Sicily is the largest and most central Island in the Mediterranean Sea. Situated just off the coast of Italy and north of Africa, this island enjoys a temperate climate with mild winters and dry hot summers.
The island is surrounded by the Ionian, Tyrrhenian and the Mediterranean Sea and offers the most spectacular and dramatic scenery with undulating hills covered with Olive trees, vineyards and citrus trees which stretch down to the coastline. Along with many ancient baroque towns which are protected UNESCO world heritage sites. Nebrodi national park can be found in the province of Messina and is a very interesting drive; passing through several traditional and quaint Sicilian villages.
The most prominent landmark is on the South East coast of Sicily - Europe’s largest volcano; Mount Etna. Currently measuring at 3,329 metres (10,922 ft) high, Mount Etna is one of the most active volcanoes in the world with its volcanic rock, trails of fire and slopes with breathtaking lava flows. Randazzo is a historic town almost at the foot hills of Mount Etna where facades on many of the town’s buildings such as the church of Santa Marina utilise the local black lava stone from Mount Etna.
For those wishing to visit the coast there is a mixture of beaches Throughout the Island, on the north you will find beaches are a mixture of shingle and rocky bathing areas whereas the south are more crisp white and golden sandy beaches with crystal clear blue sea and rocky cliffs.
For lovers of nature, Sicily abounds flora and fauna in its parks and nature reserves: from the Zingaro nature reserve to the salt pans of Trapani. Flocking migratory birds find refuge in Vendicari whilst on their long journey towards Africa.
For culture, history and architecture, since 1500 B.C, Sicily has seen a multitude of different cultures and populations, proof of this can be seen in its architecture with an influence from the Roman Empire, Arabs and Normans, all leaving a range of styles from Greek and Roman to the baroque and 19th and 20th century architecture.
The gastronomy is very diverse; In Western Sicily around the Palermo region has a large Arabic influence, so it’s not unusual to see couscous on the menu as well as the traditional pasta. ‘Pasta Alla Norma’ is a very typical dish in Sicilian cuisine from the Catania region, made with tomatoes, fried aubergines and grated ricotta cheese and basil. Why not try a ‘Granita’, an ice cold drink of various flavours sometimes served with cream and a brioche, great for cooling off in the Sicilian heat. Wine ‘Nero d’ Avola’ is a famous Sicilian grape and in Western Sicily, you will find some wineries in the area of Menfi, approximately 70kms west of Palermo.
From the northern part of Sicily, day trips are available to discover other Islands such as the Aeolian Islands from Milazzo to Lipari and Vulcano. Vulcano attracts many visitors each year with its famous natural mud baths and thermal water.
If you can drag yourself away from all the discovering and history, there is plenty of shopping to do with local street markets and shopping malls all over the island, with trendy boutiques to Italian designer outlets. For those who like Italian designer wear, head to the Corso Italia in Catania for the ultimate shopping experience.
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