Western Sicily trip planner

The cities, sights, and attractions of Western Sicily

★★ Chaotic Palermo - Sicily's capital is a tough place to love. The dustiest gem of a city in Europe, it contains some of Sicily's greatest sights and museums, yet it still hasn’t rebuilt entire bombed-out neighborhoods that were destroyed during World War II. Despite the efforts of a crusading anti-Mafia mayor, la Cosa Nostra still strangles the city. But amid the rubble and trash-filled alleys you’ll find gloriously stuccoed oratories, glittering 12th-century mosaics, puppet theaters, art museums, and busy fish markets bursting with life and color.... » more

★★★ Ancient Greek Agrigento - Ancient Greek Akragas, founded around 581 BC, is lucky enough to retain a ridge below the city lined with 5th-century BC Doric temples, one of which, the Temple of Concord, is one of the two best preserved Greek temples in the world. There are few spots more magic or beautiful to spend a sunset than in Agrigento's Valley of the Temples... » more

Medieval Erice - Erice is the most enchanting and stoniest medieval city you'll find in Sicily. It's often compared with a Tuscan or Umbrian hill town, but this ancient seat of mystical power is pure Sicilian, established over 3,000 years ago by the native Sicani with the city laid out by the Elymians in a magical triangle shape. From its thrilling mountaintop setting, two sheer cliffs drop 2,478 feet to open up vistas across the plains of Trapani and down the west coast of Sicily. On a clear day, you can even see Cape Bon in Tunisia... » more

★★★ The mosaics of Monreale - In a church on a hillside 8km (5 miles) south of Palermo lies the greatest medieval mosaic cycle in Europe and one of the most visually sumptuous day trips you can take anywhere in Italy. The polychrome scenes on a shimmering gold background literally carpet the walls, arches, and apses of mighty Monreale, the last and greatest of Sicily's Norman cathedrals. Even if you have only one day in Palermo, spend half of it here; nothing in town can compare... » more

★★ Greek ruins at Segesta - The temple and theater of ancient Egesta are two of the most beautifully sited classical monuments in the world, set in the lush middle of nowhere of the Sicilian countryside. The squat, pale honey–colored temple perches at the lip of a gorge surrounded by a high natural amphitheater of verdant hills. The nearby theater is chipped out of a mountaintop with a sweeping vista across the landscape to the Gulf of Castellammare. Even with the tour-bus crowds and modern highways nearby, Segesta remains one of the most magical, romantic corners of Italy... » more

Ancient temples at Selinute - Founded by Greeks in the 7th century BC, Selinute was named after the selinon, or wild celery, that still grows in abundance alongside wild capers. Although relatively short-lived as an ancient capital, Selinute got rich quick, built the temples to prove it, and then was defeated by Carthage and faded into malaria-borne obscurity until the 16th century so that little modernity has corrupted the gorgeous archaeological site. Today the few re-erected rows of columns stand against the bright green grass and the deep blues of the sky and the sea, perched picturesquely on a pair of plateaus overlooking the Mediterranean between two small rivers... » more

Bustling Trapani - Trapani is a slightly seedy port city with a rich history and a contemporary reputation for being one of the most mafia-infested cities in Sicily. The majolica and decorative arts in Trapani's museum are worth popping down for, as is the Tunisian fishing village ambience that clings in between the baroque churches in oldest part of town on that hook of land. The fishy, Tunisian-inspired cuisine is excellent, though I'd try it for lunch and get out of Dodge before sundown; little Erice perched on the mountain above is a much more welcoming and friendly place to spend the night... » more

The wines of Marsala - The sweet wines of Marsala... » more

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