It’s a overused phrase but Sicily truly is a melting pot of different nationalities and culture. It’s been occupied by each of its neighboring country’s and it shows in everything from the food to the locals.
The perfect time to visit is in the spring or autumn when it’s the perfect temperature, being warm but cool enough to walk around without being uncomfortable. In the summer months the temperatures really do soar, while its still very livable in coast areas with incoming sea breeze, inland it can get stifling. Try booking a costal villa with Sicily vacation rentals for your stay.
Palermo has a reputation for ‘being like nowhere else in Europe’ and is a full blown assault on the senses (in the best way possible) from stunning architecture, spectacular palaces, a huge array of food to honest and raw Italian culture spilling out onto the streets everywhere you turn.
Perhaps the most interesting and unmissable attraction in Palermo is wandering the streets, interacting with the locals and getting an insight into how Sicilians live. Another must see are the buildings of the Norman kings, left over from the Norman invasion of Sicily from 1061 to 1250 leaving behind Norman-Arab-Byzantine culture and unique Romanesque architecture, Byzantine mosaics and Arabic domes. It makes for a fascinating mix of styles and cultural references and is just another showcase of the ‘melting pot’ of Sicily.
In Catania you sit at the base of Mt Etna and it provides a great place to stay while you visit the volcano, however that’s not the only reason to come: it’s Sicily’s second largest city and one of cultural importance. The port city on the eastern coast is a charming city with two large central squares. Piazza Duomo is impressive baroque masterpiece, featuring grand buildings and fountains, and there’s also the equally impressive Piazza Università and Piazza stesicoro. The boulevard Via Etnea branches out from Piazza Duomo and connects it with the base of mount Etna, giving an epic view down a traffic free, tree lined street to the backdrop of Mt Enta.
At the edge of Catania the national park surrounding Mt Etna starts and you can talk one of the many many trails. No matter your fitness and ability you can find a trails to suit with trails that take you on a leisurely walk through local villages with no steep ascents to trails right to the top of Etna which although it sounds daunting is a moderate hike and easily doable for a person of reasonable fitness, you’ll be reward with some impressive scenery on the hike up and an incredible view from the top, it’s definitely one to tick off your bucket list and a once in a lifetime opportunity.
You can also check out the most famous beach in Catania San Giovanni li Cuti, which is idyllic. Locals and tourists gather here alike to escape the heat of inland and relax in the cooling sea breeze. The harbors is still used by many fishermen and this makes it a interesting place to see whether in the height of summer or not.
Lying just off the east coast of Sicily are the Aeolian islands, named after Aeolus the God of winds. The cluster of islands are a volcanic archipelago easily accessible from the mainland. The islands like any costal area in Sicily are jam packed in summer months so expect crowds, but in spring and autumn they are a little quieter and more enjoyable. The scenery on the islands is stunning, think volcanoes, crevasses and sheer cliffs, the surrounds are breathtaking and ruggedly beautiful, you could easily spent a whole week just taking in the extremes of the landscape but there’s a lot more to do on these islands too. The fishing is amazing here and you can easily take a fishing tour or rent fishing gear, if fishing isn’t so much your thing at least reap the benefits and try some delicious local fresh seafood. Next I’d suggest trying out one of the many volcanic mud thermal baths, people come from all over the world to try the mud baths which are said to heal many skin complaints as well as rheumatism. First relax in the mud baths and watch the warm water bubble around you, next take a dip in the thermal baths where you can wash away the mud and relax in the natural spa.
Sicily has so much to offer perhaps one of the best ways to take in as much as possible is to hire a car and take a road trip, stopping off in several locations, you won’t be disappointed with the food, culture and friendly locals.