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Sicily - Impressions/Sights


“Italy without Sicily does not leave an impression on your soul: here lies the key to everything.” This is what Goethe wrote while traveling Italy in 1787. Typically Italian and yet completely different: contrasts characterize Sicily in many respects – scenic, cultural as well as culinary.

 

Sicily - Impressions/Sights


“Italy without Sicily does not leave an impression on your soul: here lies the key to everything.” This is what Goethe wrote while traveling Italy in 1787. Typically Italian and yet completely different: contrasts characterize Sicily in many respects – scenic, cultural as well as culinary.

Scenic attractions - nature and beach

Blooming landscapes...

The sunny island has always been considered a blooming landscape. It is in spring that Italy’s southernmost part displays one of its most beautiful faces, when countless almond trees turn the island into a sea of blossoms. Attractions include not only masterpieces of architecture, but also tranquil fishing villages and solitary nature reserves.

Charming lemon groves are to found all over the island, but above all on the fertile lava soil beneath majestic Mount Etna, Sicily's landmark and Europe's largest volcano. With its almost 60,000 ha Mount Etna Regional Park is one of Italy's largest nature parks. A guided tour of the volcano surely counts among the most exciting experiences of holidays in Sicily.

Mediterranean maquis and gorgeous dune landscapes in the southeast, south of Taormina, captivate you. That is where you find some of Sicily’s most beautiful sandy beaches – stretching for kilometers on end, wide and gently sloping they are a paradise for water bugs of all ages, e.g. the beach of San Lorenzo/Marzamemi or the beaches around Capo Passero, the southernmost tip of Sicily.

...and unspoiled nature - ...

Nature reserve Oasi di Vendicari in the southeast, another attraction on the island of Sicily, forms a unique coastal landscape. Dunes, sandy bays, woodland and lagoon lakes provide shelter for and are home to rare species, e.g. flamingos, cranes, pelicans and pond turtles. The bay of Cala Mosche at Oasi Vendicari counts among Sicily's most beautiful beaches.

The Necropolis of Pantalica, which is also UNESCO World Heritage listed, and the Gorge of Anapo near Syracuse are two natural and highly interesting destinations and, like all nature reserves, ideal places for hiking.

The Italian equivalent of the Grand Canyon is Cava Grande del Cassibile near the small town of Avola. Lush maquis, fragrant oleander and giant palm trees line the descent into the river valley of the Cassibile. At the bottom of the gorge, at a depth of 250 m, you are welcome to take a refreshing swim in the water basins (Please mind "No swimming" signs!) and afterwards a sunbath on the heated rocks.

In the sparsely populated inland, the mountain area with its valleys, gorges and barren plateaus creates an almost mystic atmosphere, in the mountain villages times seems to have stood still.

...there is so much to discover

The northwest near Palermo enchants you with an impressively green hilly landscape and Caribbean-like beaches, e.g. the picture-perfect beach at San Vito Lo Capo. Nature reserve "Riserva dello Zingaro" near Scopello, a protected area at the seaside with solitary bays and crystal clear water, is very much worth a visit.

Not far from Zingaro Park lies the nature reserve around Monte Cofano, from where you can spot the Aegadian Islands and where hikers and mountain bikers really get their money's worth.

In no case should you miss out on stopping by the "Saline", the salt pond area with its picturesque windmills, which is found between the harbor towns of Marsala and Trapani.

The islands around Sicily are worth a visit, too. The Lipari and Aegadian Islands, for example, are easy to reach from Sicily. 

Scenic highlights near Taormina and Palermo:
- Mount Etna
- Nature reserve Oasi Vendicari
- Necropolis of Pantalica
- Anapo Gorge
- Cava Grande del Cassibile
- Riserva dello Zingaro
- Monte Cofano
- Salt ponds "Saline"
- Aegadian Islands
- Lipari Islands

Cultural sights/sites - impressive witnesses from times gone by

Witnesses from times gone by – on Italy's largest island, you encounter them at every turn.

Taormina, the famous small town high above the sea in the foothills of Mount Etna, offers an adorable setting – be it an event at the amphitheater, the fantastic view of the east coast or a stroll through the small alleys.

Syracuse with its Old Town of Ortigia, which is located on an island, as well as Noto and Modica, gems of the Baroque, are UNESCO World Heritage Sites and worth being explored.

Agrigento and the Valley of the Temples are a must-see for friends of antiquity. The impressive ruins carry their title "UNESCO World Hertiage Site" as it seems with dignity and pride and quite rightly so.

Sicily’s northwest near Palermo offers cultural sites which are no less interesting. The temple of Segesta, for example, and Agrigento count among the best preserved Greek places of worship in Sicily.

The small, medieval town of Erice sits enthroned high above Trapani. This destination of pilgrimages in ancient times should still be on the to-see list of any visitor to Sicily today.

A masterpiece of Norman architecture is found near Palermo - the monastery of Monreale with its Normal cathedral and impressive cloister. 

Cultural sites/sights near Taormina and Palermo:
- Taormina
- Syracuse
- Modica
- Noto
- Agrigento
- Segesta
- Erice
- Monreale

A melting pot of cultures

As manifold as the island's landscape and sights, as manifold its inhabitant – the Sicilian. The poet Angelo Fiore held that, when attempting to describe the sicilianità, there were "five million Sicilies", just as many as there were inhabitants. In the Sicilian melting pot of cultures you find elements 'contributed' by the Greeks, the Romans, the Arabs, the Normans, the Hohenstaufen dynasty, the Spanish and the French.

Southern Italian hospitality, celebrating colorful, lively festivals and keeping up religious customs are surely among the islanders' characteristic traits.

From the culinary point of view, Sicily combines the cuisine of its ancestors: apart from the traditional Mediterranean cuisine, you frequently find Couscous on the menu, and with the deliciously sweet dolci you taste Arab influence as well.