Sicily – Agrigento, Palermo, Syracuse

The best way to describe Sicily is to start throwing out adjectives – beautiful, turbulent, mysterious, fascinating, rugged, lush, diverse to name but a very few.  The Sicilian natives carry the blood of 13 occupying powers in their veins which sets the stage for the variety of food, architecture, culture, and history you will experience.

The reality of visiting Sicily far and away surpassed my imagination and many preconceived stereotypes.  I have been back several times and I hope I will have the good fortune to go back again – this time for a much longer visit.

Valley of the Temples, Agrigento, Sicily, 2010
Valley of the Temples, Agrigento, Sicily, 2010

Sicily is fairly easy to traverse via car and you can see a lot in a few days depending on where you are located.   Both the Palermo and the Catania Airports are easily reached (1.5 hour flight time) by daily flights from Rome’s Fiumicino Airport.  I highly recommend visiting Palermo for a few days and visiting nearby towns – Cefalu, Misilmere, Monreale OR spending a week along the southeastern coast – Noto, Ragusa, Syracuse.  Agrigento and Taormina are also high on the list but are more out of the way and require some logistical planning if you do not have access to a car – well worth the effort!

Palermo Cathedral, Sicily, 2010
Palermo Cathedral, Sicily, 2010

For fans of bestselling Inspector Montalbano novels and short stories now a long running cult Italian TV Series a trip to Sicily will allow you to visit many of recognizable locations which have been used as a backdrop over the years.

View of Syracuse from Aranella, Sicily, 2012
View of Syracuse from Aranella, Sicily, 2012

One of Sicily’s best natural features is the beautiful Mediterranean Sea which offers great swimming, seafood, and scenery.  Definitely try to spend some time walking along the water or relaxing in the water at one of the many beaches.

I have included several links which will give you further insight into this magical diverse universe situated on the largest island in the Mediterranean and hope you are inspired.  Buon Viaggio!

Related articles

Recommended Reading – Italian Neighbors by Tim Parks

Italian Neighbors, Tim Parks

I am always looking for books about Italy that help me to better understand the idiosyncrasies of modern Italian culture.  This easy to read book with short chapters chronicles the life of Tim Parks and his Italian wife Rita as they insert themselves into the city of Verona.

For anyone who has visited or lived in Italy for either a short time or a longer stay this book will undoubtedly bring back memories, more than a few laughs, and validate your own experiences.

The first in a series of books that I highly recommend, Italian Neighbors (1992), An Italian Education (1996), Italian Ways, On and Off the Rails from Milan to Palermo (2013), in addition to Tim’s numerous other books, both fiction and non-fiction, about Italian history and culture.

“his eye for the illuminating moments in the miniature worlds he describes—condominium meetings, beaches, nursery scenes, and elementary-school parents’ groups, to name just a few—is so sharp that the ordinary gains a kind of magical lustre, and the particular becomes universal.” – The New Yorker, June 6, 2013

Recommended Reading

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI am always looking for books about Italy that help me to understand the complex history and culture.  This short book, easily read in a day, is such a narrative.  Given to me by a friend and fellow Italophile, Vicki, who shares my love of all things Italian.

If you are planning a trip to Florence I would encourage reading this book before you arrive.

“David Leavitt brings the wonders and mysteries of Florence alive, illuminating why it is, and always has been, one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.”

Recommended Reading

City Secrets of Rome

This little gem of a book makes a great gift for friends and family that may be headed to Rome and definitely is something to pack into your own suitcase.  I referred to this book often especially when having a “tourist block”.

City Secrets Rome brings together the recommendations of artists, writers, historians, architects, chefs, and other experts whose passionate opinions and highly informed perspectives illuminate well-known sites as well as overlooked treasures. These expert travel companions share with you their favorite little-known places including restaurants, cafés, art, architecture, shops, outdoor markets, strolls, daytrips, as well all manner of cultural and historic landmarks.

City Secrets Rome, Series Editor – Robert Kahn