Sicily – Italy’s Jewel in the Mediterranean
Most people think Sicily to be the ideal setting of a book or movie, but this beautiful Mediterranean island off the coast of southern Italy has a lot more to offer than just a good movie scene. The island has a long history of conquests which include reigns by Arabs, Greeks and Romans. This has resulted in a variety of influences on Sicily’s rich culture which makes it an interesting place to visit. Locals here rely mainly on agriculture as a source of income but tourism is lifeblood to a large segment of the population.
Agrigento (Valley of the Temples)
Walking in Agrigento is like walking in ancient Greece. The Valley of the Temples gives a glimpse into the lives of those who lived here centuries ago. Streets, houses, auditoriums and amphitheaters are all strikingly well preserved. Several temples are located in this valley, each dedicated to a separate Greek god or goddess. A visit to Agrigento is a must for all those wishing to explore Greek architecture and history.
Europe’s highest and most active volcano towers above Sicily at 3350 metres, providing a panoramic view of the island. A train runs around Mount Etna which visitors could use to get a thorough view of the famous mountain. Mount Etna is covered in snow four months a year which makes it a prime spot for ski resorts and other fun activities such as hiking.
Siracusa (or Syracuse) was one of the most important cities of ancient Greek. It was a favourite of Greek philosophers Archimedes and Plato because of its enchanting beauty. The city has an archaeological zone called Neopolis that houses the largest Greek Theatre in the world, as well as several other smaller theatres.
Villa Romana del Casale
Built in the fourth century, this villa houses the most extensive collection of Roman mosaics in the world. The villa was discovered in the 19th century. Since then it has become a center of attraction for archaeologists and historians. One of the most famous mosaics found in the villa is called “the bikini girls” as it portrays bikini-wearing women performing sports such as weight-lifting.
Palermo, the capital city of Sicily, boasts a variety of architecture and cultural heritage reflective of the many empires which reigned over this island. The Cattedrale is a magnificent cathedral renowned for the cultural fusion of its architectural style. Palazzo dei Normani, which is currently the Sicilian Regional Assembly, is also another important location which was built by an Arab ruler in the 9th century. There are several more cathedrals and basilicas which an avid tourist can visit here to gain an insight to the deeply rooted religious customs of the city.
World Famous Beaches
A visit to Sicily will be incomplete without basking in the summer sun with the sea at your feet. With water on all sides, Sicily has some of the most happening beaches in the Mediterranean. The most famous is Lido Mazzaro, located near Taormina. It is bustling with beachgoers from April to October who come not only for the water but also the restaurants, bars and other fun activities happening here. Spiaggia Sabbie Nere is a unique beach with its volcanic pebble sand which gives it the nickname Black Sands Beach. A visit to Spaiggia will be unlike other beach outings.
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