Many times when people plan a trip to Italy, they choose to visit Rome, Venice, Florence, and Milan. While all of these cities are beautiful and wonderful choices to visit, there are also many other destinations in Italy that are often overlooked and really should not be. One of these is Sicily, the small island right off the boot that is full of lovely villages, stunning sea views, endless historical sights, fantastic wine, and delicious food.
Visiting Sicily will feel like traveling back in time a bit, and you’ll immediately notice the very laid back atmosphere and relaxed people. You can interact with locals who still own the shops and restaurants, unlike a big city industrial feel that is often the case with major cities all around the world.
For those who enjoy beaches, you can visit three while you’re here: Tyrrhenian, Ionian, and Mediterranean, each with its own dazzling views of clear, turquoise waters. Depending on the specific beach you visit, you might encounter white or golden sand or even a rocky coast.
This region is known for its fantastic wine selection, and the wineries are known for having both table and dessert wines and is best known for its Marsala wine. You can schedule wine tours or sample the regional wines while out at a restaurant or a wine bar.
Sicilian food is inspired by traditional Italian as well as a combination of French, Spanish, Greek, and Middle Eastern food. You may even be familiar with some Sicilian dishes like arancine, which are fried rice balls, and caponata, a fried eggplant dish with stewed vegetables, olives, capers, and pine nuts. Of course, plenty of seafood is eaten here, especially in pasta dishes like Pasta con le Sarde, which comes with sardines.
Of course, no trip would be complete without sampling some local desserts. Ever heard of a cannoli? That’s right, the beloved crunchy shell filled with sweet ricotta originates from Sicily. Another well known Sicilian dessert is Frutta Martorana, which is marzipan that is shaped and colored like small fruits and vegetables.
When it comes to attractions, there are plenty of must-see spots located all over Sicily. You can visit some Greek ruins like the ancient theater in Taormina, where you’ll have a fantastic view of Mount Etna as well as the beautiful blue sea. At Villa Romana del Casale, located at Piazza Armerina, you’ll find incredible Roman mosaics fully preserved.
Speaking of Mount Etna, it is an attraction in itself, as it is one of the most active volcanoes on earth as well as the highest one in all of Europe. You can hike up and visit four crater areas in the summer, while in the winter it’s a fantastic skiing spot. There are also horseback or donkey riding tours for those who aren’t into hiking or skiing.
Palermo is a must see, as it is the capital city of Sicily, where you’ll find impressive cathedrals, sprawling markets, and plenty more. Visit the Palatine Chapel, a stunning Byzantine chapel. For food lovers, visiting markets like Capo and Ballarò are always good options.
Siracusa, which gave Syracuse, NY, its name, is located on the coast and is home to many sites including the Neapolis Archaeological Park, Roman amphitheater, Greek theater, and the Ear of Dionysus, which is an old limestone quarry.