Sicily – island with thousand years historic civilization


Enrico Massetti

Eternal crossroads of the Mediterranean, the gorgeous island of Sicily continues to seduce travelers with its dazzling diversity of landscapes and cultural treasures.

Sicily: Do you want to learn about Greece? So come to Sicily.

It is a paradox, for sure, but only to a certain extent.
The Greek cities of Sicily (Agrigento, Selinunte, Segesta, Syracuse, to mention the most important) were among the most beautiful of the Hellenic world.

Nowadays, to visit the Valley of Temples at Agrigento or to watch a summer performance in the great Greek Theatre of Syracuse is to plunge yourself into the remote Hellenic past.

It is also true in Sicily for many other historical eras and civilizations, from the Spanish to the French.

With the sole exception of Arab rule, that has left a scarce physical testimony. Sicily is a book of history and art history, a compendium of the greatest civilizations and cultures of all time.

A sunny island whose landscape is rich in contrasts, with a splendid coastline and refined, delicious, and varied cuisine of traditional flavors and exquisite aromas.

The quintessence of Mediterranean culture, yet also dense with intellectual complexity and refinement, so well represented by the literary masterpieces of Luigi Pirandello, Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, Leonardo Sciascia, Gesualdo Bufalino, and today, Andrea Camilleri.

This guide leads you on a week-long car drive on the Island of Sicily.

Starting with Messina, touching the Aeolian Islands, and then Taormina, Acireale, Catania, Syracuse, Caltagirone, Piazza Armerina with its Roman Villa, Agrigento with the Greek Temples, Porto Empedocle, Selinunte, to arrive in Palermo, with a visit to Solunto and Monreale.

The guide includes a section on Sicilian food. It includes photos and descriptions of the attractions of all the localities touched and is ideal for use on your smartphone, and it contains links to the websites of many reviews for the best-recommended restaurants that are at the location described.

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Classical Crossroads

Seductively beautiful and perfectly placed in the heart of the Mediterranean, Sicily has been luring passersby since the time of legends. The land of the Cyclops has been praised by poets from Homer to Virgil and prized by the many ancient cultures – Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Elymians, Romans, and Greeks – whose bones lie buried here. Whether in the classical perfection of Agrigento’s Concordia temple, the monumental rubble of Selinunte’s columns or the rare grace of a dancing satyr statue rescued from Mazara del Vallo’s watery depths, reminders of bygone civilizations are everywhere.

Mediterranean Flavors

A delectable layer-cake of culinary influences, Sicily’s ancient cuisine continues to rely on a few key island-grown ingredients: shellfish and citrus, tuna and swordfish, pistachios, almonds, and ricotta. Talk to the septuagenarian chef at a Catania restaurant and she’ll confide that she still uses her grandmother’s recipe for pasta alla Norma, joyfully sharing the poetic imagery that links it to Mt Etna: the tomatoes are lava; the eggplant, cinders; the basil, leafy greenery; the ricotta, snow. Modern chefs may play with the details, but Sicily’s timeless recipes – from the simplest cannolo to the most exquisite fish couscous – live on.

Sparkling Seas, Restless Mountains

Sicily’s varied landscape makes a dramatic first impression. Fly into Catania and the smoking hulk of Etna greets you; arrive in Palermo and it’s the sparkling Golfo di Castellammare. This juxtaposition of sea, volcano, and mountain scenery makes a stunning backdrop for outdoor activities. Hikers can wind along precipitous coastlines, climb erupting volcanoes and traipse through flowery mountain meadows; birders benefit from the plethora of species on the Africa-Europe migration route, and divers and swimmers enjoy some of the Mediterranean’s most pristine waters. Whatever your personal predilections, Sicily and its dozen-plus offshore islands offer enough activities to build an entire vacation around.

Spectacular views from the terrace at La Foresteria © Planeta

On the grapevine: five must-try Sicilian wineries

Until recently known as a viticultural wasteland of bulk-blended plonk, sun-bleached Sicily is fast becoming one of Italy’s most dynamic wine regions. Enlightened local winemakers are using unique Sicilian varietals and back-to-basics wine-making techniques to produce cellars full of show-stopping drops. To savor the flavor, book a degustation at one of the following standout wineries.

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