If you want culture, history, wonderful food (and pastries!) and breathtaking landscapes – not-to-mention crystal-blue seas and glorious beaches - you’ll adore Sicily. The largest island in the Mediterranean, Sicily has been influenced by the Romans, Ancient Greeks, Arabs, French and Spanish. The result is a fascinating island with a rich cultural mix and a wealth of historic sites that provide an amazing insight into times gone by.
With such a varied ancestry, Sicilian cuisine - whilst proudly Italian - also takes its influence from the Greeks, Spanish and Arabs. Antipasti are a popular starter; fresh fish is typically served grilled and chicken is often cooked in the local Marsala wine. As Sicily is a major olive-growing region, olives and fine quality olive oils are readily available.
A massive number of festivals take place throughout the year, making it quite likely that you’ll be able to witness one of these spectacular events during your holiday. In addition to religious events, there are festivals that celebrate the performing arts as well as food festivals celebrating tomatoes, onions, foccacia, fish and grapes.
From the towering Mount Etna to the Valley of the Temples and the Roman Villa at Casale, Sicily offers much more than you could possibly fit into a week or fortnight’s holiday. So why not do as the locals do and take this incredible island at a gentle pace? After all, you can always choose to visit Sicily again.
This medieval town has picturesque streets, a wonderful piazza and a pretty fishing harbour. The restored 6th Century washhouse and the 5th Century temple provide fascinating reminders of Cefalù’s past. There is also a lovely beach flanked by stylish restaurants.
Known locally as the city of black and white, because of the lava rock used in many of its buildings, Catánia is an elegant place with an opera house, a beautiful cathedral, a castle and a 2nd Century Roman amphitheatre. For shopping and perhaps a coffee and sweet pastry, head to the Piazza del Duomo.
The capital of Sicily was once one of the most important cities in the whole of Europe. It has been inhabited by Greeks, Romans, Arabs and Normans amongst others, and provides a wonderful glimpse into Sicilian life and culture. Old Palermo is split into four districts, which meet at the Quattro Canti. Aim to see the Royal Palace, Palermo Cathedral, Vucciria street market and the 19th Century Palazzo Mirto. Children will love the Museo delle Marionette with its wonderful collection of puppets.
Sicily has some superb fine sandy beaches, including Taormina’s Lido Mazzarò, Mondello beach (near Palermo), Isola Bella and Baia delle Sirene. At Taormina, the beach can also be reached via cable car.
Windsurfing and sailing can be enjoyed at most resorts. Scuba diving and snorkelling are particularly good around the Aeolian Islands and if you have never tried this before, you can take lessons on parc.
No holiday to Sicily would be complete without visiting Mount Etna, the largest live volcano in Europe. Standing over 3000 metres tall, Mount Etna can be seen from most of the eastern side of the island. Explore the summit during the day, or take a guided tour after sunset when the lava flows are spectacular.
For sightseeing at a gentler pace, take the local FCE train from Via Caronda. The train journeys around the volcano to the coastal town of Riposta. Note also that Mount Etna Express is our name, not theirs!
This UNESCO World Heritage Site should be a ‘must’ on your list of things to see. Once a great city, there are several temples to view and though some are in ruins, many including the Temple of Concord are well-preserved. The Valley can be found just outside the town of Agrigento (see below).
After exploring the Valley of the Temples, why not head over to nearby Agrigento? Just perfect for a relaxing stroll later in the day, Agrigento is a pretty place with a medieval quarter, attractive avenues, stylish shops and cafés.
The spectacular Roman amphitheatre and beautiful Doric Temple at Segesta provide an incredible insight into the architectural skills of Sicily’s earlier inhabitants. From the lofty position of the temple you will enjoy unrivalled views over the surrounding countryside.
If you can, take a ferryboat to one of the islands in this volcanic archipelago. There are seven islands in total; each bathed by clear-blue waters, offering wonderful beaches and superb opportunities for snorkelling. Vulcan Island is closest to Sicily (catch a boat from Lipari). As its name suggest, Vulcan is famous for its volcanoes. The islands are best reached by ferry from Milazzo, the trip taking about an hour.
El Bahira parc is set in beautiful, natural grounds to the west of Palermo and 3km from the town of San Vito Lo Capo, and offers superb sea, mountain and sunset views.
The perfect opportunity to have a second Keycamp holiday!
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