Ten of The Most Beautiful Places To See in Sicily
Sicily is the biggest island in the central Mediterranean Sea, south of the Italian Peninsula. It is divided into two by the Strait of Messina. Their weather is characterized by rainy winters and dry, warm, or hot summers which are typical for a Mediterranean climate. If you are planning to spend your holiday in Sicily, we listed some of the best activities and most beautiful places that you can include on your itinerary.
Evidence of human activity in Sicily was reported dating back to 12,000 BC and around 750 BC. To this day, there are many ancient sites that are well preserved in Sicily to visit along as other God’s perfect creations like beaches and volcanoes. The best thing about Sicily is how rich their culture is; famous artists have called this alluring island their home. The Greek philosopher, Archimedes is a Syracuse native. Visit some of these places if you want to experience the scent of Sicily.
Mount Etna is the largest active volcano in Europe. You can rent a car or join a group tour and go on a revitalizing hike on some of its craters, although you need to ride a cable car to reach the higher parts and after the drop-off, you can climb further to the safest part to look at the spectacular view or you can ride one of the tour trucks for a fee. The change in temperature warrants some kind of waterproof clothing, warm jacket, and hiking boots.
On the lower slopes of the mountain, there are vast agricultural lands with vineyards and orchards. Mount Etna is also called a “Decade Volcano” by the United Nations and in June 2013 and was included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
San Vito Lo Capo
San Vito Lo Capo is a part of the province of Trapani. It is a small town in a valley in the middle of dramatic mountains and a public beach. Numerous caves can be found there but they cannot be accessed without the use of professional climbing gear. There are quaint eateries throughout the town and one of the most notable is the old Café Europa, beloved for their specialty, “Panini con Panelle”.
The town is also home to the international festival of culture and gastronomy of the Mediterranean, “Cous Cous Fest” which is a culinary competition for eight chefs from around the world. During May, they hold the “International Kite Festival” along the beach and in July, the “Summer Music Festival” which focuses on Music and Entertainment.
The Valle dei Templi (Valley of the Temples)
If you’re fascinated with things related to an ancient civilization, go to the Valley of the Temples. Archaeologist Domenico Antonio Lo Faso Pietrasanta (1783-1863) who was also the Duke of Serradifalco from 1809-1812 was responsible for the preservation of the temples. The Valley of the Temples is the largest archaeological site in the world.
There are seven temple remains in the valley which used ancient Greek architecture. These are the temples of Concordia, Juno, Heracles, Olympian Zeus, Castor and Pollux, Vulcan, and Temple of Asclepius, all of which are reminiscent of the world before us.
The Italian Catholic Archdiocese of Monreale
The Italian Catholic Archdiocese of Monreale is now Suffragan of the Archdiocese of Palermo. It was affirmed the Abbey of Monreale in 1174. It became a metropolitan see for the diocese of Catania and diocese of Siracusa on February 2, 1183, with the assistance of Bull Licet Dominus of Pope Lucius III.
You can experience the scent of Sicily when going to the church especially when you see how intricate the old stones used in this church are. There are four columns at the center of the church and a large antique door. Every inch of the church from ceiling to the walls is filled with delicate artworks from mosaics of kings and saints to extravagant patterns to decorative marble flooring; it’s definitely a busy and well-thought-of the structure.
The Palatine Chapel
The Palatine Chapel or “Palace church or Palace chapel” is located on the first floor in the middle of the Palazzo Reale in Palermo. It is the royal chapel of the Norman Kings of Sicily. Roger II of Sicily had this built in 1132 over an old chapel which is now the crypt. This was dedicated to Saint Peter and is indicative of the domed basilica. There are three apses and six-pointed arches that are common in Byzantine architecture.
The centers of attention of the Palatine Chapel are the mosaics that were handmade. There are shiny mosaics that date back to the 1140s which are characterized by Byzantine artists and all artworks are in an ornamental framed. There are other mosaics that date back to the 1160s or 1170s are featured in Latin inscriptions.
Archaeological Park of Neapolis
When in Sicily, you’ll never run out of archaeological sites to visit and Archaeological Park of Neapolis is one of those. It’s a large archaeological park which houses the biggest collection of ruins. This park has three parts; the Latomie (stone quarries), the Greek Theater, and the Roman Amphitheater which you can enjoy for about 2 hours. Latomie and Greek Theater stand together past the gate. The Greek Theater was built in 5th century BC and has 42 seat rows.
Down the path going to the Amphitheater, there are still a couple of columns left standing for visitors to see as well as the long stone base of the 3rd-century BC Altar of Hieron II is the longest alter ever been built. This is the amphitheater that holds bloody gladiator matches in AD 1st century.
Villa Romana del Casale
How can you not smell the scent of Sicily in one of the largest and diverse collections of Roman mosaics all over the world. This is a UNESCO Heritage site that houses the villa and artworks dating back to as early 4th century AD. An inspiring collection of more than 3000 sq m of mosaic and techniques using opus sectile pavements are in a wonderful state of preservation.
The more preserved part of the villa was constructed in the 1st quarter of the 4th century AD. Archaeologists have identified three construction phases of the villa which involved, first, the quadrangular peristyle and the facing rooms, second, the private bath complex and third, the new bath entrance with a big latrine, and a huge colossal entrance. The villa, at one point, also became a fortress but was destroyed when the Vandal and the Visigoths penetrated it but some of the outbuildings were used during the Byzantine and Arab empires.
Piazza del Duomo in Syracuse
Piazza del Duomo is an elongated and vibrant Baroque showpiece square in Syracuse. It is located on Syracuse ancient fortress where remnants of the original Greek structure can be seen. Piazza del Duomo is the home of the Syracuse city council which is located at the north of Duomo. It was built in 1629 by Spanish architect Juan Vermexio while Palazzo Arcivescovile which is home to the Biblioteca Alagoniana and other uncommon 13th century manuscripts is located on the other side of Duomo.
At the northwestern corner of the square is the Palazzo Beneventano del Bosco and at its southern end is Chiesa di Santa Lucia alla Badia, the home of Caravaggio’s eye-catching masterpiece, Il Seppellimento di Santa Lucia or “Burial of St. Lucy” which was elaborately painted in Syracuse between the year 1608 and 1609.
There are Baroque treasures and quaint outdoor cafes to go to under the beautiful sun. There is also a tourist office for guides.
If you like Baroque architecture, do visit Ragusa Ibla where a lot of dramatic churches are located. One of these is the Cathedral of San Giorgio which was built in 1738 by architect Rosario Gagliardi to replace the temple that was ruined by the 1693 earthquake. This is also the only place to catch a glimpse of the Catalan-Gothic style portal. Statues of saints, painted portals, huge columns, and 250 steps make up its façade.
The narrow snaky street that connects Ragusa Ibla with Ragusa Superiore is where the church of Santa Maria Delle Scale “Saint of Mary of the Steps” is located. It was severely damaged in 1693 but the half was rebuilt in Baroque style architecture and the surviving half which was done in Gothic style architecture remained as it is.
Stromboli is off the north coast of Sicily and home of one of the three active volcanoes of Italy. It is also one of eight Aeolian Islands north of Sicily. It is called “Lighthouse of the Mediterranean” because of its minor eruptions that can be seen from afar.
The scent of Sicily is apparent in Stromboli Crater which is included in Sicily’s must-see places. To walk any higher than 400m, you will need a tour guide because it’s a demanding slope; that’s why visitors are told to wear proper walking shoes, a comfortable backpack, proper clothing for wet and cold weather, change of clothing, a face mask, flashlight, enough water, and some food.