Island Sicily represent a premier vacation destination in Italy and on the European travel scene due to its historical heritage, natural beauty and interesting tourist attractions. The Greek and Roman ruins attract each year historians and a large number of travelers.
Sicily, with its capital Palermo, are premier travel destinations in Italy, so a tour of Sicily to enjoy its tourist attractions is good option for vacationers traveling in Italy. The Mediterranean influence is very strong here and can be easy felt on its cuisine. Sicily holds a unique history, marked by many kings and dynasties. Sicily is now a part of Italy, but its origin and history are very different from the history of Italy. Sicily is separated from Italy by the Straits of Messina, which was not just a geographical border, but a cultural border too. Sicily attracted almost all European empires. Greeks, Romans, and Normans fought for this land. Later French, English and Germans ruled the island.
The architectural style of the cities in the Eastern part of Sicily was formed under the Baroque influence, and received the name of "Sicilian Baroque". A tour of Sicily must include some of the most interesting cities of the eastern side, such as Ragusa, Modica, Scicli, Ispica and Noto. Magnificent "stone gardens", remains of the Sicilian Baroque era, are included in the World Heritage List of UNESCO. Other interesting towns with many tourist attractions that must be visited into a tour in Sicily are the capital city Palermo, Taormina, called the "pearl of the Ionian Sea", Enna, named also "Sicily's belly button", "the ceramic town" Caltagirone and, of course, Catania, with its Baroque palaces.
Capital of Sicily, Palermo is an ancient city, founded between the 8th and the 6th century B.C. The historical part of Palermo display a fusion of the Arabic and Viking influences, reflected in the medieval buildings of the 11th and 12th centuries. "Palazzo dei Normanni" is maybe the best sample of this style and is a must stop into a tour of Sicily.
For more information about this city go to Palermo
Catania is situated in one of Sicily's most fertile areas, half way between Messina and Syracuse, and is at the foot of the active volcano Etna. Catania mainly lives from the rich production of citrus fruits, vegetable and cereals. Sheep and goat farms can be also found here. Catania is the second largest city of Sicily. The most interesting monuments in Catania are "Chiesa di S.Nicola" and the Benedictine Monastery, which today is residence of "Facolta di Lettere e Filosofia" - the Faculty of Letters and Philosophy, both of the XVII century; interesting travel attarctions are also "Chiesa di S. Giuliano", erected in the XVIII century and symbol of Baroque, "Chiesa di S. Maria di Gesu", from the XV century, the Cathedral, founded in 1078, and the chapel of S.Agata, the city's patron saint.
Worth for a visit are also "Castello Ursino", built in 1239, today host of the Picture Gallery, the "Belliniano" museum, the Roman amphitheater from the era of emperor Augustus.
It's not possible to make a tour of Sicily without to include the omnipresent Etna volcano. Mount Etna can be seen from almost anywhere on the island and perhaps the best base to climb it is Taormina. Travelers should wear warm clothes even in summer, because the altitude and the cold wind require something like this.
Taormina is a main travel destination in Sicily and it was in ancient times a Greek colony. Taormina belongs to province Messina and, together with the beautiful Aeolian Islands and the ancient city Milazzo, is part of almoast every tour of Sicily, Italy. This city can be reached on highway from Messina to the north and Catania to the south. Taormina was a very popular destination for vacationers since the 19th century. It has beautiful beaches on the shore of the Ionian sea and offers high quality accommodation; here you can find many hotels, resorts and vacation home rentals to choose from.
Messina is the third largest city of Sicily and the capital of province Messina. It is located near the north-east corner of Sicily, at the Strait of Messina. As many other Sicilian cities, it features many tourist attractions.
The ancient Zancle (the ancient name of the city) existed as a native Sicilian settlement before the arrival of the Greeks in 756 BC. The city expanded to a port city during the Greek colonization and after that Messina remained an important trade center for centuries. The Romans recognized its strategic importance too. Under Saracens Messina was the northern and eastern limit of a Muslim dominion.
In the Middle Age, Messina has been the most important port of departure for European knights on their way to the Crusades. Before a such crusade, in 1190, king Richard "Lion Heart" of England and king Philip II of France visited the city. Messina remained the second most important city of Sicily until the seventeenth century, when its position was challenged by Catania. In the history of the island were periods when Messina's economic and political power rivaled even with Palermo.
