The power of the Aeolus “The God of the Wind” is still unbroken: Even today, it drives travellersthrough the Mediterranean – just like it did once with Odysseus- back to Sicily island.
Gigantic Greek temples and imposing Roman villas, Norman cathedrals, Baroque churches, tell each visitor a lot about the history of Sicily. Due to its central location in the middle of the Mediterranean Ocean, Sicily was a hub for seafaring and commerce, which is why it was repeatedly occupied by great powers of the past. To this day, this extraordinary cultural heritage is palpable and distinguishes Sicily greatly from the Italian mainland with the Etna, a 3,300 m tall volcano at the heart of the island.The Mediterranean climate, especially in spring and autumn, attracts millions of tourists every year who want to enjoy the diversity of the Italian island: hiking through olive groves, skiing on the slopes of Mount Etna or surfing in the gentle waves of the Tyrrhenian Sea.
What makes Sicily so special? What makes Sicily so unique?
A turbulent past is a reasonthat Sicily has become a colourfulmix of cultures. The island has long been a hub and melting pot of Mediterranean culture. Sicily also offers everything in terms of nature: there are high mountains, hills full of olive trees and, above all, the sea, with its incredible crystal blue coloursand its wonderful seabed, make Sicily one of the most beautiful islands on earth. The Mediterranean offers unique landscapes and culinary delights in this region. Not to mention the impressive volcanoes, some of which are still active, such as Etna and Stromboli. With 1,000 kilometresof coastline, Sicily offers a variety of beach options ranging from sandy, smooth to dramatic rock formations.
In addition to the larger cities such as Palermo and Catania, Sicily has many beautiful Borghi (very small towns). In total, the Italian island has 19 villages, which I Borghi Piu Belli d’Italia (a private association for the preservation of small historic sites), have been declared the most beautiful cities in Italy. One of the villages is Castelmola, a small hill town with a wonderful view of Taormina. There is a great hike here, which you should definitely do on a visit to Sicily (here link to the hiking text).
Sicily’s fabulous archaeologyalso makes the island so unique. Sicily was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO because of its numerous archaeological treasures with several places. Sicily is therefore also referred to as an open-air museum. In Taormina,there is the magnificent Greek theatrefrom the third century BC. Chr. With a magnificent view of the coast. The largest arena from Roman times is in Catania, the brick, marble and lava stone amphitheatreseats 15,000 spectators. The Valley of the Temples in Agrigento and the Villa Romana del Casale in Piazza Armerina(about an hour and a half’s drive from Agrigento) are also a must when visiting Sicily.
What can you do on Sicily?
The Italian island of Sicily is a world apart and impresses all along the line.
Ancient Greek temples and miles of beautiful beaches mingle with Roman ruins, volcanoes and beautiful cities, history, culture, nature and a diverse landscape.Undoubtedly one of the most interesting sights on Sicilyis the famous volcano Etna. With a height of more than 3,300 meters, it is the highest active volcano in Europe. The mountain dominates the skyline of eastern Sicily like a big skyscraper. You can hike on your trails or ride the train around the base and even ski down the slopes during the winter season.
Why Etna trembles again and again – Godfather Zeus was the only one to confront the monster Typhon, who flees to Sicily after various battles. According to legend, Zeus is said to have thrown the Etna on Typhon there – the giant now rests under the volcano, which he occasionally rages in anger at his prison.
The three large Greek temple complexes (Agrigento, Selinunte, Segesta) in the west and south of Sicily are equivalent to everything one sees in Greece itself. The best known is Agrigento, where the archaeological site Valle deiTempli (“Valley of the Temples”) stretches over a huge area.
In addition to historic temples and active volcanoes,Sicily also scores with lots of beautiful cities. For example, in Taormina is the well-known ancient theatreTeatroGreco. You should plan your excursion to be here at sunsetbecause when the sun slowly disappears behind Etna, they have an incredible sight that you will not forget so quickly. Cefalú is next to Taormina another tourist stronghold. The city can be seen from afar, as the city hill La Rocca protrudes. Around Cefalú you can also bathe very well and the beautiful old town with the Norman Cathedral invites you to stroll and eat.
The many Sicily offshore islands are all very fascinating, but the Aeolian Islands deserve a special mention. In 2000, they added included to the list of UNESCO World Heritages. The archipelago consists of a total of seven islands: Lipari, Vulcano, Stromboli, Salina, Filicudi, Alicudi and Panarea and a number of smaller islands and cliffs.
Buon appetito!- What about the culinary side of Sicily?
From Cannoli to Arancini, the Sicilian cuisine is world famous. The culinary diversity of Sicily is huge and as well as the architecture and language of this region shaped by the many peoples who have left their mark here over the centuries. Different nations came and conquered the island, but brought food and cooking styles that enriched the local diet. The ancient Greeks introduced figs, olive trees, artichokes and sheep’s cheese. Arab settlers added citrus, almonds and eggplant and sweet and sour flavors. The Spaniards contributed the important tomato and chocolate.
This distinguishes the Sicilian cuisine in many respects from the rest of the country, many a dish is even unique in Italy. For example, if you order a Sicilian cassata, it is like eating through history – Arabs, Normans and Spaniards have influenced the development of these delicious biscuits, ricotta, fruit and liqueur treats.
Also Arancine (as they are called in the Palermo area) or Arancini (as they are called on the east coast) is a typical Sicilian dish. The small rice balls fried in an olive oil bath are perfect for hunger in between and are one of the island’s favoritestreet dishes. The Sicilians love this specialtyand you will do it too. Depending on your taste, they are stuffed with a pork sauce with peas, with mozzarella and ham, or just eaten with rice as a classic.
Of course, pizza should not be missed during a holiday in Italy. In Sicily, there is a very special kind of pizza: Sfincione! The dough is slightly thicker than the usual Italian pizza and topped with tomato sauce, onions, anchovies and oregano. According to the original recipe, regional cheese is still rubbed over it.
If you ask locally for a typical Sicilian specialty, most will probably say cannoli. Cannoli Siciliani area typical delicacy of this region and the Sicily classics. These are small rolls of fried dough filled with ricotta cheese cream. At the endthey are still garnished with nuts or pistachio nuts. These sweet treats you will not miss when visiting Sicily. Try it!
No less famous isSicily for its wine. No wonder! Because Sicily is with more than 100,000 hectares the largest wine region in the country and has excellent local conditions due to the climate. Nevertheless, the region was known almost exclusively for the dessert wine Marsala until the mid-90s. However, since the local grape varietyNero d’Avola was rediscovered, the interest of wine lovers has been aroused.
Another highlight of the island arecertainly the marzipan fruits (“Frutti dellaMartorana”) – an influence from the Arab world. For the preparationyou need peeled almonds, powdered sugar, lemon essence and vanilla. From this mass then all sorts of fruits and vegetables are modeledand coloredwith vegetable food colors,so that deceptively real replicas arise from it.
How to get from Germany to Sicily?
Of course, the fastest way to get from Germany to Sicily is by plane. Holidaymakers land at one of the two international airports – either in Palermo or in Catania. Several times a week, many airports in Germany, Austria and Switzerland offer non-stop flights to the Italian island. Alternatively, you can also travel by car and ferry. Perfect for those who have more time and prefer to arrive slowly. It is relatively easy to drive through Italy on the highway and ferries to Sicily from various Italian coastal towns – for example from Genoa, Naples or Salerno. Even more convenient are car trains that leave from Bologna.