Sicily is Italy's largest island and is one of Italy's finest gems. Without a doubt, it is one of the best destinations in all of the Mediterranean. Today it is one of Italy's five autonomous regions and is home to 5 million people. Sicily is one of those stunning destinations that has it all. It boasts rich cultural traditions having been influenced from all around the Mediterranean, it boasts stunning architecture, deep history, wonderful cuisine, and breathtaking landscapes. The succession of various kingdoms and empires ruling Sicily has created a unique blend of cultures.

THETRAVEL VIDEO OF THE DAY

About Sicily

  • Capital: Palermo
  • Population: 5 Million
  • Status: Autonomous Region Of Italy
  • Size: 25,711 Square Kilometers or 9,927 Square Miles

Sicily has had a long history of invasions and settlements and has been part of many empires in the Mediterranean. It has had Phoenician and Greek colonies, later it was controlled by Carthage, subsequently, it was won by the Roman Empire which controlled it for hundreds of years. As the Roman Empire fell it passed to the Vandals, the Ostrogoths, the Byzantines, the Emirate of Sicily, and even the Normans. Then for a long time, it was part of the Kingdom of Sicily and then the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. Finally, it became part of the unified Kingdom of Italy.

Why Visit Sicily

Sicily is renowned for its music, literature, arts, and cuisine. It boasts a classic Mediterranean climate and so is best visited in the summer or late spring or early autumn.

No matter how long one spends in Sicily, one will always wish one had more time. Some of the attractions here include:

  • Stromboli: An Active Off-Shore Island With Hiking And Beaches
  • Panarea: Another Small Island With Beaches And Nightlife
  • Valley Of The Temples: Stunning Ancient Archeological Site
  • Stair Of The Turks: Eye-Watering Terrace Cliffs Gazing Out Into The Sea
  • Teatro Antico di Taormina: Ancient Greek Theater Looking Out Over The Sea
  • Cattedrale di Palermo: 12th Century Building Housing Royal Tombs
  • Temple Of Concordia, Agrigento: An Ancient Well Preserved Greek Temple

The list of things to see and do in Sicily is impossible to do justice to or list out here. The island is just abounding with Greek and Roman ruins, gourmet cuisine, picturesque beaches, active volcanoes and so much more. We will list only one highlight of Sicilian ancient ruins and picturesque landscapes and just briefly introduce their cuisine and architecture.

Related: Where To Go On A First-Time Italy Trip, And What To Know Before You Do

Valley of The Temples

This ancient site is one of the greatest surviving examples of Greek art and architecture. Once Greece was much larger than it is today and it expanded throughout the Mediterranean with its colonies. It is also not a valley but is situated on a ridge just out of the town of Agrigento.

Mount Etna

Sicily is home to Mount Etna, towering some 3,329 meters or 10,922 feet high it is among the tallest volcanoes in Europe. Not only that but it is also one of the most active volcanoes in the world. It is the highest mountain in Italy outside of the Alps in the far north. Mount Vesuvius that destroyed Pompeii may be more famous, but Mount Etna is some two and a half times taller (Pompeii is another Italian distinction that everyone should visit - along with neighboring Herculaneum).

  • Mount Etna: One Of Europe's Largest And Most Active Volcanoes

Sicilian Cuisine

Sicilian cuisine is as delicious as it is innovative. While it is broadly similar to mainland Italy, and yet it is still very unique. It has been influenced by French, Spanish, Greek, and Arab. Italy may be famous for its pasta, but it is in Sicily that the oldest records of this beloved dish date from - all the way back to the 12th century.

Related: How To Best Plan A Trip Around Italy, If You Only Have A Week To Visit

The most popular uniquely Sicilian dishes in this Mediterranean island are Spaghetti ai ricci (with sea urchins), pasta alla Norma, pasta con capuliato, and pasta con le sarde (with sardine). These are just the tips of the iceberg that is Sicilian cuisine. Main meals are also frequently served with wine.

  • Pasta: Sicily Is The Birthplace Of Pasta

Sicilian Baroque

One of the architectural styles in which Sicily is known for is Sicilian Baroque. This is a unique Sicilian form of Baroque architecture that blossomed on the island following rebuilding after the devastating 1693 earthquake. It evolved during the 17th and 18th centuries in the times that Sicily was a part of the Spanish Empire.

The grinning masks and putti make it stand out together with a certain flamboyance. Places that display the best of Sicilian architecture include Piazza del Duomo in Syracuse,  Piazza Pretoria in Palermo, Cathedral of San Giorgio in Modica, and the Cathedral of Syracuse.

There are so many reasons to make Sicily the focal point of the next Italian or European tour.

Next: 10 Things We Wish We Knew Before Visiting Italy