If you visit this city then "Annunziata dei Catalani", on Via Garibaldi, near Via Cesare Battisti, is one of the main attractions. In their rush to see other sights in Sicily, many vacationers overlook Messina, whose reconstructed Norman cathedral is its most famous travel attraction. The church "Santa Maria Alemanna" - Saint Mary the German - stay in isolation just a few blocks from the train station, in a part of the city where vacationers don't go. Its construction was probably started around 1194, when emperor Henri VI arrived in Messina to ascend on the throne of Sicily. After his death, Henri was buried in the cathedral from Palermo, not in this church.
The abbey "Santa Maria della Valle" - Saint Mary of the Valley - is a another rare example of true Gothic design. Hidden on an obscure street between Via San Martino and Via Garibaldi, the church is settled below the ground level and it's rarely open for the public. Due to its location this beautiful church is virtually ignored by the majority of the travel guides and vacationers.
The Cathedral, where Richard "Lion Heart" was in visit in 1190 on route to a crusade, was erected during the 12 century. Most of the present cathedral is actually a reconstruction, the original building being almost entirely destroyed by earthquakes. Visiting the cathedral is also a must during your tour of Sicily.
Cefalu is an ancient city in the province Palermo, located on the northern coast of Sicily. The town is one of the major travel attractions in the region. It has Roman baths, an ancient cathedral, splendid beaches and features many hotels, resorts and vacation home rentals.
Enna is a great travel destination, The Holy Thursday from Enna being particularly stirring. Three thousand participants from various churches of the province, convene in hooded garb and march in silence in and out from churches. Enna offers convenient accommodation and can be a good base to visit the entire region.
Ragusa is a very good location to start the exploration of the ancient city Siracusa and the Temples from Agrigento; Ragusa itself is worth for a few day from your vacation.
Temples of Agrigento are certainly a must visit. They are very big in stature and structure and are located into a very picturesque area; if you travel in this part of Sicily you have to see them.
This place is one of the most important archeological sites in the world, and was classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site. There are many Greek temples, settled just outside Agrigento, from which the most spectacular are Temple of Hercules, Temple of Zeus and Temple of Concord.
Syracuse - Siracusa
Siracusa was an ancient Greek town. The Greeks arrived here in 734BC and named the small island Ortigia as Siracusa. They built various temples, such as the Temple of Apollo, located in "Piazza Pancali", and Temple of Athena. They also built the Arethusa fountain, named after a legendary nymph called Arethusa and the biggest theatre from Sicily.
Syracuse is situated on the eastern coast of Sicily and is one of Sicily's main travel attractions due to its tourist attractions, archaeological zone and historical heritage. The oldest part of Syracuse is on island Ortigia. The "Ear of Dionysus", an artificial limestone cave, whit an extremely good acoustic, and the third largest Roman amphitheatre from Italy, are also main travel attractions in Syracuse. Here the vacationers can enjoy the festivities dedicated to Santa Lucia, the patron saint of the city, who was martyred in Syracuse during the reign of the Roman emperor Diocletian. For the traveler interested in military constructions, here is Maniace Castle, built in the first half of the 13th Century, named after the Byzantine general who in 1038 defended Ortigia from Arabs. In Piazza D'Armi are held many exhibitions and cultural events.
No visit to Syracuse is complete without enjoying the comfortable resort areas from Arenella and Fontane Bianche, flanked by the typical sandy beaches of the Ionian coast. Syracuse and the entire province attract vacationers for the high quality tourist services, beautiful beaches and historical remains. Some of the most famous marine localities in the region are Noto, Avola, Capo Passero, Fontane Bianche, Arenella, Marzamemi, Brucolii, and Angone Bagni.
Although Sicily is not known as a diving destination, here can be found a great diving area - the Ustica Islands. Ustica Islands offer not just a very beautiful area to visit and feature incredible underwater sceneries, but also offer a very relaxing environment for a great vacation, so this destination must be included into a tour of Sicily.
The Mediterranean Sea, which surrounds Sicily and Ustica Islands, offers very clear and warm waters that can be compared to those founded in tropical areas. These waters provide a great environment for divers to explore the sea life.
Ustica Islands feature two main destinations, Ustica and Linosa; both are volcanic islands and both offer several great diving spots of different types. Every diver will find here a diving spot suitable for him.
Linosa is known to be one of the less contaminated areas of the Mediterranean Sea, providing a very natural and clean environment for all vacationers, so it should be a main destination during your tour in Sicily.
Ustica is world wide known due to the amazing marine life that its waters contain. Ustica's Natural Marine Reserve attracts visitors who wish to meet and observe some of the most interesting marine life from the world.