but some neighborhoods can be hazardous, especially some suburbs in great cities like Catania, Messina or Palermo.
In the train, especially during the night, try to stay with others.
This page was last edited at 18:19, on 10 March 2009 by Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel. Based on work by Colin Jensen and Peter Fitzgerald, Wikitravel user(s) Wikibob, Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel and others.