The largest island in the Mediterranean, Sicily has a rich history reflected in extraordinary architecture including the well-preserved ruins of Greek temples, Byzantine mosaics and a rich blend of Moorish, Norman and Baroque town squares, some of which are still thriving villages today. Palermo, Sicily’s vibrant capital and a heritage listed UNESCO site, is bursting with Arab-Norman architectural masterpieces, including the Quattro Canti square, the Palace of the Normans and the cathedral that houses the Imperial Crown of Constance of Aragon.
Visit the Valley of the Temples (UNESCO), the ruins of seven breathtaking ancient Greek places of worship and wander the quaint laneways of the hilltop village of Savoca, founded in 1134 and more recently immortalised in the classic film, The Godfather. Film buffs won’t want to miss the town of Corleone in the heart of Sicily, where friendly locals warmly welcome visitors to hear tales of the mafia’s dark past and the region’s struggles to shake off their mafia connections over the decades.
A tip for travellers wanting an insider’s view of Sicily: Consider travelling with an established operator like Collette. They can give you access to places you won’t get to if you travel on your own. Their guides are often locals who know the hidden gems and can unearth the authentic experiences you want but might not be able to find yourself.
On the eastern edge of Sicily is Mount Etna, one of Europe’s highest active volcanoes. Nearby, stroll the picture-perfect town of Taormina, ‘the jewel of Sicily’. Perched high above the sea, it’s a delight to wander through the boutiques or to dine on local produce in a café with a stunning view. Head further up to the Castelmola for bird’s-eye views of Mount Etna, Taormina, The Bay of Giardini Naxos and the Strait of Messina.
Food, glorious food!
Sicily is one of the world’s great street food destinations, and when you visit you’ll see why. The abundant local produce cooked lovingly by locals has made its way into the hearts and minds of the world for its distinctive Mediterranean flavours. Don’t miss the local specialty, the deliciously indulgent cannoli made with Sicilian favourite, ricotta cheese. Or sample the local wine, grown and bottled on the island.