Sicily is an island situated off the southern tip of Italy in the Mediterranean Sea. It is one of Italy´s 20 regions, separated from the mainland by the Straits of Messina, which are 5 km wide. Sicily has a typical Mediterranean climate with mild and wet winters and hot, dry summers. Tourism to the island has increased during recent years, this has resulted in more accommodation options for visitors, there are plenty of hotels, villas and holiday apartments to choose from. Due to its location in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, the island was occupied by many different cultures. As far back as 5,000 B.C. the Siculi and Sicani were living on the island, which was taken over by the Phoenicians by 900 B.C., who founded the capital Palermo. The Greeks arrived around 750 B.C. and founded the cities Syracuse and Catania, where to this day a famous fish market is held. During the Punic Wars and after the fall of Syracuse in 211 B.C., the Romans took over, later to be replaced by Vandals, Ostrogoths, Byzantines and Arabs. After even more conquests by other nations, the island eventually came under Italian rule in 1861. This long history of multi-cultural rule has left its mark on the islands landscape, buildings, culture and food and you will not be short of things to do and see. The best time to visit is between April and June and September to October, as the summers are very hot, dry and overcrowded.
- Sicily has 5.2 million inhabitants.
- Sicily has its own unique olive tree affectionately called the “saracena” by the locals.
Mount Etna, is located on Sicily. It last erupted recently and is also the island´s highest point.
- In some part of Sicily which were settled by Albanians in the 15th century, an old version of Albanian is still spoken today.
- The Sicilian language is an ancient Romance language separate from Italian. 30% of the vocabulary has Arabic origins.
Where to stay
Where to stay As mentioned Sicily as a wide range of accommodation available, there are many hotels to choose from, but they can become overcrowded and overpriced during peak seasons. Wimdu offers a great selection of spacious villas and holiday apartments to suit all types of travellers and budgets. Whether you’re travelling with a group that someone special or a family getaway Wimdu has you covered. Choose from beautiful seafront villas with panoramic views of Sicily’s coast line, some even come with their own private pool! Or you can always choose a spacious holiday apartment to cater for all your friends and family. Whatever you would like, Wimdu has the perfect accommodation for you.
Things to do and see
For a small island there is plenty to do and see in Sicily.
1) Visit the salt flats in Trapani where salt is still made in the traditional way by sweeping it up after tide goes out and grinding it in windmills. It’s certainly something not to be missed, Sicily is one of the few remaining places to making salt this way.
2) Sicily is great for trekking, with many trails going through the Nebrodi mountains, Madonie mountains, up by the Etna volcano. Mt Etna is Europe’s most active volcano, throughout history Mt Etna has been known for its violent eruptions. It’s definitely a site to see from the top of the volcano. Tours are organised regularly to the top although you can make the trip yourself if you’re brave enough!
3) For some beach time, go to the popular seaside town San Vito Lo Capo, which has a lovely sandy beach and also some Moorish architecture. There are plenty of other beaches in Sicily also, most of them offer water sporting activities such as wind sailing, jet skiing and kayaking. Why not check out our seafront villas which have great views of some of Sicily’s best beaches.
4) Visit the town of Noro on the south coast for its splendid examples of Baroque architecture, or the ancient stone-walled city of Erice on the west coast. The town of Erice is steeped in history, take some time to explore the backstreets and alleyways where you will find quaint Italian bars and restaurants, here you will also get a change to hang out with some of the locals.
Sicily’s Food Delights
Sicily is a foodie heaven, with many world famous specialities originating on this diverse island. With its rich volcanic soils, it not only grows great agricultural produce but also amazingly tasty and intense wines. Food is typically Mediterranean but has strong Arabic and Spanish influences, and there is plenty of seafood on offer. Rather than cooking with cream and butter like their northern Italian counterparts, Sicilians nearly exclusively use olive oil. Some of the local specialities you should definitely try on your trip to Sicily are listed below:
1) Cannoli are tube pastries with a sweet ricotta cheese filling.
2) Arancini are delicious fried balls of rice filled with cheese and sauce. You´ll find it hard to get them outside Sicily so get them while the going´s good!
3) Granita is ice mixed with fruits and juice and is very refreshing on a hot day.
4) Try the local lemon liquor Limoncello, best served straight from the freezer into iced shot glasses.You can always choose to cook yourself with Sicily’s delicious fresh produce in your self-catering apartment or villa.
Getting To and Around Sicily
The main airports on Sicily are in Palermo and Catania. Many budget flights arrive in Palermo, which is the smaller airport. You can also arrive in Sicily by train from the mainland. A rail-ferry ships the trains across the Straits of Messina and continue to Palermo or Catania. It is also possible to take a ferry to Sicily from a number of ports in Italy such as Naples, Genoa, or the island of Sardinia.Once on the island, you can use the good and cheap bus and railway systems, which are very good, but don´t operate frequently on Sundays. There are some taxi’s available which are an efficient way of taking you to and from your accommodation, although they are also a little more expensive then the public transport systems.