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Taormina, Bild: Romas_Photo / shutterstock

Sicily: One of the most beautiful islands in Italy

Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean! It is located southwest of the Italian mainland, below the tip of the boot. The island was once formed from a headland that connected Africa and Europe millions of years ago. Sicily is known for its striking vegetation, which it owes to one of the main attractions of the island – the volcano Etna. Well-known cities in Sicily are: Palermo, Messina, Syracuse and Catania.

Sicily inspires

Castellammare del Golfo
Castellammare del Golfo near Palermo, Image: wiesdie / shutterstock

Experience diversity in a confined space! Sicily impresses with its cities, historic architecture and a natural landscape of contrasts. The rugged beauty of Mount Etna is paired with the crystal clear sea and white beaches. The colourful, blooming island paradise by the sea stands in complete contrast to a barren, sulphur-rich landscape inland. The greatest natural attraction in Sicily is Mount Etna.

Today, the volcano is considered the most active in Europe and, at 3,340 meters, is also the highest. Mount Etna is not only a popular photo motif, in the winter months the region around the volcano turns into a popular destination for winter sports enthusiasts. But the volcano is also a popular destination for nature lovers in summer – the volcano tours are recommended!

If you want to explore the island on your own, you should plan a round trip. There are so many beautiful things to discover. On the one hand, there are the well-known cities of Sicily such as the island’s capital Palermo. The student city offers well-known sights such as the cathedral, the opera house or the Palazzo Reale. End the day in a cozy restaurant in the picturesque bay of Palermo.

Catania Skyline
Image: NAPA / shutterstock

The journey continues to Catania. The second largest city in Sicily is located on the east coast of the island and impresses visitors with its fantastic location, not far from Mount Etna. Start your stroll through the city at Piazza Duomo and visit the Castello Ursino. At the gates of the city there is also one of the most beautiful nature reserves on the island “Oasi del Simeto”. It’s worth a visit! Messina is also worth a visit. The city is located a few kilometers away from the mainland of Italy and is also known as the gate of Sicily due to the “Stretto di Messina”. If you are visiting the city centre, you should not miss the view into the interior of the Cattedrale di San Maria Assunta. It is also worth taking a detour to the city’s natural harbour. It is located in a picturesque bay and is a well-known photo motif of Sicily.

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The excursion highlights in Sicily

Palermo, Sicily
The Cathedral of Palermo, Image: Romas_Photo / shutterstock

One of the most popular seaside resorts in Sicily is certainly Taormina! The town is located between Messina and Catania, on a rock not far from the sea. In addition to quiet, unspoilt sandy beaches, there is a rich vegetation and beautiful places with sea views. This is how romantic holiday evenings can be realised and unforgettable sunsets can be enjoyed! From here, you can take a day trip by boat to the island of Isola Bella. The alleys of the city are known for the colorful, small houses and shops. Other popular seaside resorts are located at the gates of Palermo.

There are several beaches and small, enchanting bays here. It gets especially crowded on the main beach: “Mondello Beach”. Many Palermo residents spend their summer days here and the bay is also a popular terrain for water sports enthusiasts. In the evening, Mondello is transformed into a hip nightlife district. Here, night owls will find great bars and clubs for dancing and partying. Other popular holiday resorts in Sicily are: Marina di Ragusa, Syracuse and the small town of San Vito Lo Capo.

Sicilian specialties

The island also has a lot to offer in terms of culinary delights: for example, visit the small jam factory “Laboratorio artigianale Biosolnatura” in Carlentini. The area has always been known for its extensive lemon plantations. The country’s most beautiful citrus fruits grow here. Unfortunately, the yellow fruits are hardly processed anymore. Three young Sicilian women wanted to change that. They have made it their mission to carry the taste of Sicily out into the world in a jam jar. By the way: Also a great souvenir to take home! But oranges and especially the reddish shimmering blood organs also thrive wonderfully on the island. In the eastern provinces of Sicily: Enna, Ragusa, Catania and Syracuse you will find the largest plantations. Three well-known varieties such as Moro, Sanguinello or Tarocco grow here.

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Due to the nutrient-rich soil, to which the island owes its volcano Etna, the nutrient density of blood oranges is particularly high. They are rich in vitamins and minerals. This also benefits other products of the island such as the grapes that are processed into wine, the spicy olive oil or the pistachios that are harvested around the city of Bronte and sold throughout Europe. Another high-quality product of the island is made from the milk of the goat breed “capra Argentata dell ́Etna”. If you have the chance, be sure to try the fresh goat cheese.

The Orange Battle of Ivrea

Orange Battle of Ivrea
The Orange Battle of Ivrea, Image: Paolo Bona / shutterstock

If you want to experience a traditional Sicilian festival up close, you should travel to the small village of Ivrea during carnival. Then the inhabitants of the village celebrate their wild orange fight “Ivrea la battaglia della arance” again. It lasts a whole three days and at the end the alleys of Ivrea are covered with a thick carpet of oranges. According to legend, the bizarre carnival custom goes back to a feudal custom in the Middle Ages.

At that time, women were forced to spend their wedding night with a hideous nobleman from the neighborhood. Violetta, a young woman, did not want to accept this any longer and freed the women of Ivrea from the tyranny of men by beheading her superior husband on their wedding night. In the 30s, local girls became aware of the old story and began to throw confetti and flowers as well as oranges from their balconies at the passing carnival lists. This developed into a three-day orange fight, in which today around 500 tons of oranges are consumed. The spectacle is now known throughout Italy and attracts countless tourists to Ivrea every year.

Final tips for a holiday in Sicily

The best time to visit Sicily is the summer months from July to the end of August. Then the sun shines, become rich eleven hours a day and spoil the guests with hot temperatures of up to 40°C. If you don’t like it so hot, you should visit the island in spring or autumn. At this time, the temperatures are a pleasant 20 to 30°C.