Discover Sicily: The largest island in the Mediterranean Sea

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Italy is a big country and if you are used to visiting the North of Italy, then you will be surprised that the more South you travel, the more the vibe changes. One of our favorite regions in Italy is Sicily.

The island Sicily is a region in Italy that has many differences from the mainland and especially the North of Italy. It’s the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Even though it’s part of the nation of Italy, the island has its own government, and sometimes it feels like an independent country.

In this blog we will reveal this magnificent island, we will talk about the following:

Sicily is easiest to discover by car but be prepared because driving around the island can be challenging due to the assertive driving style, the narrow streets, rural roads, and sometimes the heavy traffic.

If you drive to Sicily by car, it’s best to book your spot for the ferry in front. The ferry goes from the mainland of Italy, San Giovanni to Messina in Sicily.

Tip: always have cash with you, but not too much. In some gas stations, shops, or markets they don’t accept payment by card.

For information about the different adventures in Sicily read our blog Adventure activities to do in Sicily.

What to know about Sicily

Sicily is the home of the highest active volcano in Europe, it’s the birthplace of the Mafia (Cosa Nostra) and it has a long ancient history with many ruins you can visit to discover the time of the Greeks, Arabs, Romans, Byzantines and many more.

Tip: the Sicilians are friendly, and the hospitality is amazing. Sicily is safe to visit for travelers, but always stay vigilant for the crime in big cities, as in any other big city.

The island is a part of Italy, that’s why below we give some general information about Italy you should know:

  • Country: Italy
  • Capital: Rome
  • Currency: Euros (€)
  • Official language: Italian, in Sicily they speak Sicilian.
  • Largest religion: Catholic
  • Neighboring countries: Austria, France, Slovenia, Switzerland, Marino and Vatican City
  • Republic day: 2nd of June

Italy is divided in 20 regions and Sicily is one of those regions. The identity with the history, traditions and geography of the island distinguishes them from Italy. Before talking about all the amazing activities, you can do in Sicily, we will first talk about Sicily.

With a unique historical background, Sicily is influenced by diverse civilizations like the Romans, Greeks, Byzantines, Arabs, and Normans. All these civilizations helped in creating the Sicilian traditions, architecture and of course the culture.

10 things you should know about Sicily:

  1. Sicily: biggest island in the Mediterranean Sea (approximately 25,711 km2)
  2. Capital: Palermo
  3. Location: South of Italy, separated from mainland with Strait of Messina
  4. Best time to visit: weather wise, it’s best to visit in Spring or Fall. During the Summer it can get quite hot, crowded and during the winter quite cold.
  5. Landscape: from plains, the stunning coastlines up to some mountains with a diversity of natural places. The island is home to the famous Mount Etna (3,329 meters high) which is one of the most active volcanoes and the best area to go for a hike. Besides the volcano, the island is perfect for beach lovers, with the crystal-clear waters and picturesque beaches.
  6. Architecture: people who like baroque Architecture should visit Ragusa, Noto, and Modica for impressive architectural marvels.
  7. History in Sicily was rich with its ideal location in the Mediterranean Sea. That’s why the island is now covered with impressive, and some still buried, Roman and Greek ruins.
  8. Some cultural festivals are worth to book your travel around. The Feast of Saint Agatha in Catania, the Infiorata in Noto, and Carnival in Acireale are good examples of well-known festivals. For another cultural experience, go to the Sicilian puppet theatre.
  9. The cuisine has unique flavors that diverse from mainland Italy. You should try arancini, caponata, pasta alla Norma, gelato, cannoli and much more. For the cuisine you need a whole other blog because there is too much delicious food in Sicily.
  10. Sicily has a good wine-producing region, where they produce a variety of wines like Marsala and Nero d’Avola. It’s possible to visit wineries and vineyards for the wine enthusiasts.

Must visit and do in Sicily

In Sicily there are a lot of things to visit and to discover from cities, to hiking in nature, to discover the history and much more. Depending on what you like, you can decide what you want to visit.

One experience that will amaze you in Sicily is staying in a farmhouse and to participate in farming activities and enjoy the local cuisine. Besides that, there are also many retreats in Sicily that you can check out.

Below, we give a summary of some must visit and activities that you should do:

  • Visiting the charming hilltop town of Taormina with the Greek theater.
  • Have picturesque views from Castelmola.
  • Hiking near Mount Etna, the Northern and the Southern part.
  • Visit the beautiful city of Catania and its surrounding.
  • Learn about the history of Syracuse and visit the historic island of Ortigia.
  • Go for a walk in Riserva Naturale Cavagrande del Cassibile.
  • The impressive architecture in Noto, Modica, and Ragusa.
  • Take the stairs and buy ceramic in Caltagirone.
  • Check out the famous Roman Villa called Villa Romana del Casale with the well-preserved mosaics located near Piazza Armerina.
  • Exploring the ancient Greek ruins in Valley of the Temples located in Agrigento.
  • Breath taking views with the Scala dei Turchi.
  • Drinking wine in Marsala.
  • Enjoy the beaches and visit the vivid Trapani with its Salt Pans. Nearby, you can pass by Erice which is a hilltop town that will give you amazing views.
  • The history of the Tempio di Segesta.
  • Discover the capital Palermo with the Palatine Chapel, the Norman Palace and roam around the streets. Don’t forget to pass by Monreale and visit the impressive Chiostro dei Benedettini.
  • Relaxing on the beaches of Cefalù and stroll around the medieval streets.

There is much more to discover on this big island. Besides all the highlights mentioned above on the island, there are many other islands around this big island that deserve a visit. Some incredible islands that are worth a visit are the Aeolian Islands (Isole Eolie). For natural beauty and where you can relax in thermal springs, you must visit Stromboli. Lipari is another nice island worth a visit.

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